Archive for the 'Vegetable Gardening' Category

Growing Vegetables

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

I can hear you thinking that you have no idea about growing vegetables. The truth is that you can easily learn enough to be growing useful crops very quickly, and each session spent in your garden teaches you even more. You will learn much that is unique to your own situation, such as local soil conditions, your particular aspect in relation to the sun, and oddities that relate to your local microclimate. You will learn most of this by getting out and giving it a go.

The taste of home grown vegetables is vastly superior to that of the commercially grown produce. Have you heard people complain that tomatoes no longer have any taste? They will have when you grow your own – you will never taste better. The lack of taste with the commercial crop is not all the fault of the growers, as they are under pressure to produce a crop, of uniform size and colour, to the schedule of the wholesale market, and ultimately the supermarket. You set your own schedule.

The freshness of your own crop is a big plus. Vegetables I have bought from the supermarket, and stored in the refrigerator, have started to become inedible after a few days. I have had home grown produce still fresh in the refrigerator after 2 weeks!

Typically, your home garden will produce a generous yield, and can readily help pay for the cost of growing them. You can effectively end up having free vegetables. Summer, especially, is usually a time of abundance, even glut, as family and friends leave your place with perhaps more produce than they had expected to see. A tip – when giving away fresh produce, try to limit your generosity – it is better to give a small amount to many rather than to give to the few more than they can actually use.

One of the turn-offs to trying something you have not done before is the intimidating flood of information (and misinformation) you will receive.

If you are browsing one of the major bookstores, you may find hundreds of books on the topic – which do you buy? To begin with, look for the simple, basic information. Do not bother with those full of jargon – you will learn the technical terms as you go.

You will hear folklore from the family, such as “Uncle Henry always put … (you name it) … on his … (name it again)”. Folklore is part of our heritage, but there is no guarantee of its usefulness.

You will hear from the office genius, who has done nothing, but still knows all the answers – nod wisely, and then ignore him.

Plants evolved millions of years before humans, and they actually want to grow. It has been said that in many cases plants grow despite what we do to help them. If you provide the basics, and these are reasonable nutrition and regular watering, Mother Nature does the rest – let her work for you.

Improve Your Soil Without Chemicals Using Soil Solarization

Friday, June 27th, 2008

Would you like to know  an alternative way to get rid of pesky weeds, pests and some diseases as well? 
The answer  is to solarize your soil.

Solarization is predominantly used in areas that have a lot of sunshine and high temperatures. However, it can be utilised in cooler climates too. The results may not be quite as effective, but it can do wonders in your battle against weeds.

What exactly is soil solarization?
It is a technique that uses no chemicals, but instead captures the sun’s radiant heat and energy which, in turn, causes physical, biological and chemical changes in the soil. These changes include the ability to control or eliminate soil borne plant pathogens including bacteria, fungi, pests, and nematodes along with weeds.

In order to solarize the soil in cooler areas, you need to cover it with a clear plastic sheet for approximately 4 to 6 weeks during a time of the year when the weather is very hot and when the soil will be able to receive maximum direct sunlight for long periods. The soil heats up to temperatures which are hot enough to kill some soil inhabiting pests including root rot fungi, wilt, noxious weed seed and root knot nematodes. Soil solarization also stimulates the release of nutrients from organic matter that is present in the soil. It is very effective in treating garden soils where you intend to plant herbs, vegetables and flowers.

Now that you know what soil solarization is, you may want to give it a try to your soil rather than using different chemicals to control weeds and other pesky little critters!

Organic Vegetable Garden Checklist For Early Summer

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

As summer approaches it is wonderful to be able to relax and enjoy the garden, but there is also a lot to be done in the organic vegetable garden at this time of year.

Weeding

Late spring and early summer is the peak growing time for most plants, including weeds. Being natural wild plants they will grow strong healthy roots very quickly. Don’t let them get the upper hand or they will steal the precious water and nutrients that your growing vegetables need. Hoe twice a week for optimum weed control.

If you get to know your weeds, you may find that you can add some of them to your salad bowl instead of throwing them straight into the compost. For a few dollars you can buy a book of edible wild plants native to your state or country that will help you identify them. Perhaps you will even decide to let some of your tastiest weeds live and seed.

Sowing And Planting Out

Depending on your climate you may still be sowing carrots, cabbage and broccoli for later harvests. Plant out any remaining zucchini, pumpkins, squash and beans.

Plants that have been grown from seed indoors need to be hardened to the change of air and temperature before being planted outside, even if the weather is warm. Leave them outside in a sheltered spot, not in full sun, for a few days, bringing them in at night or any time that the temperature drops.

Thinning And Harvesting

Many plants will require thinning now to get the best crop. A lot of these are technically fruit but as we eat these non-sweet fruit in salads, they are usually considered part of the vegetable garden.

With tomatoes, pinch off the side shoots to encourage the plant to put more energy into its fruit. If your shoots are about 5 inches long or more, they can be established as separate plants. They will take about 10 days to root and of course will produce a later crop than the main plant. Remove their first flowers to have them grow big enough to provide good fruit.

If you are growing cucumbers, harvest them regularly to encourage more to be produced. Pick lettuce before it becomes too old and replace your first lettuces with new sown seeds.

Pest Control And Wildlife

This is a great time to encourage natural predators to settle in your garden and control your pests.

- If you have problems with aphids, purchase a ladybug nest and feeder.

- The beetles that feed on slugs flourish on undug, well mulched ground that gives them plenty of protective cover. So control weeds with mulch instead of the hoe if you have a slug problem.

- Encourage bees and wasps by growing flowers with large, colorful open blooms or smaller, bell-shaped flowers alongside your vegetables. Wasps also love to have a pile of undisturbed dead wood for nest building. By providing this for them in a place that you choose, you can prevent them from nesting around the house, tool stores, children’s play areas and other areas of your organic vegetable garden.

Home Vegetable Gardens Don’t Have To Be Hidden

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

In deciding upon the site for the home vegetable garden it is well to dispose once and for all of the old idea that the garden “patch” must be an ugly spot in the home surroundings. If thoughtfully planned, carefully planted and thoroughly cared for, it may be made a beautiful and harmonious feature of the general scheme, lending a touch of comfortable homeliness that no shrubs, borders, or beds can ever produce.

With this fact in mind we will not feel restricted to any part of the premises merely because it is out of sight behind the barn or garage. In the average moderate-sized place there will not be much choice as to land. It will be necessary to take what is to be had and then do the very best that can be done with it. But there will probably be a good deal of choice as to, first, exposure, and second, convenience. Other things being equal, select a spot near at hand, easy of access. It may seem that a difference of only a few hundred yards will mean nothing, but if one is depending largely upon spare moments for working in and for watching the garden and in the growing of many vegetables the latter is almost as important as the former this matter of convenient access will be of much greater importance than is likely to be at first recognized. Not until you have had to make a dozen time-wasting trips for forgotten seeds or tools, or gotten your feet soaking wet by going out through the dew-drenched grass, will you realize fully what this may mean.

Exposure.
But the thing of first importance to consider in picking out the spot that is to yield you happiness and delicious vegetables all summer, or even for many years, is the exposure. Pick out the “earliest” spot you can find a plot sloping a little to the south or east, that seems to catch sunshine early and hold it late, and that seems to be out of the direct path of the chilling north and northeast winds. If a building, or even an old fence, protects it from this direction, your garden will be helped along wonderfully, for an early start is a great big factor toward success. If it is not already protected, a board fence, or a hedge of some low-growing shrubs or young evergreens, will add very greatly to its usefulness. The importance of having such a protection or shelter is altogether underestimated by the amateur.

The soil.
The chances are that you will not find a spot of ideal garden soil ready for use anywhere upon your place. But all except the very worst of soils can be brought up to a very high degree of productiveness  especially such small areas as home vegetable gardens require. Large tracts of soil that are almost pure sand, and others so heavy and mucky that for centuries they lay uncultivated, have frequently been brought, in the course of only a few years, to where they yield annually tremendous crops on a commercial basis. So do not be discouraged about your soil. Proper treatment of it is much more important, and a garden- patch of average run-down, or “never-brought-up” soil will produce much more for the energetic and careful gardener than the richest spot will grow under average methods of cultivation.

The ideal garden soil is a “rich, sandy loam.” And the fact cannot be overemphasized that such soils usually are made, not found. Let us analyze that description a bit, for right here we come to the first of the four all-important factors of gardening food. The others are cultivation, moisture and temperature. “Rich” in the gardener’s vocabulary means full of plant food; more than that and this is a point of vital importance it means full of plant food ready to be used at once, all prepared and spread out on the garden table, or rather in it, where growing things can at once make use of it; or what we term, in one word, “available” plant food. Practically no soils in long- inhabited communities remain naturally rich enough to produce big crops. They are made rich, or kept rich, in two ways; first, by cultivation, which helps to change the raw plant food stored in the soil into available forms; and second, by manuring or adding plant food to the soil from outside sources.

“Sandy” in the sense here used, means a soil containing enough particles of sand so that water will pass through it without leaving it pasty and sticky a few days after a rain; “light” enough, as it is called, so that a handful, under ordinary conditions, will crumble and fall apart readily after being pressed in the hand. It is not necessary that the soil be sandy in appearance, but it should be friable.

“Loam: a rich, friable soil,” says Webster. That hardly covers it, but it does describe it. It is soil in which the sand and clay are in proper proportions, so that neither greatly predominate, and usually dark in color, from cultivation and enrichment. Such a soil, even to the untrained eye, just naturally looks as if it would grow things. It is remarkable how quickly the whole physical appearance of a piece of well cultivated ground will change. An instance came under my notice last fall in one of my fields, where a strip containing an acre had been two years in onions, and a little piece jutting off from the middle of this had been prepared for them just one season. The rest had not received any extra manuring or cultivation. When the field was plowed up in the fall, all three sections were as distinctly noticeable as though separated by a fence. And I know that next spring’s crop of rye, before it is plowed under, will show the lines of demarcation just as plainly.

Vegetable Growing In Your Back Yard

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

VEGETABLE CULTURE.

As a rule, we choose to grow bush beans rather than pole beans. I cannot make up my mind whether or not this is from sheer laziness. In a city backyard the tall varieties might perhaps be a problem since it would be difficult to get poles. But these running beans can be trained along old fences and with little urging will run up the stalks of the tallest sunflowers. So that settles the pole question. There is an ornamental side to the bean question. Suppose you plant these tall beans at the extreme rear end of each vegetable row. Make arches with supple tree limbs, binding them over to form the arch. Train the beans over these. When one stands facing the garden, what a beautiful terminus these bean arches make.

Beans like rich, warm, sandy soil. In order to assist the soil be sure to dig deeply, and work it over thoroughly for bean culture. It never does to plant beans before the world has warmed up from its spring chills. There is another advantage in early digging of soil. It brings to the surface eggs and larvae of insects. The birds eager for food will even follow the plough to pick from the soil these choice morsels. A little lime worked in with the soil is helpful in the cultivation of beans.

Bush beans are planted in drills about eighteen inches apart, while the pole-bean rows should be three feet apart. The drills for the bush limas should be further apart than those for the other dwarf beans say three feet. This amount of space gives opportunity for cultivation with the hoe. If the running beans climb too high just pinch off the growing extreme end, and this will hold back the upward growth.

Among bush beans are the dwarf, snap or string beans, the wax beans, the bush limas, one variety of which is known as brittle beans. Among the pole beans are the pole limas, wax and scarlet runner. The scarlet runner is a beauty for decorative effects. The flowers are scarlet and are fine against an old fence. These are quite lovely in the flower garden. Where one wishes a vine, this is good to plant for one gets both a vegetable, bright flowers and a screen from the one plant. When planting beans put the bean in the soil edgewise with the eye down.

Beets like rich, sandy loam, also. Fresh manure worked into the soil is fatal for beets, as it is for many another crop. But we will suppose that nothing is available but fresh manure. Some gardeners say to work this into the soil with great care and thoroughness. But even so, there is danger of a particle of it getting next to a tender beet root. The following can be done; Dig a trench about a foot deep, spread a thin layer of manure in this, cover it with soil, and plant above this. By the time the main root strikes down to the manure layer, there will be little harm done. Beets should not be transplanted. If the rows are one foot apart there is ample space for cultivation. Whenever the weather is really settled, then these seeds may be planted. Young beet tops make fine greens. Greater care should be taken in handling beets than usually is shown. When beets are to be boiled, if the tip of the root and the tops are cut off, the beet bleeds. This means a loss of good material. Pinching off such parts with the fingers and doing this not too closely to the beet itself is the proper method of handling. 

There are big coarse members of the beet and cabbage families called the mangel wurzel and ruta baga. About here these are raised to feed to the cattle. They are a great addition to a cow’s dinner.

The cabbage family is a large one. There is the cabbage proper, then cauliflower, broccoli or a more hardy cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts and kohlrabi, a cabbage-turnip combination. 

Cauliflower is a kind of refined, high-toned cabbage relative. It needs a little richer soil than cabbage and cannot stand the frost. A frequent watering with manure water gives it the extra richness and water it really needs. The outer leaves must be bent over, as in the case of the young cabbage, in order to get the white head. The dwarf varieties are rather the best to plant.

Kale is not quite so particular a cousin. It can stand frost. Rich soil is necessary, and early spring planting, because of slow maturing. It may be planted in September for early spring work.

Brussels sprouts are a very popular member of this family. On account of their size many people who do not like to serve poor, common old cabbage will serve these. Brussels sprouts are interesting in their growth. The plant stalk runs skyward. At the top, umbrella like, is a close head of leaves, but this is not what we eat. Shaded by the umbrella and packed all along the stalk are delicious little cabbages or sprouts. Like the rest of the family a rich soil is needed and plenty of water during the growing period. The seed should be planted in May, and the little plants transplanted into rich soil in late July. The rows should be eighteen inches apart, and the plants one foot apart in the rows.

Kohlrabi is a go-between in the families of cabbage and turnip. It is sometimes called the turnip-root cabbage. Just above the ground the stem of this plant swells into a turnip-like vegetable. In the true turnip the swelling is underground, but like the cabbage, kohlrabi forms its edible part above ground. It is easy to grow. Only it should develop rapidly, otherwise the swelling gets woody, and so loses its good quality. Sow out as early as possible; or sow inside in March and transplant to the open. Plant in drills about two feet apart. Set the plants about one foot apart, or thin out to this distance. To plant one hundred feet of drill buy half an ounce of seed. Seed goes a long way, you see. Kohlrabi is served and prepared like turnip. It is a very satisfactory early crop.

Before leaving the cabbage family I should like to say that the cabbage called Savoy is an excellent variety to try. It should always have an early planting under cover, say in February, and then be transplanted into open beds in March or April. If the land is poor where you are to grow cabbage, then by all means choose Savoy.

Carrots are of two general kinds: those with long roots, and those with short roots. If long-rooted varieties are chosen, then the soil must be worked down to a depth of eighteen inches, surely. The shorter ones will do well in eight inches of well-worked sandy soil. Do not put carrot seed into freshly manured land. Another point in carrot culture is one concerning the thinning process. As the little seedlings come up you will doubtless find that they are much, much too close together. Wait a bit, thin a little at a time, so that young, tiny carrots may be used on the home table. These are the points to jot down about the culture of carrots. 

The cucumber is the next vegetable in the line. This is a plant from foreign lands. Some think that the cucumber is really a native of India. A light, sandy and rich soil is needed I mean rich in the sense of richness in organic matter. When cucumbers are grown outdoors, as we are likely to grow them, they are planted in hills. Nowadays, they are grown in hothouses; they hang from the roof, and are a wonderful sight. In the greenhouse a hive of bees is kept so that cross-fertilization may go on.

But if you intend to raise cucumbers follow these directions: Sow the seed inside, cover with one inch of rich soil. In a little space of six inches diameter, plant six seeds. Place like a bean seed with the germinating end in the soil. When all danger of frost is over, each set of six little plants, soil and all, should be planted in the open. Later, when danger of insect pests is over, thin out to three plants in a hill. The hills should be about four feet apart on all sides.

Before the time of Christ, lettuce was grown and served. There is a wild lettuce from which the cultivated probably came. There are a number of cultivated vegetables which have wild ancestors, carrots, turnips and lettuce being the most common among them. Lettuce may be tucked into the garden almost anywhere. It is surely one of the most decorative of vegetables. The compact head, the green of the leaves, the beauty of symmetry all these are charming characteristics of lettuces.

As the summer advances and as the early sowings of lettuce get old they tend to go to seed. Don’t let them. Pull them up. None of us are likely to go into the seed-producing side of lettuce. What we are interested in is the raising of tender lettuce all the season. To have such lettuce in mid and late summer is possible only by frequent plantings of seed. If seed is planted every ten days or two weeks all summer, you can have tender lettuce all the season. When lettuce gets old it becomes bitter and tough.

Melons are most interesting to experiment with. We suppose that melons originally came from Asia, and parts of Africa. Melons are a summer fruit. Over in England we find the muskmelons often grown under glass in hothouses. The vines are trained upward rather than allowed to lie prone. As the melons grow large in the hot, dry atmosphere, just the sort which is right for their growth, they become too heavy for the vine to hold up. So they are held by little bags of netting, just like a tennis net in size of mesh. The bags are supported on nails or pegs. It is a very pretty sight I can assure you. Over here usually we raise our melons outdoors. They are planted in hills. Eight seeds are placed two inches apart and an inch deep. The hills should have a four foot sweep on all sides; the watermelon hills ought to have an allowance of eight to ten feet. Make the soil for these hills very rich. As the little plants get sizeable say about four inches in height reduce the number of plants to two in a hill. Always in such work choose the very sturdiest plants to keep. Cut the others down close to or a little below the surface of the ground. Pulling up plants is a shocking way to get rid of them. I say shocking because the pull is likely to disturb the roots of the two remaining plants. When the melon plant has reached a length of a foot, pinch off the end of it. This pinch means this to the plant: just stop growing long, take time now to grow branches. Sand or lime sprinkled about the hills tends to keep bugs away.

The word pumpkin stands for good, old-fashioned pies, for Thanksgiving, for grandmother’s house. It really brings more to mind than the word squash. I suppose the squash is a bit more useful, when we think of the fine Hubbard, and the nice little crooked-necked summer squashes; but after all, I like to have more pumpkins. And as for Jack-o’-lanterns why they positively demand pumpkins. In planting these, the same general directions hold good which were given for melons. And use these same for squash-planting, too. But do not plant the two cousins together, for they have a tendency to run together. Plant the pumpkins in between the hills of corn and let the squashes go in some other part of the garden.

Organic Gardening

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

Organic gardening is the exact same as regular gardening except that no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides are used.  This can make certain aspects difficult, such as controlling disease, insects, and weeds.  Organic gardening also requires more attention to the soil and the many needs of plants.
 
 Organic gardening starts with the soil.  Gardeners must add organic matter to the soil regularly in order to keep the soil productive.  In fact, compost is essential to the healthiness and well being of plants grown organically.  Compost can be made from leaves, dead flowers, vegetable scraps, fruit rinds, grass clippings, manure, and many other things.  The ideal soil has a dark color, sweet smell, and is full of earthworms.  Some soil may need more natural additives than regular compost can give, such as bonemeal, rock phosphates, or greensand.  A simple soil test will tell you the pH balance and which nutrients you will need to use.

One thing that makes even gardeners that are very serious about organic gardening reach for pesticides is insects on their plants.  The best way to defend plants against insects is to take preventative measures.  One thing that can be done is to make sure plants are healthy and not too wet or dry because insects usually attack unhealthy plants and if healthy, they can often outgrow minor insect damage.  A variety of plant types is a good idea to keep pests of a particular plant type from taking out the entire garden.

Perhaps the best way to defend against insects is to make your garden enticing to insect predators, such as ladybugs, birds, frogs, and lizards.  You can do this by keeping a water source nearby or by growing plants that attract insects who feed on nectar.  Other ideas are sticky traps, barriers, and plant collars.  There are some household items that prevent against insects too, like insecticidal soaps, garlic, and hot pepper.

To avoid plant disease in organic gardening, choose disease resistant plants and plant them in their prime conditions.  Many diseases will spread because of constant moisture and bad air circulation, so the site of your garden and the way it is watered can help ensure against diseases.

Weeds can be an annoying and frustrating part of organic gardening.  Organic mulch can act as a weed barrier, but for even better protection put a layer of newspaper, construction paper, or cardboard under the mulch.  Corn meal gluten will slow the growth of weeds if spread early in the season before planting, as does solarization.  There’s also the old-fashioned art of hoeing and hand pulling that always works.  Your best bet in weed prevention is persistence.  Mulch well and pull and hoe what you can; after a few seasons you can beat the weeds for good.

Organic gardening is an excellent way to assure that your plants will be free and clear of all pesticides and, if taken care of properly, will be as healthy as possible.  Organic gardening may take a little more time and care than regular gardening, but after gardeners get the hang of it and figure out all the quirks of their garden, it is definitely worth the extra time.

Vegetable Gardening

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

Vegetable gardening has lately become just as popular as going to the grocery store for produce.  Vegetable gardening can produce vegetable that are usually cheaper than store bought, and vegetables from a home vegetable garden definitely taste better by far.  Vegetable gardening is no different than growing herbs or flowers and if the proper steps are taken and the plants are give the proper care they will flourish and produce very tasty vegetables.

First you must decide what size of garden you wish to plant and then select a place for it; somewhere that has good drainage, good air flow, and good, deep soil.  It also needs to be able to get as much sunlight as possible.  Because vegetable gardens have such tasty rewards, many animals, such as dogs, rabbits, deer, and many others will try and get to your veggies.  One way to prevent this is to surround your garden with a fence, or put out a trap to catch mice, moles, and other animals.

Before planting, the soil must be properly prepared.  Good soil for vegetable gardening is achieved by cultivation and the application of organic materials.  The soil must be tilled (plowed) to control weeds and mix mulch into the soil.  If you have a small garden, spading could be a better bet than plowing.  Mulching is also a vital part of soil preparation.  Organic matter added to the soil releases nitrogen, minerals, and other nutrients plants need to thrive.  The most popular and best type of mulch you can use is compost.  While the kind and amount of fertilizer used depends on the soil and types of plants, there are some plants that have specific needs; leafy plants, like cabbage, spinach, and lettuce usually grow better with more nitrogen, while root crops like potatoes, beets, turnips, and carrots require more potash.  Tomatoes and beans use less fertilizer, while plants like onions, celery, and potatoes need a larger amount.

One thing that is vitally important in vegetable gardening is the garden arrangement.  There is no single plan that will work for every garden due to varying conditions.  One popular way to arrange a vegetable garden is to plant vegetables needing only limited space together, such as radishes, lettuce, beets, and spinach, and those that require more room together, such as corn, pumpkins, and potatoes.  Try and plant tall growing plants towards the back of the garden and shorter ones in the front so that their sunlight does not get blocked.

When you are finally ready to begin planting your vegetable garden, make sure and plant at the right time of year.  If you are dying to get an early start, you may want begin your garden inside in a hotbed and then transplant when the weather permits.  After you are finished planting, make sure your vegetables receive the appropriate amount of water, which depends on the type of plant.  Most plants will need the equivalent to about an inch of water per week.

Weeds must be controlled in vegetable gardening because they will take up water, light, and nutrients meant for the vegetables and they often bring disease and insects to the garden.  You can get rid of weeds by cultivation or mulching.  To protect against disease and insects you can buy seeds that are disease resistant or use controlled chemicals.

Vegetable gardening is many people’s favorite form of gardening because you can actually taste the fruits of your labor.  Vegetable gardening is not that expensive to start and the taste of home grown veggies definitely beat out that of supermarket vegetables.  Your vegetable gardening days will be full of produce if you take the proper precautions when planting and continue maintenance of your garden.

Herb Gardening

Saturday, February 9th, 2008

Herb gardening is becoming more and more popular every day, and for a good reason.  Herbs have practical value, serve a purpose, and with herb gardening you can actually use your plants.  When most people think of herb gardening they automatically think of cooking, but herbs are also grown for their pleasant aroma and their beauty.

One important part of herb gardening is drying the herbs for use during the winter months, especially if you plan on cooking with them.  First the tops of leafy herbs have to be cut, washed, and hung up for the water to evaporate.  Then, tie stems together and hang up in a paper bag to dry.  After two to three weeks they must be removed; crumble the leaves, dry them out in the oven, and store in a glass jar.

One of the most common herbs gown in herb gardening is basil.  “Dark Opal” and regular green basil are beautiful additions to any garden and often used as decoration.  Dark Opal has light pink flowers and dark red leaves.  Basil isn’t just used for its looks; it is used for extra flavor in tomato juices and pastes.

Chives are very petite looking and resemble a blade of grass.  They are much stronger than they look, however, and will grow well through a drought and a drought.  Their toughness and sturdiness makes Chives a perfect plant for herb gardening, especially if the gardener doesn’t want plants that require a lot of hassle.  Chives are good used in salads, egg dishes, and many different sauces.

Mint is also very simple to grow and is good to use in mint jelly, mint juleps, lemonade, and any other kind of fruity drink.  Mint is also good in herb gardening for its unique minty smell.  Two herbs that appear in nearly everyone’s herb garden are thyme and sage.  Both of these herb gardening favorites are used for flavoring soups, chicken, turkey, pork, and other sausages.  Sage is also grown sometimes for its beautiful blue spiked flowers.

Lavender is probably the best smelling herb in all of herb gardening and is often used in candles, as a perfume scent, and to improve the smell in linen chests.  The light purple flowers smell absolutely lovely.

Other types of herbs often grown in herb gardening include borage (used in salads), chervil (used in egg dishes), sweet marjoram (flavors lamb, fish, salad, and soup), sesame (flavors crackers, cookies, and bread), and dill (flavors meats and used in pickles).  Herb gardening allows gardeners to use herbs from their own garden for cooking, looks, and smell.  Herb gardening will produce much fresher herbs with more flavor than store-bought herbs, and are a lot cheaper.

Vegetable Gardening Tips

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

With the costs of living rising all the time, it may be possible to save money and increase your family’s health at the same time by growing vegetables in your backyard.

It’s a good idea to choose your favourite vegetables to grow and plan beds for early, middle of the season and late varieties.

Most vegetables require at least 6 hours of sunlight per day, some need 8. Some quick growers like lettuce and radish can be grown between the rows of plants that take longer to mature, like beet or corn, thus making full use of the area available.

Throughout dry periods, vegetable gardens need extra watering. Most vegetables benefit from an inch or more of water each week, especially when they are fruiting.

During the growing season watch for insect pests. If you discover a bug problem early it will be much easier, but be careful to not use pesticides once the vegetable are close to being picked unless it becomes an absolute necessity. Organic gardening is one healthy and environment-friendly option. Once you have reaped your crop, put the vegetable waste into your compost pile so that it can be recycled for next spring.

It is important to protect your vegetable garden from wild animals looking for a tasty treat. Make sure your garden is surrounded by a fence that will keep out dogs, rabbits, and other animals. The harm done by wandering animals during one season can equal the cost of a fence. A fence also can serve as a frame for peas, beans, tomatoes, and other crops that need support.

Protection is needed in order for your vegetable garden to yield a bountiful harvest. Hard work will pay dividends if necessary precautions have been taken.

Crop Rotation for Vegetables

Monday, October 8th, 2007

When growing vegetables in the garden most people tend to grow the same crops year after year.
This is not surprising really, as we grow the crops that we prefer to eat and we also tend to grow the plants that we have the most success growing.

One thing that most gardeners seem to do is grow the same vegetables in the very same place in the garden each year.

You will tend to have a spot for your tomatoes and a spot for your pumpkins and so on.

The problem with planting the same crops in the same place each year is the effect it has on the nutrients in the soil.

Plants will extract the nutrients that they need from the soil for their specific requirements each season.
By planting the same crops in the same places you can get nutrient deficiencies.

This is where crop rotation can enhance the value of your soil.
By rotating where you plant your vegetables each season you will be giving the soil the opportunity to produce better results as there won’t be the same demands on the nutrients in the soil when there is a different plant growing their from last season.

To improve the soil quality even more, you should dig in the remains of the crops once the season has finished allowing some of those nutrients to be put back into the soil.
In the off-season you can also grow cover crops in the garden.
These are crops that are grown specifically to add nitrogen to the soil.
These crops have high nitrogen value in their roots and when they are ready, you dig them into the soil.

In doing this you can expect a better harvest each year as the new planting of vegetables will have more nutrients to feed them.