Archive for the ‘Organic Gardening’ Category

The Benefits of Using Heirloom Seeds

In a time when saving money and being healthy are of equal importance, more and more people are returning to their own gardens to grow their food. However, once the soil has been turned and prepared there are a myriad of often confusing choices when it comes to varieties and seeds. While modern hybrid varieties are faster growing and often seen as less expensive, the benefits of heirloom seeds can be seen in the growing trend toward its use.

Heilroom seeds

What are heirloom seeds?

Heirloom seeds are defined as coming from an old or original cultivar and which growers continue to maintain. For many organic gardeners, the ultimate goal is to have a truly unmodified plant that has genetically withstood generations of cultivation. For others, it’s the novelty of experiencing colors, flavors, and types of plants we are no longer accustomed to.

Tasting the difference

How often have you tasted an apple or a tomato from a supermarket and complained about the lack of flavor? The ability of modern varietals to withstand long term storage often comes at the cost of flavor, texture, and scent. Heirloom seeds generally give rise to full flavored fruit that are intended to be eaten (or preserved) when they are at their best.

Preserving history

Collecting and using heirloom seeds is a very simple way to preserve our environmental history. As our society becomes more and more technologically driven and the borders between countries disappear, the plants our ancestors grew are beginning to disappear as well. Preserving the plants – both edible and non-edible – of our past help us to ensure our future.

Pleasure of produce

One of the greatest benefits of heirloom seeds, is perhaps one of the least recognized. There is a lot of pleasure to be derived from a hobby that involves such hands-on involvement. Once you have grown and consumed the vegetable – or enjoyed the flower – you should preserve the seeds for the next season.

Many gardeners split their seeds into two lots. One group of seeds is intended for pure preservation – the idea is to not allow any type of cross pollination in order to retain the strains historical genetics. The other group are planted outside and allowed to cross pollinate naturally via birds, insects and wind. Considered natural modification, this can result in new, hardier strains while retaining the plant’s integrity.Gardener

Some gardeners, new to heirloom seeds, complain about the lack of hardiness in the resulting plants. More often than not, however, the problem revolves around suitability in the location. If a plant does not grow ‘naturally’ in your area, perhaps it is the climate and soil that are the problem and not the seeds. After all, in natural circumstances, you would not try to grow a pineapple in Antarctica.

Most gardeners, however, find the benefits of heirloom seeds far outweigh the challenges. Moreover, once they realize purple carrots and yellow tomatoes are not only beautiful, but delicious, they are no longer satisfied with the offerings in their local supermarket.

A guide to the best natural pest controls

Anybody who has attempted to grow something in their garden will be all too aware that
pests have a way of rearing their ugly little heads very quickly indeed! Sadly, the first
response for many gardeners is to head to their garden shed and reach for the pesticides in
order to get rid of their problem as quickly as possible. While this may be the quickest way
to solve the problem, it is most certainly not the greenest! Pesticides can have an adverse
effect on the environment, meaning that a quick-fix is not always the best remedy.

This is now finally being understood by those who make their living from the land; with
nature in mind, many farmers are now employing integrated pest management techniques
in order to protect their livelihood for the long-term – in essence, people are now making
much more of an effort to strike a balance between protecting their crops and protecting
the environment!

Fortunately, there are plenty of natural and organic methods that gardeners can employ
when attempting to rid themselves of would-be garden invaders! Below are some of the
methods of saving both crops and the planet:

Smells like trouble – many common garden nuisances (such as foxes) can be deterred with
the employment of strong smelling substances. The most commonly used substances that
can be turned into a stinky “keep out” sign are garlic, fish, rhubarb and tobacco.

Hot hot heat – would-be garden invaders can be sent packing with the use of a little heat;
this can include chillies, kerosene, methylated spirits and even table salt!

Odour eaters – many readily available garden plants give off natural odours that can be
extremely uninviting to bugs and other pests. This is nature’s way of informing the bug that
the plant probably carries some form of natural insecticide; it also lets it know to keep well
away!

Get slick – commonly found oils can be a great way of controlling certain kinds of garden
pests. Some tried and tested oils include mineral oil, vegetable oils and proprietary oils.
These can kill soft-bodied invaders by clinging to them and eventually causing suffocation.

Clean up your act – a little-known pest controller comes in the form of soap. Ensuring that
the soap is natural and vegetable-based is the best way to make sure that it will not harm
the plants as opposed to the pests!

How to grow bigger garlic cloves

Back in 2009 I wrote the article about growing garlic.  One quy sent me a question about growing bigger garlic cloves.

If you want to grow bigger garlic cloves you need to do the following:

Be sure you are starting with the biggest cloves in the bulb only. Remember, in this case the size DOES matter! 😉
Garlic loves sun. So plant it in the sunny areas.
Make sure the soil is well drained. Otherwise garlic will root.
Fertilize it. Garlic loves manure. Some people say that chicken manure giver great results but I didn’t try it yet.
Don’t forget to weed garlic.
Remove scapes or garlic false seedheads. Otherwise they will take energy and power from your garlic cloves. By the way, garlic seedheads are delicious when young! You can cook them in oil and enjoy their great taste!
Harvest garlic in the right time! The right time to harvest garlic is when the bottom three leaves are brown.

Read also:
Growing and planting onions
Growing watermelons
Growing Morel mushrooms

Help the world! Use paper pot maker!

Making a water supply in your garden

Do you want to enjoy the beauty of colours and scent from fresh flowers in your garden? Of course you do. Thus for healthy growth of your lawns and backyards you need water. So this article is dedicated to making a water supply in a garden.

Tap water supply
The most simple and comfortable way for irrigation is to use tap water. All you need is just to fix a hose pipe to a tap. But you should realize that chlorinated water is not so good as an irrigation source. At least you must settle it down before use.

Bore hole
A borehole is another option that has many advantages. First, it gives suitable water for irrigation; second, the water supply will be constant. However, this is most expensive way. Sometimes it may cost a fortune if water runs deep under the ground in your area.  Used drill pipe for sale will make this option less expensive.

Rainwater supply for your garden
You can also use rain water to pour your garden. Facts show that rainwater is healthier and better for plants in comparison with tap water. How do you collect rainwater? Well, it’s very simple, just by placing water butt right under your roof’s gutter or ditch during rains.
Water butt can really work wonders in terms of water conservation and usage. It’s up to you to make it looking as a part of the garden design covered, for example, by plant creepers. You are free to create original ideas of your own that can even become a trend for others to follow.
Back in March 2009 I had a wonderful idea of creating free organic fertiliser by using rainwater and some fish. :) You can read this article here:  Free Organic Fertiliser.

How to grow parsley

Hello, my fellow gardeners! Like a promised on Saturday, I wrote a post of how to grow parsley for you. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to write a comment, I will gladly try to help you!

How To Grow Parsley

No doubt, parsley is a popular herb in every kitchen. It has a nice flavor and adds attractiveness to our table. Moreover, it is a rich source of minerals, Vitamin A and Vitamin C. So, if you want to relish this tasty and healthy herb, you must know how to grow it. Growing parsley is not so difficult as it may seem. Just stick to our tips and you will receive a high yield.

Remember, parsley likes:How to grow parsley?

  • Sun
  • Moisture
  • Rich soil

Steps:

  1. Soak parsley seeds in hot water for at least a couple of hours to speed up germination.
  2. Sow the seeds in warm ground (early spring) at 3-inch intervals.
  3. Make sure a spot you’ve chosen receives enough sunlight and moisture.
  4. Water the plants deeply once a week.
  5. Mulch around the plants to retain moisture and prevent weed growth.
  6. Use general purpose fertilizer once a month.
  7. Harvest parsley from late spring throughout the season by cutting stalks just above the ground.

It is better to use parsley while it is fresh, however, frozen it also tastes good. Besides, if you like to eat garlic or curry, a spring of parsley after dinner will freshen your breath better than any chewing gum. Enjoy it!

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Stinging Nettle Facts

Stinging nettle has a lot of vitamins and minerals: С, К, В2, carotene, calcium, pantothenic acid, chlorophyll, potassium, sulphur and many others. It increases blood coagulation, the level of haemoglobin, platelets, red blood cells, decreases the sugar level. Stringing nettle also has diuretic and wound healing properties.
It has also been used in folk medicine to treat asthma, cough, and digestive spasms.

The stringing nettle can be used for food as well, but at the spring time only as a chemical change occurs in nettles around midsummer which makes them particularly bitter.

Also it helps to get rid of dandruff.

Stinging nettles are an important habitat for rare butterflies species so please leave some nettles  in your garden.

If you don’t have a time to collect it, you may want to buy different kinds of  stinging nettle’s extracts in your local pharmacy or on the Amazon just below.

Gardening in Our Backyard Is Growing On Us

Snowdrops at Heale House in WiltshireImage by Anguskirk via Flickr

My wife, Jenny and I haven’t been gardening for long but the desire has been there for many years. We have been married for 27 years and now we finally have our very own backyard big enough for both flowers, trees, shrubs and as of 2009, a vegetable garden as well.

It’s about -27 here today and the wind is pretty strong making it bitter cold so I am staying in my office and planning my garden season for 2010. Nice and toasty in here with my coffee and music.

We started gardening here the year we purchased the property. We even purchased the lot next door so we could have room for a vegetable garden. We didn’t start with a vegetable garden because my health was pretty poor when we bought this home. So we started with a few flowers and then moved on to a few containers for strawberries and tomatoes.

After that we were hooked and I managed to dig up a vegetable garden plot, 4×16 feet and started square foot gardening in 2009. We had a great experience, learned a bunch of things NOT to repeat and some things that will help us do better in 2010.

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Tools And Techniques For Hydroponic Herb Growing

Hydroponic Herb growing has become a very sought after endeavor for people who want to enjoy fresh herbs all year long. The great thing is that you won’t have to spend a lot of time and energy maintaining it once you have it put together. When you think about how much money you would spend on herbs from the store you will realize that it is worth your while.

Although many people have not heard about this type of growing system, the truth of the matter is that it has been around since ancient times when the herbs were used to treat injuries and illness. In more recent years the idea caught on with everyone from the common household to larger corporations who supply many people with fresh produce during the winter months.

Getting started

Like anything else, there are several methods for getting your garden set up. However, no matter which way you choose to set it up you will need the same types of materials to get started. The central items that you need to get started are a couple of pans with one being a little bit bigger than the other, herb plants, plant food, water, small scaled plumbing pipes, and some sort of sterile medium.

The first thing that needs to be done is to punch small holes into the smaller of the two pans. Make the holes small enough to fit the pipes in tightly. Once you do this put the pans together and insert a pipe into each opening. Put your medium on top leaving each hole open for the plants. If you can’t find this type of planting surface you can use such things as small garden rocks or even plant moss. Just make sure that they are sterile.

Take a container and mix up the recommended amounts of plant food and water. Be careful to break up any lumps if you are using a powder treatment. Cover the entire pan with the mixture being careful to get it down into all of the holes. All that needs to be done now is the planting.

You will need to take great care in rinsing all of the soil that is on the roots of your plants. It may be better to soak them in a small tub as opposed to rinsing them off with running water. Take some type of cloth and blot all the water away or simply tap them lightly on the side of your tub. Place each plant into its own tube and all that will be left is to tend to their daily care.

How to care for your herbs

After you have your garden set up find a bright area in your home to place the container in. If your house is not lit up enough you can always find a plant light to put over your pans. The ideal environment for your herbs would be cool and moist and there are many cooled air humidity machines that will provide the perfect solution for homes where the air is dry.

The best thing about hydroponic herb growing is that you can add a fresh taste to all of your dishes all year long. They will add a wonderful aroma to your home and it is an effort that your family is bound to appreciate.

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Growing petunias

Double wave flowers.

Petunias come in a number of different kinds and combinations. They are one of the best flowers to bright up your garden or area near the house. They are really easy to grow and can be planted in hanging baskets, containers or in the ground. They’ve become popular in the mid 19th century when the Europeans brought them from USA. Petunias grow naturally in the US zones 9 to 11 and they can’t handle freeze at all. If these flowers grow outdoors, they die every winter but you can easily grow them again next season.

Growing petunias from seedlings
Before planting petunias, you need to prepare soil and choose the location.
Try to plant them in the sunny location with 6-8 hours of sun every day. Spread some organic manner (two to three inches thick) and mix it with the soil.  Soil also must drain decently.
Plant petunias only after the last frost, otherwise they may die.
If you bought petunias in the peat pots, then just remove them out of there and gently tease their roots apart with your fingers.
Place them in the soil, cover the root ball and gently firm the soil down.
You have to keep the soil moist until you see a new growth. That shows you the petunias have developed a strong root system.

Growing petunias from seeds
I recommend to start growing petunias indoors. Although it takes about 10-12 weeks before petunias are big enough to plant out, but you can save some money, because garden seeds cost less than petunias seedlings and you can grow more plants.
Prepare clean, damp potting soil or milled sphagnum moss. Sprinkle the seeds on top if it and press them in gently with your fingers before watering.
Cover the container with plastic bag or any other plastic and store it in a bright, warm (70 to 85 degrees F) place. Do not place them under direct sunlight.
Seeds begin to sprout 7-10 days after planting. You’ll have to remove plastic and relocate the container to a cooler place with about 65F during the day and 55-65F during the night.
Plant seedling into individual peat moss or paper pots (use pot maker to make them)  when they have 3 true leaves.
After the last frost, you can plant them outdoors.

Read also:
Four tips for growing lavender

(c)Garden Seeds

Four tips for growing lavender

1) Lavender needs at least 6 hours of full sun per day.
2) Lavender likes rocky soil and ph between 6.5 and 7. Make sure you add a little bit of organic compost or lime if PH is lower.
3) Water lavender well and let them go dry. Lavender doesn’t like constantly wet soil as they are Mediterranean plants.
4) It’s really important to give a good haircut to small lavender plant. Cut them about 2-4 inches above the wood. Then you’ll have a lot more flowers on the lavender. Repeat that procedure during the next spring.

Read also:
Growing Thyme
Growing basil

Help the world! Use paper pot maker!
(c)Garden Seeds

I wish I could be read better in Spanish, but I found a great site that will be of help with my veggies. Most tutoring net companies just sell netting and have no real expertise in agriculture. Hortomallas has a great library available to farmers as tutora means tutor as referred to a plant. I ran into this site by mere chance as I was trying to find the ideal product to tutor my backyard vegetables, and did not know that using netting reduces viruses and fungi. I will try now to go 100% organic!