Small Space Gardening

Small Space Gardening | vertical-garden | Agriculture & Farming Organic Market Classifieds Organics

We don’t always have the option of moving out into the sprawling countryside to live off of the land. Our jobs dictate that we live near a city and, as a result, our yards are smaller and may not provide adequate space for a large garden. As well, those that are renting homes may also be limited on what they can do with a yard.

Patio or container gardens are a great solution to this issue. You can grow fruit trees, herbs, vegetables and fruits from the convenience of your patio while using underutilized space. As well, walls and window boxes can grow herbs, vegetables and fruits to make use of vertical space and provide you with a lovely focal point.

Urban and suburbanites can garden in their small spaces using vertical gardening and small space gardening techniques such as grow bags, vertical garden systems and containers. Some of the most popular are:

  • Vertical gardening systems
  • Window boxes
  • Grow bags
  • Containers
  • Garden boxes
  • Pallets
  • Hanging planters

Do some research on your part to determine what the best type of small space gardening is best for you. There is an unlimited amount of solutions you can find for this type of gardening on YouTube.

Plants Prefer Lots of Drainage

As well, ensure that your pots and containers have adequate drainage holes at the bottom. Plants do not like to sit in soggy soil and quickly develop root rot, as a result. Planting shallow-rooted plants such as small herbs, green leafy vegetables, strawberries, and green onions can be grown close to one another and will help plant roots stay shaded from the hot sun. This is a principle of xeriscaping and will also help to cut down on watering.

To keep plants healthy, water only when soil feels dry. The best way to determine when to water is to insert your index finger 2-3 inches into the soil. If the soil feels dry, it needs water. If it is still moist, then it can go another day until it needs to be watered.

Soil For All Seasons

Quality soil is essential in growing container plants. Because the plants will not get getting essential nutrients from the ground, you need to ensure that the soil you use is suitable for containers. Perlite, vermiculite, calcined clay (kitty litter), and sand are the mineral aggregates most commonly used in potting soils, and adding these would be beneficial to the success of your garden. The following is a mix that can support container plants for a year or two without additional fertilization.

Mix 2 gallons each of:

  • peat moss
  • perlite
  • compost
  • garden soil

with 1/2 cup each of:

  • dolomitic limestone
  • greensand
  • rock phosphate
  • kelp powder

Place a 1/2-inch mesh screen over my garden cart and sift the peat moss, compost, and garden soil to remove any large particles. Then add the remaining ingredients and turn the materials over repeatedly with a shovel, adding water if the mix seems dry. Source

What Kind of Plants to Grow?

Growing compact plants with smaller root systems is another way to garden in small spaces. Many herbs such as oregano, rosemary, thyme, lavender and sage will continue growing in most parts of the country and do not need to be replaced each season, thus making them wonderful additions to a year round patio garden.

Make a concerted effort to purchase heirloom quality seeds. These type of seeds are bred for their flavor and not their durability for shipping and mass distribution. Additionally, these seed types will produce fertile seeds that can be saved for subsequent growing seasons, which many sustainable-minded folks prefer. The following is a listing of plants that grow well in containers:

  • Bush tomatoes – requires staking
  • Peppers
  • Greens such as lettuce, spinach, mustard greens, kale
  • Cabbage
  • Cucumbers – requires a trellis
  • Green beans
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Turnips
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Radishes
  • Potatoes
  • Most herbs

As well, consider adding some colorful flowers such as petunias, marigolds, or roses to attract beneficial insects to help pollinate your patio garden.

My Personal Experience

On a personal note, even though I have an area of my yard devoted to larger-scale gardening, it is simple not large enough for what I want to accomplish, and I have decided to extend my garden on a back patio. This is the area where I have my herbs, lettuces and bush variety vegetable plants growing. I have found that I prefer container gardening because weeds are less likely to invade the growing space and the plants are so close I pay more attention to how they are growing.

I have utilized a lot of grow bags in my patio garden. In the grow bags, have planted potatoes, onions and strawberries and they are really doing great. I have my herbs and radishes planted in ceramic containers. My green beans, tomatoes and cucumbers are still not ready to be set out, but I plan on using 5-gallon plastic containers for them.

As one wise man once said, “There are never problems, only solutions.” Even though we don’t live in the sprawling countryside, you can still enjoy organic, homegrown vegetables and fruits from the convenience of your patio. This small investment will help your family save money at the grocery store, eat more healthy and have a lovely scenery to enjoy during the summer months.


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20 Medicinal Herbs That I Have in My Prepper Garden

20 Medicinal Herbs That I Have in My Prepper Garden | sage | Agriculture & Farming Natural Medicine

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” –  Hippocrates

So, many of you may be asking why I want to go to all the trouble and grow herbs and roots for natural healing. You can read about seven reasons why I started a medicinal garden, but in short, I wanted options at my disposal. From a preparedness standpoint, I know that infection and illness could be very prevalent in the aftermath of a disaster and accessibility to medical care will be difficult to find. As well, with the massive over-prescribing of antibiotics in our modern healthcare industry, today’s crop of antibiotics has become less effective. Let’s be honest, bacteria has a 4 billion year head start in the evolution and has been adapting to environmental changes since the beginning of time. The time will come when antibiotics will be moot in terms of its effectiveness.

I love natural remedies solely for their simplicity and worry-free use. It is difficult to overuse natural remedies, but more importantly, they have been used for centuries. While researching which medicinal plants I wanted in my garden, I made sure that many of them were hardy perennials that could perform multiple medicinal duties. I don’t have a lot of space where my herbal garden is, so the plants had to be exceptional. These 20 herbs made the cut and I couldn’t be more pleased with my choices.

Ready Nutrition writer and herbalist, Jeremiah Johnson has written extensively on how to cultivate a medicinal garden to use in a long-term emergency. His favorite medicinals are what he refers to as the 3 G’s: garlic, ginger, and ginseng. You can read his article on the subject.

  1. Angelica – This herb is one that everyone should be growing in their garden. It’s great for children, adults and the elderly. It has antibacterial properties, astringent properties can be used externally as a medicinal gargle for sore throats and mouths and as a medicinal poultice for broken bones, swellings, itching, and rheumatism. It is also known for strengthening the heart. A powder made from the dried root can be used for athlete’s foot, as well as an insecticide and pesticide.
  2. Calendula – Also known as pot marigold, this pretty yellow flower is believed to be one of “the greatest healing agent for all wounds.” It naturally cleanses wounds and promotes rapid healing. It slows bleeding in some cases. Marigold was also used as a toothache and headache preventative in the 1500’s in England. It is an excellent herb to have on hand for skin issues such as eczema, skin inflammations, soothing varicose veins, soothing chapped hands and can be used to reduce body scars. Commonly made into oil by soaking fresh or slightly dried plant parts in one’s choice of base oil, it can be applied topically to relieve all sorts of fungal infections.
  3. Catnip – Your cats may be drawn to this herb, but it has plenty of medicinal uses and a wonderful herb to have in the herbal medical cabinet. Most notably, it has sedative effects and helps calm the nervous system. Making a tea from this herb before bedtime will help settle the body. It also has anti-fever properties, as well as antibacterial effects. The compound can also be used to repel common insect pests such as mosquitoes and cockroaches. When nepetalactone is distilled, it is more effective than DEET than repelling mosquitoes. As a matter of fact, it is up to 10 times more effective in accordance with laboratory experiments conducted by isolating the compound via steam distillation. Read more about using this herb here.
  4. Chamomile – This herb is also most recognized by its sedative effects, but has more to offer than just that.  The flowers can be strained out of the tea and placed into a warm compress to use on ear infections. Tea compresses and tea rinses can be used to gently treat eye problems. It also has the power to assist in comforting the effects of indigestion, morning sickness, nervousness, neuralgia, painful periods and assists as a sleeping agent.
  5. Comfrey – I just added comfrey to my garden this year. Not only does it have medicinal values, but can be used as a nutritional supplement to livestock and used as a fertilizer because it is high in potassium. To make a liquid fertilizer: chop off the top of a comfrey plant and throw the leaves in a bucket. Cover with water and let them rot into green liquid… then water whatever needs a boost. Medicinally speaking, comfrey is also known as “one of nature’s greatest medicinal herbs.” It helps heal wounds and mend broken bones, and even helps to bring fevers down. Nutritionally, it is a good source of vitamin C and calcium.
  6. Echinacea – Although the root is most widely used for its medicinal purposes, truly the entire plant can be used. This herb strengthens the body’s ability to resist infection and stimulates the production of white blood cells.  Echinacea stimulates the body in non-chronic illness such as colds, bronchitis, sore throats, abscesses and for recurrences of yeast infections. Echinacea can also be taken as an anti-inflammatory for arthritis. A gargling solution can also be made with the tea to use with a sore throat.  For cases that are not strep throat related: add 10-16 drops of water or to sage or ginger tea and use as a gargling agent.  If a person is fighting strep throat: every two hours, gargle with the above-mentioned teas to which add a drop full of echinacea extract.
  7. Garlic – This is simply a must-have in your garden. Its medicinal uses are too extensive to list but can be read in more detail here. In short, it is effective in preventing the common cold, reducing recovery time, and reducing symptom duration. An infused oil can be made from garlic to treat wounds and ear infections. And, I need not mention all of its culinary uses.
  8. Ginger – the medicinal value of this root is amazing. In fact, recent studies have revealed that ginger may be stronger than chemo in fighting cancer. It’s truly a remarkable medicinal to have in your garden. Here are 8 more benefits of ginger.
  9. Ginseng – This herbal powerhouse assists with nervous disorders, helps alleviate symptoms related to cardiovascular and blood disorders, is beneficial for diabetics as it reduces the amount of blood sugar in patients with mild to moderate diabetes, inhibits the formation of tumors and helps as a cancer preventative, and helps to minimize the effects of X-rays and radiation produced by radiation therapy as well as negative effects caused by free radicals are minimized and reduced by the adaptogens in ginseng.  Read more here.
  10. Lemon balm – This is one of my favorite herbs. This herb is great for adding a light lemon flavor to dishes, but I love it for its sedative qualities. If you have problems sleeping, this is a great herb to take before bedtime. The aromatic properties help with alertness and can sharpen memory. It is also a good herb for diabetics to use as it helps regulate blood sugar. The antioxidant properties present in this herb are also beneficial.
  11. Lavender – This is a great multipurpose herb to grow. Not only is it a calming aromatic, but it has antiseptic properties, assists with burns, can be used as a stress reliever, good for depression, aids skin health and beauty. Here are 15 more ways to use lavender medicinally.
  12. Peppermint – This aromatic herb is great for digestive aid, and dispels headaches. Peppermint tea will also assist in overcoming muscle spasms and cramps. Due to the camphor present in peppermint, if peppermint is applied to a wet washcloth it can externally relieve pain. This herb also helps clear sinus infections.  Apply a large, warm peppermint pack to the sinus area.
  13. Onion – Onions might not be at the top of your healthy snack list, but you should make efforts to include them regularly in your diet, nonetheless. They help to fight insulin resistance, have anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and antibacterial uses, and are powerful antioxidants. They even help to relieve congestions. A time-tested effective cough syrup can also be made from onions. Read more about onion’s health benefits.
  14. Oregano – This little herb works as a savory culinary herb and a potent medicinal herb, as well. Most importantly, it is a powerful antibiotic and has been proven to be more effective in neutralizing germs than some chemical antibiotics. It has been effective against germs like Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, Yersinia enterocolitis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. An extract of its essential oil can be made to treat fungal infections and skin issues like dandruff, dermatitis, psoriasis and eczema. Carvacrol and thymol, the powerful enzymes in oregano, help to combat fungal and bacterial infections.
  15. Rose hip – Not only are roses beautiful, but they can assist in boosting our immunity, as well. Rose hips are high in vitamin C and if rosehips are made into a syrup it also”provides a welcome boost of vitamin D, something that should be welcomed when our exposure to sunlight is minimal and our vitamin D manufacture is at its lowest. Vitamin A is naturally present in the rose hips so pregnant women should seek medical advice before taking rose hip syrup.”
  16. Rosemary – This highly aromatic plant is used today in any number of organic products to help alleviate bone and muscle soreness, reduce anxiety and promote well-being.
  17. Sage – It’s anti-inflammatory properties also make this an effective herb. This herb can also be used in aiding anxiety, nervous disorders, used as an astringent. There are aromatherapy qualities to this herb and have been known to lift depression. Rubbing the sage leaves across the teeth can be used to effectively clean the teeth and assist in bad breath. American Indians used this herb as a fever reducer.  Sage has antiseptic properties and the leaves can be chewed to cleanse the system of impurities or made into a tea. Sage has also been known to assist with hot flashes associated with menopause. If a person has stomach troubles, cold sage tea can be used to alleviate the symptoms. Sage can also be used to treat the flu.  Using the tea before and during any type of epidemics and to hasten healing during a flu attack. Sage leaves can be wrapped around a wound like a band-aid to help heal the wound faster.
  18. Thyme – I have multiple thyme plants in my garden and allow them to creep over rocks in my garden. Thyme can help alleviate gastric problems such as wind, colic and bad breath, helps with bronchial disorders, shortness of breath and symptoms related to colds. If it also effective in fighting sore throat and post nasal drip. If a person has whooping cough, make a syrup of thyme tea and honey to help treat the disease. Thyme can also be used to treat a fever.
  19. Toothache plant – My medicinal garden wouldn’t be complete without some dental aides too. The toothache plant has a powerful numbing effect and works great for inflammation of the gums, lips, and mucous membranes of the mouth, and it can be used as toothpaste. It can also be used to alleviate those with asthma and allergies. It also is a powerful antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. The toothache plant also contains B-Sitostenone it also lowers blood sugar. Other notable qualities are that it lowers blood pressure, chronic fatigue and is a natural pain reliever to all parts of the body.
  20. Yarrow – This plant was a favorite among Native American tribes who would use it to control bleeding, heal wounds and infections. It can also be effective in cleaning wounds and to control bleeding caused by puncture wounds, lacerations, and abrasions.

Don’t feel handcuffed to using only these herbs in your garden. Think about what future health issues you may have to deal with and plan(t) for them. Even tobacco has its medicinal uses. There are also medicinal weeds that you may want to locate in your yard and cultivate for the future.

Once you get your medicinal garden going, start experimenting with making your own medicinal pantry. Here are some ideas:

In the future, I plan on adding mullein, plantain, marshmallow and some cayenne peppers. What medicinals are you growing in your garden? Share them in the comments section to help our community!


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7 Reasons Why You Should Have a Medicinal Garden

7 Reasons Why You Should Have a Medicinal Garden | herb-garden | Agriculture & Farming Natural Medicine Organics

Growing medicinal plants are a great way to ensure garden sustainability and more notably, have access to natural medicine when you need it most. When I introduced more herbs in my garden, I noticed it had a profound impact on the vegetables and fruits I was growing. It also encouraged beneficial insects and birds to visit my garden and this helped cut down on plants being eaten.

Because of this observation, I changed my focus from solely growing to eat and, instead, worked to create a welcoming growing environment. Not only were my plants healthier, but I had access to natural herbs to use for making extracts and poultices. The following are reasons I feel gardeners should adopt adding medicinal herbs to the garden.

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7 Reasons Why You Should Have a Medicinal Garden

  1. Have access to multiple forms of natural medicine for future needs. When you have fresh cut herbs to use for natural medicine, you have access to the freshest forms of their healing properties. For example, what if you cut your hand and did not have a bandage. Did you know that the sage leaf can be wrapped around a wound and used as a natural band-aid? Or, if the bleeding from that cut was so bad that it wouldn’t stop. Did you know that a few shakes of some cayenne pepper can help control the bleed? Or, if you have a severe bruise, make a poultice. It’s one of the easiest and fastest ways to use herbal medicine.
  2. Calm your senses with medicinal teas. Herbs like lavender, lemon balm, chamomile, catnip, and peppermint have a natural sedative quality to them to help calm your spirits or help you sleep better at night. Taking a handful of leaves and adding them to a cup of hot water will create a soothing cup of herbal tea. Here are some great herbal tea remedies to start with.
  3. Many medicinal plants and herbs are perennials and will come back year after year. The more established the plants are, the more they will produce each year. This will save you money in the long run! I bought a small oregano plant three years ago and it is the size of a small shrub. I have so much oregano now that I can use it for culinary uses and experiment with making my own tinctures and astringents. As well, my echinacea has produced so many “baby” plants that I have dug them up and transferred them to another part of my property where I am creating another medicinal garden.
  4. Feed your livestock! Livestock can also benefit from growing herbs in the garden.  Not only can they be added for additional nutrition, but you can use herbs to make natural cleansing shampoos and even clean wounds. Some herbs I feed my animals are oregano, comfrey, lavender, mint, and sage.  Note: not all herbs are healthy for your livestock, so do research to find out which ones are good for your animals.
  5. Another added benefit of having a thriving medicinal garden is that bees love it! This promotes bee sustainability and a healthier garden, as well. The blossoms put out by the flowers and herbs will attract bees that will, in turn, happily pollinate your vegetable and fruits. Consider planting some of these beneficial flowers in addition to herbs:
    • Asters (Aster/Callistephus)
    • Sunflowers (Helianthus/Tithonia)
    • Salvia (Salvia/Farinacea-Strata/Splendens)
    • Bee balm (Monarda)
    • Hyssop (Agastache)
    • Mint (Mentha)
    • Cleome / Spider flower (Cleome)
    • Thyme (Thymus)
    • Poppy (Papaver/Eschscholzia)
    • California poppies (Eschscholzia)
    • Bachelor’s buttons (Centaurea)
    • Lavender (Lavandula)
  6. Regrow from cuttings on your windowsill. Herbs like rosemary, lavender, mint, cilantro, oregano, marjoram, basil, sage, lemon balm, and thyme are perfect for starting in a glass or canning jar. Simply add water and set in indirect sunlight – it’s that simple! Read more here.
  7. Herbs can be great companion plants for the vegetable garden. Don’t feel handcuffed to only growing vegetables, but herbs can be planted nearby to do double duty as companion plants. Companion planting can also help control the insect balance in your garden and repel some of the more unwanted guests like mosquitoes. Some favorite companion herbs are pairing basil with tomatoes, chamomile near cucumbers, garlic planted near apple, pear and peach trees, roses, cucumbers, peas, lettuce or celery. Read more about which herbs are great companions here.

Ready Nutrition writer and herbalist, Jeremiah Johnson has written extensively on how to cultivate a medicinal garden to use in a long-term emergency. His favorite medicinals are what he refers to as the 3 G’s: garlic, ginger, and ginseng. You can read his article on the subject.

To better understand natural medicine and using herbals for health, I strongly recommend you read more on the subject. The following books come highly recommended:

Herbal Antibiotics: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-Resistant Bacteria,” by Stephen Harrod Buhner.

Prepper’s Natural Medicine: Life-Saving Herbs, Essential Oils and Natural Remedies for When There is No Doctor, by Cat Ellis (Herbal Prepper)

This is not a new gardening concept, yet is still not widely used. When you are planting your garden, consider adding a few herbs and watch the benefits grow before your eyes.


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7 Laws Of Gardening: Time-Tested Tips For Growing A Successful Garden

7 Laws Of Gardening: Time-Tested Tips For Growing A Successful Garden | gardener | Agriculture & Farming Organic Market Classifieds Organics

We all have the best of intentions in the beginning of summer. We plan on spending the season growing a beautiful lush garden. As the summer drags on, avoiding the heat becomes the top priority. From the neglect, your garden suffers. The plants may not be thriving, there may be bug infestations, or root rot. Inevitably, if there are enough issues, you give up altogether and call it a summer.

What you may not realize is there are laws that you must follow to ensure your plants have the best environment to thrive in. These gardening laws are essential in giving your plants a fighting chance at giving you a big harvest.

7 Laws For Successful Gardening

1. Start with good quality seeds. Seed quality plays an important role in a successful garden. As such, it is important to know seed characteristics such as trueness to variety, germination percentage, purity, vigor, and appearance are important to farmers planting crops and to homeowners establishing lawns and gardens. Further, growing heirloom seed varieties will ensure you can collect the seeds for subsequent harvests.

2. Feed the soil. Your plants need nutrients in order to grow healthy and produce fruit and vegetables. Ensuring they have these present in the soil will save you time and money on fertilizer.

I love incorporating the lasagna-style or sheet mulch gardening with the square foot gardening method. This is the best opportunity to introduce compostables to the soil. Composting is a great way to provide some added nutrients and condition the soil. Fertilizers will give the plants just what they need to produce healthy fruit. Building your own composter can help you make use of any organic materials, as well as getting onto the journey to self-sustainment. I also add soil amenders to make my soil really healthy. Some of the amenders I use are:

You can purchase these items at a garden store, online or find a local source on Craigslist. I recently purchased 60 pounds of earthworm castings for twenty-five dollars. Not a bad deal, if you ask me.

3. Balance the amount of sunlight with the ideal temperatures. Who  knew gardening was a balancing act? But in order to get a good harvest, you have to balance to amount of sunlight your plan gets with the ideal temperature. If your garden or patio area receives full sun all day long, it can wreak havoc on your gardening endeavors. Keep in mind that plants need at least six to eight hours of sunlight to grow to their maximum potential. That said, the temperature plays a key role in plant health. Keeping plants between 70-90 degrees F will help the plants grow to their potential. Transplants especially will benefit from shade cloth. There are different percentages of shade cloth ranging from 25% – 70% or more. This will allow you block out the heat from the sun and help the plant thrive. All you need to do is drape the cloth over a support structure. Many gardeners use ladders, pvc hoop-style structures, or purchase products specifically manufactured to support shade cloth. Here are plans to build a shape canopy for the garden using pvc pipe. Read more here.

4. Regular waterings will prevent plant stress. Having an irrigation system in place with a timer will be less work for you and will ensure your plants are getting a balanced amount of moisture at each watering. This also will help you not over-water your plants which can be just as bad as not watering at all.

5. Protect the roots with mulch. Mulching the roots is a trade secret many successful gardeners use to protect the plant’s delicate root structures and prevent weeds from growing. You can use fallen leaves, straw, wood chips or newspaper to shade the roots. This will keep the roots moist and not stress the plant out during the warmest parts of the day. As well, the natural mulch will compost down over time and help your soil in the process.

 6. Talk to your plants. I know that I’m going to get some comments about how crazy I am for listing this, but I believe in talking to your plants. While there is no evidence to suggest that plants respond to affection, some plants do have a limited ability to communicate with one another. Though plants lack the ability to receive and process sound waves, evidence suggests that some plants can communicate with each other through the use of chemical signals. Additionally, vibrations that travel through the soil or in the air may have an effect on plant growth. It may be possible for plants to pick up on the vibrations created by human speech and maybe even by the chemical signals that humans release without knowing it.

7. Give your plants some friends. Many use companion planting in organic gardens to let nature do most of the work instead of chemicals. In theory, using this type of gardening, essentially creates an agroecosystem. Nothing goes to waste and everything is interdependent. The bi-products of these plants (dead heads, frail looking plants, etc.) can be used as soil conditioners. This makes for great efficiency and good use of space. Read more about which companion plants to use in vegetable, fruit and herb gardens.

Above all, visit your garden regularly. When you spend time in the garden, you will be less likely to neglect it. By following these simple laws of gardening, you can have a successful garden, year after year.

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DIY: 10 Herbal Tea Blends You Can Grow In Your Garden

DIY: 10 Herbal Tea Blends You Can Grow In Your Garden | chamomile | Agriculture & Farming Natural Medicine Organic Market Classifieds Organics

From a sustainability standpoint, herbs are one of the easiest plants to produce. Many of the herbs we grow are perennials and will produce for many years. Drying herbs is a great way to save money and use for cooking or to enjoy for aromatherapy needs. That said, we haven’t completely put these perennials to their full potential.

Harvesting Your Tea

Growing your own herbal tea blends is almost effortless. Many herbs prefer to be on the “dry” side during the growing season, so you can skip a few waterings and they will be ok. In fact, many herbs can be grown in containers on a sunny window sill or patio. Most herbs will fit into a 1 gallon sized growing pot, but make sure your container has a nice-sized hole so that surplus water can drain away. Herbs do not prefer to have their roots sitting in water or saturated soil. A larger volume of potting mix dries out more slowly, so use the largest pot you can. It’s better to combine two or more plants in a large pot than to use several little pots.  Further, fertilize your herbs once a month to ensure your herbs have adequate nutrients.

Prune your herbs regularly to harvest the tender leaves. This will also keep plants bushy and discourage them from blooming; often, blooming will change the flavor of the leaves. Harvest the oldest stems individually with scissors rather than pruning the whole plant to keep a steady stream of leaves coming.

As well, if you are using fruit trees, when you are pruning them, save the leaves and cut leaves or blossoms to make teas with. Harvest the leaves, blossoms, or the root in some cases such as ginger, dandelion and echinacea, and thoroughly dry outdoors for 10 days, or use your food dehydrator at a setting of 95 degrees Farenheit until completely dry.

Some of the easiest herbs I have grown are:

  • Mint
  • Lemon Balm
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Dandelion
  • Calendula
  • Lavender
  • Stevia

And, the easy fruit bearing plants I grow are:

  • Rose hips
  • Lemons
  • Blackberry
  • Strawberry

Harvesting Tips:

  • Most herbs are at their peak just before they bloom.
  • Harvest all your herbs at the end of the season, once a frost is forecast. You can dry the herbs whole and store for winter teas or for use as seasonings.
  • Harvest early in the day, after the dew has dried, but while the herbs are still lush in the cool of the morning.
  • Be careful not to tear or crush the herbs until you are ready to use them. You don’t want to waste any of the essential oils.

Tea blends can make great gifts for friends and family! You can easily make homemade tea bags out of coffee filters. For an easy tutorial, follow these instructions. My family usually enjoys a cup of tea with raw honey and some fresh lemon, but that is not always the case. Here are some of my favorite tea blends.

10 Delicious Herbal Tea Blends

Tension Soother

  • 4 teaspoons lavender
  • 3 teaspoons chamomile
  • 2 teaspoons lemon balm
  • 2 teaspoons rose petals

Tummy Tamer

  • 1 teaspoon Calendula
  • 1 teaspoon chamomile blossoms
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed

Sleepy Blend

  • 1 teaspoon chamomile
  • 1 teaspoon lemon balm leaves
  • 1 teaspoon catnip
  • 1 teaspoon lavender flowers

Immune Booster

  • 4 tablespoons rose hips
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon chips
  • 1 teaspoon hibiscus flowers
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • ½ teaspoon lemon peel

Cold/Flu Tea

  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 teaspoons thyme
  • 1 teaspoon sage leaves
  • 1/4 cup dried echinacea leaves
  • ¼ cup dried peppermint leaves
  • ¼ cup dried lemon balm leaves
  • 3 tablespoons dried elderberries or ¼ cup dried elder flowers

Autumn Blend

  • 3 teaspoons nettle leaf
  • 2 teaspoons spearmint leaf
  • 2 teaspoons lemon balm
  • 1 teaspoon mullein leaf
  • two teaspoons dandelion leaf and root, combined
  • 1 teaspoon rose hips
  • 1 teaspoon ginger root (dried cut and sifted)
  • 4 cups of water

Winter Blend

  • Juice of two oranges (approx 1 cup)
  • 3 teaspoons dried pomegranate seeds
  • 1 4″ cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 4 black tea bags
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 cups water

Pregnancy Blend

*check with your healthcare provider to make sure this blend is right for you.

  • 3 teaspoons dried red raspberry leaves
  • 2 teaspoons dried rose hips
  • 1 teaspoon dried nettle
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon chips
  • ½ teaspoon dried fennel seed
  • ¼ teaspoon dried spearmint leaves

PMS Tea Blend

  • 2 teaspoons chamomile
  • 2 teaspoons nettle
  • 2 teaspoons red raspberry leaf
  • 1 teaspoon lemon balm

Chai Spice Mix

  • 3 tablespoons cardamom
  • 3 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger

Tea Preparation:

To make a nice tasting cup of tea, first warm your teapot with scalding-hot water. Then place your ingredients directly in the pot (or tea ball). For a mild tea, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 2 tsp. of dried leaves or blossoms. Cover the cup with a lid or plate (this helps keep the vital nutrients and beneficial properties of the herbs in the cup and not evaporating into the air). Let steep for at least 10 minutes. Serve the hot drink “as is”, or — if you wish — flavor it with grated fruit rind, lemon juice, or honey. For a greater medicinal effect, make a decoction by gently boiling 1/4 cup of the tea blend in 1 qt. of water until about half of the water has boiled off. Drink 2-3 small cups of the tea daily.

Storing Your Tea Blends

After mixing up your favorite blend of herb tea, add them to a glass jar and store in a dark place. I use large mason jars for storing my tea blends. As a general rule, figure on about one to two teaspoons of dried herb(s) per cup of tea. (Double the amount of ingredients if you’re using fresh herbs.) And remember that you can get more flavor out of the leaves, blossoms, and berries if they are crushed before using.

Consider adding these medicinal plants to your garden and enjoy them year after year. In addition to tea blends, many of these herbs can be used for other natural medicinal needs, such as salves, lotions, tinctures and decoctions.


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4 Secrets to Becoming a Successful Gardener

4 Secrets to Becoming a Successful Gardener | garden | Agriculture & Farming Organics Special Interests

Gardening is a skill and anyone who tells you something different is not being totally honest.  That being said, having a successful gardening experience depends on many outside factors including, but not limited to soil conditions, available sunlight, the length of the growing season, seed quality, pest control and even a bit of luck.  Still, many of these factors can be overcome with skill, perseverance, and experience.

In this article, Dan Chiras shares his time-proven tips on what it takes to become a successful gardener.

If Dan’s name sounds familiar, it is because he is the author of two Prepper Book Festival titles, Survive in Style: The Prepper’s Guide to Living Comfortably through Disasters and Power From the Sun: A Practical Guide to Solar Electricity.  Today, however, the focus is on gardening and on acquiring a much-converted green thumb.

Growing a Green Thumb

Over the years, many people with whom I’ve discussed gardening confess to lacking a green thumb. My response is always the same: gardening is a lot easier than you’d think. With a little knowledge, anyone can graduate into that elite cadre of green-thumb gardeners.

If you’d like to be one of them, read on. I’ll let you in on the main secrets of successful gardening.

Green Thumb Gardeners are Soil Builders

Individuals with the greenest thumbs are typically those with the richest soils. Although a gardener may have purchased a home that came with a yard endowed with rich topsoil, the excellent soil in which they grow their fruits and vegetables is most likely due to the fact that they’ve spent several years building it. That is, they have enriched their soil with good old organic compost.

Great gardeners are also avid “mulchers.” Mulch is a layer of organic material like straw or bark that reduces the evaporation of water from the soil. This, in turn, helps plants meet their needs, even on blisteringly hot days. It also helps you by reducing the amount of water you need to apply to your garden. It saves energy, water, and time.

Mulch also helps hold weeds at bay. If you’ve applied a thick enough layer, mulch will prevent weeds from growing. They can’t get the sunlight they need. Those weeds that do manage to pry their way through the mulch are much easier to pull. Weeds come up more easily when yanked from moist soils.

Moist soils also increase the likelihood you will remove most, if not all, of their roots when you pull them out. If severed, roots of weeds often give rise to new plants. Whatever you do, don’t cut weeds off at the base of the stem and leave the roots in place. Some weeds (like Russian thistle) come back with a vengeance. So, be sure to pull weeds root and all.

Mulch decomposes over time, adding to your soil’s fertility. There’s no need to dig it in. Just keep adding mulch on top of old mulch that’s breaking down and becoming part of your topsoil. That’s the way Mother Nature builds soil.

Remember this green thumb aspirants: nourish and protect your soil with compost and mulch and it will return the favor many times over.

4 Secrets to Becoming a Successful Gardener | Dan-Chiras-Green-Garden-400x299 | Agriculture & Farming Organics Special Interests

Here is a photo showing Dan’s bountiful green garden.

Green Thumb Gardeners are Vigilant

Another key factor that contributes to a green thumb is vigilance. In my experience, the most successful gardeners are the most attentive. They’re in their gardens every day or two pulling weeds while they (the weeds, that is) are still young. They also keep an eye on their plants for signs of disease or insect damage. When they spot a problem, they address it quickly.

Attentive gardeners also pay close attention to weather and soil moisture and use these parameters to determine when watering should occur. They don’t necessarily follow a watering schedule. That’s because how often you need to water your garden and how much water you need to apply depends on many factors, such as the temperature, rainfall, and humidity, the organic content of your topsoil, the water requirements of plants, and how much mulch you have applied.

An accomplished gardener doesn’t water because it’s been five days since he or she last hauled out the sprinkler. He or she waters when the soil and plants say “How about a drink?”

The best way to determine when it’s time to water is to dig into the soil with your hands or a trowel. If the soil’s moist an inch or so down, and your plants have established deep root systems, you can probably hold off on watering. If the soil is dry, retrieve the hose and sprinkler from your garden shed and take care of things.

An ever-vigilant gardener pays attention to his or her plants for wilting leaves. They are a tell-tale sign that the soil is drying out. Water immediately. Better yet, pay closer attention to soil moisture content and weather so plants don’t have to cry out for emergency action.

4 Secrets to Becoming a Successful Gardener | Dan-Chiras-Tomatos-400x400 | Agriculture & Farming Organics Special Interests

Vigilance is important at harvest time, too. Overlook a zucchini for a day or two and it will transform into a log suitable for building a small log cabin or carving out a dugout canoe. If you don’t check your green beans during the harvest season very often, you’ll find those tender green beans have grown large and become leathery.

A Green-Thumb Gardener Knows Plants

Successful gardeners understand that not all plants are created equal. Some like acidic soil. Some like sandy soil. Some like lots of sunshine. Some thrive in partial sun or shade.

While that seems like a lot of information to hold in your cranium, it doesn’t take long to understand the requirements of common vegetables and flowers. Seed packets can help you learn about the requirements of fruits, vegetables, berries, and flowers you’d like to grow. Read the information that comes with seedlings you purchase at your local nursery. Books on gardening also contain a wealth of information on the topic.

Armed with this knowledge, head to your garden to plot a strategy for successfully planting sun lovers and the rest of the gang. Veggies that grow well in partial sun, are typically delegated to the less sunny locations in a garden or are planted in the shade of taller plants like tomatoes and corn.

It’s Not about the Tools

A green-thumb isn’t about owning a lot of fancy tools or the latest garden gadgets. You just have to build great soil and then continue to replenish it with compost and mulch each year until you hang up your gardening gloves one last time.

You need to be vigilant, as well, paying attention to weeds, disease, wilting, insects, and soil moisture. A two-minute stroll through your garden each day is all that it takes. It’s a great time to have that evening glass of wine.

A great gardener watches the weather and tends to her garden as dictated by temperature, rainfall, and humidity. Lest we forget, a great gardener plants according to their plants’ needs for sunshine.

There’s more to being a successful garden, but that’s it in a nutshell. If your life is too busy to start a garden, consider hiring someone to help out. Or, enroll your children and/or spouse to help with this task. Kids often love to garden alongside eager adults! If the world goes to hell in a hand basket, your garden will be up and running.

To learn more about food self-sufficiency through gardening, check out my book, Survive in Style: The Prepper’s Guide to Living Comfortably through Disasters.  It is available on my website and also at Lehman’s along with all of my other books.

Additional Resources

There are plenty of great resources available for free on the internet.  Here are a few.

For more information on composting, log on to http://www.howtocompost.org/.

For mulching, visit http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/outdoors/landscaping/mulch-your-way-to-better-landscape-design.

And for tips on irrigating a garden go to https://cals.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/mg/vegetable/irrigating.html.

The Final Word

In my younger years, I had a reputation for having a green thumb.  It came naturally, or so I thought.  Initially, I did all of my gardening in containers.  Later, as I expanded to raise beds, I realized that having a green thumb was not a natural trait. It was a skill.

Whether you have gardened successfully in the past or are just getting started, Dan’s secrets, and especially his emphasis on building up the soil, are well taken.  I don’t know about you, but I am ready to get started!

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!


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How To Make a FREE DIY Weed Killer from Someone’s Bad Habit

How To Make a FREE DIY Weed Killer from Someone’s Bad Habit | nettles-weeds | Agriculture & Farming Organics Special Interests

As happily organic as we all try to be, sometimes we have to deal with noxious weeds. While strong white vinegar will get rid of many of these weeds, occasionally we have to pull out the big guns. Instead of turning to Monsanto’s Round-Up, you can use someone’s bad habit to make your own DIY weed killer – and it’s free.

A quick word on vinegar weed killers: a lot of people try them and say that they don’t work. For a vinegar to be effective as a weed killer, it has to be highly concentrated – 10% or more. This is a 30% vinegar that can be used when serious vinegar is needed but it ends up being a lot more pricey than the DIY I’m about to show you.

A noxious weed is one that has been designated by an agricultural authority as harmful to crops, ecosystems, humans, or livestock. These plants tend to grow aggressively and multiply quickly, often invading and area and spreading through it rapidly, leaving ecological destruction in their wake. As well, some noxious weeds are either harmful or poisonous to people and animals.

Here’s how to make a frugal DIY weed-killer.

Cigarette smoking is a nasty habit but many people still do it. If you happen to have visiting smokers, they can help keep your pathways and patios pristine and weed free. If, like me, you banish smokers to your back yard but still get left with the problem of disposing of all those butts tossed into a sand-filled pot or an ashtray, you can make a slight change and put those nasty butts to a good use.

Swap out the ash tray for a lidded bucket with a few inches of water in the bottom and get them to throw their butts into the bucket. Make sure you keep this out of the reach of children and animals because the liquid contents are deadly if ingested.

The water will turn a nasty-looking orange-brown colour very quickly. This is the nicotine leaching out of the butts. The longer they are in there the more nicotine will leach out into the water.

As time goes on add more water to your bucket until it is about half full. You’re basically making the nastiest tea imaginable. After a week or so of steeping you’re ready to go. (You can leave it steeping as long as you like if smoking visitors are rare.)

Here’s how to make the weed killer. Make sure you wear rubber gloves.

  • Cover the top of the bucket with something to catch the butts, a pair of pantyhose works well stretched and secured over the top of the bucket.
  • Drain the liquid into another bucket and discard the fabric containing the butts directly into the trash.
  • Take your bucket of liquid and a small container – Dana, the reader sharing this tip, uses a turkey baster specific to this purpose.
  • Chop the head off the weed and individually target those that dare to invade your drive or patio.

Nicotine weed killer is very potent. It will lay waste to even thick weeds and brambles on land that needs to be cleared before it can be improved and put to good use. For thick stemmed weeds and brambles cut the stems as near to the ground as you can without getting ripped to pieces and put the solution directly into the stem.

That’s it. Easy and it won’t cost you a penny.

Now, some caveats.

Please use this responsibly and protect pets, children, other plants, and wildlife.

  • Nicotine is deadly to plant material.  This is why I suggest it for use on patios and drives. You’ll want to keep it well away from your lawn and vegetable garden.
  • Use it on a dry, sunny day. You don’t want a rainfall washing it into the soil.
  • Nicotine is deadly to bees and birds. This is why I suggest targeting individual weeds rather than broadcast spraying. Always, always cut the tops off the weeds. Cut them down as low to the ground as possible before treating, so that the birds and bees are less likely to be attracted to the plant. The plant matter you cut down can be burned unless it is poison ivy or oak – never burn poison ivy or poison oak.
  • Nicotine is deadly to animals and children. Keep them away from the area where you’ve used it.

You can go a step further and cover the weeds that you’ve poisoned. This is what I do.

When I was in California, we got these occasional horrible Scotch thistles that can grow to over 8 feet and are covered in little spines that are excruciatingly painful when touched. Cutting them down and digging them up was not enough to get rid of them – they’d come right back and bring their friends. After chopping them down, adding the weed killer right into the center of the stem, I tied a plastic grocery bag tightly around the plant to keep livestock, pets, birds, and bees away.

For other thrifty self-reliance ideas:

Be sure to sign up for the newsletter HERE and check out the following articles:

Do you have any other super-frugal solutions for killing noxious weeds?

Please share your tips in the comments section below.

Thanks to OP reader Dana G. for sharing her frugal weedkiller tip.


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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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Getting Started With Straw Bale Gardening

Getting Started With Straw Bale Gardening | Straw_Bale_Garden_photocredit_MelindaMyersLLC_t715 | Agriculture & Farming Organic Market Classifieds

(image: Melinda Myers LLC)

Gardening can be a huge hassle when you are first getting started.  Not only do you need to find an optimal location with adequate sun, but you need prepared beds and decent soil conditioned with plenty of organic material.  Preparing the beds is not difficult but it can take time and significant expense, especially if you are starting from scratch.

As a result of my recent move, I faced the prospect of building beds, bringing in soil, and doing the arduous work of getting my food garden ready for to go in time for spring time planting.  All of this was complicated by my lack of familiarity with the area as well as need to assess fencing given the local wildlife.  As I like to say, it is “all too much” to do at once and so I considered going with container gardening this year.

Luckily, serendipity stepped in and a long-time reader and author in her own right, Susan Perry, wrote to me about her great experience with a straw bale garden.  I was hooked and invited Susan to share her expertise with us, including the steps needed to get started.

For the Easiest Gardening Ever, Try Straw Bales!

Last April, after many years of gardening, my enthusiasm was starting to wane. I still had that rush of Spring Fever gardeners always get, imagining handfuls of perfect, fresh green beans and huge, ripe tomatoes infinitely better than store-bought. But memories of the effort involved kept sneaking in. Did I really want to be out there watering and weeding all summer long?

Thank goodness I came across an article about a growing method called straw bale gardening. The article claimed that after a simple initial setup, there was very little maintenance for the rest of the summer.

By the time I finished reading, my enthusiasm was back! I was out the door heading for Lowe’s that afternoon to get some straw bales.

What Is a Straw Bale Garden?

It’s a container garden, using a straw bale as the container!

Here are the steps:

1. Set the bales in a sunny spot with the cut edges up and the strings on the sides. They can be in straight rows, angles, a big circle; you can have one bale or ten, whatever fits your space.

2. Sprinkle about two cups of nitrogen fertilizer over the top of each bale.

3. Water the bales to saturate them and work in the nitrogen. Check them every day and add water as needed to keep them wet.

4. In about two weeks, the straw on the inside starts to turn into compost. Now you’re ready to plant!

5. Tap in your seeds to their proper depth. For started transplants, use a pointed stick or tool to make a small opening and tuck in the roots.

Group plants together that need similar amounts of water. For example, tomatoes, peppers, and leafy greens like a lot, while most herbs like to get a bit dry between watering.

To add to the fun, you can plant small herbs and flowers down the sides of the bales.

6. As your plants grow, keep an eye on them for how much water they need. If your area tends toward hot, dry weather, a soaker hose makes it easier to keep things moist. If leaves start turning yellow, add a bit more nitrogen.

To support tomatoes, cucumbers, and peas, you can pound a fence post into the ground at each end of a row, then attach heavy string or wires to each post, stringing the wires down the row above the bales. You can also stake plants individually.

What I’ll Do Differently Next Year

For the most part, I was thrilled with the results. The no-weeding claim was not an exaggeration! I harvested twice the cucumbers from one-fourth the space of previous years, and the grape tomatoes just wouldn’t stop. They spread over their stakes and out into the yard so far I had to set up benches for them. Even with only three plants, we couldn’t eat them fast enough, and I froze the extra.

But there were also a few things I could improve on. Next time, to prevent water from running through the bales and onto the ground, which happened most times I watered, I’ll lay down some black plastic to go underneath, and wrap some from the base to about halfway up the sides. This would also reduce how often the bales need water. And to hold back the grass, I’ll put down mulch around the edges.

By mid-summer, several bales had collapsed when the string disintegrated. The plants keeled over, their roots were exposed, and they never quite recovered. So, next time I’ll wrap a wire around the sides of each bale to reinforce the string.

The seeds that were supposed to be planted one-half inch deep were difficult if not impossible to cover with straw. I eventually sprinkled potting soil on them, but some were already dead, so it would be better to do this at the start.

What Plants Can Be Grown In a Straw Bale?

Vegetables, flowers, herbs, even potatoes can be grown this way!  There is one exception: don’t plant perennials like asparagus or rhubarb, since the bales can be used for only one year, two at the most. (After that they make excellent mulch.)

Which reminds me, the other thing I’ll do next year is plant strawberries! In the past, I’ve had terrible luck with diseases, but with the berries so high off the ground, they should do much better.

What Equipment is Needed?

Basic: straw bales, nitrogen (ex. Organic Blood Meal)

Optional: soaker hose, plastic sheeting for ground cover, stakes, fence poles & wire

What are the advantages?

1. Less work.

With the bales above ground, there’s less stooping and bending, and no digging, aerating, or tilling. Your knees and back will thank you! You can even place the bales on a pallet for additional height.

2. Weeds are virtually a thing of the past.

Any lurking in the straw are killed by the heat the first two weeks. The few that might appear later can be plucked right out with your thumb and finger.

3. It’s economical and healthy.

Going organic has never been easier! Straw bales cost about $5, and a bag of Organic Blood Meal is less than $10. You’ll also avoid spending money on soil amendments, fungicides, and disease and pest control.

4. Plants grow faster.

Straw decomposition in the interior of the bales provides a warmer environment. This fosters quick root development and faster plant growth.

5. Gardening is possible even if you have poor quality soil.

Your plants will have no idea that you could never garden before!

If you’ve been wishing you could be on the cutting edge of something, a straw bale garden may be just the thing. It greatly reduces the work of growing fresh produce and increases the yield in a small space. And as an added bonus, you’ll have a fresh topic of conversation for your next social event!

I’m sending all gardeners out there best wishes for happy garden times and a lovely harvest!

For more information, this is the book I recommend: Straw Bale Gardens by Joel Karsten.

 

The Final Word

About the same time Susan contacted me,  a number of Facebook fans started chatting about their success with straw bale gardens.  I literally did a little dance.  A straw bale garden is giving me the life raft I need to get a garden going quickly, easily, and within budget this year. I am so excited!

How about you?  Have you used the straw bale method of gardening and if so, do you have tips and strategies to share?  I would love to hear about them!

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!


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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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The post 10 Winter Garden Tasks for People Who Just Can’t Wait to Get Started appeared first on The Sleuth Journal.


Source: Alternative news journal

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