Archive for the ‘Healthy Soil/Composting’ Category

How to Use Vinegar for PLANTS!

vinegar, using vinegar in the garden, vinegar for plants, how to make soil more acidic I have found Vinegar to be a very interesting thing. It has multiple uses that seem contradictory. It can be life giving and life taking in the plant world. However you use it, it is a great tool to have for your garden and yard care. Here are some ways to use it.

  • Kill weeds or unwanted grass. Just poor full strength on the weed and it should kill them within a few days. This works best with young weeds, and with more mature weeds it might take a few applications.
  • Increase soil acidity. Here in our very alkaline soil, it is hard to grow things that love acidic soil. So if you have that problem too, try occasionally watering it with water that has vinegar. Just add one cup of vinegar to a gallon of water then poor on the plants such as Blueberries, gardenias, and azaleas.
  • Those cut flowers in the vase, prolong their life by adding two tablespoons of vinegar plus three tablespoons of sugar per quart of warm water.
  • Clean pots with vinegar before reusing to kill bacteria and neutralize lime from the soil.
  • You can also rinse your hands off with some vinegar after working in the garden to avoid rough and flaking skin.

Those are just a few of the ways it can be used in the garden and yard. Please feel free to share any ways you have found using vinegar useful!

As always happy gardening!

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How to Successfully Sow Seeds Outdoors

When you plant your garden, the most cost effective way to grow it is to plant seeds instead of buying every single plant start. This is especially true when going things like onions, carrots and lettuces. They only produce one plant from the seed, so each carrot seed produces one carrot. So if you by an onion already started, the cost might end up being more than buying a bag of carrots from the store! Starting your own seeds is also easy. It might take a few tries to get it to work for you, but I’m sure if you  make sure you are giving the plant what it needs, it will grow for you.

  1. First step is to make sure the soil where you are planting has lots of great organic matter added to it, and is nice and loose. This is particularly true for carrots and other root plants. They cannot grow downward in very compacted soil.
  2. Soak the seeds for a little while. This could be 30 min to an hour. Just put the seeds in a little bowl and pour in some water. This gets the seeds activated. Its like pushing a start button. Tells them, ” There is water, you can start growing!”  A seed needs first- water, then sunlight and soil.starting seeds, how to start seeds, growing from seed
  3. Plant the seeds in the garden, making sure to follow the right depth for the seed. Some very small seeds need only a skiff of soil to cover them. The smaller the seed, the less soil they need, the larger seeds like peas and beans, need more soil to cover them up.
  4. Keep them moist. They do not need to be soaking wet all the time, but do not let the soil dry out too much as this will draw the moisture stored inside the seed out and kill the seed. But the seed will also not grow if it is too wet. The seed and plant roots in general need access to some air in the soil. So being too wet, makes it hard to get that air. This is why looser soil grows better plants- they have more oxygen and room for the roots to push through the soil.
  5. Label the plants. There is nothing worse than forgetting to label your plants and have a totally different plant grow in a spot you thought you had planted something. This especially helps if you have different varieties for the same plant, such as a few different kinds of onions or tomatoes.

Growing your garden from seed can be very rewarding and cost effective.  After you are done planting, if you have seeds left, you can save those for next year. Simply put them in a bottle with a lid, and place in the back of a refrigerator. Keeping them sealed in a jar helps them keep the moisture they do have inside the seeds, and the refrigerator also helps them to stay cool and last longer. After you master starting your garden by seed, the next step would be learning how to harvest your own seeds and thus never having to even buy seeds!saving seeds, how to save seeds, saving seeds in a bottle, how to store seeds

Happy Gardening!

Top 5 Reasons to Raise Chickens

699px-Czech_Brindle_Chicken_Hens, chickens, reasons for having chickens, top 5 reasons to have chickens, are raising chickens worth it?Have you considered raising chickens? It is a big decision for some, especially those who have had little to none experience with raising them. Is it worth the cost and work to raise your own chickens? That is a decision you will need to make yourself, however I can give you some insight to know what some of the benefits are to owning them. Here are the top 5 reasons:

  1. Organic FRESH eggs: If you have never eaten an organic FRESH farm egg, you have been missing out in life. They taste so much better than the store bought eggs! The reason why is an easy answer. They contain WAY more nutrition. Here is a great article delving deeper into the subject of the nutrition of an organic egg. If you buy organic free range eggs, you will know that they are a lot more expensive than just the regular store bought egg. So it could be a great way to save money on buying those more expensive eggs. So taste and health benefits of the EGGS is a great #1 reason.
  2. Organic FREE pest control: Chickens love to go around and eat slugs and snails and other bugs around the yard and garden. They will even eat little seedling plants- so any weeds that pop up, they will most likely gobble it up. All the while scratching up the soil (aerating) while leaving behind great fertilizer. They will eat up your veggies growing in the garden, so if they are left to there own all the time out in the garden, they may help themselves to your whole garden harvest. That is one thing you would have to be careful of. But with your monitoring, they would be a great help to take care of some of those pests in your garden. And a great clean up crew if you have fruit trees that drop some spoiled fruit to the ground- they will take care of that mess. And after the garden is all harvested, letting them loose to clean up all the dropped and spoiled fruit and veggies from the garden would be a great help for the garden.
  3. Amazing Organic Fertilizer: Have you tried and failed at making a great fertilizer/ mulch for your garden from kitchen scraps? Well, chickens have a fool proof plan to making amazing organic fertilizer for your garden. Simply feed your kitchen scraps to the chickens. They are omnivores and thus you can give them just about all your kitchen waste and they will provide you with a great addition to your soil in your garden. Done.
  4. Save $ on Garbage bill: this goes along with the making your own garden fertilizer. By feeding your chickens the kitchen scraps, this means you will no longer need to throw them away in your garbage- thus giving you less trash. This may mean less garbage cans, or it may not, but you can take pride in knowing you are contributing less waste to the land fill and thus is a greener option. Another small way you can make less of an impact on our environment.
  5. Great pets: Having a pet has proven that they help lower your stress levels, and help you be happier. But dose your pet- dog, cat, turtle, etc. give anything back to you? Can you get great tasting eggs, or great fertilizer for your garden from them? Chickens can provide the same effect of happiness as the other pets you may have, but give oh so much more. They require less work than your typical pet too. Many times you do not have to feed them daily, but filling up the feed every few days or so depending on how much feed they go through. And if you are letting them free range, this could mean they go through far less food. Can you let your dog free range to fend for himself??

These are just some of the benefits I have thought of. I am sure there are many more. Please comment and share any that you have experienced yourself! Watch for more articles on the cost of raising chickens, how to get started, and more!

In the mean time, Happy Gardening!

Why Do My Veggie Plants Look Amazing, But Not The Veggies?!?

tomatoes wont produce, too much nitrogen

Picture of overgrown tomato plants with very few tomatoes. These are the biggest tomato plants I have ever seen with little reward. We grew beans there the year before. There was too much nitrogen along with very high temps, making the tomatoes not grow.

Sometimes one of the problems we have when gardening, is our plants grow nice and robust, but then we get very little fruit from it. This is very frustrating!! We are planting the garden for the Veggies not the plant anyway.

Obviously there are conditions in your garden that are conducive to the plant thriving. There is sometimes a balance you have to have. You want the plant to do well so that it will produce fruit, however if the plant dose too well, it will skimp on the plants. Here are a few ideas on what could be going on in your garden:

  • You may have too much nitrogen in the soil. This can happen from fertilizer or from compost added to the soil if the compost is heavy in nitrogen. This is great for plants that are being grown for the foliage, but if you are wanting fruit from it, too much nitrogen encourages the plant to grow and focus its energy on growing rather than producing. Peas and bean plants fix nitrogen into the soil, so planting something that is sensitive to too much nitrogen there after, might be a cause of the problem. Tomato plants are particularly sensitive to this.
  • This is also particularly for Tomato plants: The temperature outside when the plant is flowering and ready to produce cannot be too high or too low. Too much heat or cold will cause the flowers to drop off before fertilization occurs. So Tomatoes in areas that are too hot, maybe heat reflecting off buildings and the like, might get really large in size and produce very little fruit.
  • Another thing might be that the plant is getting too much water. This can encourage the plant to keep growing with out producing fruit. Check the soil with your finger before watering. If it is still wet, do not water.
  • It might need fertilizer with the middle number high. This is the part of the fertilizer that encourages the plants to produce fruit. That number stands for phosphorus. Bone meal and rock phosphate is some good organic sources of phosphorus for your garden.

Happy Gardening!

How To Prevent Disease And Pests In Your Garden By Proper Fall Clean Up

snail, where do snails winter over, how to minimize snails in the garden, getting rid of snails in the garden and yard How to prevent powdery mildew in the garden next year, how to clean up the garden beds to prevent disease, most important tasks when winterizing the garden

Cleaning up the beds in the fall is an essential gardening task. By the time fall comes around, after all the harvesting and work of preserving the harvest from the garden, I am ready for a break. Take the time to properly clean up your beds because doing it now will save you time and work later. Here are some tips for the clean up to help you not spread disease and pests from year to year in your garden beds.

  • It is a great idea to grind up greens and put them in your compost heap along with some ground up leaves. I would caution you however to NOT use plants with diseases in your compost heap. you do not want to spread those diseases in your garden next year. Take those sickly plants and put them straight in the trash.
  • Do not leave anything laying  around the yard like pieces of wood and the like. If you do it provides a perfect over wintering spot for bugs like snails and squash bugs.
  • If your tomato plants had any disease problems it is best to get them cleaned off very well with soapy water so as to not reintroduce the disease again the next year.
  • Make sure you take care off all the weeds or at least take off the seed pods so that they do not spread the seeds all throughout the garden next year.
  • Add a nice layer of compost or mulch to the garden beds. This will help add food for those worms to work on through the winter, keep the weed seeds from taking root as easily and make your beds nice and ready for plants in the spring.

Happy Gardening!

How Leaves Can Improve Your Garden

Leaves are in abundance in most areas right now. They are a great free resource to improve your garden, so why not take advantage of it?

Happy Gardening!

How to Prevent Powdery Mildew in the Garden

what dose powdery mildew look like, how do you prevent powdery mildew, what is the disease on squash plant that  make them turn white or gray called? how dose powdery mildew spread, Nothing can be more frustrating than disease killing those plants in your garden before you have gotten a good harvest. It is one of those things that gardener’s dread. How can you prevent the disease from happening? Or can you?

There are several different kinds of diseases or fungus’ that can kill your garden plants. One of them is powdery mildew. This one is particularly frustrating because it is spread by the air and can be spread through water. This is what can kill off the squash plants half way through the season. It is not entirely possible to totally prevent it however there are measures you can take to keep it from happening early in the season and maybe even stop it from happening all together.

  1. Just like a home needs to be built on a solid foundation, the plant needs great soil to withstand all that comes it’s way. Adding plenty of organic matter every year, and mulching around the plants to keep their roots moist and from drying out too much in between watering. This will help your plant be healthy. A healthy plant will be able to resist disease better than a stressed plant will. Your plant is only as healthy as the soil it grows in.
  2. Be sure to water it enough- according to its needs. This too is to keep it healthy.
  3. Powdery Mildew can be spread by water droplets, so watering your plant at the soil level will help the disease to not reach the leaves as easily. Put away the sprinkler and get out the drip hose or better yet get your garden plumed for drip irrigation.
  4. There are some varieties that are resistant to Powdery Mildew. By choosing those varieties dose not mean they will not get the disease, but they will resist it longer and you can usually get a good harvest from them before it succumbs to the disease.
  5. Plant in an area that gets good air flow so the the disease is not sitting there circling around the plants and spreading quickly to your whole harvest.

Remember- a healthy plant will produce more and resist disease so do every thing you can to keep them healthy and growing and you will be rewarded with a great harvest.

Happy Gardening!