ChrisMcLaughlin

Chris McLaughlin, Placerville, CA, US
contributor

Chris McLaughlin has been gardening and studying plants for over thirty-five years. She's the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Composting (Alpha Books, 2010), The Complete Idiot's Guide to Heirloom Vegetables (Alpha Books, 2010), Hobby Farms: Small-Space Rabbit Keeping (BowTie Press, 2012), The Complete Idiot's Guide to Small-Space Gardening (Alpha Books, 2012), and Vertical Vegetable Gardening (Alpha Books, 2013). Her latest project A Garden to Dye For (St. Lynn's Press) will be released March 15, 2014.

Chris is the gardening editor for From Scratch Magazine and a contributor to Vegetable Gardener.com, The Untrained Housewife.com and Blissfully Domestic.com. Her work has appeared magazines such as Urban Farm Magazine, Hobby Farm Home Magazine, The Herb Companion,The Heirloom Gardener, and Fine Gardening Magazine. When time allows, Chris goes on and on about home ag on her own website, www.home-ag.com.

Chris is the mother of four, grandmother of four and lives on her hobby farm in Northern California's Gold Country with her family and more animals than she will admit to. She's currently launching the Mother Lode Seed Library in Placerville, California. Between breaths, Chris attempts to keep up with her own website and practices home agriculture in Northern California’s gold country.

Follow her on Twitter @Suburban_Farmer

gardening interests: Composting, Container Gardening, Culinary Herbs, Edible Landscaping, Fruits and Berries, Gardening with Kids, Livestock, Medicinal Herbs, Organic Gardening, Ornamental Gardening, Square-Foot Gardening, Sustainable Living, Urban Gardening, Vegetables, Home Agriculture

Member Since: 02/20/2009


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contributions

Summer Corn & Avocado Salsa

I'm a freak for all kinds of salsas. I've got to share with you one such refreshing recipe that my bestie and me came up with this summer.

Garden Fresh Ratatouille

Our own spin on Ratatouille is the perfect compliment for your garden bounty!

Planning a Brand New Home Orchard

Brand new farm. Brand new home orchard.

The 20-30 Something Garden Guide by Dee Nash Book Review

Are you a 20-30 something that just happens to be new to gardening? We've got the book for you!

How Redworms Reproduce

If you've ever laid in bed at night, staring at the ceiling and wondering "How do worms make babies?" Have I got a post for you.

Thoughts on Compost Activators and Inoculators

Want to rev up your compost a little?

Vegetables That Dig a Shady Garden

Don't let a little shade get you down. Some vegetables are made for the shade!

Groundbreaking Food Gardens: 73 Plans That Will Change the Way You Grow Your Garden

Nikki Jabbour and seventy-two of her closest garden-geek friends hang out for a Sunday brunch...and a book is born.

10 Ways to Conserve Water in the Garden

Put these water-wise garden tips to work in your garden and save water, time, and time.

Brussels Sprouts in the Garden and Kitchen

Easy to grow and loaded with nutrients. Isn't it time for you to try Brussels sprouts again?

How to Use Vermicompost on Your Plants

You've got a pot full of rich vermicompost in your hands. Now what do you do with it?

How Much Water Does My Vegetable Garden Need?

For some if us this is going to be a banner year for water conservation (ahem, California). So how much water are your vegetables going to need?

New Year's Day Country Soup & Rosemary Salt

Eat your way to good luck in the new year with this special lentil soup.

5 Best Carrot Growing Tips

Growing carrots is easy if you keep a few things in mind.

Grow Some Interesting Heirloom Onion Varieties

Grocery stores do an injustice to onions by only introducing us to a few everyday varieties, when in truth (like all vegetables) there is so much more for our taste buds to discover.

3 Ways I Use Kitchen Scraps to Reduce Food Waste

Incorporating a little Mother Nature goes a long way towards reducing our family's food waste. Here's how we handle much of the discarded food that leaves the kitchen.

5 Things to Do With All Those Fall Leaves

Here they come ~ leaves, leaves, glorious leaves! I don't care how you use them, just please don't shove them into bags that are bound for the trash pickup.

Planting Seeds vs. Starts: Pros and Cons

Plant from seed? Tuck in starts? You've got choices, my friend.

Using Softwood Cuttings to Propagate Plants

Cuttings (or "slips") can be taken from softwood, semi-hardwood, or hardwood plants. Depending on the species you'll have tons of new plants in 2 to 5 weeks!

Plant a Fall Vegetable Garden this Year

The fall vegetable garden can be a well-kept secret as far as easy and rewarding gardening is concerned.

Make Your Own Herb Butters

Fancy herb butters may have that "upper-crust" feel, but they're easier to make than any cake you've ever baked.

Grow Vegetables in Hanging Baskets

Hanging baskets are a vertical gardening method that not only creates more garden space, but it's also a handy way to add quick color and (surprise) grow more food!

5 or 6 Reasons to Grow Pineapple Guava

Pineapple guava is quite possibly the world's most versatile shrub.

Plant an Herbal Tea Garden

Looking for a new garden idea? Plant your way to afternoon tea!

Plant Pink Heirloom Tomatoes

One of my favorite things about heirloom and open-pollinated vegetables is discovering the amazing array of color variation. And heirloom tomatoes have beautiful hues in spades.

5 Tips for Transplanting Vegetable Seedlings

Successfully transplant your seedlings into the garden bed with five simple steps.

Dwarf Citrus Trees for the Small Garden

If you haven't done any citrus gardening yet (but would like to), consider foregoing the giant standards and planting their dwarf cousins instead.

Vermicompost as a Soil Amendment

You may have heard that worm castings make an excellent addition to the soil in your garden beds. But what's the scoop on worm poop?

How to Grow Your Own Potatoes

Harvest home grown potatoes easily and inexpensively.

Herbs That Attract Pollinating Insects

Complement your vegetable garden with pollinator-seducing herbs.

Rain Barrels: Rainwater Irrigation

I think rain barrels are one of the best irrigation systems ever.

How to Harden Off Seedlings

Give your baby plants a great head start by acclimating them to the great outdoors before transplanting them in their permanent garden bed.

Using Compost and Manure Teas in the Home Garden

Have you tried feeding your plants naturally with compost or manure teas?

Forcing Branches to Bloom Indoors During the Winter

Tricking tree and shrub branches into thinking it's spring and encouraging their blossoms to burst is easier than you think.

The Vanilla Bean Orchid

The only commercially cultivated orchid grown for its delicious beans.

How to Plant and Grow Garlic Bulbs

Garlic is a must-have in the kitchen and an easy crop to grow in your home garden.

Growing Spinach in the Home Garden

Spinach is a cool-season, annual crop that's east to grow. Make space for it in your fall or winter garden!

What Not to Add to the Compost Pile

Should all types of organic matter be tossed into your compost pile? Certainly not.

Top Composting Myths Debunked

Composting is the original earth (and garden) friendly practice, yet false information can be hard to kill. Let's put the top misconceptions to rest once and for all, shall we?

Crop Rotation Technique #2: Rotating for Soil Fertility

Rotating plants by nutritional needs is another way to utilize crop rotation in the home vegetable garden.

Crop Rotation Technique #1: Rotating Plant Families

Try this simple and effective technique an an organic control of pests and diseases in the vegetable garden.

Build a Compost Pile to Suit Your Style

There's a composting method to suit everyone's lifestyle.

Summer Savory in the Kitchen Garden

Versatile summer savory is undemanding in the garden, makes a delicate food seasoning, and attracts pollinating insects.

Discover (and Grow) Tomatoes in Surprising Colors

Colorful heirloom and open-pollinated tomato varieties are unique in the home garden and delicious on the table.

California State Fair and Its Amazing Vegetable Garden

California shows off one of its best sides -- agriculture, in this monstrous home vegetable and fruit garden at the California State Fair.

Top 10 Safety Precautions for Garden Construction Projects

A gentle reminder about safety precautions we should take before tackling construction projects in the garden.

5 Great Reasons to Grow Vegetables Vertically

You can grow plenty of food to supplement your family's groceries. You just have to get in the habit of letting your mind wander up instead of out.

Prolific Pole Beans

Pole bean varieties are tender, flavorful, prolific, and easy to grow. They're the perfect vegetable crop for the home garden.

The Difference Between Hot, Cold, and Warm Compost Piles

No matter how much time you have (or the length of your attention span), there's a composting style for everybody. How to do hot, cold, and warm composting.

Using Your Fence for Growing Vertical Vegetables

Fencing that you already have on your property is fair game as a support for vertical vegetables.

Growing Oregano In the Kitchen Herb Garden

Oregano requires very little attention and happily produces many pungent, aromatic leaves with the most basic care. Pots or containers make a perfect home for oregano, which makes it handy for back porches or those with limited garden space.

Grow Heirloom Sweet and Hot Peppers in Your Vegetable Garden

Just like all of the other vegetables out there, when you choose to grow heirloom sweet or bell peppers, a whole new world is opened up to you.

Caging to Prevent Cross-Pollination of Vegetable Varieties

Caging is one type of physical barrier technique that allows heirlooms and open-pollinated plants to produce pure seed.

Bagging Plants to Prevent Cross-Pollination of Vegetables

Keep your vegetable seeds pure by preventing cross-pollination with the bagging technique.

Indoor Seed Starting Materials List

For those of us living in a region that has rather mild winters, the seed starting party is only 4-5 weeks away. For some it's a little farther out. But make no mistake, it's going to be here before you know it.

The Heirloom Life Gardener Book Review

This holiday season, I've become wrapped up in a book that's tailor-made for my reading pleasure: The Heirloom Life Gardener.

For Crying Out Loud: Tips for No-Tear Onion Cutting

So why all the tears? Well, once you take your knife to the onion, enzymes and Amino acid sulfoxides come together to create a volatile sulfur compound (in the form of a gas). This is what turns on the water works. Your eyes are attempting to wash away the offending gases.

Collection of Successful Organic Controls

All seasoned gardeners have organic gardening hints that they swear-on-a-stack-of-Bibles will work to repel pests, cure disease, and deter weeds.

Thoughts on Organic Gardening

"Organic gardening" is a term that's gone from hip buzzword to nearly completely invisible in a sentence simply because the term feels overused. This is a shame because organic gardening really does make a difference no matter how lack-luster the phrase sounds today.

Grow Grapes in Your Home Garden

If you're a grape fan, rest assured that you don't need a formal vineyard to have a few vines planted in your home garden or landscape.

Your Farm in the City Book Review

Let's start with the obvious which is the physical presence of the book which is, in this case, worth discussing.

Everyone has Room For a Greenhouse

Let's move past the house-of-dreams, and get on to what we can afford in terms of both space and money.

Damn You, My Deer

Even though the deer stepped silently into the yard and devoured a container rose bush all in one night, I remained optimistic for a bit longer.

Storing Your Bountiful Harvest: The Trash Can Root Cellar

As the fall-come-winter weather creeps up, those of us who never set a foot inside a honest-to-goodness root cellar a day in our lives are looking for nooks, crannies, cupboards, and hallways trying to find the perfect place to store what we worked so hard to grow.

A Second Round of Broccoli For Fall

I want to thank my Italian ancestors for introducing broccoli to America as it's hands-down one of my favorite vegetables.

Got Plant Pests? Try Insecticidal Soap

Backyard gardeners everywhere are doing their part to push pesticides out of the gardening picture for good and insecticidal soaps are helping them do just that.

Plant a Fall Lettuce Garden

Lettuce is a cool-weather lover that grows well in both spring and fall garden. In fact, when I plant lettuce in my fall garden, I can often take it all the way through the winter.

Seasonal Recipes From the Garden by P. Allen Smith

Your search has ended. We've got your summer garden-bounty recipe book right here.

Interplanting Crops in the Vegetable Garden

Small-space vegetable garden? Make the most of it by interplanting.

I Garden: Urban Style Book Review

Down-to-Earth, practical, whimsical, and beautiful. If you like gardens, you need this book.

Sweet and Sour Soil: Testing Your Soil's pH Levels

Understanding what soil pH is and where your specific soil falls on the pH scale gives clues as to which plants will naturally thrive in your garden. This knowledge also allows you to add the appropriate amendments to your soil.

Effective, Old-Fashioned Weed Pulling

No matter how great the gardening advances, sometimes nothing compares with good, old-fashioned manual labor.

Should You Take Out All (or Some) of Your Lawn?

The truth is that it depends.

Multi-Grafted Fruit Trees are Perfect for Small Gardens

We small-space gardeners are indebted to those that pioneered these trees and we're prepared to take full advantage.

Have a Small-Space Garden? Try Dwarf Vegetable Varieties

I just happen to have handy some dwarf-sized vegetable suggestions.

Raised Beds for Your Garden: Framing Materials

There are many ways to go about framing a raised bed and material ideas are endless. There's only a couple of things that deserve some consideration before you put one or two together this spring.

What Are Microclimates?

If you think that the numbers on the USDA zone map have the last word on your garden - think again.

Your Vegetable Garden Will Thrive With Compost

Beloved compost, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

Legal Guerrilla Gardening

Personally, I don't find it at all amazing that the practice caught on like wildfire.

Should You Grow Determinate or Indeterminate Tomato Plants?

Among the tons of veggies started this winter, probably the majority of those will be tomato seeds.

How to Share Open-Pollinated and Heirloom Vegetable Seeds

You'll find that many people aren't growing heirlooms or open-pollinated veggies simply because they haven't been introduced to them.

Remember to Rotate Your Crops

No worries. If you forget to rotate your crops no one will take away your birthday.

Seed Banks and Seed Lending Libraries

Both seed banks and seed lending libraries can go a long way in preserving our history, genetic variety, and feeding people.

Host a Seedling Swap Party in Late Winter

Okay, there is one last window of opportunity to get a fabulous pre-garden party on...

Question: Does Your Compost Pile Smell?

Answer: It shouldn't.

Should Weeds Be Added to the Compost Pile?

I'm determined to have their short, weedy lives have some meaning.

Why Are You Planting a Vegetable Garden?

What are your vegetable gardening goals?

Do You Need More Garden Space?

Find more garden space this spring.

Pre-Sprouting As Spring Weed Control

The good news is that weeds can be outsmarted. Ve have our vays.

Winter Gardening With Bare-Root Trees and Shrubs

The first advantage is that they're cheaper - usually much cheaper.

Prune Fruit Trees and Shrubs at The Right Time

No, it's not always the act of pruning that can get tricky, but rather the timing and the type of pruning.

Using Moon Phases as A Planting Guide

At first glance, this gardening technique may not look like much more than luck and a prayer.

Rosemary Plants as Miniature Christmas Trees

Personally, I don't have any problem with shaping rosemary bushes into topiaries of any kind.

The Winter Pomegranate Harvest

Remember back in grade school when pomegranates would make our lunch sacks heavy?

How to Protect Your Garden Plants From Frost

By throwing down just one hard frost, Old Man Winter can kill all but the hardiest of vegetables.

Jack Frost in the Winter Vegetable Garden

Those of us enjoying the harvest from out fall and early winter vegetable gardens be forewarned; Jack Frost takes no prisoners.

Pruning Terms Defined

Knowing the definition of pruning terms won't automatically make you a pruning rock star. But, you'll probably know more than your neighbor.

How to Use Mulch in Your Garden or Landscape

Think "artist", not "scientist" when spreading your mulch.

The Best Time to Mulch

For me, this is a first-class practice as far as recycling goes.

Chives for the Winter

There's not may things that I won't sprinkle my onion-y snippets over.

Rain Barrels for Christmas

I'm sorry that I had to resort to using the "C" word, but it got your attention, am I right?

The Purple-Striped 'Chesnok Red' Garlic

I'm a garlic freak so you'll forgive me if I pass on growing that impostor, Elephant Garlic.

Your Easiest Vegetable Garden Ever and Other Things

I have some random thoughts for you on fall and winter crops.

Perfect Fall Gardening Tasks

Don't snuggle up by the fire in your over-stuffed chair just yet.

Winter Tomatoes?

I think I'm going to be sorry that I didn't use my Earthbox for this little experiment.

'Bright Lights' Swiss Chard

I know, I know who hasn't grown 'Bright Lights' Swiss Chard, am I right?

Keep Rabbits Out Of Your Fall Garden

Ever planted a "Peace Offering Rabbit Border"?

Asian Daikon Radishes for the Winter Garden

They're the perfect radish for fall and winter gardens.

Roast Some Healthy Pumpkin Seeds

Inside a pumpkin near you is a delicious and healthy snack.

Borrow a Goat for Your Fall Yard Cleanup

The truth is that they'll actually do a better job than you.

Cabbage in the Fall Garden

Want your garden to look like that uber-staged Garden of Eden from the movie, "It's Complicated"? Grow cabbages.

Time to Plant a Cover Crop

Okay, raise your hand if you're planting vetch this fall!

How Hot Are 'Thai Dragon' Peppers?

Yesterday my son discovered a new level of hot.

Time to Plant Handy Kitchen Vegetables: Onions and Garlic

I don't know what you're doing in your garden right now, but I hope it involves planting garlic and onions.

Here Comes Honeycrisp Apple Season!

It may seem like a small window on the calendar. But oh, how they're worth the wait.

Eat Your Dandelions

Serve up a little poetic justice.

Compost Sandwiches Grow Awesome Vegetables

I'm so thrilled with the outcome of my compost sandwiches that I almost forgive the chiweenies for trampling every one of my heirloom bush beans to death. Almost.

Get a Head Start on Your Cilantro

I love cilantro in the garden, but it's the fastest bolting herb I've ever come across.

All We Need is Our Lemon Cucumbers

Every year since I can remember, we've over-planted cucumbers. This year, we ended the cuke parade.

An Easy Way to Dry Chili Peppers

We'll also be canning some peppers - although not many since the chiweenies trampled a ton of my plants this year.

Support Local Farmers by Joining a CSA

Personally, I think this is the best thing to come along since Kleenex.

What Watermelon Varieties Are You Harvesting This Summer?

Mark Twain once said, "When one has tasted watermelon he knows what the angels eat." You'll get no argument here.

Pollinating Insects in the Garden

Just like the predatory insects, you'll want to lure the pollinators to the garden.

Predatory Insects in the Garden

Here's a handy list of the beneficial insect predators that you'll want to invite to your garden.

Get Ready for Fall Lettuce

Still when I think of grocery stores, I can't help but think of iceberg lettuce. Iceberg lettuce is just the tip of the, well - iceberg.

My One Fairy Tale Eggplant

I've never grown Fairy Tale before and to tell you the truth I've never cooked my own eggplant ever.

Checked Your Watering System Lately?

Don't panic immediately. What it could also be that your watering system is failing you.

Culinary Herbs That Grow Well in Shade

Let go of perfection - herbs can deal with a little shade.

My Bountiful Strawberry Harvest

And now I'm glad that when I planted them I put on my big girl panties, closed my eyes, and pinched off all the very first blossoms. Painful; but incredibly rewarding.

Edible Flowers

While you're harvesting your fruits and veggies this summer for the dinner table...why not keep an eye out for edible flowers, too?

Garlic Bulb Types

Extra Tip: If you find yourself face-to-face with a vampire (and you don't want to be), all garlic works equally well in this situation.

Containing Potatoes

I fantasized about placing it strategically on my front lawn. My crops would never be prouder and the neighbors would drool with envy. One look at the price tag and I was over it.

How to Grow Basil

When I first fell in love with gardening, my biggest seducer was herbs. I found herbs to be not only one of the easiest types of plants to grow, but they were also the most fun to create a garden with - not to mention the most versatile group of plants out there.

How Do You Know When to Harvest Sweet Corn?

The day will come when you'll find yourself looking up at corn stalks which are now taller than you and wondering if the time is right to snap those ears off for tonight's dinner.

Let Worms Till Your Garden Beds

I was chatting today about composting with a dear gardening friend when the subject of tilling came up...

The Benefits of Raised Garden Beds

If you've never grown vegetables in raised beds before, I promise that once you do, you'll be spoiled for the rest of your gardening life.

Another Improved Meyer Lemon Tree in Suburbia

While I'm not a masterful fruit grower, I manage to successfully harvest the ones in my yard. And this year, suburbia has one more Improved Meyer lemon tree.

Make Room for 'Moon and Stars' and 'Golden Midget' Watermelon

These are the two heirloom watermelons in my garden this year.

How Do You Choose Which Tomato Varieties to Grow?

So many heirloom tomatoes; so little space.

Releasing Ladybugs into the Garden

The idea is too keep them in the fridge for a short amount of time, not banish them to Siberia.

Organic Fertilizer Sources for the Garden

Here's a list of some organic fertilizers that you may want to have on hand.

What Does NPK Mean?

Here's the short answer.

Controlling Weeds Organically

While I've heard it's an effective method, I've also heard that it won't kill the weed's roots. For me, that's a deal breaker. The reason why I haven't given this mixture a shot is that I don't see the point if I can't be sure that I've snuffed them out entirely. But then I'm lazy like that.

Plant a Row for the Hungry by Growing Extra Vegetables

I rarely put on my serious voice here at Vegetable Gardener, but this is really, super-duper important.

Sweet Bay (Laurus Nobilis): The Herb of Frankenstein

Truth be told, I would still describe its attitude as mild-mannered, but in a baby Godzilla sort of way.

Want to Trade Veggies?

Some gardeners grow 50 varieties of tomatoes, and some grow top notch green beans. Hey, we all have our gifts.

Grow Heirloom Peas This Spring

Peas are one crop that no spring garden should be without. They're one of the oldest cultivated vegetables as there's been evidence of peas found throughout Egypt, Europe, Asia and amazingly, among the ruins of Troy.

Kale: The Aristocrat of Vegetables

You'll never catch Kale tooting its own horn. Kale carries itself with so much quiet class, that you may not have even noticed it in a vegetable garden.

Tips For Small Vegetable Beds

One thing is for sure, nothing is more delightful than a small garden bed packed with gorgeous produce.

What Causes Bitter Cucumbers?

Even if you apologize to them and promise never to miss another watering - it may already be too late.

Why My Lettuce is in a Hanging Basket

So, we decided to do what any born and bred suburbanite would do; transplant the surviving lettuce into containers disguised as decorative planters - complete with flowers.

Why You Should Have Radishes in Your Garden

You know what I like about growing radishes? They're an instant gratification veggie.

Newspaper Mulch: The Cheap Organic Weed Barrier

I can't  believe how handy newspaper is in the garden. I use it for bedding in my worm bins, as extra carbon for my compost pile, and as a weed barrier for my garden beds.

Lettuce in the Spring Garden

I think it's time to get my lettuces into the garden.

Help Pollinate Your Tomato Plants

This is the easiest hand-pollinating you'll ever do.

Chives Are a Must-Have in the Kitchen Garden

I'm always looking for more ways to seduce the good guys to my garden.

Vegetables with Fun Names for Childrens' Gardens

Let your kids plant Green Zebras, or Dragon's Tongues, or Painted Ponies.

A Gopher in Your Garden

After watching these gardeners try every back-breaking, mind-numbing thing they could think of to protect their own, I've decided to throw in the towel before I ever break a sweat.

Blueberries as Edible Landscaping

I mean, there's like a kazillion ways to go with this gardening thing. So many plants; so little time and all that.

Home-Grown Potatoes!

My fellow gardeners we are looking March square in the eye and I, for one, am getting itchy.

Grow Your Vegetables Vertically

It's easy to forget about some prime growing real estate that's right before your eyes. We gardeners are usually busy looking at the horizon for growing room.

How Much Space Do You Need For a Vegetable Garden?

Not much. One thing is for sure, you absolutely do not need what is referred to as "land" to plant a vegetable garden. Not even close.

What is a Food Desert?

It may have never have crossed your mind that some cities don't have grocery stores. They have "convenience stores" - and that's not the same thing at all.

Rabbit Manure in the Garden

Anyone who comes within a few yards of my garden is forced to discuss rabbit poop and its many gardening benefits - whether they want to or not. I'm determined to spread the bunny-gospel.

Diatomaceous Earth as Non-Toxic Ant Killer

Have they invaded you yet? Those million-line-soldiers that cover your floor, counters, and cat food?

How to Grow Cilantro and Coriander

Cilantro (Chinese parsley) may resemble its namesake, but it's not the wall flower that parsley is in the garden.

Broccoli Rabe: The Other Broccoli

Watch for this unheralded vegetable in the coming growing season, it's one that's catching on.

Start Your Compost Pile This Winter

Those gardeners in gentler climates will have things going a little bit faster (and no, it's not unfair because you snow people get tulips).

Aglio e Olio (Fried Spaghetti with Garlic and Oil)

Don't get cheap on me here; buy the best olive oil that you can afford and use fresh chopped tomatoes. You get extra points if you use heirlooms.

Tomato Trivia, Your Health, And George Clooney

It just so happens, by happy coincidence, all three of these topics actually intersect; at least in this post.

Growing Beautiful Food

Think of growing beautiful food as foreplay to dinner.

Growing Avocados

If you just happen to live in zones 9-11, consider growing some delicious avocados (Persea americana). Not only are they tasty, but they offer nutritional value for your heart and eyes.

Basic Gardening Tools 101

If I had to wear gloves (like if a doctor said I would die a horrible death if I didn’t) I would chose those edgy gloves that fit like a second layer of skin. They come in colors that make your girlish heart sing and your hands can at least feel something. Kinda.

Start Keeping a Garden Journal Today

There's one place where I documented in brown pencil that I planted "Mammoth" sunflowers. A few months later in red ink the section is crossed out with one line and it reads, "lost to tragedy".

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange: Saving the Past for the Future

The Southern Exposure Seed Exchange is another catalog I wait for with bated breath. Like many of the seed companies I adore, they specialize in open-pollinated (mostly heirloom) seeds.

Determining Your Soil Type

Soil "type" is different than obtaining the specifics about minerals and nutrients found in individual soils through soil "testing". Soil type refers to the physical structure and texture of soil.

13 Smart Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start a Garden

Before you buy the jean overalls and have a dump truck of manure dropped on your driveway, it's worth it to take a day or so to think about your gardening goals.

The Advantages of Growing Backyard Produce

The best reason to grow your own vegetables is because you can control what goes onto and into your food; plus produce doesn't get any fresher then traveling 24 feet from the garden to the kitchen.

Ever Seen a Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds Catalog?

If you can't remember, then I'm certain that you haven't. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds has hands-down the most fantastic collection of vegetable pictures I've ever seen in anywhere - much less in a catalog.

Armchair Gardening Redux

I know paper catalogs don't sound very earth-friendly. But armchair gardening is an old school practice grounded in the tactile experience. Hey, I didn't make the rules.

Save Recycled Containers For Starting Spring Seeds

We're going to focus on two things here. The first one is saving money on a required gardening practice - seed starting. The second one is ignoring the fact that we're heading straight for deep winter and instead, thinking about spring. We're going to deny that we have have months on end of cold weather and sleeping plants.

Discover Scented Herbs

Even if someone wanted to decline taking a whiff, I don't think they dared risk it while facing the crazed look in my eyes.

Do It Yourself Greenhouse Insulation

I've gone on and on about ideas for heating small greenhouses, but I want to share another idea for cheap insulation. Bubble wrap.

Why You Want Redworms and Earthworms (Nightcrawlers) in Your Garden

I like being a worm farmer. Like my fondness for rabbit poop, I take great pride in the rich nutrients they produce for my garden. These are natural talents we humans can't begin to duplicate. Our poop just isn't that great.

Plant and Harvest Broccoli this Winter (and the "Choppin' Broccoli" song)

Many gardeners started their broccoli seeds several weeks ago. However, I was slow on the up-take this year and didn't start any seeds myself. I was so slow, in fact, that instead of getting to carefully choose my broccoli variety, I had had to pick up whatever was available at the nursery. Works for me; beggars can't be choosers.

Harvest Carrots Faster in Any Type of Soil

Carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene (converted to vitamin A in the body), Vitamins K with traces of C, B, and E. They’re a good source for potassium and manganese, as well. Whose body couldn't use that nutrition for the winter?

My Fall Garden To Do List

This is the beginning of the revamping and reorganizing season. It doesn't feel as fun as the active growing season, but it's a time for stepping back and taking stock. Here's some of the things I have on my list for the month of November.

Growing and Harvesting Winter Lettuce

While lettuces are predominately a cool-weather crop, there are summer varieties available that don't disappoint. They're so easy to plant, grow, and harvest that I try to have lettuces in my garden every season.

Cool Weather Lettuce for Fall and Winter Gardens

Any gardeners out there planning on having some home-grown lettuce on the Christmas dinner table? What varieties are you planting and where the heck are you?

Grow Herbs Indoors this Winter

Some gardeners grow a fall garden outdoors, some plant an eclectic group of flowers and veggies in a heated greenhouse, and others plant an herb garden indoors. Then there are those of us die-hards that practice all of the above in determined to feed the plant addiction year-round.

What's the Best Way to Heat a Small Greenhouse?

On a more practical note while I do want to keep the greenhouse toasty inside, I'm also interested in keeping my electric bill down to a manageable size. Which isn't as simple as it sounds.

The Best of the Fall-Harvest Apples

You just can't get the whole pie baking experience from the inside of a box on the freezer isle. No, the true affair of pie baking is an event.

Spiders in the Garden

Hollywood and Halloween have done nothing for the reputation of spiders (not to mention bats) and their true value they bring to the natural world.

Why Grow Your Own Food?

Suburban and urban farming is being accomplished successfully in backyards everywhere. And it is being done with high yields on very little land.

How to Use Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Utilizing the method of Integrated Pest Management how I garden - period. I'm probably going to get strung up by the organic gardening police for that admission; but before you set the torch afire let me say this.

What is Sustainable Gardening?

“Sustainable gardening” is a cool term if I've ever heard one. It sounds edgy in an incredibly responsible sort of way. In suburban farmer (that would be me) speak it’s: “Do no evil.”

Leaf Mold as a Soil Conditioner

Leaf mold by itself is pretty close to pure humus and like compost, smells like the forest floor. Probably because it is the forest floor.

Grasscycle, Compost, and Mulch with Grass Clippings

I think the average homeowner over looks the many joys of grass clippings. This stuff is a valuable resource with all the versatility of duct tape.

Replacing Some Suburban Front Lawn

It's no secret that suburbia is known for it's cookie-cutter foundation plantings and grand expansions of perfectly coiffed grass. Although, I have seen some fabulous yard make-overs where they've used plants that have made me almost slam into the car in front of me. But, I digress.

Grow Herbs in Containers for the Winter

Fall is the time of year that I start getting concerned for my basil. I'm pretty lousy at calculating how much longer I'll be able to harvest before the frost nails it. Mother Nature has her own calendar no matter where we mark our frost dates.

Start a New Garden Bed with a Compost Sandwich

It's never too early to think about the next major planting season as far as I'm concerned. But that could be because at my age, six months isn't even close to the vicinity of long-term.

It's Fall Garden Cleanup Time

I know we're still harvesting tomatoes, zucchini, fruit and the like but the weather and light change are hinting that another season is at an end. Forewarned is forearmed, am I right?

Grow Sprouts for the Perfect Indoor Crop

Whether you're new to gardening, a budding homesteader, or a die-hard farmer there's no need to wait for nice weather to grow food crops - grow sprouts!

Roast Your Own Sunflower Seeds

Here's how to harvest and roast your own sunflower seeds from your garden.

Kids Can Make Bird Feeders Out of Sunflower Heads

Sunflowers not only attract pollinating insects while they're blooming, but at season's end they become an excellent food source for wild birds.

Plant a Green Manure or a Cover Crop This Fall

My perception of cover crops and green manures is they're right in line with compost bins, vermicomposting, grasscycling, and even mulch - they're all a form of composting. In other words, they're all about turning natural resources back into nature.

Grow a Sunflower House for Kids

Don't let the kids keep the magic for themselves. When the morning glories begin blooming, get into that sunflower house, lie on your back and admire the glowing blue sky that you and your kids planted.

Peas: The Cold Weather Legume

Weren't we just talking about summer vegetables? Don't freak out on me, we still have plenty of lovely weather left this season and there all the summer lovelies that need harvesting for weeks yet. But, it's always nice to get a little jump on the coming planting season and at least begin to think about what we'd like to see in our fall and winter gardens.

Growing Plants in Greenhouses

For one, I live in Northern California where the temps can really get down there but face it, we're not Minnesota. Don't get me wrong, I have lost my share of plants due of lack of vacancies in my house for overwintering plants. I thought I'd give them gave them a shot at winter life in the greenhouse. Try not to be shocked, it's not the first time I've been wrong.

Grow Black Tea in Your Garden

If you're going to have a caffeine addiction, getting the "wake up" into your blood stream by way of black tea just may be the most respectable way. According to the Order of Caffeine Addicts in America (OCAA), caffeine by way of tea is considered to be one of the classiest addictions among the whole substance-dependency lineup. You can look that up or you can just trust a group that bears the motto, "Proud to be; wired with tea."

Grow Food in Your Landscape

"I wish I could have a vegetable garden, but we just don't have the space and everything is landscaped...sooo." I saw what looked like remorse in her eyes. Cynical me wasn't buying it. It's sad really, that people honestly think they can escape me that easily. It's so not gonna happen.

Love Artichokes? Thank the Italians

Personally, anything to do with Italy is utterly fascinating partly because I'm Italian and partly because I've seen "Under the Tuscan Sun" several times. It doesn't really matter because everyone knows no one does it better than Italy when it comes to food and cars. Man, what Italians do for cars, am I right?

Mix it Up and Grow Mesclun

It's just short of a felony to smother mesclun with anything rich or creamy. It's like pulling those tags off of pillows (just know you've been warned). My favorite dressings on these babies are the lighters ones. Raspberry or cranberry vinaigrette are tops on these flavorful salads - or try a lemon vinaigrette.

Pole Beans Versus Bush Beans

Am I starting them too early? Watering them too much? Too little? Not performing the right Voo-Doo ritual standing naked over them during a full moon? Because if that's what it takes, I assure you, I've done far more for much less.

How to Grow Sweet Watermelons

I don't remember when the law started declaring the differences between fruits and veggies, but the law is the law. You can always continue to call watermelon a fruit in the privacy of your own home (I think).

Best Weed Cultivator: The Hoe of Death

Weeds o' mine, don't ask for whom the hoe comes...it comes for thee.

Hoyas as Indoor and Outdoor Plants

Most hummingbirds will end up in a 12 step program after discovering them on your back porch.

Fragrant Night-Blooming Plants

Our family has been spending many nights enjoying summer evenings on the patio; sometimes eating dinner and sometimes just unwinding at the end of the day. Summer is the season of outdoor evenings. Which is why I'm on a mission to plant more fragrant night blooming plants.

Tool Housing and Husbandry

The tool house is for containment of proper gardening tools, not your Halloween decorations, your college camp stove or your unused breast pump. Take good care of your gardening tools, and they will take good care of your garden.

Gardening Tools on the Cheap

If you’re like me, every now and again you hear the siren call of new gardening tools. If you’re like me, you take a look at the household account and figure out just how much you can skim off of the grocery money without sending up red flags.

Hand-Pollination or Sex in Your Garden

Someone has to do it.

The Gardening Month of June

I love June. In June all things are possible in the garden. The radishes are ready to harvest, and I’ve already pulled a couple of tomatoes off the vine. I’m not even close to the point in the summer when I wonder if, once again, I’ve planted too many juicy varieties.

Plant a Garden Theme with Herbs

Herbs may not have showy flowers like perennials and annuals, so using them to create a theme garden is not only a good way to explore unusual herbs and their uses; it’s the perfect way to show your other special interests.

Nasturtiums as Food and Companion Plants

I’ve always loved garden nasturtiums in my flower beds. Oh, I know they’re touted as ordinary and flowers that are easy to grow often get a pretentious sniff.

The Benefits of Joining a Community Garden

One of the most endearing things about these gardens aside from the diversity of food and flowers is the fact that the majority of gardens are organic which means you’ll see butterflies and birds galore enjoying the gardens right along with you.

Tomato Plants - Determinate, Indeterminate and VFFNTA

Choosing tomato plants isn’t necessarily tricky. Still, most people only think of two things when they consider purchasing tomato plants for their home garden. They ask themselves what size (regular or cherry)? Next, they decide how many plants to buy and that’s it. There are a couple of other factors that may guide you in how to decide what tomato plant varieties to choose.

Columnar Apple Trees for Suburban Yards

These micro-trees will produce normal-sized apples the first year you plant them! God bless the experimenters.

Thinning Vegetable Seedlings

All of your seed planting efforts have come to fruition and you are finally witnessing your success as little seedlings pop through the soil and reach for the sky. They’re tiny things and still so fragile. You hover over them as if they were toddlers and with watering can in hand, whisper good morning as you gently shower them.

Grow Everlastings for Dried Flowers

Just when you thought the gardening season couldn't last forever, along comes a group of flowers romantically dubbed "everlastings”.

12 Natural Bee Sting Remedies

These natural bee sting treatments will help remove the itching, swelling, and pain associated with bee stings. Try one the next time you get stung and let us know what works for you.

How to Make Fruit Water

This party drink isn't your average glass of water. It's water wearing a prom dress. Serving fruit water at your next party or barbecue is refreshing, healthy, and elegant.

Buying Produce at Farmer's Markets

I love farmer’s markets. There’s something so authentic and Old World about them. While I’m loitering around at one, I can’t think of any other place I’d rather be and I’d like to give you some great reasons to loiter around at one, too.

Meet the Aloe Vera Plant (Aloe barbadensis)

It's said that Cleopatra claimed aloe vera as one of her greatest beauty secrets. Who am I to argue with Cleopatra?

Suburban Backyard Chickens

One can only have so many animals in a suburban backyard and suburbia isn’t overly conducive to farm animals…or is it?

Grow Birdhouse Gourds

While you're planting food and flowers in your garden, why not plant a garden craft, as well? Birdhouse gourds or bottle gourds are one of the thick-skinned gourds that are mainly grown for crafts or decoration.

Garlic as an Herbal Medicine

Garlic has a more practical side that you may not be aware of and it just might be the information you need to push you over the proverbial edge to plant some in your garden this year.

Organic and Inorganic Mulches in the Garden

Whether you choose organic or inorganic mulch depends on what your growing and personal preference. But all mulches can be counted on for water retention and as weed-suppressors. Less weeding is, quite frankly, what perked my interest in mulches to begin with.

Strawberry Growing Basics

After years of attempting to force my palate to conform to the masses, I finally gave up trying to understand why no one else was talking about the little seeds that became embedded in my molars. I realized that maybe the world was silently cringing just like me to get to the sweet nectar of the strawberry.

Vegetable Gardens for Children

For more years of my life than not, I’ve been raising children. My husband and I have four kids and one sugar baby – I might as well be a Pez dispenser. I haven’t even managed to keep my children out of my bathroom, much less my gardens.

The Definition of Companion Planting

Companion planting by definition is simply any plant that is purposefully planted next to another to enhance growth, beauty or flavor.

Meet the Magnificent Marigold

Nature does the coolest things. How fantastic that this simple-to-grow flower can also be one of the most adaptable, versatile and incredibly useful plants anywhere?

Bring on the Beneficial Insects

Not all insects are created equal. Some bugs, such as aphids and snails, think of your garden plants as dinner - they're the bad guys; the enemy. The other guys are known as the “beneficial insects,” and they are your cavalry.

Worm Farming

Here's some pictures of our worms and their homes.

Let Worms Compost Your Kitchen Scraps

Worm composting (vermicomposting) has to be one of my favorite gardening topics in the world. There are so many good reasons to keep red wigglers in the kitchen or by the back door, munching and crunching on your kitchen scraps that it’s hard to know where to begin.

Controlling Aphids in Your Garden

Aphids are those little pear-shaped gals that congregate around the undersides of leaves or the terminal buds on your rose bushes. You won’t be bothered by them in numbers of two or three, but when the situation resembles a Rolling Stones concert – that’s when you’ll sit up and take notice.

The Benefits of Growing Potatoes in Containers

There's any number of reasons that we gardeners might prefer to grow things up as opposed to out.

Soil Bag Planting

This is the fastest planting method in town.

Try Soil Bag Planting for No-Dig Beds

Is anyone out there in a hurry? Are you working three jobs, have seven children, or on your way to a fire? This no-dig planting method is the fastest way to a vegetable garden – a soil bag can...

Friendly Blue Mason Bees are Perfect Pollinators

You'll want to encourage these docile, no-sting, super pollinators into your garden.

How to Start Tomato Plants from Cuttings

Starting tomato plants from cuttings is a fast and easy project that even beginners can do blindfolded.

Our Cold Frame this Winter

We've been eating fresh salad this winter!

Extend the Seasons with a Cold Frame

Cold frames are basically very short greenhouses sans the heat. They are mostly used for extending the season in one direction or the other. They are one of the handiest tools around for helping...

How to Win the Snail Battle

I have been fighting this battle in my gardens for thirty years and have given great effort to abide by the live-and-let-live philosophy. I have tried barriers - which worked fairly well, still more...

Felcos

Felcos

Organic Butterhead Lettuce

Organic means 100% food

Carrots

Organic carrots

The Enemy

This is the evil snail.



recent comments

Re: Planning a Brand New Home Orchard

Hi ruth_d!

Oh yes! I totally agree & we've grown blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries at our last three homes. Loved every one of them! This time we want to concentrate more on the trees since we've had limited experience with them. I've grown apples, oranges, lemons, peaches, apricots, cherries, and pears. But we've never had a full orchard before this. It's very exciting!

Re: How Much Water Does My Vegetable Garden Need?

daShrubber: Different varieties will play a role in root depth. For example, Thumbelina carrots will never reach the depth that Danvers will -- there's a huge variance there. So I can see how gardener's experiences will vary. The point still remains the same as far as shallow, medium, and deep for the most part.

I've been growing a wide variety of lettuces for about 20 years and I've never had any lettuce reach 3-4 feet deep! Once again, we all have our own specific experiences, I suppose taking the variety and soil into consideration.

Re: 5 Things to Do With All Those Fall Leaves

ddmarie: While juglone is certainly an issue for plants growing around with live walnut trees, the general feeling is that if they're added to a *hot* compost pile, the juglone breaks down making it a non-issue. That said, if your compost pile is specifically for your veggie bed, then perhaps it's best to leave them out.

If sycamore leaves are shredded well and added to a hot pile, they will break down. However, I've heard that a mask should be used when shredding them as the fuzz from the leaves can be irritating. Of course, if you don't feel comfortable using either leaf types, simply steer clear.

ElizabethKaren: For sure use the leaves to mulch your strawberry bed -- just not walnut leaves! :D The best way is to shred them with the mower before you use them so they don't block water from reaching the plant roots. Or use leaves that are already beginning to decompose.

Re: 5 or 6 Reasons to Grow Pineapple Guava

These photos are not mine. And I'm in Northern California and do get fruit!

Re: Make Your Own Herb Butters

RuthClausen: I've never tried to freeze it, so I'm not sure. If you try it please let us know how it worked out!

Re: 5 Tips for Transplanting Vegetable Seedlings

Hi Mike,

*Even* watering has always been successful for mew as far as seedlings. I make sure the soul is damp, but not sopping. And I never let it dry out completely.

Re: Using Compost and Manure Teas in the Home Garden

Josefly: Correct, I mean both compost teas and manure teas in that sentence.

LillianInIowa: Totally agree that many gardeners add the molasses or what-have-you and the results are suppose to be enhanced because of them.

However, I didn't "forget" to add this to the article, as I use both compost teas and manure teas without any added sugar. The results seemed clear!

Re: What Not to Add to the Compost Pile

LOL...Yup, those typos do happen sometimes ~ Hope you were able to look past it & took something away from the article anyway! :D

Re: Build a Compost Pile to Suit Your Style

bigrusty: Sure! (Sorry about that...this was sort of an addendum for those already composting -- my bad!) * See the additions I made above :)

Re: Using Your Fence for Growing Vertical Vegetables

Ruth ~ I love how you think! That's an excellent idea.
Mike ~ Bless you! :D

Re: Grow Heirloom Sweet and Hot Peppers in Your Vegetable Garden

Hi Veeta ~ Honestly, the best advice that I can give you is to contact your local Cooperative Extension Office & chat with the master gardeners. They'll be the ones with the best advice for your area.

Re: I need your help with my seed choices!

Hi Jillian,

You're going to want to keep an eye out for determinate tomato varieties as opposed to indeterminate types. Cherry tomatoes are also an excellent option.

http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/10460/should-you-grow-determinate-or-indeterminate-tomato-plants

Re: Tomatoes: Request for Reader Recommendations

'Caspian Pink' did great this year for me as did 'Cherokee Purple' & the lovely orange 'Dad's Sunset'. 'Pineapple' is always delicious and 'Vorlon' is rapidly becoming a favorite of mine as it has SUPER tomato-y flavor.

Re: Everyone has Room For a Greenhouse

Yes gardenandtable, clothes, hoop houses and cold frames work exactly the same way as a heatless greenhouse , albeit a little smaller (and even less expensive). I use these structures all the time!

Re: Orange You Glad I Asked?

Jodi ~ Great read! 'Caspian Pink' is currently one of my favorite tomatoes, too! This caught my eye as I'm an avid pusher of heirlooms and other open-pollinated vegetables.

Re: Interplanting Crops in the Vegetable Garden

LOL -- dang -- Yes, the second word SHOULD have been radishes! (Fixing that now)

Re: Grow a 7-foot-tall Vegetable

Jodi ~ I've been trying for years to find these to grow! I could only find them in the UK. Where did you find the seeds?

Re: Raised Beds for Your Garden: Framing Materials

yourownvictorygarden ~ In may case, I should have looked it up on the EPA website first. Back in the day (which wasn't that long ago *ahem*) pressure-treated wood was, indeed, a bad idea around veggies gardens. In fact, considering that they're still chemically treated, I still prefer not to use them.

Just makes me feel better :D

Re: Raised Beds for Your Garden: Framing Materials

You're correct! I've been gardening way too long - I'll make the adjustments. That said, apparently there are still opposing view which is what brought my attention to the article in the first place. I'll revamp.

Re: What Are Microclimates?

JadaE ~ That's SO cool to hear! I LOVE working with microclimates to see what will happen! :D

Re: Your Vegetable Garden Will Thrive With Compost

giantveggiegardener: I'm with ya! I'm a composting freak and love to spread the compost gospel :D

(If you're interested, come check out my book "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Composting")

Re: QUESTION: Squirrels in the garden and bird feeder invaders

I did write about some ideas on Outsmarting Squirrels - http://www.suite101.com/content/outsmarting-squirrels-a81604

Re: QUESTION: Guinea Pig Poop as Garden Fertilizer?

lunita1: That's true unless the bedding had a lot of urine. Then it truly balances itself out. Piggys don't seem to urinate as much as rabbits. But just to clarify, when I toss my straw that's been soaked with rabbit urine (as well as the poop) into the compost pile, it's more of a nitrogen source at that point.

Re: Some thoughts on Groundhog Day

LOL ~ We call pet Guinea pigs (Cavies) Whistle Pigs! Couldn't resist adding an article link here - Groundhog Facts (Marmota Marmax): http://www.suite101.com/content/meet-the-groundhog-marmota-marmax-a93542

Re: Planting Pricey Produce

Jodi,

I found the same thing - I especially noticed it with the heirloom tomatoes. I picked one up and purchased it for $5.00.

For. one. tomato.

Amazing.

Re: Happy 200th Anniversary Comstock Seeds!

Oh my!! I'm out of the loop - I had NO idea that the Gettles had purchased Comstock...this is so cool.

Re: Happy 200th Anniversary Comstock Seeds!

This is great! I LOVE these historical seed companies!

Re: Grasscycle, Compost, and Mulch with Grass Clippings

That's actually how that was meant to read - adjust it to cut only 1/3rd of the grass blades. I adjusted the wording so it wasn't confusing.

Re: DIY PVC Grow Light Stand

PeterGarnham ~ Forgive me as I misread your post the first time around. I thought that you were referring to the expensive full-spectrum lights that are sold for growing plants indoors full time. After re-reading, I see that you're speaking of the same tubes that Greg and I are.

Re: DIY PVC Grow Light Stand

Actually, unless you plan on growing the plants all the way to blossom and fruit, full spectrum is unnecessary. For seedlings that will be transplanted outdoors to finish their growing & fruiting, run-of-the-mill fluorescent lights work beautifully and are more economical.

Re: DIY PVC Grow Light Stand

You guys are clever! I also like that they're portable. You know what I did? I hung chains from the closet ceiling to the shop lights. I can lower or raise them accordingly. Also, I got tired of seeing the little dudes on the edges reaching in for the light...so I went ahead and added one behind the first one (no rotating this way).

Re: DIY PVC Grow Light Stand

This is great, Greg! I love the detail. LOL - I'm sitting here writing an article about lighting and plant germinating as we speak - so perfect timing!

Re: Question: Does Your Compost Pile Smell?

Jada - wonderful! I think it's easier to keep the worm bins from getting smelly as opposed to the larger outdoor compost piles (as long as you don't feed the worms too much). Probably because the outdoor ones are further from the house and not tended to as often.

I'm so thrilled that you're having a great time with your worms (we call ours "Freds"!

Re: Should Weeds Be Added to the Compost Pile?

Just the image of drowning the weeds brings a lightening of my heart and spring to my step...LOL.

Thanks, John!

Re: succulent plants

Sydneybeth: Optimally, you'll have some drainage holes in the bottom of the bird bath. Otherwise they may end up with rotten roots. Press a finger into the soil; if you feel dampness, don't water. Only water them after the soil dries out. I'll be this is very pretty!

Re: Rabbits at last..at least for a while!

JadaE: This is wonderful news! I hope Santa brings you guys a pair of your very own...

Re: QUESTION: Guinea Pig Poop as Garden Fertilizer?

JadaE: Guinea Piggy poop is perfect for the compost bin! It doesn't have the same ooomph as the rabbit manure - it can definitely go in.

Re: Rain Barrels for Christmas

Thought I might add that not all states allow you to collect free rain. Go figure. So double check that you won't be tossed into jail or something before you install rain barrels, m'kay?

Re: Rain Barrels for Christmas

You point is well-taken. However, most plants in the world don't get purified water and seem to make do. :D

Re: The Life and Death of a Pumpkin

This was just awesomely-awesome.

Re: Perfect Fall Gardening Tasks

PuremanureTea: EXACTLY my thoughts, my friend!! One day everyone will also realize that fall/winter season gardening is just as fantastic as the spring/summer season.

Re: Keep Rabbits Out Of Your Fall Garden

Hahahaha....weeell..no. They *truly* are content to trample my heirloom beans. I don't have trouble with wild bunnies at my *suburban* farm. But, with any luck I'll gain a little land and have those problems again someday. :D

Re: DIY PVC Hoop Bed Cover

Excellent! This is how I cover my beds, too. I just throw bird netting over the entire thing. The only think I do differently is that I don't mane the bottom frame for the PVC pipe. I attach the holders to the raised bed itself and then slide the pipe out of the holders and store when I don't need them.

Re: Tasting Brussels Sprouts in a New Way

HAVE to try this recipe ~ Thanks, Jodi!

Re: Roast Some Healthy Pumpkin Seeds

Loosiana: LOLOL...yeah, the old fashioned, low tech way is the only way I know...BUT I have a feeling that someone will pop on here and let me in on another way which will leave me smacking my forehead! And yeah...I'd stick with eating my own shelled seeds. :D

Re: Roast Some Healthy Pumpkin Seeds

Loosiana: I shell them just as I do sunflower seeds. I turn the seed so the natural break is vertical to my teeth and crack it; the two sides split apart. They aren't as easy as sunflower seeds, I agree.

Re: Roast Some Healthy Pumpkin Seeds

CompostJohn: Well, the seeds are roasted while the shells are on, but usually people shell them before they eat them. :D

Re: How Hot Are 'Thai Dragon' Peppers?

That's a great article! Also, I've read that the super-heat these hot peppers bring make your nerve-endings feel as if they're in true pain. Therefore, endorphins are produced like mad giving pepper-heads an actual "high". Makes sense.

Re: How Hot Are 'Thai Dragon' Peppers?

I think 'Thai Hot' is another variety of the "Thai series" (as I know think of it). One thing is for sure - these peppers make an art out of heat!

Re: QUESTION: Can I start a compost pile over English Ivy?

Frank ~ This is a legitimate concern because even the tiniest piece of English ivy tends to regrow like crazy. So, it's a real possibility that you could spread it all over the place by composting in that spot. Even if the pile is hot, you can't be sure that every piece would be killed.

I know you said that this seems like the best location for a compost pile...but considering the ivy, it really isn't. Just go for the second best place instead.

Re: Raised Bed Pest Cover - Redux

Excellent creation, Greg! I needed this SO badly when the birds destroyed all of my heirloom lettuce the first tine around this past spring!

I want to just add one thing. If the pests can't get in, neither can the pollinators. Which is perfectly fine for veggies like onions, lettuce, etc. But if you're planting something that will need pollinators to produce, then you'll have to either remove the covers for some amount of time or hand pollinate things yourself.

Re: All We Need is Our Lemon Cucumbers

Veeta: Yes, lemon cukes seem to never be bitter and there are others that tend to resist it. That said, I wanted to mention that bitterness isn't just about watering - it's stress that'll do it. Like not watering consistently. Like here - http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/8614/what-causes-bitter-cucumbers

Re: The Victory Garden Composter

Most excellent plans, Greg! This is a super handy way to get composting in a hurry (which is so near and dear to my heart)!

Re: Got Weird Veggies or Funny Fruit?

What great fun, Jodi! Can't wait to see all the veggies....

Re: QUESTION: Is August too late to prune tomatoes

I don't see why not. By pruning them (the branches that aren't producing fruit in the crotch of the main stem and a producing branch) you'll be sending the rest of the plant's energies to the fruit production. Depending on the variety there could still be a lot of production going on in the weeks to come.

I'd do it. But I'm gutsy like that.

Re: Sow a Little Love for Fall

Okay,that's it ~ Romeo is going onto my carrot list for the fall ~ Thanks, Jodi!

Re: The Great Garlic Harvest

Jodi ~ I planted Chesnok Red and Polish White (NY White). I just harvested mine the other day and they're outside curing. I'm dying to cook with the red as I've never grown it before and looks delish!

Re: QUESTION: Why are cucumbers so bitter?

Here ya go! http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/8614/what-causes-bitter-cucumbers

Re: Containing Potatoes

farmcurious: That's a fantastic tip!!
alethor: You could be right about the draining, but I've also lost potatoes due to a fungal disease - so that could have been a problem, too. While you can't always win that battle because some of those diseases just knock them out.

But next time I would try not watering them over head if possible. This can encourage fungal growth also the water hitting the soil and back up onto the plants can encourage spores to splash back up onto the leaves.

That said, sometimes we just get unlucky.

Re: Containing Potatoes

dvautier: I just saw your photo of you grow bags - I really need to try them next year (I'm soooo old school sometimes, LOL). BTW, the bags in the photo here aren't mine.

Re: Containing Potatoes

Myseasons: Actually, you're correct. Crops in the nightshade family are best rotated - which is why we make the new bed. However, we haven't had any potato diseases and we seem to get away with letting them grow there for a couple of seasons.

The first time we tried it, the same thing happened - we had volunteers and just rode it out. The potatoes were just fine. That said, I still prefer to rotate things because you never know when something will surprise you.

Also, I usually leave the compost and soil right where it is and simply plant other things there - like herbs. This year, I once again am letting the volunteers that came up from last years plants grow because I'm not sure how much we'll get from the new bed.

Re: How Do You Know When to Harvest Sweet Corn?

I love growing my own corn, but skipped it this year because I started so many plants that I didn't know what to do with everything, LOL.

Then the chiweenies started stomping on all my lovelies...and now I have space again...*sigh*

Re: These Babies are Fun to Grow

Oh Jodi ~ How darling! I'm not going to even try to resist..these seeds are going on my list for the fall.

Re: Another Improved Meyer Lemon Tree in Suburbia

WhatsTheMuck: I LOVE experiments like this. Seriously fun - let me know what happens.

Re: QUESTION: Are assassin bugs friend or foe to tomato plants?

Assassin Bugs are very much your friend. They've probably taken care of the culprits that have been munching on your tomato plants.

Here's a bit more: http://garden-pests-diseases.suite101.com/article.cfm/attracting_beneficial_insects_to_the_garden

Re: Organic Fertilizer Sources for the Garden

Texasgardener: I think that because it would be in print and not online, that this would be okay. But let me check with my editor tomorrow and get back to you, okay?

(I'm thrilled that you like it!)

Re: DIY Food Scrap Digester/Composter

Very cool composter! You could also add other carbons like shredded newspaper in there if it gets a bit smelly.

Re: Organic Fertilizer Sources for the Garden

(Adding it now...*grin*)

Re: Organic Fertilizer Sources for the Garden

4PAWS: Yes!! LOL, considering I wrote The Complete Idiot's Guide to Composting, you'd think I'd have thrown that in there. DUH!!

Re: All About Tomatoes

Oh Ruth, this is an awesome library!

Re: Enough Pumpkin for 1000 pies

Jodi ~ I got those, too! I was so surprised! I grew Atlantic Giant pumpkins years ago when I lived in the foothills. I have no idea how big our largest one was, but we couldn't do a thing about it - we didn't think ahead and it was just too large to lift, LOL!

Re: Sweet Bay (Laurus Nobilis): The Herb of Frankenstein

et2007 ~ Honestly, if you want to be certain, I would go to a reputable nursery (not garden center) and they'll be able to direct you to the right plant.

Re: Sweet Bay (Laurus Nobilis): The Herb of Frankenstein

cookinwithherbs ~ LOLOLOL...yes, well I tend ti get colorful with my plant descriptions. Bays are indeed, noble and I've always loved them. Fortunately, it shades part of one of my compost bins instead of the herb garden. I truly enjoy this handsome tree.

Re: Sweet Bay (Laurus Nobilis): The Herb of Frankenstein

WhatsTheMuck ~ Yeah, I've heard that gardeners in other zones need to bring them in to survive, which is why this bay-on-steroids cracks me up. I have to mention that we do get frost here regularly - just not be for long periods nor as cold as other zones.

In the winter we see 32 degrees a lot and 26 degrees here and there. But clearly it isn't enough to deter my big guy here!

Re: Want to Trade Veggies?

Ruth ~ That's because you're awesome. By the way, I was just telling husband-extraordinaire that a *real* gardener can't wait to shove something in your hands before you leave their garden (seedling, seeds, produce, etc). :D

Re: Rabbit Manure in the Garden

Moonvine ~ Couple of thoughts. I'm not sure if you mean the urine run-off...but my thoughts would be that while tomatoes LOVE the nitrogen when they're getting going, when they get big, it's better to have the potassium and phosphorus on the higher side because if the tomatoes get too much nitrogen, they'll produce more leaves than fruit - and you don't want that. In the case where actual run-off would be steady it seems that they plants could be over - run with urine.

Technically, it makes more sense to let it run-ff onto the leafy struff right? Still, it doesn't sound appetizing to have straight urine on the leafy greens either.

So, is there anyway to make the ground lean away from the garden? Or maybe catch pans placed underneath? Because you really do want to take advantage of all the terrific manure you'll have!

Re: Why My Lettuce is in a Hanging Basket

digme ~ The wire basket was completely empty and we had flats of johnny-jump-ups. We pulled the starts out cell-by-cell ans stacked them on top of ones another. We tucked a couple of other things in there, too.

Luckily, husband extraordinaire had nothing for the top of the baskets, so after the birds munched down the lettuces, We took what was salvageable and tucked them into the top of the planters - they came back beautifully. You should see them now.

Re: A vegetable garden a rabbit can love

Rabbits can hop HIGH, LOL!

Re: Lettuce in the Spring Garden

Hi Cathy ~ I'm afraid several Cathys popped up over there and they have their info locked. You'll have to friend me first!

Re: Lettuce in the Spring Garden

Hi Cathy,

Yes, I do wait until my seedlings are a bit tall before I thin them - and then I do it with scissors and never pull because by that time the roots are quite intertwined and I don't want to disturb the little dude that I'm leaving.

I'm really going to watch the weather and if a frost s on the horizon, I'll cover the bed I planted them in with a floating row cover like your cloches. I'm in northern California so out last frost date is April 15th. I'm jumping the gun a little, so I'll keep an eye out...but these guys were just getting too big.

I'll friend you over at FB.

Chris

Re: Dye Easter Eggs in Nature's Hues

Woo Hoo! Thanks for posting this ~ we're doing this in my 4H gardening group!

Re: Blueberries as Edible Landscaping

JadaE: That's wonderful! One of the things that I noticed is that when I began to use the term "edible landscaping" it opened up a new world for me. I no longer thought planting food in a certain garden area and I found I had a lot more space than I realized.

Re: A Gopher in Your Garden

"I'm alllright...don't nobody worry 'bout me....." (Now picture that little guy dancing)

Re: A Gopher in Your Garden

Wait..wait..wait...you mean plant their own garden (like I do by feeding the squirrels)? Well, in a way, that's *kind of* my theory. Plant a ton - they take some and leave me some. Their burrows seem to go all willy-nilly; no pattern.

Please come back and explain - my readers and I are sitting here waiting...*tap*tap*tap*

Re: QUESTION: Tomato Hornworms

Really, the best way is to hand-pick them off the plants and toss 'em. Or you could try spraying some Bt ( Bacillus thuringiensis) which is a bacteria that basically paralyzes some insect larvae like the tomato hornworm. It's organic an non-toxic to mammals or beneficial insects.

If you ever see a tomato hornworm covered in white eggs, don't kill the hornworm. Those eggs belong to a parasitic wasp. When the wasps hatch, they'll kill their worm host plus go off to find others like it in the garden.

Just in case you miss a hornworm or two, let me show you what they turn into as adults. It may surprise you. http://www.examiner.com/x-2981-SF-Wildlife-Examiner~y2009m3d7-Sphinx-moths-wear-a-hummingbird-disguise

Re: QUESTION: Will double digging attract more worms?

Actually, no. While all earthworms are excellent for the soil, the worms that are the voracious eaters and do the best job at turning food scraps into garden gold (vemicompost or worm castings) are the red wigglers (red worms).

Red wigglers are surface dwellers and don't go much further down than the top 8" of the soil - and usually are closer to the surface than that.

The best way to attract red worms to the garden is to provide lots of organic materials for them to much on and to keep the soil moist. They die or move on if the soil dries out. By the way the organic materials don't have to be food scraps. They love leaves, grass clippings, manures (like rabbit poop, etc.), too.

Re: Find the Sunniest Spot for Your Plot

Jodi: What a great technique!

Re: Grow Your Vegetables Vertically

Familyguy1957: I'm not sure if you mean for looks because they get rangy? Or if you're speaking of the suckers. I only cut off lower branches right before I first plant my tomatoes and bury those cut areas so they form more and stronger roots - the plants are truly the better for it.

But if you're wondering about the suckers, I don't worry about them - mostly because I'm too busy. Here's a helpful article on tomato suckers.

http://gardening.about.com/od/totallytomatoes/qt/Tomato_Suckers.htm

Re: Home-Grown Potatoes!

Hi Jeannie! You're very welcome. I linked a couple of more article to this one, as well. I LOVE potatoes - the fingerlings are delish, too.

Re: What is a Food Desert?

That's a great story, JadaE! The economy is so bad for so many people out there, but what's also coming out of it is a re-birth of the simple and sensible way of living. I believe people are going to come out of this healthier, more knowledgeable and HAPPIER. It's amazing to see the satisfaction that comes with self-sufficiency and gaining some control over something so basic as what we eat.

Re: Rabbit Manure in the Garden

PeterGarnham: I agree and if folks are concerned about pathogens, really it's best to compost the rabbit manure first (although, bigger concern with pathogens is with meat-eating animals). As far as too much nitrogen, yes - it's always best not to overwhelm veggies that produce fruit such as tomatoes. Good advice.

Re: Rabbit Manure in the Garden

myseasons: That was sweet story! Just to be clear, the bunnies I'm referring to are domesticated bunnies that would be housed in rabbit hutches. This is the easiest way to collect manure, keep your plants alive, and have a wonderful pet to boot!

Re: DIY Soil Sifter

Love this, Greg! (Where were you when I needed hand-sifter plans for my book?)

Re: Video: How to Start Seeds

Classiest seed starting video ev-ah! hands down.

Re: QUESTION: Using a compost tumbler in cold weather

Hi JadaE: I'm sorry - I JUST saw this question yesterday! Typically in a compost turner situation, the "ingredients" are added all at once and then turned daily (or what-have-you) until the compost is finished. It's sort of a one batch at a time thing. As to whether or not to add to the tumbler - that's up to you. If you don't add anything more (unless you need to because you're low on nitrogen or carbon) everything will be ready all together. If you keep adding, you'll need to sift the compost before you use it because some things won't be broken down and some will. That said, I'd keep turning, because keeping the oxygen running through the pile will keep the process going. Although it's so cold that everything is going to take some time to break down. As to whether or not to add to the tumbler - that's up to you. If you don't add anything more (unless you need to because you're low on nitrogen or carbon) everything will be ready all together. If you keep adding, you'll need to sift the compost before you use it because some things won't be broken down and some will.

I'm thrilled that you liked the article in Urban Farm! Your worms herd will freeze in your garage where you live. You could try some insulation like Styrofoam,hay bales, or another type of wrap. Other worm farmers have had great success with this. Another is when spring comes and goes again - create a "worm bin on the ground" (which is really just a cold compost pile). As long as there is organic material on the soil, the worms will hang around doing their decomposing work. Even in the freezing temps, they'll go just a layer below for the winter only to come back up again in the spring to do more decomposing. One thing, though. Red wigglers like the top several inches or so of the soil. So there needs to be organic matter there at all times. When the soil runs out and becomes bone dry - these dudes die.

Re: Growing Beautiful Food

Oh, yes! Couldn't forget my flowers! ("...and companion flowers such as marigolds or coreopsis.")

Ohh..rattlesnake beans - lovely...

Re: From Zero to Gourmet in 7 Days: Sprouts!

Great post, JadaE! There's a bazillion of us frustrated gardeners out here just waiting for the spring to arrive. Sprouts not only bring us health in the winter, but bring us *gardening* in the winter!

Re: How to Improve Your Stock Options

Excellent post, Jodi!

I actually think of the stock pot as the last stop for vegetable scraps before they hit the compost container pile (or chicken yard)!

Chris

Re: Folia - Your Garden Tracking Partner

Thanks, JadaE...feeling *really* old about now! *grin*

Re: Folia - Your Garden Tracking Partner

Geeeezz, Greg - way to date my garden journal system back to the dinosaurs, LOL (see my article before yours)!

Folia looks like a blast - I'm heading over there...

Re: Start a New Garden Bed with a Compost Sandwich

nancynursez637: I think you may be talking about the lasagna-type gardening where you plant produce directly into the bed that you just sandwich-composted - immmediately. In other words, the organic materials haven't yet broken down.

Once the materials in a compost sandwich have broken all the way down to compost (humus), this type of bed would be no different than any other.

Re: Ever Seen a Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds Catalog?

yourownvictorygarden: I'm with you...and I'm SO framing this stuff!

Re: Homemade Applesauce

MMmmmm...I LOVE homemade applesauce. Thanks for the reminder! The photos look delicious!

Re: Frozen Food, Home Style

This is good stuff, Ruth. I also enjoy taking a look at things beyond what we think we know about them. Great piece.

Re: The Hardy Cucurbits: The Wonderful World of Winter Squash and Pumpkin

All I have to say is "Yeaaahhhh, for heirloom veggies!" Great article.

Re: Why You Want Redworms and Earthworms (Nightcrawlers) in Your Garden

I so enjoy the comments of my worm-loving com padres. Worm farmer untie...er..unite!

JadaE - You simply MUST get a bunny. Lops are very friendly...holland lops and American fuzzy lops are 4 pounds as adults. Lots of poop, but easy to handle. But really, get a bunny. I have a monstrous French Lop (Banx) whom I adore but he's about 17 pounds and not easy to handle. But he's friendly and looks like a big stuffed animal (I'll have to post pics) and there is lots of poop going on here, LOL.

Re: My Fall Garden To Do List

Ruth - I forgot the tool thing!! I HAVE to add that as it's part of my routine. Thanks, Ruth!

Re: Cool Weather Lettuce for Fall and Winter Gardens

yourownvictorygarden: Both of those varieties grow well here, too. I'm trying some new ones this year - I'm hoping for big production, LOL. We'll see...

Re: Celebrate All Hallow's Eve by Carving a Pumpkin

This is great stuff! My kids are carving pumpkins as I read this in the other room...I'm sharing this article with them!

Re: The Witching Hour: Gardening on the Dark Side

Ruth: LOL, I love your photo! I wanted to add The Savage Garden (carnivorous plants - one of my FAVORITE topics)by Peter D'Amato and The Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart.

Re: What's the Best Way to Heat a Small Greenhouse?

Harrisdog43: Yes - thanks! This is the one I was going to go with but I wanted to see what other ideas gardeners came up with.

Re: What's the Best Way to Heat a Small Greenhouse?

xoxommc - Good point - thanks!

Re: What's the Best Way to Heat a Small Greenhouse?

kandella: Ooooohhh...how much do I love this idea? Functionality AND festivity! I'm a Christmas light freak anyway and love having little white lights lining my back porch over-hang all year round.

I know that the old-fashioned lights do get pretty warm...let's see if I can find some still out there for sale...thanks!

Re: What's the Best Way to Heat a Small Greenhouse?

JadaE: *gasp* That is like the Holy Grail of greenhouses, LOL!
About the space heater - yes, that's my first inclination to use. I'm just hoping to get several ideas to choose from as to keep my bill decent. Plus, it's great to see everyone's ideas!

Re: What's the Best Way to Heat a Small Greenhouse?

* As a reminder, if someone wants to try lettucegrow's idea in their greenhouse, be aware this is an open flame and every consideration needs to be taken into account before attempting to use an unsupervised open flame.

Re: Spiders in the Garden

BetsyE: I added "potentially" because you're right - some of us don't, just a lot of us do. :D

Re: QUESTION for Patti Moreno (and other rabbit owners!)

Hi Jada,

I hope Patti doesn't mind my jumping in here. I have been raising rabbits for about 15 years and although I don't "raise" them at this point (because I got out of showing some years back), I still have 5. One is my youngest daughter's bunny as she's in 4H (I used to be the rabbit leader).

I would say that owning a rabbit isn't anymore difficult than having a dog or cat with the exception that you don't have to walk them (but they love human interaction if they are used to it). They do have special needs of their own like giving them fresh hay along with their regular pellets and water.

And because they are domesticated animals, they rely on us for everything including playtime. There's a fantastic book that I can recommend that is truly spot on with their advice on owning rabbits. It's called "Your Rabbit: A Kid's Guide to Raising and Showing".

I know you may not be interested in the showing part, however, there's wonderful general information in the book for keeping rabbits. I've run into other books that make me knit my eyebrows as they seem inaccurate from my experience. Anyway, I'm sure Patti can share with you her experience, as well. But I hope you decide to to share your home with them because we are still enjoying having rabbits around us after 15 years!

Re: Why Grow Your Own Food?

JadaE - I agree with you ~ I think peppers work very well among the other ornamentals. St seems that the more I experiment, the more I find that the plants we often grow as food, are really lovely, to boot!

Re: Video: Make a Keyhole Garden

Ruth - This is fantastic! I hadn't heard of this before and I thank you so much for sharing this story.

Re: Saving Heirloom Tomato Seeds

Fantastic - thank you for this article. I'm finally saving some heirloom tomato seeds this year.

Re: Start a New Garden Bed with a Compost Sandwich

jodied: If your soil is really horrendous, just make sure you add some soil into the sandwich and even if your soil doesn't become truly loamy by spring, you can still plant it and have terrific veggies. Another thing you can do to speed things up is to cover the sandwich with black plastic to get things really heating up inside.

Don't give up on that spot. Do the sandwich again and you'll be amazed how wonderfully this works out. Besides, if you're even close to as old as I am time goes by so fast you won't even notice if it took a year.

Re: Beginners Compost

Hi Guys,

When things get wet and slimy you'll need to add some "browns" (carbon materials) such as straw, dried leaves, or newspaper, etc. Also I wanted to mention that when you're composting you want to let the bottom of the container (assuming it has holes or no bottom at all) touch the bare earth. It helps the decomposers (microbes and macrobs) move in much faster.

Have fun - composting is one of may favorite past times!

Re: Grow Sprouts for the Perfect Indoor Crop

genosgarden: LOL! How cool is that? By the way, sun-dried tomatoes on ANYTHING makes me drool! Sounds like an awesome recipe.

Re: Roast Your Own Sunflower Seeds

KathBeeSmith: LOL...for clarity's sake, I added that the shells were being vacuumed up. *grin*

Re: Kids Can Make Bird Feeders Out of Sunflower Heads

JadaE: I'm certified to help people create these in their own yards - it's SO much fun! I did it in my other homes and this year, I'm letting my 4H gardening/plant science group do it in this yard. You're right, it's such a teaching opportunity for kids and I end up learning something new every time.

Re: QUESTION: Compost & Ammonia

(Meant to type "C:N ratio") *grin*

Re: QUESTION: Compost & Ammonia

Pouring straight ammonia onto a pile can produce an excess of nitrogen in there which could off-set the C:N ration - and create a less-then-pleasant smell to boot. Your husband is on the right track, however, if he's looking for a nitrogen source. But it's more beneficial to just add manures from herbivorous animals (rabbits, chickens, horses, sheep, etc) or other nitrogen rich sources such as grass clipping.

That said, I have heard of someone using human urine as a nitrogen source when they were desperate, LOL!

Re: How to Harvest and Dry Coriander

I'm so glad you posted this because many people don't realize where coriander comes from and it's so difficult to keep cilantro from bolting!

Re: QUESTION: What's living in my compost??

JadaE: You've just met the macro-organisms! Since I can't see them first-hand, I can't say which ones exactly, but more than likely they aren't the maggots that you fear (flies). They're the decomposers you can see as opposed to the decomposers you can't see (micro-organisms like bacteria). They're exactly the tenants you'd like living in your compost - keep going!

Re: Grow Black Tea in Your Garden

WhatsTheMuck- If you don't have a greenhouse situation (and I use the term loosely), am I pushing it to suggest bringing it indoors by a sunny sliding glass door?

Re: In Praise of Watermelons

Ruth - there are darling! I love this kind of stuff. Thanks for sharing.

Re: Grow Food in Your Landscape

Ohhh...I'll bet it does! Thanks!

Re: Pole Beans Versus Bush Beans

idahocowgirl: Sadly, I wish I could use coolness as an excuse, but I live in Northern California and we don't have anything close to short seasons here. It's looking more an more like the problem is in my court. BUT I am going to keep the names of the ones you mentioned because I think this is a worthy experiment!

Re: Pole Beans Versus Bush Beans

yourownvictorygarden: It's making me wonder if it's the zone. My Kentucky Wonders (pole) have never failed me...and I don't give them any special love, LOL. I agree, I need to keep trying!

djlw51554: Thanks for the "Jade" recommendation - I'll look for that one and give it a go. I have never seen this one and since that's the case, it fills me with hope.

Re: The Tomato Sandwich: Summer's Ultimate Food

Susan,

Thanks for reminding me of an old favorite! My friend (years ago) taught me to toast the bread and add lemon pepper...it was heavenly! Especially with heirloom tomatoes!

Re: Mmmm... Free Coffee Grounds For Your Plants!

Yes, yes, yes! I also toss this into my worm bin, as well. They love it! thanks for sharing this with everybody!

Re: Why can't I grow squash?

Exactly! The little fruit at the base of the flowers tell you that those are female flowers and they need to be pollinated. If not, they shrivel up and die. We like to think that mother nature will send the cavalry (bees and the like) but, sometimes, we have to lend a helping hand!

Re: Thinning Vegetable Seedlings

Good call, Ruth! I actually thought of that after I wrote this...yum!

Re: Thinning Vegetable Seedlings

I would move the mesclun early so the roots don't become established and then get completely annoyed with the move.

I'm with you on the carrots - I'm about to do the same!

Re: Friendly Blue Mason Bees are Perfect Pollinators

EP Cook - I think there isn't a problem at all with different bees in the same yard. I'm sure they meet up all the time.

Re: Let Worms Compost Your Kitchen Scraps

Daska - You can absolutely feed them and leave for two weeks! Just make sure they're in a cool, dark place so their bin or condo doesn't dry out; that's really the key.

Re: Grow Birdhouse Gourds

Very good points about the mold - thank you guys!

Re: Garlic as an Herbal Medicine

It's really amazing how many people can attest to garlic's healing properties. Thank everybody for chiming in!

Re: Suburban Backyard Chickens

Forgot to mention - we're in the city limits with no land. We have suburban chickens!

Re: Suburban Backyard Chickens

Hi Becki_TH, I have heard nothing but great stuff about chickens in the city - it's becoming very popular, in fact.

If you'd like to get a lot of different opinions on this, try the website www.backyardchickens.com, they have a great community forum there.

Re: How to Make Fruit Water

Smartykate - Cucumber would be very refreshing!

Re: Gardening Tip: Keeping Up with the Garden

This is something that has to become a habit for me. I go for months without having to think much about gardening.

Then I get all crazy with the planting come spring and have to remember to go out and give it a little lovin'! Thanks for the tip!

Re: Try Soil Bag Planting for No-Dig Beds

MizBj: This particular bag is 3 cubic feet. It'll work beautifully - the roots just go whatever direction they need to to reach soil. I haven't even used this big of a bag before and it was terrific.

This bag is sitting on top of river rock this year - just like a patio.

I don't know about all of the root crops, though. I haven't tried potatoes this way because it seems rather hard to hill up after they start growing. I have done peppers tomatoes, herbs, etc.

I would imagine veggies like radishes or carrots would do well - it would be fun to try.

Whatever you'd like to try, go for it and let us know what worked well for you - better yet, post pictures of it in the gallery!

Re: Soil Bag Planting

mar32428: This one is 3 cubic feet. But, honestly, I haven't used this big of a bag before. The smaller ones (maybe 2 cu ft) worked just as well.

Re: The Urban Garden Project Chicken Coop

O-Oh! Bless you, for this picture! We're thinking of building our own coop and this is just great!
HEY - maybe you could do it stage-by-stage and sell it as an eBook !
Just sayin'.

Re: The Benefits of Growing Potatoes in Containers

Sansar: Great question! Here's what I have found about the tires. This was from a man who promotes tire-planting.

"There is no appreciable risk in using recycled tires in the vegetable garden. While it is a fact that rubber tires do contain minute amounts of certain heavy metals, the compounds are tightly bonded within the actual rubber compound and do not leach into the soil.

One of the ingredients in the rubber recipe is zinc. Zinc, in fact, is an essential plant element. I also expect that rubber is safer to use than treated lumber that contains copper and arsenic. Tires are durable. The very qualities that make them an environmental headache make them perfect for our uses in the garden. Once they are in place, they won’t rot and will likely be there for your grandchildren to use."

Charles Sanders at www.backwoodshome.com/articles2/sanders98.html

Re: Let Worms Compost Your Kitchen Scraps

erock: Glad you asked! The difference is that while both consist of the breakdown of organic materials and give a terrific plant product for the garden, worms bring there own special blend to the table.

Worms ingest your food scraps and after they have passed through the worm's gut, the end product is a biologically active material. The castings contain more beneficial micro-organisms, enzymes, humus, and plant stimulants.

Castings present these nutrients in high percentages in a slow-release form and have excellent soil binding, and water retention abilities. They also have wonderful aeration, porosity and structural properties.

By the way, worms are present in general garden compost as well, they are part of the breakdown in a regular heap - so you're getting this there, too. Worm composting in a container just intensifies the end product, so you have a super-charged dressing or amendment.

Re: Try Soil Bag Planting for No-Dig Beds

rosegirl7: To be sure about what you're dealing with, I would take one that's been obviously affected down to a (reputable) local nursery for some ideas on what problems are normally seen for gladiolus' in your area.

Could be Fusarium wilt? Glads are often affected by this fungal disease. Unfortunately, if it is...the best plan is to get rid of them.

In fact, try planting something else there in it's place. If you really want to grow glads, try a different place in the yard with brand new corms.

Re: How to Win the Snail Battle

jennifers - Good one! Chickens will eat them, too.

Re: The Benefits of Growing Potatoes in Containers

Delolds - Very interesting - Thanks for adding this!

Re: Try Soil Bag Planting for No-Dig Beds

Vawildflowers -

It really doesn't make any difference. I have used whatever I have around. If you did want to just use topsoil, you can add compost on top during the growing season, etc.

gardenshare -

No worries. The roots just grow all around inside there with no problem at all. I have had a few stragglers come out the bottom (where we made the cuts for drainage), but it really works out fine.

If this were a shrub or perennial (which, technically, tomatoes are, but I digress), this wouldn't be suitable for the rest of it's life. But for the growing season for tomatoes - works beautifully.

Re: Controlling Aphids in Your Garden

I'll put it over there. These aphids are unique dudes. I'll explain them in the photo gallery.

Re: Try Soil Bag Planting for No-Dig Beds

mainegardener -

Ooooo...love the Smart Pot idea! Another super-cool and fast way to garden.

(BTW, the plastic bag doesn't break down in the soil.)

Chris McLaughlin

Re: Try Soil Bag Planting for No-Dig Beds

LizG -

Just to be clear, the tomato plant in the picture was planted as an example. We just happened to have it on the lawn when we planted it. We have it sitting in an all-rock area at this point to grow in a place that otherwise would have been useless in our yard.

Sally 529-

You're on the same wave-length as me! Straw bale planting is a terrific no-dig garden idea and one I was going to write about next. But you did a terrific job explaining it. :D

Chris McLaughlin

Re: Man in the garden!

Hi Ron,

Welcome - we like men it the garden around here! I have mixed my own and wrote about it (if I may) here:
http://www.examiner.com/x-2485-SF-Gardening-Examiner~y2009m2d8-Mix-your-own-soil-blends-for-potted-plants-and-garden-beds

Re: Extend the Seasons with a Cold Frame

Yes - another great way to use a cold frame! This is a whole other article. *grin*

Re: Extend the Seasons with a Cold Frame

Ruth,

Sounds like an awesome little frame you had! I just LOVE having hale bales around - they are good for so many cool ideas.

Re: Video: Getting Started in Worm Composting

Fantastic!
I just taught my 4H gardening/plant science group all about vermicomposting. They each make their own bin and LOVED it!

Re: The Enemy

I ate snails once, too; off of the sidewalk when I was one. Eeeewwww.