Tag Archive for vegetable gardening

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.

Growing What You Eat

www.growingwhatyoueat.com

By growing what you eat, even the smallest garden can give you fresh veggies for salads or ingredients for a complete meal for a long period of time.  The onions, lettuce and young tomato plants you see here, can enrich your meals, for not only the spring and summer seasons but through out the year.

One healthy tomato plant can produce up to 100 tomatoes for you and your family.  The 30+ onions you see here can grow to 4 inches in size.  With a little knowledge on preserving and canning, you can be eating and cooking with onions you planted and grew in you small garden until it’s time to plant them again.  Growing what you eat can be healthier for you and your family plus save you a good amount of money in your food budget.

By harvesting the lettuce in the right way, it too, will be giving you salads or a topping for your best grilled burger, way into summer.  Cut the outer leaves for use instead of pulling up the whole plant and the leaves will grow back in for future picking.  As long as you keep the dirt around them moist and if possible provide a little shade, you will have lettuce until July and the heat over takes them.

Add a package of radish seeds to a small frame of good soil, and they too, will give you many meals in return, with very little effort.

www.growingwhatyoueat.com

 

Radishes are nutritious little balls of fun.  There are many types and flavors when it comes to choosing your favorite kind.  Some have a sharp bite and some are very mild in flavor.  My favorite is the French Breakfast.  It isn’t as round as most and has a sweet mild flavor.  It can be placed in salads, or cooked in a mixture of ways to fit just about any type of meal.  Check out these little healthy bundles the next time you are looking to add something new to your garden.

A small raised bed garden [4 ft by 12 ft] can provide a family of 4 with upward of 200 pounds of produce for the year.  Just think how much that would save you in your food budget.  How do I know this can happen?  Mainly because I have done it for the last two growing periods in NE Tennessee and I am on my way of doing it again, this year.  The secret is, rotating my crops and keeping my little garden full of growing veggies.  Listed here are my main vegetables for each season, in my growing what you eat garden.

Spring Cold Plants:  Onions, Radishes, Lettuce, Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Carrots

Summer Plants:, [by this time the Radishes, Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower has been harvested]: About May 1-15 planting:  Tomatoes [4], Radishes [2nd planting], Cucumbers, Squash and Green Beans.  The secret to having this many plants in a small space is, buy the climbers.  You can grow upward, using less ground space.

Fall Plants:  Radishes [3 and 4 plantings, depending on how early the cold sets in], Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Onions[red or white]  Sugar Snap Peas.

To make it a success, planning is the first key in growing what you eat.  Dream it, plan it, plant it!

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. 

Raised Beds Make Gardening Easier

Raised beds make gardening easier in many ways. They help you solve issues with your soil, aid in controlling pests, improve the amount of produce you can harvest in a small area.  They’re, also, great at reducing weeds and help conserve water.

Any plant that loves well-drained soil can benefit from being grown in raised beds. You don’t have to only grow vegetables. You can also easily grow herbs, fruits, and flowers in raised beds, thus making your job easier.

raised beds

In raised bed gardening, the soil is usually put into frames that are about three or four feet wide and 12 feet in length. The soil is generally enriched with compost, and is added to a frame made of wood or other material.

The plants in raised bed gardening are planted much closer together than the plants in a traditional garden. This allows the plants to conserve moisture and also help block the sun from allowing weeds to germinate and grow.

Raised beds can be used to extend the growing season, making it easier to start seeds outdoors earlier, and grow later in the season. This is a great way to get even more produce out of the area in a season.

If you have soil problems in your garden, you can use raised beds and just bypass your own soil completely. If you start with completely fresh soil, it doesn’t matter what type of soil you had in your garden to begin with.

Another great benefit of raised bed gardening is the fact that the gardener doesn’t walk on the soil in which the plants are growing. This helps prevent the soil from being packed down, so the roots can grow through the soil more readily.

You don’t need to till the soil under a raised bed if you don’t want to. This is very beneficial for people who can’t afford a tiller, or who aren’t physically capable of handling a piece of machinery like this.

You won’t have to water raised beds as often as you would a traditional garden. The soil in raised beds is designed specifically to hold on to water, so you can water less often and in smaller quantities. This is great for conserving water and saving money.

Frames can be built on top of plywood bases, and then raised to any height. This allows handicapped and elderly people to easily reach their plants to tend to them. For people in wheelchairs, this could be one of the only ways they can garden well.

Diseases and pests are easier to control in raised beds. Since you’re starting with fresh soil, it’s less likely to be contaminated with diseases that could infect your plants. If your plants do become infected, you can simple dispose of the soil in that bed and start again from scratch.

Pests are easier to control, because plants are in a more confined area. This makes it much easier to spot potential problems, and it also makes it easier to get rid of potential problems before they take over your entire garden.

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.

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”.

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.