Posts Tagged ‘how to grow organic vegetables’
My husband and I both love bamboo, it is so tropical looking and beautiful. Last year we started talking about bamboo and the idea of trying to grow it in our climate. I didn’t think that we could because of our harsh winters. With some research though, I was happy to see that there are some kinds of bamboo that will grow here.
I don’t claim to be an expert on bamboo, but I have done some research on it and I’m just sharing with you some of the things that I’ve found out about it. Besides being beautiful, bamboo is really amazing. It is fast growing, yet easy to control if you understand how it grows (more on that later), is an unusual plant that can provide a privacy screen or a focal point in your landscape.
Since bamboo is a grass, it needs high nitrogen fertilizers, just like you lawn. It needs sunshine and a constant supply of moisture. It shouldn’t be allowed to dry out but it can’t grow in standing water either. The soil should be well drained and rich in organic matter. Mulching helps to keep the moisture in and the weeds down so there will be not competition for the roots.
Not all bamboo is alike, it comes in a variety of colors and growth patterns. It can grow 6′ tall, 15′ or 25′. Some can get 70′ feet tall in the right environment, but in the home garden, most will probably be less tall than their maximum height.
There are basically two kinds of bamboo, clumping and running. The beautiful, exotic bamboo shown here, are all running types of bamboo. The clumping bamboo won’t get big and gorgeous like these, it has a shrubby, weedy look to me.
Bamboo has a bad reputation for being very invasive and aggressive. It takes a few years to get established but when it does, it can be very fast growing (up, as well as out). As I understand it, the plant only sends up shoots for a couple of months in the spring. After that time, no more shoots will come up till the next spring. When the shoots come up outside the area you want the bamboo to grow, just let them get a few inches to a foot tall and then just kick them over. They are very tender during this time and easily removed. What’s more, another shoot won’t come up in that spot. Also, all bamboo are edible and so the shoots that are kicked over can be eaten (especially good in oriental cooking).
You can also keep the area mowed (or use a weed eater) to keep the shoots from growing.
A barrier can be put down around the area as well. Since bamboo roots are pretty shallow, only going to about 12″-15″, a 2′ barrier would prevent the spread of the roots and shoots. Remember, this is a plant, not a monster that can’t be controlled.
We found a great place to get our bamboo, with very reasonable prices and a wide choices of plants. We actually went there ourselves and toured the extensive bamboo gardens. I fell in love with bamboo and I can’t wait to have ours growing tall and magnificent in our garden.
The bamboo nursery we found is called Steve Ray’s Bamboo Garden and is in Alabama.
It is found online at: http://www.thebamboogardens.com/
The types of bamboo we picked out for our garden are all hardy in our zone. Click on the “Zone Map” button above to see the temperatures for your zone. We chose Phyllostachys aureosulcata – Yellow Groove Bamboo with is hardy to -10′; P. humilis – which is hardy to 0′ and p. nigra “Henon” – Giant Gray Bamboo, hardy to 0′. This one the stalks can get 4″ thick. Can’t wait to see that.
Just thought you might like to consider something new for your garden and landscape.
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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.
After seeing the gorgeous bamboo growing at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, I’m getting so excited for spring to get here to see if the bamboo we planted in our garden is going to survive our winters (we live in zone 6) and come up like it’s supposed to.
We planted 4 large clumps (3 different kind) and they are the hardiest of the non-clumping bamboo, so we have our fingers crossed that one day the bamboo growing in our yard will look as magnificent as what we’re seeing here in Las Vegas.They look like they could be the same species as the ones we’ve planted. (See post http://wp.me/p1OXDF-pC)
I talked before about the 4 large clumps we brought back (in our SUV) all the way from Alabama. The nursery we bought from is found online at: http://www.thebamboogardens.com/ I don’t think we’ll give up though, if it happens to not come up. We did get it planted a little late in the season and we would try again, maybe planting it earlier to give the roots more time to become established before the winter cold set in.
You see, we love bamboo, and we’re determined to have some in our garden. I’m sure these photos explain the allure.
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Being an organic gardener may take a little more time and effort, but it is well worth the benefits you receive. You can take pleasure in the fact that you are working with nature, and not against it, to grow beautiful flowers, fruits and vegetables.
Here a link to an article recently published, with some tips to help you become an organic gardener. It’s not anything difficult and you are probably already doing most of them and have been gardening organically without even realizing it.
Check out this article for more information.
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All across the country leaves are coming down. They are so beautiful and create such an atmosphere of Autumn. But there is great potential in those fallen leaves, and you shouldn’t let them go to waste. Even though there is a lot of volume when they are raked up, when they are shredded (as when run over with a lawn mower) the volume is greatly reduced.
If you don’t have a compost pile to add them to, just setting them aside and letting them break down over the winter will give you some rich matter to add to your garden next spring. If they are bagged up, even better, as the moisture trapped in the bag will help them to break down faster.
If your area is like ours, and there are bags of leaves sitting out by the curb waiting for pick-up, then you really are in luck. Gathering up the free gifts of leaves is a smart thing to do, that is, unless you have huge amounts of leaves in your own yard.
Improving the soil is the best way to insure a healthy and productive garden. Whether you’re growing vegetables or growing flowers or whatever you grow, it will grow better with better soil, with organic soil. So the more organic material you can add to your garden, the healthier the plants will be. Healthy plants aren’t as susceptible to disease or insect attacks.
Healthy plants = happy gardener.
As freezing temperatures approach our area next week, I’ve been trying to decide how to use the green tomatoes still on the vine. There area lot of ways to use these tart, firm vegetables (fruits) and some of these ways might surprise you.
Let me just say right here, that if you haven’t tried Fried Green Tomatoes yet, then you have really been missing out.
Fried Green Tomato Recipe
4-5 large green tomatoes
1/2 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder (optional)
vegetable oil for frying
Trim off ends of green tomatoes. Slice tomatoes 1/2″ thick.
In 1st dish – put 1 cup flour
In 2nd bowl or dish – Beat egg slightly and add milk, combining well.
In 3rd dish – combine 1/2 c. flour, 1/2 c. corn meal (not self rising) and seasonings
Dredge green tomato slices in the flour, then dip into the egg mixture. Dredge in the flour/corneal mixture, till completely coated.
In a large, heavy skillet pour enough oil so that there is 3/4 oil in the pan. Heat over medium – medium/high heat.
When the oil is hot place the green tomato slices into the pan, being sure not to crowd them. Brown on both sides then drain on paper towel.
Serve hot and crispy.
Green Tomato Raspberry Jam Recipe
5 cups chopped green tomatoes
3 cups white sugar
1 (6 oz.) package of raspberry flavored gelatin powder
Heat the chopped green tomatoes in a large saucepan and heat thoroughly. Add sugar and bring to boil and cook about 10 minutes. Add the gelatin powder and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes.
Ladle into hot, sterilized jars and seal. Can also be cooled and poured into freezer containers and frozen.
Green Tomato Pie
Pastry for 9″ two crust pie
3 cups of finely chopped, really green tomatoes (let drain in colander for a couple of hours)
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons flour
Zeest of l lemon, grated finely
6 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ginger
Prepare double pie crust. Line pie pan with half. Roll out second half and set aside. Mix remaining ingredients thoroughly. Place in pie shell and cover with top crust. Cut vents in top crust. Bake in 450 degree oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 40 minutes longer or until golden brown.
Green Tomato Salsa
4-5 large green tomatoes, trimmed and quartered
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded if milder salsa is wanted
1 large onion, trimmed and quartered
1-2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash of sugar to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor.
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Yes, there is a Kiwi that will grow in the colder areas and it is a beautiful, hardy vine. It’s not very well known, it is an Arctic Kiwi (Actinidia kolomikta). In the more mature plant the leaves are variegated pink and cream mixed with the rich green. It is a vigorous vine that will grow 40′ or more, so it does best on a tall, sturdy support like a fence or arbor. Ours are about 20′ now as they go 9′ up to the top of the arbor and cross over 10′ and are wondering around up there. It isn’t fussy about the type of soil, rich and fertile or dry clay, and it will grow in sun or shade, but it does like a good, deep drink of water at least once a week.
The more mature vines (4-5 yrs. old) will set fruit, which is smaller than commercial kiwi but sweeter. It has a slick skin and doesn’t need peeling. These Kiwi are dioecious, which means there has to be a male and a female plant planted near each other in order to set fruit.
Our Kiwi is now 2 1/2 years old and in a year or two we will start seeing the pink and cream coloration on the leaves and hopefully, we will begin to get fruit. Can’t wait for that.
Last fall, at the end of the season and the spent plants had been removed, I decided not to empty the pots, but to re-use them and the potting mix in them. There were spring bulbs on sale everywhere and perennials were being marked down at the end of the season. Since most of our pots are pretty large, it seemed like a good idea to take advantage of the plants and bulbs on sale. Not only would I not have to empty those big pots, but I would have something to look forward to next spring and summer.
For more of this article, recently published on Ezine, click on the following link:
Soon the leaves will be turning some beautiful colors, and don’t you know, those leaves WILL come down. I’ve always loved the look of the colorful leaves all over the yard but they soon turn brown and they won’t stay dry and crispy. During the winter, whether from snow or rain, they’ll get wet and slimy, and pretty much stay wet. They’ll become a slippery, sludgy mess. So it’s important to remove them from walkways and steps to prevent accidents.The leaves should also be removed from the lawn, as well as flower and vegetable beds. There are plants that need mulching for protection during the winter, but it’s better to use mulch or pine needles. Using straw can cause problems because of the possible grains of wheat etc, it could contain, which could attract mice to your garden. The mice would then began to feed on the stems of plants, such as roses.
The leaves can be shredded and added to the compost pile. We even gather up bags of leaves left at the curbs for the city to pick up, to add to our compost.
Cut down perennials that have finished blooming. Annuals and vegetables should be pulled up when they’re spent. If not diseased, tossed all of these clippings and spent plants into the compost. Some plants can be left, if they add interest to the winter garden or if they have seed heads that can feed the birds.
Autumn is a good time to divide perennials, which can then be planted in other areas of the yard or shared with friends. It’s also time to dig up tender bulbs, like Tuberous Begonias and Dahlias (wait till frost has turned the leaves black), and store in a cool, dark place.
To strengthen roots through the winter, apply bonemeal to perennial beds and around shrubs and trees.
Tidying up the garden not only makes the yard/garden look better through the winter, but spring gardening will be so much easier and more enjoyable. If you’ve planted spring bulbs, with cleaned out flower beds, you’ll have something wonderful to anticipate and look forward to.
In the fall, at the end of the season, letting the flowers go to seed, and gathering the seeds, means never having to buy seeds or plants again. There are many beautiful flowers that will produce large amounts of seeds, more than you would ever need. Gather the seeds of the healthiest plants and the colors you prefer.
To save the seeds, leave the…
To read more of this article just check on the link below.
After a long, cold winter it is so wonderful to see plants coming up and flowers beginning to bloom, all because you thought to plant bulbs in the fall. Spring flowers from bulbs are so easy to grow and if they are happy ( that is - getting everything they need) they will just get better and better each year. So it’s important to plant the right bulbs for your climate. Just do a little research before you get started, so that you’ll know what does best in your area. Get creative and have fun as you plan where to plant the bulbs. In designing your garden, you can think about the colors you’re going to use, like the hot colors of red, yellow and orange or maybe you’d like the cool colors of pinks, purples, lavenders, blues and whites.
When you’ve decided what flowers you want to grow and what color scheme you like, then you’ll need to decide where to plant, and how many plants to fill the area you have. After all that has been figured out it will be time to think about when to plant the bulbs.
The when depends on which hardiness zone you live in. If you don’t know that, click on the “Zone Map” button at the top of the page. It will bring up a map, which you just click on your area to enlarge the map. The bulbs need to be planted 3-4 weeks before it gets cold enough to freeze the ground. The trick is to get them into the ground so that they will have time for their roots to begin to grow before the ground
The problem is that you don’t want to plant them too early because if they have too much time before the ground freezes they’ll have time to send up shoots, which take energy away from the bulb. The bulbs will need all the energy they can get for next spring, when they begin to grow.
So get out the crystal ball and figure out when would be the best time to plant for your area. I think it’s almost that time here in zone 5/6.
When we begin landscaping our yard with gardens instead of lawns, I didn’t think to take before pictures. It wasn’t until we had rolled up the sod and removed 3 of our 8 large trees that I even thought about it. So our before pictures aren’t really from the beginning, because in the beginning there were beautiful lawns, mature Viburnum and Forsythia shrubs and huge trees with spreading canopies in our yard.
So in the spirit of learning from my mistakes, remember to take photos of your projects in the planning stage, the before stage and all through the work stages. It is so interesting to look back and remember the way it was.
These are some photos of our yard as we planned our deck and designed the gardens around it. By marking where the deck would go, we could go ahead and plant the rose bushes, perennials and herbs around it.
is a plant that was growing in our back yard, around a little water feature that had seen better days. Besides, it was located in the center f where our deck was going to be built and so I had to move it. When we designed our garden, we didn’t know what to do with it so I moved it to the area around the garden spigot, since I assumed it liked the moisture. It has gotten a lot bigger since I moved it and this year it bloomed, but the blooms were insignificant and not too attractive. The foliage is the pretty part of this plant. It has grown to about 18″-24″ tall and the texture of the leaves are sort of like a succulent.
I’ve asked quite a few people if they recognized it and so far no one has. I don’t think anyone has seen one quite like it.I’ve looked online and poured through my gardening books, but so far it remains a mystery plant in our garden.
If you have any information about this plant, will you please let us know about it?
Sometimes in designing a landscape a hedge is just what you need. Whether its a backdrop for a perennial border or a way to create privacy, a hedge can be a very valuable addition to your garden.
So much depends on how much room you have and where you live (what hardiness zone you’re in).
If you have a very large area then you might consider Leyland Cypress. They’re beautiful, don’t need any upkeep or trimming and they are evergreen and provide a lot of privacy. The main problem with Leyland Cypress around a garden is the shading they would cause because of their height. They will grow to about 70′ depending on the zone. Gardens need all the sunshine they can get. Placed on the north side of your garden wouldn’t cause a problem though, as the shade would be on the north (unless you live south of the equator).
For a hedge around your garden you might want something that only grows to about 3′-6′, which wouldn’t cause too much shading problems.
For warmer climates you could use privet (Ligustrum) which is pretty, either pruned or not. It can be pruned up into small trees, or left to be full and shrubby. It grows fast and has little white flowers that bees love. Drawing bees to your garden is important for pollination if you’re growing fruit or vegetables.
You could use Nandina which is pretty in all seasons with color changes and berries.
Oleanders make a good hedge too, but may get too tall. I kept mine down to about 8-10′ with annual pruning but they can get taller if you like. In the very warm climates, you have a choice of many beautiful, flowering shrubs that would work well as shrubs if planted closely enough.
Of course there is always Boxwood. Some grow taller than others so check the label. Boxwood are popular because of their slow growth, which means less pruning needed.
For coolerareas you might consider a Spirea which takes a little more room but is beautiful and it doesn’t need pruning.
Rosa Rugosa are really nice, I’ve used the Rugosa and loved it. It not only has fragrant blooms, but produces very large, bright red hips in the autumn. It is very thorny, which makes it completely impenetrable. It is a very hardy rose and needs no pruning. These rose bushes will grow 6-8′ high and about 3-4′ wide. For a hedge you’d want to plant them 2-3′ apart. It really makes a beautiful hedge if you have the room. In the photo below you can see where I planted mine next to a picket fence.
Lilacs are beautiful and make a good hedge, once again, if you have the room. They can get 10-12′ or higher so consider that when choosing.
Now is the time to plant trees and shrubs so if you are considering putting in a shrub, get creative and find something that will add to the beauty of your yard and not just be a hedge.
A friend asked a question about pruning raspberries, so I thought I’d mention something about raspberries here.
First of all, I am so excited to live in a place where we can grow raspberries because I love them and they are so expensive bought fresh. So you know that I have to have them in our garden.
Raspberries should be pruned in the late winter/early spring before they bud out.
There are 2 kinds of raspberries, Summer Bearing and Everbearing. We have the Everbearing, but they don’t really bear all the time, just in the summer and again in the fall. The Summer Bearing bear in the summer, but I think it depends on the species as to when, in the summer, that happens. Or it could depend on the climate. Sorry, don’t know about that. If anyone does please comment.
The “How” is the tricky part when it comes to pruning raspberries. On both kinds, you prune out the canes that bore fruit, because they won’t bear again. Then, on the Everbearing, you prune out the weak and smaller canes leaving the tallest, strongest, thickest canes (5-6 per foot). Tie these up to some kind of support. We have ours against a fence, so that’s easy to do. Or…I recently learned that you can cut all canes down to the ground (late winter/early spring) and as they grow in the summer, prune out all but the tallest strongest canes, again, leaving only 5-6 per foot. They won’t bear in the summer but the crop in the fall will be heavier. This would work for us because our summer crop isn’t very big compared to the fall. I think I’m going to try this way this year to see how it goes. It sounds a lot less complicated. I’ll let you know.
You should wear good leather gloves and use sharp, clean clippers to prune the canes. If you’ll remember from an earlier post, I highly recommend deer skin gloves. They are the only leather gloves I’ve found that won’t let thorns in.
The Summer Bearers need to have the damaged or dead canes removed, as well as the ones that bore fruit in the summer.
Earlier, I had posted about our abundant crop of grasshoppers this year. I’ve been trying to find out how to prevent next years crop of them and I was reading a book by C.Z. Guest Garden Talk. She mentions a way to prevent damage by the grasshoppers, not necessarily getting rid of them, but lessening the damage they do.
Be for-warned that her remedy is disgusting, but I’m willing to try it, to see if it works. For all the plants in our yard though, I’d probably have to wipe out most of the population to use this remedy. Oh well.
Grasshopper Puree sprayed on plants, will protect them from the grasshoppers.
Now for the nauseating recipe: In a blender (one that you never intend to use for your food again) add
12 grasshoppers, medium to large, dead or alive (though fresh is best) and enough water to cover them.
Puree and then thin with water. You can sprinkle this mixture on the plants with a watering can or strain through a sieve and spray it on.
Reapply after rain. You can uses the same remedy on other bugs eating you plants. It seems that bugs don’t like to eat other bugs.
Isn’t it amazing the lengths gardeners will go to to protect their plants?
If you haven’t discovered raised bed gardening yet, then listen up.
There are some real advantages to gardening in raised beds, especially if you have poor soil or a lot of tree roots etc. Raised beds don’t get walked on, so they don’t get all packed down. Weeds aren’t a problem either. Plus, as you get older, it’s nice not to have to bend over so far.
You’ll need a place in your yard that gets plenty of sun and is pretty level. If possible the bed should run north and south so that the sun can get on both sides equally. That is the ideal, but all of ours run east and west and do fine.
Raised beds can be built out of bricks, blocks, cement or lumber. Lumber is the most common material used, with cedar or redwood being the best because it will last longer. If you live in an arid climate, you can even use pine. If you use lumber, then you have a choice of just nailing the box together or using metal corners that you just slip the lumber into and screw it together. We have both kinds and both work great.
You have to decide how big you’ll make the beds. If you make them 4′ wide then you’ll be able to reach the center from both sides. You can make them as long as you like, keeping in mind the lengths that lumber comes in will save you some money. We have 16′ x 4′ beds with one cross board in the middle. So it looks like two 8′ x 4′ beds attached end to end. You can make square beds or any size you need that will fit on your available space. You’ll also want to make the beds at least 3′ apart if you’re making more than one bed. This allows you working space in between them. Also, you need to consider how deep you want it to be. Boards come in 6″, 8″, 10″, 12″. Realize that the deeper the bed the more growing medium you’ll need. Plants usually need at least 6″, but we have ours at 8″. Also the roots can go past the mixture and into the soil.
To fill a raised bed, don’t use garden soil. There are a few things to use in the planting mixture and you can create your own mixture from these ingredients.
These ingredients are:
Peat moss, sawdust (not wood shavings), sand, Perlite and/or Vermiculite, compost, dry fertilizer (in even numbers, i.e.8-8-8 or 10-10-10). Mix it all really well either before you put it into the bed or layer it and mix it well in the bed. Level it off and don’t mound it up in the center. Water it really well to moisten the peat and perlite/vermiculite.
You’ll be able to grow a lot more plants in this rich, well drained mixture than you’d be able to in the ground. Earthworms love these beds and multiply really fast and make the mixture even more fertile.
You can build your raised beds in the fall for very early spring planting. Another something to look forward to after a long, cold winter.
I’ll tell you what I’ve learned about strawberry plants since I’ve moved to zone 6. They can be about as fast growing and invasive as Kudzu, you know, the vine that ate the south. When we bought this place there was a sickly little strawberry patch about 2′x2′ and the plants were pitiful, since they were in heavy shade all day.
I designed a little berry patch with strawberries growing low and blackberries on a little trellis (which they quickly outgrew). It is about 10′x8′ and gets sun most of the day. It had a wooden border from 4′x4′ posts left over from building the grape arbor and the deck.
Well…in no time at all they had jumped that border and were headed cross country. I cut them way back, but that only slowed them down for a couple of weeks. Now I know that I have to be vigilant about chopping runners off before they can make it to the border. They do have really good berries, but not as many of them as I would think they would with such prolific plants. I wish I knew what kind they were. Any suggestions would be welcomed.
I learned recently that after strawberries quit bearing, the leaves and runners should all be cut off, being careful not to injure the new growth. Maybe that is part of my problem, I haven’t been pruning them back like that and they just got too rambunctious. They’ve been pruned back now and we’ll see if they’ve been tamed a little.