No matter the size of your garden, adding fruit trees and shrubs can insure your ability to easily have a supply of healthy edibles.
Small gardens, such as my equaintance Jack’s, can use the espalier method for growing fruit. See how very little space was needed yet can still provide fresh fruit.
We’re fortunate to have a large area to grow in, so have included full size apple trees, dwarf peach and pear trees, and a number of berry producing plants including blueberry, cranberry and many more.
Depending on how the sun hits your yard, you can often grow the smaller plants, especially the crawlers like strawberries and cranberries, right under the trees. This helps save space and can also protect your berries from birds by making them a little less visible.
Fruit trees also add beauty as you can see in the picture above. Anyone who has ever seen a field of cherry trees in blossom can attest to how gorgeous fruit trees are.
We enjoy watching as our different varieties come into bloom, and hearing the buzzing of the bees as they happily go from flower to flower. This also means that the larder shelves will be filling back up with jams, sauce, butters, brandy and even some homemade fruit cocktail.
Another truly beautiful sight!
Click on this link for more information on growing fruit trees, shrubs, canes and more, or to obtain quality plants in the UK area. While you’re there, check out their blog. We especially liked the on entitled Chatterpie.
If you or someone you know has an issue with gardening due to allergies, you should seriously check out this book.
In it, respected author and horticulturist Thomas Leo Ogren explains how some plants produce a great deal of pollen, others produce little or none, and some even remove pollen from the air.
Mr. Ogren has developed a scale, known as OPALS, that rates thousands of trees, shrubs, grasses and flowers by the amount of pollen they produce.
He further expands on this in his most recent book The Allergy Fighting Garden
For anyone who wishes to garden, but refrains due to allergies or asthma, this book can change their world. For others who suffer systems simply by going to the local park, this book may help persuade park officials to rethink what they plant.
Personally, I am lucky to be one of the people who doesn’t suffer from allergy issues. But my husband does. Reading this has made me take a second look at our yard.
You can get yourself a copy using this link.
It will pay for itself quickly in tissues, eye drops, and OTC medications.
Note: This post originally was published in June, 2010.
This repost is a tribute to our daughter, who is about to graduate college with numerous honors and awards. She will also be attending a prestigious University to pursue her master degree in the fall.
This has always been my favorite post.
My youngest daughter and I were gazing out the front window the other day, watching the sprinkler water her garden.
She had planted it solely to donate the produce to our local food pantry; what a kid.
A somewhat unusual, even for us, conversation took place:
Gardening Jones:…………………………………..SaveTheWorld Jones:
“Your garden’s looking pretty good………..”My garden is better than yours
“Mine’s bigger ………………………………………”Bigger’s not always better
“It is with gardens…………………………”Mine’s square-r, more symmetrical
“Mine’s more trapezoidal …………………”Mine’s like a C-shape-maze thing
“Mine’s going to feed the family……………..”Mine’s going to feed the needy
“Okay, I’ll give you that one……………………. …………………………..
“Mine’s got more stuff in it ………………………. “My eggplants have flowers
“Your eggplants have flowers? ………………..”Ha! I win, my garden’s better
“I can’t believe you have flowers already…….”My garden’s better than yours
“That stinks…………………………………………………………”Hahaha! I win.
“I see your cucumbers have flowers ……………..”Which are the cucumbers?
“Those with the yellow flowers…………. “Oh, I thought those were eggplants
“Fail………………………………………………………………..”Yeah, Epic Fail
~I love my kids~
SaveTheWorld’s Garden Project
Here’s the recap:
In the spring of 2013 we planted parsnip seeds in our Zone 5/6 garden.
That fall, we harvested some of the roots and left others to overwinter.
In the spring of 2014 we harvested some of those roots, and left a few to go to seed. Since we didn’t plant any new seed, there were no roots to overwinter. We just wanted to see if we could keep doing this and never buy seeds again.
Well sure enough the seedling shown above is one of many that are popping up. We’re probably a good 3 weeks ahead of when we would normally have seedlings this size, as we would just be putting in seeds now.
The experiment was successful except for one thing.
We really don’t want to dedicate and entire 4×4 foot bed to just parsnips.
So we bit the bullet and removed about half of the seedlings. We can use the saved seeds from last fall to plant in a spot that can be their forever home, albeit a bit smaller one.
Now we can cross parsnips off the list of seeds we’ll ever need to buy.
What a great feeling.
April 12, 2015 Tags: backyard garden, Gardening, gardening jones, how to plant vegetable plants, self-sufficiency, self-sustainability, zone 5, zone 6 Posted in: Parsnips, Preparedness & Green Living, The Experiments No Comments
Strawberries are easy to grow once they are established, but many die because of improper planting.
The strawberry above planted itself from a runner that landed in a mulched pathway.
You can see how shallow the root system was, just barely below ground level.
This picture is a close-up of a strawberry crown.
When you plant, be sure to keep the crown above ground level, or the plant will die.
Been there, done that.
If you pinch off the strawberry flowers the first year, your plants will put more attention into their roots.
These are second year plants and are loaded with flowers.
Then all you need to do is thin out your plants every few years so you have more room for new growth.
Botanical name: Fragaria ananassa
Yield: Multiple berries per plant.
Spacing: At least 4″, best to leave room for the plants to spread.
Harvest: Spring through summer as the berries ripen.
Storage: Freeze, can as juice, jam, etc., dehydrate
April 11, 2015 Tags: backyard garden, garden recipes, Gardening, growing strawberries, how to grow strawberries, Other Recipes, planning a garden, strawberries, why did my strawberry plants die, zone 5, zone 6 Posted in: Fruits, How to Grow 10 Comments
Stevia has the reputation of being difficult to grow, and the truth is, it is just picky about germination. It can take a number of seeds to get one or two to sprout.
Unlike most seeds, stevia needs the light to germinate. To plant, just lay the seeds right on top of your seed starting mix and place it in a warm, bright spot. Of course, keep it moist. It should take 2-3 weeks before you see any sprouts.
We only got this one plant, started January 12th., but it is growing slow and healthy. A little fertilizer helps, and now it is about ready for its final transplanting.
Stevia leaves can be used fresh or dried, or you can make a liquid infusion instead. It has no calories, and can be used in many of the same ways you would use sugar or commercially packaged Stevia. A little goes a long way. It also doesn’t contribute to tooth decay, how neat is that!
Once we have room in our now overflowing seed starting area, we intend to try a few more seeds. How wonderful to be able to use a plant to sweeten our home grown tea.
The less dependent on others we can become, well you might say, it is a really sweet deal.
Botanical name: Stevia rebaudiana Note there are different varieties, with varying appearance.
Days to Maturity: 120
Growth habit: Perennial if kept away from frost.
Height: Up to 2 ft.
You Can Grow That! is a collaborative effort on the 4th. day of each month among gardeners around the world to encourage everyone to grow something.
Find more posts by clicking on the logo above.
And then go ahead and grow something!
Growing carrots in the home garden will be more successful if you know a few things:
1. Carrots can be grown in the early spring, but their germination rate will be slower. The days to germination, as is also the case with days to maturity that are found on seed packets, are based on optimal conditions. Give your spring planted carrots more time to sprout.
2. Like their cousins parsnips, carrots need to be kept moist until they sprout. Like constantly moist. That’s where the benefit of spring comes in, it is usually wetter than summer. If watering your carrot bed every day it doesn’t rain isn’t an option, consider covering the area loosely with plastic to keep the moisture in, or pre-germinate them in paper towels before planting.
3. A good soft soil to grow in will give you better roots. We have red clay here in the northeast part of Pa., so carrots get a raised bed of their own. Okay, sometimes we will partner them with beets and kohlrabi, but you get the idea. We use BM1 which is a nice potting soil with perlite, vermiculite, and sphagnum moss. To that we add well aged horse manure and compost. Yea, we grow some nice roots in that!
4. Give them a little elbow room. Carrot seeds are tiny, so unless you are using or making a seed tape, you will need to thin them out. Just give them enough room so they aren’t pushing each other around.
5. Give them time. Again the days to maturity that are listed on the seed packet is what would happen in a perfect environment. Unless you live in Eden, your carrots will be ready when they decide. Know that different varieties mature faster, so planting a few kinds will give you a longer harvest period.
6. Carrots can take the cold, and really can be harvested until the ground freezes. By planting at intervals and heavily mulching the beds, we have been able to pick carrots well into January. Not bad here in Zone 5/6.
Over time we have found that we aren’t that interested in being in the garden in the winter. Now we harvest all our crop by the time the frosts begin to arrive, and store them fresh using this method. You can also freeze, can and dehydrate them.
Also known as Tree Onions, Perennial Onions, Top Onions -amongst other names- these hardy perennials are one of the first veggies to be enjoyed in the spring.
They are quite prolific in most areas. I planted mine from a cluster given to me by a friend.
I divided it into two, and planted in containers so I wouldn’t end up with ‘onions everywhere’ as she described her plants.
The onions, unless completely harvested, will reproduce two ways:
Bulbs that are left in the ground form clusters of new plants and these will send up new shoots.
Also, the leaves will produce ‘sets’ which become too heavy for the onion to support, causing it to bend over- which gives the sets a chance to root and grow. Hence the name ‘walking’ onion.
Here is an onion I pulled out last night.
You can see it is about scallion size now, but the others will grow bigger bulbs over the summer- ending up about the size of a shallot.
Generally we just harvest the tops for the greens, which actually encourages more new growth.
Botanical name: Allium cepa
Yield: Perennial plant which will have an increased yield over time
Harvest: Green tops or full onions- be careful to leave some in the ground.
Storage: Layer the green tops and freeze, then slice off as needed, or Roast
Learn more about it.
Territorial Seeds sells sets
March 31, 2015 Tags: backyard garden, Container Gardening, egyptian onions, extending the harvest, garden planning, Gardening, growing onions, harvesting onions, how much to plant, how to plant vegetable plants, onions, planning a garden, self-sustainability, small space gardening, tree onions, walking onions, zone 5, zone 6 Posted in: Onions & Leeks 4 Comments
“I have a brown thumb, I can’t grow anything.”
“I have 2 black thumbs, I kill every plant I touch.”
Sometimes I’ll joke that I kill houseplants, that I am only good at growing outdoors. Truth be told, when I lived in a house with a huge bay window that faced southeast, I was really good at growing plants indoors. Really, really good.
The difference, of course, was the environment.
So why do some people just seem to have a knack for growing plants? Personally, I think most of it is learned.
My Mother used to be an excellent grower of African Violets, a rather temperamental plant that many give up on. “The secrets,” she said, “are to water from below, never move them, and only give them 1/4 turn each week so they grow evenly.”
Was it a knack, or did she learn what it took?
Consider growing plants compared to playing music (our other favorite hobby):
Music is basically math. Anyone can learn math, though some might think they are bad at it; anyone can learn to play music. True, to be outstanding, you need to feel it as well; to relax, and allow yourself to be drawn in.
Growing plants is botany, everyday science. Anyone can learn science, but to be good at growing plants you have to get into it. Like my Mom and her African Violets, she kept at it until she learned what they wanted, what it took to do it well. In order for them to grow healthy and flower, they needed her to relax.
Henry Ford made the famous statement “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are probably right.”
So if you know someone who thinks they have a brown thumb, pass this on:
Relax. Let yourself be drawn in.
Don’t be afraid to learn by experience, which will include failures. These are precious lessons never forgotten.
Most importantly, think positively; the plants will respond.
You just might surprise yourself and find you have that ‘knack’ after all; it was inside you all the time.
Recently I was at the local grocery buying some fresh produce. Let me tell you, it was hard; but I needed to have fresh for a reason and everything at home is preserved right now.
There was a young man checking me out, and he really wasn’t looking at what anything was, just at the code numbers. Until he came to a bag with two pieces of fruit, no sticker.
“Avocados?” he asked.
“No,” I said somewhat sadly, “pears.”
Now in his defense it was the last hour of his shift, and he was tired. But these weren’t anything fancy, they are pretty much the same kind of pears that fall from the trees in this area. This is a small country grocery, and avocados are the most unusual thing they stock.
I posted this in a social media group of gardeners, and a lengthy thread was born. There was some finger pointing as to whom is to blame, and there were many similar stories; some quite funny. Mostly it was sad.
The thing is, there is a real disconnect in this country with where our food comes from, and what it actually is. We cannot expect a parent or teacher to teach what they haven’t learned themselves.
But gardeners can.
It’s the ‘takes a village to raise a child’ thing, and as gardeners, who do know about food, we can help.
Here are a few ideas:
1. Offer a community tour of your edible garden. If you live in a safe neighborhood, choose a day this season when the garden is producing and invite friends and neighbors. Tell them what they are looking at, they may not recognize it.
2. Ask your local market, especially if it has a good produce department, to offer a community day such as this. Partner with the store’s dietician, which many have these days, and perhaps you as a gardener or your local master gardeners can explain where the produce comes from and what to do with it.
3. Teach at home. Chances are you are already, but also try to pick a fruit or veggie you can’t grow, and bring it home as a teaching opportunity. It doesn’t have to be daily, but once in a while will help.
4. Make a slideshow and bring that and a few examples to your local grade school. Many kids only know what an apple is, no other fruit and few if any veggies.
5. Similarly, offer something at your local place of worship. If parishioners get together after service, that would be the prefect time.
6. Teach the parents. Offer easy recipes. Offer seeds if you have extra. They can then take over the effort.
7. Find out if your local foodbank can accept produce. Get together with other gardeners and/or farm markets to gather some up. Often the foodbanks will also provide recipes and nutrition information. You can also add info on how the food grows.
8. Pass this post on. You never know who you may be reaching, and what wonderful help they may have to offer.
9. Watch this: Teach Every Child About Food- Jamie Oliver
The thing is DO SOMETHING.
One last quote: “Be the change you want to see in this world.” – Gandhi
March 28, 2015 Tags: backyard garden, food disconnect, Gardening, gardening jones, self-sufficiency, self-sustainability, teach children about food, zone 5 Posted in: Kids & Gardening, Preparedness & Green Living No Comments