7
Feb

Growing Your Own Blackberries

by Tiffany in Gardening

Growing Your Own BlackberriesWhen we moved from our previous home I was so very sorry to leave my blackberry plants behind. I really wanted to dig them up and take them with us to our homestead but alas my husband refused. Moving everything we owned was enough work in itself. That first year we did not plant much of anything, because it was already summer and past planting season. We did plant some fruit trees in the fall but my berry plants would have to wait.

Next spring I planted elderberries, blueberries, and of course..my beloved blackberries. They are nature’s candy… sweet, succulent, and very good for you. They are packed with antioxidants and vitamin C and the seeds have fiber and omega fatty acids. Oh and they taste delicious! There is no issue getting kids to eat these tasty indigo globes.

The downside is that they can be pricey to buy so that is why is best to grow them yourself. They are actually pretty easy to plant and take care of and they will last for many, many years. You don’t need a whole lot of space and they are self pollinating, which means even a single blackberry plant will produce blackberries.

Growing Your Own Blackberries

First, I would take a trip to your local nursery to see which varieties do well in your area but Himalaya Giant and Bedford Giant are two of the hardiest. Melton Early stays compact if you have very little room to grow. Apache is very high yield if you want lots of berries. See what you can get locally and what works best for your area.

It is best to plant blackberries early in the spring, just as soon as the ground is warm enough to work. Blackberries can get by even in less than ideal conditions but optimal would be full sun and well drained soil. The crown of the roots should be level with the soil surface. Spread the roots out so they are not cramped and keep the soil moist throughout summer. Apply compost or compost tea annually, just as blooms appear. Typically you will see blackberries the following summer. Often times a trellis is helpful to improve air circulation around your plants and avoid disease. You can also keep your canes pruned to a height of no more than four feet if you do not have a trellis.

After berry production stops, trim the stems that produced berries to ground level. Do not not cut non productive stems because they will be your producers next summer. You should have delicious berries from July through the beginning of August in most areas. Since the season is only 4-6 weeks you will want to make a plan for harvesting and preserving what you won’t eat right away. Though no one in the family minds a season blackberry pancakes every morning!

The berries are ready when they are deep purple, almost black and they plop off very easily. Pick as they ripen to encourage more growth. They will keep in the fridge for about four days and you can always freeze them as well for smoothies and baked goods come fall/winter. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

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21
Jan

Take a Year Off From Your Garden

by Tiffany in Gardening

soil solarizationThere are many reasons why you may need to take some time away from your garden. Perhaps you have a long trip planned during planting time or you have an incredibly busy activity schedule that will keep you from getting out there very often. Maybe you had a bad year last year with pests, disease, weeds,  crop loss, etc and you just don’t have the energy or desire to do it all over again this year. Is it okay to take some time off? Will your garden suffer? Actually the answer is no. Your garden can actually benefit from this break in gardening activity.

Feel free to take the time you need without worrying that your garden will turn into a field of weeds, there are ways to prevent this. Also take comfort in the fact that there are certain things you can do to better the soil while you are on hiatus. That way when you do get back into it full time your garden will be happier and healthier.

So what can you do? You could solarize your soil. The sun’s powerful and energetic rays can be captured and used to control weed, disease, and pest problems in your garden soil. It is an effective method that many people eschew because they do not want to give up their garden beds for an entire season. If you want to take the time away though, this is a great way to tackle your garden issues and improve your soil.

You solarize your soil by placing taught clear plastic tarp over your garden beds. The heat trapped below the plastic can get quite high which can kill weed seeds, insects, and many fungal and bacterial pathogens. Prepare for solarization by first cleaning up the garden area of dead plants and debris that could be harboring pests or disease. Then level the surface and make it smooth, followed by completely saturating the soil with water. Then you can add your plastic and anchor it to the edges of your raised beds. For non raised beds you can bury the edges of the plastic in a trench.

You will want to keep the plastic in place for 8+ weeks. If you live in a colder northern climate you may want to keep the plastic on for the entire summer and use two layers of plastic to increase the heat. Not only will this kill all the nasties that harmed your plants it can even allow you to plant the same crops in the same bed again. Normally you would want to move tomato plants or squash plants to a different area if they suffered from pests and disease but solarization changes that. Studies that have shown that soil that has been solarized actually has more nutrients and beneficial soil dwellers the following garden year.

So now that you know what you can do and how it can be beneficial to take time away…feel free to take a break for a season if you so desire.

26
Aug

Tips on Creating An Indoor Herb Garden and Its Benefits

by Tiffany in Gardening

Are you planning to build your indoor herb garden? Did you know that having your indoor garden has a lot of advantages? Get to know how you can create your indoor herb garden and the benefits that you can get from them by reading the information below.

People who are a big fan of homemade meals with fresh herbs will love the comfort of having an indoor herb garden. Just a few leaves can bring out the rich flavor of the meal. If you have a window in your home that can get enough sunlight of at least 4 hours, there is every likelihood you can have the indoor garden.

There are a lot of herbs growing indoors which can improve the taste of many foods. Some of these are thyme, basil, chervil, oregano, savory, bay leaf, rosemary, chives and as well as mint.

Get to know how you can create your indoor herb garden by reading the steps below.

Choose an Area with Enough Light

You need to make sure that the planting area is receiving light. It would be best if the area can get 8 hours of artificial or direct sunlight. Some herbs that need more light, including coriander and basil, wherein they need 8 hours of sunlight each day. Otherwise, you can provide them with artificial lights by using 2 to 3 fluorescent lights to help increase yield and growth.

If you are planning to grow a wide variety of herbs, you can use a small halide light as this can  cover a larger space. It will also help the herbs to grow abundantly, which can assist you with your aromatic and culinary delights.

Choosing the Right Kind of Soil

There are herbs which can grow better when they are planting in poor soil, wherein they can even develop a stronger flavor. The reason behind this is because the herbs’ oil are what makes them unique. Herbs growing rapidly are often producing leaves and stems that are plain. Therefore, it would be better using poor soil when planting herbs so they can take their time to grow and produce flavorful leaves.

Setting Up Your Containers Correctly

Create Indoor Herb Garden

Always put in mind that growing plants in a container is somewhat different. You need to ensure that you are providing adequate food for the plants. To keep the growth rates in perfect control, using soil mix which are enhanced with fertilizers or water-retention crystals.

You can do this by combining a couple of part of fiber to a part of perlite, and starting adding 20% of worm casting. You also need to check the pH of the mix, if it is too acidic then adding a gram of hydrated lime to the soil would be best. When you are finished, you can add a tablespoon of a kelp meal for every gallon of soil as this will add some plant hormones which is necessary for the micro-organism.

Water Only When Necessary

Do not overwater your herbs because they prefer soil that can drain fast. You can only water them if you think that the soil is already getting dry. The containers should have holes at the bottom. You also need to add in some layers of broken tiles or any other flat stones. Some people prefer using gravel or perlite for each of their containers. Always remember that it is better to water the herbs thoroughly but not too often. You will realize the sign of overwatering once there is water coming out of the container’s bottom part.

Feed Your Herbs Right

After 10 days of planting your herbs, it is strongly advisable to start feeding them. Typically, the roots of the herbs are stuck in just one space; this means that the feed will be able to reach the roots almost immediately.

Providing Your Herbs with Extra Boost  

You can provide your herbs with extra help by using liquid seaweed and a gallon of B1 plant solution. B1 is consists of root hormones and vitamins, while the seafood has growth hormones and traces of nutrients. Adding these mixtures will help in the production of the herbs’ oil.

Harvesting the Herbs

Now, once the herbs are ready, you need to collect them as soon as possible. Typically, it will take 4 to 6 weeks for the herbs to be available, but this will, of course, depend on the type of herb you are growing. If you have planted basil, then you can start harvesting it even before the flowers start to open.

Additional Tips on How to Keep Your Herbs Healthy

  • When planting your herbs, do not overcrowd them. They need space so that their roots can spread out freely. It will also help them get adequate sunlight.
  • The container should be big enough for the roots to avoid from struggling once they start growing.
  • Lastly, you need to regularly trim your herbs to give the plants time to continue growing. You can use the herbs daily to ensure that you are cutting them the right way.

These are tips on how you can create your indoor herb garden easily. But what are the benefits that you can get from having your indoor herb garden? Let’s find out below:

Easy Access to Fresh Herbs

One of the noticeable benefits is having fresh herbs all year round. You no longer need to hurry to the store just to get a few leaves for your meal.Just wait for them to be ready so you can snap a few leaves to make your dish mouth-watering.

Be Healthy

Adding herbs to your daily diet is also ideal because it will help boost the value of vitamins in your meals. Also, since you are planting the herbs in your indoor garden, this can become excellent exercise. You have to bend, dig, and stretch. You will effortlessly kill two birds with one arrow.

Have Great Experience

You, as well as your family, can experience this planting thing together. When it comes to gardening, there will always be something new worth learning. From different techniques in gardening to new recipes with herbs; everything will surely be a great experience for the entire family.

Save Money

It can be expensive to purchase herbs in the grocery each time you want to play with the textures and flavors. There are also some herbs that are hard to find, wherein you need to go to a specialty store just to locate the herb that you need. But if you have your indoor herb garden, all you have to purchase are the seeds that you can grow and the feeds that will help maintain the plants’ health.

Relieve Stresses

Tending your herb garden indoors contribute to reducing stresses from daily life. The scent and the sight of your herbs can certainly be a great delight.

After knowing the benefits of having a indoor garden, it would be better to know more about the variety of herbs which can be grown.

Wide Variety of Herbs to Plant

There are different types of herbs, in fact, basil has more than 30 varieties. Typically some of the most exotic varieties can be expensive when purchased at the grocery or the specialty store. But if you have them in your garden you no longer have to spend any penny.

Ideal Herb Plants to Grow

Chives

One of the best types of herbs to grow are chives, which are small types of onion that can be incorporated in most dishes. This kind of herb is also known to have medicinal properties and can help repel different species of insects, such as mosquitoes, fleas, and cabbage moths. This makes chives ideal for herb gardens because it will help protect the other herbs.

Parsley

Another great herb to plant is parsley. In fact, most gardeners have this kind of herb. Parsley is a part of most dishes today, including steak, chicken, stews, and as well as potatoes. This herb does not only help your food taste good, but it can also help improve your immune system because of its antioxidant content.

Basil

If you are into Italian cuisine, then basil is a must in your garden. Basil contains antioxidant-rich volatile essential oils, which give the herb its distinct smell and taste . Another good reason for planting basil is that it can be used to manage diabetes or treat asthma because of the antiviral properties.

Rosemary

Rosemary comes from the region of Mediterranean and is used for a lot of dishes today, including pork and chicken. This drought tolerant plant grows best in somewhat dry soil so you don’t need to make much effort to water it. Rosemary also has an excellent reputation for oily skin/acne, scalp and hair care.

Thyme

No matter what recipe you have, you can easily incorporate thyme, especially the freshly picked ones. The good thing about thymes is that it can be stored for an extended period of time, which means that you can store some of the leaves for future use. You also don’t need to worry about this plant because it can tolerate drought and different climates. Lastly, it is an excellent antiseptic and can also be used as tea to help with bronchitis.

Always remember that growing your indoor herbs can be a challenge, wherein you will be experiencing some trial and error. You may sometimes over water the herbs, or you may forget to water it. But you should not get discouraged because you will eventually get the hang of it.

Everything that you need on how to create an indoor herb garden, to the benefits and the best herbs to plant are written above. All you have to do now is to put them into reality, but starting your indoor herb garden at home. Don’t forget to do the tips above for you ensure that your herb garden will become successful.

Start your indoor herb garden now for you to be able to reap the benefits that these herbs have.

Source

18
May

Using Targeted Pest Control To Protect Wildlife

by Tiffany in Gardening

Wildlife pests are extremely frustrating. They dig up our flowers, devour our vegetable gardens, and potentially spread disease to our pets or even to people. When we find out we have a wildlife problem, we get very emotional and develop a serious vindictive streak. All we can think about is revenge when we find our juicy tomatoes laid to waste or our meticulous garden work dug up or trampled!

That anger can make us reckless and cause us to do things we shouldn’t do. The first thing many people think of is to poison or trap the offending animals and effectively remove them from the premises. But the experts at Moxie pest control know that these techniques aren’t reliable. There are several reasons it can fail or even backfire.

They Can’t Be Sustained

Just how long are you willing to keep refilling a container of rat poison? Pests aren’t like people. They don’t have deeds or leases that only allow them to live in certain areas. Consequently, if you have rats in your garage, you won’t solve the problem by randomly putting out poison. You’ll kill some rats maybe–but you’ll just end up with some different rats.

Expert pest control can not only address the immediate problem but also help you create a strategy that will give you a long-term solution to the issue. Another option is to utilize natural repellents that will permanently deter pests from visiting.

They Can Cause Legal Problems

Just as pests don’t have boundaries, they also don’t know what you are trying to do. That may sound silly, but it’s just as silly to think that poisons, traps, or other home remedies will only affect the pest you are targeting.

If the rat poison smells good to the rat, it will also smell good to other animals. Neighborhood cats and dogs, desirable wildlife, and potentially even people can come into contact with the improvised pest control measures that you use. Injuries or deaths could land you in court with a serious and indefensible position. The outcome of legal action will leave you with costs so great that you’ll wish you had left the pests alone.

They’re Just Cruel

There is a right way and a wrong way to go about pest control. Being humane can be the furthest thing from your mind in the heat of the moment when you discover a problem, but before you take measures to deal with the issue yourself, remember that killing a pest isn’t as neat and clean as it appears.

The reality is that while many forms of pest control are designed to kill the pest, they are also designed to do so as humanely as possible. An improvised system done at home is not going to meet this standard. A professional company has much better methods for eliminating the problem without being needlessly cruel.

Pest problems are frustrating. They’re destructive, expensive, and messy. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and try some DIY steps that you think will take care of the problem, but the reality is that these actions are more likely to fail or to leave you with even bigger problems. When pests are a serious issue, a professional is your best option, hands down.

1
Nov

Harvesting and Preserving Swiss Chard

by Tiffany in Gardening

Harvesting Preserving Swiss ChardIn my experience swiss chard is incredibly easy to grow. It tolerates the cold well so you can start growing it very early in the spring and have fresh greens even when the weather is still chilly. It handles itself well even in the hot temperatures and lasts well into the return of the cold.

When the temperatures start to dip and frost is coming more often than not I start harvesting the remainder of my swiss chard so I can preserve it for use in the winter. A cold frame, like I might use for my spinach, simply won’t work because chard gets quite tall. In the house and into the freezer it must go.

But what can you do with frozen swiss chard? Well, you can use the leaves much the way you would use spinach and the stems can be used the same way you use celery. Here are some ideas for using preserved swiss chard…

Leaves:

  • Add to lentil or bean soup
  • Scramble in eggs for breakfast burritos
  • Add to casserole dishes
  • Top homemade pizza
  • Adding to quiche, tarts, and frittatas
  • Add to green smoothies
  • Add to dips in place of spinach
  • Add to curry dishes

Stems:

  • Pickle them and eat throughout the winter
  • Add to chicken soup
  • Stir fry with other veggies in Asians dishes
  • Puree them for use in tahini or hummus

How to Preserve Swiss Chard

preserving-rainbow-swiss-chard

Gather your swiss chard from the garden and clean well. Cut the stems from the leaves. I blanch and freeze stems and leaves separately and I also reserve some longer stems for pickling and canning.

preserving-rainbow-swiss-chard-and-stems

Blanch anything you desire to freeze for three minutes in boiling water and then immediately transfer to an ice bath. After they have cooled a bit strain out the water. From here you can squeeze the water from the leaves and add handfuls to a cookie sheet or silicone muffins trays and freeze. This creates portions you can use in many different ways rather than a massive chunk of frozen greens.

Freeze or pickle the stems or do both. Enjoy!

pickled-chard-stems