Archive for container gardening

Organic Gardens

Natural Fertilizers for Organic Gardens

When planting an organic garden, keep in mind for them to be truly organic, you must use natural fertilizers. We all have several household food items that can fit into that category. These are a few of my favorites.

from your yard to your table

organic gardens

Coffee and Coffee Grounds

Can’t finish that last cup of coffee. Store it in an empty 2 liter soft drink bottle until it’s 1/3 full, finish the container off with water, then use the liquid to spray on your garden plants. Coffee contains, magnesium, potassium and nitrogen, which is good for your plants. Spray them every 8-10 days for best results.

Rose food can be made from coffee grounds. You will need to dry the coffee grounds before sprinkling the grounds around the base of your azaleas, roses, or blueberries or any other acid-loving plants. Just be careful not to overdo it with the grounds, 2 or 3 times a year is about right.

Fish Water

When cleaning your fish tank, save the water to go on your garden. The fish by-products are full of nitrogen and other nutrients that plants thrive on.

Eggshell Top dressing

Save all your egg shells for a week. Wash thoroughly then let them dry for a day or two. Use your food processor or blender to grind them to a fine powder. Sprinkle the powder around the base of the plants or add a teaspoon to the hole before you plant your plants. Eggs shells are made up almost entirely of calcium carbonate, the main ingredient in agricultural lime.

Milk

Mix milk with water in a 1 to 4 ratio, will give your plants nitrogen building protein. You can feed this mixture to your plants once every week or so. Great way to use that old milk that may become out of date in a day or two.

As you can see when looking for a natural fertilizer for your organic gardens, you may not have to look any farther than your kitchen.

Salad Fixings You Can Grow Indoors

Not Just Lettuce: Other Salad Fixings You Can Grow Indoors

Growing your lettuce for a salad, in shallow bowls or similar planting containers is a lot of fun and a great way to get more healthy greens into your diet. While most of us are perfectly happy with a side of salad greens with dinner most nights, it’s nice to have a little variety in our salads. Of course adding other home-grown plants to your salads adds to the overall nutritional value as well.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at various other “salad fixings” that you can grow indoors or on your patio. They make great additions to your salads, but also come in handy in the kitchen in a multitude of other recipes.

Herbs  

Using a shoe storage bag is an excellent way to grow herbs for your salad.

You can spent a small fortune on fresh herbs at the grocery store. Why not grow your own instead. You can keep them in small pots or even old tea or coffee pots. Actual little planters are preferable since they have drainage holes, but use what you’ve got and just think of how pretty these little pots of herbs will look all lined up in your kitchen window.

Popular herbs to grow and use in your salads include:

  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Chives
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano
  • Thyme

and more. Like lettuce you can either grow them from seed, or pick up small plant seedling at your local garden center.

Sprouts

Sprouts also make a great addition to your salad. They provide a little crunch and a lot of extra nutrients. But like herbs, they can be pricey if you pick them up at the store each week. Instead, order some seeds online, then sprout your own in a shallow container lined with moist paper towel. Sprouting is surprisingly quick and easy. The biggest secret is that you have to keep the seeds moist and warm.

Common things to sprout include alfalfa, lentil, mung, rye, soy, and wheat. Start with the sprouts you like to eat, then expand your growing horizon from there.

Tomatoes And Peppers

Tomatoes and peppers may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re thinking about growing plants indoors, but there are small varieties that do surprisingly well in a sunny window. Of course growing them outside on a patio or balcony in larger containers is also an option.

In either case look for varieties that don’t grow very large and provide a nice little harvest. You should be able to find varieties of tomatoes (mostly cherry tomatoes) and various peppers from hot to sweet that you can grow in a small space then add to your salad.

Not only do they add a nice burst of flavor and visual appeal to your salad, they also make surprisingly beautiful houseplants. And isn’t it more satisfying to grow a plant that also provides you with food?

Onion and Garlic

If you’re feeling a little adventurous, try growing your own onion and garlic alongside your lettuce bowl. While regular onions don’t lend themselves to indoor growing you can plant green onion and garlic bulbs and grow both of those in fairly small containers on your counter. Use the green onion, and you can even use the green stalks of the garlic plants in a similar way. It has a mellow bit of garlic flavor that’s not quite as strong as the garlic bulbs that will be growing all along in the soil.

Ready to give it a try? Head to your local garden center and see what they have to offer to you.

Tips For Container Gardening

container gardening

 

Container gardening is a fun way to grow flowers, fruits, herbs and vegetables in a creative and simple way. The fact is, you can grow things in just about any type of container. Let’s take a look at the wide variety of options you have and then explore some tips for container gardening.

Getting Creative and Eco Friendly

One of the reasons container gardening has become so popular is that it’s a fun way to decorate a patio, porch or yard. You can use any type of container from an old bathtub to a wooden crate. You can reuse items or head to the home goods store to find planters that fit your design tastes and needs.

Small Plants

Have an old fish bowl or aquarium? You can grow vegetables in it. Do you have a mug that you never use? It might be great for herbs like chives. Small plants like herbs and lettuce, and even root vegetables like carrots and radishes, grow well when they’re in smaller planters.

You can pack them tightly together for an ornate appearance and to maximize space. You can also add these vegetables to flower pots. For example, you might have a planter that has petunias, daisies and lettuce.

Medium Size Plants

You can find lovely plants for medium size planters too. For example, peppers – both sweet and hot – are beautiful plants. You can use the containers as a decorative element on your porch or patio and enjoy the harvest in later summer.

If you like spicy foods, try Habanero peppers. They have a bright orange color that is quite stunning.

Tomatoes are somewhere between medium and large. If you plant them in a planter, make sure to place a tomatoes cage over them so they have the support they need to grow up. Look for smaller varieties like cherry tomatoes.

Large Containers for Large Plants

Larger containers work too. You can grow tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, zucchini and squash in larger containers. Position a trellis in the container so the plant can grow vertically. These types of containers and plants make a great background on a porch. You can place smaller containers in front of them and create a tiered container garden.

3 Tips for Container Gardening

Container gardening is easy but there are a few tips and rules of thumb that make it even simpler.

1. Holes – If your container doesn’t have holes, then you will want to drill them. Your container needs some drainage so your plant doesn’t become waterlogged.

2. Soil – A good potting soil can make all the difference in your success. You can make your own or buy a bagged soil from your nursery.

3. Check regularly – While you don’t have to worry about too many pests eating your plants and you certainly don’t have to worry about weeds, it’s a good idea to create a habit to check, and water, your container garden on a regular basis.

Container gardening is fun and it’s an easy way to start turning your thumb green. Identify a few types of plants you’d like to grow, find the appropriate container and get started.

 

Vertical Gardening

Give Vertical Gardening A Try

If you have a small space or a wall or fence that you want to beautify, a vertical garden may be just what you’ve been looking for. Vertical gardens allow you to grow anything from flowers and herbs to larger vegetable plants. It just takes a little imagination and planning.

Using a shoe storage bag is an excellent way to grow vertically.

Using a shoe storage bag is an excellent way to try vertical gardening.

What Is a Vertical Garden?

Doing vertical gardening is pretty much what it sounds like. Rather than growing horizontally on the ground or in a raised garden bed, you grow up a wall or structure. How you create your vertical garden depends on your space and your needs.

For example, you can hang several planters vertically and plant herbs and vegetables in the space. You can also position beans and vine-like vegetables and fruits against a wall and coax them to grow up the wall instead of out into the yard.

The main difference in using vertical gardening is the medium that the plants grow in. Hydroponics for example, can be a type of vertical garden. Hydroponics are plants that grow in water.

Quadraphonic is another type of vertical gardening and it mixes raising fish with your plants. That’s a bit more complicated than we’re going to get here but it’s certainly something to investigate if you love fish and gardening. Soil-based gardens are the other option.

The Benefits of a Vertical Garden

There are an abundance of benefits of vertical gardening. In addition to allowing you to use your imagination in terms of how you plant your vegetables and herbs and what you plant them in, you can have a lot of fun. Many people try to find ways to make their vertical garden artistic.

For example, you might hang white pots on a glossy black fence in a star-shaped pattern. You could also find unique items to hold your plants like old rain gutters, or you might make a vertical garden from a closet hanging shoe holder.

The other benefits include the fact that your plants are off of the ground so they’re not vulnerable to pests. They also don’t need weeding which certainly saves time and energy. You can also bring your vertical garden indoors during the colder months which may give you a longer season.

The Downside of a Vertical Garden

Downsides might include the fact that you can be limited with the size of the plants. You don’t see too many people hanging tomato or pumpkin plants on the side of a wall or a fence. Also, because the plants are hanging and they’re more exposed to the air, you may need to water them more often.

Take a look around your space and consider what you might want to grow. If you’re interested in smaller plant and you have a wall or fence that fits the bill, consider trying a little vertical gardening.

From Your Yard To Your Table

Forget about the saying “Farm to Table” and think about, growing what you eat, using the “from your yard to your table” method, as a way to eat healthier and cheaper.  Ninety-five percent of us have space to grow some of our own food items.  It could be two to three vegetables or a well thought out 6 x 10 foot space for square foot beds and a few containers.  No matter which you decide to do, it can be the beginning of a great future in supplying yourself and family with the best organic food coming from your yard to your table.

from your yard to your table

Even using a small space if you rotate the plants during your nine or ten months of the growing time span, you can decrease your food budget and increase the quality of the food you put on your dinner table.  Like with most new things you might want to start small, then branch out with each growing season.

Choose your family’s favorite three or four vegetables and start with them. Research your best growing season for these items in your area, and choose the plants or seeds for that time period.  Some veggies can be planted more than one time within that growing time span.  The seed package is your best guide when choosing those seeds or plants.

www.Growingwhatyoueat.com

If you have small children, dogs or other small animals in your area and having your garden ground level would be more fight than pleasure, think about raising your growing boxes up higher.  This is my small raised bed where I place small plants that vine. It’s 24 inches wide by four feet long. At one end I grew midget cucumbers and planted the rest in hot peppers.  I placed the hot peppers up there because I didn’t want any little fingers finding the small red peppers too charming to resist and bite into one.

The old drawer below is where I started seeds to be planted in the beds, later in the season.  The get off to a good start and when the plants are 3-4 inches in height, I can move them into a bed when my earlier plants have been harvested.

If all you have is a patio, balcony, or small yard space, you can still think about growing what you eat, and bringing it from your yard to your table.

Growing What You Eat

www.growingwhatyoueat.com

By growing what you eat, even the smallest garden can give you fresh veggies for salads or ingredients for a complete meal for a long period of time.  The onions, lettuce and young tomato plants you see here, can enrich your meals, for not only the spring and summer seasons but through out the year.

One healthy tomato plant can produce up to 100 tomatoes for you and your family.  The 30+ onions you see here can grow to 4 inches in size.  With a little knowledge on preserving and canning, you can be eating and cooking with onions you planted and grew in you small garden until it’s time to plant them again.  Growing what you eat can be healthier for you and your family plus save you a good amount of money in your food budget.

By harvesting the lettuce in the right way, it too, will be giving you salads or a topping for your best grilled burger, way into summer.  Cut the outer leaves for use instead of pulling up the whole plant and the leaves will grow back in for future picking.  As long as you keep the dirt around them moist and if possible provide a little shade, you will have lettuce until July and the heat over takes them.

Add a package of radish seeds to a small frame of good soil, and they too, will give you many meals in return, with very little effort.

www.growingwhatyoueat.com

 

Radishes are nutritious little balls of fun.  There are many types and flavors when it comes to choosing your favorite kind.  Some have a sharp bite and some are very mild in flavor.  My favorite is the French Breakfast.  It isn’t as round as most and has a sweet mild flavor.  It can be placed in salads, or cooked in a mixture of ways to fit just about any type of meal.  Check out these little healthy bundles the next time you are looking to add something new to your garden.

A small raised bed garden [4 ft by 12 ft] can provide a family of 4 with upward of 200 pounds of produce for the year.  Just think how much that would save you in your food budget.  How do I know this can happen?  Mainly because I have done it for the last two growing periods in NE Tennessee and I am on my way of doing it again, this year.  The secret is, rotating my crops and keeping my little garden full of growing veggies.  Listed here are my main vegetables for each season, in my growing what you eat garden.

Spring Cold Plants:  Onions, Radishes, Lettuce, Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Carrots

Summer Plants:, [by this time the Radishes, Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower has been harvested]: About May 1-15 planting:  Tomatoes [4], Radishes [2nd planting], Cucumbers, Squash and Green Beans.  The secret to having this many plants in a small space is, buy the climbers.  You can grow upward, using less ground space.

Fall Plants:  Radishes [3 and 4 plantings, depending on how early the cold sets in], Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Onions[red or white]  Sugar Snap Peas.

To make it a success, planning is the first key in growing what you eat.  Dream it, plan it, plant it!

Cool Weather Vegetables

 Favorite Cool Weather Vegetables 

Cool weather vegetables can generally be planted in Spring as soon as the soil can be worked and again in the Fall. They do not do well during the hot months of Summer.

Radish: They sprout easily and quickly, and can be harvested in just three to four weeks. Make successive plantings every 10-14 days through mid-Spring  for continuous harvest. There are many kinds of radishes. Plant several different kinds until you find your top 3 favorites, you know you and your family will enjoy to eat. The tops or leaves of the radish are edible and can be used in a mixed garden salad. They will add vitamins and minerals to your meals. Just wash and dry them before tossing them in the salad. There is very little waste in a radish.

Arugula: This spicy green grows easily in pots or raised beds. Let some of the plants go to seed and you’ll find it popping up all over the place. It can be served raw in simple salads or cooked in soups, but perhaps our favorite way to use it is scattered on top of a fresh homemade pizza.

Snow pea and/or sugar snap pea: Snow peas have edible pods and should be harvested just as you can see the seeds forming inside for the most tender crop. Sugar snap peas get a bit fatter, but you eat the pod with this variety, too. Sugar snap peas are climbers and require the support of a trellis or wire support system. Snow peas come in both “bush” varieties, that don’t require support, and climbing varieties.

cool weather vegetables

Swiss chard: Grown for both its greens and the stalks, Swiss Chard is easy to grow and it can be continuously harvested for months. It’s a great option for growing in containers, too.

Green onions: Plant seeds or slice the roots from your purchased green onions and bury them about ½ inch underground. They’ll sprout again, and you can trim off the green stems as you need them. The stems can be used in salads, dressings or sauteed with meat.

There are many cold or cool weather vegetables. Most are easy to grow or maintain in containers or small raised beds. It may take a couple of growing seasons to find your favorite but don’t give up as fresh cool weather vegetables are well worth the effort.

Coming Soon!

 

growingwhatyoueat.com

Coming Soon!:

A full report on growing fresh vegetables and turning them into food saving ideas for your family food budget.  Learning to use the food that you grow, can produce better meals for your family and leave you smiling.   While using them the right way can save you money in your food budget, trying new recipes instead of the same old ones, can make you a queen in the eyes of your family and friends.

6 Reasons To Grow What You Eat

Here are 6 top reasons to Grow What You Eat.

[1] You control the fertilizer and pesticides.

You do not have to wonder if your food is organic or not, as you have controlled everything that was in the soil or put on your plants as you grow what you eat.

grow what you eat
[2] Container or Raised Bed Gardening is easier than you first think.

Once you have your beds set up the right way, they take very little up keep as compared to traditional gardening.

[3] It’s fun to get your hands dirty and have something to show for it.

There are few things in life that give you the feelings you get when that first tomato ripens or you pull your first onion for the still cool soil of spring.
[4] Your food budget gets smaller while your smile gets brighter. Replace 4 store bought food items with 4 home grown items and easily save up to 15% on your grocery budget.

Just by replacing potatoes, tomatoes, onions, lettuce or other salad greens, fresh herbs and peas with your home grown ones, you can start saving for that new car.  None of the before mentioned vegetables or plants are hard to grow.  Once they are in the soil, they will grow with little help, except for watering a couple times a week.
[5] Better tasting recipes.

You will notice the change in the flavor of your food, with the first recipe using your fresh from the garden food items.  The potatoes will cook quicker because their moisture content hasn’t dried out in the 2000 mile journey they normally would have had to take to get from the garden to your table.  The salads will taste fresher and look much brighter in their color.  The tomatoes will taste sweeter and have more juice when cooking your red sauce.  The aroma of the herbs will fill your garden and give you ideas on what to make for your next meal.
[6] Your friends and neighbors will be green with envy over the fact that you know how to grow what you eat.  When you can grow what you eat, it brings a peaceful feeling into your life.  You have more control in other parts of your family life.  It gives you and those you love a common interest and sharing of ideas as you watch your plants grow, then finally sharing a meal that wouldn’t have happened if no one hadn’t dropped that first seed in the soil, on a cool day last spring.

There are many more reasons to learn how to grow what you eat, these are only a few of the more important ones.

A Kitchen Garden

One of the main virtues of a kitchen garden is accessibility. It should be easy to grab the items you need from it, to help you prepare your daily meals. Therefore, it should be located as close to your food preparation area as possible.

a kitchen garden_thegardenbuzz

Kitchen gardens are smaller than traditional gardens because they are position close to the house where space is usually limited. This isn’t always the case, of course, but having a culinary garden close enough to offer easy access while you are cooking may limit the amount of space available. Imagine you are preparing dinner when you realize you need a little Rosemary or Basil to make your recipe, just right. Being able to step just outside your kitchen door to get it, is far better than having to trek out to your large vegetable garden, while you have pots cooking on the stove. With a kitchen garden, the easier it is to grab what you need while you are cooking, the better.

A regular vegetable garden is about planning for the future, while a kitchen garden is about enjoying fresh items for your meals, today. The fruits and vegetables you plan to preserve for future use, such as corn, that take up a lot of space, are good choices for a traditional vegetable garden where space is at less of a premium.

Kitchen gardens are normally filled with the items you prepare and eat while fresh. Therefore, containers of fresh herbs, cherry tomato plants, or an assortment of leaf lettuces, all make great additions to a kitchen garden. If you lack the space for a larger traditional garden, a small kitchen garden, even done in containers, can keep you in fresh, delicious produce all season long.

Size and Beauty

 

While a standard vegetable garden is all about utility and production, part of the charm of a kitchen garden comes from its beauty aspect. Due to its closeness to the home, a kitchen garden is harder to tuck out of sight than a larger garden. You can often design them to add a sense of beauty to your home, as well.

In the past I have used beets, radishes, carrots, Basil and Rosemary to form a border around my patio. The greenery and fragrance add a delightful look and aroma to any home.

As you can see, a kitchen garden offers both convenience and beauty in a compact spaces. The best part being, it doesn’t take much to get one started. All you need is a couple of feet of dirt or a few large containers, some fresh herbs starts, a cherry tomato plant and a couple packs of seeds of your favorite radish and lettuce.