Tag 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 Great way to use that old milk that may become out of date in a day or two.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.

Growing Indoor Winter Vegetables

Growing Indoor Winter Vegetables can be fun and keep your family supplied with fresh vegetables all winter long.

growing winter vegetables
Depending upon where you live when winter rolls around, you can forget about getting local fresh vegetables in your diet. You can purchase vegetables which are shipped from across the country, but there’s nothing quite like having that fresh from the garden taste in the dead of winter. Some food enthusiasts may be able to extend the taste of summer by growing indoor winter vegetables. Does this interest you?

One method of growing indoor winter vegetables is to set up a hydroponics garden. This type of gardening uses specific nutrient compounds to grow vegetables, but does not use soil. It can easily be done indoors, but depending upon the vegetables you’d like to grow it can take up a good amount of space.

Hydroponics gardens can be made at home for as cheaply as $50-$80 for a small garden, but they can cost considerably more and require regular attention to ensure that everything is working properly. You can find plenty of instructions for hydroponic gardening either online, at the library or by purchasing books. You’ll also need a system of grow lights to provide the plants with all of the light they need.

You can also create large container gardens to enable you to grow fresh vegetables during the winter months. Large pots set near a window which gets between six to eight hours of natural sunlight during the day work best. This enables the plants to get real sunlight rather than having to depend upon a grow light system. If you live in an area which doesn’t get the recommended amount of light, grow lights are a viable alternative.

Grow small plants such as herbs or salad greens in a window sill such as in the above photo, if the window gets plenty of direct sunlight during the day. These plants can be grown and, as they become mature, snipped off for use in the various dishes you prepare for your family. Look at local home improvement or gardening centers for kits which are designed for use indoors. The end of the season is a great time to shop for them, too, as they will likely be marked down dramatically.

Hanging pots are another option for growing indoor winter vegetables. You’ll want to be sure the pot is hanging on a joist so it doesn’t fall from the ceiling. The pot will also have to be hung low enough to get the direct sunlight the plants need.

Which plants are best suited to growing indoors? That really depends upon the time and effort you want to expend. Some people have been able to grow peppers, salad greens, cherry tomatoes and various herbs. You may be able to grow other plants indoors as well, but remember – whatever plants you grow, you will have to pollinate them yourself since there won’t be flies, butterflies and bees to do it for you.

Once you’ve become an old pro at growing indoor winter vegetables, you’ll have the knowledge you need to start your seedlings for your spring garden, too. Growing your own vegetables in the colder months isn’t difficult, but it does take quite a bit of patience. Given the time and conditions they need, you could be enjoying the fruits of your labor long before spring arrives.

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.

 

Why I 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 raised beds.

Gardening in raised beds

1. Soil control – When you build raised beds for home gardening, 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 raised beds. Weeding in a traditional garden can take hours each week. With raised beds 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 raised beds 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 – Using raised beds for gardening 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.  Raised beds can 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 by months. Measure your space and start designing your raised bed garden today.

 

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.

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.

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. 

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.