The garden is growing great these days with minimal weeds. Gotta love that combination, right?
Credit goes to my heavy black ground cover and my frequent visits. Vigilance is key when it comes to keeping up with weeds in an organic garden. Unfortunately, elbow grease is still one of the best weapons one has. Corn gluten works well, but you have to reapply after heavy rains and/or frequent watering. So I watch and pick and pluck in the meanwhile.
It’s relaxing. As is walking by the blueberry bushes and seeing the plump blue fruit popping between leaves. So beautiful.
My chickpeas are progressing.
They haven’t kept pace with the compost pile but then again, Mother Nature still rocks when it comes to gardening. But alas…this is what I have to look forward.
That little pod holds 1-2 chickpeas. Unlike most other legumes that produce half a dozen beans per pod, the chickpea plant tends to be a minimalist. On to other rows…my sweet onions are ready ~ yay! That’s one between the strawberries, their wonderful companions in the garden.
Along with my potatoes.
Tomatoes are forming, next to their friends, basil and peppers.
And then there’s my first squash blossom. I was a bit late putting these guys into the ground, but better late than never, right?
While I was visiting my garden, I spotted this gal. Must be I have some aphids somewhere?
Cute, isn’t she? One more reason to visit your garden early and often. You’ll be treated to a serenity unlike any other.
You’ve made your beds, planted your seeds, nurtured your seedlings through the perils of sprouthood and now you spend your time watering and feeding. (My Arctic Amigos might be a bit behind on this schedule but think of what you have to look forward!!) You meticulously weed, prune and pinch and stand watch—for bugs and spots, all things that go bump in the night—all the normal stuff a gardener does throughout the growing season.
And what a fine gardener you’ve become! You’re diligent, vigilant and looking forward to harvest. But as you linger among the layers of leaves and sprays of bloom, your mind wanders, your longing builds, your connection to nature grows deeper. Where you didn’t expect it, you’ve grown quite attached to your garden, lovingly caring for it as you would a child. Why, if you could, you’d spend hours out here—days—toiling about the promise of produce.
Strolling down a row of squash, you notice a bright red ladybug busily traveling the expanse of the broad green leaves. Bending near to watch her work, you get that tingly thrill of discovery. Sure in the grand scheme of things, it’s a common bug doing a common job, but to you she’s incredible—beautiful!—and you revel in the miracle of nature (and she’s eating those bugs before they can do any more damage!)
Now if only there was a bench nearby. You glance from one end of your garden to the other. Boy, would that be handy right about now. You could sit, relax and enjoy the wonders unfolding before you. A pretty bench, one with an intricately carved iron frame supporting slatted teak strips. Better yet, one that rocks to and fro, gently keeping pace with the breeze. More
With so many things to do in the garden, it’s a wonder you can plan for tomorrow, let alone next week or month—but you should try. The payoff will be well worth it. From fastidious pruning for an increase in yield, to prepping for vegetable storage when your harvest comes in, you’ll want to be ready for the abundance of joy you’re going to reap!
What should you be thinking about when it comes to crafting this marvelous plan? Why, your kids for one! Are they weeding? Digging? Bug dispatching? Wonderful! Reward them with some “down-time” in the garden, as in “no chores.” You do want them to come back, don’t you?
We’ve all heard about creating the classic corn husk dolls, but have you considered using those same husks to make mini baskets? Basket weaving is an excellent exercise for little fingers to practice dexterity—beats the DS hands down—as well as producing a keepsake for their bedroom, or a share for school.
Growing berries? Perfect! How about mixing them with a dash of organic sugar and make your own preserves? They make great teacher gifts. Speaking of teachers, how about teaching your children the value of seed saving? When all these vegetables reach maturity, they’ll be chock-full of seeds. How about collecting them and storing them in your very own seed packets? (You can find simple how-to templates in the Kid Buzz section here on the website) More
Composting is one of the easiest aspects of gardening. It requires little maintenance and produces amazing results. You remember my compost chickpeas, don’t you?
Well, they’re aren’t the only thing that’s been growing in the compost pile. I’ve grown, potatoes, squash (that’s a little squash there to the right), tomatoes, beans…the list goes on. And trust me, I do very little when it comes to composting, other than faithfully dumping my kitchen scraps and fall leaves.
Compost is the mixture of decomposed remnants of organic matter (those with plants and animal origins) used to improve soil structure and provide nutrients.
Basically, a compost pile consists of plants, lawn clippings, kitchen scraps and the like. Formed into a pile and turned occasionally, nature takes its course and the materials break down. We add compost to our garden soil because it provides nutrition for vigorous plant growth, improves soil structure by creating aeration, increases the ability of soil to retain water, moderates soil pH, and encourages microorganisms whose activities contribute to the overall health of plants. More
Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are one of my favorite beans. I love them in hummus, fresh on my salad, mixed with Indian curry spices… In my opinion, there’s nothing not to love about these beans. Which brings me to my latest venture. As I always say, “Grow what you’ll eat.” I eat chickpeas. I should grow chickpeas. My compost pile seems to have no problem growing them! (That’s them, to the left. They look sort of like ferns.)
Shoot. If my compost pile can do it, I can do it, right?
First up, I amended my soil with the very same compost. Seems a no-brainer. Next, I set out a drip hose (chickpeas like low water and NOT on their leaves) and planted my organic beans along its line. Once they sprouted, I scattered some corn gluten (excellent weed preventer) and voila – chickpea sprouts! NOTE: Wait until you have sprouts before scattering your corn gluten. Otherwise, you guessed it. Like unwanted weeds, your chickpeas won’t sprout, either.
Aren’t they adorable? Chickpeas don’t require a lot of fertilizer, especially nitrogen. As with other legumes, they fix nitrogen into the soil, so choose a fertilizer that is low to nil on the nitrogen. I like a bit of seaweed emulsion and bone meal.
Each plant will yield several pods, each containing about 2 peas. Not a lot, which is why I planted so many! Seeing as how these are doing so well, I’m already planning another row of them. After all, I have 23 beds in my backyard garden. Why not fill them with the stuff I love?
I’ve been wanting to grow wheatgrass but wasn’t sure where to start. With a pretty busy schedule and no idea what the process involved, I was a little hesitant to take on a new project. But after reading a few articles on the amazing healing powers of wheatgrass juice, I must admit, I was intrigued. As a fan of holistic healing solutions, this juice seemed too good to be true. Story after story extolled the benefits of drinking the stuff and I knew I had to try it. I’m curious that way.
I was completely sold when a few locals began growing wheatgrass. I thought: here’s my chance to get a personal tutorial and tutorial I received. This video was made by a local fellow working with World Wellness. It explains everything, shows everything, as well as offering a handout which I’ve included below for your convenience. I’ve also added a few personal notes for further clarification.
I purchased my seeds from GotSprouts and soaked them as directed. Sunflowers float, wheatgrass sink. More
Here in Florida the weather is cooling, providing the perfect conditions for growing kale, broccoli, cabbage, spinach…all the yummy, dark leafy greens. And with these dark leafy greens come with numerous health benefits. Rich in folic acid, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium, as well as containing a host of phytochemicals, such as lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene, you certainly want these guys in your belly.
And homemade kale chips make for a healthy snack that will delight the taste buds! Not only healthy and packed with vitamins, these kale chips are versatile and wonderfully easy to make. Simply clip the kale leaves from the garden, clean off the dirt and arrange on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper–a little garlic powder–and voilá!
kale chips roasting
My kale chips might look a bit dead and brown, but that’s only because I went heavy on the olive oil and it soaked through.
roasted kale chips
It didn’t affect the taste in a negative way. Quite the contrary. I loved them! And if you don’t want to eat them straight from the dish, toss or crumble into your salad. Definitely worth a try! And think of how healthy you’ll feel about it.
Sweet onions are delicious when purchased from the store, but they are butter creamy delightful when pulled from your garden. You can eat them raw without the “bitter” taste, or sauté with to a sugary caramel glaze. How about baked onions? This recipe is easy and really brings out the flavor.
Hmmm good! Best of all? They’re easy to grow. EASY. But they take time. Six months’ worth. But take it from me, these gems are worth the wait.
However, now is the time to plant. Contact your local seed store and see if they have the seed “sets” in stock. If not, maybe they can order some for you. The kids and I planted this row over the weekend. One hundred and twenty-four sweet baby onions! YUM! More
My kids are, most definitely. Me, too. With a garden 40 ft. X 100 ft. the weeds can get a bit crazy. I’ve instituted the use of heavy black paper to cover by beds between plantings, which cuts down on the time spent pulling those rascally weeds, but what about the beds where I’m actively growing?
They still need weeding. The solution? Corn gluten. It’s all-natural and the perfect organic solution to weed prevention–prevention being the key word.
Corn gluten meal contains naturally occurring substances which inhibit the growth of the seed’s tiny feeder roots. This causes the weed seedlings to die before their roots ever have a chance to become established. Also, many products sold on the market contain nitrogen, which makes them a good fertilizer, too. Best of all, corn gluten is safe for children and pets.
The only downside is the solution doesn’t come cheap. A 25 lb. bag will run you around $35 and you must apply liberally to gain the full effect, as shown above. You could even stand to apply heavier than I’ve done, but you get the idea. Liberally means a lot. However, this stuff works.
So if you have established plants in your garden, weed the area well and then sprinkle corn gluten around them as a weed preventer. If they’re only seedlings, I’d wait a bit, continuing to pull weeds by hand until the plants are of decent size. I once had a batch of okra and although I didn’t apply the corn gluten very close to the babies, it still worked to prevent their growth.
Look forward to hearing about YOUR experience!