New How-To Grow Section

This fall I’m switching it up and adding a new “How-To” grow section under my “Gardening Guide for Easy Vegetables.” It will outline instructions on how to grow beautiful, healthy organic vegetables. Over the next few weeks, more pages will appear, each outlining directions from seed to sprout, problems to watch out for, good companions, bad companions and specialty tips, as in the case of tomatoes.

It’s my way of organizing information in an easy to find navigation of my site. Since every plant is unique and beautiful and requires different care, I’ve listed some basics.

Ashley's overflowing with growth

General tips of the trade:

Plant depth will reflect seed size. The smaller the seed, the more shallow planting depth.

Heirloom seeds are preferred over hybrid, because we practice self-sustaining gardening and seeds harvested from hybrids won’t reproduce the fruit they were harvested from. Instead, you’ll get a surprise veggie!

Keep in mind that plants like soft, fluffy beds. If your soil is too dense or too loose, like Goldilocks, your plants will complain. Homegrown compost fits the bill best!

Mulch keeps the moisture in and natural hay or pine straw works perfect, though pine should be reserved for your more acid-loving plants like potatoes, peanuts, strawberries and blueberries.

Companion planting helps keep your plants healthy and happy. Two plants that work well with everyone are lettuce and okra.

Fish emulsion is a great all-around organic fertilizer. Gives mild dose of nitrogen and stinky enough to keep the bugs at bay.

Now, I’m getting ready for fall gardening–care to join me?

Allow Beans to Dry on the Vine?

It’s a question I’ve been pondering of late.  Should I or shouldn’t I allow Mother Nature to dry my beans, whereby the kids and I simply pluck them and shuck them and store them airtight?  Sure does make it easier than blanching and freezing.  But is it healthier?

To prepare dried beans, one must soak them overnight, or boil and simmer for an hour, rinse; boil and simmer for another hour and rinse–and this is merely to soften them up!  Not only have some of your valuable nutrients leached from the bean, you still have to cook them, which leeches more nutrients from the bean.  An alternative method is to simmer beans all day.  This keeps their “broth” nutrient rich and helps maintain their shape.  Mushy beans are not attractive (to most people, anyway).

However, in order to pick them fresh and blanch them for storage, one must time it just so…

A huge problem for me.  I’m a busy gal–places to go, people to see, kids to entertain!  I don’t always “hit” the bean harvest at the exact right time, not to mention my bean plants produce mature pods at different rates which makes for a lot of “quick” trips to the stove.

It’s a dilemma.  I’m trying the “dry on the vine” method this spring to see how it goes.  I handle my black beans and kidney beans this way regardless, but not my limas and black eyes.  I usually pick them fresh and plump and prepare them that evening or blanch them for storage. 

How’s it going?  So far, so good.  Except for the heavy rains.  Seems a few of my pods have succumbed to mold which is no good.  Icky, really and definitely NOT the kind of thing you can convince a child to pick, peel and plop into the storage container.

Oh, well.  So much for cheap labor.  We still have plenty that remain mold-free and ready for storage!