Weeds

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A walk in the garden and what do I find? Weeds beginning to grow next to my young transplants. They take up space and compete with my plants for water, light and nutrients. These weeds must go and I will be taking steps to keep other weeds from growing here also.Read More »

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Transplant Time

20170924_124232[1]I’ve sown my seeds, they are growing, and I am looking forward to transplanting them outdoors. But, are they ready to transplant? If I transplant them too early they will have a tough time adjusting to their new environment and may die. If I wait too long, they can become root bound in their container. When it comes to deciding when to transplant seedlings, I consider them ready to transplant when they have two to four true leaves.Read More »

A Time to Plant

envisionWhere do you want to plant your seeds? You can plant your seeds outdoors, directly into the garden or you may want to plant them indoors. Seeds planted outdoors may be more vulnerable to disease, insects, and bad weather. I prefer to plant my seeds indoors. I use a seed starting tray, but you can also use small containers with drainage holes.  It is a good idea to clean them first. I like to avoid toxic cleaners so I clean mine with plant based Thieves household cleaner. Whether you sow your seeds directly into the soil outdoors or start them indoors, it requires the same basic elements… soil, water, and light.

Soil

If you are planting your seeds outdoors, you will want healthy organic soil made of decaying materials such as leaves, grass clippings and compost. The soil should be fluffy and hold moisture, but also drain well. Healthy plants grow in healthy soil.

When planting seeds indoors, I fill clean containers with a seedling mix made of peat moss, and perlite to hold enough water and allow oxygen to flow.

Water

Whether you plant your seeds indoors or outdoors, your seeds need to be kept moist.  I prefer to use rain water that I collect in rain barrels to avoid chlorine from the city water.

Light

Once your seeds sprout they will need plenty of  light. When growing indoors I use grow lights that simulate the full spectrum of the sun. I leave them on for 12 – 15 hours per day.  This helps my seedlings grow as strong and healthy as they would in true sunlight.

Planting your seeds in the soil and watering them is the easy part.  Waiting patiently and attentively is the hard part.

Our Little Lesson from the garden: Words are seeds. What are you planting? Positive words bring positive growth. Speak positively. Laugh. Love. Dream. Envision the future.

My oil of the day is Envision.   It’s scents stimulate my feelings of creativity and resourcefulness, encouraging renewed faith in the future and the strength necessary to achieve dreams.

-Penny

What Season?

there is a season picAfter making a list of what I desired to grow, I narrowed it to the things that could grow in my zone. Now, I need to narrow it a little more. What season is it? Plants are sorted into two distinct categories: cool season (for spring and fall) and warm season (for summer). Planting in the proper season is the first step to a bountiful harvest. I use a chart for my planting zone that lists when I should start my seeds and when I should put my transplants into the ground. The reason this chart is so helpful is that if I plan on reaping a fall harvest, I usually have to begin by planting my seeds in the summer season. That means that I have to plan ahead. If I wait to plant my seeds, they might not have enough time to grow to maturity and produce an abundant harvest before the freezing temperatures of winter.Read More »

My Journey to a Chemical Free Lifestyle: DIY Veggie Wash

One of the joys of growing your own food is that you can control what you put in the soil and on your plants. At my home we are trying to grow our food as organically as possible.

Maybe you don’t have the time or place to grow your own garden. If that is the case, food at the local farmer’s market is a wonderful place to buy your produce. You are buying food that is grown locally and most of the time you get to meet the people who grew it. This allows you to ask questions about whether or not they use pesticides. The best part, to me, is that the food is usually picked fresh that day and isn’t sprayed with any waxy substance. Read More »

What’s in the Garden? Tomato Plants

In January I planted my tomato seeds for my Spring/Summer garden. (What’s in the Greenhouse-Seedlings post).  In February, after the seedlings grew a set or two of true leaves, I transplanted them into small foam cups. (What’s I the greenhouse- you win some you lose some)  I have 179 tomato plants.  These young seedlings had lived a sheltered and pampered life in the greenhouse.  To make it in the “real world” of the garden, they needed a transition period in the garden.   Each day the plants were gradually exposed to the wind, sun, and rain.   Without this gradual exposure to the elements, you would find them limp and withered the next day. Plants can even get sun and windburned. This transition process is called hardening off.  It is best to begin this process one to two weeks before you plan on transplanting them into the garden.

The first day, I brought the plants outside in a sheltered spot and left them there for a few hours.  Then I returned them to the greenhouse.  Each day I gradually increased the time they spent outside by 1-2 hours before returning them to the greenhouse each night.  At the end of the week the plants were able to stay outside all day and night as long as the temperatures did not drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.  They were ready for planting in the garden.

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I am planting 8 different varieties.  I am keeping records of which plants have grown the biggest so far.  The Rutgers, Beefsteak, Bonnie’s Best and Brandywine are inches taller than the Moneymakers, Creole, Homestead, and Floradade.  I will continue keeping records. I want to know which ones produce first, have the largest yield, and best flavor.

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Today, I planted 32 tomato plants (8 varieties of tomatoes-4 plants of each variety) into two raised garden beds that measure 4 feet wide by 16 feet long. I planted 2 plants of each variety in each bed.  In one bed I will be tying the plants to a hog panel and allowing all branches and suckers to grow.  In the other bed, I will be attaching them to strings and breaking off most of the suckers.  I will keep records to see which methods works best for me.

transplanted-tomato-plants-with-watering-bottles
Once I decided where each plant was going to be planted, I dug a hole and placed a tablespoon of organic fertilizer and a tablespoon of Epsom salt into the hole.  I mixed it into the soil at the bottom of the hole.  Then I removed the plant from the cup and placed it into the hole.  It is a good idea to plant tomato plants deeper than they come in the pot, so they are able to develop roots all along their stems which makes a stronger plant.  I then filled in the hole with the soil that I had dug out of the hole.  Lastly, I watered the plants with rain water from my rain barrels.  This is my first year using these Aqua Cones.  I like knowing how much water I have given to each plant and the fact that the water is directed to the roots instead of the top layer of the garden.  Hopefully, with this method I will have less weeds also.  Once again, I will observe and keep records.

Now it’s time to share the other 147 plants with friends and neighbors.

–Penny

What’s in the Greenhouse? Planting Seeds

At the end of last year, I was blessed with a greenhouse for my garden.  It was something I hoped for but didn’t think I would ever own.   Close friends of ours were moving from the outskirts of  a nearby city to a ten acre farm near our home.  They did not plan on moving this beautiful greenhouse to the farm because they were going to build a larger one.  I was so excited and blessed that they helped make this dream a reality.  With my husband’s labor of love, he made a spot in my garden by leveling the ground and laying pavers.  Then he disassembled the greenhouse, hauled it to our property and reassembled it in our garden. Now it is time to put the greenhouse to use.Read More »