Archive for vegetable gardener

Tips For Sowing Small Seeds

Tips for Sowing Small Seeds

When sowing small seeds it’s sometimes hard to tell what area you have covered because the seeds are normally the same or close to being the same color as the earth.  In some cases you will not know you have over sown until the seedlings begin to appear and by then it’s to late to even them out.  Here are my favorite three ways to fix that problem before it happens.

All these tips suggest you mix the seeds with another ingredient to make them more visible.  Most you will already have on hand.

Sand:  If you use sand make sure it’s sea sand, as its’ edges have been rounded off by the constant movement of the ocean and will not harm your earthworms as play sand will do.  Play sand has rough edges which can cut the digestive system of the worms or even worse, kill them.  An organic garden without worms will not survive for a long period of time.

Flour:  Mixing the seeds with a little baking flour will also give you a better visible understanding of the location of your seeds.  Like the sand it has a few kinks.  You do not want to add too much flour or the damp soil will cause the flour to harden and trap the seeds, not allowing them to reach the dirt.  For every teaspoon of seeds, add one tablespoon of flour.  Shake or mix well then sow the seeds evenly in the dark soil. The result being even rows or spreading of the seeds, and not being over seeded.

Jello:  If you are planting very fine seeds, such as carrot, lettuce, or wildflower; mix the seeds with a package of colored gelatin powder. It really helps to spread the seeds evenly and makes it very easy to see where they’ve been sown. Plus the gelatin seems to help them grow too!

Keeping seeds where you can see them is beneficial  when sowing small seeds.  As with most things in life, learning to growing what you eat, takes time and a few good tips from your friends.  Here’s to Happy Gardening!

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.