3 Laws of Gardening For New Gardeners

You have decided to give gardening a try, so like most new gardeners, you have been reading gardening magazines and dreaming of building a garden that will make you the envy of all your neighbors.

3 laws of gardening for new gardeners

All of that is great practice for any new gardener, but let me warn you that before you start, soon you will think, the forces of nature are your true enemies, regardless of how you carefully build your flower or vegetable beds. As much as you care about your seedlings and baby plants, you will soon start to believe an evil force is plotting against you and your gardens.

New Gardeners Law #1… No matter what you do, and how well you do it, it can still all go wrong!

It’s not your fault though after all how were you to know it would snow in May? Or that a drought would cover the land the summer your sprinkler system decided to take a nose dive? Gardening is about a lot of dreams and woulda, coulda, shoulda…with 20 20 hindsight.

New Gardeners Law #2… Planting your seeds in early spring.

You have cultivated, raked and sowed your seeds, only to see them being washed three houses down the street when a rain storm pours 2 inches of rain on your garden, within an hour. It was the worse downpour in your area in the last 10 years. So after cleaning up your garden you try it again, same results. Oh well, maybe the third time is a charm…. Maybe.

New Gardeners Law #3…

You plant your corn and other vegetables, inside a fenced area to keep the deer from eating it faster than you can pick it. Only to realize, no one ever told you that, yes, deer can and do jump fences, to eat anything and everything in your garden, without as much as a thank you.

Don’t despair new gardeners, if you use a little humor, ok, a lot of humor, all will be well in the end.

You will get the hang of gardening, you will produce something for your family to eat and you will become the envy of all your neighbors. As with most things in life, it takes time, practice and effort to go from being a new gardener to become the expert all new gardeners come to for advice. Keep smiling!

A Vegetable Gardener And Apps

Hey! Vegetable Gardener, Have I got an app for you? Vegetable Gardener, I got an app for you If you love vegetables gardening and like having your questions answered quickly, have I got an app for you or maybe I should say apps. Here are a five apps geared for a vegetable gardener that will educate and delight you for a better vegetable gardening experience. We normally think of gardening as getting physical outside and to be as far from our phones as possible activity, right? But keep in mind that these apps can educate you on various aspects of becoming a better vegetable gardener and make your vegetable gardening life a lot easier.

Apps for the vegetable gardener:

  • Gardening Plant Care Videos.    All the How To videos you could want, in your own personal library. This app has just about everything from lettuce harvesting, tips to how to graft a fruit tree, or how to grow vegetables upside down.
  • Garden Compass.      One neat thing you can do with this app is take a picture of a plant or problem/pest you want identified, send it to their experts and you will get a response within 24 hours.
  • Vegetable Garden Planner.     Want to know how many seeds or seedlings to plant to feed your family? This is the app for you. No more planting enough to feed an army, unless you want to feed an army.
  • Vegetable Gardening.     This app provides an all-around education including, when and how to start, how to plant, how to harvest and what to do with your harvest (canning, cooking, freezing, drying, pickling and eating). It can even show you how to create a root cellar and how to grow herbs indoors.
  • eWeather HD.     You can see your current temperature and precise hourly forecasts. It even has a radar screen. As a gardener, you know how quickly a hard freeze or hail can damage your tender plants.

We all know, an app can’t become human and won’t grow our veggies for us but as a vegetable gardener we also know, there is no substitution for getting out there and getting our hands dirty. With each planting season, gardeners not only learn to grow vegetables but to grow with experience for the next season of vegetable gardening.  Using new tools will keep you gardening easier not harder. If a phone app can help you in any way to become a better vegetable gardener, then go for it, is what I say.

An Easy Guide To Composting

To help you get started in making your own composting material, here are some easy tips.  I hope it helps you in your gardening.

Using kitchen scraps and yard waste is an economical way to make your own composting material. By doing so, you are also keeping your yard, garden and flowers healthy in a natural way.

  • As with most things, it should start with the planning. Think about how much compost you will need and how much raw material you have access to. Knowing this will help in deciding if you want an outdoor bin or an indoor box .
Worms, Your best helper in An Easy Guide To Composting

Earth Worms: The hardest worker your composting bin.

  • A worm box can be of any size as long as it has a lid, water proof sides and bottom and you have a supply of paper of all kinds, [newspaper, computer paper or magazines] and dirt. You can purchase a ready-made worm composting system, or you can make your own by poking holes [at the top for air flow and at the bottom for drainage] in a see through, plastic container then set it on some type of drainage tray. Once you have your worms, a box, paper and dirt, the rest is all up to the worms. Make a layer of dirt about 4 inches deep, introduce your worms, then wet the paper and tare it into 2-3 inch strips and place it in the box. Place the lid on the box and let the boys go to work. Never let your worm bin get below 55 degrees or the process will stop and your worms might die.
  • For those with larger outdoor areas, compost bins can be built outdoors for little money and effort. You can also compost without a bin and simply make a pile in a sheltered corner of your yard.
  • An outdoor bin can be built for little or no money using what you have on hand. Wooden pallets that you can find at any retail store make great composting bins. Most large retail store will give you these for just hauling them away. You will need 4-6 of the pallets to make your bin. They can be wired or nailed together to make a usable open top composting bin.
An Easy Guide To Composting

Wooden Pallet Composting Bin

Except for dairy products, fish and meat, you can put most kitchen scraps into your composting bin, including egg shells, tea leaves, and coffee grounds. Any organic matter from your yard can be added, such as hay, straw, cut grass, leaves, mulch, wood chips, and small pruning from your shrubs. You can also add a layer of shredded newspapers from time to time but without worms, it will take longer to decompose that the household waste.

Chicken droppings can be added to your mixture, chicken manure makes the compost rich and full of nutrients, but do not add waste from other pets, such as dogs or cats.

Turn your compost once a month or so, stirring to aerate it and get the top layer down into the middle. If your composting bin is in a location where rain water can reach it, you should not have a need to water it. If it is not, water it about once a month with a garden hose or better yet, collect rain water and us it, instead.

Vegetable Gardening Is Good for Your Health

Vegetable gardening is a great activity in many ways. It’s a wonderful form of exercise, stress reliever and just plain old fun.

Vegetable Gardening

Vegetable Gardening Is Good For Your Health

Studies have shown that regular outings in nature and fresh air is good for all of us. Not only will you feel energized after a gardening session, but you’ll also know you have accomplished something because, there it is, right in front of you, for all to see.

Four Reasons Vegetable Gardening Is Good For Your Health are:

  • Stress relief. Most of us lead stressful lives. Vegetable gardening is a good way of relieving that stress. It’s a quiet, gentle activity that helps you connect with nature and gives you peace of mind. There’s something very nurturing about having a part in helping something grow. Especially when it’s something you can eat.
  • Good for your joints and flexibility. As we get older, we loose some of our mobility. Vegetable gardening is not only a great option for keeping your joints moving and flexible without too much pressure, it, also, allows us the ability to grow organic foods that are good for us. Doing simple movements, like bending, lifting and light digging will help your flexibility and helps your body build muscles.
  • It Keeps you busy. If you’re out of work or retired, keeping a garden can provide a great way of staying active, fit and healthy plus allows you to grow your own food and keep expenses down. It will also, make you feel a wonderful sense of achievement, when you see the fruits of your labor.
  • Great social activity. Vegetable gardening is becoming more and more popular. Lots of people are joining a community garden. This is a great way to bond with your community and the people in it. It’s also an opportunity for trading home-grown produce so you aren’ t looking up 30 ways to cook squash, recipes. Vegetable gardening is a great link for friendships and having like-minded people doing something they all enjoy.

Vegetable gardening is a great health activity but there are also, many other wonderful benefits. Along with getting plenty of fresh air, exercise and fresh foods, you can make new friends and eat better, too. Vegetable gardening is a fantastic all-around activity to enjoy, leading to improved health and adding to the quality of your life.

 

Teaching Others To Vegetable Garden

Teaching others to grow their own vegetable garden can be life changing for all involved. You have heard the old saying about “To feed a man 1 day, give him a fish but to feed him a life time, teach him to fish”. I add to that, If you want to feed someone a healthy diet for a life time, teach them how to grow their own vegetable garden”.

For a better life and health, gardening is great habit to get into. There is no better gift than teaching family, especially children and friends how to grow their own food. Kids love getting in the dirt and playing around to begin with, so why not teach them to plant, cultivate and grow their favorite vegetables? Square foot vegetable gardening is a quick and easy way to start. Whether it’s a garden of fruits and vegetables that they get to eat, or just pretty flowers that they get to nurture and watch grow, it’s a great learning opportunity for all ages.

Tips For Teaching Others to Grow Their Vegetable Garden

Growing What You Eat in Your Own Vegetable Garden

Vegetable Garden

1. Find out the depth of their interest, the interest has to be there for gardening before you even start.

2. Make sure they have the right tools for the job. They will need hand tools, gloves, a hoe and rake for sure. Larger tools can be borrowed until they know for sure they will stick to gardening.

3. Choose vegetables that are easy to grow and they like to eat. You might not want something that’s going to take a long harvest time because they might lose interest if they do not see the fruits of their labor quickly. Here are a few you could try with your beginner gardener:

  • Tomatoes
  • Squash
  • Radishes
  • Beans
  • Sweet peas
  • Lettuce

So get out there and get to growing that vegetable garden. Remember to have fun, It’s not a chore, it’s a new life changing ability to learn. I have found that once a person gets into the enjoyment of gardening, they never get tired of it. There is always something new to do in the vegetable garden.

Removing Garden Pests In Your Organic Garden

Five Safe Ways to Remove Garden Pests in Your Organic Garden

When growing an organic garden, you want to take measures to also make sure you are safe. Trying to remove pests from the garden can lead to some less than safe actions. Keeping that in mind, here are five safe ways to remove garden pests from your home organic garden.

  •  Slugs: To rid yourself of these slime makers, sprinkle sawdust or wood chips around your garden to deter them. Slugs will not cross this rough barrier, so in time you will be slug free.
  • Grasshoppers: Spray grasshoppers with a mixture of molasses and milk. The sweetness attracts them, but it blocks their nasal passages and causes them to suffocate. Use 2 parts milk to one part molasses. You can easily get rid of an entire crop of grasshoppers by just spraying them with molasses and milk, whenever you see them.

Remove Pests From Your Organic Garden With Garlic

  • Garlic is not just for vampires: Planting garlic in your garden or just spraying it with garlic water, will stop many unwanted insects from visiting your garden. Plant the garlic through out your garden to keep certain pests at bay.
  •  Know Your Bugs: Know the helpful bugs from the destructive bugs. Keeping bugs like praying mantis, ladybugs, beetles, and spiders in your yard will be a huge help. They will eat all of those pests which do damage to your crops.
  •  Ducks and Chickens: If you live in an area that welcomes ducks and chickens, you can have a two for one, effect. Fresh eggs and bug free you will be. They will eat these destructive insects. Your family will love having these new pets as well. They do come with some responsibilities, as they can’t live on a diet of insects alone. They also like grains, seeds and just about all leafy greens. Guess I should have said, you will be getting a three for one, as they will eat, 90% of your fresh garden waste. Keep them protected in a coop at night so other animals wont prey on them.

When organic gardening, using these organic garden pest removal techniques will help grow a better garden. Teaming this pest control method with other ideas, such as building a healthy soil, using companion planting and crop rotation, you can help keep those unwanted critters at bay.

With organic gardening, there’s nothing more important than making sure you, your family and food source are safe. Avoiding toxic chemicals in your organic garden and using more natural methods for pest control is the only way to go.

 

 

Grow Your Own Organic Food

The Best Way to Go Organic: Grow Your Own Organic Food

The cheapest and surest way to get good organic food is to grow your own, yourself. Growing your own organic food can be as simple as a few plants or as involved as you want it to get, by having a large outdoor garden.

If you are a first-time gardener, try not to overwhelm yourself. Think about container gardening or keep your garden relatively small, say a 4 ft x 12 ft raised bed. But think ahead and leave room for expansion when you are ready.

Containers work well for lots of vegetables but root vegetables may not be possible in some containers. Keep an open mind when looking for containers for your garden. Five gallon buckets, large bags [including the bags you buy your soil in] work great. Smaller food items like strawberries, cucumbers, carrots and herbs work well in smaller containers, such as a mop bucket, old pots that have seen their best days in the kitchen or clay flower pots. Cardboard boxes are another great help for growing in small places. Potatoes, tomatoes, green beans and peppers can all be grown in boxes.   cardboard boxes are great for growing organic food

When growing in the ground, there are two things to consider.

[1] Sunlight. You will want a spot that gets 6 to 8 hours of full sun, each day.

[2] Soil quality. You will need a pH balance of about 5.8 – 6.8. Inexpensive testing kit can be bought at a garden store or sometimes at a big box store.

You can correct acidity, by adding limestone. To decrease pH, or to correct alkalinity, use elemental limestone. Also, by adding leaves and plenty of other organic material you can enhance your soil to make it better and better each year.

If you can’t get your soil quite right, consider using raised beds around your yard. Then use bagged soil mixes that include animal manure for fertilizer to keep your vegetables organic. You can buy these products at most garden shops. If you are a first time vegetable gardener, consider planting some plant starts, instead of planting seeds. They may be a little more difficult to find organically, but for first time growers, they’re much easier to use. I have found smaller greenhouses can suit my needs for these plant starts.

Make sure to water your plants regularly. Seeds should be watered daily. New plants should be watered every 2-3 days. On particularly hot days, you may need to do more. You can even collect rain water for your plants by using rain barrels or creating your own from garbage pails.

One last tip, take the time to pull weeds. Make sure you grab the weeds fully by their roots or they will continue to grow. Weeding regularly will keep them from maturing and becoming problematic, especially, when you are just beginning to learn how to grow your own organic food.

For more information on growing your own organic food, read,  http://growingwhatyoueat.com/category/small-garden-spaces/

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.