Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Victory Garden

In the American lifestyle(and no doubt in other countries as well now) it is now so very, very easy to find so many easy options for breakfast, lunch, dinner. So much of the foods we now consume come in paper, plastic, cartons, and bags and require very little preparation/thought if any on the part of the consumer.
But..in the long run what is all of this "super convenience" really doing to the health of all of us?
( and studies show that diseases like diabetes and more have nearly doubled in the last 10 yrs!)
So much for our fast, easy, convenient life style huh?
Anyhow... so..I for one will begin growing a lot of my families fruits and veggies when I get located to a new home.I want to know where our food is coming from..and how it is grown.
I have for quite a while been fascinated with things like growing heirloom varieties of fruit, vegetables, flowers.
Types of seed that are not genetically modified by big whig companies that think they have to control America's crops and use pesticides on seeds and hybridize everything.
But my interest is in saving the heirlooms..the true to strain varieties of seed that have been passed on from generation to generation of good old fashioned farmers and families whose aim was/is to preserve the proper ways of farming and growing food, and not tainted by who knows what kind of pesticide/chemical
So with that goal in mind I have been collecting seed for several years now. Flower seed, vegetable seed and herb seeds.
I whole heartily believe in saving and growing these untainted seeds...and preserving a way of life former workers of the land strove to preserve and pass on to other generations that would come to understand just how important preserving these things really is..
So..with that in mind..and if you too believe that providing food for your family..where you know where your food is coming from, and how it is grown/and knowing that it is not hybridized or tainted by who knows what type of new pesticide now... is important to the health and well being of your family and yourself...
I'd like to share with you a few websites about the Victory Gardens of the past.About a time when having a garden in the backyard was a pretty "NORMAL" thing.
Having a garden/growing your own vegetables does not mean you have to have a large area of land to do so.
You can grow plenty of food in a 10 by 10 square area or less, in pots, on a balcony, just because you do not have acreage should in no way be a deterrent.
First up..I'd like to share with you a link to a War Times Victory Garden Manual(copyright 1919) Some of the information in it is still useful today:
And a 1944 copy of a Victory Garden manual:


~Happy Gardening~
(Image courtesy of Victory Garden Public Domain image)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Creating A Bentwood Trellis

So you have the soil ph balance checked..
the compost pile going...
and you are ready to get planting.
Let's say that you are wanting to plant an heirloom climbing rose..or perhaps a flowering vine such as jasmine..
or maybe start that crop of pole beans...

Do you run out and buy one of those fancy smancy metal arbours that can cost anywhere from one hundred dollars and up..

you could..but..what about a "do it yourself" option that will blend into the natural surroundings but also add a bit of nostalgia and good old farmstead ingenuity to your yard...

plus you can tell your friends and family.."I made it myself"

This video will show you how to get started on creating your own trellisses.Once you see how easy it is..you can go on to create different shapes and structures.http://www.5min.com/Video/How-to-build-a-Bentwood-Trellis-30825162

Have Fun!

~Happy Gardening!~


Creating a Compost Pile
Compost is a very good thing to learn how to create for amending your flower/veggie beds and for using as a plant medium.(but not recommended for use with houseplants as the compost can contain weed seeds)
Properly made compost will have a dark brown or black color and a nice earthy smell to it.
Compost has quite a few benefits, some of which are:
Helping to alleviate plant pests and diseases.
Reducing and even eliminating the need to use any type of chemical fertilizer.
Promotes higher yields in vegetable crops.
(To name a few.)
Choose an area close to your garden to create your compost pile.
You can simply pile the organic matter onto the ground, or create a compost bin by making a fenced in area with a "door",
Or even buying a compost tumbler if that suits your fancy.
Whichever method you choose to create your compost pile/bin you can guarantee that creating "black gold" for your garden is a good thing to do.
Not only does it help to keep landfills from being filled up with materials that actually could be of benefit to your garden..but it gives these recycled organic items back to nature...to building better soil for your garden.
And it's a perfect win-win situation...you are helping to keep landfills free of items that most folks don't realize are beneficial to the soil..and you are gaining a gorgeous garden in the process.
What to use to create a compost pile?
Animal manure(chicken,cow,horse,etc. but not cat or dog..think barnyard animal type)Cardboard pieces(think toilet tissue rolls,pieces of cardboard boxes)
Clean paper (a perfect use for junk mail)
Coffee grounds and filters(aha..a good use for the leftovers from your morning brew)
Cotton rags
Dryer lint
Eggshells(put the benefits of having a backyard flock to even more use..yay!)
Fireplace ashes (after that warm snuggle by the fireplace with your sweet someone..scrape out the ashes and add it to the pile...and give your honey an extra kiss for having a great idea that helps to improve your garden..hee hee)
Fruits and vegetables(you know sometimes the kids just have to have the peelings removed from an apple..well toss it into the pile too..as well as banana peelings and such)
Grass clippings
Hair and fur(save the hair from your own hairbrush and from when you groom your pet)
Hay and straw (have to muck out stalls? this is a good thing..really it is. Or ask for the hay/straw from your neighbors muck day)
Houseplants(so the plant kicked the bucket but not from disease or pests..but maybe from that long vacation where ..ughh you forgot to water it..just toss the plant on the pile)
Nut shells(have a batch of nuts for cooking..and have the leftover shells..toss them in the pile/except for black walnut)
Sawdust(have been doing a remodeling project? or wood working..save the sawdust!)
Shredded newspaper (after reading the comics ..the best part after all..toss the whole thing into the pile)
Tea bags
Wood chips
Wool (another great use for the little baa-baa's)
Yard trimmings
Turn your pile at least once a week...
Use a shovel or pitch fork to sort of stir things up a bit.
This keeps the heat in the pile evenly distributed so that everything can begin to decompose at a good rate.
What NOT to put in the pile
Black walnut tree leaves or twigs (as they release a substance that might harm trees and plants)Coal or charcoal ash(contains substances that might harm plants)
Dairy products (butter,cheese,yogurt,egg yolks,etc) Can turn rancid and just plain smelly(yucko!)..and wind up attracting all sorts of critters...not a good thing)
Diseased and bug-ridden plants(sort of a no brainer..the diseases and buggers get transferred to all the supposed to be good stuff and then "ugh..the aliens have attacked!!" NOT a good thing)Fats, grease, lard, or oils (eeeewe! stinky! a good way to attract flies and rats and mice though..but definitely not recommended)
Meat or fish bones and scraps(o.k..wanna attract CSI because of the smell? ..nawww didn't think so..the yuck smell also attracts rats,mice and other varmints along with flies..yuck! double yuck!)Pet wastes ( dog or cat feces, soiled cat litter)(o.k. eeewe gross! a good way to introduce germs, bacteria, viruses and more that can definitely be harmful to people..not a cool thing!)
Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides (o.k. let's say this out loud.."CHEMICALS ARE NOT GOOD!"..o.k. got it..not good for your compost pile..in fact they can actually kill the whole pile of organic matter and then kill the plants you put it on...so NOT cool!)
Now you know what can and can't be used...have fun gathering the items needed to create a healthy compost pile.
Your garden will thank you.
Happy Gardening!
(image courtesy of Public Domain Victory Gardening image)

Know Your Soil

So, you have grand plans to start that garden in the Spring?
You're ready to gather those heirloom seeds and are raring to "get plantin'" ...but..hold on a minute... is your soil really "up to the task"?(sound of record screeching here)
...Say what?! you mean I can't just dump my seeds in a space and expect stellar results?Well..you "might" could do that, and have tremendous results...
that is if your soil has all of the proper nutrients
...but...that's getting really lucky.
So..let's back up here a minute and take this slow.
Soil PH...what is it?
Soil PH is the factor which determines whether or not plants are able to consume nutrients from the soil properly.If the PH balance is out of whack... either too high..too much of a goood thing in one area or another...or too low..not enough of the "good stuff" ...then the soil goes into "lock down" and your plants wind up "biting the dust baby"..meaning they literally starve to death.So..soil testings help you to determine if your soil has the proper balance of everything it needs to grow certain types of plants, vegetables, shrubs, grasses and so forth.
A good balance of nitrogen in your soil helps to promote good growth of stalks, leaves, stems, and grasses.Too much nitrogen equals soft tissue, too fast of growth,and all around plant weakness. It can also result in loss of flower and seed formation.Too little nitrogen results in susceptibility to pests, disease, and injury.
Phosphorous gives plants a rapid start and boosts the root formation and maturing, and aids in flower and seed formation.
Proper amounts of Potash/Potassium in the soil help to stimulate root and tuber formation.It is needful for underground crops.Too much potash in the soil reduces the plants resistance to drought and frost injury and slows down plant maturity rates.
Collecting Your Soil Sample:
Gather soil at a depth of 2-3 inches below the surface.
Use a clean tool.
Do NOT touch the soil with your hands.
Place in a clean container. Label the container so that you know from which area of your yard/garden it was taken from.Take samples from different areas of your yard: shady areas, sunny areas.Do not collect wet soil. You want to collect soil that is dry enough to walk upon.Remove debris(rocks and wood pieces)Crumble as finely as possible. You may have to put the soil into a plastic bag and use a rolling pin to accomplish this.When your soil sample has a fine texture it is then ready for testing.
Test your soil on your own with a "Do it yourself" kit..these kits list the proper ph balance for different types of plants.Or, you can submit the soil samples to a local garden nursery that offers this service(call around, as some nurseries do offer this service)Or, you can submit the soil sample to your local extension agent.Once you receive your results you will know where to go from there..as the "do it yourself kits" will also have a chart letting you know what you need to add to the soil..and the results from the nursery or extension office will also tell you.
When your soil test is complete and you have created the proper PH soil balance needed(by adding lime or other items as per the instructions from your "do it yourself kit, or the extension office forms)....
you can then truly say"Gardener's Know The Best Dirt"..and smile while saying it.
~Happy Gardening!~
(Image courtesy of DK images free clip art)