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Small Space Greenhouse Gardening

When you think about a greenhouse, you probably imagine a large conservatory or farm greenhouse. These buildings can be amazing structures but they’re not right for the average gardener. The truth is that most people don’t consider a greenhouse because they think they’re too big. However, there’s a growing trend of mini-greenhouses and small space greenhouses. In fact, they’re so popular you can buy a mini-greenhouse at your local home store or big box stores like Walmart.

greenhouse

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DIY or Buy?

As mentioned, you can buy a pre-made mini greenhouse. They come in all shapes and sizes and can be purchased to fit your space. For example, if you have a wall or fence area that gets good sun, you can purchase a greenhouse that’s taller to fit the space. There are also ground level or tabletop greenhouses you can buy.

The other option is to build your own greenhouse. This is a good idea if you have a space that has a unique shape and size. You really don’t need much to build your own greenhouse. A frame can be made from PVC or wood. You then attach a thin clear plastic sheet to the frame. Leave it open on one end or create a Velcro opening and you have an instant greenhouse.

Why Use a Greenhouse?

Greenhouses are ideal for cooler climates. If you live in an area where you get enough sun but the temperatures tend to run cooler, a greenhouse can help you grow more plant varieties. It also extends the season. Your tomato plants for example, won’t die from the first hard frost. You can protect them with a greenhouse and get more fruit from the plant.

One excellent use of a greenhouse is to build one that you can position on top of your raised bed. This extends your growing season and produces more food.

Additionally, depending on the size of the greenhouse, you can take the structure into your home during the winter and continue growing your vegetables with a grow light. If you choose a vertical structure, you can tier or stack your plants on shelves and grow more plants in less space.

You can grow just about anything using greenhouse gardening. The only consideration is that the temperature does need to be controlled. It can get either too hot or too cold in a greenhouse and that can cause your plants to die.  If your temp is too hot, the simple solution is to open the greenhouse to provide the warm air an escape. If it’s too cold, add heat lamps or move the greenhouse into the direct sunlight.

We’ve talked about many different types of gardening on this site.  The difference in this one is that it can be done most anywhere in all types of climates, thus giving you the opportunity to have organic fresh vegetables 90% of the time.

 

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.

Why Garden in Raised Beds?

Why Garden in Raised Beds?

There’s a growing trend to garden in raised beds. These beds are usually anywhere from eight to twelve inches deep and can be any shape or size you desire. They are easy to build and can fit any size yard or patio. And with a greenhouse built to position on top, you can extend the growing season. Let’s take a look at the benefits of gardening in a raised bed.

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1. Soil control – When you build a raised garden bed, you have a few choices. You can position it onto the ground or you can build a bottom with holes for drainage. Either way, you’re adding soil to the bed.

You have complete control over the type of soil and can choose the mix that best fits your garden’s needs. Additionally, year after year, you can simply add more quality soil to the box. You don’t have to worry about depleting the existing soil.

2. Easier weeding – Actually, if you use a ground cover like mulch or a weed barrier then you won’t have any weeding to contend with. Weeding in a traditional garden can take hours each week. With a raised bed you simply water and harvest. It’s a lot less work.

3. Works for any size space – Generally, raised beds are four feet by four feet. This is a great size because it fits nicely into a corner and because you can reach across it from any direction. However, if you have a unique sized space that you need to fit a garden into, you can make your raised bed fit your needs. You can, for example, build a long, narrow two by eight foot bed.

4. Easy to build – All you really need are a couple of nails, a hammer, and some wood. You can have the wood measured and precut at the lumber yard or hardware store. Metal brackets can ensure that you have perfect corners too.

5. Longer growing season – The growing season is extended with a raised garden bed because you can start earlier in the season. The soil you add to the bed warms more quickly than the dirt in the ground. Additionally, you can add a greenhouse top to the bed to take your vegetables into the cooler months.

6. No problems with pests – With a raised garden bed you won’t have to worry as much about rabbits and rodents eating your plants. Additionally, you can prevent many bugs from becoming problems.

7. They’re attractive – Raised garden beds can fit any design personality. You can make them out of wood, metal, and even plastic or synthetic wood. You can paint them or adorn them however you like. A raised garden bed becomes part of your outdoor living area.

Raised garden beds fit a variety of needs. They’re lovely, easy to care for, and can extend your growing season. Measure your space and start designing your garden today.

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Gardening Tips For New Gardeners

Vegetable gardening is so changeable, depending on where you live, but these gardening tips are so true they can be used in 90 % of home gardens.  I found this wonderful video on youtube.com and thought it would be a great asset to any gardener.  It is full of gardening tips and ideas that can be used by new gardeners or like me, an old hand at digging in the dirt.

Things are slowing down in East Tennessee gardens as Fall is coming soon.  Even so, I still use some of these gardening tips to get ready for my winter beds or next Spring’s plantings.

I think you will learn several good tips and ideas from this short video for your own home garden.

Fall Harvest

It’s the first week of August and while it may not seem to be Fall on the calendar, the cool crisp morning air, marks the beginning of the Fall harvest season in the northern hemisphere.

Taking Inventory Before My Fall Harvest

While I was walking my community garden yesterday, I saw, Sunflowers standing tall, inviting the birds to partake of it’s seed before heading south.

Fall Harvest

I saw the last of the cucumbers plants dying out, the third planting of green beans beginning to bloom and the first pumpkin turning it’s bright orange color, signaling fall harvest time is near.

Fall Harvest

My little garden has brought a lot of pleasure into my life, given me much needed exercise, provided me with all the fresh food I needed over the last few months and with canning some of them, I’ll still be using the food well into the coming new year.  I am grateful for every pea, radish, green bean, potato and tomato it has blessed me with this year.  The best part at this time of the year is, it’s not over.

  • Planting A Fall Garden

In the coming week I will plant my Fall garden with another crop of broccoli, cucumbers, beans, onions, and sugar snap peas.  Most of these will be harvested before November and it’s colder weather hits my Northeast Tennessee community.  Planting a Fall garden is a little different from planting a Spring garden but just as exciting.  Cold weather plants provide us with the produce for many hearty winter meals.

You can find several recipes for these wonderful Fall harvest vegetables, here.

http://www.foodshoppingonabudget.com/2013/11/broccoli-easy-and-quick-recipes.html

Being part of a Fall Harvest means fun to many people.  After all the hard work is done, there can be hay rides, pumpkin carving contests, harvest celebrations with music, dancing and food,,lots of food.  Pumpkin pie and Grannie’s Apple Stack Cake, to name a couple of my favorites.

Just because the days are getting shorter and cooler, is not a reason to give up on your garden.  Fall Harvest season is the reward for all the work you have done through out the year in your vegetable garden.

 

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.

 

Worms, Your Garden’s Best Friend

Worms, beautiful worms, are your garden’s best friend.  You should take good care of the worms in your garden.  Don’t poison them with chemicals or allow birds to fly over and eat them.

You can do many things to your garden to enhance the soil but nothing will compare to having healthy earth worms living in it.  They airate the soil, their dropping will fertilize it, in a way, other things can not.  The soil will become better at growing what you plant, thus giving you more and better food.

Earth Worms: The hardest worker in the garden

Earth Worms: The hardest worker in the garden. 

Invite them in by feeding them your table and cooking scrapes.  I keep a container on my counter to fill with peelings or other discarded bits and pieces of food items, as I am cooking.  They can eat most anything except bones or something that has oil, fats or butter on them.

When I go to my garden [2-3 times a week] I take along this container and feed my worms.  As I garden in raised beds, I place the food along the edges and till it under with a hand tool.  Before I plant my ground cover and shut down my garden for the winter, I plan to add more food for my friends, the worms.

If you are planting a new bed, make sure you add some worms by looking under rocks or other debris, shortly after a rain.  You should have no trouble finding them but just in case you do not, find a fish and tackle store and buy live worms.  Put them into your soil as soon as possible.  One worm will produce more worms, 7 times in a year..[poor momma].  Within a few months, your garden will be a thriving worm home and your garden will be thanking you for it.

Advantages To Container Gardening

There are many advantages to container gardening, not only with space allotment but the time it takes to get your garden growing.  It’s wonderful if you have the space in your yard for a large vegetable garden but having the space for a container garden is just as wonderful.

8 Tips for container gardeners

  • Use the right containers for the right plant.  Containers between 15 and 120 quarts are the best ones as you want to have room for your roots to grow and spread.  Smaller pots can be used for herbs but even with them, try not to use anything less than a gallon size.
  • Make sure the pots have good drainage with holes at least  ½ inch across.  You can line the bottom of you container with coffee filters to stop any dirt from escaping.
  • Place the gardening containers on large gravel, blocks or bricks to allow free drainage.
  • While adding soil to your container do not fill it completely, leave about  two-inches between the top of the soil and the top of the container, it allows room for the water to stand and soak into the pot, not rushing out over the top, leaving your plants dry.
  • If you are not using animal manure as a fertilizer, use a diluted liquid fertilizer about three times a week.  Two good ones are: liquid seaweed and liquid fish emulsion.
  • After choosing your plants and getting them into your containers, watering is the best thing you can do for your plants, especially during hot and dry weather.
  • Some of the vegetable plants that can be grown in containers include, Beans, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, Eggplant, Garlic, Lettuce, Spinach, Radish, and Onions.
  • Don’t forget to place a few potted flower plants in the mixture of your vegetables as you will want to entice the bees and other flying insects to pollenate your garden.            bumblebee_tm1

Growing Food That You and Your Family Eat

raised bed vegetable garden _Lori L. Stalteri

Growing what you and your family eats is the best way to be certain you are getting the foods your body needs.

In today’s supermarkets, you can find foods from all over the world.  In most cases they were harvested days or maybe weeks ago.  From the moment they were harvested, they begin to loose their food value.  Not knowing when they were taken from the growing space, allows you to make bad choices for you and your family’s meals.

Growing food that your family will know is organic and healthy is the best way to keep their bodies active and growing.

In a space no larger than a small bedroom, you can grow what you eat, for 10 months out of the year in most locations.  With a little time and effort, your family can have fresher food than is available in most supermarkets of the world.

Growing what you eat can be a beautiful thing

Growing what you eat can be a beautiful thing

If you do not have space in your yard or have no yard, try container gardening.  As long as you have a staging area that gets 608 hours of sunlight, you can still grow many food items.  It can be a patio, driveway, or balcony and there is no need to buy containers.  Lots of veggies can be grown in clean cans, mop buckets, garbage cans, strong cardboard boxes and even old laundry baskets.

Learning to grow what you eat is the best gift you can give your family.