Tag Archive for gardening

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!

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. 

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.

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.

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.

 

Removing Garden Pests In Your Organic Garden

Five Safe Ways to Remove Garden Pests in Your Organic Garden

When growing an organic garden, you want to take measures to also make sure you are safe. Trying to remove pests from the garden can lead to some less than safe actions. Keeping that in mind, here are five safe ways to remove garden pests from your home organic garden.

  •  Slugs: To rid yourself of these slime makers, sprinkle sawdust or wood chips around your garden to deter them. Slugs will not cross this rough barrier, so in time you will be slug free.
  • Grasshoppers: Spray grasshoppers with a mixture of molasses and milk. The sweetness attracts them, but it blocks their nasal passages and causes them to suffocate. Use 2 parts milk to one part molasses. You can easily get rid of an entire crop of grasshoppers by just spraying them with molasses and milk, whenever you see them.

Remove Pests From Your Organic Garden With Garlic

  • Garlic is not just for vampires: Planting garlic in your garden or just spraying it with garlic water, will stop many unwanted insects from visiting your garden. Plant the garlic through out your garden to keep certain pests at bay.
  •  Know Your Bugs: Know the helpful bugs from the destructive bugs. Keeping bugs like praying mantis, ladybugs, beetles, and spiders in your yard will be a huge help. They will eat all of those pests which do damage to your crops.
  •  Ducks and Chickens: If you live in an area that welcomes ducks and chickens, you can have a two for one, effect. Fresh eggs and bug free you will be. They will eat these destructive insects. Your family will love having these new pets as well. They do come with some responsibilities, as they can’t live on a diet of insects alone. They also like grains, seeds and just about all leafy greens. Guess I should have said, you will be getting a three for one, as they will eat, 90% of your fresh garden waste. Keep them protected in a coop at night so other animals wont prey on them.

When organic gardening, using these organic garden pest removal techniques will help grow a better garden. Teaming this pest control method with other ideas, such as building a healthy soil, using companion planting and crop rotation, you can help keep those unwanted critters at bay.

With organic gardening, there’s nothing more important than making sure you, your family and food source are safe. Avoiding toxic chemicals in your organic garden and using more natural methods for pest control is the only way to go.