Organizing Lessons From My Garden

Organizing Lessons From My Garden

 

One of the reasons that I like being organized is that I hate to waste time, money or energy.  Also, I can’t bear that nasty sensation in the pit of my stomach when I realize that because I wasn’t prepared for it, an opportunity just passed me by. 

 

In recent years I’ve discovered the joys of having my own vegetable garden.  It’s a great feeling to wander out the back door and pick your own salad or herbs to go with dinner.  The price is right and the flavor can’t be beat!  But, I’ve learned that in order to take full advantage of this opportunity, I HAVE to be organized.

 

I live in the Northeast, where our growing season is only from mid-May to the end of October (early November if we’re lucky.)  I would prefer to start as much as possible from seed, because the savings and variety available are so much better. Some lessons I’ve learned over the years:

 

¨      If I don’t plan carefully, my plants will either be too small to go out at the ideal time (or they’ll be overgrown) and I’ll have to pay significantly more to buy them at the garden shop (or do without.)

¨      If I don’t spread my fertilizer early enough, then it will be too strong and damage my plants. 

¨       Planting cover crops way back in the fall will go a long way towards a better crop next season.

¨      Also, if I wait too long to buy manure, there won’t be any left.  (Cuz all the other gardeners beat me to it!)

¨      If I don’t plan & plot out my gardens beds, I won’t be able to make the most efficient use of my space.

 

Now, you may not be the least bit interested in gardening, and that’s fine, but consider for a minute some of the applications this has to other opportunities in life.

 

¨      It’s the dead of winter, and it feels like spring will never come, but you know it will eventually.  What do you have to do to be prepared? (Or for summer, or fall, or winter . . . you know what I mean.)

¨      Sure, you can sometimes manage to catch up if you procrastinate, but at what cost?

¨      What lessons did you learn from the last time around?  Have you made an effort to apply them and improve you system for this time?

¨      What tasks need to be done when for the best use of your time, money & energy?  Do you have a system in place to help remind you?

¨      What planning ahead do you need to do to make the most of any opportunities that may come your way?

 

Like I always say, organizing is not an end in and of itself, it’s a means to an end.  I hope considering these questions and their answers will help us all to make the most of the gifts we’ve been given.

 

Blessings,

 

Sandy 

 

P.S. I’ve also learned that plants don’t care how they’re organized.  They’ll grow whether the rows are straight, crooked or zig-zaggy.  One less thing to worry about! 

Sandy Huntress is a successful educator in the arena of organization. She has authored three popular ebooks: 16 Secrets of Naturally Organized People, Decluttering, Demystified, as well as, Paper, Paper, Everywhere (And You Can’t Find a Thing!)

For more tips and techniques like the ones in this article, plus your FREE copy of Decluttering, Demystified, please click here: http://www.secretsoforganizedpeople.com.

Eat Your Greens: How to Handle Tricky Vegetables – From Bbc Green

Eat Your Greens: How to Handle Tricky Vegetables – From Bbc Green

Some vegetables can be tough customers, admits Caspar van Vark. But with a little imagination, you can turn a hard tuber into a fabulous seasonal dish

Not all seasons are equal. The autumn months, for example, are a happy time for the cook. There are still some late raspberries and soft purple figs to eat with goat’s cheese or cured ham. Pumpkins appear in every size and shape, and there are crisp apples bursting with juice.

There’s a certain satisfaction to eating with the rhythm of the planet and catching things at their best. But the romance of seasonal eating starts to wane a bit once autumn has turned to winter. Sit at mother nature’s table and you have to eat what she serves.

Out go the vine-ripened tomatoes and golden ears of corn – instead, we are faced with muddy celeriacs, swedes and turnips. Even the most determined seasonal eaters will feel their heart sink when they open their food box and find yet another spooky, alien-looking root vegetable.

Eat ugly food

The easiest solution is to put the kohl rabi in the bottom of the fridge, wait for it go off and then throw it away. We’ve all done it, but there’s no need – all of these winter vegetables will reward you if you make a tiny bit of effort.

Take the Jerusalem artichoke – it sounds so exotic, but it looks like ginger and is the thing you usually find rattling around in your organic box after you’ve taken everything else out. Not only is this one ugly tuber, it also has a reputation for giving people flatulence!

But give it a chance – the Jerusalem artichoke has a good nutty flavour and really comes into its own if you peel it, slice it thinly and bake it with cream, like you would potato dauphinoise. It’s also a great source of iron, vitamin C, phosphorous and potassium.

To cut down on the windy effects, parboil the peeled artichoke and throw away the water. Callers to BBC Radio 4’s Veg Talk  programme have also recommended a cup of fennel tea afterwards or, more bracingly, a shot of cider vinegar.

Root down

Our other staple winter vegetables, such as turnips, swedes and celeriac, have much in common – they’re starchy, need peeling and they’re a bit intimidating. Traditionally, these vegetables have been boiled and mashed. And they are very good like that – just add a good knob of butter, maybe some cream, and plenty of salt and pepper.

Still, it can all feel a bit too beige and bland. Fortunately, these vegetables respond well to a kick up the bum. Try cutting them into wedges, brushing with oil and roasting (like potato wedges) Add some fire chilli or other spices, such as cumin or hot paprika.

Top tastes

Similarly, you can cut them into chip-shapes and roast them like oven chips. Blanch them in boiling water first, then let them cool off and dry. Next toss them in some oil and then put them in a hot oven for about 20 minutes. If you have several of these vegetables knocking about, you can mix them all up.

You can also get more creative. There’s a lot to be said for grating winter vegetables because it brings out their sweetness and a new texture. Try grating celeriac and mixing it with sour cream or mayonnaise for a winter salad – think Waldorf and add some walnuts and celery if you want.

A cure for sprout phobia

Some more familiar winter vegetables include Brussels sprouts and pumpkin. While not as scary as swedes and celeriac, people harbour prejudices about these foods. The sprout, in particular, has an image problem.

If you just boil your sprouts, it’s no wonder if you get bored – try steaming them for a couple of minutes and then stir-frying them in a smoking hot wok. Add what you like – onion and garlic, bacon, chopped chestnuts – and finish with a splash of balsamic vinegar. The stir-frying gives a sweeter edge to the sprouts and makes them less cabbage-like.

World inspiration

It’s also helpful to look around the world for inspiration. Pumpkins can seem bland, but in Argentina it’s traditional to hollow them out and cook meat in them for a thick, hearty stew. The pumpkin is then baked in the oven for an hour or so and the stew is ladled out of it.

Pumpkins are also popular in some Asian cuisines – Nigella Lawson has a recipe for a yellow pumpkin and seafood Thai curry – and it appears in South Indian recipes too. In the Caribbean, pumpkins turns up in braises and in the Middle East they are often stuffed with meat, rice and spices.

The comfort zone

And finally, think of the carrot cake and extrapolate from there. There’s almost no end of possibilities for creating savoury – or indeed sweet – muffins and cakes using winter vegetables. It’s precisely their sweet, starchy nature that makes them get on well with butter and flour.

A basic muffin recipe can be adapted by leaving out the sugar and adding a few cups of grated vegetables – carrot, parsnip, potato – and some cheese to make a savoury batch. If you have kids, this is a sneaky way of getting some extra vegetables into their diet. Apple and carrot work well together in a muffin recipe.

Winter always feels like ages, but it will seem like an eternity if you eat boiled turnips. Open your mind, be creative and you might even find yourself looking forward to the swede season next year. 

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Buying Food From Organic Farmers

Buying Food From Organic Farmers

Are you interested in improving the way that you eat? If you are, you’ll want to examine natural, organic foods. After a close examination, you’ll see that there are a number of benefits to eating organic. Organic foods are available for sale at supermarkets, organic food stores, and online. With that said, organic foods are also commonly sold directly by the farmers who grew them. If you have local farmers who sell organic foods, you should consider doing your shopping directly through them.

When it comes to buying many organic food products, such as fruits and vegetables directly from organic farmers, many individuals wonder why they should do so. In all honesty, there are a number of reasons, as well as benefits to buying organic foods directly from the source. One of those benefits is the assistance that you’ll be providing to local farmers. It’s no secret that many farmers find it difficult to stay afloat financially. In fact, hundreds of small farms shut down each year. Instead of shutting down, many farmers are now making the switch to organic foods.

A large number of farmers, all across the United States, are now making the decision to go organic. Unfortunately, this decision isn’t always easy. It can be costly in the beginning, as well as very risky. Although you may not necessarily think about it at the time, you can provide financial relief and assistance to organic farmers by buying their products directly from them. When you buy organic fruits and vegetables directly from the farmer or farmers who grew them, they’re able to receive all the profits, not just a portion of them. In this aspect, you can consider buying organic fruits and vegetables directly from farmers your good deed for the week or month.

As nice as it is to hear that you should purchase some organic foods directly from the farmers who grow them, how do you go about doing so? First you should check out your local farmer’s market farmer’s markets typically involve the setup of stands and booths in or around your town square. Many farmer’s markets in the United States allow a large number of farmers to attend and set up booths. Depending on your local farmer’s markets, its size and who’s present, you may be able to find organic food sold.

In addition to visiting one of your local farmer’s markets to see if organic foods are for sale, you can also visit local farms in person. To help you decide which farms should be visited look for signs or advertisements in local newspapers. It’s also usually easy to spot farms where organic foods are being sold because many set up roadside booths or have a storefront building on their property, which is usually easy to see from the road. If you do make the decision to shop with a local farmer, be sure to bring cash, as many small operations are not equipped to accept checks, debit cards, or credit cards.

To read about asparagus urine and growing asparagus, visit the Fruits And Vegetables site.

Wild Wines: Creating Organic Wines from Nature’s Garden

Wild Wines: Creating Organic Wines from Nature’s Garden

Wild Wines: Creating Organic Wines from Nature’s Garden

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How to start a vegetable garden from scratch

How to start a vegetable garden from scratch

Plot out your garden area. Decide on what you want to plant and how much room you will need to grow those plants. Also, the amount of sunlight is very important in picking out the proper placement of your garden. You will want an area that gets direct sunlight most for the day. Something else to take into account is the drainage of the land. You will not want your garden in a depressed area of land because water will tend to flood those areas and won’t drain properly. I prefer using a slightly sloped piece of land or a flat piece of land that retains and drains water properly. Once you have chosen the location and size of you garden you will want to mark the boundaries of the garden with stakes or flags. Next is the part of the job that will likely take the most time, preparing the soil. Preparing the soil means two things to me:

 

A.Cutting and removing the sod. You have several options when deciding how you want to get rid of the grass and get down to the soil. If you have a very large garden you may want to hire somebody or rent the equipment (bobcat) to tear up the grass. If you own a rototiller (you can rent one), you can use this to remove the sod. There a two main types of tillers, front tine or rear tine. Rear tine tillers have the blades in the back of the machine and typically are a bit easier to use due to the fact that you (as the operator) get more weight/leverage over top the blades. Front tine tillers have the blades in the front and can be a bit harder to use on hard sod or compacted soil since there is not as much weight/leverage over top the blades to make them bite in as well as a rear tine tiller. If you have a very small garden area then you may also choose to use a shovel to tear up the sod. Personally, my brother and I used a tiller to tear up a rather large patch of land for our garden. We would run the tiller over the grass to break it up then rake the grass clumps into one large pile in the corner of our garden, which eventually decomposed to plain dirt. We had to run the tiller over the garden area several times and rake clumps of grass each time before we had a workable dirt area. This can be a back breaking task so make sure to take your time and rest occasionally.

 

B. Getting the soil ready to plant in. Plants will produce their best when they have a healthy, somewhat loose, soil to grow in. This means that you want a nutrient rich soil that retains just the right amount of moisture. You can take soil samples into many garden centers to get a test done. A soil test will tell you what you need to add or balance out in your soil. The three key nutrients in soil that you will need to worry about are: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Any and all of these nutrients can easily be added using organic or non-organic methods. Ask your garden center what you should use for your soil. I was fortunate with my garden because the land we put our garden on used to be old farm land and was great soil. We simply tilled the soil several times to loosen it up before we created rows.

                                          

Next you will want to create your rows and plant your seeds or seedlings. To do this, follow the directions for row and seed spacing on the back of your seed packages (you can also find all your planting information here: http://getready2garden.com/page7.html ). Many plants require 24” to 36” between rows. Make sure to leave adequate room between your rows to allow you to walk and/or till between them. I like to mark where my rows will be, by driving stakes into the ground on each end of the row and tying twine between the stakes (I use a tape measure to mark the distance between my stakes).

 

These are just the basics of getting a garden started up to the point of planting. To get more in depth information, please visit: http://getready2garden.com/ .

Steve Gunther is passionate about vegetable gardening. Though only introduced to gardening himself a couple of years ago, he has immersed himself in the gardening community. Steve is currently starting a website dedicated to vegetable gardening http://getready2garden.com/ .

How To Grow Vegetables From Seed

How To Grow Vegetables From Seed

Vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant, need a long, warm growing season to produce a harvest.

If you plan to grow your own seedlings, start such crops indoors in late winter in order to have plants ready to set out in the garden when the weather has warmed up. If you want to plant tomato seedlings in May, for instance, you’ll need to start those seeds by early March.

Veggie 101: How to start your garden
You can use a variety of containers, including flats or trays (with or without dividers), small individual pots, and cell-packs. If you’re reusing old containers, scrub them out, and soak them for half an
hour in a solution of one part household bleach to nine parts hot water to destroy any disease organisms.

Seeds to seedlings
Fill 4-inch pots to just below the rim with a light, porous seed-starting or potting mix Moisten the mix, and let it drain.

Scatter seeds thinly over the surface. Check the seed packet for the recommended planting depth, and cover the seeds with the proper amount of mix. (As a rule of thumb, cover seeds to a depth equal to twice their diameter.) Label each container with the plant’s name and the date. Moisten the soil lightly.

If you are starting heat-loving plants (tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, okra, peppers, squashes, or melons), set the containers on a water heater or use a heating mat to keep the soil between 75°F/24°C and 90°F/32°C. (Most cool-season vegetables will germinate at room temperature.)

When the seeds germinate, move the pots into an area with bright light and temperatures between 60°F/16°C and 75°F/24°C.

When the seedlings develop their second set of true leaves, it’s time to transplant them to individual pots, such as 3- or 4-inch plastic pots. Fill the new containers with potting mix, moisten the mix, and let it drain.

To remove the seedlings from their original pots, squeeze each pot’s sides, and turn it upside down, keeping one hand around the soil ball. With both hands, carefully pull the soil ball apart, and set it down on a flat surface.

Separate the fragile rootballs of the seedlings from one another with a toothpick or skewer, or tease them apart with your fingers.

Poke a hole in the new container’s potting mix. Carefully lift each seedling and its rootball, keeping your fingers under it for support. Place the seedling in its new container, and firm the mix around it. Water immediately, and then set the pots in bright light.

Seedlings of edible crops need bright light to develop properly; when grown in conditions that are too dark, the seedlings are spindly and weak. If you don’t have a suitable place for your seedlings, try growing them under fluorescent lights. As soon as the seeds sprout, give them 12 to 14 hours of light each day, setting the light fixture 6 to 8 inches above the tops of the plants.

Seeds of heat-loving summer crops need warm soil to germinate quickly and strongly. Thin waterproof heating mats placed under the containers keep the soil 15 to 20°F/8 to 11°C above room temperature.

Nurseries and mail-order catalogs offer both fluorescent light kits and heating mats. 

Avoid “damping off” trouble

If your seedlings suddenly collapse and die, one of the fungal diseases called “damping off” or “seed and seedling rot” may be to blame. In one type of damping off, the seedling’s stem collapses at or near the soil surface; in another type, the seedling rots before it emerges from the soil, or the seed decays before it even sprouts.

To prevent these problems, use pasteurized potting mix and new or thoroughly washed and disinfected containers.

Take care not to overwater seedlings; be sure to provide good air circulation and ventilation, so tops of seedlings stay dry and standing moisture is kept to a minimum. Thinning seedlings to eliminate crowding is also helpful.

Steve McShane is Founder, Owner and General Manager of McShane’s Nursery & Landscape Supply. Steve is a Soil Science graduate from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and has his MBA from Santa Clara University.

Email Steve: steve@mcshanesnursery.com

5 Ways to Protect Your Organic Garden From Pests

5 Ways to Protect Your Organic Garden From Pests

If you are familiar with gardening, or even if you aren’t, you already know that pests can destroy a season’s worth of work if left unchecked.  While you might be at a bit of a loss when it comes to making sure that your stays healthy while not using chemical products, you’ll find that with a little bit of research, nothing could be easier!  Check out a few of the great ways to protect your garden from pests while still keeping organic.

1.Garlic
Garlic is great for a number of different pests, and it’s easy to use, as well.  All you need to do is to start with 3 ounces of finely chopped garlic and mix it with two teaspoons of mineral oil.  After a 24 hour soak, you can add it to one pint of water and ¼ n ounce of dish soap.  This is a great all-purpose insect spray, and when you go to use it, all you need to do is to take about tablespoon of this mixture and mix it with a pint of water.  Test the mixture on some lower leaves to make sure that you have not made it strong, but this can be a great way to fight really persistent pests.

2.Weed Regularly
We already know that weeds can choke out the desirable plants, but keep in mind that they can also play host to a number of undesirable pests  as well!  Make sure that your rows stay clear of weeds and also of debris, where insects can nest.  When you have finished the weeding, make sure that you put the refuse at some distance away from your garden, to make sure that the pests that you have cleared out don’t return.

3.Milk
Milk is good for you, and great for your garden.  When you mix one part milk to nine parts water, you can spray the mixture every week or so to prevent things like powdery mildew.  Use it whenever you see black spots on your vegetables or your roses.

4.Composite Flowers
Not only will these flowers be a great and colorful addition to your garden, you’ll find that they’ll attract the useful insects as well.  Ladybugs and lacewings are both attracted to these flowers and you’ll find that they can help reduce pests a great deal.  For some great composite flowers to add, look at yarrow, chicory, chrysanthemums ad dahlias.

5.Newspapers and Cardbord
Use newspapers and cardboard layered on top of your weeds to suffocate them by keeping them away from the light and the water.  If you do this in the fall, your garden will have a great weed-free start in the spring.

 

We have started a heirloom seed business in 2007 and have expericed large growth since we have started

www.grannysheirloomseeds.com

www.gardenerschoiceheirloomseeds.com

Making a Natural Organic Root Starter from Willow

Visit www.electsake.com for more Videos along with Diagrams and Instruction on this and other Survival and Living off the Land Skills –How to make a natural organic root starter from willow trees
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What Can You Gain From A Herb Garden and Vegetables Garden?

What Can You Gain From A Herb Garden and Vegetables Garden?

Herb gardens are obviously a specific type of garden, but what exactly do they do? There is a specific purpose for these types of gardens, and it is to cultivate plants that will be used for medicinal and cooking purposes. Other times, plants from herb gardens will be used for magical purposes, but that is a less common endeavor than just cooking the plants.


Where Do You Start a Herb Garden and Vegetables garden?


The easiest place to start looking for relevant information on starting a herb garden is the world wide net. There are also numerous reference books and material that you can find pertaining to herb gardens and all that they offer. However, you can search for the information from the comforts of your own home. You just have to know where to look to find exactly what you need.


If you do not know where to start when it comes to creating an herb garden, you may want to invest in a kit. You can find all kinds of herb kits, including ones that can be used indoors. If you would like to cultivate your garden all year round, then you may want to start an indoor herb garden. This is a good idea for people who use these gardens for medicinal purposes.


These starter kits are easy to use and set-up, so in no time you will have your very own herb garden created. The hardest part in all of this will be deciding what kind of herbs you want to grow. Each one has its own purpose and benefits, so you will have to spend time finding one that suits your preferences.


Herb gardens have been gaining in popularity in modern times, thanks to alternative medicinal practices. Now, many people swear by the benefits of herbs to treat illnesses, so herb gardens have been sprucing up everywhere. There is a plethora of information available to you about the subject, so be sure to read up on it before you start your own garden. There are many websites devoted to providing you with the information you need to start your own herb garden.


Getting Involved In Vegetable Gardens


In today’s society, the emphasis is on eating organic foods or, at the very least, healthier than how we used to consume food. One way that people are doing this is by creating vegetable gardens. By creating one of these, you will be able to add more vegetables to your diet (and these will be free of many of the chemicals used on other farms) and you will eat healthier in the process.


There are many different kinds of vegetable gardens, and you have to decide what kind you want to have. This will obviously depend on what you want to grow and eat, or possibly even sell and ship to other people. One of the major joys of having one of these vegetable gardens is the fact that you have the freedom to choose want you want to sell, eat, etc.


As is the case with any garden, there are many things you must keep in mind other than just the fact that you want to start growing some vegetables. Plenty of websites have been created by people who have been growing vegetable gardens for years, so you will want to take their advice. It will be very useful to find tips by these people because it will make your garden that much better. Plus, you may end up finding new methods for growing the vegetables, along with tips to creating the perfect vegetable garden.


Vegetables are not hard to grow, and you will need to keep in mind that a healthy amount of water and sunshine are necessary to make your garden successful. Make sure you do your research ahead of time so you are fully prepared to start growing vegetables.


You will find that vegetable gardens are one of the most rewarding forms of home gardening. You will be able to harvest plants that will allow you to eat healthier and possibly make some money at the same time. If you are looking for a new way to garden, definitely keep a vegetable garden in mind.

Cindy Heller is a professional writer. Visit one stop gardens to learn more about better homes & gardens landscaping software and better home and gardens patio furniture.

THE SECRETS TO ORGANIC GARDENING, STEMS FROM THE SOIL.

THE SECRETS TO ORGANIC GARDENING, STEMS FROM THE SOIL.

While wandering around my garden, I muse over the recent rainfall sent from the heavens, restoring my hopes and that of my garden beds. I live in a cool temperate zone and, owing to the effects of 16 years of drought and climate change, our region falls short of average rainfall. If you own a rain gauge, it maybe that you also delight in checking the totals after soaking rains, especially following a dry spell.

So, why do we gardener’s gaze skyward at menacing cumulonimbus thunder heads, and avidly learn to recognize other rain bearing clouds?  I suggest that it could be:

*To dance in the rain, or jump puddles

*Fill buckets or bins with rain water

*Listen to frogs in ponds and wetlands

*Marvel at the rain drops on our fruit & vegetables

*Breathe a sigh of relief, and put down the watering can

Another good reason to get excited at the rain worthy clouds is the potential for millimetres, or in some parts of the world, meters of life giving water. Each rain bearing cloud has the potential for delivering hundreds of litres of water.

Water plays an important role in organic gardening; it is the medium in which the nutrients are transported to the root systems. Water makes nutrients such as *nitrogen, *phosphorous, *potassium, *trace elements, and *minerals available and accessible to all plant life.

It is in these moistened soils that microbial activity can convert nutrients from organic materials and fertilizers into forms that the roots of the plants can absorb.

You’ve probably loosened your soil with a garden fork and turned up worms, slaters and grubs. If you have worms in your composts or garden beds, it is good news! Worms are useful in aerating, oxygenating, and breaking down the organic materials into good bacteria and fungus in soils.

I’m passionate about growing roses, perennials, annuals, native plants and trees, fruit trees, herbs and vegies. Therefore, when growing those tasty, edible plants for your family, it’s vital to use organic methods of cultivation.

Now, in order to achieve the best results and grow the highest quality and maintain good production from your flowering and fruiting plants, it must stem from the ground up. By organic I mean:

*No chemical, toxic pesticides, as they contain residual poisons harmful to beneficial insects, and to human consumption.

*No chemical fertilizers, which can inhibit microbial and worm activity, poisonous to soils and humans.

*Only apply organic fertilizers, either dry powder or pelletized and liquid formulations, which make it readily available to plants.

*If you don’t have space for a composting system, buy good quality ready-made compost.

*Compost should contain fruit and veggie scraps, moistened shredded newspaper for carbon, grass clippings and leaf litter.

If you have an established garden, it’s not too late to improve your soils. By gently loosening the soil below the drip line of the plant’s canopy, incorporate humus or composted soil, liquid and dry fertilizer to slowly break down, covering with soft mulches like lucerne hay and pea straw. Before long, you will notice a huge difference in the health of your plants, and a plethora of flowers, fruit and vegetables to be enjoyed by all!!

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