Frost Free Timeline For Vegetables In Your Area

Learning The Frost Free Time Line For Vegetables In Your Area

Trying to figure out when to plant vegetables in your area can be time consuming and requires a little detective work. It all depends on your geographic location, your frost free dates, the type of vegetables you plan to grow and how you intend to plant them (seedlings, transplants or seeds). All of these will factor into the timing of getting your plants or seeds into the ground at the proper time.

You will need to find out your average last frost date in the spring and when to expect the first hard frost date in the fall. It is next to impossible to predict these dates with absolute certainty, that’s why you ask for the average date.

Don’t let that stop you from planting as the internet can give you valuable resources to finding an answer to those two most important dates. Do a quick online search with “frost free date” in the search box, add your hometown’s name and within seconds you will have several answers.

When planning your garden planting time line, remember these two important dates as virtual “bookends” around your prime vegetable growing season. If you start seeds indoors, as I do, or protect your plants from cold temperatures with mulch, cold frames, row covers or mini-hoop houses, you can extend your growing season even further. I use row covers not only as protection from the cold but to keep away bugs and other insects from my maturing plants.

Beautiful Red Radishes

Beautiful Red Radishes, So Good For You.  You can sow several plantings of these during your frost free timeline.

When selecting your seed packets, pay close attention to the Maturity Time Line” listed on the package. It will normally tell you how long your plants should be in the ground before they are ready for you to eat. Some plants, such as radishes will have 30-40 days listed but others such as corn will have any where from 60 to 90 days until their maturity is reached. You will not want to wait until late July to plant corn but radishes will still do great at that date. It’s all in the timing of the planting.

It is well worth the effort to learn when to plant vegetables in your area. Learning when your prime growing season begins and ends by gauging your frost free dates, will make you a much better food gardener. It will, also, help you decide which vegetables to choose and how to help those varieties thrive in your vegetable garden.

For more information on what seeds or plants to choose, you might want to look at this post from last summer.

http://growingwhatyoueat.com/3-types-of-vegetable-seeds-heirlooms-hybrids-and-gmos/

3 Things To Keep Gardeners Busy

3 Things To Keep Gardeners Busy During The Winter Months.

For most of us gardeners, winter can come as a pleasant reprieve, from all the hard work in the Summer sun. However, around mid January, we become antsy waiting for the first burst of Spring Sun and planting time.

Learning to use this time wisely could be important for your new gardening season. Here are a few things to help you pass the time until Spring shows up and you get to play in the dirt again.

[1] Seed Catalogs
Seed catalogs are a gardeners best friend, during the winter months. Set aside an hour or so everyday to explore the pages of your seed catalogs. Learn about the new plants or find an old favorite you had forgotten about. Check out all the new gardening techniques and make plans for the ones you want to try out. Soon the last thing on your mind will be the cold weather in the middle of winter.

3 Ways To Keep Gardeners Busy

Seed Catalogs, 1 of 3 ways to keep gardeners busy during winter.

[2] Organized and Clean Your Tools
[A] Gather all your tools together and take a good look at them. Some may need to be replaced but most will only need a good cleaning. Shake and scrape off any dirt or debris. Use a steel wool product to get down to the metal. Run a coarse sand paper over the wooden handles. Once you have this done, you might want to paint the wooden parts and spray the metal parts with an oil by-product to keep it from rusting.

[B] Make an inventory of any seeds you had left from the last season. Most seeds, if stored properly, will still be good to plant the next year. You might have a little less germination but your plants from these seeds will be as good as any from a new set of seeds.

[C] Start stocking up on gardening supplies. Mulch, potting soil, fertilizer and seedling containers can be bought cheaper in the off season sales.
Order seeds and plants from those seed catalogs you have been reading. The seed company will send them to you when your zone becomes warm enough to plant them.

[3] Join An Online Gardening Group
Joining people of like mind, during the winter months can become very handy during the growing season. Having someone or many some ones to answer question that can come up through out the year could make the difference in you having good results from your gardening efforts or having nothing to show for all your hard work.
If you do not know any gardening blogs or sites, just type “garden blogs” into your search engine and in seconds you will have hundreds show up. Give yourself time to check out a few before deciding which one to join. Once you introduce yourself to the room, expect lots of feedback from any questions you ask.

Coming up with more ways to keep our favorite gardeners busy.

I’m sure you can come up with many more ways to keep your family gardeners busy and happy until planting time comes around.  Feel free to post your thoughts below or on www.facebook.com/GrowingWhatYouEatGardeningTips

Winterize Your Vegetable Garden

With winter just around the corner, it’s time to winterize your vegetable garden. Here in the foothills of the Appalachians, we have had freezing temperatures, cold rain mixed with sleet, and even a couple of inches of snow. While we hope there will still be a few warm days left in this year, it’s time to winterize your vegetable garden before it’s to late.

After working so hard to get a good harvest you do not want to loose what you have gained by neglecting your soil now. By not putting your garden to sleep, correctly, you would be inviting pests and diseases into your garden.

By doing just a few things now, will make a huge difference in your spring garden.

Tips To Winterize Your Vegetable Garden

[1] Start by cleaning your gardening. Remove all dead plants and debris. Use your garden rake to do a final run through the dirt to make sure you got all plant matter up and out.

[2] Add animal or another organic fertilizer to the soil, making sure you break it down into small parts so it will scatter in the soil.

[3] Either plant a ground covering, such as rye or clover to be tilled in next spring. If you are using raised beds, you can use a ground cloth covering instead of the live seeds. You can find them in most garden centers.

winterize your garden[4] Clean all your gardening tools and put them away in a dry place, so they will be ready for you to use in the spring.

[5] Now is the time to make plans for the layout of your spring garden. Base your plans on how well the plants did in your garden this year. Remember to rotate your plants in the next layout. Rotating your plants will help keep your garden healthy and growing.

Now that you have the tips to winterize your vegetable garden, it time to get it done and move on to having some winter fun.

How To Harvest, Preserve & Store Your Fresh Herbs

How To Harvest, Preserve & Store Your Fresh Herbs

Autumn has come and it’s time to get your garden ready for its’ winter nap. Also, it’s the time to harvest, preserve and store your fresh herbs. It’s hard to put away something you have been enjoying all summer but for the most part, herbs do not survive the winter cold months.

How To Harvest, Preserve and Store Your Fresh Herbs

How To Harvest, Preserve and Store Your Fresh Herbs

When choosing a time to harvest your herbs, look for the appearance of blossoms on the plant. They determine the peak time for harvesting. When blossoms start to open, take your cuttings during the sunny morning hours, when the plant’s oils are at their peak. Clean by rinsing under cool water to remove any dirt or insects then pick off the damaged leaves.

Preserving Your Herbs

Drying

To prepare herbs for long-term storage, choose a drying area that is dark, well ventilated and out of direct sunlight. Spread out the cut herbs on cheesecloth or maybe an old screen that has been cleaned, but really, anything that allows for air circulation will work.

Once the leaves appear crisp, usually 3-5 days, strip them from the stems and place them in airtight containers. To help preserve their color and flavor, store the containers in a dark cupboard or pantry shelf away from heat, until you’re ready to use them. Or once they have dried, you can make small bunches and hang them upside down in your kitchen. They will give off a pleasing aroma and add charm to your décor but with time they will become unusable for cooking as their oils and flavors will disappear.

Freezing

My favorite way of preserving fresh herbs is freezing in water. I use several old plastic ice cube makers that I bought at a resale store for 10 cents each. After rinsing and picking off the bad leaves, I place about 1 teaspoon of the herb into each of the cube holes and add water to cover. When I have the container filled, I place it in my freezer for about 24 hours, then I remove the herb filled cubes and put them in a zipped freezer bag for storing back in the freezer.

When I am ready to cook, using the herbs, I either thaw the cube or just drop it into the pot with the rest of the ingredients.

Learning how to harvest, preserve and store your fresh herbs will allow the goodness of your home garden to go on into the winter, at your dinner table.

Broccoli, A Cold Weather Vegetable Garden Favorite

Broccoli is one of the all time favorite cold weather vegetable garden plants. For the most part, it is easy to grow, makes an impressive plant in your garden but the best part is, it’s very good for you.

Broccoli good for the body

Broccoli, A Favorite Cold Weather Vegetable Does The Body Good

Broccoli as most of us know it, is one of the flowering vegetable. It is thought, by many health experts, to help prevent diseases, among them being some forms of cancer. Broccoli is a rich source of nutrients which helps to fight off many illnesses and promotes better health in it’s eaters.

Broccoli is known to be very low in calories [about 30 per cup], an excellent source of Vitamin C, A, K and the B complex group of vitamins. It’s also has healthy minerals such as, calcium, manganese, iron, magnesium, selenium, zine and phosphorus. It’s an all around health pill in vegetable form.

When selecting your Broccoli, choose the freshest you can find. You want it a bright deep green in color, with firm flowerettes and stalk. Look at the ends of the stalks, to be sure they aren’t showing signs of splitting or decaying. Both are signs that it has seen better days and not fit for you to feed you or your family.

You can store your fresh Broccoli in the refrigerator for 2-3 days before use but if you know you wont be using it in that time, you may want to slice a thin piece off the bottom of the stalks, then place the whole plant in an upright postion in a jar, with about on inch of water. Cover the flowering part of the plant with a loose fitting piece of plastic and it should keep for up to a week, in this manner.

Keep your cooking method for the Broccoli on the simple side. Steaming, roasting or raw, is the best way to keep all those good vitamins and minerals in working order to do your body good. When we over cook vegetables such as Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts and other root vegetables we loose almost 50% of their food value.

Quick and easy recipes for Broccoli and it’s family, can be found on our sister site http://FoodShoppingOnABudget.com

So when it comes to choosing your cold weather vegetable be sure to check out the Broccoli family for good tasting and good for you, eats.

Cheap Vegetable Gardening Tips

Cheap Vegetable Gardening Tips, That Are Good For Your Garden

[1] Newspapers, Cardboard and Paper Towels

All kinds of paper goods can be used in your garden. Cardboard is excellent to put in walkways to keep weeds from growing or as the first layer for your raised beds, as a foundation for your soil, leaves or compost.

Cheap Gardening Tips

Adding paper products to your compost bin is good for the worms and the garden.

Newspapers can be used to protect your seedling, giving them head start on growing strong.

If you are doing a compost bin, with worms, you can add newspapers and paper towels to the mixture.

[2] Earth Worms:

There is no need to buy earth worms for your garden, just lift a few rocks after a rain storm and you should find plenty. Adding them to your soil or compost mixture is one of the best things you can do for your garden. They will eat through your kitchen waste, including newspapers and paper towels, giving you a rich garden additive, that will grow bigger and better vegetables, flowers or grass,

[3] Saw Dust:

Do you know someone who likes to build things? Chances are they will have sawdust to give away. Make arrangements for them to keep it in a 5 gallon bucket [that you provide] and call you when it’s ready to be picked up. Mix it will your soil in the fall and by spring it will have become part of your soil. This is especially good if your soil is high in clay. The sawdust will loosen the clay and make it easier for the plant’s root system to grow.

[4] Kitchen Tools:

If you are gardening in a raised bed, before you go out and buy special hand tools for it, look around your kitchen and see what you can use. I prepared, planted and harvested my raised bed this year, using only the tools I found in my kitchen. I found a sturdy long handled slotted spoon, 2 wooden spoons, an egg holder [used to getting boiled eggs out of hot water] that I put to great use in my garden. No expense or cost for any of them, they were just laying unused in my gadget drawer.

[5] Kitchen Waste:

Keep a covered container near your sink to put your kitchen waste in. Once a week, I try to take my worms a treat of kitchen waste. Some times I have to do a little chopping on the items but most times, all I do is add them to my worm bed, cover with a layer of dirt and walk away. I know that when I get ready to use that soil mixture in the spring, I will be richly rewarded.

There are many cheap vegetable gardening tips, all waiting to serve you and your garden, these are only 5 ways to save money while enjoying the rewards of having your own fresh produce.

Preparing Your Lawn For Winter

When we are shutting down your vegetable garden, it’s also time to think about preparing your lawn for winter. If you have kept your lawns in good shape during the summer, that’s great, but not giving it the attention it needs for the winter months, might mean you wont have that beautiful lawn next year.

[1] A simple step in preparing your lawn for winter is to walk your lawn in early fall. If you find some bare spots in your lawn, rake the spot with a metal rake, loosing the dirt or lightly till with your rototiller, then reseed. Most grass seeds grow well in the fall. Be sure to water it really well. Your lawn needs 1-2 inches of water each week, in most places, maybe more especially during the warmer months.

Beautiful house and lawn.

Preparing you lawn for winter can bring about beautiful results.

[2] Now is also the time to fertilize. Grass slows down its growth in the fall, as a form of saving its nutrients for the colder winter months. So to keep it strong and growing, this is the perfect time to fertilize your lawn to keep it strong through the harsh winter months.

[3] Just before you cut your lawn for the last time, until spring, slowly walk around the yard and pick up any debris and do one last raking through the larger clumps of grass.

[4] Now, mow the grass but don’t mow it too short, though. Lower the cutting height ½ an inch below where you normally cut it during the summer. Do not catch or rake these clippings, leave the clippings on the lawn to be used as mulch. This extra layer of grass will help protect your lawn during the winter months and become a natural fertilizer in the spring.

Preparing your lawn for winter will not only allow you to use it all summer long as a playground for your children and a place for the adults in the family to socialize with friends.  It will also add to the value of your home, not only in curb appeal but in sale price.  There are few things you can do to increase the value of your home as important as keeping your lawn in great shape.

3 Types of Vegetable Seeds: Heirlooms, Hybrids and GMO’s

To understand the types of vegetable seeds we have offered to us today, we need to look at these 3 types of seeds. Hopefully, this will help you in deciding what type of produce to buy and could be very useful if you try, Growing What You Eat, in the future.

Heirloom Seeds: As most of us know, keeping seeds from year to year was practiced by all farmers before WWII. It wasn’t unusual for the same seeds to be passed down through families for 50 to 100 years. The farmer or his wife would choose the best looking or tasting produce, then proceed to save the seeds from that item for next year’s planting. Thus the birth of Heirloom Seeds.
While Heirloom Seeds may not produce the best looking product, but to me, it certainly produces the best tasting.

Shortly after WWII, growers began to experiment with our next type of seeds, the Hybrid.

Heirloom seeds can produce funny looking vegetables but their flavor can't be beat.

Heirloom seeds can produce funny looking vegetables but their flavor can’t be beat.

Hybrid Seeds: Hybrids can occur naturally but mostly they are intentionally planned. Hybrid seeds often produce high yields from seeds planned with precise characteristics in mind. Hybrids start by cross-breeding two species to produce a new plant and can produce great results, but the problems begin to show up when farmers and others, save seeds from one year’s bounty to sow for next year’s crop. Being better the second time around does not hold true for hybrid seeds. Hybrid seeds, do not produce good second year crops or show the results in the product most of us want on our tables. Therefore, if you are using hybrid seeds be prepared to buy seeds, year after year, for planting.

GMO Seeds: Lastly, we have GMO seeds that are genetically modified, on purpose, to produce precise results. GMO Seeds are made by transferring the DNA from one organism, but not necessarily from other plants, into a seed to get those results. In doing so, in most cases, we get the good from both. But with large corporations holding the patents on these seeds, it can be very expensive to buy and grow these type of seeds. Some people even feel that growing GMO seeds will threaten the existence of organic crops through cross pollination.

Deciding on what type of seed you want to plant is a decision we all need to make before we turn the first shovel of soil. You might want to do more research at www.Burpee.com/vegetables before making up your mind.

Saving Granny Laura’s Heirloom Seeds

If you went into my Grandparents dug out basement, with its’ dirt floor, you would find jars of heirloom seeds lining the makeshift walls. Over the years of fending for themselves and their children they had learned the importance of saving heirloom seeds. Having their own seed bank, kept them from becoming dependent on others, especially in hard financial times.

Before they used the jar saving seed system, Granny Laura would save the seeds on chicken feed sack material. It was a loose woven cotton material. Granny Laura would start by choosing the best fruit or vegetable of her crop, then slice it open and gently squeeze or scrap the seeds onto the cloth. She would then move the cloth into the sunlight to dry the seeds. After they had dried, she would carefully fold the material to form an envelope around the seeds before placing them in a cool dry spot until spring. When spring came, Granny Laura would plant her saved seeds and wait for her reward of a new spring crop.

Granny Laura, may not have known it at the time but she was passing on, not only, good seeds but history, too. Most of the heirloom seeds we have today came from this kind of heirloom seed saving.

If you’ve ever been to your local farmer’s market, you may have come across vegetables labeled as “heirloom.” Heirloom, has the sound of something elegant, often referring to something valuable, that has been passed down from generation to generation. But, you may ask, if heirloom vegetables are so valuable, why do they look so darned weird?

heirloom tomatoes_mrsdkrebs

Simply because, heirloom vegetables are a specific variety of vegetables that have been grown for many years and is open pollinated by bees and other garden insects. This is in contrast to hybrid and GM (genetically modified) vegetables, we now find commonly grown in today‘s gardens, that have been crossed pollinated or genes modified to produce that perfect roundness or color.

While the heirloom vegetable may look strange in its’ appearance, they usually have the better taste and flavor, especially when eaten fresh from the garden. So if you have a choice, go for the unique shape and color of a vegetable grown from heirloom seeds.

Looking Back At Our Growing Season

As our summer turns to fall, it’s time to look back of our growing season and start planning for next year.

Don’t Stop Watering:

Just because the temperature takes a dip doesn’t mean we should stop watering the plants we still have in our garden. Having enough water in and around them, protects them from the on coming cold weather.

This is especially true of container plants. Having the extra installation of the water can keep their roots from freezing. Plus it will give them a boost when the soil warms up in the daytime sun.

Remove Dead Plants and Start Composting

Keeping a neat gardening area is as important as anything else you do in the garden. Keeping your paths clear of debris and your beds neat will help you know exactly what you have in your gardens at all times.

Removing dead or broken off plants then adding them to your compost bin will help enrich your garden for the next season. It also helps to eliminate winter hiding spots for hibernating insects that might do harm to your next planting season. Never throw diseased plants in the compost pile, always add them to your trash for take away or burning. Tree leaves can also be added to your compost bin to create a rich nutritious meal for your plants in the spring.

Adding Autumn Leaves to your garden will enrich your soil.

Adding Autumn Leaves to your garden will enrich your soil.  Composting leaves will add to the volume of your compost gold for your spring planting.

Add New Beds

Fall is also the time to decide on new planting areas. Till and prepare the soil for any new raised beds or row gardens now. This allows the soil and any animal manure you have placed in it, time to freeze and thaw in the winter, to break it down into a workable easy to use soil.

Getting ready for our Spring growing season is stressful enough, just remember, to have less to do on your Spring To Do List, do it now.