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NEW Growing Fruits and Vegetables In Containers - Okay, all you Urban Homesteaders! Here's some gardening ideas to make the most of what space you do have.
Weeds In Your Garden? -- Bite Back! - A frugal approach to gardening...eat your weeds instead of throwing them out!
Composting Information - It's never too late to compost! Check out these helpful links.
Composting with Worms - Find out how worms can help you!
Gardening On A Budget - Gardening doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg.
Gardenless Gardening Containers - Creative ideas for container gardening pots.
Home Remedies for Fungus Gnat and Damping-Off Control Don't let these problems bug you!
Book Review- You, too, can be Growing Great Garlic! Read here to find out how.
Plants That Attract Beneficial Insects
Composting is Simple
The Compost Resource Page
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Earthworms in soil provide abundant benefits in increasing water infiltration, soil structure, and nutrient cycling. To read more about this and also find out why the worm industry is expanding go to this webpage: http://www.vermico.com/whyworms.html
To purchase worms and worm castings
By Kim Noblin
If you thought containers were only
for flowers, think again!
1. Strawberries - Strawberries
are easily grown in containers.
2. Tomatoes - Who doesn't love
the taste of home-grown tomatoes? Plant tomatoes in a container that
is a least 16" deep and 20"
3. Carrots - Carrots and other
root vegetables will grow well in
4. Salad Greens - Arugula,
endive, leaf lettuce, and mustard are
5. Herbs - Herbs are easy to
grow in almost any type of container.
Take good care of your container
grown vegetables and fruits by
Copyright © 2004, Kim Noblin
About the Author:
Kim Noblin is the editor of HerWorldOnline.com
by Arzeena Hamir
Once the buzz of Christmas has passed, the task of paying off bills can leave many gardeners on a strict budget. Gardeners who need to make frugal decisions at this time of the year can take heart in a number of alternatives that will not only lower the cost of gardening, but will also enhance the pleasure! Here are five steps every budget gardener should follow:
Make a list of what you'd really like to see in your garden and stick to it. There's no use growing winter cabbage, regardless of how lovely it looks in the frost, if no one in your family eats cabbage. A list will also keep you under control when you see the end-of-season sales and are tempted to purchase something on a whim. In addition, if you plan exactly where plants are going to go, you won't make last minute mistakes such as placing sun loving plants in the shade.
Start a compost pile
It's surprising to see how many gardeners haven't constructed their own compost pile and still pay to have their grass clippings and leaves hauled away and then, in turn, purchase fertilizers every year. Compost is free food for the garden! It helps break up heavy clay soils, absorbs water in sandy soils, and encourages microbial life, thereby decreasing that chances of any one disease becoming rampant in the garden.
Compost piles don't require anything
fancy. The walls can be made of
What can you put in the pile for
free? Grass clippings and leaves are a great choice since you probably
have your own source as well as your
If you're an apartment gardener or
are cramped for space, a great
Many of the expenditures that gardeners make for containers and equipment can be cut down by re-using items you already have at home. Margarine tubs, yogurt & cottage cheese containers and egg cartons are fantastic for seed starting. Old gardening boots, wheelbarrows, and toolboxes can make whimsical substitutes for expensive outdoor containers. Window frames can be converted into cold frames and plastic milk jugs and pop bottles can be used to make a mini greenhouses or hot caps.
Start from seed when you can
One packet of tomato seed is often equivalent to the price of one tomato start yet you get the potential of at least 30-40 plants in each packet. While it may take longer and require advance planning, starting the majority of your plants from seed can be a big savings, especially if you're using recycled containers. No need for expensive heat mats - the top of the VCR or water heater is ideal. Fluorescent tubes make a suitable substitute for expensive grow lights and can be rigged up under a table or on a shelf in the garage.
Don't forget to try to save your own seed during the season. Not only will you save on the seed purchase the following year, but you'll also be able to select seed from plants that you know did well in your climate. Most communities now arrange for seed swaps in the early spring where you can trade your excess seed for new varieties. Make sure that you save seed from non-hybrid plants.
Choose plants that keep on giving
In the vegetable garden, climbing peas, tomatoes, beans & squash tend to provide more produce than their bush equivalents. If you're limited in space, growing these plants vertically can be very successful. In addition, plants like zucchini are notorious for their yields. Trade with neighbours for food you didn't grow.
Among the flowers, try growing multi-purpose plants to get more bang for your buck. Many flowers like bachelor's buttons, violas, calendula, pansies, & roses are edible as well as beautiful. Yarrow, alyssum, fennel, cumin, & coriander all attract beneficial insects as well.
Find a friend
Not only can you share ideas with a gardening buddy, but you can also share the costs and make it cheaper for both of you. Very few of us require a whole packet of seed for the gardening season; most packets contain 40-100 seeds. Why not split the packet with a friend or else trade seed for a variety you didn't buy? A gardening buddy is also a great person to share tools with. If you've got a fantastic hoe and your friend has an excellent pitchfork, why double up?
Sharing with a gardening partner will also allow you to purchase certain inputs in bulk. If you require potting mix, why not go for the bale size instead of the small packages? Compost, if you can't make your own, is much cheaper if purchased by the yard and shared with a friend or two.
Joining a garden club is a great
way to meet gardening enthusiasts if no friends or family are willing to
team up with you. Most clubs also hold plant exchanges or sales where you
can get plants for a real steal.
I always say the gardener's best revenge is to eat the weeds. I've been doing it for thirty years and can testify that my health and the health of my garden has never been better. Here are a few hints for gardeners who'd rather eat their weeds than hate them (and for non-gardeners who are adventurous enough to try out nature's bounty).
View your weeds as cultivated plants; give them the same care and you'll reap a tremendous harvest. Harvest frequently and do it when the weeds are young and tender. Thin your weeds and pinch back the annuals so your weeds become lushly leafy. Use weeds as rotation crops; they bring up subsoil minerals and protect against many insects.
"Interplant" (by not weeding out) selected weeds; try purslane, lamb's quarters, or amaranth with your corn, chickweed with peas/beans, and yellow dock, sheep sorrel, or dandelion with tomatoes).And, most importantly, harvest your weeds frequently, regularly, and generously.
Overgrown radishes, lettuces, and beans are tough and bitter. So are weeds that aren't harvested frequently enough. Give your chickweed a haircut (yes! with scissors) every 4-7 days and it will stay tender all spring, ready to be added to any salad. If you forget a patch for two weeks, it may get stringy and tough and full of seed capsules. All is not lost at this stage. The seeds are easy to collect – put the entire plant in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 2-3 days and use the seeds that fall to the bottom of the bag – and highly nutritious, with exceptional amounts of protein and minerals.
Unthinned carrots and lettuces grow thin and spindly, so do unthinned lamb's quarters, amaranth, and other edible weeds. Wherever you decide to let the weeds grow, keep them thinned as you would any plant you expect to eat. Here's how I do it: In early spring I lightly top dress a raised bed with my cool-method compost (which is loaded with the seeds of edible weeds). Over this I strew a heavy coating of the seeds of lettuces and cresses and brassicas (cultivated salad greens), then another light covering of shifted compost.
Naturally, weed seeds germinate right along with my salad greens. When the plants are about two inches high, I go through the bed and thin the salad greens, pull out all grasses, smartweeds, cronewort, clear weed, and quick weed (though the last three are edible, I don't find them particularly palatable) and thin back the chickweed, mallows, lamb's quarters, amaranth, and garlic mustard and other edible wild greens.
Keep those annuals pinched back. You wouldn't let your basil go straight up and go to flower, don't let your lamb's quarter either. One cultivated lamb's quarter plant in my garden grew five feet high and four feet across, providing greens for salads and cooking all summer and a generous harvest of seeds for winter use.
When a crop of greens has bolted or gone to seed in your garden, you pull it all out and replant with another crop. Do the same with your weeds. We eat the greens of garlic mustard all spring, then pull it out just before it bolts (making a horseradishy vinegar from the choicest roots) -- often revealing a generous crop of chickweed lurking underneath.
Here are some of my favorite edible weeds:
• Burdock (Arctium lappa) Roots of non-flowering plants harvested after frost make a vinegar that is deep, and richly flavorful as well as a world-renowned tonic. Petioles of the leaves and the flowering stalk are also edible; for recipes see my book Healing Wise.
• Chickweed (Stellaria media) Young leaves and stalks, even flowers, in salads. Blend with virgin olive oil and organic garlic for an unforgettable pesto. Add seeds to porridge.
• Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis) Leaves eaten at any time, raw or cooked, but especially tasty in the fall – not spring!. Roots harvested any time; pickle in apple cider vinegar for winter use. Dandelion flower wine is justly famous.
• Garlic Mustard (Alliaria officinalis) Year-round salad green. Leaves used in any season, even winter. Roots are harvested before plant flowers. Seeds are a spicy condiment.
• Lamb's quarter (Chenopodium alba and related species, e.g. Chenopodium quinoa). Young leaves in salads. Older leaves and tender stalks cooked. Leaves dried and ground into flour (replaces up to half the flour in any recipe). Seeds dried and cooked in soups, porridge.
• Purslane (Portulacca oleracea) The fleshy leaves and stalks of this plant are incredibly delicious in salads and not bad at all preserved in vinegar for winter use.
• Sheep Sorrel (Rumex acetosella) Leaves add a sour spark to salads. Cooked with wild leeks or cultivated onion and potato they become a soup called "schav."
• Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) Young leaves cooked for 40-45 minutes and served in their broth are one of my favorite dishes. Seeds can be used in baked goods, porridge.
For more information see my book Healing Wise
by Heather Jackson
If you are a gardenless gardener, planning to grow your own herbs, flowers or vegetables your first consideration is finding something to grow them in!
Container gardening doesn't have
to mean pre-made hanging baskets,
As well as re-using what would otherwise go in the recycle bin (I hope) you will also save lots of money and create some uniquely beautiful not to mention functional containers!
Large gallon olive oil cans make excellent containers. Take of the top with a can -opener, remembering to flatten sharp edges and poke a hole in the bottom for drainage. The graphics on these oil can's make very attractive looking containers. Large plastic water or juice bottles are even easier!
Simply cut off to the desired height and poke a whole in the bottom for drainage and voila! An instant, free, container ready for planting.
Small plastic water bottles (the 9 fl oz kind) are great for new cuttings or established seedlings. Simply mark off the desired height cut around with kitchen scissors and remember to poke a hole in the bottom for drainage.
If it's a window box you're after, take a large water bottle - the ones that sit on their sides with a tap. Mark it to the desired height, about 5-6 inches and cut. Instant window box. Put two together for an extra long window box. Great for herbs as well as flowers.
Any of the above mentioned plastic containers can be cut down to about 1 ½ inches to make a drip tray.
If you want you're your milk jug container to fit on top of the same milk jug drip tray simply take a wine cork, cut into 3 even slices and place evenly inside the drip tray. This will raise the container slightly above the bottom of the drip tray providing air circulation and making it fit! Paint or spray them both with the same paint effect for a well-coordinated set.
Just about anything waterproof can be used as a container. If you are using something glass, ceramic or anything you can't poke a hole in the bottom of, remember to put an inch or two of broken pottery, stones or large gravel in the bottom for drainage.
These are just a few ideas, I am sure if you rummage around under your kitchen sink or in your garage you'll find many other "plant pots" waiting to be transformed. That broken teapot, old bucket, fruit bowl you never use, the possibilities are endless...
Heather Jackson - the gardenless
Territorial Seed Company
I buy most of my seeds from Territorial Seed Co. in Cottage Grove, Oregon. They put out a great catalogue for the year round gardener. While their theme is for the Pacific Northwest I feel many of the seed varieties will grow and produce well in most regions. Packed with a large and diverse vegetable seed and plant section they offer fruit (seed and plants), flowers, herbs and a big section titled "The Gardener's Tool Shed" offering everything from tools and books to greenhouses, with literally hundreds of items inbetween. An excellent company with great products and service. I've been a very satisfied customer since the early 1980's. Check out their website and request one of their catalogs!
Review by Tony Frohnauer
Outdoor Decor.com has awesome stuff!
Exquisite, distinguished and
creative accents for your home, yard and garden.Sculpted copper water sprinklers, unique sundials, birdbaths, birdhouses, patio furniture, rain guages, garden stakes, hammocks, stepping stones (one shaped like a sand dollar!) and Tea Lanterns are just some of the wonderfully unique items you will find at Outdoor Decor.com
by Kathleen Norris Brenzel (Editor)
The newest edition of this excellent gardeners reference book. The contents are tailored for the Western region of the United States. The encyclopedia
section is very comprehensive. You are sure to find any plant you're looking for. (click on book to read reviews)
A New Layering System for Bountiful Gardens : No Digging, No Tilling, No Weeding, No Kidding!
by Patricia Lanza
Lasagna gardening discusses the method of layering mulch materials to provide a nutrient-dense base for healthy gardens. It is a time-saving technique that helps to eliminate weeds and preserve water.(click on book to read reviews)