Posts Tagged ‘growing vegetables’
I’ve tried all kinds of ways to provide support for climbers, like sugar snap peas and green beans. Most of them have their drawbacks. Last year I created a framework of long bamboo poles. That worked pretty well except that even though I made it very tall (about 6 1/2 feet) the peas grew even taller. It became a balancing act trying to keep the whole thing from toppling over. I had re-bar stakes to support it but it just wasn’t enough. Besides, until the peas got tall enough to hide some of the bamboo, it seemed a bit of an eyesore.
This year I decided to try and make something a little more permanent. I got some of those heavy metal fence post that have little nubs on them. I had to get up on a tall ladder to pound them into the ground deep enough (about 18″-24″). The little nubs all along the length of the posts let me decide where I would tie the twine. I strung heavy twine horizontally in several places, both high and low. Then I strung string vertically between them. I left a tail on the string at the bottom for the peas to attach to and begin their climb. I almost strung wire for the horizontal support but thought I’d try the twine for this year. It seems like it would be easier to clear out at the end of the season instead of pulling all the dead vines off the wire. I guess I’ll soon see if the twine is going to be enough support for the heavy vines.
Do you want to have a garden?
Do you have a plot of land that needs clearing off so that you can either put in a little garden or raised bed boxes for a garden? Whether this plot of land is covered in grass or nothing but weeds, you probably don’t want to have to saturate the whole area with an herbicide and then wait till everything is dead to clear it off so you can actually plant a garden.
An easy way to get started is to till the area, either with a tiller (which you can borrow or rent) or with a shovel. A shovel takes longer but is still very effective. After the area has been turned over and tilled, take a garden rake (a leaf rake might work but not very well) and pull the weeds and grass out of the dirt. As you rake them out, just discard them in the trash and not the compost.
If the area is covered in good grass lawn, then it might be better to lift the sod and transplant it somewhere else in your yard or share it with someone else who might be able to use it.
After you’ve gotten out as many grass and weed strands and roots as possible (the more the better since it cuts down on so much work later) then it’s time to either:
Prepare the soil for the garden by turning in some composted cow or steer manure, which you can buy pretty cheap at WalMart or Lowe’s etc. If you heavy clay soil or very sandy soil, you can add some peat moss (also available at WalMart and Lowe’s). Also, it is a good idea to add a balanced fertilizer at this time. Mix all of t
Build raised beds for your garden. After getting the raised beds in place and making sure they are pretty level, it’s easy to put a layer of newspaper in the bed to discourage weeds from coming up from below. The newspaper will break down and become part of the soil. It’s possible to fill the raised bed with garden soil, but much better to use a combination of other things to create a soil that is light, drains well and won’t pack down.
Some of the things you can use to create a “soil” for you raised beds is: sawdust (no, it won’t hurt the plants), washed sand, perlite, peat moss, compost, composted manure, straw (but it may have seeds), shredded newspaper, and a balanced fertilizer, (see previous post for more information on fertilizers). We also add the polymers from gently used baby diapers (wetnot dirty) as they keep moisture in the soil really well.
To keep weeds from growing in the pathways between the raised bed boxes or the garden rows, it’s a good idea to lay down some layers of newspapers and then cover that with wood chips.
All done. Now you’re ready to plant. Wasn’t that easy?
After being inundated with a couple of feet of snow (which has been on the ground now about 2 weeks), and being house bound
because of the ice storm yesterday that left a quarter inch of solid ice on driveways, sidewalks and roads (the interstate was closed, as well as all the runways at the airport) I am SO ready for spring and summer.
It’s times like this that I’m so glad that I’ve taken lots and lots of pictures of our garden so I can, not only enjoy looking at them during the cold days of cabin fever, but to also evaluate the garden to see what’s working and what might need some tweaking.
Here are a few shots of warmer times in our garden.
Last year I thought I’d built an adequate support for the Green Peas and the Sugar Snap Peas. After all, it was about 4′ high.
I was so wrong. I just put bamboo in the corners of the raised beds and then strung jute for the peas to climb on. The whole thing collapsed from the weight of the vines and peas. I spent all season trying to prop it back up and not very successfully. Picking the peas was made difficult because we had to hold up the heavy vines to get to the pods. I’m sure we missed a lot of peas last year.
This year I decided to get more creative. I built a scaffolding out of the bamboo poles (we have lots of bamboo, bought in bundles at a thrift store) and then strung twine back and forth. I made it about 6′ tall. I got a lot of comments about how tall it was and was convinced that I had gone overboard a little.
Not so. This week the vines reached the top rung, at least the Sugar Snap Peas have and the English Peas aren’t far behind. I am so glad now that I made it so tall. The vines are loaded with pods already and lots of blooms still coming. Looks like a good year for peas.
Yes, the peas (English peas and Sugar Snap peas) are blooming and the lettuce is growing so fast that we can’t eat it nor give it away fast enough. The rest of the garden is growing so fast too.
This is such a different year than last year, when the winter wouldn’t end and everything got such a slow start.
Absolutely loving this spring weather.
Gardening is a hobby that is time consuming and can get expensive. But it doesn’t have to cost a lot. There are many ways to have a beautiful garden without spending much money. Shoestring gardening can be done easily, following these simple tips and gardening how-to’s.
Most of my garden was created by shoestring gardening. I grew some perennials and biennials from seeds. All of our Purple Cone Flowers (Echinacea) were grown from one packet of seed, which took a little longer but I sure got a lot of plants for $1.89. The Foxglove (Digitalis) growing all through our garden came from one seed packet. Both of these plants reseed themselves, as do many other beautiful flowers.
Some of the other flowers I’ve grown from seeds are Delphiniums, Zinnias, Cosmos and Hollyhocks.
This is just one way to have plenty of flowers without spending a lot of money.
Growing fresh vegetables from seed is super easy and cheap, cheap, cheap. Check out more ways to garden on a shoestring and have a beautiful, productive garden.
If you like a lot of different kinds of plants…
If you like a lot of flowers blooming…
If you don’t want to worry about strict, formal lines and forms…
If you want your garden to feel natural, like it all happened on its own…
If you like using vintage pieces in your garden…
If you like the idea of plants seeding themselves or multiplying on their own…
If you want a garden that make you want to just hang out and relax in…
Maybe a Cottage Garden is just for you.
A cottage garden is loosely planned, and heavily planted. I think that most gardeners are a lot like me when it comes to plants. It seems that I’m a plant-aholic. I can’t seem to ever have too many. Even when I’m sure that I’ve maxed out the space available, I can always squeeze in one more specimen I’ve found.
Plants that bloom, smell good and re-seed or spread will eventually find a way into my garden. The great thing about having such a variety of plants is that most of them bloom, but not at the same time. So I have something blooming somewhere all during the growing season. If you have all the same plants then the blooms are all done with at the same time.
I did lay out a plan of the yard but only loosely designated a certain area for “flower bed” or “berry patch”. I paid attention to the height of the plants, so they would all fit together nicely, and to the sun and water requirements. It’s also a good idea to pay attention to the bloom time but I didn’t really do that, and most of the time I was lucky. The blooms for any season, spring through fall, are spread around the whole yard pretty evenly.
If you follow the planting guides on most seed packets or plant instructions, your garden will look good eventually. While the plants are growing and reaching their full potential, there can be a lot of empty space to fill. It can either be filled with annuals for a year or two…or three, or with mulch. I like to plant things much closer than the instructions say because I like a very full garden. If the plants get a little crowded, it’s okay. If they ever get too crowded, I divide and move some or share with friends.
I like blooms. I love having flowers in the house, so I plant plenty so that I can cut plenty to use and to share. Try some of the cottage garden favorites like hollyhocks, foxglove, phlox, daisies, roses (of course), peonies or lilies.
It doesn’t take a lot of room to have a cottage garden either. A tiny plot by the back door will do. How about a 3′ border down the side of your lawn? I’d rather have the 3′ lawn and the rest in flowers, but that’s just me.
Mix in some vegetable plants along the way. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, basil, squash and many other beautiful vegetable plants will fit right into a cottage garden.
Formal gardens are pretty but they don’t draw me in and make me feel as happy as I feel when I’m in my (slightly messy) cottage garden.
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An unexpected thing I enjoy about our garden is getting to talk to so many people as they pass by, some strolling, some on bikes and many in cars. We live on a corner just off Main Street in our little town of about 40,000 and so it feels like we live in Mayberry, with so many friendly people. Anyway, one day a man walking his dog stopped to talk and was telling me how much he appreciated me putting the names by the plants so passersby could know what they were. I told him I hadn’t thought about the people passing by, I was just trying to remember the names of plants and what was planted where.
I moved out here to the West almost 3 years ago and even though I’d gardened for such a long time in the south (zones 7 & 8), there were so many plants out here (zone 5b/6a and elevation ca.5000′) that I’d never heard of and didn’t recognize. Really, there were very few of the ones I was use to growing that would grow out here. So if you think you have to know a lot to be a gardener, then I’m living proof that you don’t. I started reading a lot, I now have 154 gardening books (I just counted out of curiosity), almost all second hand. I like to be able to look up anything I need to know about. I do use the internet a lot but I get a lot of help from books.
Back to the names on the plants…I use metal wire stakes with a metal plate to write on. They work great for helping me to remember the plant name and to mark the spot where it’s planted so in the spring when I’m looking for places to put new plants I’ll know that place is reserved for something that will be coming up soon.
When I have spaces to fill I like to plant annuals that have plenty of blooms to use and share, like Cosmos and Zinnias, which can grow quite tall if they’re happy. Last year I had a profusion of blooms along the sidewalk outside the picket fence on the South side of our yard (our house faces West) and large areas covered in blooms inside the fence.I try to get everyone to come and cut bouquets from the zinnias and cosmos because it encourages more blooms and it makes people happy.
One afternoon as I was sitting on a little stool weeding by the front sidewalk a little girl, about 8 years old, came riding by on her bike and stopped to talk. She gave me one of my favorite compliments when she said, “Your yard looks like a flower forest.”
How could I not like that?
I started growing herbs when my Aunt Pearl, who lives in Georgia and is also a gardener, gave me a large pot planted with herbs. I’ve been growing them ever since. I like to mix them in among other perennials, although I have had beds with just herbs in them. Herbs are so easy to grow and since you need to keep pinching them back to make the plant fuller and to prevent blooming, you have plenty to use in cooking and you’ll have plenty to share, since it really is good for the plant to get pinched back. In most cases it would be hard to use that much of any herb. When I prune them back I put the clippings I’m not going to use in a basket on my kitchen counter. The smell is wonderful.
Put the ones you are planning on using in a glass with water in the fridge and they will stay fresh until you need them. When using fresh herbs in recipes you’ll need to use a larger amount (about 2-3 times as much) because measurements are usually for dried herbs, which have much less volume. Fresh herbs make such a difference in foods. For example, potato salad is a whole different dish when prepared with fresh oregano, thyme, parsley and chives. The flavors are so fresh and wonderful.
Some can be grown from seeds and some can’t. Some can be dried and used, some frozen. If you’re interested in planting herbs, now is a good time for planting the hardy ones. Depending on where you live, Rosemary is iffy, and basil surely can’t take the cold but most others are pretty hardy. I’ll talk more about herbs later, but for now you really should consider herbs for your garden. You’ll fall in love.
This question comes up a lot and I think the best place to start a garden is not with a shovel and dirt but with pencil and paper.
Gardening is a growing interest and a lot of people, even though they want to garden, just don’t know how to get started. Even a small bed can produce a great amount of flowers or vegetables.
Here is a link to an article I’d written that might be of some help. Check it out.
Vegetable gardens are popping up all over the place. Next summer, notice how many people are carving out a little portion of their yard to start a garden to grow some of their own food. I remember back in the 40’s and 50’s small kitchen gardens were the norm, along with a few fruit trees.
It really doesn’t take much space to grow a few vegetables, vegetables that tastes so much better than anything you can buy in the store. The good news is that it doesn’t take a lot of know how either. A little research on the things you want to grow, and you will be a gardener before you know it. If you happen to live where there really is no room for a garden, then grow some things in containers. The containers don’t have to be fancy, they just have to be big enough that the roots will have plenty of room and big enough that there is plenty of soil so that it doesn’t need watering every hour. Good drainage is a must. Boards nailed together to make grow boxes, or barrels cut in half and holes drilled in the bottom will work. See this page for some ideas of some vegetables to grow in containers: http://wp.me/P1OXDF-1bc
Growing your own vegetables can be a fun family project. Let the kids choose vegetables to plant and help them to learn how to take care of their own plants. I noticed that my children ate vegetables out of the garden so much better than ones from the freezer. I think it was because they had part in planting, weeding, watering and harvesting them.
Times are tough for a lot of families right now and buying a few packets of seeds might be a really good investment. As the winter months drag on and we plan for the spring and summer, consider giving the vegetable garden a shot.
Even though I’ve been gardening for so many years, it still amazes me that we can take a little seed, put it in the dirt, and it will make food for us. Isn’t that just amazing?
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I finally made it to the garden center to select the seeds for our raised bed vegetable garden. We have 3 beds that measure 16’x4′. One is located in the back yard by the peach trees, and two are in the side yard, on the other side of the driveway.
We usually grow the peas and lettuce in the side yard beds but this year I’m moving them to the raised bed in the back yard, mainly for convenience sake. It’s easier to dash out the back door and pick peas and lettuce, it’s much closer to my kitchen. The corn and tomatoes will go out in the beds in the side yard.
As you can see from the picture, I have quite a variety that I plan on growing this year. All have done well before, and I really look forward to having them much closer to the kitchen.
Almost all of the ones in the picture need to be planted soon and I’ll be trying to get them all planted today (March 16). We are in zone 6, so the time for planting early veggies in your zone may vary. Check the seed packet for that info.
The beans, squash and cucumber will go in later, when the soil warms up a little. I’m planting two kinds of peas, regular English peas and Sugar Snap Peas. Also, I’m planting 3 kinds of lettuce, for variety.
I did get a few packets of flower seeds, but I save so many seeds from my annuals each year that I don’t really need to buy many of those.
The timing is perfect for planting tomorrow because it’s suppose to rain over the weekend, which will water the seeds in really well and give them a good start. Also, I’ll be soaking the peas seeds overnight to give them a little head start.
If you want a really good selection of seeds, now’s the time to get to the garden center and make your selections.
Last fall I wrote a post about a product I’d heard about called “Blend” (see post http://wp.me/p1OXDF-BE ) and all it could do to improve the qualities of soil. The company that produces it is located in Arizona and since we were down there for a wedding reception, we took time to tour their facility and learn a little more about them.
It was an amazing place, much larger than I had imagined. I learned that Blend is only one of many products they produce to improve and condition the soil and to feed plants.
There are mixtures that stimulate the root growth (for stronger, healthier plants) and products that improve the uptake of nutrients (macro and micro). There are pesticides made with Thyme oil. Plants need such a variety of nutrients and most soils don’t provide all that plants need. Most fertilizers provide the basic Nitrogen, Phosphate and Potash (the numbers on the fertilizer containers) but not the many other nutrients required by plants.
They were generous and kind enough to give me some samples to bring home to try on our garden. I am so excited to be able to use them, since I’ve heard such good things about them. At this time they only sell wholesale and their products are used all over the world, even China. (Isn’t it nice to know that China actually buys something from us?)
Hopefully, they can be persuaded to retail some of their magic plant serum to some of us here in the U.S.
I will be posting pictures of plants grown with (and even some grown without) the different additives. It will be interesting to see how it does in our garden.
If you’ve been going through the seed catalogs (like I have), or visited the seed racks at the stores (now fully stocked) trying to decide what your going to include in your garden this year, then you’re aware of the huge choices available to us.
Take vegetables for instance, once you decide which vegetables you want to grow, then you have to decide which variety. Say you want to grow green beans. The first choice that comes to mind for green beans is whether you want them to run (climb something) or to be bush beans (so you don’t have to provide something for them to climb on).
The key is to do some homework, whether in the catalogs, gardening magazines and books or on the internet, learn as much as you can about the things you want to grow. Whether is vegetables, herbs or flowers, the information on the back of the seed packets will make a lot more sense if you know what you’re looking for. By the way, there is a lot of information on the seed packets so don’t ignore it. See post: http://wp.me/p1OXDF-1xE
Some things grow great from seeds and some will grow from seeds but take way too much time (like Asparagus). Some things won’t grow from seeds (like Tarragon). Tomatoes will grow from seeds, but our growing season is so short that we have to set out seedlings in order to get tomatoes before the cold weather returns in the fall. Most gardener set out seedlings for tomatoes anyway, because everyone wants to get fresh, homegrown tomatoes as early as possible.
This is the best time to stock up on seeds, while the racks are well stocked (both garden centers and mail order seed stores). Before you know it, the racks will be almost bare and your choices will get more and more limited.
It’s time for us to plant the peas, lettuce and spinach, so I’ll be checking out the racks this week and making the crucial decisions…which English peas, and what kinds of lettuce to grow. So many choices….so little space.
We just returned from a long vacation down to Arizona, Mexico and southern California. It seemed more like May down there than February. We visited some gorgeous gardens (photos to follow) and enjoyed our time away from the snow, ice and freezing weather.
It was nice to get home though and we were pleasantly surprised to find that our winter is milder than usual and we actually have hope of an early spring and summer. After being around all of the beautiful flowers and ripening fruit, it’s hard not to get overly impatient to get to work in our own garden.
Yet, here in zone 6, about all we can do is a little cleaning up and work on planning our raised vegetable beds. We are going to switch things up some this year. We learn a little more about our yard every year and try to improve our garden. Learning from our mistakes is one of the best lessons of gardening.
Many people, who have never gardened before, are considering growing their own food this year and backyard vegetable gardens are becoming quite popular. If you’re reading this, then likely you are already a gardener, but if not, and you want to start a garden, don’t be intimidated.
It’s easy, if you follow these simple steps:
- Prepare the Bed
- Layout the Plan and then Plant
- Water and Keep Moist Till Germination
- Watch Garden Grow
For information about each of these steps, check out this article: http://ezinearticles.com/?How-To-Start-a-Garden-In-5-Easy-Steps&id=6559034
Gardening should come with a warning, because it is very addicting.
Okay, back to the seed catalogs.
As you plan your vegetable garden, don’t overlook beets. They are so easy to grow and you can eat the tops as well as the roots.Beets are full of potassium, calcium, folic acid and antioxidants…in case you actually need a reason to eat beets.
The tops are wonderful steamed with a little garlic and tossed with some balsamic vinegar. I think the roots are best pickled, but some people like them cooked with a little butter and salt. There are so many good recipes using beets. Find some here: http://allrecipes.com/recipes/fruits-and-vegetables/vegetables-a-m/beets/
Okay, all gardeners get pests and even disease sometimes. Oh, the aphids were bad last year.
There is a lot we gardener can do though, to help prevent a lot of our problems in the garden. Most of them are just good gardening practices, and we probably already do most of them. Just thought I’d list them so we can see what we might be neglecting.
- Make sure your soil is healthy. Put nutrients (compost) back into it each year. Healthy plants are much more resistant to diseases and pests.
- Don’t plant the same vegetables in the same place each year. Rotate, rotate, rotate. Keep the bad guys guessing.
- Plan your vegetable garden well. Plants need lots of sunshine and good air circulation. Over crowding hinders both.
- Don’t neglect your plants. Checking them regularly allows early detection of any problems.
- Don’t water the foliage late in the day, as it needs time to dry out before night to prevent fungus and mildew.
- Keep garden tools clean. Rinse the dirt off and store them away. If you’re working with diseased plants, it’s a good idea to disinfect the tools with a little bleach water. Clean hands and garden gloves as well after working around diseased plants.
- If you have plants with disease, do not compost them. Put them into the trash bin.
Hopefully this years garden will be pests and disease free.
Wouldn’t that be so nice?
Some plants in the garden can’t ‘stand alone’, and they need to be staked. This is true of Delphiniums, Peonies, Dahlias and some others that have tall stems that are unable to hold up in a wind. The flowers then flop over and are ruined.
Some vegetables grow vertically with support, such as beans, peas and cucumbers. Tomatoes need support to grow on as well.
There are all types of supports and stakes you can buy in the store, from metal to plastic, and most of them can get pretty pricey if you need a lot of them, like I do.
I really like using Bamboo canes to stake my flowers and vegetables with. They can be shoved into the ground and then cut off at the length needed. I like to make teepees with them to grow my cucumbers and beans on. They can even be used to create cages for supporting tomatoes. Also can be driven into the ground around the wire tomato cages for more support. You can really do a lot with Bamboo and twine in the garden.
Bamboo comes in a variety of diameters, the wider the stronger, of course. Bamboo is strong, even strong enough to use to prop up branches heavy with fruit. It should last several seasons, and in the right climates may last much longer.
Using Bamboo is easy.
Because of the natural joints along the canes, it is easy to ties plant stems to it without them slipping down. Just drive the Bamboo into the ground near the plant (trying not to injure the roots) and tie the stem to it in a figure 8 with a piece of hemp or twine. It’s important not to tie it to the plant too tightly. That’s why the figure 8 helps. Tie the twine to the pole tightly, then to the stem loosely.
Another way of supporting flower stems is to drive Bamboo canes into the ground throughout the bed of flowers and make a grid of twine, going back and forth between the canes. The flower stems can grow up through this grid and be supported.
To make a teepee for cucumbers or beans, I drive 4 to 6 bamboo poles into the ground in a circle (you can use as few as 3), before I plant the seeds. Then I pull them together at the top and secure them with twine. From the top down to about a foot from the ground, I go around the teepee 4 to 6 times with twine (wrapping the twine around each pole as you come to it). Then I plant the seeds near each pole. As the plants get big enough, I begin to train them up on the teepee. Pretty soon, they get the hang of it and just cover it all the way to the top. Make sure you know the approximate height the plant will grow in order to know how tall to make the teepee.
Bamboo is a natural in the garden.