Best snapper lawn mowers 2020
Choosing a single product is really a tough job when you have a lot of options to choose from. That’s why we have compiled a list of Top snapper lawn mowers 2017. So you can have a look at the best and choose the one which suits your requirments.
There are plenty of out there, few are good when it comes to Motor strength while few are good at other things . Which one should you choose? We’ll figure it out soon!
so what is the best snapper lawn mower?
best snapper lawn mower 2018
1-Snapper XD SXDWM82K 82V Cordless 21-Inch Walk Mower Kit with (2) 2Ah Battery & (1) Rapid Charger, 1687884-score(9.6/10)
- As much as 45-minutes run time with the Briggs & Stratton 82V lithium ion 2.0Ah battery – Equipment comes with 2 every of the 2Ah lithium ion battery
- 21″ Metal mowing deck with Three-in-1 design – mulch, bag or aspect discharge grass clippings simply
- Good, environment friendly load sensing expertise – energy adjusts to fulfill the calls for of the slicing blades
- Push button begin and a single-lever, 7-position height-of-cut adjustment
- Giant 1.6-bushel bagger
Snapper Lawn Mower XD SXDWM82K 82V 21-Inch Cordless Stroll Mower Equipment – Battery & Speedy Charger Included.
The Snapper Lawn Mower xd 82-Volt 21″ stroll mower package powered by Briggs & Stratton provides a strong, sturdy and dependable battery powered device that delivers on efficiency.
Business’s first 82V lithium ion stroll mower powered by Briggs & Stratton is constructed for sturdiness with its 21″ metal deck.
This quiet stroll behind mower is simple to make use of with a single lever top adjustment permitting you to select from 7 totally different slicing heights. Vertical storage capabilities saves as much as 70% of space for storing.
Straightforward begin and fewer upkeep with the included (2) Briggs & Stratton 2.0Ah lithium-ion battery.
Mow through your yard work with ease with this wireless, environment-friendly stroll mower.
[easyazon_link asin=”B01IY813XC” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”idontknow095-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Click on to see custumer review for Snapper Lawn mower xdK 82V Cordless 21-Inch Walk Mower[/easyazon_link]
2-Snapper SP60V 60V Mower Includes 4Ah Battery and Charger-score(9.4/10)
Snapper Lawn Mower 60-volt lawn and garden system powered by Briggs and Stratton provides highly effective and dependable battery powered instruments at an incredible price with out sacrificing energy and efficiency.
The entire system has 5 instruments on one battery.
Mow, trim, prune and blow via your yard work with out problem.
The business’s first 60-volt lithium-ion battery powered mower is constructed for sturdiness with a 21-inch metal deck.
This quiet stroll behind mower is simple to make use of with a single lever top adjustment permitting you to select from seven totally different slicing heights.
Expertise dependable energy, straightforward begin and fewer upkeep with this Snapper Mower 60-volt lithium-ion cordless push mower.
Snapper Mower SP60V 60V Mower Consists of 4Ah Battery and Charger: 60V of battery energy — 1 battery, a number of instruments Brushless motor for prime effectivity and longer motor life Good Lower Know-how mows as much as half acre on single cost, with included battery Heavy-duty 21″ metal deck for added sturdiness and fewer passes Vertical storage succesful, saving as much as 70 % space for storing 7-position slicing top vary from 1-Three/eight to Three-Three/Four” Premium design with Three-position deal with adjustment ensures consumer consolation for all customers Consists of one 4Ah battery and charger Appropriate with Snapper Lawn Mower 60V battery (fashions SBA260V, SBA2560V, SBA2560V) and charger SCH60V Device weight: 57.eight lbs What’s within the Field:Lawn mower, 4Ah Battery, 60V Charger and Proprietor’s Handbook 10-year brushless motor guarantee; Four-year restricted guarantee; 2-year battery guarantee.
[easyazon_link asin=”B01E361JWE” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”idontknow095-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Click to see custumer review for Snapper Lawn Mower SP60V 60V Mower Includes 4Ah Battery and Charger[/easyazon_link]
3-Snapper Ninja Mulching SP Commercial Mower CRP218520 Briggs 8.5 TP OHV (21) #7800968-score(9.2/10)
HI-VAC® Mower Deck The key to the Hello-Vac® mower’s potential to bag or disperse clippings is wind velocity.
The distinctive blade and rolled deck-edge design generates giant volumes of air to create vacuum-like suction.
Ninja® The six slicing surfaces of the Ninja® mulching system finely shred clippings so that they return vitamins to your yard quicker.
The deck is specifically designed so the blade can reduce and re-cut grass blades.
[easyazon_link asin=”B00X0ABW8Q” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”idontknow095-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Click to see custumer reviews for Snapper Mower Ninja Mulching SP Commercial Mower CRP218520 Briggs 8.5 TP OHV (21) #7800968[/easyazon_link]
4-Snapper P2185020E / 7800982 HI VAC 190cc 3-N-1 Rear Wheel Drive Variable Speed Self Propelled Lawn Mower with 21-Inch Deck and ReadyStart System and 7 Position Heigh-of-Cut – Electric Start Option-score(9/10)
- Briggs & Stratton 850 skilled Sequence engine with prepared begin beginning system – no priming, no choking. Simply pull and go
- Rear-wheel drive improves walk-behind mower traction and the smooth-turn differential helps guarantee straightforward maneuverability with out damaging your grass
- Hello VAC deck effectively cuts and sucks up grass clippings for a clear end much like a vacuum with the distinctive blade and Rolled deck edge that generates a big quantity of air and creates suction
- Three-n-1 functionality – aspect discharge, bag or mulch
- Simply change the height-of-cut with the straightforward to make use of adjustment handles (7 height-of-cut changes from 1.25-Inch to 4-inch)
Snapper Lawn Mower P2185020E HI VAC RWD Push Lawn Mower – Electrical Begin.
Best mower for bagging followers, the HI VAC mower deck with its vacuum like suction effectively cuts & baggage your grass.
HI VAC stroll mowers give your yard an extremely clear end.
This Snapper Mower 21″ walk-behind lawn mower additionally contains a rear wheel drive system with excessive 10″ rear wheels for superior traction on hills & thick grass.
The dependable Briggs & Stratton skilled sequence OHV engine retains you going with professional-grade options from Prepared Begin expertise to quieter operation & elevated sturdiness.
The Snapper Mower P2185020E mannequin provides you the extra ease of electrical begin together with recoil begin.
[easyazon_link asin=”B01IY817BK” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”idontknow095-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Click to see custumer review for Snapper Mower P2185020E / 7800982 HI VAC 190cc 3-N-1 Rear Wheel Drive Variable Speed Self Propelled Lawn Mower [/easyazon_link]
5-Snapper P2185020 / 7800980 HI VAC 190cc 3-N-1 Rear Wheel Drive Variable Speed Self Propelled Lawn Mower with 21-Inch Deck and ReadyStart System and 7 Place Height-of-Cut-score(8.6/10)
- Briggs & Stratton 850 Skilled Sequence engine with prepared begin beginning system – no priming, no choking. Simply pull and go
- Rear-wheel drive improves walk-behind mower traction and the smooth-turn differential helps guarantee straightforward maneuverability with out damaging your grass
- Hello VAC deck effectively cuts and sucks up grass clippings for a clear end much like a vacuum with the distinctive blade and Rolled deck edge that generates a big quantity of air and creates suction
- Three-n-1 functionality – aspect discharge, bag or mulch
- Simply change the height-of-cut with the straightforward to make use of adjustment handles (7 height-of-cut changes from 1.25-Inch to Four-inch)
Snapper Lawn Mower P2185020 HI VAC RWD Push Lawn Mower. Best mower for bagging followers, the HI VAC mower deck with its vacuum like suction effectively cuts & baggage your grass.
HI VAC stroll mowers give your yard an extremely clear end. This Snapper 21″ behind lawn mower additionally contains a rear wheel drive system with excessive 10″ rear wheels for superior traction on hills & thick grass. The dependable Briggs & Stratton skilled sequence OHV engine retains you going with professional-grade options from Prepared Begin expertise to quieter operation & elevated sturdiness.
[easyazon_link asin=”B01IY817CO” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”idontknow095-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Click to see custumer review for Snapper P2185020 / 7800980 HI VAC 190cc 3-N-1 Rear Wheel Drive Variable Speed Self Propelled Lawn Mower [/easyazon_link]
organic gardening-Learn to create a beautiful organic garden – The Complete Guide-step by step.
DO YOU WANT TO EAT A HEALTHY FOOD?
in this organic Gardening Beginner’s Manual-i will teach you step by step and with clear and simple explanations how to create an organic garden, even if you know nothing about gardening.
If you want to eat healthy vegetables. If you are concerned with you and your family’s health and don’t want vegetables filled with poisons and chemicals to enter your body, then this is the book for you.
“ A very well written informative book full of helpful information! ” Cindy
“ A great book for the beginner gardener, or someone wanting to become more organic with their garden. ” Noemi Buttler
Growing vegetables, spices and fruits allows you to avoid using chemical composts, insecticides, hormones, and antibiotics. All of which have been found in non-organic crops.
you are going to learn many simple tips and techniques which will help you start your own organic garden
In this step by step guide,I will teach you:
- What the best place is to start your organic garden
- Which vegetables are good for organic gardening during each season
- Setting the ground for an organic garden- learn how to do it right
- Tips and techniques for the right composting for an organic soil
- Why is it important to use organic fertilizer?
- What nutrients are needed by the soil?
- A lot of Essential Tips for Planting And more…
In this manual I gathered tips and techniques from over 20 years of experience , to help you in your organic garden with simple explanations and illustrations.
so,in this guide i will teach you…
- Chapter 1-Benefits of having your own Organic Garden
- Chapter 2-what are the plants that you can grow on your organic garden?
- Chapter 3-Knowing about the Perfect place for your Organic Garden
- Chapter 4-Preparing the Area for Your Organic Garden
- Chapter 5-Fertilizing the Soil of your Organic Garden
- Chapter 6-Essential Tips for Planting
- Chapter 7-Irrigation Systems for your Organic Garden
- Chapter 8-Recycling Water for your Organic Garden
- Chapter 9-Removing Harmful Pests in your Organic Garden
- Chapter 10-Picking of your Organic Garden Yields
- Chapter 11-Summary
are you ready?so lets go…
Benefits of having your own Organic Garden
Are you worried about what your family eats? Are you worried about what will happen in the future if there will be continuous depletion of the earth’s natural resources because of the conventional way of producing your foods? There may be a solution for that, organic gardening! Organic gardening is done by many environment enthusiasts and people who simply love gardening nowadays; there are many benefits of having one especially if you want to help mother earth in regaining its natural resources.
- What is an organic gardening?
Organic garden is almost the same with your typical garden. However, in having your own organic garden, you will not use chemical based substances such as pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and fertilizers for your plants to grow healthy and strong. You need to meticulously check that you won’t be using chemical based products. Instead, you will only be using fertilizers and pesticides that were made up from organic materials. Don’t worry, you can easily make some or you can even buy from your local gardening shops, they will surely have some of these stuffs for you.
- What is organic garden for?
Organic garden has many benefits for you and your family; you will surely love to have one! The following are the benefits you can get from having your own organic garden.
Benefits of having your own organic garden:
- Fresh fruits and fresh vegetables will make your salad pleasurable.
Yes! By having your own organic garden, you can have fresh fruits and vegetables. Going to the supermarket or to your local grocer doesn’t mean that what they sell you is fresh. Sometimes, those fruits and vegetables were stocked on their shelves long enough that you can visibly see the yellowing leaves. Through having your own organic garden, you can have your favorite mainstay for homemade veggie salad readily available! Try to picture yourself harvesting your vegetables in your yard, the taste will surely be a lot better. So, what are you waiting for? Start digging up!
- Fetch, dig and harvesting? It’s exercise!
Exercise is important in having a healthy body. It will help in strengthening your body against diseases. So what do you think about organic gardening? It may be true that having your own organic garden is taxing. With the constant need of checking your plants one by one for worms and grubs, watering your plants, making an organic pesticide, doing compost as your fertilizer and many other tiresome chores. However, think about this, with all of these menial tasks, you are assured that you will not be easily toppled down by illnesses. Organic gardening can be a form of exercise. It is a weapon that will surely help you in preventing high blood pressure, stroke and obesity.
- Saving mother earth.
The frequent use of chemicals in the soil will surely strip the nature of its natural nutrients. Imagine the nutrients in the soil that are being removed just because of the continuous use of chemicals in growing your plants. Where would the next generations plant their sources of food if all of our lands will be stripped with nutrients? There will be none. Organic plants will use the nutrients from the soil, while organic fertilizer will serve to replenish the nutrients, in this way, you are assured that your plants will grow healthy and fully. If you want to start saving mother earth, then, you might as well start with having your own organic garden.
- Save money!
Saving money is probably one of the best benefits of organic gardening! How can you save money? Simple, instead of buying vegetables and fruits from your local shops, you can easily handpick them from your garden. You can surely save money from this. Aside from that, you don’t need to go to the grocery or supermarket to buy vegetables and fruits. Think about the money that you will save from not using fuel for your car. You can breathe easier just by knowing that you can save a lot for your other house bills.
- Tastier and healthier meals!
Researches revealed that organic fruits and vegetables are tastier compared to those which were conventionally made. The chemicals from the soil will not alter the composition producing now a tastier harvest. It is said that having natural or organic materials as fertilizer can make your crops scrumptious. You might also want to know that through eating foods that were conventionally planted; your family might ingest the toxins present from the soil.
- Healthy hobby.
Organic gardening can be your hobby. Not only that, you can include your spouse and even your children. By including your husband or wife in your gardening activities, surely he/she will not turn to other unhealthy hobbies. As for your children, at a young age, they will already know the importance of helping the environment. Aside from that, if they have gardening as a hobby, they will not be tempted to do hobbies that children nowadays are addicted too. No too much partying or even substance abuse. Organic gardening can help in maintaining a solid family foundation. It can help as you can consider this as a family bonding.
- Safe food!
The substances from chemical based products are proven to be harmful to humans and pets. Are you not worried that your kids might just accidentally ingest some of your pesticides residues? These residues are proven to be dangerous. Aside from that, your pets who are innocently strolling along your garden might accidentally inhale some of your pesticide dregs. Would you make them suffer just because of a preventable occurrence? Do not wait for these unfortunate events to happen. Switch to a chemical free gardening. Switch to organic gardening.
With organic gardening, you can eat fresher fruits and vegetables. You are assured that you are providing your family healthier and tastier food. You help in saving mother earth. You are saving money. You are decreasing your health problem risks by exercising. You and your family can have a great hobby. Don’t you think it’s time for you to start one? With organic gardening, you live a healthier and fuller life!
what are the plants that you can grow on your organic garden?
A patch of garden or even a pot of soil in your backyard can provide you and your family a source of fresh vegetables and fruits. It is a simple job to do but a great opportunity to bring hale and hearty foods on your table. Organic gardening will help you achieve this. It is a simple and yet an innovative way towards a healthy living.
You can grow different plants on your garden. However, certain plants and vegetables prefer a certain season where they can grow fuller and healthier. If you plant your favorite vegetables on the wrong season, surely, the seeds will not grow. Sometimes, if the seed will grow, it will eventually wilt. Therefore, there is a need for you to choose the right vegetables or herbs or even fruits to plants in different seasons.
Summer is the season of the year which is marked with hot and sweaty days. It is between spring and autumn. As the days are hot, you must plant vegetables and fruits that can survive the humid days or can grow abundantly under the warm rays of sun.
Tomatoes can grow up to six feet tall! What is the secret? It’s the warms rays of the sun. This fruit needs the heat to develop fully. You can consider that tomatoes are sun lovers. You can buy seedlings from your local gardening shops or greenhouses that sell them and transplant it to your garden. Tomatoes needs direct sunlight so avoid putting them under a shady place. With proper spacing, water and lots of sunlight you will surely harvest tasty and delectable organic tomatoes.
Dreaming of sweet corns? Hmm m. That dream is not impossible. With a sunny disposition, you can see your corn stalks shooting up in no time. Researches revealed that corns survives and grow more fully under the sun. Aside from that, do not forget that corns need space to grow, water and a lot of time to ripen. Once your corns are ripe, go straight to your stove and boil them. You’ll definitely enjoy a hearty snack!
The fleshy and succulent flavor of cucumber would never fail to amaze your taste buds. Just like your tomatoes, cucumbers are most delicious when grown to direct sunlight! Either the slicing or the pickling type of cucumber, both needs enough sunlight, lots of water and nutrients from the soil. Enjoy a crisp taste of your very own organic cucumbers.
What about eggplants? Do you hate the taste of these vegetables? You’ll surely change your mind once you grow your own. The taste of organic eggplant is very far from what you’ve bought from the supermarket. You just need a patch of moist soil and a lot of sunshine then you’re good to plant.
Organic summer squash or zucchini
Do you think all of the zucchinis in the world taste as bland as what you’ve always bought in the supermarket? Have you tasted home grown ones? Zucchinis love sandy loam soil and up to eight hours of sunlight. It is the perfect vegetable to grow during summer. Try eating them raw or harvesting them when they are still immature, you’ll surely taste the difference!
Organic bush beans
Bush beans are super easy to grow on your organic garden! You can just sow them on your garden patches and let them grow. They just need full sunlight and continuous watering system. You don’t even need fertilizers and pesticides. They can grow with enough nutrients from the soil and have continuous harvests!
This native plant from Africa is great for soups and gumbos. It is a sturdy plant which grows steadily during the hot summer. These plants love it when the soil is slightly damp and if they receive uninhibited sunshine.
Spring is the season between winter and summer. It is the season of rebirth from the quiescent months of winter. There are many plants that are best grown during spring, especially if the ground is still frosted from the winter days.
The root and even the leaves of beets can be eaten. The root can be sliced and cooked with a bit of oil and salt while the leafy part can be boiled or eaten raw. Beets need to grow in a cool climate that is why spring is the perfect weather for them. They can grow in raised beds or even in pots. And with just enough compost for a nutrient enriched soil, full sunlight and shade, they will grow robust and ready to be handpicked.
Organic broccoli and cabbage
Who can resist the rich taste of broccoli? Broccoli is easily grown even if you’re new to organic gardening. It grows fast aside from the fact that it is overly nutritious. They are best grown during the not so hot weather during the spring season. They are both from the same Brassica family of vegetables. One of the noticeable characteristics of these vegetables is their great need for soil nutrients. They will literally rob your soil for their much needed nutrients that is why it is better for you to enrich the soil where you will plant these as much as you can. These vegetables also prefer well drained soil and a proper spacing so that they can spread their roots uninhibited. You can enjoy a delicious meal especially if you cook these two avoiding sogginess which will alter the taste!
So what do you know about this orange root crop? Aside from the fact that nobody will mistake this for another root crop because of its distinctive color, carrots are sturdy crops. However, there are varieties of carrots; they come in different colors such as yellow red and purple. They love cool weather and they can even survive light frosts. They definitely need loose soil, damp soil and you can enrich the soil by putting fish emulsion.
Organic English peas
English peas are charming plants. These types of peas definitely loves water however, bear in mind that they do not like their soil to be too steeped with water. They prefer mist and well tilled soil. They need cool weather to prevent them from rotting especially during the time when you’ve just finished planting the seeds. They are vines that gives a palatable taste of its oh so nourishing peas!
Whether you prefer the onion leaves or the onion bulbs, both are widely used as an essential ingredient to recipes. Onions prefer living on cool weather to avoid rotting of the crop. However, they prefer a well-drained soil to grow fuller.
Knowing about the Perfect place for your Organic Garden
After learning what to grow in your organic garden the next thing that you should learn about is the most strategic place to have your organic garden
Where should I place my organic garden?
It is important for you to know where to place your organic garden. There are certain factors that you should consider to be able to have a fruitful harvest. Remember that the health of your plants do not depend just on your fertilizers and pesticides and watering. It also depends on the place where you built your garden.
Factors to consider when choosing the right spot for your organic garden:
What will happen to my plants if they don’t receive enough rays from the sun?
Think about this example. What about if you placed your organic garden in your backyard under a shady spot? What will happen to your plants? Remember that plants depend on the sun to be able to produce their own food. If you put them in a shady place, you’ll have a sickly patch of plants and a bland harvest. It is important to consider the most appropriate place for your organic garden.
Why is the sun important to the growth of my plants?
The warm rays of the sun are very important to your plants. Remember that the energy that was gathered by your plants from the sun will be converted into food. Plants like humans need food to grow and develop. Many plant especially your vegetables needs up to 6 to 8 hours of sunlight to grow. Aside from that, even cool weather crops such as your lettuce and cabbages still need the sun to mature. That is why; you should consider a spot where your garden will receive direct rays from the sun.
What can be done about it?
You can place your garden on a spot where it is not covered by bushes or tall trees. This is to avoid having a shade for your plants during the day.
- What will happen to my plants if I don’t have an easy access to it?
Picture yourself looking out the window and you’ve seen some of your neighbor’s chicken scurrying on your garden? What about your dog carelessly running over your garden patches? How can you decrease the damage that these animals will cause if your garden is far from where you are?
Why is it important that I have an easy access to my garden?
Your accessibility to your organic garden is very important. Build your organic garden in a place where you will have an easy access. Aside from that, having an easy access of your organic garden from your kitchen would be lovely! If you need an additional tomato, you can just go to your garden and pick the ripest ones. That would be very easy and fast.
What can be done about it?
It is better to place your garden in your backyard, front yard or in anywhere that you can have an easy access. It is preferable to place your organic garden near your home.
What will happen to my plants if they don’t have access to water?
Think about yourself running to and fro fetching water to water your plants. Aside from the unnecessary exhaustion, you should be worried that your plants might not be getting enough water for its sustenance.
Why is it important for my plants to have a good access to water?
Water is very important in your plants. Easy access to water is essential. That is why you need to choose a spot where your plants can have an access to water. Water is important for your plants to develop. When your plants receive too little water, they are more susceptible to damages from pests. The best thing to do is to have just enough water for your plants. Too much can cause your plants to rot.
What can be done about it?
You can place your garden beds on a place where water is abundant. If not, you can install sprinklers over your organic garden. You can also have a long hose installed near your garden so that whenever you need to bathe your plants with water, then you can reach every crevices on your garden.
What will happen to my plants if they don’t have the appropriate soil?
Plants will have difficulty to grow in inappropriate type of soil. Can you imagine you lettuce growing in a sandy soil? Can you imagine your favorite cabbage grow in a clay soil? Plants need the appropriate soil to grow. Plants need soil which are rich with nutrients and well drained.
Why is it important for my plants to have the appropriate soil?
The soil is the most important factor in choosing the right spot for your organic garden. Plants are hefty feeders of nutrients from a nutrient enriched soil. A rich soil will help in the growth and development of your plants. Aside from that, it can help in preventing destruction from pests and plant diseases. For your organic garden, it is important to apply organic matters regularly as a start. It will help in enriching and replenishing the nutrients from your soil. There are different types of soil texture namely: sand, silt and clay. However, the best soil for your organic garden would be the sandy loam. Sandy loam is the mixture of the three soil texture. This type of soil texture is very important in your plants since sandy loam is crumbly, it will help the root of the plants to have proper aeration and it allows the drainage of water.
What can be done about it?
If your backyard soil is sandy or just plain clay clumps then the best thing that you could do is buy a premixed soil. You could also buy the three basic soil textures and mix it yourself however, it is not recommended because there is a must to produce just the exact texture.
What will happen to my plants with too much wind?
Envision the young cucumbers and squash scattered under your trellises which is caused by the wind. Your effort will be wasted as well as the money you spent if your garden is placed in a windy location.
Why do I need to choose a non-windy location?
Your plants need wind. However, a windy location is not that good for your plants. Trellised plants such as cucumber or squash and your tomatoes and eggplants which in time will be top heavy cannot survive in a windy location. That is why, in placing your organic garden strategically, you must consider the wind. It is a very important factor to prevent hazards for your plants.
What can be done about it?
There is not much that you can do. You need wind as much as you don’t want it to destroy your plants. However, you can still place your trellises and top heavy plants in a location where there can be a barrier such as a tree or even a wall.
In building your own organic garden, the location is very essential. The location is one of the most important factors for your plants growth and maturity.
Preparing the Area for Your Organic Garden
Preparing the Area for Your Organic Garden
Now that you’ve finished finding the perfect location for your garden, it is time for you to prepare the soil. It is essential to learn the basics and start with enough knowledge on organic gardening. One of the essential things that you should learn is preparing the ground or area where you chose to place your garden.
Why is it important to prepare the area?
Other people may think that digging up the soil, planting up the seeds or seedlings and watering the newly planted seeds would ensure their growth. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. There’s more than just carelessly digging up a hole and plopping up your seedlings. You need to prepare the area. There are certain procedures that you must do to be able to have the perfect beds for your plants. Preparing the area is very important because a well primed area will ensure not only the greenest foliage but also the palatable taste of your yields.
Problems that comes from an unprepared area for your organic garden:
Picture yourself in a garden that was unprepared. Can you see the ghastly look of your organic garden? Can you imagine the weeds towering over your plants? Can you imagine tilling the ground and yet you’re efforts are being blocked by numerous rocks? These are some of the problems that you might encounter without preparing the soil. Would you like these to happen? Undoubtedly, NO! If you don’t want then, take a look on how you can prepare the area.
Preparing the area
- Making a layout of your garden
Get a pencil and a paper and draw a layout of your garden. Now that you’ve chosen the appropriate plants to sow on your garden, you must estimate the space each variety will use. Some plants require a lot of space to grow while some do not. Consider the space so that you will be able to plant all your target vegetables and other plant varieties. Aside from that, consider where you will put your sprinklers or other tools that you might need on your garden. These tools are very important to be placed strategically so that there will be no need for you to exhaust yourself in doing your garden chores when you will already start planting.
After finding the finest spot for your organic garden, the next thing to do is to clean the area from any dirt or debris. Also, remove the rocks and weeds that are scattered. It is important to remove the rocks since it can block up the nutrient absorption ability of your plants. Weeds should be eliminated too because it will surely compete with your plants for nutrients. Remember that weeds are opportunistic and will always try to gather all the nutrients from the soil for themselves. If this will happen, then, expect to see weeds growing healthier while your plants are withering as time passes by. To ensure that no further weeds will grow on your garden before planting, place black weed paper. Make sure that you do this a week before planting
- Evaluating the soil
You must also consider the texture of your soil. There are three basic types of soil namely: sandy, clayey and silt. To be able to determine if the type of the soil on your area is sandy, grab a handful and let it slip from your fingers, sandy soil easily slips. If your soil is clayey, then try to grab a handful and clomp it together, if that handful will turn into a clump, then you have a clayey soil. However, as was mentioned before, the most suitable soil texture for your garden is sandy loam. It is the mixture of 20 percent of sandy soil, 40 percent of silt soil and another 40 percent of clayey soil. Nevertheless, some areas are most fortunate for having the perfect and nutrient enriched soil without the need of buying other materials to have the perfect mixture.
Consider also the pH of the soil. You can check the pH of the soil by buying kits on your local gardening shops. The pH of the soil is very important since some plants prefer alkaline soil while some prefers an acidic environment. If your soil is too acidic, you can place sulfur to make it less acidic. If you want your soil to be at least alkaline, apply lime.
- Tilling the soil
After evaluating the soil, the next thing to do is to mulch or till it. Mulching or tilling the soil is very important to be able to integrate oxygen. You can use a tiller or a shovel to dig, however, if the area is bigger, there are mechanical tiller that you can try. Dig until you can for better aeration of your garden beds, some organic enthusiasts recommends that you till for at least 16 inches deep, this will be enough for your plants to live on.
- Adding organic matter
Organic matter came from a living organism and is now on the process of decaying. It is important to add organic matter. This is perfect for those who don’t have the appropriate soil for their organic gardens. Organic matter can help in preparing the structure of the soil. It can help in making your soil drain better or hold an increased amount of water. However, always remember that you should only put decaying organic matter and not the fresh ones. There isa chance that the fresh organic matter may still contain organisms that can be absorbed by your plants which will induce diseases.
Planning and knowledge about organic gardening is very important especially if you are a novice in the world of organic enthusiasts. Doing all the above mentioned things is very essential to have a well prepared garden. A well prepared garden would ensure a productive and healthy harvest. Organic garden is a fun and healthy hobby!
- Raking the soil
After improving the soil, it is a must that you turn over the soil again to spread the added organic matter. Then rake the soil with a bow rake to remove the clumps and to level the surface of your garden.
Fertilizing the Soil of your Organic Garden
Fertilizing the Soil of your Organic Garden
After preparing the ground for your organic garden, then you must know more about fertilizing the soil. The use of fertilizers in growing your plants is important, aside from that; the use of organic fertilizer makes the general difference in organic gardening and your typical gardening. That is why, it is important for you to learn more about fertilizing the soil of your organic garden using organic fertilizers.
- What is fertilizer?
Fertilizers are substances that are added to the soil to supplement the lacking or absent nutrient on your soil that is needed for the growth of your plants. It can be categorized into organic and inorganic. Inorganic fertilizer is made from chemical based resources while organic fertilizer came from resources that usually from a living organism.
- Why is it important to use organic fertilizer?
It is important for you to use organic fertilizer because your plants cannot survive various problems associated with growing your plants. Your plants need nutrients from the soil. Nutrients will ensure the proper growth and development of your plants. Aside from that, organic fertilizer can help in increasing the resistance of your plants against diseases. It will also help fight pests that will surely leave nothing behind if no fertilizer is used.
- What problems will arise if you do not use organic fertilizer?
There are many problems that will arise if you do not use organic fertilizer. Use of organic fertilizer is advocated nowadays because chemical based fertilizers can cause:
Contamination of the underground water
- Chemical based fertilizer can cause contamination of the underground water because the soil will absorb the chemicals. If this will happen, these chemicals will go to the underground resources of water. Eventually, it can even lead to the springs, rivers and other body of water. Therefore, you can say that not only the underground water will be affected but also the nearby sources of water.
Hazard to you, your family’s health and your pets
- The chemicals from your inorganic fertilizers are proven to be detrimental to you and your family’s health. Inhalation and even bodily contact of these chemicals may cause severe reactions. Aside from that, these chemicals are not good for your pets too. There is a chance that your cute little dog may inhale the chemical residues which may cause unforeseen reactions.
- What nutrients are needed by the soil?
Before learning about how to fertilize the soil, it is important for you to learn about the nutrients that are needed by the soil. Generally, the soil needs 20 nutrients; oxygen, hydrogen and carbon are the most essential since they are required in the functioning as well as the growth of your plants. These three are being supplied by the air and water. As for the remaining nutrients, nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium is the most important of all the remaining 17 nutrients. These three should be present in greater quantities.
- How can I fertilize the soil?
In fertilizing the soil, it is important for you to know first about the different organic fertilizers. Organic fertilizers are divided into three categories namely: plant organic fertilizers, animal organic fertilizers and mineral organic fertilizers.
Plant organic fertilizers
The organic fertilizers that can be derived from plants primarily have low and some has moderate amounts of nitrogen phosphorous and potassium. However, this type of fertilizer is commonly used because these nutrients are easily obtainable. Aside from that, many of the plant organic fertilizers contain other needed nutrients which will further increase the nutrients available for your plants. The most common plant organic fertilizers are derived from alfalfa, corn, cottonseed, seaweed or kelp, soybean, humus and compost.
Animal organic fertilizers
Animal organic fertilizers are potassium enriched. That is why it can be used with plant organic fertilizers. Products from land, air and even aquatic animals can give you organic fertilizers. The most commonly used animal products that are turned into organic fertilizers are manure from cows, chickens and even pigs however, in using animal manure, make sure that you will only use the composted ones. It is important to use the composted ones because fresh manure may still contain organisms that can cause diseases, aside from that; it can also burn the roots of your plants. Fish by products such as fish emulsion, powders and meals were also used because of its high nitrogen content. Blood meal (powdered blood from animals) and bone meal (powdered bones) are also commonly used. The excrements of bats and seabirds were also used as fertilizers.
Mineral organic fertilizers
Mineral organic fertilizers are also used however; it is not the most common. It is used because the effects take months and even years to be evident. The nutrients are released slowly. However, many gardeners are discovering the effects of minerals on the growth of their plants nowadays so why won’t you try one? The most common used mineral organic fertilizer is the lime. Lime will help you raise the pH of your garden. Other minerals such as Epsom, gypsum, greensand, Chilean nitrate of soda and phosphate are also used.
- Making your own compost
Now that you have basic knowledge about fertilizing your soil, it is imperative for you to learn more about making your own compost. It may be true that you can buy compost from your local garden shops however; doing your own is more fun and its free! Compost adds organic material to your soil, so expect a greater yield for free!
In making your own compost, you need three basic ingredients namely the:
- Greens are mostly those which came from your fruit peelings, fruit leftovers, vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, manure (from cows, pigs and chickens) and even weeds you pulled from your backyard.
- Browns are mostly dried leaves, branches, twigs, papers and sawdust too.
- Moisture and not exactly water is the most important ingredient as this will hasten the composting process. However, you should remember that you should not put too much water. Just make sure that the greens and browns are damp enough. Too much water can cause bad bacteria to multiply which may cause more damage than benefit.
- Consider the place where you will place your compost. You may create, buy or recycle a bin or you could also dig a pit. Whichever you choose, just make sure that you have a proper covering.
- Place the greens and browns on your bin or pit and mix the two. Just make sure that the ingredients are shredded in small sizes.
- After mixing the browns and greens, add water just enough to make the compost moist.
- Cover the bin or pit to ensure that the moisture will not evaporate which may cause drying of the compost.
- Turn the compost every week placing the composted materials above while placing the above materials below for its turn to decompose.
Learning about organic gardening is truly fun and rewarding!
Essential Tips for Planting
Essential Tips for Planting
Planting organic plants is a non-expensive, fun and healthy hobby. It is a way to cut cost on your household needs and a way to keep healthy foods available on your table all year round. Now that you have finished learning about the benefits, preparing the area and the soil and learning how to do compost, it is time for you to learn about how to plant.
Many people are hesitating to start their own organic garden. It maybe because they think it is too taxing because of the activities needed to be done. They may think that it is a very expensive hobby because the price of organic vegetables in the supermarket is a dollar or two more expensive than those which were commercially grown. Unfortunately, they are wrong in this aspect. Starting an organic garden is not expensive and not exhausting if you just know how to properly plant.
- Why is it important to learn on how to properly plant?
Knowledge on how to plant is a crucial need for you to learn in organic gardening. It is very important because failure can be the result of having no knowledge about this. Even the greatest inventors and those who were bestowed with prestigious awards know what they are doing. They have the knowledge about what they do and they do not just rely on their instincts. Knowledge is a weapon. Knowledge about gardening will ensure you the most delicious and healthiest yields.
- How do I plant?
Seeds and Seedlings
Seedlings grow from seeds. In order to know how to plant seedling, you must first learn about how to plant seeds. Seeds are usually grown indoor.
- In planting seeds, you must first gather all the materials that you need. You need to have containers (egg cartons, pots, plastic cups), soil (garden soil or premixed soil from your local garden shop), seeds of your choice, covers (plastic bags), water and a source of light
- Put the soil on a large container and mix it with water. Make sure that the soil is not too wet or too dry. Loosen the soil making sure that there will be no large clamps.
- Place the loosened soil on your containers (egg cartons, pots, plastic cups). You can fill the containers for at least ¾ full. Then gently level the soil with your hands.
- You can now start planting the seeds on the containers. Read the label of the seeds and follow the instructions. Generally, you can place 2 to 3 seeds in one container to ensure that one will at least grow into a seedling.
- Cover again the seeds with your leftover soil following the instructions on the seed’s label.
- Sprinkle the planted container with water.
- Cover the container with a plastic bag to trap heat and moisture.
- Place the container on a warm spot inside your home or you can buy heating pads which are specifically made for seed germination.
- If you already see a newly sprouted leaves, it’s time for you to remove the plastic covering. And put the seedlings to your light source.
- This time, you can place organic fertilizer such as compost or fish emulsion to your seedlings.
- Seedlings need up 14 to 16 hours of light that is why you need to have a constant source of light. If you have a windowsill which can hold your container, you can expose your seedlings their however the light is not constant and your seeds may not grow as planned without enough sunlight. You can buy a fluorescent light or any plant lights that are usually bought from garden shops.
- Seedlings prefer 60 to 70 F. It’s better for you to choose a spot with this temperature in the germination of your seeds.
- Follow the instructions written about the seeds that you bought. Certain seeds have different preparations. It is best to follow those instructions.
The best time to apply fertilizer is after the appearance of true leaves on your seedlings
Transferring the seedlings:
Seedlings are the newly sprouted plants from seeds. They are very delicate that is why there is a need for vigilant care. Seedlings which are grown indoors should be accustomed to the different environment before transplanting them to the garden. Here’s what you need to do:
Hardening off – Gradually expose the seedlings for 2 to 3 hours in a shady spot on your garden beds then get them back inside. Do this activity for a few days then gradually increase the time you expose the seedlings outside. After a week, you may place the seedlings on direct sunlight for a few hours and increase the time the seedlings are exposed until you are sure that your seedlings already adapted to the environment of your garden.
- Transplant your seedlings to the garden but ensure that the climate is not too hot when you transfer the plants.
- You can also cover your plants to protect them from wind and heavy rain.
Building raised beds
Building raised beds for your plants are one of the activities for your organic garden. You can choose to buy pre made ones but isn’t doing it yourself is more fun? It will make your gardening chores a lot easier. And there are benefits of having raised garden beds namely:
- Decrease back strain.
Having raised garden beds will decrease the need for you to bend over while watering or weeding your plants, hence, the decrease of having a painful back after an hour or two of tending your organic garden.
- A better drainage.
There is better drainage of water. Aside from that, there is a larger space for your plants roots to spread and absorb nutrients.
- Prevents your soil and nutrients to be washed away by heavy rain.
The sides of the bed will serve as a barrier to avoid the soil and nutrients to be washed away when it rains.
- It gives your garden an organized appearance.
Do it your own raised garden beds:
- Choose the right spot in your garden area.
You can choose different spots on your garden to place your garden beds. You can place the beds in the middle or inclined in a wall or fence.
- Decide on the size and design of the area.
You can choose any design or shape. Just make sure that you can reach the middle area of your garden. For the size, any size that your beds can occupy is okay as long as you see fit that you can easily reach all the parts of your garden.
- Prepare the materials needed.
Once you’ve decided on making your own garden beds, gather all the needed materials. You can use wood or cement as the barrier. You can use screws and drills or another piece of wood to connect the joints. Prepare a shovel for digging and a saw for cutting the wood if you prefer to use woods.
- Mark the site.
You can mark the site by digging the sides where you will put the barriers. You can also use flour, straw, ties and stones as a marker.
- Prepare the site.
Dig the parts where you will bury some part of the woods or cement. You should have a depth of at least 6 inches to make sure that the frame (which will serve as the barrier) will not fall easily.
- Bury the frame.
After digging, bury the frame up to the depth you made and finish by connecting the joints of the frame. Make sure that the frame is secured and the height of the sides of the frame is level with each other.
- Fill the frame with soil.
Fill the frame with premix soil or garden soil. Make sure that every crevice is filled with soil. It is better for you put loosened oil mixed with organic fertilizer already. After filling the frame, you can now level the surface.
Every now and then, apply organic fertilizer on your garden beds. Also, don’t forget to mulch or turn over the soil every time you plant. This is very important because a garden bed easily drains leaving now your soil dry. With all of these in mind, you can now enjoy a neat and organized way of planting on your very own garden beds!
Irrigation Systems for your Organic Garden
Irrigation Systems for your Organic Garden
What is irrigation system?
An irrigation system is a method to provide water to your plants. As mentioned before, water is a crucial need of your plants. It contains two of the basic needs for functioning and development of your plants namely oxygen and hydrogen.
Why is it important to have a proper irrigation system?
Envision your garden on mid-summer; try not to water your plants for a week. You will surely see the importance of an irrigation system. Fertilizers, sunshine and good soil does not ensure a thriving harvest. Proper irrigation is one of the main ingredients in having a healthy and alive organic garden.
There are different types of irrigation system. You can have a well or a pond or even an automatic garden irrigation. You can use the irrigation systems that you prefer however, there are certain factors that you must first consider such as the size, budget and your time in choosing the most efficient irrigation system.
Tips in choosing the proper irrigation system:
- Consider the size of your organic garden
The size of your organic garden is very important. If you have a large garden area or even a small farm, then you must have an automatic garden irrigation. A twist of the controller would give your plants the water that they need. If you have a tiny space, then you can use a soaker hose irrigation system or even the more traditional ones.
- Consider the budget for your irrigation system
The budget you are saving for your irrigation system is very important. If you can afford to buy for the more sophisticated ones then there’s no problem about it. However, if you plan to spend more on buying certified organic seedlings, then you can opt to buy those which are not costly or you can just grab a pail of water and a dipper and start watering your plants.
- Consider the time you plan to spend on your organic garden
If you are building an organic garden for a hobby while working, you must consider having an automatic type of garden irrigation such as the use of sprinklers or a drip irrigation system. With the use of this type, you can just switch your controller and water will immediately be disseminated to your plants. However, if you have all the time in the world and you can visit your garden for an hour or two, then you can use the more traditional ones such as a bucket or your worn kettle
Types of irrigation system:
There are certain types of irrigation system ranging from the old-fashioned ones up to the more sophisticated ones. Whatever you choose to use, the most important thing is to be able to have a proper water supply for your plants.
- Bucket and dipper
The use of bucket and dipper is probably the most traditional way of water irrigation. Although it is traditional, you cannot fault the efficiency of its use. It is affordable and more importantly, you can control the amount of water you provide your plant. Remember that not all plants require a lot of water; some prefers a well-drained soil. Aside from that, the bucket and dipper is considered as a low pressure type of irrigation system. Low pressure types are good for the plants and will not cause any damage to your plants especially to seedlings.
- Soaker hose irrigation system
Soaker hose irrigation system is traditional but a bit advanced than the use of bucket and dippers. As long as the length of the hose is long, you can reach or cover a wide area. This system is not expensive and you don’t need an expert to install this for you. It is a do it yourself method. If you have the basic knowledge, you’re good to go. However, it also has disadvantages. It can again cause disease to your plants because of the risk of having water on your plant’s foliage. Aside from that, if the water pressure is too high, it may cause damage to your plants especially to the delicate seedlings.
- Place a rain nozzle to the end of the hose to decrease the pressure of the water.
- Water your plants with soaker hose irrigation in the morning.
Sprinkler system is a more advanced way of irrigation. It is widely used because gardeners tend not to work manually in providing a supply of water. A controller can be used to open the system. There are also automatic controllers that are set in a certain time of the day to automatically sprinkle water. There are also types of sprinkler system namely: overhead sprinkler and oscillating sprinklers. Overhead sprinklers are good for those plants which do not require too much water. Oscillating sprinklers are favorable because it can cover a larger area.
In using a sprinkler system, try to operate these sprinklers early in the morning. Avoid using your sprinkler system in the afternoon because retained water in the foliage can cause plant diseases. You would not want that to happen on your garden right?
- Drip irrigation system
The drip irrigation system is probably one of the most efficient methods of water irrigation. There are various benefits from using this type of irrigation. You can save time and effort by letting the system run itself. This system gives the exact amount of water that plants need reducing now wasting of water. Aside from that, there is reduced chance of acquiring plant diseases since it operates under the surface. However, this type of irrigation system is more expensive and more complex to do. You can try to make your own drip irrigation system on your garden; however, you may need detailed instructions. If you really want to have a drip irrigation system, you can go and ask a professional about guidelines. You can also pay some expert to install a drip irrigation system for you.
A drip irrigation system works by permitting water to drip gently and consistently to the soil. This will allow equal dissemination of water along the roots of your plants. This method would decrease the amount of damage that the typical irrigation systems cause.
Water is important to our life as well as keeping your organic garden flourishing. You can say that irrigation is the lifeline of your garden. That is why take heed of the important tips on irrigating and enjoy an afternoon stroll to your buzzing garden!
Recycling Water for your Organic Garden
Water is life. You certainly cannot live without water. And that fact is also true to your organic garden. You have recently learned about the proper irrigation system. Now, is the best time to learn on how to recycle water for your organic garden.
What is recycling of water?
Have you ever heard of the government programs about recycling? What about your papers with a label “recycled”? Recycling means using a certain thing or idea or just using that thing again. You maximize the potential use of those things so that you won’t need to throw it or just waste it. In recycling water, it is of no difference. You can recycle your used water for your organic garden.
What is the importance of recycling water?
Recycling water is very important especially nowadays. It may be true that a larger portion of the earth is composed of water, however, water resources even the underground ones are gradually drying up. In US alone, 25.6 billion liters of drinkable water is wasted on garden irrigations in a day. So, what about if you sum up every droplet of water that is wasted on the whole world in just a day? Surely, you will be surprised! Are you going to wait for all these resources to be totally depleted? If not, then start recycling your water now!
There are various ways to recycle water. You can help Mother Nature. You can educate your family about recycling water while serving healthy foods to your family. You can save money by decreasing your water bill. Recycling water for your organic garden is both rewarding and pleasurable!
How can I recycle water?
There are certain ways that you can do to recycle water.
- Use of grey water
Grey water are water that are derived from your kitchen sink, bath tubs and washing machines. You can also use any water as long as it does not have any fecal particles or chemicals. Fecal matters and water which may contain chemicals is not recommended because it may cause diseases to your plants and is equally dangerous to you and your family’s health. Water with fecal particles and with chemicals is known as “black water.”
- You can use water that are derived from your kitchen sink such as the water you have used after rinsing rice and the water you have used after washing the dishes (take note: you must use environment friendly dishwashing liquids).
- After taking a bath, you can use the water in your tub. It would be better for you to ask the cooperation of your family members, in this way, you and your family are building ways to reduce your water bill and are helping the ecosystem. You can use a bucket to fetch the water from your tub. It is better for you to use this bucket for this purpose only.
- If you are using a washing machine, you can place a drum nearby and connect the hose and drain the used water in. However, you should always remember that you should use environment friendly detergents. These types of detergents are already gaining fame and are widely used by environment conscious people.
- Use of rain water
Rain water is also a good source of water for your organic garden. There are even “rain gardens” where they primarily use rain water for their plants. These rain gardens are also known as rain runoffs. You can gain benefits from the rain water that runs off the roof of your homes. This is a type of irrigation system that produces a flood type of irrigation. It is used for gardens in low lying areas. This can help in providing water for your organic garden. Aside from that, you can actually save rain water by catching the water from the spout of your home. You can save this rain water in a barrel or drum and use it to water your plants.
Tips in using grey water:
- It is recommended to use grey water for your flowers and shrubs only. It is still better to use fresh water for your organic vegetables to decrease the risk of contamination from unknown microorganisms on grey water.
- If you still want to use grey water for your vegetables, use it on vegetables that grow above the surface. Do not use it on root crops and green leafy vegetables.
- Never use grey water in drip irrigation systems.
- It would be better if you water your organic garden simultaneously with fresh water and grey water.
- Grey water are alkaline, you can add sulfur in the soil of the plants that prefers to live in an acidic environment.
- Always use cooled grey water in watering your plants.
- Never use grey water that is used to bath your pets.
- You should also never use grey water that is used to wash clothes soiled with fecal matters (e.g. reusable diapers)
- Use filters. If you use a watering can, put a rain nozzle on the spout to filter large particles.
- Always check the labels of your detergents, make sure that it does not contain harmful chemicals for your plants such as salt, chloride, sodium and boron. It is recommended that you use detergents labeled as “environmental friendly.”
- Have a dram or barrel where you can contain the used water from your tub. In this way, you can also cool the tub water.
Recycling water is a simple but innovative way of helping the environment. You don’t need to go rallying with environment enthusiasts in front of a city hall to prove that you want to help the environment. In your own little ways, you help the environment
Removing Harmful Pests in your Organic Garden
Removing Harmful Pests in your Organic Garden
Are those harmful pests kept eating their way through your organic garden? These pests will leave holes on the leaves and on the fruits of your plants. You may have a thriving organic garden but it will never be pests free if you do not take any actions against them. There are pesticides available but remember, you can never use chemically based products on your organic garden.
Grubs, worms and earwigs are pests that can cause a substantial damage to you garden. That is why you need to do various methods in removing pests from your garden. There are many ways that you can eliminate these harmful pests without using chemical based products. There are also ways on preventing pests on amassing on your garden.
Ways on how to prevent pests from your garden:
- Bird baths
Birds are natural pesticide. They can help in eliminating the pests from your garden. Building a bird bath near your irrigation system would help. Birds help by eating the pests thereby, getting rid of them.
Artificial ponds can provide an attractive highlight to your organic garden. Looking at it provides relief from a stressful day’s work. Aside from that, it can be used to have a healthy ecosystem of aquatic animals. Lizards as well as frogs can help in getting rid of pests. They eat slugs, aphids and other varieties of insects. Animal eating insects will help in reducing the population of pests from your garden.
- Plant nasturtium, marigold and mint
Nasturtium, marigold and mint are natural pesticides. Nasturtium repels beetles from beans and cucumbers. The smell of mint will also keep white flies at bay. Marigolds will also help in keeping animals away as well as insects. Aside from that, marigolds are conducive for the growth of beneficial insects such as lacewings, centipedes and ladybugs. Lacewings and their larvae and ladybugs eat a significant number of aphids from your garden.
- Healthy plants
This is one of the best prevention of pest controlling techniques. Healthy plants are more resistant to insects and pests. Insects and pests usually targets sickly looking plants that is why you better take care of your organic garden!
Handpicking is probably the most traditional way of removing harmful pests on your garden. You can do this by manually checking your plants every day. In this way, whenever you see a tiny pest or an insect behind one of the leaves of your plant, you can just pick them and kill them right away! However, this method is tedious and time consuming.
Also, you don’t need to use expensive sprays as pesticides. There are many organic substances that you can use as sprays.
- Tobacco mixture
You can use tobacco to kill a respective number of pests including root lice, fungus gnats, flies, worms, spider mites, aphids and thrips. It can be prepared by mixing tobacco and water or doused tobacco. However, it can be hazardous to other plants and to you as well, that is why you need to take caution in using tobacco.
- Hot pepper spray
You can crush peppers and dust it on the foliage of your plants. You can also use hot sauce as a spray. With the use of any hot pepper preparation, animals and foliage eating insects will leave your plants alone.
- Neem oil
Neem oil is a very effective solution for your pest problems. It works not by eating other pests. It works in an entirely different way. Neem oil actually modifies the way insects think. Because of this modification, the insects will not eat nor mate which will reduce their lifespan.
- Spearmint spray
A mixture of spearmint, water, hot pepper and green onions is proven to be a good insecticide. With this mixture, insects and pests will literally run away from your plants. You can bath or spray your plants with your own spearmint spray.
Spinosad is an all-natural pesticide. It can be fatal to insects which ingests leaves or crops treated with spinosad. That is why it is one of the most efficient ways in getting rid of pests. Because of these characteristics, spinosad is said to affect a wide variety of insects. It is best to read the directions and follow them. Spraying spinosad in sunrise or sunset is proven to be very effective.
- Beauvaria Bassiana
It is a natural growing fungus in the soil. It causes a disease to insects called “white muscadine disease.” When the insects’ skin comes in contact with the spores of this fungus, Beauvaria Bassiana will cover the entire skin until the inner body of the insect. This would then cause the insect to die. It works differently than spinosad because unlike the latter, Beauvaria Bassiana is fatal in contact!
- Diatomaceous earth
Diatomaceous earth is a sedimentary rock that is milled and refined to produce a powder. This powder is then dusted to the foliage of your plants. The dust is coarse causing cuts on the body of an insect especially of worms. If this will happen, the dust will surely get inside the cuts causing dehydration to the insect and eventually, killing these pests. It surely is an agonizing way to die!
- Bacillus thuringiensis (BT)
Bacillus thuringiensis is a biological pesticide. It is now being incorporated to other pesticides to potentiate its effect. It is an all-natural pesticide and is very popular to organic gardeners. Aside from that, it has no harmful effects on your pets and children and even with beneficial insects. It works when insects eat leaves and crops that are cured with BT.
With all of these alternatives in mind, are you regretting doing an organic garden? Of course you don’t. Organic gardening is a step towards healthy living and removal of harmful pests is a part of this step. Making do it yourself insecticides and pesticides as well as building or making a way to prevent amassing of pests in your garden is truly a worthwhile experience!
Picking of your Organic Garden Yields
You’ve prepared the area for your organic garden. You’ve raised garden beds for your plants. You’ve chosen the appropriate plants for the season. You’ve decided on the type of water irrigation. You’ve fertilized the soil with organic fertilizers. You’ve finished planting your crops. You are done dealing with pests. Now, what will you do next? The answer is simple, HARVEST!
Months of digging, toiling, mulching, weeding and watering your plants are not very easy. In all fairness, for the sake of your organic garden you have endured all of these. That is why, your efforts deserves to be awarded. You will be awarded by harvesting your own plants and vegetables! There is nothing more fulfilling than a taste of the harvests you’ve tended with your own sweat and blood! That is why; it is time for you to learn on when and how to pick your yields!
What is the importance of knowing how and when to harvest?
It is very important for you to have knowledge because an improper way of harvesting would lead to decrease yields. Aside from that, it can cause your plants to wither.
How to pick summer vegetables:
Pick tomatoes when the color is red wherein it is truly ripe. Pinch a tomato slightly and check if they are slightly soft. This would mean that your tomatoes are prepared to be eaten! In picking, gently twist the tomatoes from the stalk.
Picking sweet corns
Harvest corn after the silks turns dry and brown. Then check for the maturity of your kernels, slightly open the top and squeeze one kernel and if a milky white liquid came out, it is ready to be gathered. Encircle the top of an ear with your hands and gently pull it up. It is better to cook freshly harvested sweet corns because they exude the sweetest taste at this time. Enjoy the sweet taste of your corns with melted butter or milk!
Gather cucumbers when they are still young. Gathering cucumber when they ripens or when they turn long is not good. They may taste bitter and curt at this time. Pinch the base of the cucumber vine using your thumb away from the vine body. You can now use these cucumbers on your salads or just eat them as they were. Enjoy a crisp and healthy veggie salad!
Eggplants taste best when they are still young and shiny. Reap eggplants by cutting them instead of pulling. Avoid reaping eggplants that are already brown or have lost their gleam. Relish your eggplant with glee!
Picking summer squash or zucchini
You can harvest zucchinis while they are still young. Avoid harvesting them when they have grown to behemoth size. To harvest, have a nice grip on the fattest part and gently twist that part. Enjoy the behemoth taste of your zucchinis then!
Picking bush beans
Gather your bush beans while the seeds are still immature and slender. It is better to gather bush beans while they are young to ensure crispness of your yields. Gather bush beans every now and then because this will encourage further production of crops.
It is best to gather okras when the pods are about 2 to 3 inches. Make sure that you gather okras where the seeds are still half mature. Use a knife in cutting and cover your hands with gloves while cutting because the skin of okras is prickly and may cause itchiness. Appreciate the sweet, slimy taste of your home grown okras!
How to pick spring and autumn vegetables:
You can pick beet greens whenever you want and you can pick beet root crops when you see a part of the beet slightly bulging from the soil. Pull or you can also dig up the root crops. As for the greens, you can just snap them from the body. It is better for you to use the greens upon harvesting.
Pick the first sprouting offshoots as this encourage thicker and more broccoli tops for the next harvests. You can harvest by cutting the heads. Enjoy the taste of your broccoli in soups or you can just plainly steam them!
Gather the heads of cabbages when you think they are already ready to be picked. Remove by cutting them from their body while avoiding the destruction of leaves. If you do this, more heads will surely shoot up from those leaves. Have fun gathering cabbages!
Carrots are an all healthy root crops. You can reap them if you see a protuberance from the soil. Reap them when they are 1 – 2” thick to ensure the appropriateness. Just dig up the root and you are ready. You will surely adore the healthy taste of fresh carrot juice!
Picking English peas
In picking English peas, choose those that are 2” long. You can pick the peas by pinching the between your fingers, twist gently and pull away from the vine in a swift motion. You can also use scissors to be able to pick peas. Hmmm. You’ll surely revel on a pea flavored soup!
Gathering onions? Hmmm. In gathering the bulbs, you must first wait until the onion leaves turns brown and shriveled. When the leaves turn brown, it means that the onions stopped growing and they are ready to be picked! Pickled onions are just perfect for the winter days to come!
What about potatoes? You can already harvest new potatoes after 60 to 90 days. You can harvest up to two potatoes in each plant. In harvesting, dig or mulch the potatoes from your raised beds carefully as not to destroy the other potatoes.
Do you love the taste of turnips? After months of toiling your garden, you can now enjoy your organically grown turnips! Gather turnips while their diameter is still 1”. The taste of turnips are much sweeter in a light frosted environment, however, do not let them stay under the ground too long. Turnips might turn woody if you will let that happen. As it is a root crop, carefully dig them.
Spinach is the legendary veggie that gives Popeye his invincible strength. It turned out that he was all correct! In gathering spinach, cut the stem making sure that it is near the base. Avoid cutting leaves from the center to encourage more growth of leaves. Take pleasure from your new found source of strength, spinach!
Lettuce anyone? Lettuce is the mainstay of veggie salad. That is why it is fitting to grow them first on your organic garden! In gathering lettuce, just cut off the leaves. When you see a lettuce leaf seeding, remove it fast because it can trigger other leaves to seed. You can never resist the palatability of fresh lettuce!
The crisp flavor of celery on soups and salads made this a favorite on organic gardens. You can already pick your celery after 85 to 120 days from planting. Celery will taste sweeter and crisper when you blanch them!
There is nothing more fulfilling than eating your home grown veggies! These veggies are all nutritious, scrumptious and delicious! You can now enjoy a hearty salad or soup or just even eat these vegetables raw!
Alas! The time of harvesting is already finished. You need to prepare your garden again for another year of planting. Preparation is very important. This is the time where you can correct the mistakes you’ve committed in the past months of planting. This is also the time to try other techniques in planting and decide on which methods to use. However, don’t be afraid of committing mistakes. Organic gardening is not just about producing the best harvest; it is also about learning and healthy living.
- Sit back, think and decide
Now is the time for you to assess your previous performance. Grab a pen and a paper and list all of the activities you’ve done which produced a good result while listing down the activities which produced bad results. Doing this, you would be able to evaluate everything. You can now retain the activities that produced worthy outcomes and you can do an alternative for those which brought bad outcomes. Then, decide on things that you can do for your organic garden.
- Garden Clean-up!
Cleaning up your garden is also important. You need to remove the stumps and left over from your garden. Eliminate the weeds. You can use spades and shovels to remove weeds and old root crops. Chickens are also helpful in removing perennial weeds. They will keep scurrying around your garden leaving your garden toiled in no time! Use rakes to remove masses of dead weeds and grasses.
Collect the dead weeds and vegetables and place them on your compost pit or bin so that you have something to use during planting. While doing this, don’t forget to place the newly collected dead weeds and vegetables on the bottom of the compost. This way, the bottom compost will be at the top which will be effective for better access when needed.
- Toiling the soil
After removing all the dead weeds and plants from your organic garden, it is time for you to toil the soil. Turn over the soil so as to make the soil at the bottom go over the top. This way, the nutrient enriched soil will be maximized by the next rotation of plants for the next season of planting. Toiling the soil will help in aeration of the beds. With proper air circulation, there will be proper drainage and proper absorption of nutrients from the soil.
- Amending the soil
After toiling the soil, you can now add amendments. Apply compost to your garden beds from your compost bin. Make sure that the compost is well mixed with the soil. This is to provide adjustments for the type of soil you have and to be able to add nutrients.
- Mulching the soil
You can also start mulching the soil. Put some dead weeds and leaves on your garden beds. Do this especially if you are planting during the cold months. Do this a week before planting as this will also help in preventing growth of weeds. Mulching the soil will help in trapping the heat on your soil which will encourage the growth of beneficial microorganisms from your soil.
- Securing your garden beds
Now that you are done with the soil, you should check for the durability and security of your garden frames. Make sure that the garden frames are still standing firmly. Make sure that there are no rotting frames, if there are, you may need to change it now so that there will be no need for tedious work after you’ve already planted on your garden beds. You must also secure the joints of the garden frame. Make sure that the joints are fastened tightly.
- Building trellis
If you are planning to plant vines, then you might as well start building trellises. Make sure that the trellises are strong and sturdy so that it can carry the heavy fruits of your vegetables. You can maximize your trees which can act as trellises however; you must consider that plants need sunlight. If you use a tree as an alternative for trellis, your vines might not receive the sunlight that they needed so much.
- Checking water irrigation system
Do not forget to check your water irrigation system. If you have a drip irrigation system, check for faulty pipes and clogs. Also, if you have an automatic controller, change the timer in accordance to the needs of the plants you are going to plant. If you are using a bucket and a dipper or even a watering can, check if these tools have holes.
- Keeping garden tools
Also, it is important for you to assess your garden tools. Check for any nicks and cuts. If needed, buy new ones. You may as well oil and sharpen your tolls every now and then and keep your tools in a dry and neat area so that you won’t have any difficulties with regards to rust and finding them. Your tools are considered as your weapons in the battlefield of organic gardening that is why it is very important for you to take care of them!
- Crop rotation
Crop rotation is used in acres of farm. It is a type of planting wherein they use different crops each season to plant. For example, farmers will plant corns for this season, on the next season, they will grow rice. This type of planting will encourage soil nutrient enriching. Growing the same crop every season will deplete the soil from nutrients. Applying crop rotation method would help in replenishing these depleted nutrients. Crop rotation is good for your garden too. You can utilize this type of planting to enrich the nutrients in the soil of your organic garden ensuring now healthy and productive yields.
Preparing for the next season of planting is important for your plants to maximize their full potential. Preparation is the pillar of the next season’s productive yields that is why it is very important. Give your best all throughout the season and your harvests will surely be the greatest!
All the best.
denny hemlin-doctor gardening
BASIC PRINCIPALS; Plant foliage requires light, oxygen and carbon dioxide. Plant root systems require water, nutrients and oxygen. When plants are grown normally water leeches nutrients from the soil and carries them to the roots. The water and nutrients are taken up by the roots to feed plant growth. Soil drainage then allows water to be replaced by air in the gaps between soil grains. This supplies the roots with oxygen.
In hydroponics the nutrients are dissolved in the water. Soil is replaced with a growing medium to supply the roots with water, nutrients and oxygen. Hydro juice (nutrient solution) can be drip fed to each plant, it can also be used to regularly flood the root chamber, then drain out. Both methods require a pump and timer to circulate the nutrients through the roots and are covered by these diagrams and notes. Roots can also be grown in the air by spraying roots with a fine mist of hydro juice, or grown in the hydro juice and the solution aerated under each root mass with an air pump. With both of the second two methods the plants must secured at the base of the stem or something.
The hydroponic system described does work and is suitable for any plant with stringy roots. I have not tried it with any bulb plants or plants such as orchids that require fungus or mold in the soil to grow. This method is similar to Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) the thin Rockwool slice acting as a capillary mat. This eliminates the need to have flat bottom the root chamber and to level the bottom of root chamber, making easier and cheaper to set up.
This method will get the most vigorous growth if each plant has it’s own continuos drip feed. The dripper is positioned drip on roots growing from the base of the seedling block, the roots will grow thick, hairy and compact under the dripper. 4L per hour dripper are used however their drip rate depends pressure, this is effected by height and size of the drip feed tank. The drip rate will slow as the tank empties.
Feeding can also be achieved with faster dripper at the top of each top end of each side of the root chamber. The plants grown like this had a large root mass, the roots of three plant taking up about a third of the root chamber. With the timer I had could only flood the root chamber every 4 hours, the growth rate was similar to the last. The growth rate will improve by flooding every hour or even less. After the root chamber is flooded it should drain to a trickle in a few minutes.
STARTING PLANTS; Soak seeds in damp paper or cotton wool, cover seed with damp paper or cloth, drian off excess water and don’t allow to dry out. When the seed root is 2 – 5mm. long place the seed root first in the small hole with tweezers (fig.3). Make sure the root is protected by the open jaws of the tweezers and that the seed or root isn’t squashed. Then place seedling block hole up on a plate and wet Rockwool until it won’t take any more water. Keep the plate on an angle for drainage, but the seedling blocks shouldn’t dry out too much and seedling should come up in a few days. Seedlings can stay on the plate until roots grow from the bottom or sides of the seedling block (fig.4).When this happens seedling are ready to transplanted on to the Rockwool mat in the root chamber. (Before the seedling blocks go into the root chamber the rookwool is soaked in water 24 hours then with hydro juice at half strength.) Roots will grow from seedling block, through and along the under side of the Rockwool mats. Place three to eight plants per side, evenly spaced along the slot, and it will soon grow into mass of green. When the system is operational and plants are growing, the inside of the root chamber should have a rich earthy smell. Three or four plants if your growing them big (outdoors ), eight if your growing fast and flowering early ( under lights ).
When the roots grow from the bottem or sides of the Rockwool block it’s ready to transplant into the grow tube. Once the roots have grown into the mat tou can hit them with full stength hydro juice. Light proof plastic should be used to cover the top of the root chamber white side up, this is to stop green slime growing on the rockwool. This can only be done when the plant is tall enough, take care not strain or damage the plant.
Many seeds require special conditions to germinate. For example, most garden vegetables and herb seeds need to remain damp or wet for some time.
Seeds can be germinated in a hydroponic grower, and often they germinate even better than in soil.
Most seeds are placed below the surface of the media. A suggested placement is from ½ to 1 inch below the surface. This keeps the seed very moist and will give it some feel for when the light is and where the dark is. The root of the plant will grow down towards the dark and the water, and the plant stem and leaves will go towards the light.
Many seed packets include instructions for soil and mention how deep to bury the seeds. They can be planted at the same depth in hydroponics.
Some seeds, like beans and corn, will germinate in just a few days. Some others, such as tomato, bell pepper and herbs may take as long as two weeks until they appear. Growers with seeds should be watered each day although no plants are showing. If you do not see any sign of life after two weeks, it is best to replant the grower.
Occasionally the grower root area will be so cold or so dry, the seeds will not germinate.
To germinate very small seeds like many herbs, a special form of germination may be required. One way is to start the seeds between two pieces of paper or a towel soaked with water. The towel is kept moist each day.
Germinating some types of seeds is more complicated than just soaking in water. Some seeds need to be damaged in some way to germinate, and others are specialized to respond to periods of temperature or light. If there something you would like to grow, it might help to learn what the seed requirements are to germinate.
Other Methods of Reproducing
Some plants can reproduce from cuttings. This means cutting a small part of the growing tip of a plant, pulling off the bottom leaves and sticking the cut end into the growing media. Some of the plants that can be reproduced from cuttings are basils and many of the herbs.
Garlic reproduces from individual garlic cloves. Some of the garlic in the grocery store is treated and will not sprout. An organic garlic is more likely to sprout.
Potatoes are grown from a planted potato. The potato can be cut into pieces or planted whole.
ROOT CHAMBER; The Root Chamber is made from 90mm. PVC storm water pipe. This type is used for all new building constructions so off cut are about. A selection of 90mm. PVC storm water pipe and 90mm. fittings are available at large hardware stores. Fittings include right angles, tee junctions, end caps and others. These can be used to make the root camber suit any room. The root camber show in Diagrams (fig.5,6,7) is made with two lengths about 1 miter for the sides, 2 lengths about of 600mm. for the ends and 4 right angles for the corners. PVC pipe glue is used to make all joins water tight. A slot is cut in the top of each side providing access to change growing medium and remove root mass. Holes instead of a slot may be used for each plant but another way of access must be used. A drain hole or holes are drilled in the bottom of one end of the root chamber and a flood hole is drilled in the top of the other end. The root chamber is mounted on an angle with drain end below then the flood end. This is to ensure that the roots don’t get water logged. Too much of an angle will cause the Rockwell and roots to dry out at the high end.
FLOOD AND DRAIN.
A flood and drain system requires a timer, a pump and a drain tank to catch the hydro juice. Hose is run from the bottom of the drain tank to the pump inlet. Hose is run from pump outlet to the hole in the top of the flood (high) end of the root chamber. The pump inlet is below the bottom the drain tank. As the drain tank is filling hydro juice flows through to the pump inlet through the pump and up the flood hose till level with the hydro juice in the tank. This is to prime the pump as the pump can’t suck air, it can only push out what flows in the inlet. The timer runs the pump for 1 minute and the hydro juice fills about half the root chamber. If chamber over flows increase size of drain holes. If a hose is used at the drain end, it must not cause hydro juice to stand at the drain end. A recycling type bin is ideal for the drain tank (see end of Drip Feed section to attach hose to drain tank). Putting the pump on the floor and the drain tank on bricks should raise it enough prime the pump.
EBB AND FLOW (FLOOD AND DRAIN)
The Ebb and Flow system works by temporarily flooding the grow tray with nutrient solution and then draining the solution back into the reservoir. This action is normally done with a submerged pump that is connected to a timer. When the timer turns the pump on nutrient solution is pumped into the grow tray. When the timer shuts the pump off the nutrient solution flows back into the reservoir. The Timer is set to come on several times a day, depending on the size and type of plants, temperature and humidity and the type of growing medium used. The Ebb and Flow is a versatile system that can be used with a variety of growing mediums. The entire grow tray can be filled with Grow Rocks, gravel or granular Rockwool. Many people like to use individual pots filled with growing medium, this makes it easier to move plants around or even move them in or out of the system. The main disadvantage of this type of system is that with some types of growing medium (Gravel, Growrocks, Perlite), there is a vulnerability to power outages as well as pump and timer failures. The roots can dry out quickly when the watering cycles are interrupted. This problem can be relieved somewhat by using growing media that retains more water (Rockwool, Vermiculite, coconut fiber or a good soiless mix like Pro-mix or Faffard’s).
Drip Feed System.
This feed system has a dripper for each plant. Dripping the hydro juice directly on the top of the root mass should stop the plant from sending out long roots in search of food. Resulting in more growth on top or so the theory goes. The drip system uses a drip feed tank about one meter above the drippers and reticulation system.
Reticulation is via 13mm. poly tube to just above the root chamber. A hole is punched in the 13mm. tube. A 4mm. adapter is screwed into the hole. Then 4mm. poly tube is attached to the 4mm. adapter. A dripper is attached to the other end of the 4mm. tube. The 4mm poly tube should be kept as short as possible so there is enough pressure to start the drippers. Barbed right angles and tee’s are used to route the 13mm. poly tube close to each plant. The top of the 13 mm. poly tube is about 50mm. below the bottom of the drip feed tank. A 13mm. to snap-on adapter is fitted to the top of the 13mm. poly tube. If the 13 mm. poly tube is positioned at right angles to the slot and the 4mm. adapter, 4 mm. poly tube and the dripper positioned over the slot. Any leakage at the joins in the poly tube will drip into the slot preventing loss of hydro juice.
A 42 liter plastic garbage bin and lid is used for the drip feed tank. Snap-on fittings and 13mm. garden hose connect the bottom of the drip feed tank to the to 13mm. poly tube. They also connect the pump outlet hose to the top of the drip feed tank. A Stop Snap-on is used where the garden hose connects to the Snap-on adapter on the 13mm. poly tube. This prevents the hydro juice flowing from when the Snap-on is removed from the 13mm. poly tube. To convert from flood and drain to drip feed. Move the pump outlet hose from the flood inlet on top of the root chamber, to the top of the drip feed tank.
Snap-on universal sprinkler adapter are used to connect hoses to the side of the drip feed tank . These are a Snap-on to 13mm. thread adapter. There is also a 20mm. thread that screws onto a 13mm. thread. A hole no larger than the 13mm. thread is drilled in the side of the tank. The 13mm. thread is pushed through the hole from the outside of the tank. Now the 20mm. thread is screwed on to the 13mm. thread inside the tank creating a water tight seal. Make sure the hole is away from obstructions inside the tank that would prevent the 20mm. thread from attaching to the 13mm. thread. This method is used for all tanks and also for the pump outlet hose connection to the top of the flood end of the root chamber.
Drip systems are probably the most widely used type of hydroponic system in the world. Operation is simple, a timer controls a submersed pump. The timer turns the pump on and nutrient solution is dripped onto the base of each plant by a small drip line. In a Recovery Drip System the excess nutrient solution that runs off is collected back in the reservoir for re-use. The Non-Recovery System does not collect the run off.
A recovery system uses nutrient solution a bit more efficiently, as excess solution is reused, this also allows for the use of a more inexpensive timer because a recovery system doesn’t require precise control of the watering cycles. The non-recovery system needs to have a more precise timer so that watering cycles can be adjusted to insure that the plants get enough nutrient solution and the runoff is kept to a minimum.
The non-recovery system requires less maintenance due to the fact that the excess nutrient solution isn’t recycled back into the reservoir, so the nutrient strength and pH of the reservoir will not vary. This means that you can fill the reservoir with pH adjusted nutrient solution and then forget it until you need to mix more. A recovery system can have large shifts in the pH and nutrient strength levels that require periodic checking and adjusting.
12 Plant Patio Table Garden System.
Drill the 12 holes for the bottles and two in the center for the overflow pipe. Make sure you drill between the braces under the table.
The 1/2 inch PVC pipe is hidden under the table where it isn’t seen from the top.
How Growing Vegetables Can Save You Money
If you are like most people, you are looking for a way to cut corners and save some money. There are a few things that you can do to save money today. You can travel less and use less gasoline. You can cut down on utility expenses by not using so much electricity and heat. You can eliminate eating out and eat at home. Perhaps you are already doing this but need to save more money. One way that you can save a lot of money is with your food bill. And with food prices going up, this may end up being a necessity. Not only can you save money on your food bill, but you can also start eating healthier.
You have probably heard about organic foods. These are foods that are all natural and do not contain any chemicals or preservatives. Organic vegetables are in your local supermarket and usually cost a lot more than the other vegetables that are grown using chemical pesticides and other toxins. You have probably heard that organic vegetables are better for you, but do not want to spend the extra money. After all, the idea is to save money – right? So spending extra money on organic vegetables, that are usually smaller than other vegetables can seem like a bad financial deal. And if you are like most of us, you are looking to get more bang out of your buck. Especially at the supermarket.
The way to really save money and eat healthy at the same time is to grow your own vegetables. This can trim your food bill substantially, depending on the amount of vegetables that you grow. If you have a patch of ground, you can save money by growing your own vegetables in the soil and wind up with vegetables and fruits that are healthier than those that you buy in the store. You can save at least $100 a month by growing your own vegetables and this savings, if you take the tips in this book, can be used after the harvest time if you learn how to preserve the various vegetables and fruits.
Think of what you can do with $100 a month. It can pay a couple of bills for you or just ease the burden for you a bit. And this savings can continue to blossom. You will see savings in your food bills every month when you start to grow your own vegetables. Of course, you will have to wait until harvest time to start to really start saving the money, but after your first harvest, you can save money all year long using the tips in this book. There are also tips that I will give you that will enable you to start saving money relatively soon with herbs.
It takes work to plant and harvest a vegetable garden, but it is good work. Working in a garden and planting vegetables or fruits is actually therapeutic. Many people enjoy being outdoors and gardening just for the heck of it. When you are saving money because of your endeavors, it makes the experience even better. The hard work is getting your garden started and harvesting as well as preserving the foods. Breaking this down, this consists of about 4 days out of the year. The rest is just maintenance. Four days is not much to ask when it comes to saving $100 a month on your grocery bills.
And best of all, you can start right now. Spring is the perfect planting time for a vegetable garden. By harvest time, which will be in July or August, you will be well on your way to start saving money.
If you are ready to start saving $100 a month in your food bill by growing your own vegetables, take the tips in this book and put them to use. Eat healthy foods and stop wasting your money at the grocery store.
Vegetables Gardens – An Old Idea
Most of us today do not remember victory gardens. These were gardens that people planted during WWII to supplement rations during the war. During WWII, just about everything was rationed, including food. So people began to supplement that rationing with food from their own garden. Because the country was at war, the gardens that people used to supplement their war rations were dubbed Victory Gardens.
The country is currently at war with a recession. A war that requires a victory. Isn’t it about time for Victory Gardens again? Just as our grandparents and great grandparents created victory gardens during WWII, we can do the same today. We aren’t on food rations, although some of us might as well be. With an increasing number of people losing their jobs and facing home foreclosures, some of us may be rationing ourselves.
We don’t have to feel helpless in the face of recession. We can do something about it. We can declare victory against the recession by planting our own victory gardens. All you need is a plot of soil and plants. The cost to prepare a garden is minimal, especially when you consider that it can save you $100 a month or more by growing your own vegetables.
Growing Vegetables From Seeds Or Plants
If you are planning on starting a vegetable garden to save money the first thing that you need to consider is whether you are going to start from seeds or plants. Seeds are much less expensive, but take longer to grow. You need to grow plants from seeds in an indoor environment if you live in a four season climate. If you are planning on planting your garden soon for a late summer harvest, then you need to use plants. You can buy vegetable plants at any gardening center. They are much sturdier to put into the ground and have a better chance of taking root and producing vegetables. There are pros and cons to using both seeds and plants when it comes to growing your own vegetables.
Seeds – Pros and Cons
Seed come in packets and you can purchase them at most gardening and big box stores. The best aspects about using seeds is that you can grow them yourself into plants in your own home and make sure that the soil you use as well as any plant food used is organic. The seeds are also much less expensive than plants. There is also the satisfaction that you will gain when you are growing your own seeds for your plants.
The negative aspects about seeds is that you need more time to grow them so that they can take root. If you live in a four season climate, you need to grow the seeds indoors so that they can grow into sturdy plants before you can put them in the ground.
If you live in a climate that is warm, you can put down seeds and get them to grow into plants after sowing them in the ground. Seeds are also used for larger garden areas as it would be impractical to use plants.
Plants – Pros and Cons
You can find plants that can be used for your vegetable garden in any garden store. They are ready to plant and will produce fruit or vegetables. Plants are easy to use and if this is your first garden, they can be easier to space. Plant are already sturdy enough to be transferred to the ground and will bear fruit or vegetables.
The negative aspect of using plants is the cost. They tend to cost more than seeds. They are also often grown in soil that is filled with pesticides. If you decide to use plants instead of seeds, look for those that have been grown organically.
If you are a first time gardener, you may prefer to use plants over seeds. What many gardeners do, and what I did, is to use plants in your first garden so that you can get the garden seasoned and become familiar with planting and harvesting. Then the next year, you can cultivate your own plants from seeds.
Remember that if you live in a four season climate, you will want to use plants for your first garden as they have already taken root and are easier to grow. As you become more adept at gardening, you an start to easily grow vegetables from seeds.
What To Grow
After you have figured out the concept of planting with seeds or plants, you can then decide what you want to grow. Naturally, for your first project you will want to make it easy on yourself. Some of the easiest fruits and vegetables that you can grow include the following:
- Squash (including pumpkins)
- Lima beans
These are all easy fruits and vegetables to grow. As we all have been told hundreds of times since childhood, tomatoes are a fruit and not a vegetable, so we will call them what they are, although for all intent purposes, they are treated and eaten as vegetables.
Tomatoes are the easiest of all of the fruits/vegetables to grow. Not only that, but they are also easy to can. We will talk about preserving vegetables for use throughout the year in later chapters. Suffice to say, that tomatoes, because they are fruits, are easy to can using a hot water bath.
You can find a garden store close to home or one that is online. If you live in a four season climate, chances are that you will be able to grow all of the above and more These are the vegetables that you want to get started with.
Of course, if you plan to grow all of these vegetables, you will need a sizeable garden. You can choose the vegetables that your family eats most of all of the time and grow them. You should also consider storage. Growing lettuce, for example, is great for salads and relatively easy to do, but it does not freeze or preserve. Turnips, carrots, onions and potatoes will keep well in a root cellar and will store for the winter. If you do not have a root cellar, you can make one when you follow the instructions that are in this book. It’s not hard and just takes a bid of digging and keeping an area water proof. If you have your own cellar, you can save the trouble.
The worst thing that you can do when you are starting your own garden, is to get overwhelmed by planting too many vegetables. Think of those that you buy often, or would like to buy often, and go with them. As for me, I chose the root vegetables, tomatoes, peppers and broccoli. This year, I will grow squash and corn along with the vegetables I grew last year. I am also growing several vegetables from seeds.
Start out with a few vegetables that you eat often and each year, add a new vegetable to your garden. By growing the vegetables that you use often, you can save a lot of money every month on your food bill. The amount of money that you save each month will depend on how large the garden and how many vegetables you consume. Remember that you will be saving some of them, in various ways, to use for the winter months spring before the next harvest.
Space is a factor when you are planning your vegetable garden. Some vegetables or fruits, such as tomatoes and peppers, do not require a lot of room for growth. Root vegetables are also easy to grow as they grow down into the ground and do not take up a lot of room. Corn and squash take a lot more space so you may have to clear more room for them.
Another factor that you have to consider when you are growing vegetables to save money is that they may not look like those you see in the store. Many vegetables that are grown for mass production are aided with food dyes and waxed so that they look more attractive in the store. Your home grown vegetables are not likely to be as large, or as colorful, as the vegetables that you grow in the store. But they will be organic and healthier. And when it comes to taste, they will also taste just as good if not better than those that you purchase in the store.
Once you have established the vegetables that you are planning on growing, you must then learn the planting and harvesting times for these vegetables. Most vegetables are planted in the early to late spring, after the weather breaks and it is not likely to have a frost. Harvest time for most vegetables comes in early to late summer to early fall, depending on the vegetables. Tomatoes, for example, will be harvested early. As will peppers and cucumbers and some squash, as zucchini. Other vegetables are harvested a bit later such as the root vegetables. Usually, the longer you can keep them in the ground, the better. When the leaves start to get brittle, it is time to dig them up. Corn and squash are autumn harvest, such as pumpkins and butternut squash. Lettuce and eggplants are harvested in late summer and early autumn.
Much depends on the region where you live. In some areas of the country, you can get corn in August. Tomatoes are usually harvested from July to August, but can be later in some parts of the country, especially in the warmer weather. There are different rules for harvesting on the East Coast than there are in the Midwest regions of the country. Here is a list of when you can (roughly) expect to harvest the above mentioned vegetables:
- Tomatoes – Harvest in early summer to late summer (July and August).
- Peppers – Harvest in mid summer to early autumn (Late July to September)
- Cucumbers – Harvest in mid summer to early autumn (Late July to September)
- Onions – Harvest in mid to late summer (August to early September)
- Eggplant – Harvest in mid summer to late summer (Late July to August)
- Potatoes – Harvest in early autumn to late autumn (September to early October)
- Lettuce – Harvest in Late summer (August to early September)
- Squash – Harvest in early to late autumn (late September to mid October)
- Turnips – Harvest in mid autumn (September)
- Carrots – Harvest in mid autumn (September)
- Lima Beans – Harvest in mid summer (August)
- Corn – Harvest in late August (in some areas) to September
- Broccoli – Harvest in mid to late summer (August to early September)
Once you have an idea of what you want to grow and when you can expect the vegetables (or fruits) to be ready for harvest, you can then start getting your garden ready to grow.
Measuring the Garden Area
The amount of garden area that you need depends on what you plan to grow in your garden as well as the amount of space that you have in which to create a garden. While some people make do with a small patch of land, you have most likely seen others who have an entire back yard devoted to gardening. My advice to you is this – use up as much space as you can spare. The tips given in this book will not only help you save money because you are growing fresh vegetables instead of buying them, but it will also save money when it comes to storing them.
A friend of mine decide one year to have a tomato garden. This was a long time ago, before I knew anything about gardening or how to preserve certain foods. She and her husband planted 40 tomato plants in their garden. The entire garden consisted of tomatoes.
If you have never grown anything, you should know that tomatoes are the easiest of all of the garden vegetables (even though it’s a fruit) to grow. Her tomatoes came out in full bloom and then started producing fruit. Pretty soon, my friend was giving tomatoes to just about everyone she knew, including the mailman. The entire neighborhood was tomatoes out and she vowed not to do this again. A great many tomatoes went to waste and a great deal of bunnies were happy. But this didn’t have to be the case.
Had my friend known that canning tomatoes is one of the simplest of all garden fruit and vegetables preservation, she could have had tomatoes, sauce, salsa and just about anything for the entire year.
IF YOU HAVE THE GROUND – PLANT THE VEGETABLES
If you have the ground, plant the vegetables. Always consider that some plants may not do well. Despite your best efforts, some crops will be eaten by sneaky critters like rabbits (although I will give you tips on how to deal with that) and some will just not work out. Every garden has duds.
While you do not want to start out with a garden that is overwhelming and takes up your entire backyard, you do not want to have a small garden that only produces a few fruits and vegetables and does not really save you any money. Remember, your victory garden should be one that will save you money not only in the months of the harvest, but for the year afterward. So you need to have plenty of room.
Section off a piece of land in your yard where the garden will grow. Bear in mind that certain vegetables, like corn and potatoes, take more room in which to grow. Tomatoes grow up and can be confined to a smaller space. Others, especially the root vegetables, need a foot between them to grow properly and not get entangled in the ground.
Also keep in mind that you need to have space between the rows of crops in order to maintain the garden. A friend of mine had a great idea to build a tomato garden in a small patch of ground on the side of the house. She figured she could get 10 tomato plants in their easily. She planted them, watered them, made sure they climbed their cages, but had no where to walk. Once the tomatoes had grown, she couldn’t get into the garden without stepping all over the plants. Do not let this happen to you. You need to have rows between the crops where you can work so that you can properly maintain the growing crops and, when harvest time comes, harvest them as well.
After you have marked off the area where you are going to plan your garden, you need to then start to prepare the supplies you will need to get the garden going. You can get the following supplies from the garden store, or borrow them from a neighbor:
- Garden gloves. You will need these throughout your gardening, so be sure to get a good pair.
- Garden Hoe
- Garden Spade
- Garden rake
- Chicken wire or some fencing material to keep the garden contained and the animals out.
These are the materials that you will need to dig up the garden and get it ready for planting. Some people rent a rototiller to turn over the soil in the garden. This does the job quickly in a large vegetable garden, but costs money to rent. It is also a heavy piece of machinery and can be difficult to maneuver. I always preferred using the old fashioned garden tools, but if you are strong enough to use this battery operated or electrical power device, then you might want to go for it. You are going to need to turn the soil over in order to get it prepared for gardening.
Also, take a look at the dirt that you have under your lawn. Chances are it is black dirt, like clay. This is difficult soil in which to grow crops. You need to have good soil and may want to pick up some bags of potting soil for your crops. If the dirt is hard and seems like clay, then you need to mix in some good top so that your vegetables will grow. As you continue to grow the garden, the more nutrient rich the soil will become. As years go on, the garden soil takes on a life of its own so that you will not need top soil.
It is a good idea to stake off where you want to have your garden with some stakes and string. This way you know where you plan to dig and will have an even looking garden. After you have prepared the area by sectioning it off and getting the necessary supplies that you need to prepare the garden, you can then start digging.
Preparing The Soil
This is the hardest part of growing your own vegetables. It is hard labor to dig up the soil and turn it. It is even more difficult if you have grass or rocks in the place where you want to have your garden. If you have grass, for example, you will want to dig up the grass and put it in the wheelbarrow, taking it to a compost heap in your yard and getting rid of it. You are going to need a lot more soil in the area as you will have several inches dug into the ground when you are finished.
Use the wheelbarrow to transport the grass or weeds that you did up and get rid of them. The soil for your garden should be as pure as possible and devoid of any weeds, rocks or clay. If you are stuck with clay under the grass, you can turn it over with the spade and mix in some good top soil.
START BY DIGGING
Start by digging out a small section of the ground and continue going until you have dug up the entire garden. It is best to do this a day after a rain. Not just after a rain, otherwise it will be very muddy. But if you do this after it has rained within a few days, the ground will be a lot softer and easier to manage.
Once you get rid of all of the rocks, weeds and grass, you can then start to turn over the soil. You do this by using the spade to dig up the soil and then flipping it over. You should do this throughout the entire garden. You can use the end of the spade to chop up any clumps in the soil. The soil needs to be as smooth as possible before you plant.
After you have turned over all of the soil, use the garden hoe to chop up the soil even more. You can make the soil have a fine consistency if you so choose, but you have to work at it. You have to keep chopping and tilling the soil.
If you want to have the best results with your vegetable garden, you need to get the soil to the point where it falls easily between your hands when you pick it up. The two ways to do this is to dig out the garden a half a foot down and fill it with top soil, or use the soil that you have, chopping it up as much as you can before you plant. The latter is the least expensive option and, despite the fact that it sounds difficult, is just as hard as digging into the ground and pulling up clay.
USE TOP SOIL
Once you have the soil to the point where it has all been turned over and chopped up, is rid of clumps of dirt, rocks and weeds or grass, you can then add several bags of top soil to the mix. Top soil is a fine grain of soil that will enable your plants grow even better. You can also choose fertilizer soil. This will also allow your plants to grow well. You want to give your plants a boost by adding in a store bought soil as this will make it easier for them to adjust to their new home. Fertilizer may not seem like something that you want to handle, but it is organic and does work very well to allow for plants to grow to their maximum potential.
After you have added bags of top soil or fertilizer, take the garden rake and then smooth the ground over. You should use the rake to mix in all of the soil and make sure that the soil is flat and easy for planting. It should be loose but even.
CREATE ROWS FOR WALKING
Once you have done this, you can make rows between the areas where you want to plant the crops. The crops should sit up higher than these rows that will allow you to walk between the crops for maintenance, and also allow any rain to fall off into the rows. Creating mini-drainage ditches in your garden is not absolutely necessary, but can help you if you live in an area where there is a lot of rain. While water is naturally important for crops to grow, too much can end up flooding out your garden. In most areas, there is not a lot of rain in the summer months, so this is not crucial. Be sure, however, to visualize a row between the planting rows where you will be able to walk and take care of the plants as well as harvest the vegetables that grow in the garden.
PROTECT YOUR GARDEN FROM ANIMALS
Once you have properly tilled the soil and prepared it for planting, you need to use chicken wire or some sort of fencing around the garden area. This will keep the rabbits and other critters out of your garden. Rabbits will have a field day with your crops if you do not protect them. If you are growing vegetables to save money, it hardly makes sense to give away half of your crops to the rabbits.
Chicken wire will keep out any animals such as rabbits, raccoons or possum in the area. It may not look attractive, but you can always back it up with a more attractive looking picket fence if you feel the need. Just remember that the wooden fences are useless when it comes to keeping out rabbits and other creatures as they gnaw right through. Chicken wire will protect your garden from animals.
After you have quartered off the garden with your wire and the soil is ready for planting, you are ready to start planting your vegetables.
Proper planting for your garden is needed for your vegetables to take root and thrive. You must space them apart the proper distance in the soil and also take any other precautions that are needed to get them to grow. You should have a foot between each of the plants that you are planting in your garden, and a foot and half between corn and pumpkins. It may look silly at first, when you plant your garden, to see the plants so far apart. But as the plants grow from tiny plants to large plants, you will start to see the difference.
Before you start planting your vegetables in your vegetable garden, make sure that you have the following:
- Garden gloves
- Hand spade
- Potting soil
If you are borrowing a wheelbarrow from a neighbor, you are going to want to borrow it again for planting. You can transport all of your plants at once to the garden area and then plant them. A wheelbarrow is not a very expensive investment for a gardener and can help you even when it comes time for harvest. Assuming that you have a place to keep the wheelbarrow, you will have many uses for this product.
If at all possible, you should schedule your planting for before a rain. You want to make sure that the weather is on an even keel and that there should not be any more frosts. Ideally, the ground should be dewy when you get up in the morning so that the crops will get plenty of moisture. As the weather gets warmer, you will most likely not have this dew in the morning and you will have to pay close attention to hydrating the crops.
When you are planting from plants, you will need to dig a hole in the ground with a hand spade that is deep enough for the plant. You want to leave as much of the original soil around the plant in which it grew so it can get used to the new earth. Planting takes time and patience and you want to be sure that you are spacing the plants properly. Use potting soil around the plant to make it even more fine and inviting for the plant.
Depending on the size of the garden, planting the garden can take you a day, or at least the better part of the sunlight. For the most part, the preparation and planting of the garden can be done in one nice weekend. Once you have planted the plants into the ground, you will then want to water them and also feed them.
FEEDING THE PLANTS
You can buy plant feeder for vegetables at your local gardening store. You put it in a container and then squirt it onto the plants. Look for all natural, organic products that will help your plants grow even stronger. For the most part, however, the vegetables will grow as long as they get sunlight and water. These are the two main components to healthy plants. And each year, the soil will become even more enriched with vitamins and minerals and easier for plants to grow.
You can also use spikes in the ground that can add as plant feeders. Spikes can be a bit more costly, but they can add the necessary nutrients to the soil that your plants need to get the most growth. You can add spikes to the plants once a week to keep them growing strong.
Some plants, such as tomato plants, need to have sticks or cages around them so that they can grow up. While most vegetables grow close to the ground, tomatoes are a fruit that grows on a vine. You need to put special cages or sticks to get the tomato plants off of the ground and growing up. This will enable the plants to blossom and them form the fruit.
Get some cheap tomato cages at the gardening store. These are made of wire and will last for years. Place each of these cages around each tomato plant. As the tomato plants continue to grow, you can use twist ties to fasten the plant to the cages, forcing it to grow upright instead of laying on the ground. While you can use sticks for the same purpose, cages are easy to use, easy to put into the ground and work better. Sticks only offer one way up, but cages allow the plant to flourish. Put the tomato cages in the ground, surrounding the plant, after you plant them. It will then be easier to start to get the vine to creep up the cages as the plant continues to grow.
Once you have completed your planting, water your garden. You want to water it so that the water puddles a bit in the garden, but not so that it is drenched. You should also look for the weather report to see if you expect rain. If rain is expected, water the garden a little bit and then let Mother Nature take its course and water the garden for you. Once the garden has been planted, you need to make sure that it remains hydrated, fed and secure from animals.
Caring For Growing Plants
Caring for growing plants require that you look after them on a daily basis. Not only do you have to make sure that they are watered, but you also have to remove any weeds that grow in the garden that will choke the nutrients from your plants. In order to care for growing plants, you need the following equipment:
- Plant feeder
- Watering can or hose with gentle spray
- Hand hoe
- Gardening gloves
Each day, you will want to take a look at your garden to see how your plants are doing. You should pull any weeds that are in the ground as well as water the garden. While you will not need to water the garden after rain, obviously, you will still want to look at the garden after a rainfall to see if the plants are stable and to pull any weeds. Remember that weeds will grow just as much if not more in the setting you have created.
If you look at your garden every day and tend to it, you will have less of a problem with maintenance. Your routine should be to take a look at the garden each night, just as the sun goes down and it is settling into dusk. It is best to water the garden at this time, rather than in the hot sun as the plants can burn. The plants should always be hydrated, but not soaking. While there is nothing that you can do about rainstorms, you do not want to always be soaking your plants.
Feed the plants regularly with plant food that is organic. You can get a plant food spreader that looks like a plastic bottle with a hose attached to it to spray your plants. This will give them additional nutrients and provide you with better vegetables. Feed the plants once a week for best results.
GET RID OF INSECTS!
Insects can play havoc around your plants and rabbits are very ornery creatures that tend to go through great extremes to get at those vegetables. One way that you can scare off rabbits is to trick the creatures into thinking that their natural predators are around. Rabbits are afraid of cats and dogs, two animals that prey on them. You can buy a spray that smells like the scent of dog or cat urine and put it around the area surrounding the garden. This should keep rabbits and other animals at bay.
Insects can be more problematic and many people resort to using pesticides to get rid of insects that will eat the leaves and can harm the plants. Pesticides are usually a bad idea. While commercial farmers dust crops using pesticides, they contain benzene, a carcinogen, and are not something that you want to have around. You are better off to use either a natural spray to get rid of bugs such as a citronella. Some bugs, like the hornworm, a bug that attacks tomato bushes, are hard to get rid of even with pesticides. Natural sprays will help get rid of some bugs and keep others from doing too much damage. While you naturally want to grow as many crops as you can and save as much money as you can when it comes to buying vegetables for your grocery bill, you do not want to do it at the expense of your own health or that of your family. Accept the fact that some crops will get attacked, but not many if you are out there diligently using all natural products to rid the plants of bugs and remove weeds.
GET RID OF WEEDS!
Remember to pull weeds as soon as you see them. If it is too difficult for you to pull weeds every night when you get home from work, you should make it a habit to pull them once a week. Again, it is better to pull weeds after the rain as they will come up easily. The weeds must be pulled by the roots in order for it to make any difference. Use garden gloves and a garden hoe to pull up weeds and get rid of them. Put all weeds into a compost pile.
If you see earthworms while you are tending to your garden, do not kill them. They are actually a gardener’s best friend, despite the fact that they are slimy and not much to look at. They do not harm the crops. In fact, they turn the soil so that the crops aerate even better. Earthworms are often found in bags of top soil.
MAKE SURE SOIL DOES NOT ERODE
Speaking of soil, check the soil around the plants to see if some of it has eroded. In some cases, rains will erode some of the soil around your plants, making it difficult for them to grow. You should always have a bag of top soil or potting soil on hand to put around the plants, especially after the rain, so that they can continue to grow.
If you tend to your garden on a regular basis, you can expect good results. One of the problems that most people have with gardens is that they plant them and then forget about them. Or they see bugs and think that the entire garden is infested. Or they don’t want to pull weeds. Despite neglect, some vegetables will still grow, but you will not get the results that you need and certainly not be able to save substantial amounts of money on your food bill if you do not maintain your garden regularly. You will find that this not only allows you to save money for your family on the grocery bill, but it will also give you a sense of peace.
FIND PEACE IN THE GARDEN
One of the things that the bad economy has brought out in people is anxiety and stress over money. An increasing number of people are going to the doctor for anxiety and stress and are worried over money. Most people who find themselves sitting in the waiting room of the doctor’s office will end up walking out of that office with some sort of prescription. Instead of taking drugs because you are worried about the economy, you can actually do something about it and start gardening.
Gardening is more than just a useful hobby that can help you save money on your food bill by growing vegetables. It is actually a way to relieve stress and find peace. Most people who garden report that they lose themselves in the gardening process and find peace. This is not only a way to grow vegetables, but also a way to get outside, do something physical and get relief from stress. You cannot lose when it comes to gardening in your own vegetable garden.
Take care of your garden regularly and it will take care of you. By looking after it, watering it, making sure that the weeds are pulled and that it remains insect and bunny free, you can look forward to a nice harvest.
How To Harvest Plants
All of your hard work has paid off and you actually have a bunch of vegetables grown in your garden. You can look to the chart written earlier as to when you can expect them to come in, although you will know when they are ready simply by looking at them. Root vegetables are a bit more difficult to tell when they are ready, although you can usually tell by the maturity of the leaves and vines on the ground. Onions, for example, will have very firm stalks.
Tomatoes will continue to keep coming. They are different than other vegetables in that they tend to produce more rapidly. You can start removing tomatoes from the vines as soon as you see them grow a bit red. One way that you can allow them to get red is to pick them when they are slightly orange and then leave them in the sun. They will grow a nice shade of red.
Start looking towards your early to mid summer harvest vegetables right away and taking them out of the garden and into your home. If you are like most people, you will have an abundance of tomatoes. The early summer vegetables need to be preserved quickly as they will not sit around for months on end. You should use bushel baskets to collect your vegetable harvest and plan how you want to preserve them.
Harvest time entails a lot more work than planting time. While preparing a garden and planting can easily be accomplished in a weekend, a proper harvest takes more than just pulling vegetables off of the vines and out of the ground and cooking them. It means preserving them for the winter. Remember, the purpose of your “victory garden” is to gain a victory over the bad economy and save $100 a month on your food bill. You may even save more if you plant more.
As soon as the vegetables start coming in, start to use them in meals. In order to save as much money on your food bill as possible, you should incorporate as many vegetables as you can in every meal. You can prepare them in a number of different ways in order to provide your family with treats that are good for them, totally organic and filling. In the next chapter we will deal with how you can preserve these vegetables for later use. For now, we will talk about the harvest.
WHAT IS A HARVEST LIKE?
The harvest of the vegetables is not like you see on TV. The crops come in at different times and you will most likely always be pulling something from the garden. You will have a ball coming up with exciting summer recipes that incorporate the use of these crops. But despite the fact that you and your family are eating more vegetables and you are saving on your food bill, you are still going to have some left over.
Keep the harvested vegetables in a cool, dry place until you are ready to preserve them for future use. Many people choose to use weekend time to “put up” vegetables so that they can be used throughout the year. Until you are ready to deal with the vegetables, you should be sure to harvest them as they grow so that you can continue to reap the harvest and more vegetables will grow in their place. When you are cooking vegetables to eat, be sure to use the first picked so that you keep the freshest vegetables for canning, freezing or pickling.
Tomatoes are the fastest growing and are the most versatile when it comes to meals. You can make spaghetti sauce, salsa or salads – just to name a few things – with tomatoes. As time wears on and you continue to garden, you can even learn to make your own ketchup and tomato paste using the tomatoes from your garden.
Green tomatoes can be a tasty treat if you fry them. Wash a green tomato and cut it in round slices. Dip each slice into a beaten egg and then coat it with bread crumbs mixed with shredded Parmesan cheese. Fry in olive oil until brown on each side. This is a tasty treat and filling.
You can also do the same thing with eggplant that you grow from your garden, although you will want to peal the eggplant first. Eggplant can be used as a meat as it is so thick and filling. You can make an eggplant veggie burger for a meal.
Use the vegetables that you harvest from your garden and store those that are not in use in a cool dry place. On weekends, you can start to can or preserve vegetables so that they are ready for the upcoming months. Two of the earliest vegetables that you will be canning or preserving will be tomatoes and cucumbers. Others early vegetables that will need to be preserved early, while you are still harvesting the later summer vegetables are peppers and onions. You will most likely be working to preserve each weekend in the months of August and September. This is all part of the harvest and will allow you to make the most of your vegetable garden and save money on future food bills. Once you get used to doing this, you will be able to save even more money as you will most likely branch out and grow more vegetables and fruits.
The harvest time is a time for much work, but it is all worth it. Preserving vegetables and fruits may seem daunting at first, but is really easy once you get the hang of it. You can also just freeze vegetables as well, making it very simple to preserve them.
One of the reasons why people had parties after a harvest was to celebrate the crops they harvested that year as well as treat themselves for a job well done. Once your harvest is over, you will have plenty of vegetables to last you until next year and you and your family can not only save money each month on your food bill, but will also be eating healthier.
Preserving Vegetables And Fruits
There are many ways that you can preserve vegetables and fruits. Fruits are often cooked and then canned, such as jellies, jams and preserves. Fruits are easy to can and only need to undergo a hot water process that seals the wax on the ring of the canning jar. This is easy to do. Tomatoes can be canned in this manner.
Preserving vegetables, however, is another matter. Canning vegetables requires a pressure cooker and a lot of knowledge. You can get Botulism from not canning vegetables properly. Unless you have experience with using a pressure cooker, you are better off to preserve vegetables in different ways such as pickling or freezing. Each vegetable and fruit has different ways that are ideal for preservation. Here is a run down on all of the different ways that you can preserve vegetables that you have grown in your garden and save money:
This process works best with tomatoes. You need to use sterilized canning jars with wax rings and lids. Wash the jars in the dishwasher before adding the tomatoes. The tomatoes should be washed and peeled. To peel a tomato, put it in hot water and it will easily peel in your hands. You should put the tomatoes in the jars and fill up with sterile water. Put on the rings and lids and boil the jars in a canning pot for 20 minutes. After you remove them from the canning pot, you should hear the lids making a slight pop noise that means they are sealed.
You can also cook the tomatoes and add spices to make salsa or spaghetti sauces, or just cooked tomatoes, and also use the same process. The main concern is to make sure all instruments and jars are sterile. You can buy canning jars and pots at your grocery store. Once sealed, the jars should be stored in a cool, dark place and can be used throughout the year.
Pickling is used for cucumbers and onions and involves using sea salts and vinegar to preserve the vegetables for a period of time. Pickling can also be accomplished using alcohol, although this is rarely done with vegetables. In order to pickle any vegetables, you need to follow the same process as in canning with regard to sterilization, and then do the hot water bath. Because they are preserved in alcohol, you do not have to worry about bacteria forming. Use the hot water bath to make sure the jars are sealed and then sore in a cool, dry place.
Freezing is one of the easiest ways that you can preserve vegetables. Many people who want to save money on their grocery bills invest in a deep freezer. This can store all of the vegetables for you. You need to use containers or freezer bags that will lock out air and preserve the vegetables. Place cleaned vegetables in the freezer bags or containers and stick them in the freezer after sealing. This only takes a few minute and works well with corn, peppers, eggplant, broccoli and carrots. It does not work for lettuce or potatoes. Lettuce will turn to mush in the freezer and potatoes will get black.
Root vegetables such as onions, potatoes, turnips and carrots can be stored in a root cellar for the entire year. If you do not have a root cellar, read the next chapter and you can learn how you can create your own root cellar to store your vegetables. You can also store them in a basement, provided it is cool and unheated. Root vegetables can last a year if properly stores, but it has to be in a cool and dark place.
By preserving as many as the vegetables as you can, you will be able to continue to save money throughout the year with the vegetables that you have grown in your own garden.
Creating A Root Cellar
A root cellar was used to store vegetables as well as other food supplies long before electricity came along. Today, because so many people are looking for a way to save money and eat healthier, organic foods by growing their own vegetables, many people are creating their own root cellars. This requires a parcel of ground where you can dig down and line with rocks. Many people create roots cellars in their back yards under a shed. You would have a latch door in the floor of the shed that opens and allows you to step down a small ladder into the root cellar.
The root cellar has to be covered to avoid any type of accidents or any animal getting into the cellar. You should line the walls and floor of the root cellar with stones to prevent bugs from getting into the cellar. Products that are stored in the root cellar should be stored in brown sacks to further protect them from rain or insects. The root cellar should be covered at all times when not in use.
Before you start digging on your property, call out your local utility companies so that they can mark out where your utilities are located. You never want to dig on your property unless you know where the utilities are located so that you do not uproot a wire or cable.
A root cellar will enable you to store turnips, carrots, potatoes, onions and squash for longer periods of time. If you live in a house where you have a cellar, you can usually use this as your root cellar. You can even create your own root cellar indoors by using a wood container that you make yourself to store the vegetables. This container can be kept in a cool, dark place (preferably the basement) to store your vegetables. There are “build your own root cellar” kits online that you can use for this purpose. You will probably find this easier than digging your own root cellar on your property.
If you do not have room for a root cellar, you can cook potatoes and freeze them instead of storing them in a root cellar. Turnips and carrots can be frozen uncooked and will be fine. Be sure to peel them before freezing.
A root cellar is the ideal place to store all of your preserved foods as it is cool and dark. Whether you decide to quarter off part of the basement to build a root cellar for your vegetables or build your on, you will find that all of your root vegetables have much more staying power when you store them in a cool, dark place.
Indoor Gardens For Herbs
While you’re saving a ton of money by growing your own vegetables, you can even save more money by growing your own herbs. The beauty about growing herbs is that you can grow them indoors and all year long. Most herbs just need a little bit of sunlight and water and will grow just fine.
Herbs will flavor your foods in a totally natural way and can also be dried or frozen for later use. Fresh herbs, when mixed with the vegetables from your garden, can make for delicious and healthy meals for your family. Not only will you save money at the grocery store, but you will find that fresh herbs taste better than the freeze dried variety that you find in the store. And they are completely natural, organic and have no preservatives.
You can grow herbs from seeds in your own indoor herb garden. You just need to find a place where you will keep your garden and where it will be safe from spilling due to children and pets. You can purchase a kit to grow herbs or just grow them yourself. You just need potting containers, soil and seeds. Plant the seeds deep into the soil, or as directed on the seed packet, and water. Put the container in an area where it can get the most sunlight and water every day. As the herbs begin to mature, you can harvest the leaves from these plants and use them in different foods. They contain no pesticides and are completely natural. You do not have to preserve them as they can grow all year long. If you would like, you can always put them in a freezer bag and stick them in the freezer. Fresh herbs taste best and cost only pennies to grow.
GROW VEGETABLES FROM SEEDS
In addition to growing your fresh herbs indoors, you can also grow vegetables from seeds using the same concept. Growing vegetables from seeds can be done in the winter months so that the plants are ready to be transplanted into the garden in the spring. Every vegetable has a different growth time period, so follow the directions on the package of seeds as to when you plant. If you set aside an area in your home that gets an adequate amount of sunlight and is safe from children and pets, you can have an indoor garden for growing vegetable plants from seeds to save you even more money. Furthermore, because you grew them yourself, you know that they are free from any pesticides or toxins.
Growing vegetables from seeds is not difficult. Just make sure that you follow directions as to how much sunlight they need as well as the amount of water that they require. If you take care of the plants every day, chances are that you will have quite a few healthy, sturdy plants for your garden when it comes planting time.
GROW HERBS OUTDOORS, TOO!
While we talked earlier in this chapter about growing herbs indoors, they are not only for the indoors. You can grow herbs outdoors in the warm months as well. Many people enjoy growing herbs out of doors because they will grow larger and yield more benefits. It is always a good idea to plant a few herbs in your garden that you can harvest when you harvest the rest of the vegetables. If you are the type of person who dislikes growing any type of plant indoors, has small children and pets or just does not have adequate sunlight in your home, you can grow herbs outdoors and harvest them in the same way you would vegetables. Fresh herbs can be dried or frozen for preservation and use later on.
How Much Can You Save?
Once you get into vegetable gardening, you will find that you are not only having a good time, but saving money. Last year, I ended up saving $100 a month off of my food bill, but this year I plan to save even more.
After discussing my savings and techniques with friends who also like to garden, I found that they are saving even more money. One thing that all gardeners have told me is that the soil continues to get richer with each passing year, yielding better crops. You also get to know what your family will eat and won’t eat when you are vegetable gardening and can skip some vegetables that are not very popular with the family.
Another thing that you learn as you go on with vegetable gardening is how much each crop yields. This is something that you have to see for yourself. I was unprepared as to how many tomatoes and cucumbers I was going to get last year, but this year, I know to plant less plants and more broccoli, as those plants did not yield as many vegetables. This will enable me to save even more money.
By growing my vegetable plants from seeds, I will also save more money. I discussed my techniques with those who have been growing their own vegetables for years and they laughed when I told them of my idea for a book – as they have known these secrets to gardening their entire lives and have always saved money. It amazes many who were brought up in the country to know that there are people out there like you and me who do not know that you can save money by growing your own vegetables.
The tips that you read in this book have been practiced not only by me, but by my mentors. They are easy enough for anyone to follow, but they do take work. The work will pay off for you when you see how healthy your family is eating as well as how much money you are saving.
While I saved $100 a month growing my own vegetables, I spoke to a friend who said she saves about $300 a month growing her own vegetables. Her family tends to eat a lot of vegetables because she has been growing them for a few years and they prefer to eat home grown products.
DECLARE VICTORY WITH YOUR OWN VICTORY GARDEN!
If you are fed up with the ever rising cost of food and the constant worry about the economy and job security, it is time that you do something about it. Instead of worrying, take action and declare victory against the recession with your own victory garden. Just like your grandparents or great grandparents did during WWII, you can supplement your food budget by growing your own vegetables at home and save at least $100 a month off of your food bill!
Hydroponic gardening can be VERY complicated, with computers and sensors controlling everything from watering cycles to nutrient strength and the amount of light that the plants receive.
On the other hand, hydroponics can also be incredibly simple, a hand watered bucket of sand with a single plant is also a method of hydroponic gardening. Most hobby oriented hydroponics systems are somewhere between the two extremes mentioned above.
The “average” home hydroponic system usually consists of a few basic parts: a growing tray, a reservoir, a simple timer controlled submersible pump to water the plants and an air pump and air stone to oxygenate the nutrient solution. Of course, light (either natural or artificial) is also required.
Hydroponic gardening can be VERY complicated, with computers and sensors controlling everything from watering cycles to nutrient strength and the amount of light that the plants receive.
On the other hand, hydroponics can also be incredibly simple, a hand watered bucket of sand with a single plant is also a method of hydroponic gardening. Most hobby oriented hydroponics systems are somewhere between the two extremes mentioned above.
The “average” home hydroponic system usually consists of a few basic parts: a growing tray, a reservoir, a simple timer controlled submersible pump to water the plants and an air pump and air stone to oxygenate the nutrient solution. Of course, light (either natural or artificial) is also required.
History of Hydroponics.
Hydroponics basically means working water (“hydro” means “water” and “ponos” means “labor”). Many different civilizations have utilized hydroponic growing techniques throughout history. As noted in Hydroponic Food Production (Fifth Edition, Woodbridge Press, 1997, page 23) by Howard M. Resh: “The hanging gardens of Babylon, the floating gardens of the Aztecs of Mexico and those of the Chinese are examples of ‘Hydroponic’ culture. Egyptian hieroglyphic records dating back several hundred years B.C. describe the growing of plants in water.” Hydroponics is hardly a new method of growing plants. However, giant strides have been made over the years in this innovative area of agriculture.
Throughout the last century, scientists and horticulturists experimented with different methods of hydroponics. One of the potential applications of hydroponics that drove research was for growing fresh produce in nonarable areas of the world. It is a simple fact that some people cannot grow in the soil in their area (if there is even any soil at all). This application of hydroponics was tested during World War II. Troops stationed on nonarable islands in the Pacific were supplied with fresh produce grown in locally established hydroponic systems. Later in the century, hydroponics was integrated into the space program. As NASA considered the practicalities of locating a society on another plant or the Earth’s moon, hydroponics easily fit into their sustainability plans. This research is ongoing.
But by the 1970s, it wasn’t just scientists and analysts who were involved in hydroponics. Traditional farmers and eager hobbyists began to be attracted to the virtues of hydroponic growing. A few of the positive aspects of hydroponics include:.
● The ability to produce higher yields than traditional, soil-based agriculture
● Allowing food to be grown and consumed in areas of the world that cannot support crops in the soil
● Eliminating the need for massive pesticide use (considering most pests live in the soil), effectively making our air, water, soil, and food cleaner
Commercial growers are flocking to hydroponics like never before. The ideals surrounding these growing techniques touch on subjects that most people care about, such as helping end world hunger and making the world cleaner. In addition to the extensive research that is going on, everyday people from all over the world have been building (or purchasing) their own systems to grow great-tasting, fresh food for their family and friends. Educators are realizing the amazing applications that hydroponics can have in the classroom. And ambitious individuals are striving to make their dreams come true by making their living in their backyard greenhouse, selling their produce to local markets and restaurants.
Crops produced in today’s modern greenhouse ranges are many and varied. They can be loosely categorized as follows:
● vegetables including tomatoes, cucumbers, fancy lettuces, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and a host of minor ones such as radish, melon and strawberry
● cut flowers e.g. roses, mums, carnations
● potted flowers e.g. geraniums, azalea, poinsettia, tulip
● numerous bedding plants
Porous, well aerated substrate are used as anchorage for the plants root system and feeding area. Rockwool and Heydite are the most popular as they are most readily available, and easiest to use and transport. There are various other mediums which are not as widely used.
There are different ways to bring water to the plants.
● Nutrient Film Technique,
● Drip-Irrigation or Micro-Irrigation,
● Aeroponics / Deep Water Culture,
● Flood & Drain,
● Home Hobbyist Systems,
● Passive Planters / Hydroculture.
Carbon Dioxide Enrichment
In an outdoor garden the CO2 level in the air is about 300 parts per million (ppm). Plants thrive when they are able to take in a higher level of CO2. Growers today monitor their greenhouse CO2 levels with special purpose control monitors which in turn operate CO2 burners or generators to replenish CO2 consumed by the plants.
HAF (Horizontal Air Flow)
Working with CO2 enrichment and indeed an important part of the greenhouse environment is horizontal air flow. Conceived in the late seventies following research involving finer aspects of greenhouse air circulation, horizontal air flow, or HAF as it is now referred to, is widely used.
Commercial growers end up with very sizeable portions of their yearly turnover as work-in-process. The closer the crop gets to harvest, the higher the risk of catastrophic loss, should a key part of the greenhouse’s climate control system fail. Accordingly, growers go to great lengths to protect themselves. Early warning is a vital part of their security. Most now employ automatic phone dialers with electronic voice simulation to alert them of impending problems long before serious crop damage can occur.
Environmental concerns are uppermost in the minds of today’s consuming public. The horticultural industry has been working for many years to reduce its dependence on chemical pesticides, many of which have been linked to cancers. Numbers of key pesticides have been deregistered for particular crops, others have been removed from the market altogether. Promising advances have been made in the use of predator insects in greenhouse ranges as natural biological control against pest insects. While much work remains to be done to educate the grower in their use, progressive members of the industry are now well on their way to 100% biological insect control.
Until recently, pollination of greenhouse tomato crops was accomplished with a labourious method of fruit truss vibration utilizing battery operated hand-held vibrators (“electric bees”) manually touched against mature flower sets. It was a strictly artificial way of simulating natural pollination in the absence of a natural outdoor environment where wind and insects are the vectors. In today’s modern tomato ranges, hives of bumble bees are placed strategically amongst the crop and left to accomplish naturally what has been, until now a monotonous and tedious task for greenhouse staff.
In order to get the best possible results from a Controlled Environment Agriculture System, we will need to bring the spectrum and intensity of sunlight indoors. This is accomplished using High Intensity Discharge lamps. These lamps, in conjunction with specially designed luminaries, will reflect light downwards to plants, where it may be utilized to the maximum.
Modern greenhouses employ advanced environment control aids such as relays, humidistats, thermostats, CO2 injection systems and fans which are often controlled by a central computer. Smaller systems employ various individual control units.
The organic hydroponic display or Bioponics, we believe, is of significant interest to both commercial and hobby growers. This method employs an organic tea based nutrient solution with added microbial agents to facilitate their breakdown into mineral elements which plants are able to take in.
Controlled Environment Agriculture Systems
Today’s commercial greenhouses are constructed of galvanized steel, extruded aluminum, fibreglass, polycarbonate, acrylic, polyethylene and glass. The percentage of each, comprising a typical structure, varies by type of design.
Loosely categorized, the following basic shapes and styles are prevalent:
● freestanding grade to grade hoop houses (quonset) clad in polyethylene, double polyethylene, corrugated fibreglass sheet, or plastic composite structured panels
● linked or gutter-connected straight-wall hoop houses clad in polyethylene, double polyethylene and so on as above
● linked or gutter-connected straight-wall hoop houses clad in curved automotive glass
● linked or gutter-connected straight-wall peaked houses clad in flat tempered glass. This style of range breaks down into three further subcategories:
– single peak gutter-to-gutter
– double peak with floating gutter
– triple peak with two floating gutters
All of the above styles or designs of greenhouses are popular, the grower selecting which he will build based on crop to be grown, usage pattern, seasonal pattern, as well as economic considerations.
● Nutrient control insures that the plants get the minerals they need at the right pH and temperature.
● Faster growth then soil grown plants.
● No weeds. The medium is mostly inert and unless it is out doors, there is no way for weed seeds to get into the growing medium.
● No guess work about what nutrients are going to the plant.
● Easy to correct for plant deficiencies.
● No backbreaking soil conditioning.
● The water has all the nutrients that is required by the plants. The roots don’t have to grow bigger looking for food. The growth of the plant goes mostly to the upper plant.
● Plants can be spaced closer together then in soil. Spacing is dependent only on the space needed to supply adequate light to the plant.
● Garden can be at a good working height.
● Up to twenty times the amount of plants can be grown in the same space in hydroponics then in soil.
● No soil to harbor bugs.
● Healthy plants have better taste.
● Healthy plants resist insect infestations. Less insecticide is needed.
● Educational for children of all ages learning about plant growth.
● Faster growth so that more then one crop can be raised in a season.
● Can be made portable so that you can move it from classroom to classroom or take it with you when you move.
● Ground is left undisturbed on rented property.
● Condensed growing methods make better use of greenhouse space.
● Consumes 1/10 the water that field crops do.
● Conversation piece.
● Good past time for those that likes to tinker.
● It’s something the Jones’ don’t have. 🙂
Some disadvantages to growing plants in hydroponics are;
● Higher cost to get started then soil culture.
● System failure could result in a lost crop if not caught right away. Some systems can go days before damage occurs.
All the plants needs are supplied by water. The roots are placed in an inert growing medium. Water, enriched with all the nutrients the plants need, is supplied to the roots by several different methods.
1. Aeroponics; the roots are sprayed with the nutrient solution. This method ensures that the roots get plenty of oxygen to the root system. It has not been proven that this method helps to make plants grow any faster then in other methods. It has some inherent problems such as nozzles getting plugged up. One of the more expensive methods of hydroponics.
2. Ebb and flow; also called flood and drain. Periodically floods the medium. As the water drains out new air comes in. Not as hard to maintain as an aeroponics system. Roots can plug up waterways however.
3. NFT; the Nutrient Film Technique is one of the methods most often used by commercial growers. Plant roots are contained in a channel through which a thin “film” of nutrient solution passes. The nutrient solution is aerated and recycled with the addition of makeup water.
4. Run to waste; in this method the nutrient is fed to the plants at near the same rate as the plants use the water. In all the other methods, the nutrient solution returns to a tank to be recycled. This system is the cheapest to get started, however, it requires a lot of monitoring to insure the plants are getting enough nutrient but at the same time not getting too much nutrient. Plants will only take up the nutrients it needs. On sunny days they take up mostly water and leave the nutrients behind to build up. The built up salts must be purged from the system one or two times a week. This system wastes the most nutrients.
Plants most generally have to be stared in a small amount of medium before they can be placed in the growing area. Seeds are started with no nutrients in the water. Seeds have their own food and don’t require any additional nutrients until the first set of leaves appear. Nutrient is added at half strength to encourage root development until it’s transplanted. Then full strength nutrients are used for the rest of the plants growth. There are two kinds of formulas for plants. One promotes the vegetative growth and the other promotes Fruiting. A system that has both types of plants will have to have one or the other formulas depending on which crop is more important. There are two methods of growing systems, horizontal and vertical. The following are systems:
● Bag culture; used commercially in run to waste systems. The hobbyiest can also use this inexpensive method in a recirculating system. Bags are filled with a lightweight medium and nutrient is fed to each bag by inexpensive spaghetti tubes. Has the advantage of being able to space the plants as they mature.
● Tomatoes in bag culture.
● Gutter/NFT; A lot of hobbyiests have tried just about everything with this type system.
1. Manufactured channels; Square corners help to prevent damming.
2. Rain gutter; Metal gutter can oxidize and add undesirable materials to the nutrient
solution. Line with plastic sheet. Plastic gutters require total support to keep it strait.
3. PVC pipe; most hobbyiests use PVC pipes with holes drilled for plants. This system is usually more expensive then bag culture. Too often the roots clog up the waterways and dam the water causing root rot. Aeration in the root zone may become a problem.
● Beds; are extra wide channels. Beds can be filled with a growing medium or pots can be placed in the bed so that they will pick up the water from the bed through a wicking action. Pots are the most versatile. Plants can be spaced to meet the plants needs. I use this method for houseplants and for starting seeds. A 1/4 inch of water can be maintained in beds with pots. Water must be drained well in filled beds. Beds can be made from any material that will hold the weight of the plants and the medium. A plastic film can be used to line construction. Nutrient solution is usually aerated and returned to the bed.
Although there is no soil in a hydroponic garden, the plants must still be anchored. There is a wide range of inert materials which can be used to support plant roots and we call them “growing mediums”. Heydite, clay pellets, Perlite, vermiculite, and Rockwool are the most popular media. The hydroponic media that work best are pH neutral, provide ample support for plants, retain moisture, and allow space for good air exchange. The type of media you choose will depend on the size and type of plants you wish to grow, and the type of hydroponic system being used. For continuous drip systems, course media such as Heydite (a porous shale) or Hydrocorn (clay pellets) are best. The 1/4 ” to3/4 ” pebbles provide enough free drainage and air space to take advantage of continuous feeding. These media also provide good anchorage for larger plants, and are easy to clean and re-use indefinitely.
Rockwool is also another popular medium. Made from rock which has been melted and spun into fibrous cubes and growing slabs with the texture of insulation, Rockwool provides roots with a good balance of water/oxygen. Small cubes are used for starting seeds and cuttings, 3″ or 4″ cubes for small plants or intermediate growth, and slabs for larger plants. Rockwool can be used with continuous drip or flood and drain systems. Although it is possible to sterilize and re-use Rockwool, most often it is used only once.
Perlite, made from volcanic rock, is a white, light weight material often used as a soil additive. The 1/8″ to 1/4″ pellets can be used alone as growing medium, but don’t provide enough anchorage for large plants. Perlite is often used to start seed and cuttings, which can easily transplanted after rooting. Vermiculite is use the same way as Perlite, and the two are sometimes mixed together. It is made from heat expanded mica and has a flaky, shiny appearance. Soilless mix such as Pro-mix BX, and Pro-mix lite has the appearance and texture of light soil. Mainly peatmoss, mixed with Perlite, it contains very little nutrient, and is used a a soil additive, or alone as a hydroponic medium.
Some hydroponic systems do not require any growing medium at all. Various methods are used to support the plants while the roots are directly fed nutrient solution. Some examples of these are, aeroponic, N.F.T., or “Nutrient Film Technique” and deep water culture.
Nutrient Film Technique.
The purist form of today’s highly developed hydroponic growing systems is Nutrient Film Technique (N.F.T.). It is also the form of hydroponics most intriguing to the public because of its futuristic nature and appearance.
The nutrient is fed into growtubes where the roots draw it up. The excess drains by gravity back to the reservoir. A thin film of nutrient allows the roots to have constant contact with the nutrient and the air layer above at the same time.
Drip-Irrigation or Micro-Irrigation
Today’s greenhouse irrigation systems employ, to an ever-increasing extent, the concept of drip or microirrigation. It entails a principle of minimized water consumption with maximized plant benefit. There are literally hundreds of emitting/dripping/trickling/micro-spraying/etc. devices on the market today for the commercial/hobbyist grower to choose from.
A submersed pump feeds nutrients solution through header tubes to secondary feed lines connected to drip emitters.
A controlled amount of solution is continuously drip-fed over the medium and root system. Another tube is connected to the lower part of the garden system to recover the solution.
Aeroponics / Deep Water Culture
Plant roots are suspended in highly oxygenated nutrient solution allowing easy inspection and pruning of roots. Air pumps, compressors or Oz injectors provide oxygen which is crucial to healthy plant growth. The simplicity and affordability of these very active systems make them popular with home hobbyists and commercial growers alike.
In an Aeroponic system the roots are misted within a chamber. A pump pushes the water with nutrient solution through sprayers, keeping the roots wet while providing a maximum amount of oxygen.
This technique is an excellent way to propagate cuttings.
Deep Water Culture is another form of aeroponics. The root system of a plant grown in Deep Water
Culture is immersed in water with a bubbling aerator keeping the roots oxygenated.
This technique is very good to use with plants that are heavy feeders.
Flood & Drain
Flood & Drain systems are similar to N.F.T. systems. They are ideal for multiple plant per square foot growing where individual plant inspection is difficult. They are also very popular as propagation tables.
A plastic growing tray is flooded periodically by a submersed pump connected to a digital timer (or the ControlFreak!). Medium and root system are soaked, then drained (via gravity back through the pump) at specific intervals.
Various mediums can be used, Rockwool is the most popular with Flood & Drain systems.
The Ebb & Flow trays are examples of the Flood & Drain system.
Home Hobbyist Systems
There are a number of compact hydroponic systems and kits most popular with home hobbyists, researchers and teachers. These are made to be especially attractive to children in order to get their attention and interest. Hobby systems include deep water and aeroponic systems which are scaled down versions of commercial systems.
Passive Planters / Hydroculture
This is probably the most commonly know form of hydroponics. These systems do not require a water or air pump and are therefore called passive systems. Passive Planters have been used in office buildings and restaurants for many years.
Hydroculture planters utilize a clean, porous growing medium to support plant roots. A nutrient reservoir in the base of the growing container allows the plants to take as much or as little water as they require. Water level indicators show exactly when and how much to water. Clean, odourless and non-allergenic, hydroculture or passive planters are ideal for every environment.
Beginner’s Growing Tips.
This page has been designed to help answer the important questions beginning growers might have when just getting started in hydroponics. A lot of these concepts are connected to each other. Follow the links and put the pieces of this growing puzzle together.
The more you know, the easier it is to grow!
During photosynthesis, plants use carbon dioxide (CO2), light, and hydrogen (usually water) to produce carbohydrates, which is a source of food. Oxygen is given off in this process as a by-product. Light is a key variable in photosynthesis.
Measuring nutrient solution strength is a relatively simple process. However, the electronic devices manufactured to achieve this task are quite sophisticated and use the latest microprocessor technology. To understand how these devices work, you have to know that pure water doesn’t conduct electricity. But as salts are dissolved into the pure water, electricity begins to be conducted. An electrical current will begin to flow when live electrodes are placed into the solution. The more salts that are dissolved, the stronger the salt solution and, correspondingly, the more electrical current that will flow. This current flow is connected to special electronic circuitry that allows the grower to determine the resultant strength of the nutrient solution.
The scale used to measure nutrient strength is electrical conductivity (EC) or conductivity factor (CF). The CF scale is most commonly used in hydroponics. It spans from 0 to more than 100 CF units. The part of the scale generally used by home hydroponic gardeners spans 0-100 CF units. The part of the scale generally used by commercial or large-scale hydroponic growers is from 2 to 4 CF. (strength for growing watercress and some fancy lettuce) to as high as approximately 35 CF for fruits, berries, and ornamental trees. Higher CF values are used by experienced commercial growers to obtain special plant responses and for many of the modern hybrid crops, such as tomatoes and some peppers. Most other plant types fall between these two figures and the majority is grown at 13-25 CF. –Rob Smith
When a seed first begins to grow, it is germinating. Seeds are germinated in a growing medium, such as perlite. Several factors are involved in this process. First, the seed must be active–and alive–and not in dormancy. Most seeds have a specific temperature range that must be achieved. Moisture and oxygen must be present. And, for some seeds, specified levels of light or darkness must be met. Check the specifications of seeds to see their germination requirements.
The first two leaves that sprout from a seed are called the seed leaves, or cotyledons. These are not the true leaves of a plant. The seed develops these first leaves to serve as a starting food source for the young, developing plant.
Soil is never used in hydroponic growing. Some systems have the ability to support the growing plants, allowing the bare roots to have maximum exposure to the nutrient solution. In other systems, the roots are supported by a growing medium. Some types of media also aid in moisture and nutrient retention. Different media are better suited to specific plants and systems. It is best to research all of your options and to get some recommendations for systems and media before making investing in or building an operation. Popular growing media include:
● Composted bark. It is usually organic and can be used for seed germination.
● Expanded clay. Pellets are baked in a very hot oven, which causes them to expand, creating a porous end product.
● Gravel. Any type can be used. However, gravel can add minerals to nutrient. Always make sure it is clean.
● Oasis. This artificial, foam-based material is commonly known from its use as an arrangement base in the floral industry.
● Peat moss. This medium is carbonized and compressed vegetable matter that has been partially decomposed.
● Perlite. Volcanic glass is mined from lava flows and heated in furnaces to a high temperature, causing the small amount of moisture inside to expand. This converts the hard glass into small, sponge-like kernels.
● Pumice. This is a glassy material that is formed by volcanic activity. Pumice is lightweight due to its large number of cavities produced by the expulsion of water vapor at a high temperature as lava surfaces.
● Rockwool. This is created by melting rock at a high temperature and then spinning it into fibers.
● Sand. This medium varies in composition and is usually used in conjunction with another medium.
● Vermiculite. Similar to perlite except that it has a relatively high cation exchange capacity-meaning it can hold nutrients for later use.
There are a number of other materials that can (and are) used as growing media. Hydroponic gardeners tend to be an innovative and experimental group.
The apparatuses used in hydroponic growing are many and varied. There are two basic divisions between systems: media-based and water culture. Also, systems can be either active or passive. Active systems use pumps and usually timers and other electronic gadgets to run and monitor the operation. Passive systems may also incorporate any number of gadgets. However, they to not use pumps and may rely on the use of a wicking agent to draw nutrient to the roots.
Media-based systems–as their name implies–use some form of growing medium. Some popular mediabased systems include ebb-and-flow (also called flood-and-drain), run-to-waste, drip-feed (or top-feed), and bottom-feed.
Water culture systems do not use media. Some popular water culture systems are raft (also called floating and raceway), nutrient film technique (NFT), and aeroponics.
Think of a plant as a well-run factory that takes delivery of raw materials and manufactures the most wondrous products. Just as a factory requires a reliable energy source to turn the wheels of its machinery, plants need an energy source in order to grow.
Usually, natural sunlight is used for this important job. However, during the shorter and darker days of winter, many growers use artificial lights to increase the intensity of light (for photosynthesis) or to expand the daylight length. While the sun radiates the full spectrum (wavelength or color of light) suitable for plant life, different types of artificial lighting are selected for specific plant varieties and optimum plant growth characteristics. Different groups of plants respond in physically different ways to various wavelengths of radiation. Light plays an extremely important role in the production of plant material. The lack of light is the main inhibiting factor in plant growth. If you reduce the light by 10 percent, you also reduce crop performance by 10 percent.
Light transmission should be your major consideration when purchasing a growing structure for a protected crop. Glass is still the preferred material for covering greenhouses because, unlike plastic films and sheeting, its light transmission ability is indefinitely maintained.
No gardener can achieve good results without adequate light. If you intend to grow indoors, avail yourself of some of the reading material that has been published on this subject. If you are having trouble growing good plants, then light is the first factor to question. –Rob Smith
A large part of the success in growing hydroponically is planning where to place the plants. Grow plants that have similar growing requirements in the same system. Placing your system 1-2 feet away from a sunny window will give the best results for most herbs and vegetables. Even your regular house lights help the plants to grow. Make sure that all of the lights are out in your growing area during the night. Plants need to rest a minimum of 4 hours every night. If your plants start to get leggy (too tall and not very full), move the system to a spot that has more sun. Once you find a good growing area, stick to it. Plants get used to their home location. It may take some time to get used to a new place. –Charles E. Musgrove
Plants need around 16 mineral nutrients for optimal growth. However, not all these nutrients are equally important for the plant. Three major minerals–nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K)–are used by plants in large amounts. These three minerals are usually displayed as hyphenated numbers, like “15-30-15,” on commercial fertilizers. These numbers correspond to the relative percentage by weight of each of the major nutrients–known as macronutrients–N, P, and K. Macronutrients are present in large concentrations in plants. All nutrients combine in numerous ways to help produce healthy plants. Usually, sulfur (S), calcium (Ca), and magnesium (Mg) are also considered macronutrients.
These nutrients play many different roles in plants. Here are some of their dominant functions:
● Nitrogen (N)–promotes development of new leaves
● Phosphorus (P)–aids in root growth and blooming
● Potassium (K)–important for disease resistance and aids growth in extreme temperatures
● Sulfur (S)–contributes to healthy, dark green color in leaves
● Calcium (Ca)–promotes new root and shoot growth
● Magnesium (Mg)–chlorophyll, the pigment that gives plants their green color and absorbs sunlight to make food, contains a Mg ion –Jessica Hankinson
Boron (B), copper (Cu), cobalt (Co), iron (Fe) manganese (Mn), molybdenum (Mo), and zinc (Zn) are only present in minute quantities in plants and are known as micronutrients. Plants can usually acquire adequate amounts of these elements from the soil, so most commercial fertilizers don’t contain all of the micronutrients. Hydroponic growers, however, don’t have any soil to provide nutrients for their plants. Therefore, nutrient solution that is marketed for hydroponic gardening
contain all the micronutrients. –Jessica Hankinson
In hydroponics, nutrient solution–sometimes just referred to as “nutrient”–is used to feed plants instead of plain water. This is due to the fact that the plants aren’t grown in soil. Traditionally, plants acquire most of their nutrition from the soil. When growing hydroponically, you need to add all of the nutrients a plant needs to water. Distilled water works best for making nutrient. Hydroponic supply stores have a variety of nutrient mixes for specific crops and growth cycles. Always store solutions out of direct sunlight to prevent any algae growth. See also conductivity, macronutrients, and micronutrients.
Disposal Unlike regular water, you need to be careful where you dispose of nutrient. Even organic nutrients and fertilizers can cause serious imbalances in aquatic ecosystems. If you do not live near a stream, river, lake or other water source, it is fine to use old nutrient on outdoor plants and lawn. Another possibility is to use it on houseplants. However, if you live within 1,000 feet of a viable water source, do not use your spent nutrient in the ground.
The ends of a plant’s roots aren’t open-ended like a drinking straw and they definitely doesn’t suck up a drink of water or nutrients. Science is still seeking a complete understanding of osmosis, so to attempt a full and satisfactory description of all that’s involved in this process would be impossible. However, we can understand the basic osmotic principle as it relates to plants.
First, consider a piece of ordinary blotting paper, such as the commonly used filter for home coffee machines. The paper might appear to be solid. However, if you apply water to one side of it, you’ll soon see signs of the water appearing on the opposite side. The walls of a feeding root act in much the same way. If you pour water onto the top of the filter paper, gravity allows the water to eventually drip through to the bottom side. Add the process of osmosis and water that’s applied to the bottom side drips through to the top.
With plants, this action allows water and nutrients to pass through the root walls from the top, sides, and bottom. Osmosis is the natural energy force that moves elemental ions through what appears to be solid material. A simplistic explanation for how osmosis works, although not 100 percent accurate, is that the stronger ion attracts the weaker through a semipermeable material. So, the elements within the cells that make up plant roots attract water and nutrients through the root walls when these compounds are stronger than the water and nutrients applied to the outside of the roots.
It then follows that if you apply a strong nutrient to the plant roots–one that’s stronger than the
compounds inside of the root–that the reverse action is likely to occur! This process is called reverse osmosis. Many gardeners have at some time committed the sin of killing their plants by applying too strong a fertilizer to their plants, which causes reverse osmosis. Instead of feeding the plant, they have actually been dragging the life force out of it.
Understanding how osmosis works, the successful grower can wisely use this knowledge to promote maximum uptake of nutrients into the plants without causing plant stress–or worse, plant death–from over fertilizing. All plants have a different osmotic requirement or an optimum nutrient strength. –Rob Smith
As a result of the process of photosynthesis, oxygen (O) is given off by plants. Then, at night, when light isn’t available for photosynthesis, this process is reversed. At night, plants take in oxygen and consume the energy they have stored during the day.
Pests and Diseases
Even though hydroponic gardeners dodge a large number of plant problems by eschewing soil (which is a home to any number of plant enemies), pests and diseases still manage to wreak havoc from time to time. Botrytis, Cladosporium, Fusarium, and Verticillium cover most of the genera of bacteria that can threaten your plants. The insects that can prove annoying include aphids, caterpillars, cutworms, fungus gnats, leaf miners, nematodes, spider mites, thrips, and whiteflies.
A few good ways to prevent infestation and infection are to:
● Always maintain a sanitary growing environment
● Grow naturally selected disease- and pest-resistant plant varieties
● Keep your growing area properly ventilated and at the correct temperatures for your plants
● Keep a close eye on your plants so if a problem does occur, you can act quickly
With insects, sometimes you can pick off and crush any large ones. Or you can try to wash the infected plants with water or a mild soap solution (such as Safer Soap).
If a problem gets out of control, it may be necessary to apply a biological control in the form of a spray. Research which product will work best in your situation. Always follow the instructions on pesticides very closely.
Alternatively, there are a number of control products on the market today that feature a botanical compound or an ingredient that has been synthesized from a plant material.
On botanical compounds as controlling agents:
Over the last few years, researchers from all around the world have started to take a much closer look at any compounds present in the plant kingdom that might hold the answer to our pest and disease control problems. Many companies have even switched from producing synthetic pesticides to copying nature by synthesizing naturally occurring compounds in a laboratory setting. Extracts of willow, cinnamon, grapefruit, garlic, neem, bittersweet, lemon grass, derris, eucalyptus, and tomato have been helpful in controlling diseases and pests. –Dr. Lynette Morgan
The pH of a nutrient solution is a measurement of its relative concentration of positive hydrogen ions. Negative hydroxyl ions are produced by the way systems filter and mix air into the nutrient solution feeding plants. Plants feed by an exchange of ions. As ions are removed from the nutrient solution, pH rises. Therefore, the more ions that are taken up by the plants, the greater the growth. A solution with a pH value of 7.0 contains relatively equal concentrations of hydrogen ions and hydroxyl ions. When the pH is below 7.0, there are more hydrogen ions than hydroxyl ion. Such a solution “acidic.” When the pH is above 7.0, there are fewer hydrogen ions than hydroxyl ions. This means that the solution is “alkaline.”
Test the pH level of your nutrient with a kit consisting of vials and liquid reagents. These kits are available at local chemistry, hydroponic, nursery, garden supplier, or swimming pool supply stores. It is also a good idea to test the pH level of your water before adding any nutrients. If your solution is too alkaline add some acid. Although such conditions rarely occur, sometimes you may have to reduce the level of acidity by making the solution more alkaline. This can be achieved by adding potassium hydroxide (or potash) to the solution in small amounts until it is balanced once again. –Charles E. Musgrove
Plants need to absorb many necessary nutrients from the nutrient solution or–in the case of traditional agriculture–the soil. However, plants can create some of their own food. Plants use the process of photosynthesis to create food for energy. Carbohydrates are produced from carbon dioxide (CO2) and a source of hydrogen (H)–such as water–in chlorophyll-containing plant cells when they are exposed to light. This process results in the production of oxygen (O).
Every now and again, you are sure to run into a problem with your plants. This is just a simple fact of any type of gardening. The key is to act quickly, armed with quality knowledge.
Mineral Deficiency Symptoms
Nitrogen deficiency will cause yellowing of the leaves, especially in the older leaves. The growth of new roots and shoots is stunted. In tomatoes, the stems may take on a purple hue.
A phosphorous deficiency is usually associated with dark green foliage and stunted growth. As in nitrogen deficiency, the stems may appear purple. But since the leaves don’t yellow as they do in nitrogen deficiency, the whole plant can take on a purplish green color.
Iron deficiency results in yellowing between the leaf veins. In contrast to nitrogen deficiency, the yellowing first appears in the younger leaves. After a prolonged absence of iron, the leaves can turn completely white. –Jessica Hankinson
This condition can be caused by environmental factors or disease (usually caused by Fusarium). Nutrient and media temperature can be adjusted to remedy wilt. However, if Fusarium have taken hold, the chances that your plants will survive are slim.
If wilting is due to environmental causes:
Try to spray the plants and roots with cool, clean water to rejuvenate them. If this hasn’t helped them by the next day, try it again. If the plants respond, top-off the nutrient solution and check the pH. If the plants don’t respond to the misting, empty the tank, move it to a shadier spot, and refill with cool, fresh nutrient solution. Don’t reuse the old solution–start with fresh water and nutrients. –Charles E. Musgrove
If wilting is due to a system blockage of nutrient:
I have seen tomato plants that have been so dehydrated due to a nutrient supply blockage that they were lying flat and for all the world looked stone-cold dead. When the nutrient flow resumed and the plants were given the less stressful environment of nighttime, they rebounded so well that I wondered if I had dreamed the previous day’s “disaster.” The moral of this story is to always give plants a chance to revive, even when the situation looks hopeless. –Rob Smith
Plants can be propagated by a number of methods. Growers can let a plant go to seed, collect the seeds, and then start the cycle over again (see germination). Another method is to take stem cuttings, which is also known as cloning (because you are creating an exact copy of the parent plant).
Although this process won’t work with all plants, it is a highly effective technique. Simply cut off a side shoot or the top of the main shoot just below a growth node. Make sure that there are at least two growth nodes above the cut. Remove any of the lower leaves near the base of the new plant. This cutting can then be rooted by placing it in water or in a propagation medium (perlite works well) that is kept moist. The use of some rooting hormone can help your chances of success.
Remove any discolored, insect-eaten, or otherwise sick-looking leaves from plants. Picking off some outer leaves or cutting the top off a plant can help it grow fuller. Use sharp scissors to prune your plants. Sometimes you will want to prune a plant to focus its energy on the remaining shoots. Pruning is an art and should be performed with care. Damaged or dying roots may also need to be pruned from time to time.
Never use soil during any aspect of hydroponics. If you ever move a plant from a soil-based situation to hydroponics, remove all traces of soil or potting mix from the roots. Soil holds lots of microbes and other organisms and materials that love to grow in and contaminate your hydroponic system. Some of these will actually parasitize your plant and slow its growth. This is another advantage of hydroponic growing: The plant can get on with growing without having to support a myriad of other organisms as happens in conventional soil growing. –Rob Smith
Different plants have different germination and growing temperatures. Always make sure that you check each plant’s growing requirements–especially minimum and maximum temperature levels. Keep in mind that specific varieties of plants may have different requirements.
Because the water supply is the source of life for your plants, quality is important. All plants rely on their ability to uptake water freely. Between 80 and 98 percent of this uptake is required for transpiration (loosely compared to perspiration in animals), which allows the plant to produce and somewhat control its immediate microclimate. Plants also need clean, uncontaminated water to
produce their own healthy food supply. –Rob Smith
The water you use in your hydroponic system needs to be pure. It is always a good idea to test your water source before adding nutrients so you aren’t adding an element that is already present. In small systems, it would be wise to use distilled water.
If you are starting a larger hydroponic operation, it would be a good idea to have a water analysis completed. Factors such as sodium chloride (NaCl, or salt) content and hardness will be of great use to growers. Also, groundwater can have elements normally not present in conditioned water. A key piece of advice: Get to know your water!
Growing Tips From the Experts
Rooting a Cutting:
● have everything ready first then take your cuttings and plant them right away
● for best results, take cuttings first thing in the morning
● use only healthy actively growing stock plants with soft green stems (woody stem cuttings do not root fast!!!)
● for green stem (softwood) cuttings use a straight clean cut; for yellow or brown stem cuttings use a slanted cut
● remove any leaves or branches that would be below the soil line (snip off leaf stem, leaving a 1/4″ stub)
● dip cutting into “Roots” or other hormone products
● after planting, trickle a few drop of water down the stem to settle the soil mix around the stem
To Root in Potting Soil or Soiless Mixes:
● fill containers with potting mix
● water well with room temperature water with “Nutri-Boost” added (“Nutri-Boost” is a vitamin mix; add 7 drops per litre or quart of water)
● it is always a good idea to have “No-Damp” nearby in case you notice any signs of wilting; if this occurs, use the recommended application rate of l0m. “No-Damp” to 1 litre of water and spray generously
● now take your cuttings, dip them into a rooting hormone and plant them right away
To Root in Rockwool Cubes:
● rinse cubes in lukewarm pH balanced water
● water cubes with “Nutri-Boost” solution as described above
● plant the cutting 3/4″ of the way into the cube
More Helpful Hints:
● root cuttings under moderate light (flourescent light) at 70 – 75°F
● if you use a clear cover, remove twice a day and wipe any condensation off the cover and replace ● use only water and “Nutri-boost” solution until cuttings show signs of new growth at tips then feed with 1/2 strength fertilizer
Hydroponic Nutrient Manipulation and Modification Techniques or “Playing with your food”
Some gardeners are ignoring their mother’s advice and modifying their fertilizer mixes. The fact is, the soil-less mixes, lava rock, rockwool, etc. hold little or no food compared to garden dirt, so any change in fertilizer strength or quality is noticed by the plant almost immediately.
This is why gardeners use different fertilizers for different stages of growth, giving the plant just what it needs for today’s “Work”. Here are some other tips on changing your fertilizer mix for special circumstances.
We match food strength to growing conditions in the garden, and to the health and activity of the plant.
Weak fertilizer for:
● newly rooted cuttings
● plants in low light conditions
● plants in hot gardens (over 90°F or 33°C)
● plants under stress – disease, bugs, etc.
● plants in transition between stages of growth
● plants in poor growing conditions – crowded, root-bound, poor air movement, etc.
Regular Strength Fertilizer for:
● healthy plants in active growth
● good light levels, temperature and air movement
Strong Fertilizers for:
● natural spurts of growth in crop plants
● plants in very good growing conditions – very high light levels; precise, consistent temperatures; major air movement through plants; excellent exhaust and intake fans; huge quantities of C02 delivered efficiently to the garden; regular growth hormone treatments (to help the plant take up stronger foods)
Note: Increase food strength gradually – watch for black leaf tips!
Food Formulas – We modify fertilizers by changing the quantity of individual nutrients for special circumstances.
Low Nitrogen Fertilizers:
● to avoid “stretching” (long thin stems) of plants between stages of growth.
● a good example would be a chrysanthemum grower who has shortened the day length to make the plants start their flower cycle; he would use a full strength fertilizer with Nitrogen only (1/2 strength or less) to keep the plants compact until the flower buds form.
● return to regular Nitrogen levels once your plants have actually begun their next growth stage.
● this trick works especially well with our “B” and “C” fertilizers.
You can see that gardeners start by examining the conditions in the garden and the “job” of their plant, then decide what strength and quality to mix their fertilizers.
So What’s the Deal with Pesticides?
Well, they suck! However, sometimes they are necessary to save your valuable crop. The “new” trend is to use pesticides only as a last resort. Your object is to control your pests and you might even get lucky and wipe them out.
Start with a healthy plant! It’s much less likely to develop problems than a plant under stress. Bugs seem to sense a hurting plant, much like a pack of wolves will prey on an injured or tired animal. That’s where our Predators come In. Just wonderful little things. They are moderately priced and they do all the work for you. When the bad guys are all gone, (ie. no more food), they either pack their bags and leave, or eat each other down to the last one. Predators are carnivores (eat meat) not herbivores (vegetarians), therefore no worries about damage from them.
Predators have been used since before the “Dead Sea” was even sick. It’s only since First World War France, where pesticides and rodenticides were first used in the trenches to relieve troops of overwhelming infestations that we have changed our thinking. We’ve been poisoning our land, our water, and ourselves ever since. Some treatments are much safer than others. Pokon and Safers Soap are a good organic way to go, plus we can get you Predators within a day or two. This old/new topic is called “Integrated Pest Management”, or I.P.M. for short.
Avoiding Plant Diseases
Watching healthy plants get sick and die is a very depressing sight to a gardener. Plant diseases are always out there, waiting to attack your garden. While sonic diseases are easily treated, other more serious diseases will require repeat treatments to handle. Some diseases are so serious (tobacco mosaic virus for example), that the plant is doomed. Plant diseases can seriously lower crop production, even if the sick plants recover. Lets keep diseases out of our gardens! Here’s how:
Good Growing Conditions and Practices:
The best defence against plant disease is to keep your plants healthy and actively growing, by creating good conditions in your garden.
Attention to temperature, air movement and air change, proper spacing of plants, consistent growing conditions – all these practices ensure healthy, stress-free plants that can resist bugs and disease well. Often, bugs and disease will attack a weak plant in your garden and build up armies to invade the rest of your healthy plants!
Use Healthy Plant Stock
● a cutting from a sick plant will carry on the disease in the new plant.
● some varieties of a plant will have greater natural resistance to disease than their “weak sisters”; if possible, grow only varieties that have known disease resistance.
Keep Tools, Hands and Clothing Clean
● diseases, pests and insect eggs can travel to new host plants
● during pruning, transplanting and handling; wash your hands after handling diseased plants before you touch a healthy one
● clean tools and knives well after use
● keep garden clear of dead leaves
Sterilize Garden or other Grow Mediums (a Medium is what your roots are growing in)
● this is especially important when using garden dirt from the backyard in a container indoors or when using recycled rockwool or lava rock for new crops
● the soil-less potting mixes and new rockwool are considered clean already – no further treatment is needed
Use R/O Water or Distilled
● if you are concerned about the possibility of disease in your water, there are a couple of simple methods to treat water and kill disease before you infect your garden:
Chlorine Bleach (1/4 cup for 30 gallons)
❍ add to water and stir well
❍ add fertilizer to water after treating with bleach
❍ use air pump and air stone to drive off bleach and keep water bubbly
Hydrogen Peroxide (35%) (1 tablespoon for 10 gallons)
❍ this product is actually water with extra oxygen, and the active oxygen will kill disease in the water
❍ add to water
❍ stir well, then add fertilizer
Note: Peroxide helps plants to take up food easier and quicker, so this treatment has an extra benefit to the garden.
Watch your garden for problems and treat them promptly! You may eliminate the disease entirely, before it gains a foothold in your garden.
Treating Fungus and Bacteria in Your Garden
Seedlings and Newly Rooted Cuttings
● treat with No-Damp or other mild fungicide
● be sure roots are already wet before root-drench treatment: No-Damp contains alcohol that could damage dry roots or unrooted cuttings
● treat plants once a week until plants recover
Vigorous Plants – Green Growth (no flowers or crop on plant)
● spray top-growth well with Safers Garden Fungicide
● wet all leaves until liquid runs off leaves
” Caution ” – Do not spray plants with flowers or crop on them; you will definitely burn your crop!
● treat your plants once a week – the best time to spray is late in the day, so the plants can dry in the dark; avoid spraying in strong light.
Flowering or Crop Plants
● treat plants by hand-watering Benomyl fungicide into the roots
” Caution ” – Never spray a flowering plant with fungicide; it could damage the flower or crop!
● water enough Benomyl solution into the roots to drench the entire root system
● treat the plants when the roots are already wet from feeding or watering, and when they won’t be watered again for at least a few hours
● treat once a week
Hints on Treating Plants for Disease
● avoid high temperature and strong fertilizers until plants recover
● disease can become tolerant of a fungicide if used many times; after you have used one product three or four times in a row, switch to another suitable product and attack the disease with a new weapon.
Safers Garden Fungicide is a sulphur based product only for spraying Green Growth.
Do not use Safers Garden Fungicide for crop plants!
Lighting Tips Photosynthesis
Photosynthesis is the process by which plants use light energy to collect carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it to chemical energy in the form of sugar. The products of photosynthesis serve to nourish the plant and enable it to release free oxygen. Plants use only the spectrum of light that is visible to the human eye. Although the light appears white, it is actually a mixture of all the colours of the rainbow. Pigments, which are the light harvesting units of the plants, absorb certain colours of the spectrum and reflect the rest. Chlorophyll, the main pigment used in photosynthesis, absorbs light in the violet and blue wavelengths as well as in the red, leaving green the colour it reflects, and the plant colour we see. Photosynthesis can also occur indoors, providing the artificial light source used supplies the necessary spectrum and intensity.
Wide spectrum fluorescent, metal halide, and high pressure sodium are the types of lights most widely used for indoor growing. All of these lights require a ballast to operate and come in a variety of sizes and wattage’s.
Homegrown provides a wide range of grow lights that provide the necessary spectrum and intensity to suit plants’ needs.
Sunmaster line of Metal Halide Lamps was developed specifically for plant growth by closely matching the spectrum of natural sunlight.
Light is the most growth influencing factor!
● mylar reflects with up to 95% efficiency
● flat white paint reflects with up to 80% efficiency
● never use tinfoil for reflection it creates “hot Spots”
● use air cooled reflectors when heat build-up is a problem
● 15 minute time delays for halides prevent “hot starts”
● low pressure sodium lights greatly increase intensity for pennies a day
● light movers increase growth by up to 40%
● halide “super”bulbs increase intensity but not your hydro bill
● 430 watt Son Agro sodiums supply 30 extra watts of blue light
● wear sunglasses when working close to an H.I.D. bulb
● if your light fails, don’t try to fix it yourself, contact a qualified expert
Before high intensity discharge light came along, indoor growers depended mainly on fluorescent lights for best results. They are inexpensive, reasonably energy efficient, and most emit a wide enough spectrum of light for plant growth. There is a wide range of fluorescent bulbs or “tubes” available, and are categorized by wattage, length, and colour of spectrum range. Indoor growers should look for the type specifically made for plants such as the vita-Lite* or Ultralume 5000*.
The fixtures for these lamps are usually complete with lamp holders, reflector, and built-in ballast. Since the introduction of H.I.D. lights, fluorescent now are mainly used for propagation and early vegetative growth. The 20 watt,24 INCH, and 40 watt, 48 inch, are the most common. The more intense and energy efficient H.I.D.’s are now the choice for maturing high-light plants and vegetables indoors.
High Intensity Discharge (H.I.D.) Grow Lights
Metal halide lights were created to provide a spectrum as close as possible to that of the natural sunlight. This coupled with their intensity and energy efficiency, makes them ideal for indoor gardening. The bulbs range in size from 100 watt to 1000 watt with 400 watt and 1000 watt most popular.
An abundance of blue light emitted by metal halide makes them the best light for propagation and vegetative growth, promoting short internodal length High Pressure Sodium lights do not emit as broad a spectrum as Metal Halides lights, but have many advantages, especially when used in conjunction with halide. Sodiums last longer, and burn brighter, but are still more energy efficient.
More yellow/red colour in the spectrum and less blue promotes a higher flower-to-leaf ratio in flowering plants. H.P.S. lights are widely used in commercial greenhouses, where natural sunlight provides sufficient blue. A combination of the two lights provides the best balanced for indoor growroom, especially when used with a light mover. 430 Watt Son Agro H.P.S. bulbs which supply 30 extra watts than regular ones are now available. This extra light in the blue end of the spectrum is great news for indoor growers. If you are planing a “single lamp” growroom, you can still get the benefits of both halide and sodium light. High pressure sodium “conversion bulbs”, specially made to operate with M.H. ballasts, are available in 400 watt and 1000 watt models. The bulbs can easily be interchanged as needed, using the same ballast and fixture. The size of the light you will need will depend on the size of the growing area, and the type of plants you wish to grow.
High-light plants such as herbs and vegetables will require between 20 and 60 watts of light per square foot of growing space. A 400 watt metal halide in a three foot by three foot area will provide 45 watts per square foot, compared to 25 watts per square foot in five foot by five foot growroom. A 1000 watt metal halide in a five foot by five foot area will provide 40 watts per sq.ft., compared to 20 watts per square foot in a seven by seven foot growroom.
Proper reflectors, light movers, and reflective material on walls greatly increases intensity and efficiency of these lights.
Most high intensity lights can be run with either 120 volt (standard house current), or 240 volt (e.g. used for electric dryer).
Electricity cost would be the same but the latter would draw half the amps allowing the grower to run twice as many lamps on the same electrical circuit.
Light timers are available for either voltage but always check to see that the amperage rating on the timer exceeds that of the light or lights.
Care should always be taken when installing and using H.I.D. lights. Remote ballasts should be placed safely out of the way where they can’t be knocked over or splashed with water. Never keep your ballast on the floor in case it gets wet. Installing the fixture and reflector is simple. Locate a stud in the ceiling near the centre of the grow area. Screw a metal hook capable of holding 40 to 50 pounds into the stud and test it’s strength. Attach a 4′ to 6′ length of lightweight link chain to the hook or hooks on top of the fixture and hang the fixture from the ceiling hook at the desired height. The link chain allows you to easily raise and lower the light when necessary. Hold the lamp near the base and firmly, but gently, screw the bulb into the socket. Connect the timer to the power source, plug the power cord from the ballast into the timer which should be set in the “on” position. It may take up to 30 seconds for the bulb to ignite and up to five minutes to reach full brightness. As the lamp ignite, they tend to flicker and change colour for several minutes. This is quite normal, especially with halide bulbs, which may appear to change colour slightly during normal use. If the lamp does not ignite after 30 or 40 seconds, unplug it. After the power has been disconnected, check
● that the bulb is screwed in all the way
● that the timer is set on the “on” position
● that all plugs or electrical connections are O.K.
NOTE: Do Not Open The Ballast Enclosure To Check Wiring Yourself! H.I.D. capacitors can hold a charge even after the ballast is unplugged! Once these points have been checked, try the light again.
Once a metal halide lamp is turned off it requires a 15 to 20 minute “cool down” period before it can be re-started. If ample cooling time is not allowed, a “hot start” occurs, and too many “hot starts” can seriously affect the intensity and longevity of the bulb. For best results, replace halide bulbs after one year of steady use. High pressure sodium lamps require only 2 to 3 minute “cool down” period and need only be replaced every two to three years.
The most efficient way to use high intensity lights is to have them moving within the growroom.
There are many advantages to this, and a number of different ways it can be done. Moving the lights will eliminate plants tendency to grow toward the light source and provide light to areas which otherwise may be shaded. Since the light is moving, it can pass quite close to the plants without burning the leaves. Moving lights cover more area than stationary ones, reducing electricity costs and ensuring more even growth.
More intensity also allows plants to be placed much closer together, greatly increasing yield and quality. The size and shape of your room will determine the type of light mover that will best suite your needs.
Lineal movers carry the light fixture slowly along a track and back again during the light cycle. Most are six feet long,support a single lamp, and are recommended when the growing area is long and narrow.
Circular movers are best when the length and width of the room are similar. They are designed to carry either one,two,or three lights, in a 360 degree circle,ideally lighting a ten by ten foot area. This diameter can be reduced but rarely extended.
Two arm and three arm movers are most popular,with the latter supplying much more light per square foot. More intensity means plants can be placed much closer together,greatly increasing yields.
Advantages of using light movers:
● more even growth over a larger area
● lamps may be placed closer to crop
● increase growth by 40%
● stronger plant stems
● counteract leaf shading
● circular movers can move up to 3 lamps
● 1 or 2 meter linear track support single lamps, extension kits are used for additional lamps
Benefits of Hydroponic food production.
Hydroponics and Environmental & Health issues
● Pesticide free products through biological pest control
● Nutrient solutions may be re-used in other areas such as potted plants and turf management.
● Growing mediums can be re-used and recycled.
● Hydroponic systems use little or no growing medium.
● More intense cropping technique requires less space.
● Non-arable land may easily be facilitated.
● Year round crop production in Canada reduces transportation of imports and therefore associated solution e.g. fossil fuels.
● Promotes an overall awareness of our environment.
● Closed recirculating systems allow the grower control of the nutrient solution and therefore exactly what nutrients the plants receive.
● Varying nutrient formulas to suit different plants at different stages.
● Regular nutrient testing ensures all elements are present in their desired concentrations. Unwanted build ups of undesirable nutrient concentrations, such as nitrites, can be avoided.
● Hydroponic plants are more pest resistant.
● Control over environmental factors translates to a nutritionally superior, vegetable product.
● Vine ripened, Canadian grown produce eliminates consumption of artificial ripening agents and pesticides used on imported produce.
● Vine ripened, Canadian grown produce tastes superior and is nutritionally sound.
Hydroponics and Economical and Social issues
● Canadian business stimulates Canadian economy for growers, manufacturers of their supplies, as well as distribution, wholesale and retail outlets.
● Opens up positions for job training and employment.
● Satisfies consumer demand.
click to the next article-Benefits of Hydroponic food production
organic pesticides-101 great tips to kill pest problem with natural pesticides(STEP BY STEP GUIDE)!!!Posted by denny hemlin-doctor gardening in blog, Uncategorized on Aug 22, 2016
Your Resident Detrimental Pests
Are you having problems on your organic garden regarding the pests that are continuously chewing on your precious organic herbs, vegetables and fruits? These pests will surely give you a throbbing headache. They will eat your yields nonstop eventually killing your organic plants. This is a very serious problem. If you want to get rid of these unwanted pests, you need to learn more about them. Information about these pests is very important. Knowledge about them will serve as your weapon against them. If you would like to learn more about these destructive pests, then, continue to read on….
Aphids are minute, soft and pear shaped pests. They are 1/16 or 3/8 inches long and even with this length, they can cause a huge problem. They have these antennae which are long and two tube like projection from their abdomen. There are different species of aphids and they come in various colors such as powdery gray, pinkish, greenish, yellowish and black.
Aphids are widespread in North America. They just love having their way and feeding on most of your vegetables, fruits, flowers, ornamentals and even your shady trees! How thick could these aphids get?
These aphids have a very active reproduction. They reproduce nonstop causing now their large population. Imagine, females can reproduce even without mating. Female aphids will continuously produce baby aphids called nymphs. At a span of 1 to 2 weeks, these newborn aphids will develop and grow into mature aphids. They themselves can reproduce more aphids.
During the fall, male and female aphids will mate. After mating, the female will leave the eggs on the crevices of barks of trees and plants and also to the stems. During the winter, the eggs will lie still and during the spring, those who survived the harsh winter will emerge. However, in places where it is conducive for aphids to reproduce, such as those with mild climates, aphids tend to reproduce all year.
Both the adult aphids and the baby aphids known as nymphs suck the sap of the plants. That is why they are truly hard working. Sucking the sap of the plants would cause the distorted appearance of the buds, flowers, stems and leaves of your organic plants. It also makes your organic plants yellowish, a sign that your plants are dying. This activity would leave the plant deprived from the needed nutrients. Aside from that, they produce a sticky fluid that would immediately be stuck on the leaves. This fluid will allow the growth of mold which resembles the color of soot. This will block the rays of the sun and may cause the wilting of your organic plants. Remember that the sun is essential for your plants. Aside from that, aphids are known to host microorganisms that can be transferred to your plants and may cause plant diseases.
Caterpillars are usually dark colored with some yellow or brown stripes. Some may also have bluish dots on the body. Some are even green in color. Generally, caterpillars are 2 to 2.5 inches long. They have this capsule hard head which is the hardest part in their fleshy and gooey body. They have 6 legs in front and 4 more legs on their rear parts. Caterpillars have different species.
Some caterpillars usually feed on fruits such as the codling moth and budworms. This type is a bit difficult to get rid of than the other species who feeds on leaves. The species which feeds on foliage are typically seen in your garden. Caterpillars mostly feed on your shady trees, leafy vegetables and plants as well as your ornamentals.
The spring is a mark for the eggs containing caterpillars to hatch. The nest two months will be the time where the larva will eat its way through your garden. They will continue eating to develop and mature and at night, they will go back to the tree where they live in and continue to spin their “tent.” Making a larger tent is important to have a place where it can house their emerging body size.
At late June or early July, the caterpillars will have reached their maximum growth and will leave their tents behind. They will then go to a comfortable place like your home and start spinning their cocoons. After having a safe refuge, they will undergo metamorphosis for 2 to 4 weeks. Then, they will emerge as adults; they will find a mate and reproduce. The female will find the best spot to lay her eggs. After finding the best spot, she will lay approximately 200 to 300 eggs. Adults will die on the middle of summer time. The next spring would mark again the start of the lifecycle of caterpillars.
Most caterpillars work by eating the foliage of your plants. There will be no immediate damage seen but as time passes by, you will observe that your plants are getting bare. The foliage of your plants is very important for photosynthesis and will not live and continue to grow without having leaves. Aside from that, your plants need the nutrients and strength to build new leaves, making it very vulnerable to plant diseases. It is then imperative for you to get rid of these caterpillars. Some species of caterpillars also feed from the fruits of your plants such as tomatoes and other fruit bearing plants. This will surely leave holes and make your crops inedible.
Cabbage maggots are white tapering unsightly maggots.They have bristly hairs covering them. They are approximately 1/3 inch long. Cabbage maggots are good at burrowing in the soil and eating through the roots of the affected plants.The adult cabbage maggots known as cabbage loopers are ¼ inch in size usually grayish or brownish in color and looks like your typical housefly.
Cabbage maggots live off from the roots of cabbage and mustard family such as cabbage, cauliflower, horseradish. Brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage, kale, turnips and broccoli. Cabbage maggots are found throughout North America, Europe and Canada.
Cabbage maggots loves cold climate. Over the winter, the pupa will remain cocooned 1 to 5 inches deep in the soil. In late March, adult cabbage maggots will lay eggs on plant stems and cracks and crevices on your garden soil line.These eggs will hatch in 3 to 7 days into tiny, whitish and legless maggots which burrows into the soil to feed on the roots of your plants. Then, after again another 3 weeks of growth and development, the maggot will form a puparium coming from its skin. It will again take another 12 to 18 days to produce another fly. The generations can be indefinite but it is said that maggots produces three to four times a year.
Cabbage maggots live off the roots of your plants. The effects of this will go on unnoticed however; your plants will surely have a stunted growth. On some occasions, your plants will wilt in the middle of a hot day. This will happen because the roots is used to absorb water and nutrients from the soil, and since cabbage maggots feed off the roots of your plants, your plants may eventually die. Aside from that, your plants will turn sickly and the leaves will turn yellow.It is rare that the plants will survive because cabbage maggots boring on roots will also cause wounds. Viruses can enter through this wounds and cause diseases to your plants. The effects of cabbage maggots are clearly devastating.
Describing Colorado potato beetle:
Colorado potato beetle is considered as the biggest cause of pest problems in potato growers in potato farms and organic gardens. The adults are generally yellow orange in color and have that signature 10 black stripes on their wings. These adult Colorado potato beetle are generally 1/3 inch in length while the larvae are usually 1/16 to ½ inch in length. The larvae are orange in color grubs with black dots on its rear parts. The eggs are yellowish to orange in color and are laid in clusters and upright position.
Host / Range Colorado potato beetles:
Colorado potato beetles generally favor potatoes, but they would also love to have a taste of your tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, tobacco, ground cherry, cabbage crops and petunias. Colorado potato beetles can be found throughout Northern America except in some parts of Nevada, Florida, Eastern Canada and California.
The Life cycle of Colorado potato beetles:
The life cycle of Colorado potato beetles depends on where these pests are located. In farther south of Maine, these pests completes up to three generations in a year. While in north Maine, these pests complete one generation in a year. The adult Colorado potato beetles will burrow and seem to hibernate 12 to 18 inches on the soil over the winter months. Then, the adults will go up to the ground and launch themselves on a plant and they will mate. Crowds of eggs will be laid by female eggs on the undersides of leaves. Females lay their eggs in batches laying up to 25 eggs in a batch. Female Colorado potato beetles can lay up to 500 eggs each, because of this, these pests are known to be extraordinarily great in reproducing.
How do Colorado potato beetles damage your garden?
Colorado potato beetles are especially fond of leaves and stems. Larvae are especially voracious. These pests will defoliate your plants leaving you with bare garden. They will also chew the yields of your tomatoes and eggplants. The younger plants rarely survive while the older plants are extremely defoliated. The yield of your plants will be severely reduced because of Colorado potato beetles.
Cutworms are generally 1 inch to 2 inches in length. Some are brownish while others are grayish in color. Some have stripes while other has dots on their bodies. They also have that shiny little head. These caterpillars are nocturnal, meaning they are rarely seen in daylight and prefers the dark during night time. When you disturb them, they will instantly curl into a spherical shape. The adult counterpart of these cutworms are the “Miller’s moth” which is generally not dangerous.
Host / Range of Cutworms:
Cutworms favor your seedlings. They are widespread all throughout Northern America. They are considered as eating machines since they can destroy a field. These cutworms will surely leave holes on the leaves of your plants as well as your vine fruits and even buds.
The Life cycle of Cutworms:
Some cutworms spend their winter as pupae. They also have the ability to overwinter in their partly developed larval stage. In this stage, they are especially destructive from being hungry over their hibernation.
Some other species of cutworms will emerge from their hibernation during the spring. They will then lay their eggs on the ground, particularly on grasses. The eggs will hatch after 7 to 8 days and will feed on the plants growing near their temporary nest. After several weeks of continuous feedings, the larvae will penetrate the soil and hibernate. This cycle will repeat again on the next spring to come.
Some other species of cutworms can survive the harsh winter months and will be able to hatch during the spring. Again, these larvae will feed on the nearby plants especially the seedlings. Then again, they will pupate and will emerge as adults. Generally, all of the species of cutworms only produce one generation of cutworms in a year.
How do cutworms damage your garden?
Cutworms are nocturnal in nature. They will hide under crop debris, clumps of dead grass and weeds. They will find a place where they will be hidden from your reach. They favor the young seedlings and literally decapitate young plants.
Mexican bean beetle is usually mistaken for the lady bug. You should know what a Mexican bean beetle looks like since you may accidentally get rid of lady bugs. Bear in mind that lady bugs are beneficial for your organic garden. The adult Mexican bean beetles are oval in shape and yellowish or brownish in color. Some have that coppery gleam on them. Generally, these beetles are 1/16 inch in length and they have those signature 16 black spots in three rows seen across their wing covers. The larvae are fleshy fat and oval shaped grubs that are yellowish to brownish in color. Larvae are generally 1/8 inch in length with no legs but they have those spiky and bristly branches covering their bodies in segments. The eggs of Mexican bean beetle are also yellowish in color and oval shaped too.
Host / Range of Mexican bean beetles:
Mexican bean beetles love to eat the foliage, pods and stems of snap beans, green beans, Cowpeas, string beans, bush beans, lima beans, soy beans, pinto beans, navy beans, kidney beans and pole beans. The bush varieties are more commonly attacked by these beetles compared to the pole beans variety. These beetles are one of the most common enemies of gardeners in the eastern part of US and some parts of Arizona, Colorado, Texas and Utah. It is also found all throughout North America.
The Lifecycle of Mexican bean beetles:
Mexican bean beetles have one up to four generation reproduction each year. Adults hibernate in the debris found on your garden or in any other safe place over the winter months. They will then emerge from their hibernation when the weather is warmer such as in the middle or in the late spring. These adults will feed for a few weeks. After feeding, the females will lay their oval and yellowish eggs on the undersides of leaves. They will lay their eggs in clusters of 40 to 60 eggs. These eggs will hatch after 1 to 2 weeks. The larvae will feed for the next 14 to 35 days. After the continuous eating of these larvae, they will start to pupate again in the underside of leaves. The adults will emerge from their cases after 7 days and continue the cycle again. The population of Mexican bean beetle is especially abundant in late summer.
How do Mexican bean beetles damage your garden?
Mexican bean beetles especially love the foliage of your plants. These beetles will eat at the underside parts of the leaves. After finishing one leaf, the skeletons and fibers of the leaf will be left having now a lacy like appearance. Since these beetles eat the foliage of your plants, expect that your organic bean garden will be bared with green foliage after their attack. They can also decrease the yields of your organic beans since they also feed on your pods. Aside from that, they eat the stems. The effects of Mexican bean beetles can really be disturbing!
Describing Tarnished Plant Bugs:
Knowing what the tarnished plant bugs look like is the first step you should know in getting rid of these bugs with organic pesticides. The eggs of these bugs are oval in shape and are positioned as such in the tissues of plants as well as grasses. It is 1 mm long and has that creamy color. It flourishes in fruits and can hatch in 7 days. The nymph looks a lot like its adult counterpart. The nymphs are greenish in color; it has black dots on thorax and in between its wing pads and abdomen. The only thing is that, it lacks wings. The adult are flat and oval. They are ¼ inch in length and they are greenish and brownish in color.
Host / Range of Tarnished Plant Bugs:
Tarnished plant bugs are known to be a major pest in Canada, North America, Europe and Asia. These bugs particularly love strawberries, raspberries, peaches, legumes, apples, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, snap beans, alfalfa, tobacco and cucumbers. They suck on fruits and leaves while injecting poisonous serum on these plants. They also affect many flowers such as aster, calendula, chrysanthemum, cosmos,dahlia,daisy, gladiolus, poppy, salvia, sunflower, verbena, zinnia, and many more.
The Life Cycle of Tarnished Plant Bugs:
Adult tarnished plant bugs will overwinter on garden debris such as leaf litter and plant debris. Female adults will lay their eggs on grasses, weeds with broad leaves and in strawberries too. Female lays up to 10 eggs a day in approximately 10 to 31 days. They lay their eggs in the early or middle May where their much preferred temperature is reached. The eggs are inserted into the stems, on petioles and even on the ribs of leaves. Some are also laid into buds or in the florets of flowers. The eggs will then hatch into nymphs within 7 to 10 days. The nymphs will undergo 5 stages of development. After 13 to 41 days these nymphs will turn into adults. The rate of their maturity develops depending on the temperature. They will mature rapidly on hot temperature.
How do Tarnished Plant Bugs damage my garden?
Tarnished Plant bugs has those piercing-sucking mouthparts which are used to pierce the leaves and fruits of your plants. These bugs are considered to be a “true bug.” It will inject poisonous saliva into your plants and leaves. The injected part will be distorted because this toxic serum kills the cells near the injected site.The “sting marks” cause yellowing and wilting of the sucked parts. The fruits will also be left deformed. The damage caused by these bugs is great. It can decrease the yields of your plants and can kill many of your vegetables and plants. Some of the signs that your organic garden is being infested by these terrible bugs are the abortion or dropped flower buds. These bugs can also cause the blooms to be distorted and are not able to open appropriately. The injury it inflicts to your plants includes deformity of leaves, scarring of stems, discoloration of stems and leaf petioles. The most severe effects happen during the middle or in late summer.
Knowledge about these pests is very important in eliminating your resident garden pests. By having knowledge about them, you will know when, where, what and how you can attack them. This knowledge will serve as your weapon in eliminating them. If you want to learn more on how to eliminate or get rid of these pests, continue to read on the next chapter!
After learning about the characteristics, life cycle and the damages caused by the pests on your organic garden, you are now armed with knowledge. Now that you have your weapon against your resident pests, it is high time to know about the actions that you can do to eliminate these ghastly pests. There are many ways that you can get rid of these pests without the use of chemical based commercial products. The following are the common pests found on your garden and the most effective ways of getting rid of them.
Knowing about aphids is a great advantage for you. You should attack when they are vulnerable. Aside from that, aphids also have their natural enemies.
- Beneficial bugs against aphids
There are bugs that are considered the natural enemies of aphids. These bugs are known to be one of the most effective methods of getting rid of aphids with organic pesticides. You can try to indulge and look after these beneficial bugs. Aphid midges, lacewings, and ladybugs are known to eliminate aphids. Learn to love these bugs as they can kill those pesky aphids.
- Plants against aphids
There are also certain plants that can drive away aphids namely onions and garlic. The smell of onion and garlic is irritating for aphids, that is why these pests goes their way to avoid going to places planted with these. You can also try to plant onion and garlic on parts of your garden that is infested by aphids. If you do this, these pests will surely scurry away from your garden. You can also make an organic spray made from garlic.
- Plants that aphids love
You may also want to grow plants that aphids love. These plants will lure aphids away. It is better if you grow these plants far from your organic garden to have a aphids free garden. Examples of such plants are aster, cosmos, dahlia, hollyhock, larkspur, mum, nasturtium, tuberous begonia, verbena and zinnia.
- Pressurized water
There is nothing more satisfying than seeing these aphids literally run away and leave your cherished garden behind. You can do this by washing aphids away. You can wash aphids away by applying pressurized water. A strong spray of water from a hose will surely do the trick.
- Lemon magic
You can also try a recipe where lemon is the main ingredient. Lemon is an effective way to kill aphids. You just need to peel at least five lemons and squeeze the juice in a container. Simmer the lemon peelings on a 300 ml of boiling water for at least 30 minutes. Place the lemon juice on a spray bottle and drench the stems of your affected plants with this. Water the soil of your plants from the boiled lemon peelings. The smell from this boiled water will ward off aphids.
There are many organic ways that you can maximize to get rid of caterpillars from your garden. Here are some ways that you can utilize to get rid of these gooey creatures.
- Handpicking the sticky caterpillars
This is one of the best ways you can do. Just put on a gloves and check for caterpillars around your garden. It is easy to spot places where caterpillars are reigning in. Check for places where the foliage of your plants getting bare. Surely, there will be a caterpillar lurking around the corner. Handpick the caterpillars making sure that you use gloves since their sting is highly irritating. You can crush the caterpillars by stomping over them or you can drown them on a pail of soapy water.
- Tent and egg destruction
Aside from getting rid of the caterpillar the traditional way, you can also destroy their tents. This way you can get lots of them. Again, it is easy to look for their tents. The tell-tale sign of bare plants and the white colored tents in contrast to the green and brown environment will give them away. Wear your gloves and prune the caterpillar infested parts. Crush the tents and eggs to the ground or you can again drown them on a pail of water with soap.
- Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) blast
The use of BT against caterpillars was already utilized long ago. It is still very effective nowadays. BT is a type of bacteria that when ingested by caterpillars will immediately kill them off. BT is available in two preparations: powder and liquid form. You can spray the liquid form on the foliage of your plants and you can dust the powder form over your plants. A mouthful of foliage treated with BT will take effect for at least 20 minutes. BT is available on your local garden shops and is considered as an organic pesticide. According to BT users, one application of BT is enough for a long time. However, you can still apply BT once in a while since it is not harmful to your pets, children and other beneficial creatures on your garden such as bees and earthworms.
- Predatory animals against caterpillars
As you can see, the fleshy body aside from the fact that the diet of caterpillars is leaves make them high in protein. Caterpillars are considered as one of the basic food of animals such as birds and frogs. You can lure occasional birds to your garden by simply having a bird bath. You can also have frogs on your garden by building an artificial pond. Frogs feed in caterpillar and they can be very useful in getting rid of caterpillars.
- Garlic and chili combo
You can also try to make your own organic pesticide. Just mix minced garlic and chili on a spray bottle with water and spray them on your infested plants. However, this garlic and chili combo is effective or low populations of caterpillar on your garden.
Getting rid of cabbage maggots is nearly impossible. The next best thing that you can do is to use prevent them from going to your garden.
- Alkaline prevention
Cabbage maggots absolutely hate an alkaline environment. You can prevent the proliferation of cabbage maggots by mixing wood ashes and lime and place it around your plants especially your cabbage and mustard family plants. This will help in warding off these pests. Also, you can use diatomaceous earth if you prefer. However, you must know that constant application of alkaline mixture can raise the pH of your soil and it is not good for your plants. Keep cabbage maggot at bay with the use of alkaline mixture!
- Floating row covering prevention
The adult counterpart of cabbage maggots is the adult fly. To be able to prevent cabbage maggots from proliferating you should first prevent the adult fly from laying their eggs in your garden. To be able to prevent this, you can place floating row coverings on your plants during the spring. Spring is the time where adult flies lay their egg on the stems of your plants near the soil line.
- Cleaning as prevention
One of the things that you can do is to keep the surrounding of your plants clean. Make sure that there is no dead weed around your plants. Keeping the surrounding clean will help your discourage adult fly from laying eggs to your garden thereby preventing the emergence of cabbage maggots. Aside from that, you should not leave your recently harvested plants from your garden. Put those away quickly, however, if you see cabbage maggots, immediately burn these plants and do not compost these.
- Bug prevention
Just like the aphids, cabbage maggots are predators to some beneficial bugs. Bugs that look similarly like earwigs which have pinchers on their tail called rove beetles are natural predators of cabbage maggots. You should nurture these bugs. These bugs are a great help in eliminating these annoying cabbage maggots.
- Red pepper and ginger prevention
You can also use powdered red pepper and ginger around the stems near the soil line of your plants. Red pepper and ginger is proven to be irritating for cabbage a maggot that is why it is used as an organic way in preventing the multiplication of the said pests.
Getting rid of COLORADO POTATO BEETLES with organic pesticides
Colorado potato beetles are considered to be the most important defoliator of potatoes. It also affects other plant leaves and stems as well as yields. It is best to get rid and prevent their proliferation.
- Handpicking Colorado potato beetles
If you’re organic garden’s size is not that big, handpicking these pests can be done. Just put on your gloves and pick the overwintered adults as well as the masses of eggs early in the season. Since the larvae causes most of the damage, you must take care first of getting rid of the adults and eggs. Do your handpicking for a few weeks to ensure that you can get rid of these pests.
- Deep Straw Mulching
Mulching with straw can be very beneficial for your organic garden. Mulching heavily will keep the tubers out of reach from the rays of the sun. It will also help in creating a nurturing ecosystem for the natural predators of Colorado potato beetles namely lady bugs, green lacewings and ground beetles. It will also help in confusing these pests. These beetles will have a hard time in finding your plant amidst the straws. Mulching with straw is truly beneficial!
- Plants against Colorado potato beetle
You should also consider growing plants that can inhibit the proliferation of these beetles in your organic garden. You can grow sage, catnip and tansy alongside your potatoes and other plants that are eaten by these beetles.
- Bacillus thuringiensis var. San Diego (BTSD)
BTSD is a variation of BT. It is also effective in killing your resident Colorado potato beetle. It is a type of bacteria that can kill these beetles once ingested. These bacteria will multiply in the gut of the Colorado potato beetle instantly killing these irritating beetles.
- Neem oil solution
Applying neem oil can also be beneficial against Colorado potato beetles. However, you must follow the directions on the label since neem oil can harm other insects that are considered to be natural predators of these beetles.
Getting rid of CUTWORMS with organic pesticides
Cutworms can be truly devastating. Aside from the fact that they look grisly, they can literally decapitate your innocent seedlings and young plants. To be able to get rid of these pests, prevention and some action is a must.
- Plant collar
You can protect your seedlings and young plants from cutworms by using plant collars. This is a traditional method but it is one of the most effective methods of organically getting rid of cutworms. You can use collars made up from papers, PVC’s, cardboards and even your usually useless toilet tube papers. You can also utilize paper cups and metal cans. These collars will serve as barrier from these pests. Cutworms will not be able to go through these barriers leaving your plants safe and sound.
- Crushed eggshells and diatomaceous earth
You can use your empty eggshells in eliminating cutworms. You just have to crush these eggshells and apply it on the soil around your plants. You can also use diatomaceous earth for this. This type of method is a bit grim. The crushed eggshells and the diatomaceous earth will inflict wounds to the fleshy body of cutworms. Cutworms will die from dehydration because of this.
- Toiling your organic garden
Dip toiling and digging your garden at the last weeks of fall and once again on the first weeks of spring can absolutely help. The soil laid eggs and larvae will be unearthed from their hibernation. You can simply crush them thus, eliminating a large population of cutworms. You can also have the aid of chickens. Chickens will surely help you in getting rid of these pests.
- Bug zappers
You can also use bug zappers. Bug zappers can kill the adult cutworms. If the adult cutworms are killed, there will be nothing to lay eggs thereby eliminating the cutworms from your garden.
- Pineapple weed or sage brush extracts
A student from University of British Columbia claimed that cutworms will let themselves starve than eat plants and seedlings treated with extracts from pineapple weed or sage brush. It wouldn’t be bad if you try these extracts yourself.
Mexican bean beetles have overwhelming effects on your organic garden as well as your yields. It is imperative for you to take actions. You can absolutely get rid of these annoying beetles by applying organic methods.
- Handpicking Mexican bean beetles
Once again, the power of this traditional handpicking method can be applied to your organic garden. You can start handpicking these beetles on their larval stage. Make sure that you crush these beetles and their eggs. If you are too busy or you don’t have the courage to crush these irritating beetles, you can drown them on a pail of soapy water. To be able to have fun, you can enlist the help of your children or other family members. Just make sure that you are wearing gloves to avoid irritation from the bristly bodies of larvae.
- Mexican bean beetles eliminator
There are also certain Mexican bean beetle eliminator that is available. These eliminators are the parasitic wasps. These parasitic wasps Pediobiusfoveolatus, was used successfully on organic gardens and farms. These wasps will lay their eggs on the larvae of Mexican bean beetles, when these eggs hatch and become adults, they will kill the beetles. Don’t worry; these parasitic wasps will not destroy your plants. These wasps feed off the nectar of flowers near your bean garden beds. However, there is one drawback in having these parasitic wasps as Mexican bean beetle eliminator, they have short life span and they cannot survive the harsh winter months. Thereby, you need to reintroduce these wasps.
- Foil prevention
University of California suggests that gardeners should use foil mulch in their garden to ward off insects including Mexican been beetle. The aluminum mulch will reflect the rays of the sun and repel insects. This is one innovative and chemical free way of getting rid of these beetles. It will not hurt if your try this method.
- Beetle traps
One of the best things that you can do is to trap the Mexican bean beetles. Simply plant one of their preferred bean plants such as soybean. Let the soybean be infested with the beetles and then destroy the larvae and the eggs. This is a very effective way in decreasing the population of Mexican bean beetles.
- Early planting
What better way can you do but prevent Mexican bean beetle infestation? You can definitely prevent these beetles from taking over your garden by planting early. These beetles are especially active during the mid and late spring particularly on July and August. One of the things that you can do is plant as early as possible. You can plant as early as possible so that you can harvest the beans before July and August. This way, they will not have the time to eat their way in your beans ‘leaves, stems and pods.
These tarnished plant bugs should be eliminated from your organic garden. Aside from the fact that it kills your plants, it also deforms your plants and flowers causing an unsightly appearance for your organic garden. Surely, you wouldn’t want these bugs to deform your precious organic garden right? Surely not!
- PeristenusdigoneutsiParasitic wasp
Researches are being done about Peristenusdigoneutsi. Peristenusdigoneutsiis a parasitic wasp that is said to help in eliminating these tarnished plant bugs. These wasps kill the bugs on their nymph stage. Killing the nymphs will help in decreasing the population of these bugs. It was already introduced in New Jersey and some parts of New York.
- Natural tarnished plant bugs predators
You can also enlist the use of natural predators of tarnished plant bugs. Birds and lizards prey on these bugs. You can nurture birds on your organic garden by placing a bird bath near your irrigation system. Birds are very useful in eliminating other insects too. You can also nurture the growth of big eyed bugs, damsel bugs and the tiny pirate bugs by growing diverse plants on your garden. Grow plants that will lure these beneficial bugs on your garden. These bugs will kill those bothersome tarnished plant bugs.
- Weed controlling prevention
Controlling the growth of weeds will also help in decreasing the population of the tarnished plant bugs. The clumps of weeds especially those weeds which have broad leaves is where these troublesome bugs lay their eggs and this is also the place where they hibernate during the winter months. It is important to remove these weeds so that these bugs will have no place to lay their eggs. It will also help in greatly decreasing their population. Remove chickweed, creeping Charlie, dandelion, goldenrod and wild mint from your garden as these weeds host the tarnished plant bugs. Aside from this benefit, it will also help in maintaining the cleanliness and will make your organic garden organized and neat.
- Use of sticky boards
Many organic ways are not effective in eliminating tarnished plant bugs. The use of sticky boards can be really effective in these bugs infestation. This method is effective since adult tarnished plant bugs fly. You can place your sticky boards in strategic places such as on trees and shrubs. This is to catch these bugs on their flight. Eliminating the adult bugs will decrease their population greatly as there will be no more bugs to reproduce if the adults will die.
- Organic sprays
You can use some organic sprays such as sprays made from garlic oil, kaolin clay and other plant oils that are irritating to tarnished plant bugs. You can also use this method in large area infestation of these bugs. Organic sprays are best used in congruence with other known effective methods.
Learning about these methods can be very helpful for you and your organic garden. Feel free to try some of these methods on your garden and reap the benefits of pest free and healthy garden! Bear in mind that organic gardening can be very beneficial. In order to receive all the benefits of having a healthy garden, it is a must to take care of your plants, beneficial animals and insects and everything that is connected with your organic garden! A healthy garden means healthy yield. A healthy yield would mean a strong and healthy family!
All the best
Starting growing herbs can be very physically taxing and time-consuming. You might even wonder why you’d want to go through all the trouble and hard work herbal gardening entails when , you can just buy the spices you want from the commercial stores. Really, why choose to do gardening when you can save yourself from all the dirt and perspiration you will get covered in ? The truth is that growing herbs are rewarding. In fact, having an herbal garden can do wonders for your life and your health. It’s also refreshing and fun! There’s much more to it than just the anticipated time and hard work you need to devote to it.
Initially, an herbal garden requires some investment: time, effort, money, and a little space in your backyard. This may seem like a lot initially, but it really isn’t as bad as you are probably thinking, especially if compared to the results it will give you in the future. The beauty alone can balance the work, herbs can really beautify your surroundings. Just imagine all the refreshing colors and aromatic blend – what a delight to your senses! Having a scenic garden to walk out into definitely revitalizes a person . Tending your garden will never be considered a difficult task when you really consider the benefits you’re gaining.
On top of being beautiful, a herbal garden helps you keep a well-exercised body. All that planting, digging, bending to weed and tend the garden, and even just walking around, work together to help your body benefit. It is an excellent exercise which helps you maintain a fit and trim body while ensuring healthy-looking and radiant skin.
Gardening is also a great way to take a break from stress. Being out in nature has a truly relaxing effect on the mind. Everyday life is full of stressors that you cannot avoid, a big part of it is finding a way to deal with that stress. Gardening is a nice and natural way to release your pent-up stress; the wonderful blend of colors and scents would surely help any person to relieve their stress.
Have I already mentioned that with growing herbs, fresh herbs are always available to you on top of the other benefits? It definitely saves you a lot of time hunting for spices in stores, herbs will be freely available in your garden. Hard to find spices in stores will be easily found if you choose to grow them. Spices in the market can also be expensive, growing your own saves you a considerable amount of money. The only time you would spend money is on your initial investment of buying seeds, seedlings, and the tools and equipment you need for gardening. Purchasing pesticides and insecticides wouldn’t be a problem because herbs are best grown organically and it would definitely give our environment a whole lot of goodness without these chemicals sprayed around. On top of this, you don’t have to buy new tools every year, so this is an initial expense only.
Using spices from your garden also would most certainly add to the delicious flavor and nutritional value of every meal you prepare. These are ingredients that can be grown which are a treat to any recipe. Spices bring magic to every dish because of the aroma and the exotic and unique taste it gives. What’s more? Spices are a good source of vitamins and minerals – more healthy benefit for your body! These benefits even include a good deal of prevention in terms of and different illnesses and diseases. Using your herb garden to spice up your meals is another great advantage of having a herb garden, and another way of saving you money.
The final benefit we’re going to discuss is social. You can make a lot of new friends, and strengthen your bond with family, neighbors, and acquaintances, by sharing your harvests from your herb garden. If you plan your garden well, there will be enough for you and then some. So go on, fill your basket with your spices and offer them as a surprise to your neighbors and friends. You will see for yourself the delight and gratitude this brings from all, it can be quite fun. You can also give special personalized gifts (around the holidays or special occasions) by creatively putting different dried herbs in small bottles or jars as a display or adornment for their homes. Cultivate relationships with other people as you would cultivate your garden, let them feel that you care for them with these simple gifts. It would be an especially great pleasure on their part to learn that you, yourself, have grown these spices. It’s sharing a part of yourself, you have put a lot of labor in for those spices that you are now able to share.
Hopefully by now you’re seeing for yourself what a great idea a herb garden is. But how do you start one? For starters, let us provide you with a list of commonly used spices that you could initially plant to your garden.
Ginger is a herbal plant whose rhizomes can be used as a spice or a medicine. Ginger can be in different forms: raw/fresh roots, powdered, dried, pickled, liquid (e.g. ginger ale, ginger tea), oil, or even preserved in a sugar syrup or crystallized into candy. Ginger can also be an effective food preservative. This spice is usually used in Asian, Indian, and Oriental recipes because of its warm and pungent flavor and distinctive aroma. In the West, dried ginger roots are often used in breads, biscuits, jams, and puddings.
Ginger is also a very effective medicinal plant. It has been known to help relieve digestive problems like diarrhea, indigestion, gastric pains, and stomach cramps by helping increase the production levels of fluids which aid in digestion. It helps with other issues of the body as well. Nausea, vomiting, motion and morning sicknesses can also be cured by ginger roots. It even has some chemical properties which help relieve inflammations and pains related to rheumatism, arthritis, soreness, and cramping of muscles and menstrual cramps. The final medical use of ginger roots is for respiratory problems like bronchitis, coughs, chest pains, and asthma. Because of its therapeutic effects, it can help in cleansing the body and kidneys of toxins and aids in blood circulation. Ginger warms the body, increasing perspiration to help cure fever while the juice squeezed from fresh ginger roots can also treat minor burns. All of these uses from one herb make it a valuable addition to any garden.
How to grow:
- Ginger is a tropical plant, so prepare a suitable spot in your herbal garden. This should be an area with filtered sunlight and rich, moist and well-drained soil. You can choose to plant them in pots/containers that can drain water well or just plant them directly to the ground. Prepare the soil by mixing compost or organic materials.
- Choose some pieces of fresh and plump rhizomes/tubers. Before planting, soak the rhizomes overnight.
- In the pot, plant the soaked tubers below the soil’s surface. If in the ground, plant the tubers below the surface area and make sure to leave even spaces between them.
- Water the freshly planted rhizomes lightly and when buds appear, you can water it more heavily (2-3 times a week) to keep the moisture level.
- After about 8-10 months, your ginger is ready for harvesting!
As the most expensive spice in the world, it would be wiser to plant saffron crocus yourself if you plan to use it in your cooking. Its actually expensive because it takes more than 70,000 blossoms to produce only a pound of saffron threads! These blossoms are beautiful in appearance. They are purple, and best contrasted in thin and grass-like foliage. The most important part of this plant is the red stigmas which can be seen in the center of the flower. These three stigmas are plucked and dried, and it is these which finally become the valued spice.
As a spice, saffron is used for smell extraction, flavor enhancement, and food coloring for different cuisines (and even for sweet dishes), as well as medicine. The medicinal uses of saffron can’t be discounted because this spice is widely known for its numerous health benefits. When applied topically it can cure, or aid in the treatment of, kidney problems, arthritis, insomnia, digestion problems, gas, and acidity problems, fever, eye problems (like cataracts), headache, asthma, painful menstruation, cough and colds, baldness, and dry skin. In addition to this it actually has anti-cancer properties in it. This is all aside from bringing out flavor in regular meals, and helping to color some food. Aside from these culinary and medicinal benefits, saffron can be a good dye for clothes with its vibrant golden-yellow color. These numerous benefits, on top of saving you money, make it a great choice for your garden.
How to grow:
It is best to plant the saffron bulbs/corms in December to January if located in the Southern Hemisphere. In the Northern Hemisphere, June is the recommended planting time.
- Choose a suitable spot in your garden, one with full sunlight.
- Prepare the soil. It must be a rich soil, mixed with composite or other organic materials like fallen leaves. The soil must be loose, rich, and well-drained so it would be advisable to prepare a raised bed.
- Plant the saffron crocus corms 4-5 cm. deep and sufficiently spaced apart to maximize production, saffron crocus multiplies rapidly when grown successfully.
- Saffron crocus should be kept dry during summer because it remains dormant during this time. During the fall, keep the soil from drying up by watering them from time to time.
- When the blossoms are at its peak number, you can now harvest them.
With its aroma and unique flavor, garlic is one of the most commonly used spices in the world. It can be used in different recipes, be it baked, sautéed, roasted, or added to different preparations like marinades, soups, and others. Its use in the culinary arts is limitless!
As a medicinal plant, garlic is an all-natural antibiotic rich in antioxidants – it strengthen our body’s immune system against cancer, helps prevent cold and various heart diseases, helps control blood pressure, lowers cholesterol levels, prevents atherosclerosis, and can reduce Candida yeast infections.
How to grow:
In areas with cold weather, garlic cloves should be planted during the fall. For other areas, its best to plant the cloves during months of September to November, or during the months where days are at their shortest.
- Choose an area in your garden where there is a direct stream of sunlight.
- Prepare the soil. The soil must be well-drained, and contain a mixture of organic matters like manure.
- Garlic is grown from its cloves so you better choose garlic bulbs with large cloves. Separate the cloves from the bulb and individually plant them 1 ½ in. deep and 6-8 in. apart.
- An inch of water is needed by the plants (to be deposited once a week). Stop watering when the leaves start to turn yellow, this is done so that the bulbs will firm up.
- When the plant’s tops are already ripe and falling over, your garlic is ready to harvest.
Sage is a woody shrub with a bluish to purplish flower and grayish-green leaves. Sage is a perennial plant, and is perfect as a landscape ornament or an addition to your herbal garden because of its beautiful flowers. With its strong aroma and woody flavor, the plant’s leaves are often used as seasoning for pork, poultry, and other types of meat. As a medicinal plant, sage can aid in digestion, is rich in calcium, Vitamin A and potassium, and has antiseptic properties to treat minor cuts, can help regulate menstrual problems, and can help cure mouth infections (like sore throats and bad breath).
How to grow:
Sage thrives in different climates. But in places with extreme winter, it’s best to propagate your plant indoors, applying heavy mulch to protect the plant from the cold. In areas with too much wet climate, it is better plant the sage in a raised bed to ensure a well-drained soil.
- Choose a spot in your herbal garden with full sunlight exposure. Sage loves sunlight but dislikes extreme heat.
- Sage isn’t specific in the type of soil to be used, but it definitely doesn’t thrive in soggy or always moist soil. Keep this in mind when selecting a soil type, you will need one which is well-drained; consider mixing compost with the soil for better draining.
- Growing sage can either start from seeds or cuttings.
Seeds – Sow the seeds 1/4 in. deep from the soil surface, 8-10 in. apart, and 18- 24 in. apart in rows.
Cuttings – Take a cutting from the plant’s new growth, plant in a pot with a good draining soil, and leave in a warm dry place. After more than 3 weeks, when the roots have already grown, you can transfer the plant outside.
- Supply enough water to the small sage plants, but afterwards, water the plants around 2 times a week or whenever you see that the soil is dry.
- It would be best to harvest before the plant starts to flower.
Dill is best known to be used in pickling and its leaves can also be used in different salad, soup, dips, and fish recipes. The seeds can enhance the flavor of breads and pastries, stews, vegetable dishes, and even roasts. The seeds and flower head can be made as oil or vinegar. Dill can also aid in the treatment of digestion problems like gas, colic, and indigestion.
How to grow:
- Choose an area in your garden which receives sufficient sunlight yet at the same time is protected from strong winds. Dill plants tend to grow in tall but hollow stalks.
- Prepare the soil. It must be rich in organic matter and should be well-drained.
- Sow the seeds either on March or April, or even as early as just before the last frost occurs. Plant the seed ¼ in. from the soil surface. Sow the seeds relatively close to each other so that the plants can support one another against strong winds.
- Water the plants to keep it moderately moist.Harvesting can be done during the summer or fall.
Parsley is widely used in Middle Eastern, European, and American culinary. It has a bright green, hairless texture, and contains the characteristics of herbaceous plants that only grows in a certain temperate climate. It is also an annual herb that grows in tropical and subtropical areas. Moist, well drained soil and a place of direct sunlight are the best fit for the parsley to grow. Parsley usually grows from seed and is best grown with a temperature of 22-30 °C. The leaf, seed, and roots of this herbal plant can be used as a medicine. Oil that can be extracted from the seed of this herbal plant is use to make soaps, cosmetics, and even perfume. The most common use of this plant, as mentioned earlier, is in its use for food garnish, condiments, and flavoring.
How to grow:
Growing parsley is a bit challenging compare to other herb plants but it is worth a try. Parsley requires a germination period of about 3-4 weeks. Room temperature is best for planting the parsley because it promotes germination.
- Sow a number of seeds in a 4 inch If you plan to transfer it outside wait for about to 6-8 weeks before doing so.
- Have a good place for planting parsley. It requires 6 hours of great sun light a day, and tolerates it with enough shade, but too much sunlight won’t make any better.
- Have a moist and well drained soil. If you plant it in a planter make sure that it has good draining holes.
- Parsley is a bit sensitive in soil requirement. It requires its soil to be made of a rotten organic material to have a best grown parsley plant.
- To harvest parsley, simply cut the sprigs. Leaves and stalks can be eaten when harvested.
“Sea dew”, more commonly referred to as Rosemary, is native to the Mediterranean, but because it is widely used in culinary and medical purposes, many parts of the world have begun to cultivate it. It is best suited for a warm and sunny climate. It is a shrub that can grow in length up to 6 ½ inches tall. Rosemary characteristics are bitter, possessing a distinct smell that is highly aromatic, particularly when combined with complimentary foods. Rosemary contains iron, calcium, and vitamin B6. Volatile oil can be extracted through the leaves and flowers of rosemary. Laboratory experiments have shown that rosemary contains antioxidants which can neutralize harmful elements in the body, particularly ones that might affect cell membranes and basically may cause cell death. During summer and spring is the time where the plant begins to flower.
How to grow:
- In propagating rosemary, cut and layer the seed because it takes time to germinate it.
- During late spring or autumn, cut a long 10 cm from the bush of rosemary.
- In a small pot, filled with two third coarse of sand and one third pit moss, put the cut bush of rosemary. Soiling that drain well will help the plant to get its required nutrients, even if planted outside. Tips to have a more fragrant rosemary? Plant it in a soil rich in alkaline.
- Supply an adequate amount of water and keep it in enough sunlight until the roots begin to grow. Do not put too much water because this plant prefers a drier soil.
- Make sure that the soil contains enough lime in order for the plant to not take too much fertilizer.
- In a cool and dry lace, put the sprigs of the rosemary. Store in an airtight container after stripping the leaves from the stem.
- The bush will still be available for rosemary cultivation.
The word “thyme” was originally derived from the Greek word which means “to fumigate”. This plant is native to the mountains of Spain, and other European countries near the Mediterranean. It has broad leaves and a weak odor. It contains numerous stems that are round and hard and approximately 4-8 inches in diameter. Its leaves contain a fragrant odor that can produce an essential oil which is how it helps in flavoring purposes (for culinary use). This plant begins to flower in the months of May to August. Well drained soil and tropical climate help the plant to grow healthy. It is a perennial plant which can be propagated by its seeds, roots, and stem cutting. Fresh and dried thyme are both utilized in culinary to add flavor and enhance fragrance. In medicinal purposes, oil that can be extracted in thyme contains 20-54% thymol.
How to grow:
Plant this herb in a dry soil with adequate sunlight. Bushes of thymes propagate itself, that’s why cultivation is not that difficult.
- When the flower begins to bloom, cut the top half.
- Dry the leaves through the use of direct sunlight.
- Strip the dried leaves from the stem and store in a dark place.
Oregano was derived from the Greek word Origanum vulgare which means “joy of the mountains”. This is because it literally grows in the mountains of Greece and some part of the Mediterranean counties. Oregano is a perennial plants that grows best in tropical areas. It is popular for its aroma and balsamic flavor, which is widely used in culinary and medicinal purposes. In Egypt, oregano is usually used as a cure for colds, asthma, sore throat, coughs, and flu. It was first cultivated in the Philippines and some places in Asia. With the length of about 20-80 cm, it has a heart shape leaves that are 3-8cm in long.
Oregano is a good source of calcium, iron, and manganese, as well as Vitamin A, C, and K depending on how one consumes it. There is some confusion when it comes to the oregano’s relationship with marjoram, because they are most likely alike, but when closely examined, the flavor is really different. This is because oregano is much sweeter compare to marjoram and its aroma is more pungent.
How to grow:
- Plant oregano with a pH between 6.5 and 0 in well drained soil. No need for fertilizing because most herbs do not require it, especially if not necessarily needed.
- Oregano spread easily throughout the season, especially during spring. In late spring, cut the bushes of it for about 1/3 of its size to have more chance of having newly grown bushes.
- If winter falls, take oregano that is planted in containers indoors, covering it to protect it.
- Trim the dead leaves and stems in order to give the growing ones a chance.
The word mint is derived from the Greek word “mintha”. This is not a distinct herbal plant and only has approximately 13-18 known varieties of species. It is also a perennial plant that only grows annually. Its leaves are oblong in shape and are arranged in opposite pairings. It is best grown in directions that allow for some sunlight and can tolerate any climate conditions. Though it can tolerate direct sunlight, it generally prefers moist and cool areas.
Mint is a fast growing herbal plant, largely due to the fact that having only one mint planted in you backyard is usually enough for home use purposes. Mint, though it can be propagated by seeds, seems to be unreliable because they are highly variable in appearance, which may cause you to harvest a wrong one. Fresh or dried leaves of mint are used in the culinary arts. Its characteristics give an additional compliment for food, especially because of its unique characteristic of having a cool after taste. Not only is it great for culinary purposes, but it also provides help in medicinal practices. It provides tea which really helps our body heal from sickness.
How to grow:
- The months of February and June are the best time to grow this herbal plant. Germination takes a long time when planted outside, that’s why it is advisable to plant it inside.
- With a container, with healthy soil and a good draining hole, plant the seed about 5 cm deep. Cover it with composite and provide it with an adequate supply of water, keeping it moist but not too wet.
- When the plants complete the germination process, remove the cover.
- Place the container in partial shade, avoiding contact with direct heat of the sun.
- When it reaches the length of 5cm, transfer the plant outside where it can be exposed to warm temperatures.
- Have a 30cm interval for each plant, and remember to not place it in direct sunlight until the roots fully develop.
- Trim, if necessary, to have continuous mint bushes.
Cilantro, or coriander, is an annually grown herb. Every part of this plant is edible. It is a very popular addition to any herbal garden.The leaves can be used in cooking, either dry or fresh. Coriander is the seed of the cilantro plant. Interestingly cilantro and coriander are different in flavor, even though they come from the same plant. Growing this herb is not difficult because it is available any time of the month. Cilantro is relative to parsley as it has noticeably alike leaves. It is also known as Chinese or Mexican parsley as it originally comes from said places.
It grows to about 2 feet in height. The seeds are used as flavorings for some cases while the leaves are usually used for sandwiches, salads, or even salsas. Though available for planting at any time of the year, planting of it is sensitive because once planted, replanting is not an option. It requires a warm temperature for its germination process and it takes 2 weeks to complete the cycle.
Perfumes of ancient Greeks use the oil which is extracted form the cilantro. Romans use it to remove the smell of the rotten meat. Nowadays, this plant is being used continually in culinary arts for its fantastic flavor and for medicinal purposes (specifically its ability to heal some sicknesses). This herb contains an antioxidant and has a great ability to cleanse the body by removing the toxins that can be found in body tissue.
How to grow:
- Sow the soil about 1 cm deep and provide composite to cover it.
- Provide a 35cm interval between each seed.
- If planted in a container, have a depth of 15cm to help its roots develop well.
- Direct heat of sunlight is not advisable. 4 hours of it is enough for the growing stage.
- Adequate amount of water is necessary, but too much of it won’t help because its roots can’t stand in water. If it is planted in a container, make sure the pot has a good drainage hole.
- Have the soil sown every week to ensure enough nutrients are being absorbed, and make sure the soil is always in a moist condition.
The term tarragon is derived from the Latin word “Dracunculus”, which means little dragon. Tarragon is a perennial herb that usually grows for about 2 feet in heights. It is usually best harvested during the month of August. For approximately 120-150 cm tall, this plant requires relatively little water supply. Its flavor is like a combination of aniseed that is sweet and tastes of vanilla all in one herb.
Store the dried leaves in an airtight container to prevent the loss of quality. Tarragon also produces oil. Tarragon is the main ingredient in making Béarnaise sauce. It is also used for poultry which perfectly enhances its flavor and can also be used in making wines and oils. Having a set of its dried leaves is better to be used in cooking compared to the fresh one. But when compared to its flavor, dishes that use the fresh one actually receive the compliment of having a stronger flavor. One good fact about this plant is that pests hate its smell which helps nearby plants be protected.
How to grow:
- Make sure that you carefully select a place that is best suited for planting this herb. The climate may be cool or warm and there must be an adequate supply of water and enough shade from the sun.
- Sandy type of soil is best for the growing of this plant. It cannot stand in water so make sure that the soil provides good drainage.
- Water it regularly, but when its winter time, just provide enough water but not too much.During winter, tarragon seems to die but it’s actually just dormant. All you need to do is to cover it until spring comes.
- The best time for harvesting the herb is during the summer. Collect the best leaves, and by that you may decide whether you want it to use as fresh or dry.
Onion, or bulb onion, is one of the most essential and widely used herbs. Way back in Egypt, it took 2000 years to finally cultivate it as well as leek and garlic. Onion comes from different colors like red, yellow and white. As the onion varies in color, so do they vary in taste. Yellow onions provide a hot and pungent feeling to your eyes, which is the best known cause behind onions making your eyes watery. White onions are best used as pizza toppings because it provides a sweet taste among the three. And the red one creates a strong flavor when being cooked.
When onions are being chopped and heated they release a very good smell, especially when combined with garlic. They are also used (even uncooked) as toppings for pizza or salad mixes.
In chopping onions, our eyes become watery. This is because of the cell being broken that result in enzymes triggering amino acids to produce sulfenic acids and trigger the lachrymal gland (found in our eyes) which results in the production of tears.
Growing this can be done by seed as the fruit grows under the soil. It is easy to grow but unfortunately results in a short lived life.
How to grow:
- A windy place with a partial sunlight is best in growing this herb. It should also be planted in a muddy type of soil.
- Dig the soil and free the area of weeds or any objects that may affect the growing process.
- Provide a hole for each bulb and then cover it with soil. Harden it with your feet to make the soil harder, it will benefit the growing process.
- Make sure there is at least a 10 cm interval between each bulb, and allow 20-30 cm of space.
- Supply an adequate amount of water during spring, but the plant does not require it during autumn and winter.
- The best time to harvest it is during late spring.
Basil is derived from the Greek word “basileus” which means “king”. Basil is native to India. It is an annual plant which is normally used in Italian cuisine and by Asian countries in their culinary purposes. Its leaves have a 3-11cm length and a 1-6cm width, ultimately reaching a height of 30-130cm. It has a white small flower.
Basil consists of different essential oils which can be found as a result of using basil’s different varieties. Basil is usually used when fresh. It is also the main ingredients in making pesto. It can be added to cocktail drinks. Direct encounter with heat when cooking will easily destroy the flavor. It must be stored in an airtight container to keep it fresh. Since too much heat will destroy its flavor, using a dry one only provides a weak flavor (like hay’s flavor).
Some research that has been done on basil has said that it contains flavonoids that protect cell structure of the human body. It also contains antioxidant and phytochemicals that help our body to avoid illness and disease. Essential oils are often made of basil extract which have been used as a resistance aid that is commonly found in an antibiotic drugs. It also exhibits great use in healing anti inflammatory problems. Basil also provides vitamins, magnesium, iron, calcium, and potassium, all of which are essential for our cardio vascular heath.
How to grow:
- If you want to plant seeds of basil indoors, put one to two seeds in each pot.
- Make sure that the container contains a good drainage hole, then provide good sunlight. Supply an adequate amount of water daily.
- When two leaves grow, it should be safe to decide to transfer it outdoors. When grown outdoors, make sure that the plant acquires 6-8 hours of direct sunlight.
- Sow it to allow the soil provide a good air condition for its roots.
- Keep the soil moist and avoid watering its leaves and stems.
- When the flower begins to bloom, pinch it. This will help the plant to maintain a good flavor and will give more chances of having good leaves.
- Basil planted indoors will be available throughout the year, but when planted outdoors it is better to harvest it before winter because it cannot tolerate frost.
Another perennial herb from the Mediterranean is marjoram. It is often mistaken as oregano because they belong in the same herb family. As an herb, it is also used in the usual popular ways, for flavor, health, and beauty purposes. It has a mild spice and a bittersweet flavor. Marjoram grows to about 30-70cm. Its light green oval shape leaves contains a sweet flavor that is good for culinary. Its flower usually blooms during summer and comes in three colors, white, pink, and purple.
Marjoram is not only being cultivated for culinary uses but also for utilization in health and beauty purposes. Essential oils which contain marjoram extract are being used in aroma therapy. It is known for giving a particularly soothing effect, especially when applied directly to the body. It is also used in ‘love potions’. It is often used in treating mood swings of women, like menstrual periods or even symptoms of menopause. It is only helpful in the remedy of bronchitis and sinusitis.
Marjoram cannot hold cold temperature so it is best cultivated in warm places. It requires a long germination process. The best month to sow the plant is either April or May. It also grows in a sandy type of soil. When the plant begins to flower, the tops should be cut and are able to be dried. It can propagate through seed, stem cutting, or even by roots division.
How to grow:
- Provide a soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. You may put composite to have a good harvest.
- Make sure that there’s good drainage, the plant is provided with adequate water and either full or partial sunlight.
- Germination process takes approximately 10-14 days. The plant can be harvested in approximately 3 and ½ months.
- Harvest the leaves when grown to 6cm. You should do it before the plant start to flower, because if this happens and you haven’t harvested the leaves, the flavor will be bitter. But you may still collect the seeds which can be planted for the next spring.
Fennel comes from the family of apiaceae with a genus and species of foeniculum vulgare. It is a perennial herb that grows to about 2.5 meters in height. It has feathery leaves with 40cm long and 0.5 mm wide. Its flower is yellow and usually blooms in the month of July and August. Its seed is oval and brown in shape.
It provides a fragrant odor that is helpful for enhancing one’s appetite. You may prefer to use ground seeds and or raw or cooked stalks. It is used commonly in making sausages and absinthe.
Recent research has found that fennel has the ability to remove phlegm and destroy bacteria that negatively affects our body. Many enchanting features are being provided with this amazing herbal plant. It can treat bronchitis, coughs, and even digestion problems. Both the roots and the fruits are generally used as medicine. Some therapeutic uses of fennel include its uses as a mouthwash for individuals who have gum disease and sore throats.
How to grow:
- Germination process of fennel takes 1-2 weeks.
- Plant it in a place where there is direct sunlight.
- Prepare a loose and type of soil with adequate drainage. You may add composite if you prefer.
- Cover the seeds until new leaves begin to grow.
- Have an interval of 10 inches between each seed.
- Growing it may be similar to celery because it grows in stalks, not underground, so once it has started to develop its bulb, make the soil a hill-like image.
- If you want to, you can harvest bulb water it regularly, but if you want only the seed it is not necessary because a dry soil will help to propagate more seeds.
- It took 2 ½ to 3 months to be ready for harvesting.
Celery is native to Greece, but the name itself derives its name from the French word “celeri”, it was only later that it was spelled as celery. It was first used by the Romans and Greeks for medicinal purposes, they believed it was a holy plant. In ancient times, without a prior knowledge of using it in cooking, they used it as medicine for various illnesses and diseases like flu, coughs, digestion problems, and many others. Nowadays, it is primarily used for its benefits in cooking.
Celery only has usable stalks and leaves. Its leaves are dark green with 3-6 cm long and a wide of 2-4cm. Its grey-white flower is 2-3 mm in diameter. It has a great flavor and aroma which can enhance the taste and smell of your stew, soups, and even sauces. The growing season of celery begins in the month of September and the blooming season happens from July to November.
Though low in calorie content, celery still supports our health through its ability to treat illnesses and diseases. Calcium, potassium, folic acid, phosphorous, dietary fibers, carbohydrates, proteins, and vitamins are just a few of the compounds that can be found in this plant.
How to grow:
- Plant the celery in a place where there’s direct sunlight. Ideally the temperature should be at least 70° to 75°F during the day, and 60°F at night.
- Set the plant up with an adequate drainage system, plentiful supply of water, and good air circulation. These conditions are a must if you want your celery growth to be successful.
- Have an interval of 6-8 inches between seeds and 2-3 feet row distances.
- Give at least an inch of water per week.
- In harvesting, cut it, but be careful not to reach the soil line.
Bay leaf is derived from the Latin word “lauraceae” which means praise and nobilis. This plant is a tree that can grow tall, as high as 30 feet. It has a yellow or green flower. Its leaves are dark green and funnel shaped, usually measuring at about 3-4 inches long. It has a pungent and bitter taste. It is usually used in a dried form as it is in this form that it best enhances the flavor of stews, soups, meat, and vegetables. Unlike any other herbs, the dried leaves of it are actually removed from the dish before serving because it might be poisonous if it stays too long on your dish. In the Filipino culture, it is best used in their famous adobo. While in Indian and Pakistan cuisine, they use it as an accompaniment to their rice, in dishes like biryani and garam masala.
Having a strong aroma helps bay leaf be useful in killing insects. Mountain laurel and cherry laurel are types of laurel that are poisonous, so be sure that you have adequate knowledge of these varieties before using it in cooking. Though it has a bad reputation because of the potentially poisonous aspect in some varieties, it still has huge benefits in the medical community. This great herb contains copper, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and magnesium, all of which are substances that our body needs. It also contains an essential oil and has a stimulant to increase appetite.
How to grow:
- Direct sunlight is needed by this plant.
- This plant is not fussy. It can thrive in any climate. Fertilizing it is not necessary either, although if you prefer using it, you may.
- Summer time is good for its propagation, cut the stem for about 4 to 5 inches, and then plant again.
- It doesn’t require too much care; all you need to provide is a healthy soil and good sunlight with a good drainage system for its water.
- Harvest it in a couple of years, fresh leaves should be dried because it has a bitter flavor compare to the dried ones.
With a total height of 10-18 meters, allspice is a shrub. It is called allspice because it shares similarity of taste with four different spices; cloves, juniper berries, and pepper. It grows best in a tropical and sub tropical climate. Historically, it is said that Christopher Columbus was the first to introduce allspice to Mediterranean and European cuisine. He was said to bein search of a different spice when he found allspice. Nowadays it plays a big role in Caribbean cuisine. This can also be made as a tea by drying the leaves and berries. The taste of allspice and cloves are very much alike, that’s why it can act as an alternative in some dishes. Though this plant requires patience before getting the benefits, it is worth the wait.
In the months of June, July, and August, its flowers begin to bloom and will provide you berries. When berries ripen, it will lose its aroma. This means that berries should be harvested before the aroma is gone, this is when it is most ripe.
It contains a stimulant that helps our body in physical and mental functions. It also helps our body to solve digestion problems. Though its oil has less of a role in aromatherapy, it can still provide (or can help) in other ways, including some respiratory problems.
How to grow:
- It is recommended that you grow it in an area where the temperature remains at a constant of approximately 26 degree Celsius.
- It doesn’t require direct sun light so just provide a place with partial shade.
- Loose soil and good drainage should be considered a must, this is to help the roots acquire good air circulation.
- Keep up an adequate supply of water available, and do not let it have a dry soil for any extended period of time as it will negatively effect the growing process.
- It is best to plant it between spring and summer time. Then when the tree is fully grown, at about 40 feet in height, you can harvest its berries.
- Propagation is primarily done by its seeds.
Catnip is a perennial plant that belongs to the family laicize, with the species of genus Napata. It is native to Europe and Southwestern to Central Asian. The reason why it is called catnip is that its smell has always attracted cats, and for that reason, people derived the name fromthe word Catania, a Latin word meaning cats. The odor is most likely enjoyed by cats because it smells like pheromones of an opposite sex cat. In relation to this, rats hate it because it tends to represent the smell of cats. I think we all know that cats and rats are mortal enemies. For this reason, catnip can actually help you to protect your plants from rats and other pests.
It can grow to about 2 feet with grey greenish foliage. It has a white to pale purple flower that grows in a variety of shapes (from triangular to oval). It also has a mint odor in its leaves and stems. Each reddish brown flower produces 4 seeds. The leaves are triangular and sometimes come in heart-shapes. Its roots grow horizontally and it has a hairy stem.
Catnip has historically been used as a home remedy for pregnant women and people with fevers and pneumonia. It can cause you to perspire a lot when you make it as a tea, this is because your body heat increases in response to the temperature of the drink. That’s why it has been used to treat people with fever.
How to grow catnip:
- During spring season, catnip propagation is most effective.
- Provide a moist soil with an adequate amount of sunlight in an area with good airflow.
- Have an interval of 12 to 15 inches between the seeds.
- If growing indoors, provide at least 6 hours of daily sunlight. Pinch each flower to acquire more leaves.
- Let the leaves reach 8 inches in size before harvesting.
- Dry the leaves during summer.
You can also propagate them by regularly cutting their stems.
Anise is an annual plant that can grow as high as 1 meter or more. It comes from the family of apiaceae, with a genus species of pimpernels animus. Its leaves are feathery and its seeds are brown that provide an aromatic odor. The parts being used in this plant are the fruits and seeds that are being dried. It is native in Egypt and Mediterranean. Though it is a slow growing plant, it is still distinguished by its unique and strong flavor.
Anise has a strong taste of licorice that has been used in baking cakes during ancient times. It can also be used in beverages, especially in liquid cough medicines. Using its seeds also enhances the flavor of fruits, vegetables, and meat in cooking. It goes along with the flavor of cinnamon and bay leaves if combined. The essential oil produced by this plant can be an alternative for those that are commercially used.
Oil of anise has a compound used in the cleaning of teeth. The tea should be brewed first before drinking. It can also be used as a eucalyptus which is a good help in respiratory problems. It can also increase your appetite stimulant. It can also be added in manufacturing soaps, perfumes, and any cosmetic products, but also to improve aroma.
How to grow:
- Its flowering period is in the months of July to August.
- It requires full sunlight with an adequate supply of water.
- Sow the seed in a moist type of soil. Measurement should be ½ inch apart with rows of 2.5 to 3 feet.
- TIPS: To have a fast germination process, plant it near coriander, because research has shown that coriander helps in the formation process of anise seeds.
- You may add fertilizer if you think that the soil cannot sustain enough nutrients for the plant.
- Cut the head of the flower that is already brown before it falls.
- Dry it in direct sunlight and store it in an airtight container once you fully achieve its dryness and crispiness.
Over 270 years back, ginkgo biloba was recognized as a living fossil. It is native from China and widely used in various cooking and treatments. It can reach the height of 20 to 35 meters. It is triangular in shape and has a strong root that can fight against damage from snow and wind. The leaves turn to bright yellow during autumn season. It is best grown in a place where there is a good water and adequate drainage. As the tree ages, it will become broader. Leaves are usually unlobed and short. And this tree is the national tree of China.
Ginkgo produced a nut that is used in making congee. Taking a large amount of it may cause poisoning because it contains a neurotoxin called 4′-O-methylpyridoxine (MPN), which is not being destroyed when heated. But aside from this, ginkgo biloba is well known for its ability in helping one with memory enhancement. But the effect of this on individuals who have blood circulation problems is not recommended because taking ginkgo biloba can trigger more side effects in those with this condition.
Chemicals found in this plant are flavonoids and terpenoids, which are believed to have antioxidant properties that are good for humans’ body. Having this planted in our backyard will benefit us with shade(and not only us humans but also animals can be benefited too).
How to grow:
- Growing this plant with a seed is a good way of propagation. Start it in the month of January when the embryo starts to develop.
- When the seeds turn to leaves and the plant begins developing its roots, water it regularly.
- Provide with full sunlight and keep them away from weeds that compete for nutrients.
- Keep the soil moist.
- Maintain its environment until the roots are firmly attached in the soil.
Lovage is a perennial herb that belongs to the family of apiaceae. Its name is derived from the word “love” because during ancient time it was the main ingredients in love potions. Its leaves are dark green, with a greenish yellow flower. It grows to approximately 1.8-2.5 meters. This herb has both culinary and medical purposes. It helps our body with respiratory and digestive problems. It is abundant in Southern Europe and Western Asia. It is propagated by seeds. Its leaves can be used freshly in making salads, while its seeds can be use as spice (like fennel). The flower usually blooms during spring time. It has a warming and therapeutic effect on human bodies.
It normally grows in a place where there is an adequate amount of sunlight. The aromatic and stimulant functions of this plant can be found in its roots and seeds. The seed’s purposes are more powerful than its roots. It is widely spread in Great Britain but is native to the Mediterranean’s mountain.
How to grow:
- Provide a lot of space for growing this plant, it will ultimately grow to 6 feet.
- You can provide any type of soil, including sands, but make sure that there is good sunlight.
- If you decide to have it planted first in the container, have at least 4 seeds planted per container. Supply enough water in the first two weeks and you will be fine. You may provide fertilizer if you wish.
- When the roots can seem to be carrying enough nutrients, you may now transfer it outdoors.
- During the first year it will not be seen growing. When it does begin growing, it will grow to be 2 feet in height, this growth will be fast and you can now harvest it.
- During the autumn season, you may cut the stem, leaving some marks to have good grown stems in the coming season.
It is an annual plant that is also native to the Mediterranean. The United Kingdom climate is good in growing this plant. It is also known as “starflower”; it grows to about 60 to 100 cm. Its leaves and stems are hairy. The flower is usually blue, but sometimes comes with a pink one, its shape is triangular.
The taste of borage has been likened to cucumber. It is also used as garnish and may also use in salads. The flower provides a sweet taste like honey. It is also said that it is a good companion plant, especially with tomato, because it removes or otherwise confuses moths, which prevents them from interfering with the plants growth. It helps the tomato to grow to a fully developed, healthy fruit and makes the taste better.
Borage also helps individuals with hormonal problems. When taken properly it can also make one to perspire and it also helps to produce more milk for women. It also has anti oxidants and fatty acids, specifically called gramma-linolenic acid. Borage can also be found in skin care products like soaps and lotion.
How to grow:
Lacing with direct sunlight is best for growing borage. Sandy types of soil best suit it.
- If you want to have flowers during summer, you may sow it in spring for preparation. But if you want it flowering in spring, you sow it in the autumn season.
- Provide 60cm interval for each when planting.
- When done, always provide adequate amount of water.
- It will begin to mature after 6 weeks. You may harvest it when the flower is already open.
Chamomile can be an annual or perennial plant. It is derived from the Greek word chamaimelon, meaning “earth apple”. Its height is 6 to 24 inches. Its flower is daisy-like and usually grows best in moonlight. It can release a delicate aroma when being rubbed. The smell that is being produced was like that of bees and butterflies. Flowers are season-long. Chamomile may be used fresh or dried, and enhances the taste of butter, sauces, and sour cream. It is considered a safe plant, but when combined with other plants its safety may be at risk. Suggested and recommended intake of this is between 400 and 1600 milligrams. Too much doses might result to vomiting. It can be made as a tea, which give a relaxing and refreshing feeling because of the mild taste.
In Europe and the United States, chamomile is used as a main ingredient in making beverages. It can also benefit your muscle because it acts as a muscle relaxant. It has antiseptic and anti inflammatory abilities. It may also help to control insomnia.
How to grow:
- The germination process of chamomile takes for 7 to 14 days, and ultimately takes 1 month to be harvested.
- First grow it in a pot and then place it under full sunlight.
- Sprinkle only the seeds on the surface of the soil. Then water it regularly.
- Provide fertilizers if you have a very poor soil. Keep it moist.
- Plant it with 12 to 18 inches intervals in transplanting.
- Best time to harvest is during summer season.
There is an old saying that goes something like this: “If you plant, you can harvest”. This is easily applied to planting herbs in our own backyard. Having a little patience in planting herbs will yield great benefits in oneself and will be a very rewarding activity. Growing herbs can become a hobby once you have a passion in gardening this will seem like the most natural thing in the world. Herbs are very useful, not only in culinary purposes but also in medicinal ability, which can help us to have a healthy body.
Wouldn’t it be good to imagine having fresh harvested herbs planted in your backyards? Having herbs will provide you availability of these herbs, saving and even potentially making you money. If you invest time in getting good at gardening, you will have the opportunity to sell some of your herbs. This lets you earn while you enjoy propagating these plants. You can also think of better uses of this without wasting money buying in the store.
This is definitely not the cleanest way of learning, it does require you to put some dirt in your hands and nails, it may cause some perspiration, may cause you to get tired. But the truth is that it will ultimately cause you to have a lot of new experiences, whether good bad. The benefits it will provide you with in the end, seeing all your hardship in planting, seeing healthy grown herbal plants with a beautiful rewarding flowers and fruits…significantly outweigh the downsides.
Nature loving is very healthy. Being surrounded with healthy herbal plants can reduce stress and boredom. So there, with this knowledge in planting herbs in our backyard hoping, I hope I have helped contribute to giving everybody a healthy living.
All the best
growing seeds-tips and techniques for saving vegetable seeds
For those growing an organic garden, there is nothing more enjoyable than picking and saving seeds in order to plant them at the appropriate season.
In this manual I gathered tips and techniques from over 20 years of experience, simple explanations, and illustrations.
so , in this guide i will teach you:
- Structure of a Seed.
- Gymnosperms vs. Angiosperms
- seed Growth and Development
- Seed Dormancy.
- Seed Germination
- Factors Affecting Seed Germination
- Internal Factors
- External Factors
- steps in Seed Germination
You have surely seen and maybe you’ve also planted or have eaten some of it before, but how much do you know about these tiny but complex living things known as seeds? Just imagine how this little seeds can grow up and develop to be some great, tall trees or even become the smallest shrub or plant which produces flowers and fruits and other edible food for our consumption. Wonderful isn’t it?
Seeds are tiny, matured ovule of a plant and encased in a seed coat for its protection. It contains an embryo and has some stored food inside. The development of seeds in seed plants completes the reproduction process. Seeds are capable of propagation that’s why these are usually sown for the purpose of growing new crops.
The importance of seeds is evident not just on how it helps crop cultivation, but also on the spread of seed plants in different biological niches like grasslands, forests, jungles, savannas, etc. Apart from this, some seed species can be eaten. Examples of edible seeds are: grains, beans and nuts. These seeds form part of healthy diet for humans. Seeds can also be made as oil or vinegars.
This guide will focus on seeds and its development and more importantly, on the different tips or techniques in ensuring development of the seeds to seedlings. For this chapter, the focus will be on the basics regarding seed and its propagation.
Structure of a Seed
For better understanding of a seed and its development, its different parts must be discussed.
There are three parts of a seed:
(1) Seed coat;
(2) Endosperm and;
(3) Embryo which contains the cotyledon, radicle, hypocotyl, epicotyl and the plumule.
The seed coat is the protective cover of the seed from possible attacks of insects, fungi or bacteria. The endosperm is the stored nutrients and food supply needed for the growth of the embryo to a seedling. The embryo is the immature plant which will grow to a seedling; it’s different parts are:
(1) Cotyledon – the seed leaf, it will become the first leaves of the seedling;
(2) Radicle – the root of the embryo which would later develop as the roots of the plant;
(3) Hypocotyl and epicotyl – the stem of the embryo;
(4) Plumule – the shoot of the embryo.
Gymnosperms vs. Angiosperms
Gymnosperms are vascular plants which produces seeds protected by woody cones instead of fruits. Gymnosperms is the Greek term of “naked seed”, relevant to the cone-containing seeds. Gymnosperms are usually represented by coniferous trees like pines, firs, ginkgoes, spruces, cedars, and redwoods. Gymnosperms do not have flowers and their leaves are retained throughout the year.
On the other hand, angiosperms are plants which produce flowers and therefore fruits. The seeds are contained in the fruit. Angiosperms have two types: monocots and dicots. Monocots have only one cotyledons with flowers in multiples of three (e.g. grasses, corns) while dicots have two cotyledons with flowers in multiples of 4-5 (e.g. oak, roses).
seed Growth and Development
Before entering the germination phase, seeds undergo the state of dormancy. Dormancy is the state wherein the germination process is suspended because of various conditions within or outside the seeds. Seed dormancy is an important phase because it provides time for the dispersal of seeds before germination. Dormancy also protects the seeds and seedling from possible harm or death during unfavorable weather or from transient herbivores. Aside from these, dormancy happens to prevent the seed in germinating in unfavorable external environment like when the climate is too hot or too cold. Actually, in many species of seeds, dormancy may take up to months and even years.
There are two major types of seed dormancy: the endogenous and exogenous dormancy.
Endogenous dormancy is the effect of the conditions within the embryo and this type of dormancy includes:
(1) Physiological dormancy – wherein there wouldn’t be any seed germination which will occur until the required chemical changes occurs, the factors that usually affects this type of dormancy are temperature, light and drying;
(2) Morphological dormancy – happens when the embryo of the seed is underdeveloped, this immature embryo undergoes dormancy to give the embryo the time to further grow and be fully-developed;
(3) Combined dormancy – also known as morpho-physiological dormancy, this type of dormancy is the combination of the preceding types of dormancy
Exogenous dormancy is the effect of the conditions outside the embryo; this would include:
(1) Physical dormancy – happens when the seeds unable to absorb water or prevented from exchanging gases.
(2) Mechanical dormancy – when the protective covering or the seed coat of the seed is too hard to allow growth and expansion during germination
(3) Chemical dormancy – these may involve leaching out of chemical growth inhibitors by natural factors like rain or snow and other means like washing or soaking the seeds
Germination is the process wherein the embryo within the seed grows and develops forming a seedling. After the state of dormancy wherein growth of the embryonic plant within the seed is prevented, growth resumes with the germination stage. Only with favorable conditions within and outside the seed will the seed undergo germination and resumes growth to become a seedling.
So what are the factors affecting seed germination? It might seem impossible, but within this tiny seeds are different processes which happen.
Factors Affecting Seed Germination
There are certain factors which could affect the germination of seeds, these factors could be from the external environment of the seed or it could be innate for the seed. External environment factors would include: water or moisture level, oxygen, temperature and light; while internal factors may include: genotype, seed vitality, dormancy and seed maturation.
- Genotype – The genetic or hereditary factors of a seed affects seed germination, it controls the size of the seed and its growth rate. Several studies have confirmed that a seed with a larger size produces a faster germination and emergence of shoots and roots because it contains a larger reserve of nutrients.
- Seed viability – Viability is the capability of a seed to germinate. The issue in this factor is how long will a seed remain dormant and so retain their ability to germinate. Usually, a period of dormancy characterizes different seeds and there is a specific time frame for these seeds to germinate after ripening. Thus, if these seed doesn’t fails to germinate within the time frame, it means the seeds can now be considered as not viable.
- Seed dormancy – How long the seed remains dormant affects seed germination because the seeds will not germinate unless it passes the stage of dormancy.
- Seed maturation – Immature seeds will fail to germinate that’s why seeds need to be matured.
- Moisture – Water is very important in the germination of seeds. Seeds are particularly dry and they would need to absorb enough water to resume metabolism and growth. Absorption of water is called as “imbibition” which leads to the softening and breaking of the protective covering or seed coat. The embryo then awakes and resumes growth which would be evident when the seedling comes out of the seed coat and the leaves and roots starts developing.
- Oxygen – Oxygen is essential for the seeds’ aerobic respiration. Respiration is needed to enable metabolic process within the germinating seeds since this will be their main source of energy while they don’t still have the leaves to aid them in photosynthesis.
- Temperature – Different species of seeds germinate at different ranges of temperature. Since temperature affect growth rates and even cellular metabolic processes within a seed, various seeds will likely germinate on favorable conditions which include temperature. Many seeds are dependent on temperature for germination and they will only germinate when the right range of temperature is achieved. Some seeds require cool temperatures while others require warm to hot temperatures for germination.
- Light – Most seeds is not really affected by light or darkness but it some cases, light can trigger germination. An example would be various species of seeds common in jungles and forests – they will remain dormant until enough light reaches them.
steps in Seed Germination
In seed germination, several stages occur before an established seedling is produced.
- The imbibition of water involving respiration
- In this stage, two steps are involved: water absorption and respiration. The seed rapidly absorbs water because of the transfer of water molecules to the extremely dry seed. When the seed is already saturated with water, it will now only absorb lesser water and starts breaking down stored nutrients to transfer to the embryo are growing points. The next step would be the respiration wherein uptake of oxygen and conversion to carbon dioxide occurs for production of energy. Respiration also involves formation of enzymes.
- Enzyme systems activation
- There will be an increase in activity of the newly formed enzymes while protein synthesis increases for the preparation of the next stage.
- Metabolism of stored nutrients
- Synthesis of enzymes and proteins lead to metabolism of nutrients for the food of the embryo within the seed, for example, the conversion of starch to sugars for the growth of the embryo.
- Emergence of radicle and growth of seedling
The emergence of the radicle or the embryonic root will be the first sign of seed germination. From this step, the other parts of the embryo like the embryonic leaf will emerge. Continuously, it grows leaves, stems and root systems and is now a seedling.
Tired of all the technical jargons encountered in the preceding chapter? Now, this chapter would be on the tips or techniques for the best ways of saving your seed to become a successful crop and a healthy growing plant. This chapter is the highlight of the whole discussion, so brace yourself for more, there’s still a lot to learn regarding seeds!
Saving seeds is a process wherein you yourself will produce the seeds you need for your garden. Seed saving involves the selection of the best plant where you could gather its best fruit. From
these chosen fruit will be the seeds you will save and then preparing these seeds to store them properly.
You might be wondering why you should choose to save seeds on your own when in fact you can just buy them from any local stores offering agricultural supplies. Why indeed? One reason is to save money because you wouldn’t need to buy the seeds anymore, saving seeds is very inexpensive, and in fact, it can be totally free! What’s more? Plant propagation from sowing these seeds will be ultimately dependent on your will – of what conditions are needed and which variety of that seed do you want to save. The process is entirely in your control. Aside from these, heirloom seeds’ genetic diversity is well-preserved by saving seeds. Whoever said that seed saving is difficult? Nah, it’s definitely very easy and a fun activity to do! And of course, saving seed is an educational activity and it can also make you feel empowered and more satisfied.
With the advantages of saving seeds on your own, the seeds you’d want to grow in your garden are best gathered from heirloom seeds. But what are these heirloom seeds? Heirloom seeds come from open-pollinated plants, this type of seeds are capable of producing crops which are the same as the parent plant. In contrast with heirloom seeds, hybrid seeds come from cross-pollination with other varieties of the plant. Hybrids are meant to cross-pollinate two plant varieties in order to combining the features of the parent plants. The problem with hybrid seeds is that these will not produce plants consistent with the qualities of the parents. So between heirloom and hybrid seeds, heirloom seeds are preferred because of its consistency in producing plants with features same as the parent.
There are a lot of seeds out there, and proper propagation and techniques vary from seed to seed. So for your convenience, we’ve come up with a list of seeds together with the tips on properly saving their seeds.
Tips on Saving Seeds of different organic plants
Certainly, it’s much easier to just buy tomato seeds or seedlings in farmer’s market or any agricultural supply stores than to manually save seeds from tomato fruits. Well, where’s the fun? Saving your own tomato seed is definitely a fun thing to do aside from the fact that you can ensure that the tomato fruits is of high quality
Prepare the things you would need in saving the tomato seeds: spoon, knife, container or a jar with a wide mouth.
Tip No. 1. Choose an heirloom tomato fruit rather than a hybrid one. Heirloom tomato seeds will “breed true” unlike hybrid tomato seeds wherein you are not sure of what you’ll end up with. For better results of choosing an heirloom tomato fruit, you can ask a tomato fruit from a local gardener in your area.
- Choose a fully ripe tomato, not an over-ripe one. Tomatoes which are over ripe may contain seeds which are already germinating or it is starting to rot.
- Save tomato fruit from the plant which produces the best-tasting tomato and choose the best-looking fruit amongst them. The seeds from the chosen fruit will likely result to tomato plants producing the same excellent quality of fruits.
Tip No. 2. After choosing the right tomato, slice it in halves across the equator.
Tip No. 3. Scoop out the insides of the fruit including the seeds, gel, or liquid. Add some water.
Tip No. 4. Loosely cover the mouth of the container. You can use a plastic wrap and poke some holes in it.
Tip No. 5. Set the container aside within 3-5 days. What we’re trying to achieve here is a fermentation process for the gooey gel surrounding the seeds to mold.
- Make sure that you set aside the container in a warm place and away from direct sunlight.
Tip No. 6. When the molds can be seen on the water surface, this proves that the gel has already broken down. Remove as much of the mold as possible by scooping it down and throwing it away.
Tip No. 7. Rinse the seeds with water, throwing away any debris and seeds that float.
Floating seeds are bad seeds which wouldn’t germinate.
Tip No. 8: Get a coffee filter or a paper plate where you can put the seeds to allow them to dry completely.
Tip No. 9. Put the dried seeds on plastic envelopes or small paper bags or envelopes. Store the packet of seeds in a cool and dry place and keeping it away from direct sunlight. Properly label the packet for you not to forget the seed type or kind.
When you properly store the tomato seeds, it will be able to germinate even after years of dormancy
Beans have different varieties, but the most common among them would be the string beans, dry beans, lima beans and the wax beans. Beans are included in the legume family which forms part of a healthy diet for us. Beans are a healthy inclusion in our diet, and as much as possible, you’d certainly want to organically produce your beans most especially that the primary purpose of growing them is for your own consumption. Organic seeds are much more expensive than the regular ones, so it surely will help your pocket a lot if you save your own seeds for the next planting season.
It might seem that saving bean seeds are extremely difficult. You will surely be surprised to know that the activity is not just relatively easy, actually, it’s very, I mean VERY easy! Try for yourself.
Materials to be used: container (jar or paper envelope), paper towel
Tip No. 1. When the harvesting season draws close, start selecting the vines wherein you could get the seeds from. Remember to choose plants which are non-hybrid for you to be sure that you get the same produce like from the parent plant.
Tip No. 2. Allow the beans to mature and completely dry out. This would be evident when the color is already brown and the seeds inside the pod rattle when you shake it.
Tip No. 3. Pick and collect all the bean pods now. Just get all the seeds from the pod removing any part or piece of the pod. Choose the best seeds among the collection, remove wrinkled or broken seeds.
Tip No. 4. You can directly store the seeds but for precautionary purposes, it’s better to lay them first in any paper or towel and let them completely dry out for a few days. Damp or moist seeds have a risk of developing molds or signs of rotting.
Tip No. 5. After ensuring that the seeds are really dry, put them in any container like on envelopes, plastic packets and even jars. Label the container with the name or variety of the bean and the month and year when you stored the bean seeds. Also, make sure that you store the seed in a dry and cool place.
So how did you find the difficulty level in saving the bean seeds? It’s really easy!
The best way to ensure that you’ll be having seeds you can plant on the next planting season in your garden is to save your own seed. Aside from that, it’s also a nice way to save some money because you won’t need to buy seeds from the farmer’s store anymore. Anyway, why would you choose to make these business owners richer when in fact you can do seed saving on yourself? You can also ensure that the plant you’ll be planting will produce the same quality and yield like the one you have now.
There are a lot of variety of pepper which can range from sweet to hot ones, for example, the bell pepper variety and the chili pepper variety. With the differences, the ways of saving the seeds is relatively the same save some precautions and protection needed for handling the chili variety.
Materials needed: knife; hand gloves, mask and/or goggles; a jar or container with a tight lid, small sealable bags or paper bags
Tip No. 1. Choose a healthy-looking and vigorous plant with the most delicious peppers on it. Again, don’t forget to note if it is a hybrid or an heirloom one. What we want and need is to collect heirloom seeds.
Tip No. 2. Let the peppers mature and ripen in the plant. Upon seeing that the peppers start to wrinkle, you can now pick them. A good precaution in handling chili peppers is to use gloves, mask and/or goggles to protect your eyes, nose and skin because chili can prove to be an irritant to these body parts.
Tip No. 3. – For bell pepper variety, you can cut the bottom and the top of the fruit. Slice it then remove the seeds inside. Separate the seeds from the fleshy part of the fruit then place it in a fine mesh. Subject the seeds under light running water and rinse it removing any residue or other debris from the white fleshy membrane of the bell pepper. Look out for the floating seeds and remove them because these are immature or bad seeds.
– For chili pepper variety, simply tear open the pepper then rub and shake the seeds from it and put the seeds in a fine mesh. Rinse the seeds, remove residues and floating seeds. Again, better use some protection in handling the chili variety like usage of gloves.
Tip No. 4. Now that the seeds are cleaned, you can place the seeds on the paper towel, spread the seeds and allow it to dry. After a few days, you can check whether the seeds are fully dry by testing if a seed breaks with the pressure from your fingernails or when it breaks by simply bending it between your fingers.
Tip No. 5. After the seeds are completely dried out, put them in a tightly lidded container or paper bag or a re-sealable bag to prevent moisture from developing inside. Moisture may cause the seeds to germinate or it may start to mold. Label the container with the pepper variety and store it in a dark, dry and cool place.
A nice way to save money and preserve heirloom seeds is to save your own seeds. Saving squash seeds would be a great way to do this heirloom preservation, but then the problem with this is that squashes are famous cross-pollinators.
So read further and check out our tips and techniques to help ensure “pure” squash seeds!
Before we get on the saving seed tips, it is first and foremost important to ensure that you are to save seeds from heirloom plants. This is because squashes are known for its notoriety when it comes to cross-pollination, and you wouldn’t want to produce squashes which aren’t consistent or the same as the parent plant. First of all, you have to look for a local gardener which could provide you with an heirloom squash seeds. If you can’t find any, then you would need to buy them from agricultural stores. For least chances of cross-pollination and to be able to produce heirloom seeds from these pure squash plants, plant only one variety of squash in your garden.
So you’ve already sown those seeds which grew and bore fruits, now you’re set to save your heirloom squash seeds!
Get the following materials ready: knife, colander, spoon (or anything which can be used to effectively scooping out the seeds), paper plate or old newspaper, a jar or an envelope
Tip No. 1. Let the squash mature. Make sure the squash is fully ripe when you pick it. It would be preferable if you wait around 6-8 weeks after the supposed date of harvest when you pick the squash. If the seeds are given more time to mature and ripen within the fruit, it will surely gain more robustness.
Tip No. 2. Scoop the seeds out to remove them from the squash; you can use your hand or a spoon in doing this. Separate flesh from the seed.
Tip No. 3. Rinse the seeds completely free of other debris or residue from the flesh and pulp under running water using a colander.
Tip No. 4. Let the seeds dry by spreading these to a newspaper or a paper plate. The seeds would surely be completely dry within several days up to a week.
Tip No. 5. Protect the heirloom seeds by storing them in an envelope or a jar and place it in a cool and dry place. Your heirloom seeds will last for several years if properly stored.
Aside from being a healthy food, cucumbers is also a beauty food. You can use it to reduce the puffiness around the eyes and lighten dark circles around it. Saving cucumber seeds will save money because you won’t need to buy your seeds, you will also have a continuous supply of cucumbers that will save you a lot of money from buying beauty products for your eyes (e.g. concealers, lightening creams, etc.)
In choosing the right cucumber for its seeds, taste one from the vine. This is important especially that some cucumbers have a bitter taste, and you wouldn’t want to choose that. After you’ve tasted some, determine which vine produces the best tasting cucumber and mark it. Save the fruit in the said vine for seed saving.
So what are you waiting for? Experience the beauty of saving seeds!
Prepare the following materials: knife, spoon, deep bowl, colander, container
Tip No. 1. Of course we don’t wait for the cucumber to ripen when we eat it, we wait until it’s mature enough to be eaten. But in picking the right cucumber, don’t pick it when it can already be eaten. Instead, pick it when the cucumber is already soft, big, and yellowish.
Tip No. 2. Cut the cucumber open in halves, but do it carefully to avoid destroying and cutting the seeds.
Tip No. 3. Scoop the seeds from the fruit and put it in a bowl. Add some water in it.
Tip No. 4. Set it aside for a few days. If molds develop on the surface, don’t worry. The mixture is undergoing a fermentation process for the seed and its gel covering to separate.
Tip No. 5. Remove the mold and then rinse the seed a few times. To shake off the few remaining water droplets, use a fine mesh colander.
Tip No. 6. Spread the seeds on a piece of paper or any paper plate then let it dry for a few days.
Tip No. 7. If you try to bend the seed and it snaps instead of bending, the seeds are now dry enough and ready to be stored away. Put them in a container like a jar or a ziplock then store them in a dry place but cool enough to avoid moisture on developing inside the container. Moisture can trigger germination or it may also destroy the seeds because of rotting.
Lettuce plants is easy to grow and very easy to save seeds from. It is an ideal plant for saving seeds because it does not cross pollinate, instead, its flowers self-pollinates which would entail that the seeds will retain the characteristics from the parent plant. A possible problem would be saving lettuce seed is that the parent plant is a hybrid one. The cross-pollination would be attributed to human interventions like when seed companies or local gardeners do the cross pollination instead of the plant doing it by themselves. Saving seeds from hybrid plants, will likely result to different issues like: the lettuce may flower but it won’t produce seeds; the lettuce plant may produce seeds but it fails to germinate; the lettuce may produce seeds that germinate but the plants which will be produced which is not the same to any of the parent plants; or it may produce seeds which germinates and has the same characteristic like the parent plant. So you see, saving seeds from hybrid plants would be a gamble, you won’t be sure if the result would be good or bad, there’s no way of knowing what is the exact outcome. So be sure to save seeds from self-pollinated lettuce plants.
Saving lettuce seeds is very easy, it doesn’t require much energy and effort in doing the activity and instead it requires time and much patience.
Here is the list of the things which would be needed: knife, a ribbon or a stake for identifying the plant, a big bowl, and a container.
Tip No. 1. Choose the plant from which to save your seeds from. Select the healthiest plant among your lettuces. While it would be alright to choose only one plant for your seeds because it could generate many seeds, it would be best to save from more than one plant to have more reserve seeds that you could use for the upcoming years. Aside from that, lettuce may produce slight differences through time so it would be advisable to save from more than one lettuce plant.
Tip No. 2. After choosing the plants, label them. You can simply put a stake or any identifying mark to be able to identify them later on.
Tip No. 3. Now here comes the waiting part. The lettuce plants will eventually bolt or it is now going to produce seeds. This would be evident when a stalk grows from the top of the plant and later on flowers. The flowers will now self-pollinate and then grow seed heads which would look like some white puff balls.
Tip No. 4. Let the seed heads mature until it nears to shedding its seeds. Seeds close to shedding get darker while the plant dries out. Be careful in harvesting because if you pick the seeds to early it would not be mature enough. Immature seeds are characterized by being greenish in color and flatter than matured seeds. Another precaution is that leaving your seed heads too long, the seeds will start to shed and strong winds could easily blow away the seeds. So for best results, pick the seed heads when the seeds are matured enough and the heads are not completely dried out. And don’t forget to harvest the seeds by carefully cutting the stems below the heads.
Tip No. 5. Separate the seeds by holding the stalks and shaking it onto a sheet, basket, but its best to use a big bowl for separating small pieces of dried plant that may have been mixed with the seeds. Not all seeds will shake free but others would not so you must manually separate the left ones. Large and small pieces of the dried plant may be left together with the seeds. Pick the large pieces, at the same time, tilt the bowl at an angle where one side is higher than the other side. Now continually blow on the mixture of seeds and small pieces of the dry plant. The pieces of dry plant are lighter than the seeds so it would be easy to blow the dried plant parts away. Continue to do this until most or all of the dry plant parts are gone.
Tip No. 6. Let the seeds completely dry out by spreading it out on a sheet of paper on sunny days. Dry them for 1-2 days. Be cautious during damp nights; cover the seeds so that formation of molds or mildew will be avoided.
Tip No. 7. When the seeds are completely dried out, you can now store them in a container jar. Put them away in a cool and dry place.
Okra, also known as “Lady’s Fingers” is popular in India and the southern parts of America. The okra is characterized as a green with a somewhat fuzzy and ribbed skin. Its insides have a gooey and sticky texture and it is also full of seeds. In culinary, okras are should be picked while it’s not too matured and doesn’t exceed a length of 3 inches. It’s best eaten young because as they get bigger than 3 inches and matures, the woody flavor and unpalatable texture would be unpleasant.
In saving the okra seeds, do not store it for more than a year. Okra seeds doesn’t store well for a long time that’s why only save enough of what will be used for your garden. Again, choose to plant heirloom seeds only. For best chances of producing heirloom seeds, plant only one variety of okra because it easily cross pollinates with other varieties. Hybrid plants won’t produce true seeds, so you better be careful in planting varieties.
Thing’s you will need: gloves (optional), bowl, jar
Tip No. 1. Choose the healthiest okra pods and reserve it for seeding. Allow the reserved okra pods to mature in the plant until it gets brown. Allow it to dry in the stalk naturally until the pods start to split. When this happens, start removing the pods from the plant. Be careful in handling the plant, you can use a pair of gloves to avoid being irritated by the tiny and spiny mechanism which covers the okra stalks because these can irritate your skin.
Tip No. 2. Use the bowl as the container of the pods picked. Break or pry the pods lengthwise and the seeds will readily fall down.
Tip No. 3. Let the seeds completely dry out for a few days by spreading it in a sheet of paper. After complete drying, put the seeds in a tightly closed jar and store in a dry but cool area.
Tip No. 4. Again, only save seeds which are enough for the next planting season not exceeding a year because the seeds will not remain viable after the year. Another thing before planting the seeds, soak the okra seeds in water for a couple of hours.
Watermelon is a great treat during the summer. This sweet and delicious fruit is also full of juices, making it a perfect thirst-quencher. Save money by growing your own watermelon, and save more by saving some seeds without needing to buy the seeds from stores. Besides, planting watermelon is a fun activity. What more but because of the joy of seeing a seed grow to a plant and then produce large fruits like these watermelons. It’s definitely a mouthwatering treat for the whole family! Aside from that, saving the seeds is very simple.
What you will need: large knife, spoon, bowl, strainer, paper towel, small paper bag
Tip No. 1. Select a ripe watermelon for your heirloom seeds. Slice it with a large knife and then use the spoon to scoop out the seeds inside.
Tip No. 2. Put the scooped seeds in a strainer then rinse it by holding the strainer under running water. Continue to rinse it until all of the flesh or fiber tissue from the watermelon is gone. Afterwards, transfer the seeds in a deep bowl.
Tip No. 3. Fill the bowl with water, the water should cover all the watermelon seeds completely.
Tip No. 4. Use the spoon to stir the seeds. Separate the bad seeds from the bowl by removing and throwing away all the seeds that float.
Tip No. 5. Continue stirring the seeds until no seeds are floating in the water surface.
Tip No. 6. After ensuring that all the bad seeds are gone, use the strainer to drain the water from the bowl.
Tip No. 7. Prepare the paper towel and spread a single layer of the watermelon seeds on it for the seeds to dry.
Tip No. 8. Place the paper towel in a dry but sunny area to allow the watermelon seeds to completely dry.
Tip No. 9. Ensure even drying among the seeds by stirring the seeds daily. The seeds will dry completely within a period 1-3 weeks.
Tip No. 10. Put the dried seeds in a small paper envelope or paper bag and then store it in a cool and dry place.
Sunflowers are a good addition to your garden. Its glorious beauty and color will surely brighten up your garden! When you wake up in the morning and you open your windows to let the fresh morning air in, upon seeing those sun-kissed flowers, it surely brings delight to one’s heart and a nice smile on the lips – it definitely gives you a cheery feeling making you start the day just as better. Yeah, just imagine those big and yellow sunflowers lining up your garden, its exquisitely wonderful! Aside from beautifying your garden, sunflower seeds can be eaten, and it can also be a food for birds. It definitely serves different purposes that’s why saving seeds from this beautiful flower is a must.
Materials needed for the activity: scissors, brush, paper packet
Tip No. 1. Wait until the sunflowers are dry on the stalks or when it begins to die before you cut the head. Drying is evident when the back of the head turns yellow from the usual green color.
Tip No. 2. The head would still be covered by tiny yellow buds so it’s better to set it aside for a few until all the yellow buds become brown. Brush the brown buds aside until the seeds are revealed.
Tip No. 3. Now, be patient to pry the seeds out. There are many of these seeds thus it may take time before you finish it.
Tip No. 4. You can put the seeds on a paper envelope or bag and then store it in a cool dry place. Don’t forget to label the paper packet with the sunflower variety and date of harvest.
Seeds are important in food production because it is used in cultivating plants. Seeds are sown to grow as a crop or any plant that’s why there is a need of saving seeds.
Saving seeds definitely varies from seed to seed and even with variety. An important factor which should be considered in saving seeds is selecting heirloom seeds over hybrid seeds. Now that we’ve given you some tips on saving seeds and thus saving money, you can now start saving seeds on your own. Saving seeds can be very easy and could give one lots of fun!
All the best.