Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Growing Verticle

This time of year the seed catalogs start pouring in. I love sitting down with them and circling all the things I think I might like to try growing. But sometimes I have to practice restraint because my growing space is somewhat limited. Growing veggies vertically can come in handy when having limited space. Here's a list of some veggies you might like to try growing vertically:
(These all will trellis up)
cucumbers
pole beans (green, purple etc)
dry shelling beans
pumpkins
tomatoes

By trellising some of these you can make room for some shade loving herbs and lettuces.
Click here to see more photo ideas for vertical gardening.http://www.facebook.com/pages/Earls-Kitchen-Gardens/150548691683046?ref=hl

Monday, September 3, 2012

Pest Managment

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Most gardens will have their fair share of pests. Whether it be rabbits, chipmunks, tomato horn worms or cabbage worms, one if not all of these critters may show up and it's good to know what to do to prevent garden devastation. Here in my garden we've had a few bouts with the cabbage worm. They love my kale. I tried first just hand picking them off, gross but effective. It's really important when noticing that you may have any kind of bug infestation to examine both sides of your plants leaves. Most bugs lay their eggs on the underside of the leaf, the critters hatch and them boom, garden devastation. Check out this video to see what I mean.
My remedy for this is tri-fold.
1. Examine your plants leaves, rub your fingers on both sides, this will kill larvae that may be hiding on the underside.
2. When you notice you may have an infestation spray your plants with a solution of 26 oz. of water ( typical small spray bottle size), 2 tablespoons kitchen soap (vegetable based with no *SSL Sodium Laurel Sulfate) and one teaspoon cayenne pepper. Spray your plants, both sides of the leaves once a day for 3 days straight examine and reapply if necessary. Do this in the early morning or late at night, not in the high heat of the afternoon.
3. Do not compost infested plants, and do not plant the same crop in the same place the next year. Wait 3 years and try again. We've opted to do kale in pots, this keeps the soil free of any cabbage worm larvae and hopefully will help the situation.
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Saturday, August 18, 2012

THE HAPPY GARDEN

A happy garden is a well planned garden, and well cared for too!
Key factors in having a successful garden.

1.Location: Where you place your home garden is the biggest determining factor if you will have garden success. Southern exposure is best. Lots of homeowners want to tuck their home garden somewhere where it just won't thrive. You can't compromise on location, it will make or break your garden.
2. Watering: It's hard to impart to the new gardener just how much watering your garden needs. Lots of first time gardeners think if things aren't looking lush yet watering is the answer. Watering is important but most home gardens only need to be watered two to three times a week. The best watering method for box gardens or container gardens is by hand watering with a nice old fashioned watering can. Believe it or not your garden hose can be a gardens nemesis. Overhead and in-ground sprinkler systems can also wreak havoc on your garden. Although it may be convenient to set a timer and walk away and let your sprinkler system do the work, overhead sprinklers are huge wasters of water, most of it evaporates before ever reaching your plants roots system where it's needed most. So use a watering can, water the soil not the leaves of your plants, and water early in the morning to avoid rapid evaporation during the high heat of the afternoon. Watering at night encourages mildew and other diseases.
There are many other contributing factors for garden success, some are within the control of the gardener and some are not. When possible choose your location wisely, don't over crowd your plants, be patient and enjoy your harvests.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Tomato picking

(These tomatoes were picked just as they started to show some color, we leave them in the bowl on the counter top to ripen not in the refrigerator.)

With heavy winds and rain some of my tomato plants have flopped. They are inside the tallest cages I could buy, and some are additionally supported with stakes too, but the fruit is so heavy that gravity took over. So here's my suggestions for possible remedies to this situation :
1. If your tomatoes have flopped over and are laying on the ground, it may be best to leave the plant there. Your plants are fragile and too much moving and manipulating may cause them to snap. So your best bet may be to leave them. You can put dry grass clippings or straw under the fruit so it doesn't rot, and you may want to pick your fruit as soon as you see the slightest color on the shoulders of the fruits, because now that they are on the ground they are an easy grab for critters.
2. If your cages are still standing but are leaning and look like they could use some support you can add a stake as additional support, be sure to not put the stake too close to the plants root system.
3. Early picking is okay too. We started picking our tomatoes as soon as the shoulders started to show some color. This took some weight off the plants and which in turn also allows for the other fruits to receive the plants energy to ripen.
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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tomato pruning

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Share your favorite tomato growing tips with us, and your recipes too!
Happy gardening!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

How to Harvest Chard

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Quick video on how to harvest chard. By doing it this way you will have a continued harvest throughout the growing season and should not have to replant multiple plantings. Take some from each plant and enjoy!
P.S. you can also harvest Kale the same way by pulling off the bottom most leaves on the plant. Be sure to not take too much from any one plant as it needs leaves to survive and grow. 3-4 stalks from each plant should be fine depending on the size of your plants.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Potato What Salad

My new favorite take on a summer classic, Potato What Salad! I love to eat and I like to cook but sometimes the things I grow all come due for harvest at different times and I'm left with having to be creative to use my harvest while it's fresh. So last week I had cilantro that needed harvesting, white bunching onions, string beans and potatoes. This is what I made.
Potato What Salad
  •  6-8  cubed new potatoes, mine were purple potatoes but you can use baby red or baby white too
  •  Two large handfuls of string beans chopped
  • One large white bunching onion, or 1/2 cup scallions or chives
  • 1/2 cup of cilantro chopped
  • 2 tablespoons mayonaise
  • sea salt to taste
Boil potatoes until soft, drain, cool and set aside. Chop string beans, cilantro and onions, mix in a bowl with mayo and salt. Once potatoes are cool add to the chopped mix and cool in the fridge for 10-15 minutes. Enjoy! The raw string beans and onions give a great crunch and zing to the salad, and the cilantro gives it a very fresh tatse.
 Baby potatoes, burgundy, yellow and green bush beans

Monday, June 11, 2012

Basil

I LOVE basil, it's not that I'm a huge pesto fan, although I am, I just love the smell of it. I also love all different the varieties you can grow of basil. Many of you are familiar with the Italian variety Genovese. It's bright green and super delish on tomatoes and mozzarella, but the more uncommon varieties are what really spark my interest. This year I have three varieties in the garden, Italian Genovese, Blue African basil and Thai basil. Each has a distinct fragrance, texture and taste. Blue African basil is coarse and woody but the scent is fantastic. It closely resembles it's cousin the mint plant. Genovese is smooth and soft and very delicate with a more mild flavor. Thai basil smells almost like licorice and has a great taste that compliments shrimp dishes. Here's an easy recipe as posted on my friends blog http://www.myjudythefoodie.com/2012/06/a-homegrown-experience-making-fresh-pesto/ My Judy the Foodie. Check it out! I helped her with her garden planning and she's promised some good recipes in return. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

How to make a self watering container out of bottles



Here's a fun DIY project to do with kids. It's easy requires few supplies and works great for indoor our outdoor use.
Supplies:
Empty bottle (water bottles work well, as do larger 1 liter soda bottles)
Scissors
knife
Duct tape
Cotton ball
Potting soil
Starter plant ( long root plants work well, you want to select something that won't outgrow its container too quickly so herbs and lettuces are best)
Have fun!

Monday, May 21, 2012

How to Harvest Kale plus a Great Recipe!

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I love kale! It's a super food as far as I'm concerned, and if harvested correctly it will provide throughout the season maybe even into the next ( the kale in my garden was planted in October and is still going it's May ) Here's a simple video on harvesting kale and here's a recipe from my friend who writes a great blog with super yummy recipes, check her out My Judy the Foodie.
ENJOY!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

How to harvest broccoli rabe

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I'm trying to keep in mind that even though I can show you how to grow things I have to remember to show you how to harvest them. Many crops if harvested the right way will provide multiple harvests. So here's one of those veggies that just keeps on giving and I'm including the most basic recipe as well. So enjoy your broccoli rabe!

Recipe:
Broccoli Rabe
Olive oil
Fresh garlic
Pinch of sea salt

Rinse broccoli rabe in cool water towel dry lightly. Saute garlic and oil quickly do not let it brown. Add broccoli rabe and and stir with wooden spoon during cooking until color of broccoli rabe is dark green. Add pinch of sea salt. Do not over cook as soon as it's dark green pull off heat and serve with fresh pasta. YUM!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A New Spring "Don't Force It"

Okay so my motto used to be "Grow Something Anywhere", not anymore. You see not every plant will grow just anywhere. Often when we are planning gardens or deciding where to integrate veggies into our landscapes we force plants to be in the wrong spaces. Planning is important, and providing your plants with their sunlight and soil requirements are essential. Two super handy resources I keep by my side that help me throughout the planning process are "Garden Anywhere" by Alyce Fowler and "the Edible Front Yard" by Ivette Soler. Check them out, my new motto for this weeks blog is "Don't Force It." Give your plants what they need, southern exposure is best, plant the tallest plants on the north side of your beds as to not shadow your other plants. Companion planting is great, your plants not only will help protect each other from predators but enhance each others flavors if grown together. There are whole books on companion planting but if your in a pinch and want a shortcut check out http://www.ghorganics.com/page2.html . So don't force it, plant your seedlings and starters where they will grow best. 
Last year I planted this garden with basil and tomatoes next to each other, not only do they taste good when eaten together but basil actually enhances the flavor of your tomatoes when growing. Basil is also said to repel flies from the tomato plants. I always plant anything in the onion family near any lettuce I grow, the onions repel aphids from eating your lettuce. Plant oregano near broccoli or cucumbers to repel beetles.
Got any tips? Please share and happy gardening!