Tag Archives: compost

Why do ->YOU<- garden?

I often hear gardeners bragging about how much money they have saved by self growing vegetables in their backyard or plot gardens. If you do a detail cost assessment of your growing cost and supermarket cost per pound(kilo) you may find it is costing more per pound to grow than to buy.

Gardening and gardeners generally fall into two categories.
Category 1. I think most home gardeners fall into category 1 gardeners. Gardening for us is a hobby. We are not in gardening because we think we will be saving a few hundred or even a thousand dollars on our yearly food bill.

We garden because we enjoy growing things and being out of doors. We like seeing our flower and vegetable seed grow and bloom. Freshly harvested vegetables have better color and taste better than vegetables that were picked last week and shipped to supermarkets.

Cost of gardening is not a primary consideration for us. We are into gardening for it’s health and entertainment value.

Category 2. This category often includes survivalist, penny pincers, those living off the grid or mostly off the grid. Category 2 gardeners are concerned with feeding their family summer and winter from home garden grown produce. They are most likely to can, freeze and dehydrate garden produce for long term storage. Gardening is not a hobby to them. It’s a yearly on going job/task to be accomplished.

It matters not if you are a category 1 or 2 gardener gardening is not cheap. The initial cost can be overwhelming.
Container gardening requires investment in large containers(pots). Damaged pot must be replaced. New fresh potting soil must be purchased every spring.
Flower/vegetable seed must be purchased and often seeds or seedlings must be purchased every growing season. Many times you must invest in grow lighting. Allocate space and a heated environment to germinate and grow seedlings.

Green house or grow house are a costly investment and require continuous maintenance. Initial grow lighting is not cheap nor is the cost of heating a grow area or green/grow house.

Raised beds are not cheap to buy or build and require maintenance to keep them in good condition. Raised beds must be replaced every few years. They must be rejuvenated by adding compost every grow season.

All situations require the use of organic or man made fertilizers.
Insect and weed control be it organic or commercial made is an ongoing battle that is time consuming and often expensive.
Few areas receive enough rain at the time needed, so add the cost of collecting water or the cost of using tap water to keep your garden plants in good, healthy and productive condition.

Some, not all gardeners must invest in good fencing to keep pest like deer, dogs, lions, tigers, bears and elephants out of their garden plot.

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Planning Your 2019 Garden Now is the time to make spring garden plans

A gazillion words and post have been published about the benefits of raised bed gardening and square foot gardens.

In truth raised beds may not be your best choice. Raised beds are generally best suited to cooler and wetter climates than weather conditions found in Americas West and Southwest.

Pros of Raised Bed Gardening:
More control over the location of the garden
Ability to choose the best soil for your particular plants
More efficient draining
Can be easier on backs and knees due to less bending and stooping
May be helpful keeping weeds out of your garden space
The soil warms up earlier in a raised bed, so you can plant earlier and extend your growing season
May work better keeping ground dwelling pests out of your garden plot

Cons of Raised-Bed Gardening:
Will be more expensive to get started
Requires careful planning to make sure there is enough room for plants that need to spread out, and to ensure that you can reach the middle to tend the plants
*** Because raised beds drain so efficiently, they will also need to be watered more often and may require an irrigation system
In the west and southwest water is a valuable, often scarce resource. Areas with little natural rain fall, daily temperatures at or above 90 degrees and humidity levels often dropping to 10% or 20%, tap water is an expensive way to water your garden.

Raised bed planting has the disadvantages of more frequent watering during dry periods and the cost of filling your beds with large quantities of compost, soil-less growing medium and may require more frequent use of commercially made or organic fertilizers.
Root vegetables, think potatoes and carrots that penetrate more than 3 or 4 inches deep into the soil where they are planted may suffer in raised bed plantings.

Amending garden soil by digging in or tilling in large amounts of compost and planting directly in the amended soil very well may be a better choice over raised beds. You will over time develop a quality garden soil that holds moisture. Couple this with extensive use of mulch water needs will be greatly reduced and over heated soil temperatures can be moderated.
* This years mulch will be tilled into the soil as an amendment for next years garden.

Practically Free Raised Beds by Will Atkinson

I saw a great post about salvaging and recycling wood fence to construct raised beds. Many wood fences are made from cedar and are naturally insect and rot resistant. Practically Free Raised Beds After building your first recycled wood fence raised bed is a good time to consider a square foot garden. If used to it’s maximum advantage, you can grow a lot of food using only a few square feet of garden space.

4-hole-dibbleboard

Build A Dibble Board
If your one of those that want and insist that every plant be perfectly spaced. This little gadget may be just what you have been looking for.

Build A Dibble Board Check out ‘gardeninggrrl’ blog for a lot of pictures and building instructions.

Keep in mind you may need two or even three of every dibble board. Most garden seeds need to be planted 1/4 inch, 1/2 inch or 1 inch deep. Seed planted 1 inch deep that ‘should have been planted 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep may never break through to see the light of day. In this event you have wasted your time, water and seed.

My dibble board consist of placing my seed on the ground at my desired spacing, using my finger to press the seed into the soil to the proper planting depth, cover my finger dibble hole with soil, then wait for them to germinate.

furrow planting

Farmers over the last 8,000 years have devised main 3 planting methods to maximize water usage and fertilizer to produce the most vegetables at the lowest cost on the least amount of land.

Furrow planting is common in areas with enough rain to produce a crop but with the need to conserve as much soil moisture as possible.

bed planting

bed planting

Bed planting provides additional root zone drainage as well as providing a reservoir to hold moisture near the plants root zone for a longer period of time after irrigation or rains.
Bed planting act much like raised bed planting without the cost of constructing bed boxes and filling raised beds with soil/soil mixes.

Minimum till planting is a method that has been used for thousands of years and in the past 25 years has been rediscovered by farmers in the USA and the UK as well as many other more developed countries. In minimum till planting, last years crop stubble is left in the field to prevent or minimize soil erosion from winds and heavy rain water run off and reduces soil drying by providing ground cover {mulch}.
At planting time, seeds are planted on flat ground without removing old crop stubble.

What gardening method is best for you? That is a decision that only you can decide. Using raised beds, furrow planting, bed planting or minimum till planting is mostly {for home gardeners} a personal choice dictated by ‘your’ garden plots size, location and amount of time and effort you are willing and able to put into your home garden.

No matter what method you choose, keep an open mind and consider other gardening methods if the way you are doing it now fails to produce as much as you feel that it can and should be producing.
The old worn out, I have always done it this way is not an acceptable answer to resolving a gardening problem.

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Gardening By USDA Hardiness Zone’s

Gardening in USDA Zone’s 10 and 9. Your last frost date will arrive in the next 30 to 45 days allowing you to start planting your 2019 garden.

Zone 8 gardeners will need to plant seed indoors soon giving your seedlings time to reach outdoor planting size by the first or second week of March.

USDA Hardness Zones 5, 6 and 7 gardeners should be getting your 2019 garden seed on order and making plans to plant seeds in starter pots and trays to be planted in your garden starting about the first or second week of April.

First and Last Frost Dates by USDA Hardiness Zone

Find Your – First – Last Frost Date

USDA Hardiness Zone First Frost Date Last Frost Date
1 July 15th June 15th
2 August 15th May 15th
3 September 15th May 15th
4 September 15th May 15th
5 October 15th April 15th
6 October 15th April 15th
7 October 15th April 15th
8 November 15th March 15th
9 December 15th February 15th
10 December 15th January 31st (sometimes earlier)
11 No frost. No frost.

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Chrysanthemums – Add Fall Color To Your Home And Garden

Chrysanthemums, or “mums,” are popular perennials. They offer a wide variety of flower colors, from white and cream to dark maroon and burgundy, as well as numerous growth habits from small dwarf plants to giant shrub-like Maxi-Mums. Mums are easy to grow and can provide years of enjoyment.

Garden chrysanthemums grow in a wide variety of soils but must have excellent drainage conditions. Growth is poor and winterkill likely in poorly drained wet soils.
Before planting incorporate 2 – 4″ of peat moss, compost, or well-rotted barnyard manure into the soil. If you use only peat moss or do not add organic matter, apply a complete fertilizer such as 5-10-10 or 5-10-5 in the spring. Side-dressing plants with a complete fertilizer in early August, especially in years of abundant rainfall or irrigation. Space plants 12 – 24″ apart, depending on the mature size of the cultivar.

Mums vary widely in cold hardiness. Cultivars listed in the table below have been developed based on years of plant breeding at the University of Minnesota. These plants have been selected for superior flower characteristics, growth habit, and winter hardiness. Most will survive winters in Minnesota.

Plant Division Plants can be dug and divided in spring as new growth begins. Stronger shoots are usually on the outside of the clump. Set the growing tip of each division just below ground level. For an attractive display of color, plant at least three shoots in a triangular pattern.

Florist Mums Are attractive blooming potted plants are available through-out the year from florists. After flowers fade, plants can be cut back to 3 or 4 inches and planted in the garden. Florist mums may overwinter, but usually flower too late for USDA Zones 2, 3 and 4.
mum1
mum2
mum3

Something for ‘almost’ every gardener

April was an unusually cool April for my tiny zone 7b garden.

60 degrees F is kind of, sort of the magic soil temperature needed for many garden vegetable seeds to germinate. It was the last week of April before we approached the 60 degree soil tempeture.

May arrived and my soil has warmed to 71 degrees F and it is still a month until the start of the summer gardening season. Leaving plenty of time for most gardeners to plant summer and fall producing vegetable gardens.

I’m happy with our bamboo project. We planted bamboo in a well contained garden plot about 25 feet long by 12 feet wide near Christmas time 2015 and I have been concerned that I wasted my money on two 6 inch pots of bamboo. However after 2 summers of putting down a good root system this spring bamboo canes have jumped up and some canes are more than 11 feet tall and still growing taller everyday.

I invite new visitors to my tiny blog to search my previous posting. At sometime in the past I have information about almost every vegetable from A – Z as wells as info on raising chickens, rabbits, composting and water saving irrigation ideas.

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Garlic – Spring planting for Fall harvest

For my gardening friends. You can still plant garlic for late summer and fall harvest. If your soil is not frozen solid. Dig and loosen your soil, till in compost if you have access to compost. Else stir in a little 5-10-5 or similar N-P-K rated fertilized. Plant your garlic cloves, [Don’t laugh, pointed end up] 2 to 2 1/2 inches deep. Measure from the top of your garlic clove. Space cloves about 4 inches apart.
Cover with mulch if you can. Other wise, wash your hands and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
Growing Hint: Garlic needs from about 180 to 210 growing days from planting to harvest mature garlic bulbs.

Garlic types are either Hard Neck or Soft Neck.
Generally speaking, Hard neck varieties are better suited to be grown in the northern 1/2 of the U.S. Unless you want to harvest ‘garlic ‘scapes’, Soft neck varieties seem to be better suited to the southern 1/2 of the U.S. and seem to store for a longer period of time than hard neck garlic.

Going against what many gardeners say. I have never had any problems planting garlic that I picked up at my supermarket.

Garlic Nutrition :
Raw Garlic – 6 cloves – About Calories: 27
* manganese 15% —– * vitamin B6 13% —– * vitamin C 7%
* copper 6% —– * selenium 5% —– * phosphorus 4%
* calcium 3% —– * vitamin B 13%

There has been many millions of pages written about the good health benefits of garlic. Who am I to go against the opinions of so many expert gardeners and health specialist. A touch of garlic makes everything, except scotch wiskey, taste better.

Hint garlic can be harvested at any size. Try fresh young garlic in your recipes for a different and refreshing flavor. * Use tender young garlic tops finely chopped as a garnish to add flavor and color to pasta dishes.

I didn’t know this: Elephant garlic is not a true garlic, but actually a variant of the garden leek.

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Dry and windy start – 2018 garden

Weather wise 2018 is not starting off well for those of us that chose to live in the southwest corner of Oklahoma.
January I logged a total of 0.08 inches of rain and during the past 3 months, November 2017 – January 2018 my tiny garden has been blessed with 0.66 inches of rain. The National Weather Service classifies my area as being in a severe drought.

It’s still 70+ day until I will see my last freeze/frost and begin spring planting. That doesn’t stop me from planning my new wildflower and vegetable garden.

As with all real estate, planning a garden will be much involved about location, location, location.
Selection and preparation of the garden site is an important key to growing a home garden successfully.
An area exposed to full or near full sunlight with deep, well-drained, fertile soil is ideal. The site should also be located near a water supply and, if possible, away from trees and shrubs that will compete with the garden for light, water, and nutrients.
While these conditions are ideal, many gardeners have a small area with a less than optimal site on which to grow vegetables.
Yet, it is still possible to grow a vegetable garden by modifying certain cultural practices and types of crops grown.
Areas with light or thin shade can be used, such as those under young trees, under mature trees with high lacy canopies, or in bright, airy places which receive only one to two hours of direct sun per day. There are several vegetables which will grow under these conditions, including beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, kohlrabi, leaf lettuce, peas, potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, spinach, and turnips.
Unfortunately, few vegetables will grow well under full, dense shade.
If the site is not well drained or if the soil is thin, the use of raised beds can help with this problem.

In order to have a successful garden, the gardener must follow a few rules. The following tips may help to prevent some common garden problems from occurring, or help overcome those that do arise:
Sample soil and have it tested every three to four years.
Apply fertilizers in the recommended manner and amount.
Make use of organic materials such as compost when and where available.
Use recommended plant varieties for your area.
Thin plants when small.
Use mulches to conserve moisture, control weeds, and reduce fruit rots.
Avoid excessive walking and working in the garden when foliage and soil are wet.
Examine the garden often to keep ahead of potential weeds, insect, and disease problems.
Wash and clean tools and sprayers after each use.
Rotate specific crop family locations each year to avoid insect and disease buildup.
When possible, harvest vegetables during the cool hours of the day.

Bonding with your garden – Seeds and Seedlings

This article appeared in the May 2002 web issue of Horticulture Update,
edited by Dr. William C. Welch, and produced by Extension Horticulture,
Texas Cooperative Extension, The Texas A&M University System, College Station, Texas.

How to Start Seeds Indoors

Gardening is a wonderful pastime and filling your garden with plants you started yourself from seeds simply doubles the pleasure. If you think growing from seed is difficult and takes too much time and equipment, the steps and tips here will dispel those apprehensions.
Basically all you need to know about specific seeds is whether or not they require light to germinate and the number of days germination takes. With a fluorescent light or a very sunny window, a few containers – purchased or found – and a good germinating mix, you will be on your way.

The magic: watching a seedling push up above the soil surface creates a bond between you and your garden.

Materials You Need

Containers: any shallow receptacle that holds soil, such as flats with or without individual cells, peat or paper pots, egg carton bottoms or halved milk cartons. For transplanting seedlings, 2-1/2 to 4-inch diameter plastic, clay or peat pots. To ensure even moisture for seeds – and save yourself time – look for self-watering seed-starting kits.

Germinating mix: commercial or homemade.
DIY: Mix your own seed starter soil, with a 50-50 combination of fine sphagnum peat moss and vermiculite.

Transplanting mix: A good potting soil will do, but a mix specifically formulated for young seedlings is better. The latter usually contains a coarser grade of sphagnum peat moss than a germinating mix and often contains fertilizer.

Fertilizer: balanced all-purpose fertilizer. If you prefer to grow with organic rather than chemical fertilizers, use fish emulsion is very odoriferous but nutritious for plants.

Getting Started

Wet the germinating mix thoroughly and let it drain. It should be moist but not soggy.
Fill flats or individual pots with the mix to within about an inch of the top.

Make shallow row indentations with a ruler or your finger in the flats. It’s easier to separate seedlings when transplanting time comes if you sow in rows. Sow thinly so you do not waste seed. If using pots make shallow holes and set 3 to 4 seeds in each.

Check your seed packet to see if the seeds need light to germinate. If they do, press them lightly into the surface. If they require darkness, cover with l/4 to l/2 inch of mix or vermiculite and tamp it down.

Mist the surface with water to settle the seeds.

Cover the flats with a sheet of plastic wrap or set them in plastic bags. Set pots in plastic bags and close with twist ties. This keeps the mix from drying out while the seeds germinate, but check the mix occasionally and moisten if necessary by spritzing with water.

Place the flat in a warm, bright location or under a fluorescent light. Check the seed packet for specific soil temperatures for germination. Generally, seeds germinate with soil temperatures of 70-75 degrees F.
Hot peppers sometimes will not germinate until soil temperatures reach 80 to 85 degrees F.

When the seedlings emerge, remove the plastic covering. Seed packets give you an idea of germination time, usually 7 to 10 days, sometimes as long as 2 to 3 weeks.

Keep the mix evenly moist, not soggy. Water from the bottom by setting flats and pots in a sink filled with a couple of inches of water; remove them when you see moisture on the surface of the mix.

The first leaves on a seedling are cotyledons, not true leaves. Their shapes usually do not look like the plants familiar leaves. When seedlings in flats grow at least two sets of true leaves, transplant them into larger pots.

Moisten the transplanting mix and let it drain. If you use an all-purpose potting soil, add a handful of vermiculite for each quart of mix to lighten the texture.

Fill 2-1/4 inch pots about three-quarters full.

Use your fingers or a pencil to pick each seedling out of the flat, carefully holding each by the leaves not the stem (plants readily grow new leaves but not broken stems).

Set the transplant in the pot, filling in around the roots with more mix and firming the mix down.

Place pots on a sunny windowsill or under a fluorescent light.

Water transplants regularly from the bottom until they grow 3 to 4 inches tall. Then you can begin to water from the top.

Feed as you water by diluting a water-soluble fertilizer, such as fish emulsion, to half the strength recommended on the label. Or, feed at regular strength every week to 10 days.

You do not need to move most flowering plants into larger pots before setting them outdoors in the garden. Some vegetables, such as tomatoes, produce extensive root systems and grow quickly into lush plants; transplant them at least one more time into larger pots before the weather warms up enough to put them in the garden.

To encourage compact, bushy plants, occasionally pinch off the growing tips of herbs and most flowering plants.

Many seeds germinate best – more quickly and more abundantly – if you do not cover them with a mix when you sow.

Ageratum Lettuce Begonia
Nicotiana Coleus Petunia
Columbine Parsley Dill
Feverfew Savory Salvia
Gaillardia Impatiens Yarrow

A Few Do’s

Know the date of the average last spring frost in your area; you need to start most plants indoors a certain number of weeks before that date. Seed packets include that information.

Give pots on windowsills a quarter turn every week so plants grow straight instead of bending towards the light.

Opt for the easiest plants to start indoors if this is your first attempt.
These include basil, coreopsis, dianthus, gaillardia, gloriosa daily, marigold, oregano, yarrow and zinnia.

Label your seed containers as you sow.

A Few Don’t s

Combine different varieties of seeds in one flat unless they germinate in the same number of days.

Let seedlings in flats grow large before you transplant them. Their roots become too entwined, making them difficult to separate without damage.

Start root vegetables indoors.

Over water seedlings. Soggy soil promotes fungus and root rot.

Outdoor Preferences

Some plants resent being transplanted, but if your growing season is short, you can start them indoors in individual peat or paper pots, which biodegrade; set plant in its pot in the garden.

Annual Phlox Fennel Chervil
Lupine Cucumber Nasturtium
Dill Poppy

Pepper – Easy to grow

Easy to grow peppers is the last of this ‘Easy to grow’ series … really. I won’t bore you with any more Easy to grow post. 🙂 Thank you for taking time to visit my little blog.

Peppers are a warm season crop. Red and green peppers are good sources of vitamin C, some vitamin A, and small amounts of several minerals. Red peppers have more vitamin A than green peppers.

Peppers are good consumed raw or cooked. Eat them as a snack, use them to decorate food, add them to salads and casseroles. You can also stuff peppers with seasoned bread crumbs and or meat and bake them. Of course you may want to pickle some of your pepper crop.

Peppers grow in all types of soils but do best in heavier, well drained soils. Plant them in areas that receive at least 6 hours of sunlight each day.

Work your soil 8 to 10 inches deep and rake it several times to break up the large clods. Work the soil only when it is dry enough not to stick to garden tools. Incorporate large amounts of organic matter into the soil, especially if you are planting in heavy clay soil. You can use compost, peat moss, rotted hay, or other organic matter.

Only a few pepper plants will feed most families, it maybe best to buy pepper plants rather than grow them from seed. Buy healthy plants that are 4 to 6 inches tall. About three to four hot pepper plants and eight to ten sweet pepper plants usually are enough for a family of four.

If you plant from seed, soil germination temperature for pepper is 70 F to 95 F. Pepper will not germinate when the soil temperature is below 55 F.
Tip Sweet peppers may germinate well when soil temperature reaches 70 or 75 degrees F, however the hotter your pepper variety the higher the soil temperature must be for good seed germination. Hot peppers may not germinate below 80 or 85 degrees F soil temperature.
Days to emergence: 7 to 10 with a soil temperatures around 85 F.

Peppers can be temperamental when it comes to setting fruit if temperatures are too hot or too cool. Daytime temperatures above 95 F or nighttime temperatures below 60 F or above 75 F can reduce fruit set.
Too much nitrogen fertilizer may promote lush vegetative growth but fewer fruits. Peppers usually responds well to phosphorus fertilizer. Look for something NPK 5-10-5.

At planting time add 2 to 3 pounds of fertilizer such as NPK 10-10-10 per 100 square feet of garden area. Spread the fertilizer evenly over the garden. Work it into the soil.

If you will plant single plants, place about 2 level tablespoons of fertilizer on the soil in the planting area. Mix it well with the soil.

Water the plants enough to keep them from wilting. Slow, deep watering helps the root system grow strong. Do not let pepper plants wilt because this will reduce yield and quality of the fruit.

After the first fruit begins to enlarge, place about 2 tablespoons of fertilizer, something like NPK 5-10-5, around each plant about 6 inches from the stem. Water the plant after adding the fertilizer. This will increase the yield and the quality of the peppers.

Peppers can be harvested at any size. If you pick the peppers as they mature, the yields will be greater. The first peppers should be ready 8 to 10 weeks after transplanting.

Pick bell peppers when they become shiny, firm, and dark green. If left on the plant, most peppers will turn red and are still good to eat.

Harvest most hot peppers when they turn red or yellow, depending on the variety. Jalapeños are mature when they reach good size and develop a deep, dark green sheen.
Note Hot types will be much milder when harvested small, young and tender. They will become hotter if left on the plant and began to mature.

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Cucumbers – Easy to grow

Cucumbers, soup, salad and pickles. Cucumbers can do it all.

Cucumbers are mostly grown for eating fresh or preserved as pickles. They are high water usage plants that mature quickly and are best suited to larger gardens. However, they can be grown in small areas if the plants are caged or trellised.

Although cucumbers do best in loose sandy loam soil, they can be grown in any well drained soil. Cucumbers must be grown in full sunlight. Because their roots reach 36 to 48 inches deep, do not plant them where tree roots will rob them of water and nutrients.

Cucumbers are grown for slicing or for pickling. The cucumbers best suited for slicing are 6 to 8 inches long and 1 inch or more in diameter when mature.
Hint For a mild flavor harvest daily when they are still small and tender.
Cucumbers grown for pickling are 3 to 4 inches long and up to 1 inch in diameter at maturity. Either type can be used for pickling if picked when small.

Cucumbers require plenty of water and fertilizer. Scatter 1 cup of a complete fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or 10-20-10 for each 10 feet of row. Work the fertilizer into the soil and leave the surface smooth. When the vines are about 10 to 12 inches long, apply about 1/2 cup of fertilizer for each 10 feet of row or 1 tablespoon per plant.

Many insecticides are available at garden centers for homeowner use. Sevin is a synthetic insecticide; organic options include Bt-based insecticides and sulfur. Sulfur also has fungicidal properties and helps control many diseases. Before using a pesticide, read the label and always follow cautions, warnings, and directions.

Harvest cucumbers when they reach the desired size and are green in color. Do not wait until they turn yellow. Yellow cucumbers are over mature and will have a strong flavor.

Hint Limited space? Think vertical grow your cucumbers on a trellis to save valuable garden space.

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