Simple ways to manage the annoying side of gardening...
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Quality plants starts with quality seeds!
Every year we start a few plants from seed indoors but have found that only a few plants really work out for us: mostly eggplant and peppers. We know we need a good greenhouse (in our future plans) and until then buying some plants is necessary.
We choose to purchase heirloom plants and seeds.
Heirloom Seedsand Plants - these are seeds and plants that have been handed down for generations and are 'true' to form. In other words, the seeds that you collect from the plant will produce another plant with the same characteristics as the plant they came from. They are also open-pollinated, which means they're pollinated by insects or wind without human intervention. The bottom line: they are not hybrid or GMO (genetically modified). The plant grown from saved seeds will be the same as the plant the seeds came from (not true for hybrid).
Click on the picture to read more about planting perennial string beans!
Herbs & Vegetables we grow from seed directly into the ground:
Pole String Beans (We save the seeds every year.)
Kale (if it died over the winter)
Herbs & Vegetables we start indoors from seed and/or buy:
Perennial Herbs & Vegetables we grow:
Mint (3 types)
Be weed free naturally!
WEEDS We do not use any herbicides on, in, or around our gardens and plants. We use natural methods to minimize and prevent the weeds from destroying our gardens.
Solving Weed Problems Weeds in the Garden Beds - we rake them with a hoe when they are small or just weed by hand for the larger ones. We pick weeds every time we are out there. The more you do every day, the less chance there is of it getting out of control and trust me, you DO NOT want it to get out of control!
Weeds in the Pathways - we put down inexpensive out-door carpeting. We cut it up so it fits in the paths and we sweep it off or blow it with the leaf blower if necessary. This is the third year we have had the same outdoor carpet in our garden. We even leave it there over the winter. In the spring we pull it up, scrape any weeds off of it, and put it back down. It can be picked up as needed if the weeds start coming through. I have a feeling that this is the last year though, we may need to replace it finally. However, it was well worth the investment. In fact, it was so worth it that we may spend a little more money to get rubber backed carpet next time (like a door mat). I think that will last much longer.
Weeds on Patios & Driveways - we make a homemade weed killer spray. In a 1 liter pump sprayer, mix 4 cups vinegar, 1/2 cup epsom salt,and 1 tablespoon dish soap. Shake well, spray on weeds in the morning. Read more at our gardening BLOG.
Weeds that are Edible - I don't eat them, but my daughter does. Dandelions and Lamb's Quarters grow all over my yard and my daughter eats them. So, we do not dispose of these unless they are really in our way! By in our way I mean in the path we walk on or if they are taking over and encroaching on my other garden plant space. Then we remove them. I have actually dedicated an area for the Lamb's Quarters to grow. I have not yet gotten up the nerve to actually try them but my daughter says they are good! And she is still alive and well...
Tool Storage - Make your life simpler by keeping your garden tools close at hand for quick and simple weeding any time! Check out our garden toolshed using a mailbox below :-)
Keep the pests away without harmful chemicals!
PESTS We do not use any pesticides on, in, or around our gardens and plants. We use natural methods to minimize and prevent the pests from destroying our gardens.
Cats - Cats will sometimes use a garden as a litter box. We have several stray cats in the neighborhood that we need to keep OUT of our gardens. If they have already used the garden then it needs to be flushed thoroughly before we use the oils and coffee grounds.
Essential Oils - put a few drops of rosemary, citronella, peppermint, eucalyptus or lemon grass essential oils around the garden. Cats do not like the smell and stay away. Note, you may need to refresh after it rains.
Coffee Grounds - cats don't like the smell. We save all our used coffee grounds and spread it around the plants.
Slugs - I detest these nasty creatures. Have you ever stepped on one barefoot late at night?
The best way to get rid of these little nasties is to use beer. Yes, the alcoholic beverage attracts them. They actually make slug traps that you fill with beer. The slug slimes its way in and drowns. Use a shallow pan filled with beer and recess it into the ground.
When slugs are a problem we also make sure to always water in the morning - never at night because they love wet and damp conditions. So keep the garden dryer at night to help avoid them.
Caterpillars - when the caterpillars are out full force I am out in the garden picking them off by hand (wearing gloves of course) and disposing of them. They are usually found on stems or under leaves. You need to do this mostly at dusk, or at night when it is dark, but keep your eyes open during the day too. At night I go out with a flashlight and a bucket and check one plant at a time. Just pick them off. Many people crush them, however I keep them alive and they make a great treat for my chickens!
Aphids - these are sometimes referred to as plant lice. They are very annoying! Two methods to get rid of them:
Squish them with your fingers. This works very well, however there is always the chance we will miss some so we supplement with soapy water.
Soapy Water Plant Spray - mix 2 cups of water and 1.5 teaspoons of liquid castle soap in a spray bottle. Spray on plants as needed and after every rain storm.
Squirrels & Rabbits - same techniques as cats.
Birds - this is really only a problem for our fruits. We either share with them, or put up netting to keep them out. This is one of the reasons why we espaliered our apple trees - it will keep them small and manageable, and it will also be easy to put a net over! (it also makes it easy to pick off the caterpillars....)
Backyard Visitors - they are all welcome! But we really don't want them in our garden too much...
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'Click on a picture below to read more!
Compost is one of the greatest things you can add to your garden! It helps with weeds, critters, and decreases or eliminates the need to add any kind of fertilizer! It is so much better to make your own instead of buying it or getting it free from your local town (you have no idea what they put int there, and trust me when I tell you they don't care as much as you do! Click the picture (It's a link!) below to learn more....