Archive for vegetable garden

I’m Growing What I Eat

My little garden is starting to share it’s summer bounty.  This week I was able to add cucumbers, zucchini, banana peppers, potatoes, shallots and fresh Basil to my food pantry from my little garden.

Growing what I eat, enables me to control the pesticides and other things that normally are used in commercial foods.  I use none of the products that the large corporations use to control bugs and mold.  My main bug deterrent is a little dish soap mixed in a bottle of warm water.  I also use my fingers to remove anything larger than pea size.  Thankfully those are few and far between.

I'm growing what I eat

 

It looks like I am going to have an abundance of cucumbers, as I am picking 6-8 a day now.  One of the things that has helped my, growing what I eat garden, this season, was my use of a ground cover, to keep the dreaded white moth from laying it’s eggs in the soil around my seedlings.  When those eggs hatch, the larva eat the roots of your plants and your young plants die.  This light weight covering is one of my best helpers in my road to independence of growing what I eat.

winterize your garden

The tomatoes are beginning to appear, soon they will be ripe enough for me to use in my meals or as a snack.  I planted six Cherry Tomato plants and nine assorted verities of the larger tomatoes.  It wasn’t as many as last year but I still feel it’s enough for my large family to share and still have enough to can 12- 24 quarts for the winter.

I planned my evening meal around what I got from the garden in the morning.  I had already started the BBQ chicken legs in the slow cooker so I had a head start on the meal.  I added a couple of the new potatoes, a cucumber and a sliced tomato that one of my neighbors at the garden gave me.  A simple delicious meal that cost me very little time or money.

eating what I grow

 

Natural Pests Control

You don’t have to use chemicals to get rid of pests in your home or garden. Using natural pests control choices is better for the environment and better for you, and they can be very effective.

Growing What You Eat in Your Own Vegetable Garden

Vegetable Garden

* Pull Weeds Often – The best and fastest natural pests control way to get rid of weeds in your yard, is simply to pull them up when you see them. The best time to do it is after you’ve watered or after a good rain. If you have a lot of weeds you can also pour hot boiling water on them. It will kill whatever it touches, though, so only do this when you have a large concentration of weeds to get rid of.

* Get Rid of Weak Plants – When any plant succumbs to bugs, the best thing to do is to remove the weak plants, keeping only the stronger, more resistant plants.

* Build Soil Organically – Having healthy soil is one of your best defenses against pests in your garden. Build up your soil for the type of plants you’re growing using natural means such as manure and plant matter.

* Keep Foliage Dry – Water the soil of plants in your garden, not the leaves. A good way to do this is to build an irrigation system that allows you to water the garden without getting all the leaves of the plants wet.  A soaker hose is a good tool for this purpose.

* Clean Up – Keeping plants clean with a little natural soap and water mixture is also helpful to keep down mold and pests. Ensure that you look up the types of plants that work well with soap and water mixtures.  Mix 4-6 drops of a dish washing soap to a gallon of water then spray your plants.

* Keep a Clean Home – Your best defense against pests in the home is truly keeping your home free of the things that pests like. Use sealed plastic and glass containers for food so that pests don’t smell the food, to keep them from being attracted to your home.

* Catnip – Believe it or not, bugs do not like catnip. What’s great is that catnip will not harm humans or pets but it will repel bugs. Wrap catnip in mesh or cloth satchels and place around the home.

* Garlic – Eating lots of garlic will also help ward off pests. If you don’t like to eat garlic you can take garlic supplements, as can your pets.

* Apple Cider Vinegar – Set a trap with apple cider vinegar in a dish to catch gnats. Rinse your dog’s coat with half water, half apple cider vinegar mixture to help ward off ticks and fleas.

* Citronella Candles – You can buy these at any store that sells outdoor supplies or camping gear. These candles give out an odor that wards off garden pests.

* Garlic Juice – Mix half garlic juice with half water and spray directly on the skin to protect yourself and children from pests.

The more you learn about natural pests control, to protect your home and garden from pests, the more you’ll realize that you don’t need harsh chemicals to get the job done.

Building A Raised Vegetable Garden Bed

There are many benefits to using a raised vegetable 
garden bed in your gardens. 

For starters, elevated garden beds are easier on your 
back and knees because they require less bending, 
kneeling and crawling than regular beds.  In addition, 
raised garden beds offer better drainage, which means 
your plants are not stuck sitting in excess water every 
time it rains. Plus, it is much easier to build your soil up
than it is to work amendments into the ground.   

Fortunately, building raised vegetable garden beds is a 
super easy do-it-yourself project. All you need are some 
readily available tools and materials, and maybe an extra 
pair of hands. 
building a raised vegetable garden bed
Raised Vegetable Garden Bed Instructions

Tools and Materials  
(makes two 8’ x 4’ x 6” high beds)
(6) 1” x 6” x 8’ cedar boards* – 2 boards cut into 4’ 
sections
Wood screws and/or 8 metal corner brackets 
Power drill

Important Note: Cedar is naturally insect and moisture 
resistant, so it tends to hold up well in outdoor 
environments. Avoid using pressure treated lumber for 
your food growing areas because the chemicals used 
to create them can leach into your soil. 

*Cedar boards come in a variety of lengths and widths. 
Obviously, using 6” wide boards will give you more 
shallow beds than 10” boards. Choose whichever length 
and width combination you prefer. 
I'm a rebel, for my beds, I prefer them 16 inches or 
higher, and about 3 ½ feet wide.  I find the extra depth 
makes it easier to grow deep root vegetables, such as 
Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Okra, and Tomatoes.

To assemble your raised vegetable garden beds, line the 
ends of an 8’ foot section and a 4’ sections up so they 
form an “L” shape. While your helper holds the boards in 
place, secure the two boards together with wood screws 
or with the metal corner brackets.  

Repeat this process with the remaining cedar boards until 
you create 2 wooden rectangles, each measuring 8’ in 
length by 4’ in width. 

Once your beds are assembled, carry them a sunny spot 
in your garden and place them where you want your 
raised beds before you begin filling them. 

Filling Your Vegetable Garden Beds

Of course, you can fill each bed with packaged 
gardening mix, but you may find it gets a bit pricey. 
You can also create your own more cost-effective 
planting medium very easily.

Start by adding a thick layer of newspaper or flattened 
cardboard across the bottom of your raised garden box. 
This will help prevent weeds and grass from growing up 
into your planter. Then, add alternating layers of peat 
moss, compost, aged manure or barn litter, and topsoil.  
For the last two years, I have used nothing but aged 
horse manure.  If you have a horse or horses, start 
saving their by products now.  Age it for 6-12 months 
before using on your garden.

You can add additional amendments, such as bone meal 
or a slow-release organic fertilizer, once you decide 
which plants you want to grow. 

If you prepare and fill your raised beds in the fall, simply 
cover them with dark plastic to “cook down” all winter.  
You will be rewarded with beautiful rich soil in the spring, 
but it will be quite a bit lower than you remember, so be 
extra generous when filling the beds.  An extra foot of 
material in the fall, means a full bed in the spring.

If you assemble your raised vegetable garden bed in the 
spring, you can plant right into the layered mixture. Over 
time, the layers will break down to form a rich soil. In the 
near term, your plants will do just fine in it as long as you 
don’t use fresh compost, manure or barn litter, all of 
which can “burn” your plants.  Any animal waste material 
should be at least 6 months old before using them in 
your gardens.

As you can see, learning how to build a raised vegetable 
garden bed isn’t difficult. If you follow these easy 
instructions, you can look forward to years of more 
rewarding and efficient gardening. 

Seed Saving For The Future

Seed saving for your future gardens is a great way of guaranteeing you will have the beginning of a beautiful garden.

I love the idea of saving seeds from this year’s crop, for next year’s planting.  I choose several of the best looking tomatoes, peppers and okra to be set aside for this purpose.  As I plant several varieties of these, I have to be careful not to mix them up, so planning ahead for storage of my seeds is important.

I found an excellent blog post on this subject that I thought I would pass along to you.

Harvesting Pepper Seeds: Information About Saving Seeds From Peppers

When vegetable gardening year after year, you will learn different ways to do seed saving.  I can remember my grandmother Laura, using a large sewing needle to string beans in their hulls, then hanging them at one end of the kitchen porch to dry.  When they were dried, she would then take them to the basement to spend the winter, until it was time to plant them in the spring.  I don’t have that basement, so most of my seed saving is done with small jars or envelopes.

seed saving

 

Keeping your seeds in a dry contain, then storing them in a cool basement or other storage area out of direct sun will help ensure their ability to sprout and grow into food producing plants.

Turning seed saving into an art will be a big factor in your becoming a master at providing organic food for you, your family and friends.

4 Methods of Easy Gardening

Our easy gardening methods as compared to the old fashion gardening the way your grandparents did it with a hoe, a shovel and a prayer. Old-fashioned gardening required lots of room, work and attention. Times have changed dramatically with today’s four methods for easy gardening.

  • Lasagna Gardening

In spite of it’s name, lasagna garden has nothing to do with an Italian dinner.  It is a method of easy gardening that turns your kitchen waste, leaves, grass clippings and old newspapers into rich, healthy compost without a lot of work. When the leaves start falling, gather them up and layer them over your Spring garden site. Add vegetable peelings, grass clippings, coffee grounds and a few inches of sawdust and/or newspapers. Cover the bed with cardboard, then a large piece of plastic and watch it as it shrinks down into compost.

The downside is this method of creating a rich compost right on your gardening spot, is it might take more than one season to convert your scraps into compost, which can be a negative point if you are in a hurry.  Adding a few Earthworms will speed up the process.

  • Square Foot Gardening

Easy gardening the Square Foot method, can make a great difference in your gardening activities because it does not require a lot of tools to toil the soil. Because you garden in one square foot at a time, you don’t have as many weed problems and the ground doesn’t get compacted easily. Careful soil mixtures will increase the water-holding abilities of the squares while decreasing the need for additional water. Plant diseases do not spread as easily in square foot gardens, either.

  • No Dig Method

 

4 Easy Gardening Methods

No-dig methods allows nature to carry out your cultivating operations. Placing different organic matters, such as well rotted manure, compost, leaf mold, spent mushroom compost, old straw, etc., directly onto the soil surface as a mulch at least 2–6 inches deep, which is then given to the actions of worms, insects and microbes. Another no-dig method is sheet mulching wherein a garden area is covered with wet newspaper or cardboard, compost and topped off with mulch. No-dig gardens can be grown over a lawn, on concrete or cardboard, if there is no need for a deep root system. The problem will be keeping the snails off your young vegetation.

  • Intensive Or Raised Bed Gardening

This method is a system of raised beds that allows you to concentrate the soil in small areas, generally 4 feet by 8 feet,  creating an environment for growing vegetables. Raised beds warm up more quickly in the spring and by covering them, it will allow you to grow vegetables for a longer time frame, early spring to late fall.

Easy Gardening Tip

Pests are usually fairly crop-specific. They prefer vegetables of one type or family. Mixing families of plants helps to break up large pest-preferred crops and keeps early pest damage within a small area.

As you can see, there are more methods of easy gardening than there is of the traditional hard way. If one of these appeals to you, find out more about it and then “dig in”.

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.

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.