Grow Your Own Turmeric In a Pot

Grow Your Own Turmeric In a Pot | turmeric1 | Agriculture & Farming Organics

 

By: Ariana Marisol, REALfarmacy.com |

With reports of contaminated, toxic turmeric products flooding store shelves, there is no better time to start growing your own. Turmeric is one of the healthiest, nutrient rich herbs you can eat. Learn how to grow your own turmeric at home.

Turmeric can help prevent cancer, it eases arthritis symptoms, it can soothe an upset stomach, it can help the heart stay healthy, it’s a natural fat burner, it helps prevent Alzheimer’s, it can help lower cholesterol, and it can help treat depression! These are only a few of the many benefits of this amazing herb.

Turmeric is a perennial herb that re-shoots every spring. Growing turmeric organic in pots is not difficult.

Although turmeric thrives in tropical climates, it can be grown in temperate areas in the summer. You can always move your plant inside when temperatures begin to dip.

Growing Turmeric

Turmeric can be grown in garden beds or containers. Be sure to grow in well draining containers because water retention will cause rhizomes to rot, reducing yield.

I grew 4 rhizomes in a pot that was about 30 inches long and 12 inches deep, and they are doing great.

Turmeric can grow in USDA Zones 7 through 10. The plants cannot tolerate climates colder than 65 degrees F. Plant turmeric in spring to summer because the roots sprout well when the soil is warm.

Turmeric thrives well in direct or indirect sun, but it can also grow in light shade. Heavy shade for a prolonged amount of time will reduce the yield.

Turmeric does best in well drained loamy fertile soils. Mix cow manure, compost, river sand, and some all purpose organic fertilizer and your plant will thank you.

Planting

Buy some turmeric roots from the market (be sure they are organic). Select small rhizomes with one or two buds. Plant rhizomes about 7 to 10 inches apart and bury them in wet soil about 2 to 3 inches deep. Do not water until shoots appear. The roots will germinate/shoot in 3-6 weeks depending on the soil temperature. Turmeric shoots will appear in about 20 to 45 days after planting.

Grow fresh plants every 3 to 4 years or leave a few roots inside while harvesting. Once the plants grow, keep them well watered.

Bring your turmeric indoors once the temperature gets below 50 degrees F.

You can also start turmeric in pots indoors and move it outdoors when the temperature begins to rise.

Watering

Turmeric plants require consistent and adequate watering. But overwatering can slow down growth.

If you are growing your turmeric in a container or in a garden bed, water only when you feel the is soil slightly dry to the touch. This will prevent leaching out of nutrients due to overwatering.

If your turmeric is grown in a sandy soil or if it is growing in a dry, low humidity area, water often or mist the leaves.

Harvesting

A good indication that your plant has reached maturity is if its leaves begin to turn yellow and its stems begin to dry. The plant usually matures in 9 to 10 months after planting. At this time, the turmeric rhizomes can be harvested.

Harvesting is easy. All you have to do is dig up the entire plant including the roots.

Storage

Wipe fresh turmeric roots and wrap them in a paper towel and place them in a zip lock plastic bag. Then, place them in a refrigerator. This way they will remain fresh for 3 to 4 weeks. Cut the needed piece and refrigerate. For longer storage, slice, wrap, and then freeze for up to 2 months.

You can also peel the rhizomes and place them in a jar with vodka and store them in the fridge for at least a year.

Or you can peel turmeric root and place it in honey for at least a year as well.


Ariana Marisol is a contributing staff writer for REALfarmacy.com. She is an avid nature enthusiast, gardener, photographer, writer, hiker, dreamer, and lover of all things sustainable, wild, and free. Ariana strives to bring people closer to their true source, Mother Nature. She graduated The Evergreen State College with an undergraduate degree focusing on Sustainable Design and Environmental Science. Follow her adventures on Instagram.


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10 Winter Garden Tasks for People Who Just Can’t Wait to Get Started

10 Winter Garden Tasks for People Who Just Can’t Wait to Get Started | wheelbarrow-winter-garden | Agriculture & Farming Organic Market Classifieds Organics Special Interests

If you’re itching for gardening season to start, you’re in luck. You can start now with the clean hands, no backache part. Whether or not you’ve grown a garden before, there are plenty of tasks you can do during the colder months to get ready for spring. Not using this more barren time means that your planting will be delayed and your harvests will not be as good as they would have if you had been ready to go.

Planning your garden is a crucial step in getting a decent bounty at harvest time, but there’s a lot more to it than just allocating space in your veggie plot. As I discussed last fall in this interview, you need to work on becoming more self-sufficient NOW, regardless of where you live. You don’t have to have 30 acres in the country to produce at least some of your own food.

Here are a few things you can do during the winter.

Some of these things require that the snow already be melted, while others can be done even if it’s up to your knees.

1) Pick up any downed branches 

Chop them into the appropriate sizes and set them aside for firewood or kindling. They’ll need to dry out for a season or two, but it’s a good way to add to your wood stash for free.

Bundling sticks for a perfect fire

2) Rake the leaves.

If the snow has melted, rake your garden to get rid of smaller debris and leaves. (I like this rake because the head is expandable and can work for various nooks and crannies.) Either bag up the leaves so they turn into mulch or add them to the compost bin.

3) Kick the composting into high gear.

If you have a smaller space, rotating compost bins are ideal and make compost super fast. They are the perfect size for those who need small amounts of compost for container growing.

4) Dig up any perennial weeds that have survived the winter.

If the snow has melted and the ground isn’t still frozen rock hard, you can begin attacking those stubborn weeds before things get overgrown. Check every week for new arrivals poking through especially as we move toward warmer weather.

5) Decide what you are going to grow.

Having a garden that can supply the maximum nutrients to you family will be of prime importance if the time comes when you can’t get to the store to stock up.

6) Order your seeds.

Be sure to buy heirloom seeds so you can save them year after year, something that will be critical after a long-term disaster. Get a wide a variety of seeds for long term storage. And come on, who doesn’t love curling up in front of the fire with a pile of seed catalogs?

7) Check for restrictions in your neighborhood.

The laws and regulations targeting small growers could potentially make growing your own veggies illegal. Many HOAs make it difficult to be self-reliant. Check your local regulations – no one wants to deal with the “garden police.”

8) Get your greenhouse ready.

Greenhouses should be completely emptied. Remember that rodents love make a cozy home in greenhouses. If you have one of the plastic ones (like this), they should be cleaned top to bottom to ensure no mood, spores or moss that can affect your tender plants are present.

9) Get your pots ready.

Do you save the little pots from the nursery to use year after year? Be sure to clean them properly to ensure they are free of anything that might contaminate your new plants. Check them for leaks or cracks before planting in them.

10) Test your soil.

If your soil isn’t too hard to dig up a little, it’s a great idea to check the chemistry of your soil so that you can be sure your veggies will thrive. This will help you figure out what type of amendments you will need.

Here are a few more articles that you may find useful:


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How to Store Vegetables Without a Root Cellar

How to Store Vegetables Without a Root Cellar | vegetables | Off-Grid & Independent Living Organic Market Classifieds Organics PreparednessSurvival

Anyone who loves to garden, especially those who wish to be able to provide wholesome foods for themselves and their families and live independently enough to survive economic or natural disasters will need to know what to do with all of the surplus from the summer. It’s great to be able to eat vegetables right out of the ground, but it is just as important to have good food all winter long. There are many methods of preservation.

The way you store each vegetable will depend on its needs and its hardiness. Here are ways to keep all of your produce, and especially the root vegetables, in great shape for the long winter months.

Keeping “The Roots” in Good Shape For Storage

Root vegetables are a great resource because they can be stored easily and last a long time without extensive preparation. Plus, root vegetables are amongst the hardiest of the garden crops, and are relatively easy to store without processes such as canning, or even freezing. Here are some great ways to keep those delicious roots and other hardy vegetables in tip-top shape long after the garden has been harvested for the winter.

Put Them to Bed in Their Bed

One great way to store root vegetables like carrots, beets, potatoes and radishes is to leave them right where they are in the garden. Cover them well with a hefty bed of straw or wood shavings, or use a garden blanket that can be found in many hardware or garden stores to keep them tucked in nicely for whenever you need them.

Toss it in a Trash Can

If you have a garden, make use of it during the winter by digging a hole and burying a garbage can up to the lip in the ground. Then layer root vegetables inside, covering each layer with a generous topping of sawdust or straw, and sealing it with the cover. Open up the instant root cellar whenever you need to go “shopping” and pull out what you need from the top layer, then recover. It’s easiest to have a separate can for each type of vegetable being stored in this manner so that you can easily have access to what you need on the top layer of each particular can.

No Ground? No Problem

Even if you live in an apartment or city home with little or no outdoor space you can stock up on root vegetables when they are their most affordable, and have them all year long. All you have to do is build a quick and easy storage for them. A small plastic bin with a cover will do the job nicely. Even a plastic lined box will do well as long as it can be covered up.

Place the vegetables in layers, alternating each with sawdust, straw or a thick layer of newspaper and cover. Remove vegetables as needed all winter long. When kept inside the home, try to place the storage containers in a cool room that can be closed off from heat. Close vents and do not insulate windows in the room.

Know Each Individual Root’s Needs

Some vegetables like it dry and some like it damp. For those that like the atmosphere a little moist, storage in basements, attics, unheated garages, sheds, porches or covered decks are good spots. In homes without those areas, storing on an exterior wall, preferably with a north wall is the best choice. If the storage is in one of the outdoor locations or unheated garages or attics, the temperatures should always stay below 60 degrees, but not go below freezing.

The cold and damp root vegetables include:

  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Radishes
  • Turnips
  • Potatoes

Those that prefer it cold and dry include:

  • Onions
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Winter squashes

Most tubers love darkness. They are best stored in some type of box with a lid indoor, although you can also line a drawer or laundry basket and cover the roots with newspaper for insulation and to keep the light off of them.

Some, like potatoes, do not like it too cold. Allowing them to drop too much below 50 degrees will release the starches in them. Onions need much more air circulation than many of the root veggies. Storing them in a netting in a dark place or in a wire basket or laundry basket where air can circulate freely will keep them lasting all through the winter. They should not be covered at all, but they still need to be out of direct light.

Keep Them Growing for a Little Extra Bonus

Want some extra salad greens for soups and salads all winter long? Plant some beets, turnip or radish bulbs in a pot of soil and place it in a sunny location in your home. They will sprout delicious tops that can be cut continuously all winter for an added treat.

Be Aware of Shelf Life

Even the most well-preserved vegetable will have a shelf life. More tender roots such as beets, celeriac, Jerusalem artichokes, rutabagas, and turnips will only last 1 to 5 months in dry storage. Hardier roots like carrots, parsnips and potatoes can be stored for between 4 and 6 months. Powerhouses such as horseradish can last as long as a year in storage, but tender kohlrabi will only be good for a few weeks no matter how well you prepare the space.

Prepare Roots for Dry Storage

The better you handle the preparation for storing your root vegetables, the better chance they have for lasting. Make sure you harvest in cool, dry weather and let them dry out on the surface of the soil for 8 to 10 hours to toughen them up a little bit. Cut the foliage down to the crown, and make sure to only store clean, undamaged vegetables. Use up any that have any signs of damage or blemishes immediately.

Other Vegetable Preservation Methods

Preserving Fragile Vegetables

Certain vegetables require careful handling to last beyond their normal fresh shelf-life. These include watery vegetables such as zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Many other vegetables can be canned, or as you will see, are also storable in other ways.

Freeze What You Can

Freezing is a fantastic, easy and quick way to store almost anything from the garden. It is especially good for those vegetables you will be consuming within a three-month period.

Use only strong freezer bags and squeeze as much air out of them as possible when sealing the vegetables in. While this is a great way to store vegetables, it does take up a lot of valuable freezer space, even for homes with large stand-alone freezers. In addition, you could lose your frozen goods in an extended power outage.

For that reason, it is probably best to limit how many root and other vegetables are stored in this manner in favor of other methods.

Canning for Long-Term Dry Storage

Canning is a time-honored traditional way to store many of the types of vegetables that can’t keep on a shelf or root cellar. The drawback to canning is that it takes a lot of time, some special equipment, practice and the vegetables may contain more preservatives and salt than frozen or naturally stored vegetables do. In spite of the drawbacks, canning is an important resource for some of the more fragile vegetables that can’t be stored in other ways, such as tomatoes.

Dry Them Out

The water in the fragile vegetable group is what makes them harder to store. To preserve them for long periods of time without bulky jars or taking up precious freezer space, consider drying them. Use a dehydrator to remove all of the water, and store the shrunken vegetables in mason jars or sealed bags. They can be rehydrated for use in soups and cooking, or eaten dried for a great treat.

Dehydration works for all vegetables, even those that can be kept in storage for long periods of time. The best choices for dehydration are fruits like apples, bananas, peaches, and vegetables such as carrots, potatoes or squash.

 

The Final Word

It takes a little work to preserve your produce for long storage, but it’s worth it. You spent a lot of time planting, growing and protecting them in the garden. Remember that you do not have to pick just one storage method. Incorporate several types of preservation to maximize your space and get the most out of your garden produce.

By selecting the type of preservation or storage that suits the particular type of vegetable, and your own space you can enjoy the bounty of your garden even when the temperatures dip below freezing. It’s a great way to keep your family well-fed and happy regardless of what is going on in the outside world.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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6 Fall Plants To Get Planted Now

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By: Pamela Bofferding, Ready Nutrition |

The weather is getting colder, but that doesn’t mean your gardening plans are thwarted. There are distinct benefits to planting some things in the autumn months: the temperature is cooler, the soil is still quite warm, there is more moisture in the soil and there are more good weather days for planting (as compared to the spring when sudden thunderstorms threaten your gardening days and wet the soil too much). In addition, you can cash in on discounts at your local gardening center as they try to move the last of their merchandise before winter. The ideal time to plant in the fall ends about 6 weeks before the first frost, usually in mid-to-late October.

The following are the ideal plants to get into the ground during the fall months:

Spring Bulbs

Spring bulbs actually require a period of cold in order to bloom. Plant bulbs in the fall in order to guarantee blooms for spring. If you have issues with deer in the autumn months, try planting allium, English bluebell, dog’s-tooth violet, or snowdrop bulbs.

Pansies

Pansies are ideal for planting in the autumn months because their roots thrive in the still-warm soil. You’ll get to enjoy them for two seasons if you plant them in September/October. Keep the soil wet and remove spent flowers so the pansy doesn’t use any effort to set its seeds. Once the soil freezes, mulch to prevent alternating freezing and thawing cycles that can eject plants from the soil.

Turfgrass

Cool-season turfgrass is most successful when soil temperature is between 50 and 65 degrees. Planting in September/October ensures that the roots will take adequate hold before the first frost, when growth slows dramatically. Cool-season turfgrass includes Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, and fine fescue.

Cool Season Veggies

Many vegetables thrive in cooler months (namely broccoli Brussels sprouts, cabbage, radishes and carrots), but they must be planted by late August. Veggies that perform the best when planted during the fall include lettuce, spinach, and other greens with a short harvesting time such as collards and swiss chard. Another benefit of growing these vegetables is that they don’t need a whole lot of space and can be crowded into smaller areas with partial shade.

Trees and Shrubs

Planting from early September to late-October offers many advantages to certain trees and shrubs. Transpiration is low and root generation is at an all-time high during these months. Typically, plants with shallow, fibrous root systems can be planted easier in the fall than those with fewer, larger roots. Trees that can be successfully planted in the autumn months include alder, crabapple, ash, buckeye, catalpa, hackberry, hawthorn, honey locust, elm, Kentucky coffee tree, linden, maple, sycamore, pines, and spruces. Most deciduous shrubs can easily be planted in fall.

Cover Crops

Even though it is Fall, it does not mean you should neglect your garden. Now is the perfect time to get your garden cleaned up and ready for the Spring. Master gardeners like to plant cover crops to help add nutrients to the soil during the winter months. Cover crops such as fall rye, crimson clover, buckwheat and others are easy to grow. Here’s how they work: when they are digested by soil microorganisms they restore organic matter and nutrient levels in the soil. Because they are sown thickly, they also help to outcompete weeds. Cover crops also control erosion from heavy winter rains, and help prevent the soil from compacting over winter. Depending on your growing region, some cover crops will die during the coldest weather. The crop residue is still a valued supplement in the spring. Check with your favorite gardening website to see if they carry these organic cover crops.

Take advantage of the nice fall temperatures and get your garden growing! For more information about gardening in general, check out the 7 Laws of Gardening: Time-Tested Tips For Growing a Successful Garden.


 

Pamela Bofferding is a native Texan who now lives with her husband and sons in New York City. She enjoys hiking, traveling, and playing with her dogs.

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Urban Gardening: Grow Anywhere!

garden

Just because you live in an apartment, does not mean you have to live without the joys of fresh, homegrown garden vegetables. There are just a few simple steps that can help you achieve your homegrown produce dream.

The first thing that you need to do is to consider your growing conditions. Ask yourself what is the availability of sunlight? It is a good idea to spend a few days watching the sunlight pattern on your patio, deck, or balcony. The amount of sunlight directly affects which plants you can grow successfully.

The second step is to assess your space.  If you have a small space, then you have to think outside of the box in terms of how to make the more efficient use of your space. Not only can you set plants on a sunny patio, but you can also use vertical space as well. Many urban gardens use trellises or garden netting to support vining plants like tomatoes, berries, squash and beans. Moreover, you can also use topsy turvys or fashion one from a 5 gallon bucket. Urban gardeners are also screw in rain gutters to create small, uniformed beds. This is a great way of growing  lettuce, spinach or strawberries!

Growing small plants with smaller root systems is another way to deal with small spaces. It would not be a good idea to plant corn or other large plants. Most importantly, make the best use of your space! Use the underutilized space on walls to grow vegetables and fruits.  And hanging planters could also make good use of a small patio.  Strawberries, cherry tomatoes or dwarf pepper plants would thrive well in a hanging basket.  The following is a listing of plants that grow well in containers:

  • Tomatoes (you will have to provide support for their stalks)
  • Peppers (you will have to provide support for their stalks)
  • Lettuce
  • Cabbage
  • Mustard greens
  • Carrots
  • Turnips
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Radishes
  • Potatoes
  • Most herbs

The final step is to purchase good dirt. I prefer a mix of five different types of compost, e.g., worm compost, cow manure, mushroom compost, vegetable and fruit compost, etc., vermiculite, and peat moss. If it is good enough for Mel Bartholomew, the inventor of square-foot gardening, then it is good enough for me.

If you would like some more information on small container gardening, then there is an abundance of information on the Internet. I highly recommend the Squarefoot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew.

Never Underestimate the Power of Recycled Materials

Using recycled materials in your garden is a great way to repurpose items you already have on hand. For instance, you poke small holes in a water bottle and plant it along with vegetables. Fill the water bottle with water and it will slowly seep water out of the holes giving your plants ready access to water.

You can also use soda bottles to make a topsy turvy container for plants. This site provides 5 different ways to make upside down planters.

To conclude, just because you live in a city or in a small apartment doesn’t mean you can’t try your hand at gardening. Look into how you can create a garden to produce your own sustainability.

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10 Reasons To Start Composting

garden compost soil

There is no denying that there is a clear win-win situation that comes from regularly composting the planet’s organic waste. While it may take a little effort to set up your own at-home composting system, the results will be worth it. Composting is an important way that we can give back to the local community and our natural world.

Why is composting is a great contribution to healing the planet?

1. Reduces landfill waste.

A recent estimate from the Environmental Protection Agency predicted that up to one-fourth of all landfill waste could have been thrown into the compost. It’s amazing to think that a quarter of our waste could be turned into nutrient-rich soil. And that leads us to the next reason why we should compost.

2. Adds to the creation of new, nutrient rich soil.

Composting organic waste creates an excellent, full-spectrum, nutrient-rich addition that enhances the overall soil quality of our organic gardens and farms. Adding compost to gardening soil can actually boost the production of both edible and ornamental plants.

3. Reduction in overall greenhouse emissions.

Composting lowers the amount of gases created by organic material in our landfills. The EPA estimates that landfills are the single biggest emitters of toxic methane gases. If everyone composted, methane levels on our planet could be reduced drastically!

4. Composting betters overall air quality.

Instead of burning yard waste (such as dried leaves, twigs, and branches) many gardeners are turning to compost as an air-friendly alternative. Burning old brush in trash cans may release deadly chemical dioxins into the air, leading to asthma symptoms, allergic reactions and overall toxic air.

5. Fertilizes and deters garden pests.

Beyond the important micronutrients that compost offers, it also acts as a natural, slow-release garden fertilizer and natural pesticide. This also prevents harmful toxic run-off into our waterways.

6. Neutralizes soil.

Adding compost to your soil prevents it from becoming too acidic, or too alkaline. This leads to soil that is usually perfect for the growth of most garden plants.

7. Creation of aggregates.

Compost has the ability to stimulate soil particle clusters, which make for healthy soil structure. When we add compost to soils, we also increase the amount of air pockets and channels between individual soil structures, allowing the soil to hold air, water and important nutrients. This also powerfully aids in the soil’s ability to support root structures of plants, and makes it easier to work with for gardeners.

8. Less erosion.

Adding compost to soil prevents it from eroding. This is an important fact, considering that much of the earth’s soil has been depleted of nutrients. When soil erodes, our water sources become threatened, as polluted, highly pesticide and fertilizer-laden soil turns to run-off into lakes, streams and ponds. Compost increases the soils ability to harbor root systems that prevent this runoff, as well as the overall ability to hold in water. In fact, a 5% increase in organic material (compost) can increase the amount of water absorption capacity by four times.

9. Promotes biodiversity

It is a well-known fact that using compost in our soils adds to the diversification and sustainability of many life forms. From birds to bacteria, fungi to insects and worms, composted soil is simply richer in the needed nutrients for Mother Nature’s creatures. What is more, when there are more life forms living in the soil, plants grow healthier and happier, as the soil becomes more aerated.

10. Great for landscaping borders

Sprinkle a little compost alongside flowerbeds for a great green-alternative for landscaping.

Can you think of any more benefits of composting? If I missed anything, please let me know in the comments below.

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6 Organic Mulches That Will Keep Plants Cool This Summer

garden mulch

Mulching your gardens during the warmest summer months will do wonders for growing plants and will encourage a healthier soil environment for your plants to grow. Over time, this creates a biodiverse growing platform that will be the envy of the neighbors. In fact, this is one of the 7 laws of gardening. By doing this crucial step, it reduces evaporation from the soil surface by 25%-50%. This will drastically reduce how often you water and save you money in the process. As well, mulching controls the temperature of soil, shades the roots so they can branch out and grow, controls weeds and prevents soil compaction.

There are two types of mulches: organic and inorganic. In this article I will concentrate on the most popular types of organic mulches and ones that are easily found around the yard. I prefer organic mulches because they improve the soil quality as they decompose; which, in turn, encourages more microscopic activity in the soil. This makes it a more inviting environment for beneficial insects.

Here are some things to keep in mind when using organic mulches:

  • Weed first. By doing all the dirty work ahead of time, you will be less likely to do this during the hottest parts of the summer.
  • Add your soil amendments and fertilizers before you mulch. When you add your soil amendments like powdered oyster shell, compost, manure or green sand to the soil before mulching, you allow it to really penetrate into the soil and give the roots exactly what they need.
  • Don’t by stingy with the mulch. The more mulch you put down, the less likely weeds will grow. Most organic gardeners will put down 4-6 inches of mulch.

You don’t have to run to your garden center and spend a small fortune on these organic mulches, many of these you may have around your yard. Here are seven excellent mulches that will keep your garden thriving!

  1. Grass clippings – Rather than throwing away your grass clippings after you have mowed this lawn, use them to your advantage. This natural mulch will also return nitrogen back to the soil, thus feeding your soil an essential nutrient to keep plants growing. This is also a great addition for lasagna gardens.
  2.  Pine needles – Many of us having a plethora of pine needles and may not realize these make a great mulch. Despite what you may have heard, pine needles will not change the acidity of the soil. They are an ideal mulch because they provide uniformity to the beds, easily allows water to pass through and create air pockets which is beneficial for the soil.
  3. Straw – Straw is an ideal mulch that really does everything an organic mulch should do: retains moisture, reduces weeds and adds organic matter to the soil when it breaks down. Make sure you purchase straw that is weed free.
  4. Shredded leaves – Leaf mulch is a great way to utilize fallen leaves. Read more about which leaves are best for mulch. These make wonderful mulches and have a slow decomposition process. An electric leaf mulcher will chop leaves to a suitable length and cut down on time. Note: Leaves of the black walnut tree (Juglans nigra) are an exception due to the presence of juglone, a chemical that inhibits growth of many plants. While walnut roots and hulls cause most of the problems, the leaves also contain smaller quantities.
  5. Wood chips – By far, wood chips are one of the most popular types of natural mulches. These are readily available at your local garden center, but if you happen to have a downed tree from a storm, make the most of it and retain some of the bark for wood chips. Also, contact local tree-care companies to see if they would be willing to sell you a trunkload of chips at a nominal price.
  6. Newspaper – This is a frugal mulch choice for your garden and a great way to reduce weeds. Using 2 to 4 layers of newspaper strips is great for use in pathways and around newly set strawberry plants. It’s best to use another organic mulch in addition to newspapers, such as sawdust or hay, to hold paper in place.
  7. Living mulches – A living mulch a low-growing plant used in the vegetable garden as a mulch. It is often a companion plant. Some of the most favorite types of living mulches are clovers, hairy vetch, alfalfa and rye grass. Once the garden is put to rest, the living mulch can either be tilled into the soil or harvest and fed to livestock like rabbits or chickens as a treat.

Mulched gardens are healthier, contain fewer weeds, and are more drought-resistant compared to gardens that are not mulched. Done properly, this will make for a more efficient gardening experience and keep you from fighting weeds and pests. Make the most use of the items you have around you and utilize them in garden beds and landscaping rather than throwing them away.

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Straw Bale Gardening: Everything You Wanted To Know Or The Best Bounty Ever

straw-bale

Two years ago, we moved into a house that had an abandoned garden; and to put it bluntly, the garden was in pretty bad shape. The soil was dry, rocky and compacted and there were weeds growing, but I was able to turn it around by conditioning the soil and experimented using a cardboard box gardening theory I was trying out. Since that time, I have added rabbits to our mini homestead and their nutrient-rich poo has turned my garden’s soil into that crumbly, rich dirt we all desperately want. Even though this garden is primed and ready to go, it just isn’t large enough for what I am trying to achieve.

This old garden bed has seen better days. Not only is it falling apart, but it doesn’t give me the right space for what I want to achieve.

This old garden bed has seen better days. Not only is it falling apart, but it doesn’t give me the right space for what I want to achieve.

For years, I have been working on backyard strategies that anyone can use to achieve food freedom to finally break away from the system and my family’s dependence on grocery stores. We have been able to find local meat sources, now it’s time to get enough produce to put away.

Why Straw Bale Gardening Works!

I decided to try my hand at straw bale gardening. It sounded practical enough. In fact, author, Joel Karsten of Straw Bale Gardens Complete, wrote on his website that this gardening method is a game changer. “Minimal maintenance resulting in maximum production, through Straw Bale Gardening.  It will completely change everything you thought you already knew about gardening.”

As well, this raised bed gardening method is very economical. For under $100, we were able to purchase 12 straw bales and extended our garden area by over 20 feet! We also purchased about $30 in organic fertilizers to condition the bales, but if you have the gift of time on your hands, you can bypass this step completely. I’ll get to that a little later.

Not only was I was drawn to this gardening method because it was cheaper, but it was easy for those with physical limitations and took poor soil quality out of the gardening equation. As well, I love natural gardening methods and liked the idea of the bales decomposing as the plants were growing, thus giving them essential nutrients in the process.

How it works

In short, as the bale of straw decomposes, it creates a nutrient-rich medium for the plants to grow. As well, the space between the straw creates tiny air pockets that are beneficial to the roots.

The bales need to be “conditioned” at least two weeks before planting. This will create the right growing environment for your plants. Once the bales are conditioned, you plant your garden and sit back and enjoy the view. It’s that easy, folks!

What you’ll need

  • straw bales
  • cardboard, newspapers or landscaping cloth
  • soaker hoses
  • garden stakes for trellises for tomatoes
  • 2 boxes each of organic blood meal and bone meal
  1. Getting started is easy! All you need to do is choose the area where you want to start your straw bale garden project. Make sure the location will get ample sunlight – up to 6 to 8 hours a day. Next, set down landscaping fabric, newspaper or cardboard boxes to prevent weeds from growing through the bales. Don’t skip this step – it’s important!
  2. Position your bales. Once you have set down the landscaping fabric into an outline you want the bales to go in, start positioning your bales so that the strings that bind the bales should run across the sides, not across the planting surface. By positioning them this way, it will keep the shape of the bales as they start to soften and decompose.
  3. Water your bales and get them ready for conditioning.
  4. Condition bales.
  5. Plant garden and fertilize as needed.
After positioning the straw bales into the shape I wanted, I was surprised at how much extra space I had in the garden.

After positioning the straw bales into the shape I wanted, I was surprised at how much extra space I had in the garden.

How to conditioning straw bales

Like all gardens, before you plant your plants, you need to make sure they will have the right environment to grow in. Conditioning will help activate bacteria inside the bale to begin digesting the straw. It will make nitrogen and other nutrients available to the seedlings and create a productive, warm, moist and nutrient-rich rooting environment for young seedlings.  This is an ideal environment for beneficial insects including earthworms. As well, the bales will last you for up to two garden seasons because it slowly breaks down. Once it is completely broken down, you can throw it in your compost pile and turn it into rich compost.

You will see a difference in the bales overall appearance after it has been conditioned. It begins to slump and the color of the straw will start to “pepper.” In addition, the internal temperature of the straw bale increased too. If you insert a thermometer, it may rise to 120 degrees or even higher. I knew when my bales were properly conditioned when I saw earthworms living in the bales when I was planting the plants.

There are two processes for getting the straw bales conditioned and which one you use is dependent on how much time you have. Conditioning the bales will take two weeks or more to get the decomposition process started.

If you’ve got plenty of time, use this method:

After you have added the landscaping cloth and positioned your bales, simply add some top soil, fresh manure and all-purpose fertilizer to the tops of the straw bales, water thoroughly and allow this to sit uncovered for a few months. Many people who use this method will position their bales in the fall and allow them to decompose over the winter so they are ready for spring gardening.

If you are short on time, use this method:

This is a quick way to get your bales decomposition process going. For ten days, you will be watering and fertilizing your bales to get the inner straw composting.

Days 1-6: For the first six days, you will be adding 3 cups of organic fertilizer per bale every other day. Then, thoroughly saturate the bales with water so that the fertilizer is pushed down through the straw. I used an organic fertilizer that was high in nitrogen like a 12-0-0 blood meal. On the off days, simply water the bales. To make the fertilizer more available to the bacteria more quickly, I use a tent stake and hammered holes in the straw bales before adding the fertilizer. This really seemed to speed up the process.

Avoid using manures for the “quick cook” method because most manures do not have enough concentration of active nitrogen. The only exception to this is pure chicken manure that has been composted for 6-12 weeks and does not have any bedding or wood shavings mixed in. Read more about why manures won’t work with conditioning.

Days 7-9:  For two days, I added 1 cup of an all-purpose organic fertilizer and thoroughly watered the bales. By now, you should start seeing some significant changes to your bales.

Day 10: On the last day, I added 3 cups of bone meal. This fertilizer is high in phosphorus and potassium and is great for making sure there are nutrients present for essential root development.

Planting time

After your bales have properly cooked down, now is the fun part and what you have been waiting so patiently for – planting time! Use a gardening trowel to remove the straw in the shape of a hole. You can also help any exposed roots, by adding some sterile planting mix to the hole.

If you’re planting seeds, then cover the bales with a one to two-inch layer of planting mix and sow the seeds directly into the planting mix. As the seeds germinate, they’ll grow roots down into the bale itself.

Suggested number of plants per bale

  • 2-3 tomatoes
  • 4-6 cucumbers
  • 2 pumpkins
  • 2-3 zucchini
  • 2-4 squash
  • 4 peppers
  • 2 winter squash

Tomatoes and cucumbers are very thirsty plants, so make sure you have a way deeply irrigate these plants. I added soaker hoses to my bales and also added these ceramic water irrigation stakes.

Don’t limit your straw bale garden to just vegetables. You can use every inch of free space and plant flowers and herbs in the bale to attract bees and other pollinators. I even added strawberry plants to the sides of the bales that were going unused.

Continue to fertilize

Straw bales do not offer all the essential nutrients like soil does and plants may need extra fertilizing. Here are some indicators to look for:

  • yellowing leaves – nitrogen deficiency
  • leaves are browning on edges – potassium deficiency.
  • leaves turning purple – potassium deficiency

I am very hopeful that this garden method will be a good fit for me and I am pleased with how easily this addition to my garden was. I will keep you all updated on the progress and hopefully, I can give a good report back with a great summer bounty.

Happy gardening!

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The post Straw Bale Gardening: Everything You Wanted To Know Or The Best Bounty Ever appeared first on The Sleuth Journal.


Source: Alternative news journal

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10 Simple Hacks For A Successful Vegetable Garden (VIDEO)

10 Simple Hacks For A Successful Vegetable Garden (VIDEO)

Growing your own food successfully is a constant process of learning which techniques work best for you and your plants. More often than not, we learn from the mistakes we make along the way, or through simple bits of advice from other gardeners. These short cuts handed down from other gardeners can save us valuable time. If you do not have any friends who are gardeners, consider contacting your local Master Gardeners Association. They regularly have classes and can provide you with indispensable knowledge of native plants that grow in your area, how to cultivate the soil, companion gardening, reducing weeds and more.

Recently, I wrote an article listing essential gardening laws to give your plants the best chance at providing you with a big harvest. Taking that advice and using these ten quick tips provided in the video by experienced gardeners can help you save time, increase your growing space and reduce costs.


Tess Pennington is the editor for ReadyNutrition.com. After joining the Dallas chapter of the American Red Cross in 1999, Tess worked as an Armed Forces Emergency Services Center specialist and is well versed in emergency and disaster management and response. Tess is the author of The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals. When a catastrophic collapse cripples society, grocery store shelves will empty within days. But by following Tess’s tips for stocking, organizing, and maintaining a proper emergency food supply, your family will have plenty to eat for weeks, months, or even years.

 

The article 10 Simple Hacks For A Successful Vegetable Garden (VIDEO) published by TheSleuthJournal – Real News Without Synthetics


Source: Alternative news journal

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7 Reasons Why Sunflowers Are A Multi-Purpose Prep

7 Reasons Why Sunflowers Are A Multi-Purpose Prep

Thomas Bulfinch was once quoted as saying, “The sunflower is a favorite emblem of constancy.”  How right he was. This faithful flower is as useful as it is lovely, and should be a must in your personal seed libraries.

Sunflower seeds are often overlooked for long-term preparedness goals. It’s a small seed, so it’s understandable. That said, it should be considered a multi-purpose prep. Best of all, the seeds are adequately priced and store well.

Benefits of Sunflowers in the Garden

  1. They provide good harvests. With minimal effort, you can harvest a substantial amount of sunflower seeds for a long-term emergency situation. In a 2,500 square foot lot, you can grow up to 20 pounds of nutritious, non-hulled seeds with enough broken seeds left over to feed a winter’s worth of birds.
  2. They attract bees and birds to the garden. My grandfather had a vegetable garden every year and in that garden were rows of robust, yellow flowers swaying in the warm summer breeze. As a child, I asked him why he was growing these giant flowers along with his vegetables. He smiled and said, “Do you see the bees buzzing around the flowers? And the birds? That’s why I put them in my garden – and every garden should have sunflowers.”
  3. Can be put to use in the garden. The stalk of the Mammoth Sunflower is very strong and can be used in the “Three Sisters” gardening method as a living gardening stake. In lieu of growing corn, grow sunflowers in its place and allow climbing plants such as green beans, peas, squash, etc., to grow up the stalk. As well, when the sunflowers tower over the smaller plants and vegetables in the garden, the sunflowers provide a shade canopy and increase the humidity, as well. This would be a welcome addition to the garden during the dog days of summer.
  4. Make your own oil. Has anyone thought about making their own oil for a continued supply? The high oil content of sunflower seed, often over 40%, makes it a great choice in making homemade oil. Oil used for food is one of the first items to disasppear if a long term disaster were to occur. In a 2,500 square foot lot, a family of four can grow each year enough sunflower seeds to produce three gallons of homemade oil suitable for salads or cooking. Source As well, you can make your own biodiesel. Sunflower oil can be used to run diesel engines.
  5. Enjoy the health benefits of sunflower seeds. The seeds are high in vitamin A and E, have natural tannins, inulin, levulin, magnesium, selenium, B-1, B-5, phosphorous, tryptophan, copper, B-6, manganese, folate, fiber, iron and zinc, amino acids and Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Seeds can also be sprouted to have a natural source of enzymes. Sprouted sunflower greens, known as microgreens contain up to 100 times the enzymes of regular, full-grown greens. This means your body can more easily absorb the nutritional benefits.
  6. Sunflowers have medicinal properties. Aside from the health aspects and usefulness in the garden, they also possess some medicinal qualities. The seeds, leaves and roots can be used to ease symptoms of various ailments. The seeds have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, diuretic and expectorant properties. They can help reducing the symptoms of asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis and help in cases of bronchial, pulmonary and laryngeal problems. They can reduce high blood pressure and migraine headaches. Due to their magnesium content, sunflower seeds can also act as prevention against heart attacks and strokes. Sunflower leaves can be used as an infusion to treat high fevers, lung problems and diarrhea. As a poultice, sunflower root is used against snake and spider bites.
  7. Use it as a livestock feed. Ground seeds used in making sunflower oil can be turned into meal and readily used as a livestock feed. Sunflower meal contains less protein and much more fiber than soybean meal, making it a valuable livestock feed

Most sunflowers are remarkably tough and easy to grow as long as the soil is not waterlogged. Most are heat- and drought-tolerant. Growing these seeds will help you create the sustainable environment you are working toward.

Additional Reading:

Sunflowers for Biofuel Production

How to Perfectly Roast Shelled Sunflower Seeds


Tess Pennington is the editor for ReadyNutrition.com. After joining the Dallas chapter of the American Red Cross in 1999, Tess worked as an Armed Forces Emergency Services Center specialist and is well versed in emergency and disaster management and response. Tess is the author of The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals. When a catastrophic collapse cripples society, grocery store shelves will empty within days. But by following Tess’s tips for stocking, organizing, and maintaining a proper emergency food supply, your family will have plenty to eat for weeks, months, or even years.

The article 7 Reasons Why Sunflowers Are A Multi-Purpose Prep published by TheSleuthJournal – Real News Without Synthetics


Source: Alternative news journal

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