Tag Archive for vegetable gardening

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.

Health Benefits of Growing Fresh Produce

Having good health benefits isn’t the only reason people choose to grow their own organic fruits and vegetables.  Saving money and having access to produce without chemicals are other good reasons. There also happen to be quite a few health benefits to choosing fresh produce, especially when you grow it yourself. Here are some health benefits to keep in mind.

Growing What You Eat in Your Own Vegetable Garden

It is Loaded With Nutrients

Fresh produce, including fruits, vegetables, and herbs, have tons of nutrients. Many of these are considered superfoods, which have a higher amount of vitamins and minerals. Some good superfoods are blueberries, kale, spinach, and strawberries. All fruits and veggies have a lot of nutrients you want for better health benefits, which are in higher amounts with fresh produce. Food items tend to loose its’ freshness and vitamins as it begins to age. This includes vitamins C and A, vitamin D, folate, potassium, fiber, and lots of it’s antioxidants.

You Can Prepare Well Balanced Meals

Thanks to the nutritious fresh produce and the convenience of having them at home, you can also use them to prepare healthier, more balanced meals. This is an excellent health benefit as your family might be struggling with malnutrition without even realizing it. Sure, you might be eating enough food, but not the right foods. Having fruits and vegetables right in your own backyard encourages you to prepare more of these balanced meals for the good of your family’s health.

Gardening Itself is Good Exercise

Even the growing of fresh produce in your backyard is going to be good for your health. It helps you burn calories, be more active, and can even get your kids involved. Plus don’t forget that when you are outside more often by planting your veggies and herbs, you are going to get more vitamin D from the sunlight. This helps to prevent vitamin D deficiency, which is common for many people, especially women. Try to get everyone in the family involved in growing your own food and you will all benefit from it.

You Won’t Have Nasty Chemicals

Growing your own produce means you have full control of what is added to it. You can avoid harsh fertilizers in the soil and use pest control methods that are completely natural without chemicals in them. This is the same thing you get from buying organic produce, but when you grow it on your own, you have the convenience factor and save money at the same time. Less chemicals is always a good thing when you start feeding your family more fruits and veggies. For better health benefits, organic is best. You can only be sure your food is organic, if you grow it yourself.

Edible Plants for Your Landscapes

Great Edible Plants for Your Landscapes

There are hundreds of edible plants that would look perfectly lovely in a landscape, but some of them work better than others. Many plants won’t look very good later in the season, for example.

Some of them quickly turn dark and lose their leaves. You want plants that taste great, but keep their appearance long enough to be a practical part of your landscape. It’s no good to build plants that lose their looks in late summer into your landscape design.

Here’s a look at some of the best choices for edible plants for landscape design. We’ll mostly be including plants that require minimal care and look attractive, while providing something very edible:

[1] ‘Golden Streaks’ is a variety of mustard that has heavily serrated leaves in a beautiful golden citron color. It has a very mild taste, slightly sweet. This is a striking plant that has a wonderful flavor.

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[2] ‘Hansel Hybrid’ eggplant is a stunning plant. It has a two-foot-tall plant that produces huge clusters of fingerling eggplants in a delightful deep purple hue.

[3] ‘Pesto Perpetuo’ basil is a one to two foot basil plant with absolutely gorgeous variegated leaves. The leaves are a rich green with a fringe of white. It tastes like Greek basil, but the appearance is wonderful in a landscape!

[4] ‘Purple Peacock’ broccoli is a hybrid cross between broccoli and two different types of kale. It has a purple stem and loose, purple head.

[5] ‘Violetta Hybrid’ pak choi is an amazing variety of this Chinese green. It has lovely purple leaves that are packed with more nutrients than many other types of greens!

[6] ‘Red Popper’ is a type of miniature bell pepper. The fruits are only about one to two inches in diameter and are very sweet and delicious. You’ll love the way these bright red peppers look against the rich, green foliage!

[7] ‘Sweet Lace’ grapes are a small, patio-sized variety of grape. They have very pretty leaves and produce pretty white grapes in September. These can be grown in containers, and they can also be trellised easily. They make a beautiful accent to a fence or wall.

[8] ‘Red Veined’ sorrel is a variety of this classic wild green. It has light green leaves with a truly spectacular series of red veins all throughout. The taste is very sharp, so it’s best in salads with mild greens. This one is particularly striking in appearance.

[9] ‘Purple Mizuna’ is a fabulous type of greens. They have a very tangy flavor, and grow very quickly. Mizuna greens are already quite attractive, but this purple variety is particularly nice.

[10] ‘Mittistone’ is a summer-crisp lettuce of the loose-leaf variety. The leaves are green with red speckles. It is a sweet, crisp lettuce variety that tastes as amazing as it looks. It matures quickly, and the plants look just as beautiful in your yard as it does in a salad bowl.

While you may not have heard or tried some of these plants, it wouldn’t hurt to give a few of them a try.  I used three of these plants in my walkway edge garden, when I was living in a condo community that had rules about outside plants.   None of my neighbors guessed they were walking within inches of my vegetable garden.

The Pros and Cons of Vegetable and Herb Gardening

The Pros and Cons of Vegetable and Herb Gardening

growing winter vegetables

Herb Gardening

Vegetable and Herb gardening are two completely different types of gardening.

Herb gardening is a relaxing type of gardening. If you’re looking for a very simple type of gardening that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance, herb gardening is probably a great choice. Most herbs are very hardy, and they don’t require a lot of ongoing maintenance.

If you choose mainly perennial herbs, you will have herbs that come back year after year with very little additional work. As long as you keep them watered and weeded, they should keep growing relatively well without a lot of additional work.

Herb gardening is great for children and elderly individuals, as well as busy people who don’t have a lot of time to care for picky plants. It may not be right for someone who prefers a challenge, or for people who prefer a more in-depth type of gardening.

Pros:

  • Doesn’t require a lot of time.
  • Relatively simple to do.
  • Doesn’t require a lot of physical exertion.
  • Plants are generally hardy and easy to care for.

Cons:

  • Can be a bit boring for people who like a challenge.
  • Might not be good for people who prefer more complex forms of gardening.

Vegetable Gardening

Vegetable gardening requires a lot more work than herb gardening. In fact, vegetable gardening can be one of the most time-consuming types of gardening. Many vegetables require watering and fertilizing at regular intervals, and may require a lot of different types of maintenance.

You may have to pinch suckers, prune growth, or even manually fertilize some plants with a paint brush! Some vegetables are hardier and less picky than others. You can find some types of vegetables that don’t require a lot of work at all.

So you can still find vegetable gardening a fun and relaxing hobby if you’re careful to choose varieties that don’t require constant attention. Some people may especially enjoy vegetable gardening because they love the satisfaction of growing some of their own food.

It can be very rewarding to have a hand in raising something you eat, especially if you can feed your entire family with it. Some people may really like organic vegetable gardening, because they like knowing that the food they’re growing is safer for their family than store bought produce.

They may also enjoy the fact that they’re taking care of the environment by not using harmful chemicals. Vegetable gardening is great for people who have a relatively decent amount of time to care for their garden, and who are physically able to do so.

Vegetable gardening can be back-breaking work, so it’s important to be sure you can physically handle this type of work. It may not be very good for people who aren’t in good physical condition, or people who don’t have much time to care for their plants.

Pros:

  • Satisfying, because you grow your own food.
  • Peace of mind knowing where your food is coming from.
  • Challenging for people who really enjoy that.
  • Plants are attractive as well as useful.

Cons:

  • Might be too difficult for people who aren’t in good physical condition.
  • Can require a lot of special care for the best results.
  • Generally quite time-consuming.

Deciding which type of gardening to try should depend on your abilities and what goal you want to achieve in your gardening adventure. Now that you have several pros and cons on vegetable and herb gardening, that decision should be easier.

Nine Tasty Vegetables for Home Gardens

It’s sometimes recommended that you don’t try to grow vegetables that are readily available at your local supermarket. If a particular vegetable is inexpensive, you might want to skip growing it and just purchase it but I say until you have tasted fresh home grown vegetables, you do not know what you have been missing.

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  • Tomatoes – Although technically a fruit, its savory nature leads to this little beauty being considered a vegetable by most people. Tomatoes found in stores are usually picked nearly green and then ripened artificially.  This is done to ensure they are tough enough to survive shipping without being smashed, and so they last longer on the shelves. Since tomato quality can be really poor in stores, this is a very good choice. Tomatoes are the most popular choice for vegetable gardeners, because they have the most noticeable difference over store bought.
  • Lettuce – Although iceberg lettuce doesn’t vary that much from store to home, leaf lettuces and other fancy lettuces can taste much sweeter and crisper if grown at home. Plus, exotic lettuces can often be very expensive.
  • Peas – Peas can be very hard to find fresh. Canned peas are often mushy, and although frozen peas are certainly better than canned, they still pale in comparison to fresh peas. Tiny baby peas are sweet, delicate, and delicious, making them well worth the effort.
  • Carrots – Store bought carrots are often woody, tough, and bitter. Even organic carrots often carry a strong bitterness caused by being kept at temperatures that are too cool for too long. Fresh carrots are generally very sweet and delicious.
  • Radishes – Radishes are cheap and easy to find in stores, but most store bought radishes are already turning pithy. If you’ve ever bitten into a radish that was dry and spongy inside, you’ll understand how bad pithy radishes are. Fresh radishes are delightful. To me, it is the queen of all vegetables in the garden.  Did you know the green tops of radishes can be eaten, also?
  • Greens – Although most greens are readily available in stores, they’re often yellowing and wilted by the time you buy them. By growing them yourself, you can be sure you have fresh greens when you want them.
  • Growing What You Eat in Your Own Vegetable Garden
  • Asparagus – Fresh asparagus is often ridiculously expensive, and canned asparagus is mushy and horrible! The only way to get affordable asparagus that isn’t mushy and bland is to grow it yourself.
  • Peppers – Peppers in stores are often shriveled and pathetic. Plus, peppers that aren’t standard green peppers can often be very expensive. My local store has sold red peppers for as much as $2.99 each, which is crazy! Grow your own and save money.
  • Cucumbers – Store bought cucumbers are often bitter and dry. If you’ve ever had a dried out, semi-hollow cucumber, you’ll understand the importance of growing your own!
  • Corn – Sweet corn is a delight to eat when it’s freshly picked. Corn is extremely sensitive to being off the stalk. Once it’s been off the stalk for 6 hours, it starts to deteriorate rapidly. You’ve never had corn until you’ve eaten it cooked fresh.

All of these vegetables are outstanding when grown in the home garden, not only in taste but in their food value, too.  As 40-50% of their vitamins haven’t been lost during the shipping and processing of them.  

Go play in the dirt people, it’s good for 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.

 

Vertical Gardening

Give Vertical Gardening A Try

If you have a small space or a wall or fence that you want to beautify, a vertical garden may be just what you’ve been looking for. Vertical gardens allow you to grow anything from flowers and herbs to larger vegetable plants. It just takes a little imagination and planning.

Using a shoe storage bag is an excellent way to grow vertically.

Using a shoe storage bag is an excellent way to try vertical gardening.

What Is a Vertical Garden?

Doing vertical gardening is pretty much what it sounds like. Rather than growing horizontally on the ground or in a raised garden bed, you grow up a wall or structure. How you create your vertical garden depends on your space and your needs.

For example, you can hang several planters vertically and plant herbs and vegetables in the space. You can also position beans and vine-like vegetables and fruits against a wall and coax them to grow up the wall instead of out into the yard.

The main difference in using vertical gardening is the medium that the plants grow in. Hydroponics for example, can be a type of vertical garden. Hydroponics are plants that grow in water.

Quadraphonic is another type of vertical gardening and it mixes raising fish with your plants. That’s a bit more complicated than we’re going to get here but it’s certainly something to investigate if you love fish and gardening. Soil-based gardens are the other option.

The Benefits of a Vertical Garden

There are an abundance of benefits of vertical gardening. In addition to allowing you to use your imagination in terms of how you plant your vegetables and herbs and what you plant them in, you can have a lot of fun. Many people try to find ways to make their vertical garden artistic.

For example, you might hang white pots on a glossy black fence in a star-shaped pattern. You could also find unique items to hold your plants like old rain gutters, or you might make a vertical garden from a closet hanging shoe holder.

The other benefits include the fact that your plants are off of the ground so they’re not vulnerable to pests. They also don’t need weeding which certainly saves time and energy. You can also bring your vertical garden indoors during the colder months which may give you a longer season.

The Downside of a Vertical Garden

Downsides might include the fact that you can be limited with the size of the plants. You don’t see too many people hanging tomato or pumpkin plants on the side of a wall or a fence. Also, because the plants are hanging and they’re more exposed to the air, you may need to water them more often.

Take a look around your space and consider what you might want to grow. If you’re interested in smaller plant and you have a wall or fence that fits the bill, consider trying a little vertical gardening.

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