Tips For Growing Zucchini

Tips For Growing Zucchini

 

 

Tips For Growing Zucchini

Fresh Zucchini

 

 

 

Zucchini seems to be the rage for healthy eating these days, as a kid I don’t even remember hearing about Zucchini much less eating it.  Zucchini is a summer squash along with Acorn Squash, Spaghetti Squash & Butternut Squash.   I have grown Zucchini for the past 5 years, I want to share a few “Tips For Growing Zucchini.”

 

  • Let’s start with planting it, I live in Zone 3/4, I am kind of in the edge of Zone 3 and so I can use Zone 4 as a growing time line.  What is important to planting Zucchini?  I plant mine from seed, but you can buy your plants at a greenhouse.  I have found growing them from seed has worked well for me.  This year I planted my seeds the very end of May, the soil needs to be at least 60 degrees.  Some will say you need to start your seeds indoors 4-6 weeks prior to planting outside, but I planted my seeds directly into the soil and they are growing fine.  I plant my seeds in mounds about 18″ around and 4 seeds in each mound, normally I have ended up harvesting many more Zucchini then I really could use, so depending on how many Zucchini you want to end up with is how many mounds and seeds or seedlings (if you choose that way) you plant.

 

  •   Zucchini Plant Needs:  Fertile Soil, Sunlight and Water.

Soil:  Zucchini prefer a soil environment with a pH between 6 and 7.5, you can purchase a test kit to test your pH levels, and then you can amend your soil for the best growing conditions.  Mounds do work well for the fact that they get good drainage.  Also mulching your plants will help with the growth of your plants by holding moisture.  If you don’t have good draining soil adding sand will help.

Sunlight:  Zucchini plants need 6-10 hours of sunlight per day, they thrive in an area that gets plenty of sunlight and with room to spread out.

Watering:  Moist soil but not soggy soil.  Making sure your zucchini get enough water, they need at least 2″s of water a week, if the rainfall is lacking then manually water your plants.  Frequent and consistent watering is recommended.  Water most diligently when fruits form and throughout their growth period.

 

      Maintaining your Zucchini Plants:  Maintenance & Plant Growth.

Zucchini are pretty much a low maintenance plant, but any plant likes some special attention, so giving zucchini plants the nutrients it needs is very important.  After harvest begins, fertilize occasionally for vigorous growth and lots of fruits.

         

    Troubles with your Zucchini Plants.   

Blossom End Rot has been my biggest headache with my Zucchini plants for the pass 2 years, but I have found solutions to the problem.  What is Blossom End Rot?  Blossom End Rot on squash at the onset as a small bruise on the blossom end of the fruit, gradually softening and darkening in color until it eventually rots.  It is caused by a lack of calcium deficiency, the lack of calcium in the soil is brought about by a number of factors including extreme soil moisture fluxes, over fertilization, or root damage usually caused by cultivation, so be careful when hoeing or tilling around plants.  

           Preventing Blossom End Rot.

Test your soil prior to planting to see if it has enough calcium, local extension offices can test your soil or use the store bought soil test kits.  Also, maintain consistent irrigation and keep the soil evenly moist.  Mulch the plants to aid in water retention with organic mulch, like straw, or inorganic mulch, like black plastic.  Zucchini plants do not need high amounts of nitrogen, which can result in lush, healthy foliage and little to no fruit.  Excess nitrogen also causes blossom end rot on zucchini squash, as it blocks the absorption of calcium.  Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers and ammonia fertilizers (such as fresh manure).  Now the fresh manure is an interesting fact that I was not aware of, I had had fresh manure put on my garden the pass 2 years and that might be the cause of my problems with blossom end rot.

         

 

Tips For Growing Zucchini

Zucchini’s after being treated for Blossom End Rot

 

 

 

             Treatment for Blossom End Rot.

If you are seeing the signs of blossom end rot you can improve your soil by adding calcium, the calcium needs to go directly to the roots so avoid a foliar spray.  Calcium carbonate tablets, or anti-acid tablets like Tums, can be inserted at the base of the plant.  They will then dissolve and within a few hours, calcium will be available to the plant.  I have actually used the anti-acid tablets, they do work, I have smashed them up and added them to a gallon of water along with a cup of milk and I have also just pushed them down into the soil around the roots, it has been a very effective cure

 

Happy Zucchini planting and harvesting, I hope “Tips For Growing Zucchini”  was helpful to you!!

 

One of my favorite recipes using Zucchini:  https://www.mykitchenescapades.com/zucchini-recipe/

Container Zucchini Planting:  http://www.hometalk.com/3400506/5-best-container-vegetables-for-beginning-gardeners

Preserving Zucchini:  http://growagoodlife.com/preserve-zucchini/

 

 




Use Hydrogen Peroxide In Your Garden

Use Hydrogen Peroxide In Your Garden

 

   

Use Hydrogen Peroxide In Your Garden

Healthy Plants

 

 

Wow, who would have ever thought hydrogen peroxide would be good for a garden?  I was really surprised to learn this, so check out how to “Use Hydrogen Peroxide In Your Garden.”

I know Hydrogen Peroxide is a very good cleaning agent, but I have never thought of it to be useful in the garden because of the oxygen element.  Hydrogen peroxide has an extra oxygen atom, it is this extra oxygen atom that makes the hydrogen peroxide so useful.  

There are a number of good reasons why the Hydrogen Peroxide is good in the garden, I will be trying this out myself.

 

Use Hydrogen Peroxide In Your Garden

Preventing Root Rot

 

 

  1.  Hydrogen Peroxide Uses Against Root Rot.  

    Overwatering can be one of the causes of root rot, it can also be poor soil aeration. Giving your soil enough space for air and nutrients to get through to the roots of your plants is the best way to see your plants flourish.  The bad news about having root rot is that you don’t generally notice it until it has really taken over your plants, but the good news is you can treat it with Hydrogen Peroxide.  Use a week solution, mixing one part chemical with two parts water.  Carefully pour it around the roots and the base of your plant to kill off the bacteria.  This will also kill off any bacteria or fungus, establishing a good root system will give you healthy thriving plants.

    Use Hydrogen Peroxide In Your Garden

    Use Hydrogen Peroxide for faster germination.

  2. Using Hydrogen for Faster Seed Germination

    You can use hydrogen peroxide to help seeds germinate more quickly. Hydrogen peroxide softens the coat of seeds and kills any pathogen present on seed coat thus increase the germination rate and help the seed germinate faster. Soak your seeds in a 3% hydrogen peroxide for 30 minutes. Rinse the seeds several times with water before planting and plant them as usual.

  3.  Hydrogen Peroxide for Mold and Mildew

    Hydrogen peroxide has an oxidizing property that is fatal for mold and mildew. Mix a liter of water with 10 tablespoons of 3 to 6% hydrogen peroxide depending on the level of infection. Spray this solution on plants daily until the fungus disappears.

    Use Hydrogen Peroxide In Your Garden

    Healthy Roots

  4. Strengthen Your Plants Roots System.

    Hydrogen peroxide has an extra oxygen molecule over water, that helps plant’s roots to absorb nutritions from the soil.  Watering plants with hydrogen peroxide solution will introduce more oxygen into your soil.  and it will give it a kick start or help an ailing plant get back on track. Use about two teaspoons of 35% hydrogen peroxide to around one gallon of water and then use it on your garden every other time you go out to water your plants.  

    Getting rid of those bugs and insects

  5.  Keep The Pest Away.

    All gardens have bugs and insects, some are helpful like the honey bee and then there are those downright pests that damage the plants.  Using a 1% hydrogen peroxide solution, it is safe to use and will keep away insects and kill any eggs.  It is a safer and cheaper means then the store-bought insecticides which are full of toxic chemicals harmful to pets and wildlife.

     

     

    Use Hydrogen Peroxide In Your Garden

    Ridding your garden of weeds

  6. WEED KILLER.

    Using a week solution of hydrogen peroxide is good for plants without harming them but a stronger solution will take care of those weeds.  A 10% concentration will kill the weeds, simply mix it with water in a spray bottle and target those nasty weeds, be careful not to get it on the plants it will kill them also. 

  7. DISINFECT POTS & GARDEN TOOLS.

    Doesn’t it make sense to clean those pots and tools up, if you have used them in the garden where there has been a fungus or you have had diseased dirt or plants in a pot you would want to clean them up!  To disinfect your tools, remove and dirt and debris then fill a bucket with hydrogen peroxide solution.  The solution should be a gallon of water to two cups of hydrogen peroxide.  Then rinse out the pots with the same solution.

 Solution Chart for hydrogen peroxide mix:   https://www.pinterest.com/pin/33214115972092357/

Uses for hydrogen peroxide:  http://diply.com/hydrogen-peroxide-uses/5?publisher=different-solutions&sf=ljvdodr

So there you have it how to, “Use Hydrogen Peroxide In Your Garden.”  I hope this was useful to you having a beautiful thriving garden.

 

 

Use Hydrogen Peroxide In Your Garden

Vegetable Garden Produce

 

 




Homemade Treatments For Vegetable Garden Pests

Homemade Treatments For Vegetable Garden Pests

 

 

Homemade Treatments For Vegetable Garden Pests

Homemade Treatments For Vegetable Garden Pests

 

I know some of you live in an area where your garden has been in for quite some time, but here in Northern Wisconsin it is just starting to be time for the vegetable garden to be planting, but it is a good time to take control of those pest that try to invade your vegetable plants, so today I am going to share some “Home made Treatments For Vegetable Garden Pests.”

One year I had a lot of trouble with rabbits eating my plants, then the next year I had trouble with bugs on my cauliflower and then there is always some kind of bug or creature that disturbs my tomatoes, hopefully this year I can get a good control on these invaders.

 

Homemade Treatment For Vegetable Garden Pests

Dog hair works great!

 

 

Do you have unwanted cute little creatures showing up to eat your vegetable plants?  Those cute little rabbits and the gorgeous brown eyed deer!  I haven’t had a problem with the deer but rabbits are another story!  One thing I have going for me is that I have a beautiful Golden Labrador who like to potty in areas outside my garden so that definitely helps to keep the creatures out.  

Remedies for those cute invading creatures, of course a fence is always a good answer but costly so let’s look at some “Homemade Treatments For Vegetable Garden Pests.”

  • Close up that salad bar for those cute brown eyed invaders with some strong smelling soap, Irish Spring is a great one to use.  Shred it up, can do it in a food processor and then wash it out with a little vinegar to get the soap smell out.  Once you have that soap shredded you can sprinkle it around your garden, I have read it is good around in your flower garden, the deer especially like hosta plants.  
  • Now how about a really low cost way to keep those invaders out, tying those plastic grocery bags on a post, blowing in the breeze makes noise and gives the appearance of someone in the area.
  • Human or dog hair works great, trouble with human hair is usually when it is cut it has been washed first so then losses the human scent, but with dog hair the scent is there and deter the creatures from your garden.
  • You can also use a tin pie plate, punch a hole in the top part of the pie plate and tie a string onto it and attach it onto something where it can swing, place it in your garden or near by.
  • One of my favorites is the homemade repellent, works great for keeping those rabbits at bay.  Just get yourself a gallon jug, mix up 5 garlic cloves, 1 tsp crushed red peppers, 1 gallon of water & 1 Tbsp of dish soap.  I have used this for a couple of years and works great.
  • This year I am going to put some post around my garden and drill a hole big enough to put some cheap solar lights in and I am thinking this will keep critters away, hopeful it doesn’t give them light to see a great salad bar available.
  • And of course don’t forget the old faithful Scarecrow!!!

 

 

Homemade Treatments For Vegetable Garden Pests

Scare them away!!!

 

 

Links for Garden Pest:

  1. http://thecoastalhomestead.com/diy-critter-ridder-recipe/
  2. http://oldermommystillyummy.com/2012/07/deer-guard.html
  3. http://www.offthegridnews.com/survival-gardening-2/9-tricks-to-keep-your-garden-animal-free-without-a-fence/

 

I hope these “Homemade Treatments For Vegetable Garden Pests,” are helpful to you and aide you to have a beautiful bountiful vegetable garden.  Come back real soon for a post on how to treat vegetable for those nuisance bugs and little pests.

 




Essentials For A Beautiful Flower Bed

 Essentials For A Beautiful Flower Bed

 

Essentials For A Beautiful Flower Bed

 

 

 

Having a beautiful flower garden is something I have always thrived to have, seems like every time I get my garden looking good I move.  I am hoping these plant “Essentials For A Beautiful Flower Bed,” will aid you in having the flower garden you desire.

 

To get started the decision of having annuals or perennials flowers needs to be made.  

The Pros of Annuals:

  • Annuals are easy plants for beginner gardening.
  • Are widely available and easy to grow, just follow the simple planting & growing instructions.
  • They are great bloomers, they do bloom their heads off all season.
  • Annuals are great for where you want a lot of flowers.
  • Annuals aid you in changing the look of your garden every year.
  • Annuals are good for containers.
  • Want flowers now?  Annuals bloom right away.

The Cons of Annuals:

  • They generally need more watering and fertilizing.
  • And planting them every year can be a chore.

The Pros of Perennials:

  • They come back year after year.
  • They tend to need less care then annuals.
  • They bloom for weeks
  • Root system stays alive for years, even decades.

The Cons of Perennials

  • They have a shorter bloom time.
  • They may take a year or more to get established.
  • May take a year or more to get established.

 

 

 

 

Essentials For A Beautiful Flower Bed

 

PLANT ESSENTIALS:

Plants are like people they have their own unique personality and like different things, water, sunlight and soil.  Some plants like it hot and sunny and some like it cool and shady.  It is all an experiment, a trial and error, so relax and have fun with your flower garden.  How much time do you want to spend gardening?  Plants require care, so the size of your garden will determine how much time you want to are willing to work on producing those beautiful flowers, starting small and increasing the size as you go. So if you want to have those flowers you so enjoy use the, “Essentials For A Beautiful Flower Bed.”

SUN :  Like anything, humans, plants, animals they all take energy and sun is the great source of energy.  Because plants need sun to grow, which many of them need 6 to 8 hours of sunlight,  what plant you are planting where.  Of course there are those plants that thrive in the shade, shade and part-shade plants will do best where they don’t get hot afternoon sun.

TIP:  Don’t know how much sun you get in your yard, try this, one day spend time watching how much sun your chosen flower space gets.

 

LOCATION:  Of course location has much to do about the sun/shade element and which plants you pick to plant.  Consider if you are planting in a pot or in an actual flower bed, both annuals and perennials scan be planted in either.  Perennials do very well in the flower bed as their roots continue to stay alive in the ground and especially  in very cold climate, of course with the right care.  

Zone:  Know your planting ZONE, it is critical for some plants.  https://garden.org/nga/zipzone/  Your seed packets generally provide the zone planting information.  I live in Zone 4, the winters can get very cold, sometimes down to 30 below zero, some perennials would not survive in those temperatures.

 

WATERING:  Another essential for having a beautiful flower garden.  You may need to water your plants regularly to keep those plants healthy and blooming!  Watering your plants that are in container is critical because they dry out faster.  How often to water?  It depends, hotter and/or air pulls the moisture out of plants and soil quicker, so more watering is required.

AN EASY TEST:  Put your finger in the soil, does it feel moist 2 to 3 inches down, then you are good!  For container plants I always us those under the pot saucers, keeping them full then your plant can drink when it is thirsty!

Also depends on how often it rains and how humid the climate is.  If your plants are looking wilted obviously they need a drink!  Water slowly and deeply, watering in the early morning hours or in the cool of the evening.

 

NUTRIENTS:  Plants need nutrients just like we do, to keep growing and stay healthy.  Plants need nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, if the soil doesn’t have enough of these needed nutrients you may need to add some manually.  There are fertilizers you can buy that will add the needed nutrients to your plants.  I have some common household products to enhance my plants, epsom salt and used coffee grounds add nutrients to any garden, flower or vegetable.  Mulches help to keep weeds out and water in!  There are all kinds of mulch, pine needles to bark chips.  For perennials a long lasting mulch like bark chips is the best.

A FEW GOODIES:  

  • In northern climates annuals are best for color in containers, although there are annuals like zinnas, marigolds or nasturtium I have found work beautifully planted right in the garden.  
  • Spring is a good time to begin growing.
  • Start planning before the snow melts.
  • Fall is a good time to plant trees, shrubs, bulbs and some perennials.

 

Essentials For A Beautiful Flower Bed

Plant Ideas

 

 

PLANT IDEAS:

 Shade Plants:

Annuals:

  • Fushia
  • Lobelia
  • Impatients
  • Coleus
  • Begonia

 

Perennials:

  • Astilbe
  • Hosta
  • Bleeding Hearts
  • Foxgloves
  • Columbine

Sunlight Plants:

Annuals:

  • Cosmos
  • Marigolds
  • Petunia
  • Geraniums
  • Sunflowers
  • Morning Glories

Perennials:

  • Russian Sage
  • Lamb’s Ears
  • Black-eyed Susans
  • Phlox
  • Pansies
  • Daylillies

Ta-da you are set for enjoying a beautiful flower garden!!

 

 

 

 




Why, When and How to Divide Flower Plants

Why, When and How to Divide Flower Plants

 

 

Why, When and How to Divide Flower Plants

Why, When and How to Divide Flower Plants

 

I don’t know about you but I love a beautiful flower garden, I really don’t have a green thumb but I have found that following advice from those that do have that green thumb can aid you in having that beautiful flower garden.  The “Why, When and How to Divide Flower Plants,” hopefully will help you in producing a beautiful flower garden.

One reward about having a perennial flower garden is that most plants increase in size over the years, so after time some of your perennials will benefit being divided. Also you can save money by keeping your perennials healthy by dividing them.  One thing I have thought would be a great benefit is every one that had those perennial flower beds would share their divided plants with others, could surely give your community a beautiful face lift.

 

Why, When and How to Divide Flower Plants.

Roots, clumps and planting

 

 

 

 

The Why’s to dividing your perennials: 

  • Keep them healthy.  Dividing the large clumps every 3 to 4 years will prevent the plant from becoming unhealthy, clumps when they get large tend to die out in the middle. Clumps can become congested or roots get old and woody.
  • Nutrients in your soil can become exhausted, therefore stunting growth, yellowish leaves or lack of bloom.
  • Protect your perennials from fungal diseases and insect infestations.
  • Overcrowded perennials often times have fewer or smaller flowers, so dividing the plants and giving them some space is like giving them a fresh breath of air.  Rejuvenate your aging plants and extend their life by dividing them. 
  • Some perennials are aggressive and can crowd out other plants, dividing these plants will keep them from becoming overwhelming to their neighbors.
  • Plus one other great benefit is that dividing your plants will give you more flowers to plant in other places or to share with your family, friends or neighbors.

When to divide your perennials:

  • You can divide most perennials any time from spring to fall, those are the best times.
  • Dividing perennials can be stressful on your plants but they will recover better from the shock in cool, moist conditions. If you have to divide in the summer make sure they have plenty of moisture.
  • One rule of thumb: perennials that flower between early spring and mid June are best divided in early fall.  Perennials that flower after mid-June are best divided in the spring.  
  • Spring is the best time to divide your ornamental grasses, especially the fall flowering types. 
  • Daylilies can be divided any time but spring is the most suitable time.

How to divide those perennials:

  • Dividing perennials can be a bit overwhelming, but follow a few general rules and you should do fine, making sure the plant roots are moist and cool. 
  • Dividing your plants with large enough clumps, too small clumps might not have the stamina to withstand the division process.
  • When your plant shows signs of growth in the spring (inch or two of new shoots), dig up a large clump, as many as thick roots as possible.  
  • Dig all the way around, then pry the clump out of the ground, try to knock off any loose soil. 
  • Part the shoots, either by cutting them apart or some perennials can just be sort of pulled apart easily. Look closely at your clumps, seeing if they have a natural point where the clump can be easily separated. You may be able to divide your clumps in 3 or 4 sections, trying to keep them the diameter of your fist or larger.
  • Each new division needs to have 2 or 3 new shoots and a good segment of healthy roots.  

What to do once you have the divided roots:

  • Plant the new divisions at the same depth that the old plant was growing.
  • Water them well and keep the soil adequately moist for several weeks.

Now that you have learned the basics “Why, When and How to Divide Flower Plants,” return for the next post about dividing 4 of my favorite flower plants and some additions tips on what plants to divide and which not to divide and frequency of dividing plants.

Links to dividing flower plants:

http://www.perennials.com/content/dividing-perennials-in-the-spring/

https://garden.org/learn/articles/view/1649/

 

 




4 Seed Starting Indoor Pots

 

 

4 Seed Starting Indoor Pots

4 Seed Starting Indoor Pots

 

 

 

 

I know it is getting kind of late in the season to start seeds indoors but the way the weather is going up here in the Northland of Wisconsin I don’t know, we may not be able to plant outdoors for quite a while, so the “4 Seed Starting Indoor Pots,” may not be too premature.  

One thing that is always needed for growing any type of plant is SUN, and as the forecast looks right now we have rain, ice & snow in our forecast for a few days in a row, so that sunshine needed for making any plants grow is going to be hidden behind those clouds!!

I am a saver so I decided trying to start some of those plants indoors this year is my way to save money, so I am hoping the “4 Seed Starting Indoor Pots” will work out well for me.  I really don’t like buying those 4 paks of seedlings when I only need 2, so I decided to start my Cilantro indoors and then I can use what I want to use, plus I am going to start some flower plants too because I wants lots & lots of Zinnias today.  Did you know that Zinnas have some benefits in your garden, like they deter beetles and tomato worms.  Come back for some flower growing tips and benefits in another post.

Use seed starting mix, a good quality mix, I purchased, Jiffy, Natural & Organic Seed Starting Mix, at Walmart, it was very inexpensive.  The plants need 12-16 hours of light for the best growth, you can place them in a window that gets plenty of sunshine or under a grow light.  Also keep the soil well watered, but not drenched, using a misting spray bottle works well, let your soil dry out just a bit between watering to insure they don’t mold.

Once the seedlings start to grow they may need to be repotted in larger containers before being planted in the garden. Also all plants to a hardening time, so gradually introduce them to the outdoors, leave them for a couple of hours at a time, this will introduce them to the sun, wind, rain and other conditions.

It is a good idea to plant extra seeds, can’t always count on every seed to sprout.  You can also start more seeds every 6 weeks that way you can plant more later on and will give you a continual supply, that is especially true for flowers, always nice to have more flowers.  Make sure to follow the planting instructions on the seed packet some can be very specific.

 

 

4 Seed Starting Indoor Pots

Zinnias

 

 

 

So the “4 Seed Starting Indoor Pots,” are:

  • Toilet Paper Rolls (empty ones obviously).
  • Newspaper.
  • Egg Shells.
  • Egg Cartons.

 

  1. Toilet Paper Rolls: What a low cost way to start seeds, they are also biodegradable so right from the indoors to the garden.  Fill the toilet paper tubes with the soil then plant your seeds and mist the soil. The following link will show how to prepare the paper rolls.  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/182044009917801530/

4 Seed Starting Indoor Pots

Toilet Paper Rolls

4 Seed Starting Indoor Pots

Folding Toilet Roll

 

 

 

 

 

2. Newspaper Seed Pot: Making these pots only takes a few minutes and there you have pots that can go right from indoors to the garden the newspaper decomposes naturally.  The following link will show you how to fold the newspaper.  http://lindycottagehill.blogspot.com/2011/03/recycled-newspaper-pots_19.html

 

4 Seed Starting Indoor Pots

Forming newspaper pots

Folded newspaper pot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Egg Shells: Not only are these so easy to use eggshells are full of useful minerals. Also the shells slowly dissolve and boost your seedlings growth and health.  I am fortunate to have a friend that has chickens that produce some extra large eggs so I have really nice sized shells.  Start with clean eggshells, use an egg carton, fill the shells with seed-starting soil.  Plant your seeds, moisten with a fine mist and then moisten every couple of days.  When the seedlings have developed and are ready for planting crush the eggshell and plant into either a larger container or ground.

 

4.  Egg Carton Greenhouse:  What a great concept, I am anxious to see how this little greenhouse works. Poke a small hole in each dimple of the carton for water drainage, then fill each egg pocket with the seed-starting soil, mist with water and mist regularly to keep moist but not soaked.  I placed my carton in a clear plastic bag and sealed up, making it a little tent, then place it in a sunny spot.

 

4 Seed Starting Indoor Pots

Egg Carton with Egg Shells.

 

So there you have it on your way to starting a garden!  Some of you in warmer parts of the country have already planted your garden, but you can still start seedlings indoors to plant later in the season for those Winter Gardens.

 

4 Seed Starting Indoor Pots




Growing A Successful Garden

Growing A Successful Garden

 

 

Growing A Successful Garden

Growing A Successful Garden

 

“Growing A Successful Garden,” starts with a strong foundation.

 

The condition of your soil all depends on getting the soil ready, eliminating weeds and spending time getting your soil in the best condition. Time spent in preparing your soil reduces the time you will spend throughout the course of the growing season!  It also will produce healthy nutritious vegetables!

Soil Textures:  Sand, Silt and Clay.

  1. Sandy soil feels gritty, it tends to be nutrient poor and low in beneficial microbes and organic matter that plants thrive on.
  2. Silty soil feels smooth like talcum powder.  It is dense and does not drain well and is more fertile than sandy or clay soil.
  3. Clay soil feels harsh when dry and slippery and stick when wet.
  4. Most soils fall in between one of these soils.

Soil Fixes:

  • Sandy soil can be improved by adding organic material – well-rotted livestock compost, used wood chips, leaves, hay, straw, peat moss or sawdust.  Applying 2″ layers of the organic material each year will make for better soil.
  • Silty soil can can be improved by adding coarse sand (not beach sand) or compost.  Add an inch of organic matter each year.
  • Clay soils will be improved by adding 2-3″ of organic matter worked into it.  Add compost, coarse sand (not beach sand), and peat moss.  Applying 1″ of organic matter each year can only improve it.

Good Soil Amendments:

  • Bark – made from tree bards are good for improving soil structure.
  • Compost – excellent for soil.
  • Manure – well-rotted livestock manure.
  • Leaf Mold – decomposed leaves.
  • Lime – raises the pH of acid in soil, also helps loosen clay soil.
  • Peat Moss – helps retain water.
  • Sand – improves drainage in clay soil.
  • Mulch – Organic (straw, hay, grass clippings, shredded bark) insulates the soil from extreme heat and cold.

Plants need air just as humans!  That makes me think of when my youngest granddaughter was like 2 or 3, when this old grandma would get up out of the chair I would walk kind of stiff like and she said to me, “Grandma why do you walk like a penguin?”  Then one day I wasn’t walking all stiff like and I said to her, “Ali, grandma isn’t walking like a penguin today.” and her response was, “You mean you are walking like a human?”  Just had to add that tidbit!!

Walking like a penguin

 

Now back to plants need air, air in the soil holds atmospheric nitrogen that is converted into usable air for plants.  Adding organic material, especially compost helps balance air supply to plants.

Plants also get thirsty:  When rain isn’t sufficient then we need to add or not add it.  All forms of life need water but not too much or too little.  In sandy soils water drains off quickly, silt or clay soil get water-logged, this will suffocate the plant roots and soil organisms.  Adding organic material holds water so that plants can use it when needed.

 

Watering the garden

 

Compost will improve almost any soil, silty and clay soils gain nutrients and are improved greatly with adding compost. Make your own compost or buy it, either way it is a beneficial organic material to add to your garden.  Making your own compost is as easy as piling layers of brown (straw, leaves) and green layers (grass clippings, livestock manure or food waste) on top of one another, keep the pile wet.   DIY Compost:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAMy_ZJ0Xa8

There is so much more to know about “Growing A Successful Garden.”  Yet once you have that garden going and are enjoying all the benefits of having that fresh produce or if you are one that freezes or cans it for the winter months it is so worth it.

My personal tricks I have used in my garden that I found worked well.

  • Crushed Egg Shells:  I save them up for a while in the spring and then I put them in my blender and make them into a powder and use them when planting my tomatoes, they are a great calcium builder.  There are other plants that they are really useful for.
  • Epsom Salt:  I have used this for a couple of years when planting my peppers, I just put a handful in the ground before adding the plant, I also have mixed Epsom Salt with water and put it in a spray bottle and sprayed the pepper plants once peppers start forming on the plant.  Epsom Salt is rich in magnesium and sulfate.
  • Grass Cuttings:  I have raked up the grass cuttings after my husband mows the grass and I pile it around my tomato plants, it keeps the weeds out and also gives the tomato plants.  https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/tomato/mulch-for-tomatoes.htm

So there you have it, I hope this gives you some useful information for your gardening journey!!!  




Vegetable Garden Preparation Thyme

Vegetable Garden Preparation Thyme

 

Vegetable Garden Preparation Thyme

 

 

  

The weather is warming up, Spring is upon us and it is “Vegetable Garden Preparation Thyme.”

Gardening seems so easy, but if you want those garden plants to produce for you there are steps to take make sure your soil is up to par.  When it comes to a healthy garden, soil preparation makes a difference.

Testing your soil.  You can have your soil tested at a local cooperative extension service office for free or a low-fee.  Or you can buy a DIY Soil Test Kit.  I used a test kit to check my soil last year.  Test kits:  (links).

 

Vegetable Garden Preparation Thyme

pH Test Kit

 

 

 

How do you know if your soil is healthy?  Let’s start with the facts of pH levels:

  • Plants primary nutrients are nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and potassium (K).
  • Nitrogen promotes strong leaf, stem growth and dark green color, such as broccoli, cabbage, lettuce and herbs.
  • Phosphorus promotes root and early plant growth, it’s important for cucumbers, peppers, squash and tomatoes.
  • Potassium promotes plant root vigor, disease and stress resistance and also enhances flavor. Vital for carrots, radishes, onions and garlic.
  • Calcium, magnesium and sulfur are your secondary nutrients.
  • Calcium is essential to plant growth, an important part of the walls of the plant cells and root development.
  • Sulfur lacking plants are not able to take in necessary nutrients, including vitamins and proteins.
  • Magnesium is vital to the process of photosynthesis, lack of it stunts the plants growth.

pH levels are critical to your plants ability to absorb nutrients.  A pH of 6.5 is a good number for home gardens, plant will thrive in pH levels 6.0 to 7.0 (slightly acidic to neutral) range.  If your soil is acidic (low pH at or below 6.0) or alkaline (high pH, above 7.0), the plants won’t be able to absorb the nutrients, so soil testing is very advantageous to a healthy garden.

Testing the soil in the spring or fall is the best time as then the soil is stable.  Also best time to add any soil amendments or fertilizers.

As respected gardener Frank Tozer writes:  “When building soil you not only improve your plants health, but you can improve your own.”

I have only been gardening seriously for 4 years, most times my garden has given a great amount of produce, but I have had some nutrient issues.  Last year I had Blossom End Rot on my Zucchini, I solved it by mixing up my own calcium treatment, which was ground up egg shells, milk and crushed up antacid tablets!!  A real cheap way to solve a very annoying problem for your calcium lacking soil.  

 

Vegetable Garden Preparation Thyme

 

Please come back tomorrow for my post on Soil Fixes, Soil Texture and Soil Life.  Some gardening tricks I have found to be very low-priced and works great in the garden.

 

Here are a few links that might also be helpful:

Blossom End Rot:  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/259519997251632365/

pH Levels:  http://www.almanac.com/content/ph-preferences

Vegetable Gardening For Beginners:  http://www.gardeners.com/how-to/vegetable-gardening/5069.html

 

 

 

 

 




Planting Garlic Is Easy

Planting Garlic Is Easy

 

Planting Garlic Is Easy

Planting Garlic Is Easy

 

 

Today is such a beautiful day here in Northern Wisconsin!!! Temperature is in the low 60’s very beautiful for November!!  The fall leaves have pretty much lost their brilliance or have fallen off the branches and padded the ground!!

 

Elm Tree

Elm Tree

 

Being it was so beautiful out and my husband had my garden all tilled up, plus I had gotten a load of compost put on my garden a couple of weeks ago, I thought it would be a great time to plant my garlic.  I had no idea that planting garlic is so easy, well actually growing it is so easy too.    

To start by leveling off the garden area where I would be planting garlic and posted off where the rows would go.  

 

Posted Garlic Space

Posted Garlic Space

 

Separate your garlic head into separate cloves.  Just pull them apart.  Pick out the biggest cloves for planting.  I am very fortunate to have a great friend who gave me some beautiful garlic.

Make sure when planting these you put the flat side down and the the other end pointing up.  Plant them around 4 inches apart and then cover them with 1 to 2 inches of dirt.

 

Garlic Cloves

Garlic Cloves

Flat End of Garlic

Flat End of Garlic

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Plant them around 4 inches apart and then cover with 1 to 2 inches of dirt.

 

Garlic Planted Point Up

Garlic Planted Point Up

 

Now all you have to do is wait the winter out and in the spring you will see the garlic start to sprout, little green sprouts will shoot up and you are on your way to having some fresh garlic for your recipes, like my SnapIt Salsa!!

One tip I want to give you is the great gardening stool/kneeling pad, I couldn’t do all the gardening I do without my faithful-sturdy gardening stool!  I know you will love it and it sure makes getting up off that ground so much easier.  Would make a great Christmas Gift for that Gardener in your family, I know I would have loved one for Christmas last year!!

 

Garden Kneeler

Garden Kneeler

 

 




Celery In The Freezer

Celery Stalk

Fresh Stalk of Celery

 

Celery In The Freezer

I had planted so much celery this year, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it all.  It was so wonderful to go out to my garden and cut a few stalks of fresh celery to use in my different recipes.  What shall I do with all the celery still sitting in my garden?  Here in Northern Wisconsin it is going to start getting pretty cold soon, so the celery has to come out of the garden. The question is, can I put celery in the freezer?  

 I read a few articles and found freezing celery was easy and a good way to have it on hand for all those soup recipes through the winter, which I make soup at least once a week & my favorite is Potato Soup, so I am drying celery leaves also because I always like to add some to my Potato Soup.  

I started by cutting my celery stalks off of the main hub and then putting the stalks in cold water to get any dirt off of them, scrubbed them down some and then I was ready to start dicing & dicing!!

 

washed celery

Washed celery

dicing celery

Dicing Celery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here we have it, I should have kept count of how many stalks of celery I diced up but I didn’t, I know I had 5 plants in my garden and they were a really healthy plant.  I would suggest for anyone that likes celery or who uses a lot of it for soups or canning that you grow it, I had just started growing it a few years ago and have been very thankful I had it on hand.  After dicing & dicing I ended up more then a large bowl of celery, ready for the freezer.  I laid it out on a large jelly roll pan and froze it for 2 hours.  

 

 

Bowl of Diced Celery

Diced Celery

Freezing Celery

Freeze for 2 hours

 

 

 

 

 

 

And there you have it, 5 quarts of diced Celery In The Freezer!!

 

 

Celery In The Freezer

Celery In The Freezer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Growing Celery:  http://garden.org/learn/articles/view/439/

Health Benefits of celery:  http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270678.php

Winterize Your Garden:  http://grammescountrysplendor.com/category/veggie-garden/