Tag Archives: compost

Herbs add flavor to any food dish

Reworked, updated first posted 2015.

Herbs Make Common Foods Taste Special

Most herbs will do well in containers, window boxes and planted directly in your garden soil.
If herbs are conventionally located to you and your kitchen you are more willing and more likely to use them when cooking and serving meals.

Sage is a herb that does well if properly cared for. It requires a lot of pinching and cutting to keep it from becoming woody. As a rule, sage will need to be replanted about every 3 years since it will become woody with few leaves no matter what, so keeping it in a pot makes this change that much easier. Sage dries very well and if you pinch the leaves throughout the growing season, put a rubber band on them and keep them dry and in a dark place after drying. You will have wonderful sage all winter to give your family and guest a special treat.

Rosemary is always a kitchen favorite. It dries perfectly, holds its strong taste all winter, comes indoors and keeps growing in a sunny window and is rarely bothered by insects.
Use rosemary for many herb standards or topiaries. The woody stem is perfect for crafting. The stem also seconds as skewers so each harvest yields two separate herb crops. 1)leaves and 2)stems.
Keep the stems in a freezer bag and use them for grilling skewers. Rosemary doesn’t like to sit in water it likes to dry out between watering’s. Being in its own container makes the herb grow that much hardier, since it can receive special care.

Basil is one of the most rewarding herbs to grow in a container. It really lends itself well to the other popular container plants like the tomato. Basil likes to have plenty of water to keep its fleshy stems and tender leaves plump, but is susceptible to mildew. In a container, you must be sure the plant gets plenty of airflow.

Thyme is an undervalued herb. Many times it gets planted and never used. Thyme deserves a higher standing on our list of culinary herbs!
It will thrive in a container environment, needing only minimal watering. Some varieties grow into small shrub like plants that enhance an entrance to your home. It’s tiny purple flowers are lovely. Being such a low maintenance herb, thyme will fit in your container garden.

Mint is notorious for getting away from gardeners. You plant one and soon twenty will follow. Planting a bottomless pot into your garden is one way of controlling mint, but keeping it out of the garden completely, by using a separate container, is a better idea. Mint is also so tasty, it will be used more often if it is handy.

Chives Leaves/Flowers Use in fresh or frozen soups, salads, salad dressings, eggs, dips, vegetables, chicken, soft cheese spreads, butters, white sauces, and fish.

English Thyme Use leaves flowers with fresh or dried wild game, beef, soft cheeses, fish, chowders, pâté, vegetables, and tomato sauce.

Tarragon French or Spanish Use leaves fresh or dried with chicken, fish, eggs, tomato juice, butters especially nice on steak, vinegars, salads, mustards, sauces hollandaise, béarnaise and tartar, soups, chicken, fish, mushroom and tomato and marinades for fish, lamb or pork.

Greek Oregano Use leaves fresh or dried
in white and tomato sauces, stews, soups, fish, lamb, pork, vegetables, butters, and vinegars.

Rosemary Use leaves fresh or dried
with beef, lamb, fish, poultry, stuffings, soups, stews, fruit cups, soups chicken, pea, and spinach, vegetables, and marinades.

Sage Use leaves flowers fresh or dried
with stuffings for fish, poultry, and meat, pâté, eggs, poultry, pork, beef, lamb, pasta, cheeses cheddar, cream, and cottage, sauces brown and meat, soups cream and chowder, beef stews, and vegetables.

Hint of the Day: Use fresh herbs blended with ‘real’ butter or sour cream for that special taste. Herb’s go well with fresh baked potato’s, snack dips and fresh garden salads.

Rain is (almost) always a good thing

Murphy(Murphy’s law) is working overtime.
Spent much of Monday mowing and weed whacking getting ready for the cooler/colder autumn weather.
Murphy had other ideas. Night time temperatures are falling near 50F(10C) degrees. Last night and this morning I have had more than 3 inches (77mm)(7.6cm) of rain. My weather forecaster said it will warm into the high 80’sF(31C) by the weekend.

That tells me I will ‘get’ to mow and and run the string trimmed removing weeds at least one more time before my first frost.

The rain is not good for unharvested cotton and soybean crops, but we have had very little strong winds and that is a good thing for cotton and soybean farmers.

However the good side of this rain is my pond is full, wheat farmers will be in good shape to drill-in winter wheat the 3rd or 4 week of September.
In the long run in the semi-desert southwest Oklahoma rain is always a good thing.

Pass It On….

Saturday Evening Post cartoon that is to good not to pass on.

I sometimes feel the same way about my Zucchini crop.

Spring time – plant your garden seeds soon, or miss your optimal planting time

It’s that time of year again, soil, day and night time air temperatures are nearing the optimal temperatures for direct seeding in your garden or raised bed soils.

An older blog post you may find useful Seed To Fork
North Dakota State University Agriculture Extension – Combinations found to be beneficial

Temperature, it’s all about the soil temperature.
Soil temperature is almost never to warm, however, soils that are to cool and damp at worst can cause your seed to rot in the ground and at best take many days to germinate. Seedling in cool soil grow slowly and often do not develop into healthy productive plants.

vegetable seed germination chart

herb seed germination chart

Words of wisdom: Never kick a fresh turd on a hot day. Harry S Truman

Caelie Wilkes discovers succulent that never needs water – A must share moment

Never needs supplemental water succulent discovery is shared with gardeners.

Caelie Wilkes said”on her Facebook page, “I’ve had this beautiful succulent for about two years now. I was so proud of this plant. It was full, beautiful coloring, just an overall perfect plant. I had it up in my kitchen window. I had a watering plan for it, if someone else tried to water my succulent I would get so defensive because I just wanted to keep good care of it. I absolutely loved my succulent.”

When Caelie Wilkes decided to re-pot her succulent she discovered it was ‘setting on styrofoam with the plant and sand glued to the top!

Caelie Wilkes said “I feel like these last two years have been a lie.”

Happy waterless Gardening 🙂

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Looking back it seems that I made my first Word Press blog post in June 2009. Wow 10 years and 1,145,766 hits later I am now moving into my 11th year on Word Press.

I have made over 1,400 postings. Covering most things vegetable and fruit gardeners seem to need or at least want a bit of helpful hints on.

Search my blog for everything from Asparagus to Zucchini. Apples to Raspberries.

Composting seems to be a favored subject for many bloggers.

You may have an interest in chicken coops, sexing day old chicks or maybe raising rabbits for pets or as a food source.

There is even a good starter recipe for a good beginners Rumtopf (rum pot).

Give my blog a search for area(s) that interest you. Grin, all you have to lose in a few minutes of your time.

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Why is Common Sense so Uncommon?

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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Why is Common Sense so Uncommon?

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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Why is common sense so uncommon?
Don’t be Shy. Leave me your comment(s)

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