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            1. Showing posts with label Money Saving Tips. Show all posts
              Showing posts with label Money Saving Tips. Show all posts

              Thursday, May 8, 2014

              Must Knows for Garden in a Bag

              If you haven't already read Garden in a Bag please check it out.
              Kids building Garden in a Bag
              The information that follows is what you need to know before starting your Garden in a Bag. The information below has been adjusted for the United States from the Kenyan method used there by Bridges International Development.

              Just a bit of planning is needed in order to make sure that you bag is a success. Also, don't forget to include your kids. This is a great project to teach them about people around the world as well as an opportunity to pray with them!  My kids (2yrs and  8yrs) really enjoyed building this bag. In fact, if we are able to get plenty bags, they want to plant their very own.

              Finding feedbags suitable for using as a Garden in a Bag
              
              White bag is example of what you need for
               Garden in a Bag
              The feed bags available in the United States are much smaller than Kenyan bags due to our unit of measurements being different. You will also want to be very cautious of the bag material.  Many birdseed bags or dog food bags look like they would work, but don't use them. The ones that I have found so far have a plastic outer coating that will not allow the water to percolate properly. The green bag in the photo is an example of what you don't want. It's fibers are tightly woven and it has a thick plastic outer coating.

              You are looking for a bag most likely from a feed store or mill that has a loose weave of the plastic fibers without any additional plastic coating on the inside or outside. The white bag in the photo is an example of what you do want.

              Burlap bags will not work for this method. They will deteriorate before the summer is over in most locations and disappoint you. They will also dry out too fast.

              Remember, if you are local and able you probably will be able to receive a bag from thechurch.at’s mission department.

              Placement of your Garden in a Bag
              First, let me say that if you are in an apartment or rent house this low cost Garden in a Bag method will work great!  If you happen to be on the other end of the spectrum and are a home gardener with an expansive vegetable garden - you know who you are - you no longer have grass in your yard because it is all growing beds - this method is for you also!

              Once you build your bag you will not be able to move it. The bag will have a center column of stones and be very heavy. This center column is vital for the bag to function properly and allow water to percolate though the entire bag. If you do manage to move your bag without ripping it most likely your center column will no longer be intact. 

              Placement is key.  You will be planting the entire diameter of your bag. So if everything you plant needs full sun, you want to make sure that your bag will be in full sun throughout the day.  This means morning sun would get ½ your bag and evening sun would shine on the other ½ giving you the full 6-8 hours of sun many garden vegetables need.  If you will only have partial sun then think about planting herbs or lettuces on the side that will receive limited sun. Limited sun will keep lettuces and herbs from bolting, especially when the summer gets hot.

              Plants for your Garden in a Bag
              This low-water high density planting method is great! You only have a couple of limiting factors, sunlight, and in the United States (due to bag size) plant size. If you would like to grow a tomato in your bag you will want to grow it in the top and use a patio variety or else plan on limiting it’s growth.  Remember that you probably don’t want your top plant shading your others (unless that is in your plan). 

              This bag will hold a ton of plants. My initial planting I had 7 plants to put in thinking that would come close to filling it up. I didn’t do any calculations – math just isn’t my favorite.  Needless to say, I will be going back with at least 6 or 7 more plants.  I started with a Ukrainian Purple Tomato, 2 Bell Peppers, 2 Mini Sweet Peppers, and 2 Strawberries. I plan to add Oregano and Black Opal Basil, Sweet Basil and possibly another Bell Pepper.
               
              Excess Food
              Most likely you will grow excess food. What do I mean by this, food that will spoil before you have a chance to use it. Please grow what you need and then be sure to share the rest! What a great a great way to start a conversation with that neighbor that maybe you've never talked with than giving them some of your fresh home grown garden vegies. Also, many food banks desperately need your donation, no matter what the size. If you are unsure of where to take your donation check out Ample Harvest. Food banks from around the country have signed up requesting home gardeners donations.

              Prayer
              Each time you go out to work in your Garden in a Bag pray for the people, the missions in Kenya and Bridges International Development.


              Coming Next… Step by Step Method for planting your Garden in a Bag


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              Garden in a Bag

              In Kenya, Bridges International Development is combating hunger by teaching people how to grow their food in bags. These are nothing other than feed bags used for livestock or grain that have been repurposed. Bridges has partnered with thechurch.at to share this agricultural technique and raise awareness for the missions in Kenya. I am honored to be asked to participate in this project by receiving the first grow bag from thechurch.at and sharing the adapted United States techniques with you.
              
              http://bridgesid.org/economic-development/garden-in-a-bag/
              Bridges with a Kenyan and his Garden in a Bag
              The key motive behind bringing the Garden in a Bag project to the United States is to pray for the ongoing missions in Kenya and for people to share similar experiences while growing in the bags.

              With many parts of the US now facing lingering drought just as in Kenya and water being so precious, often even rationed, this low-water growing technique is extremely beneficial.

              You can participate in this project a few ways. Prayer for the missions and people of Kenya while working the bags and for the project is key. If you are close to one of the thechurch.at's locations (Tulsa, OK or Dupage, IL) then contact the mission's department and as grow bags are available you can pick one up and get started. The feed bags are donated to the church as they are emptied, so quantities available will vary.  If they happen to be out of bags currently or you aren't close I will give you tips on locating a bag suitable to grow in on the next post.  

              Coming next... How to set up and plant your garden in a bag


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              Photo Courtesy of  Bridges International Development's website

               

              Monday, September 9, 2013

              Organic Pest Control using Frogs

              Organic Pest Control using Frogs!
              I love natures little surprises... 

              Can you find the little frog hiding on the leaf of my pepper plant?  I found him just as I was about to pick these bell peppers. The peppers have been grown using organic methods --- and this little guy is an example of that.

              By not using pesticides I am able to preserve natures balance. When pesticides are used in the garden, often frogs are driven away and made sick to the point of death.

              Find more organic gardening tricks, cost saving methods and fun gardening projects with kids on this website.


              Wednesday, August 28, 2013

              Organically Make a New Garden Bed

              Expanding or creating a new garden bed can be simple and quick if you use these quick easy steps.  You don’t need to dig up grass, spray weed killer, or break your back. This is a simple, organic, zero digging garden bed method!

              This is an update on a previous post titled No Dig Garden Bed Method.  I have tried a few more tricks and have found ways to speed up the process of getting garden beds ready for planting. I also have pictures from different beds using slightly different techniques over different time spans.

              Materials Needed:
              Newspapers (No Slicks) Black & White preferable
              Rake
              Water/hose
              Weed eater – if available
              Manure or Compost – enough for a depth of 1 minimum
              Mulch – enough for a depth of 1 to 2 inches
              Non Windy Day


              Method:
              Cut Grass & Weed, No Need to Dig
              If available use a weed eater to cut the grass or weeds down to the ground.  Rake the debris in a pile away from your new bed (you can save and use in your compost pile).  If you don't have a weed eater, just rake your weeds flat and as many away as possible.  You the want the newspaper lay as flat as possible on the ground.
              Dig Free Garden Bed Method
              Use a garden hose to wet the area that will be your bed.  Now you are going to place newspaper in crisscross overlapping fashion over the entire area.  You want sections overlapping sections. Each section should be 10 or more pages thick.  You don’t have to count pages; you don’t even have to unfold them if you don’t want, just place them around in thick chunks. 
              Before you get too far, squirt some water on the freshly laid paper. If you happen to get a breeze the papers won’t blow away. Continue until you have covered your entire area with newspaper. Make sure the entire area is fully covered or you will have weeds pop through in that spot.
              If it looks like you have a Paper Mache flower bed you did a great job! This is your weed barrier and eventually the grass roots and weeds underneath will die. 
              Have you ever sat something on your lawn for too long and the grass and plants underneath died?  You are accomplishing the same thing with the newspaper, a free weed barrier and in many cases better than what you buy at the store.   You can do this around existing plants or shrubs if you wish.  Just realize that the grass will grow towards the hole left for the shrub and you will have some weeding to do.
              Organically Made Garden Bed at 3 months
              Next you are going to put down either compost or manure. What you choose to put down depends on what you may have on hand and what you want to plant in your bed. How much of it you put down depends on your time frame.  If you want to plant seeds or starts immediately then you are going to need to put down 3 to 4 inches of compost and pasteurized manure mix then top with 1 inch of mulch. Don’t mulch where you place your seed. 
              If you have a bit more time then you can get away with 1 to 2 inches of compost or manure and 1inch of mulch.  Of course if you can put more compost/manure mix in your bed the better your plants will be in the future.  Water your bed thoroughly after you have mulched.  Make sure to immediately pull any weeds that may appear.  The only weeds I have had were ones that jumped or went under my edging and are at the edge of the bed, making them quite easy to pull.
              Organic Garden Bed Method at 10 months
              Result:
              The newspaper along with the manure/compost and mulch block all light and will kill any weeds or grass trapped below. The newspaper will gradually break down over the next 8 months to year with the manure mixing in leaving you a nice healthy bed to plant in.
              Tip:
              Pull weeds as they appear. You will likely see them hop your edging or surface just at the edge.  You shouldn't see any in your bed, unless you used this method around existing trees or shrubs.
              This method also works well to prevent weeds if you plan to build a raised bed.
               
              Related Articles: 
               

               
               
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              Monday, August 26, 2013

              Quick & Easy way to Plant up Strawberry Runners

              If you have grown strawberry plants before you probably know that they spread like crazy very quickly.  They spread by sending out runners as soon as the strawberries start to slow in production.  If your plants are grown in the ground keeping up with these runners can become a pain very quickly.

              When we started our Strawberry plants a few years back I told our son that he was in charge of them.  He had to water them, pick them, and best yet... share them with the family!  The strawberries grown in a pot on our back porch have proven to be a fun gardening adventure for him and especially our toddler.

              Strawberry Runners Ready to Pot Up
              We have managed to create a fun and easy way to keep up with the runners, maintain easy
              maintenance, keep our small porch clutter free, and share our plants.  Here is what we do...

              Materials Needed:
              3 or 4 small pots
              potting soil

              Method:
              When a cluster of leaves form on the end of a runner, or several runners this is your Que that it is time to begin.  You will need 1 pot for each runner.  You will be placing the smaller pots inside of the larger pot (containing the mother plant).  If you have more runners than you can fit pots just snip off the extra runners. Many more runners will form and you can pot those up after the first batch finishes.

              First fill your small pots with potting soil. Then one at a time take the leaf cluster and push it into the soil in the pot. Next move some of the leaves in your big pot and set your small pot inside your big pot.  Just repeat this until you have all your runners potted and placed inside your big pot.  The picture above shows strawberry runners ready to pot up.  It also shows 3 pots inside of the larger pot!

              When you water your main pot you will also be watering your babies.  You will also have a clutter free patio... well at least from starter pots.

              Strawberry Plants ready to have Runners Cut
              You will wait a few weeks and then you can gently wiggle the baby plant to make sure that the roots are growing well.  Generally after about one month the roots will be substantial enough that you can then cut the runner between the mother plant and the new plant.  You might even find that after a month roots are growing through the baby plant's pot down into the dirt of the mother plant.  This is a sure sign that your plant is ready to cut free!

              As soon as you cut the new plants free, share them with friends or pot them up in a new larger pot to increase your strawberry production next year.  Don't forget to start this process again to keep those runners in-check!

              Tip:
              Be sure to save your small pots from other plants so you can reuse them.  If you don't have any small pots on hand you can repurpose plastic or styrofoam drink containers. Just make sure you poke holes for drainage.

               
               
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              Friday, July 19, 2013

              Tops of Tomatoes Splitting

              Has the top of your tomato split and you are wondering what happened, is it still good to eat, and what do I do to prevent this from happening again?

              Unfortunately, it seems like you wait forever for your tomatoes to ripen and just as it is getting time to pick them their tops split. When this happens it is so disappointing. But don't fret, you can still eat your tomato.

              Top of Tomato Splitting
              The "Big Boy" variety shown in the picture with the split top, was new for me this year. It had it's first blooms back in mid May.  We had two heavy rains earlier this week that caused the top of this tomato to split. I also accidentally gouged the tomato with the pruners when I was cutting it off the vine.

              Yes, I was bummed. I had wanted an award winning super large red juicy tomato to be the first one off the vine. I have watched and tended after this one tomato for a month and a half. But after I got over my desire for the perfect looking tomato, I decided to settle on the perfect tasting tomato instead! So, I just cut off and discarded a small portion of the top.

              When this happens to you, just use a sharp knife and cut the top of the tomato off, just a bit below the deepest split.  The tomato is still safe and very good to eat.  If the tomato is left on the plant the skin will seal off and look dark, as you can see from the bottom split.

              Why this happens:
              If you are new to tomato growing, if the plant receives more water than usual or dries out between waterings the top of the tomato can split. This is because the tomato will absorb more water quicker than it can grow, bursting the skin.

              Prevention:
              There are two main things you can do to avoid this. If you do have a heavy rain and your tomato is just about ripe, you can pull it off the plant and let it ripen in the window.
              The second thing you can do is to make sure your ground is always moist and never dries out. I have my tomatoes in a new bed, and have been fiddling with our drip irrigation system to get the water just right. I figured I would bust a few tomato skins before I got the water just right.

              Summary:
              Keeping the tomato top from splitting boils down to keeping your tomato plant evenly watered. Tomatoes that split are still good for eating, just cut out the affected area.

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              Monday, May 27, 2013

              Indoor Onion Garden in a Glass

              Indoor Onion Garden
              Did you know that you can reuse your Green Onions by growing them again & again? Have you ever heard of re-growing onions in your kitchen window?  

              It is very simple and really quite amazing to watch. You can keep reusing the same green onions over and over again. Just cut off what you need and watch the onion regrow within a few days right before your eyes!

              If you didn’t grow any green onions in your garden this spring, just pick up a pack at the store. This is a great way to keep the ones you buy at the store fresh until you need them.  Your kids will be amazed by the onions that you can see regrow 1/2 an inch to 1 inch overnight!

              Materials Needed:
              Green onion bulb with roots
              Glass or container
              Water
              Sunlight

              Method:
              Place your green onions in a container with just enough water to cover the roots and a few millimeters up the bulb.  When you have a recipe that calls for green onions, or you just want a snack, cut off the amount you desire.  In order to regrow the onion make sure to leave ¾ to 1 inch of the white bulb and roots.

              Tip:
              Change the water and prune your onion garden in a glass every week to keep it fresh and mold away.
              If your container is too deep you can ad some rocks to the bottom. This helps them stand up also.



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              Friday, May 10, 2013

              All Natural Home made Strawberry Water


              Natural Strawberry Water
              I know, choosing to drink water can be difficult at times.  But, if you love strawberries as much as I do, try this recipe out.  You will find yourself looking forward to your next glass! 
              My garden strawberries are just about ready, so I am working on using up my frozen strawberries.  Aldi’s also had fresh strawberries on sale this week for 99¢. Fresh or frozen both work well to make water with.  It only takes a couple of minutes to make a pitcher full and it will disappear before you know it.

              Materials Needed:
              About two handfuls of strawberries (fresh or frozen)
              1 pitcher or 2qt mason jar
              Water
              Anything else you would like to add (I like lime)



              Method:
              Toss your strawberries in the bottom of your pitcher. Mash them up just a bit to release the juices.  I use a meat tenderiser hammer, but even the back side of a spoon would work. Add Ice if desired or anything else (limes, herbs, other fruit) that sounds good. Put a few cubes of ice in, fill container to the top with water and swirl around just a bit.

              I have found that you can refill the jug several times and still have good flavored water.  After three days I toss my fruit and start again.

              Now just sit back and enjoy your water.  This adds a hint of sweetness and strawberry to the water.  I like to add lime to my water. You could also add a bit of sugar if needed, but I think it is great without.

              Hint:
              My water pitcher has a slotted pour spout. This keeps the large chunks of fruit in the pitcher but lets some of the smaller fruit pieces through. 

              I also like to add a strawberry on the rim of my glass to give me the Spa Strawberry Water feel; I also like to munch on while I’m drinking. Normally though, my children get to my strawberry before I do!


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              Wednesday, May 8, 2013

              Time for another Tomato plant give away


              Tomato Seedlings
              Glory Gardening along with the Faith Based Organization will be giving away another round of tomato plants on Monday May 13th. This time the recipients will be Brown Mackie Tulsa College students.  We will be teaching organic, self sustaining gardening methods at 12 and 12:50pm in the break room.

              Plant your Tomatoes and Let your Radishes Bolt!

              Tomato Seedling with first set of true leaves
              The weather has finally changed here in Oklahoma and it now appears to be safe to plant your tomato plants outdoors!  We have had an incredibly long winter with record breaking freezing temperatures into May.  All that looks to have passed and we are clear to plant tomatoes and other heat loving crops now.


              
              Early Scarlet Globe Radish Seeds

              With that being said, I am saying goodbye for now to our radishes we have been sharing and enjoying.  I am letting a few of our favorite varieties “bolt” (meaning – letting them flower and produce seed). The seeds I will harvest from the seed pods and replant in the fall.  The seed pods of the radish plant are also edible, and from what I have just recently learned quite good eaten raw, directly off the plant.  More to come on this, I promise...

              Related Articles:
              Eat Your Radish SeedPods
              Grow Vegetables in your Lawn

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              Tuesday, April 9, 2013

              Grow vegetables in your lawn


              Mess with my lawn? What? You must think that I am off my rocker. In America most of us think of our lawn as the green grassy area of beauty that must look better than our neighbors. Why or how would I grow vegetables in my lawn? 






              Grow Radishes in Lawn


              You may be looking out the window and seeing weeds in your dormant lawn. Before you run to the store to buy Roundup, remember that as summer rolls in most of those weeds die back and your grass takes over.

               
              Planting in your yard follows the same principal, except with vegetables you want instead! However, this only works if you haven’t put down pre-emergent on your lawn. This works well for cool season vegetables such as radishes. Once your grass is fully out of dormancy this method will not work well because the grass roots compete for water, not to mention you will need to mow.

               
              Why do I want to grow vegetables in my lawn?
              You ran out of space in your garden bed
              You don’t have a garden bed, but desire to grow food
              You have weeds instead of grass anyway
              A fun project to keep your involve your kids in






              Plant Cool Season Seeds in Lawn


               
              How:
              All you need to do is part the grass so that you can see bare dirt. Drop a seed down; push it under the ground just a bit with the end of a pencil. Then cover the seed with a bit of dirt and repeat as many times as desired. Make sure you have at least 6 hours of sun in the area you selected.  Also, don't forget the area needs to stay moist; so occasional watering may be needed. Just as seeds from weeds germinate, so will the seeds of your radishes or other cool season crop you selected.

               
              Tip:
              The reason I highlighted radishes in this post is due to their quick planting to table time of less than 20 days. If you plant your seeds every 7 days you will have a stead crop of radishes for about two months before your grass comes out of dormancy.  In Oklahoma, March & April as well as October –December is prime radish season time!

              Related Articles:
              Plant your Tomatoes and Let your Radishes Bolt!
              Eat your Radish Seedpods!

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              Monday, January 21, 2013

              Free Plant Seeds

              You can come by free plant seeds a variety of ways.  In fact there are many seeds that you can’t just go to the store and purchase.

              
              Free Pepper Seeds - 2wks after planting 
              Earlier this month I was eager to start my indoor vegetable garden. I jumped in the car and headed over to my local plant store.  Unfortunately, I was about 2 months too early; they don’t have any seeds or their displays out until early February I was told.

              So, what did I do? Remembering that had been successful in growing bell peppers from the seeds that I had harvested from grocery store bought produce, I broke out the sweet peppers I had in the fridge.  Now you must understand that growing seed from a vegetable that was mass grown is a gamble.  Mass produced plants are often hybridized, or have very specific growing conditions, so don’t set your hopes too high.  But many people, including me, have been successful and happy growing fruit and veggies from seeds collected right out of their fridge.

              Sweet Pepper Seeds in Greenhouse
              Some free ways to get seeds:
              Seed swap with friends
              Collect from raw produce you purchase to eat
              Collect from nature walks
              Collect from your own garden
              Leftovers from last year’s seeds


              Don’t forget to use your pop bottles to make your own free greenhouses.  See my article titled “Make your own Greenhouse out of a Pop Bottle” from January 2013.

              Tuesday, January 8, 2013

              Make your own Greenhouse out of a Pop Bottle

              A 2 liter pop bottle makes a great seed starter and mini greenhouse. Not only does it keep the seeds warm and protected for quick germination, but it also works well as a permanent pot.  As an added bonus with this method, the bottle top allows you to keep your tender seedlings covered longer and requires less maintenance than typical store bought systems.

              You don’t need to spend money on fancy kits, or plastic gardening containers to start seeds or grow plants. Use the instructions below to create your own green house that fits great on your windowsill; perfect for your windowsill garden.
              Pop Bottle Greenhouse Planter
              Materials Needed
              Potting Mix
              2 liter bottle with cap
              Scissors
              Kids – if available

              Method:
              First, cut the bottle across the center at the point where the midsection is uniform – before and after the curves.  The bottom section will be your pot and the top section will be your cover “green house.”  Now you will want to pre-moisten your potting soil.  I like to do this in the bottom section (pot). Add water until the soil sticks together and stir it up.  Make sure there are no dry spots in your soil.

               Next you will make 2 or 3 small drainage holes – less than the diameter of a straw in the lowest point in the bottom edges of the pot.  You can use the end of a pen or scissors to poke a small hole in the bottom; you don’t need to remove the soil.  Just tip the pot to the side and make the holes. Note: if your soil was really wet, water will drain out when you set the pot upright.

              Now for the top, cut a small slit in the side of the top so that the plastic can slide against itself and the top piece can fit snuggly inside the bottom pot.  This is now your greenhouse & future shield.

               Result:
              Assembled Greenhouse Planter
              You have a pot with soil ready to be planted. Just plant your seed/seeds and place the lid on top.  If you need to vent your greenhouse, just remove the cap.  Make sure to replace the cap when you have finished venting so that your soil will not dry out. 

              Depending on the type of plant you are growing, you may not need to transplant your seedling at all, just grow it in your 2 liter pot. 
               
              If you are planning on transplanting your plant outside, you can grow your seedling in your pot longer and larger before you need to plant it outside.  You can then use your top as a shield from the wind outside as you are hardening your plant off, or to protect your plant from a dip in temperature outside.

              Related Articles:
              Buying Tomato Seeds
              Make your own Greenhouse out of a Pop Bottle

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              Saturday, December 22, 2012

              Grow tomatoes on your windowsill

              Do you miss the taste of fresh home grown tomatoes in the winter? Have you read my post titled, “Windowsill Gardening: Your Indoor Vegetable Garden?” Are you eager to plant some tomatoes to grow indoors but aren’t sure what to plant?
              
              Orange Pixie Tomatoes
              Red Robin Cherry Tomatoes
              These are a few of the varieties that are suited to grow on your windowsill:
              Pixie
              Patio
              Toy Boy
              Small Fry
              Tiny Tim
              Red Robin Cherry


              How to Grow Tomatoes on Your Windowsill 

              Materials Needed:
              Seed
              Potting Mix
              Pot
              Well lit windowsill
              Water
              Method:
              You will want to start a couple of seeds just as you would with any seeds. Place the seed in the potting mix covered with a bit of the mix (per package instructions).  Keep potting mix damp, but not soggy.  The seeds should sprout in 5 to 10 days. 

              To help aid germination, you can create a greenhouse (trapping heat) effect by keeping your pot covered with a translucent plastic cover. You could use the top ½ of a Coke bottle over your pot until your seeds sprout. 

              After your seeds spout, make sure the seeds get plenty of light from your windowsill and that you turn the plant regularly. Also, make sure that the temperature in the window doesn’t drop below 50 degrees at night. If it does either move it to another location at night or try a different window (does only the North window drop below 50 degrees and maybe the South one doesn’t?)

              If you have room or plan to grow more than one plant and are keeping it for yourself, you will want to start the seeds a few weeks apart in order to space your production of tomatoes.

              What should you do with your remaining seeds? Are you participating in the Great American Tomato Project? If you are able, germinate a few of your remaining seeds and give the plants away to someone who needs food assistance.

              Related Articles:
              Buying Tomato Seeds
              Make your own Greenhouse out of a Pop Bottle
               
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              Thursday, December 20, 2012

              Windowsill Gardening: Your Indoor Vegetable Garden

              If you have a lighted windowsill somewhere in your home did you know you already have a mini greenhouse just waiting for you to plant some vegetables?  All sorts of plants can easily be grown in your windowsill throughout the winter months.

              I bet you are wondering what exactly you can grow in your mini greenhouse?  
              Herbs In Ceramic Pots
              Patio Tomatoes, Patio Peppers – think small bush varieties
              Herbs (mint, basil, thyme, chives, flat & curly leaf parsley)
              Winter Lettuce
              Dwarf Citrus
              Compact Carrots & Turnips

              One word of caution, you also want to make sure that your mini greenhouse (windowsill) doesn’t get below 50 degrees F at night if you choose to grow easily stunted plants like tomatoes.  If it does you will either need to move your plant in the evening away from the window or be more selective about what you grow. 

              I bet your next question is how much light is enough?
              My kitchen window faces north and doesn’t get much light, so it isn’t a candidate to grow vegetable producing plants (although I do overwinter two of my pond plants there). But, my bathroom window faces south and is filled with lots of sunlight.  Just check the lighting requirements on the seed packets and try to match that with your windows lighting. Salad leaves as well as tomatoes and other plants will provide fresh produce provided your windowsill gets plenty of light. Some herbs such as thyme & parsley are more forgiving and will grow in indirect light – although they may become stringy or elongated.  But hey they are just herbs, so give it a shot if you don’t have much direct light.

              These are two varieties I grow and share.
               

              Related Articles:
              Basil, the Unexpected Flower Arrangement

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              Wednesday, December 19, 2012

              Using Snake -Layering to Propagate Plants

              I just finished up reading what I consider a must have book, Grow Your Food for Free (well almost) by Dave Hamilton. In his book he takes the throw down a branch technique I wrote about in, Want a new plant? Get it Free by Propagation, a step further.  

              Snake-Layering that Dave teaches in this book is simply repeating the step of touching the same branch to the ground except doing it multiple times.  You will need a longer branch to do this of course.  He recommends doing this with longer vines such as kiwis. He points out that layering is one of nature’s natural ways to propagate plants by itself.

              Materials Needed:
              Bush or Plant you wish to propagate
              Dirt
              Rock

              Method:
              Begin by using the detailed method outlined in my article “Want a new plant? Get it Free by Propagation.” Now add Snake-Layering by pegging down (with rock) two or three sections of the vine and cover them with dirt.  *Note, you do not have to have leaves showing between your pegged down spots. Leaves will eventually grow between there.

              Each section will eventually root and at each point that it does, you will have a new plant.  Make sure to check each section for adequate roots before you snip away the new plants from their mother. This process will generally take about six months to a year.

              Result:
              If you are patient, you will end up with multiple replicas of the parent plant.  What a great way to add more of your favorite plant to your yard or gift it to a friend.

              Friday, December 7, 2012

              How to make a mesh pot

              Do you have a Koi pond? If you do, then you know that the little buggers love to eat the roots of your plants.  Instead of spending your money on floating pots or root protectors just reuse your mesh bags that often come around some fruits.  
              
              Mesh Fruit Bag

              
              Materials needed:
              Mesh bag with fruit removed
              Possibly hot glue
              Floating material (if your plant doesn’t float)


               
               
              Method:
              I know this is obvious, but make sure to remove the fruit from your mesh bag and rinse it well. You don’t want any contaminates in your water.

              
              Sealed Mesh Bag

              Next, see if one end is sealed, if it isn’t use some hot glue and gather the ends squirt a line across the bottom to seal. 

              Then roll or fold the edges in and tuck the bottom up to make a pot.  If you have a plant that does not float then all you need to do is use some type of material that floats (could be part of a noodle or other Styrofoam) and hot glue your mesh to it.  Now you are ready to put your plant in.
              
               

              
               
               
              Result:
              Folded Mesh Pot
              One fish proof pot, costing nothing out of pocket and reusing materials you have most likely already have around your home.
              This pot works amazingly well for water Hyacinths and other floating water plants whose roots are a tasty treat for hungry Koi.



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              Mesh Pot



              Wednesday, December 5, 2012

              Drip Irrigation System – the Repurpose way!


              Do you have a plant or tree that is a pain in the rump to water? Do you ask yourself every time you drag your water hose over to it, why in the world did I plant this here? Maybe you are going on vacation and you don’t want to worry if your plants will be alive when you get back.
              Here is a Free easy way to create your own drip irrigation system. The best part is that it only takes about 10 minutes to setup from start to finish! 

              This is also a great project to enlist kids to help you with! Little shovels are perfect and since the project only takes a few minutes to complete, kids will be able to finish without losing interest.

              Materials Needed:
              Empty Gallon Milk Container or 2 litter Pop Bottle with a lid
              Shovel
              Ice Pick, Punch, Nail, or something sharp to poke holes
              Kids (if available)

               
              You are going to use 1 Milk Container or Bottle for each 4 foot circumference area you wish to water. After you determine what plants, bushes, or trees you would like to water add up how many containers you are going to need. You will repeat the method for each one.

               
              Kid's Gardening Project
              Method: Using something sharp, you will poke 4 small holes in the bottom of the plastic container. The more holes you poke the faster the water will drain from your container, meaning you will have to refill it more often.  If you have a water hungry plant, I suggest sinking more bottles in the ground instead of poking more holes. This way you will have to drag the hose out less often.





               
              Next, you will dig a hole deep enough and wide enough to sink your bottle into the ground leaving only the spout above ground. Keep the lid on the bottle to keep dirt out and remove when you are refilling it. I keep my spout about one inch above the ground, this way I can easily find it, but low enough so that the lawn mower can pass over without damaging the bottle.

              Repurposed Drip Irrigation Container
              Now place your bottle in the hole, replace the dirt around it. Tamp the dirt down around the bottle. Grab your hose and fill the bottle.  If the ground is dry you will notice the water level in the bottle drop in a few minutes.  If your ground is moist then it will take longer before you notice the level drop.

              Filling Drip Irrigation Container





              Result:
              You have a Free, scalable, and easy to manage drip irrigation system that delivers water directly to the roots of the plants. You are also free to go on vacation and not worry about that tree or bush that your sprinkler or other watering system doesn’t reach.  Just don’t forget to check on it periodically and add water If you have enjoyed this article, please share it with your friends.


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              Monday, December 3, 2012

              Using Edible Bushes as Screening or Fencing

              Do you need a little privacy or wish to hide that not so attractive meter in your yard? If space is valuable or you are just looking for something a little different, why not use an edible bush or tree?  As your plant matures it will obscure your eyesore and at the same time provide you with a tasty treat.

              Of course the Blue Berry bush, Apple and Pear tree come immediately to mind, but why not try something not as common? Depending on your zone and your pallet you can come up with some very interesting options.  Grow varieties that you are not able to find in your local grocery store or grow your favorites in your yard for significantly less money.
              
              
              Young Peach Tree in December

              I plan to add a Rosemary bush, Blue Berry and Raspberry Bush to our yard this spring. This past spring we planted a Peach tree.  The tree looks great, even in December, and is doing very well. This past summer we harvested three amazingly sweet peaches from it and our dog Duke picked one also!

              At Plants for a Future you can scroll through the hundreds of plants that are edible. They also have an interactive tool on their website that allows you to search for a plant by its edible use, such as making tea or even disinfectant from.

              If you think you couldn’t possibly eat all the fruit that your plant would produce – even better! Share, Share, Share

              Please share with us what new edible bush you plan to plant below.

              Saturday, December 1, 2012

              Want a new plant? Get it Free by Propagation!

              I learned this frugal and green gardening trick from my mother as a young child.  If you see a plant you like, grab a good looking healthy limb, put it in contact with the dirt and stick a rock on it to hold it in place.  Then viola – in 6 months to a year you have an exact match of the plant!   Now this trick doesn’t work with every plant such as bulbs, but many it will. 

              Rose Bush Limb Propataion
              Materials Needed:
              Bush or Plant you wish to propagate
              Dirt
              Rock

               
              Method:
              Select a limb or branch on the plant that is healthy and you can bend to the ground.  Clear away mulch and dig out a shallow spot so the limb can come into contact with about 1 to 2 inch section of the ground.  You will need about 2 to 5 inches of the limb showing from the ground (this will be your new plant).  Make sure you clear the dirt the appropriate distance from your mother plant. Lay your limb down, cover the section that meets the dirt with about an inch of dirt and place a rock on it to hold it in place.  *Note some gardeners like to make a slit in the branch and/or use root hormone where the plant comes in contact with the ground, I never have. 

              Now just treat this plant as you would the mother plant.  Wait 6 months, and then dig around the plant gently with your finger.  If you are eager and you feel there are sufficient roots cut the limb that connects your new plant from the mother plant.  I wait a few more weeks and then you can dig and move the plant to a new location, or leave it happily growing where it is.
               
              Mother Rose Bush being Propagated

              Bonus: Propagated plants make great gifts! I am currently propagating a rose bush my mother-in-law gave me several years ago for mother’s day.  She purchased two and gave one to me and one to her daughter. This bush has preformed amazingly well in my yard. For some reason she didn’t buy herself one, however she loves roses.  Guess who I plan to give one of my propagations to?
               
              Propagated Oak Leaf Hydrangea

              This is a picture of an Oak Leaf Hydrangea that my mother propagated for me about two years ago. I saw several in the store, but I didn’t want it bad enough to spend $35 on it.  I remembered that my mom had several in her yard that were doing fabulous in a location very similar to where I planned to plant mine, so I asked her to “throw down a limb” for me.  True, the hard part is waiting, but in the end, knowing that you have a beautiful plant that you made or received as a gift is wonderful!



              Share:
              Please share your success stories or failures below.  Thank you!
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