27 January 2015, by gj
Blogging has blessed us in that we have been connected to many wonderful gardeners like you, whether you subscribe to our emails, follow along on assorted social media, or we have e-met on a more personal level.
It has also linked us to people involved in the gardening and publication industries. One such connection is with Horticulture Magazine. We were fortunate to win a contest to get an article published in their magazine, and from that they invited us to contribute to their online blog. How cool is that? My hands were shaking so hard I pert near dropped the phone!
After a few years we took a bit of a break while we worked on our garden system, primarily on finding ways to lower the cost of production without sacrificing quality.
They had no problem welcoming us back, and we are happy to say they have even featured our last two articles on growing Flax and Sunchokes both for their beauty and their edible components on their main page!
So if you are in gardening withdrawal from the cold, or for my friends down under it’s the heat, check out these links to get a little more green in your life.
You can find a new post there and on the Gardening Blog every week.
Color us happy, blessed, and waiting for spring…
Oh, and choose any color you want; anything is better than this snow-white!
Categories: Addiction, gardening people, places & things, jonesen'
20 January 2015, by gj
So over the weekend Mandolin and I were out running a few errands; post office, grocery store, etc.
When we pulled in to the Home Depot parking lot, he said “I’ll just be a minute, really, I just need a piece of hardware. You can wait in the car if you want. I’ll leave the heater on.”
“No that’s okay, I think I’ll see if their garden center is open yet.”
“I don’t think it is, really,” he said. “In fact, I think I read in the paper this morning that they are closing it down. Yep, closing it down for good. Yep, that’s it. They are never, ever going to sell anything that is even remotely related to gardening here. Not ever again. Never. So, you may as well wait in the car.”
Now I admit I didn’t really need the two planters pictured above, though they will certainly be used.
Sometimes though, you just have to stand your ground.
Or, well, stand your soil; as the case may be.
Categories: Addiction, confessions, jonesen'
27 December 2014, by gj
Growing lemons in the north.
Gardening doesn’t end just because the weather turns cold, it just changes. You needn’t suffer withdrawal, you only need to think outside the raised bed.
1. Grow food from scraps even indoors. Our take on it.
2. Set up a seed starting system, even a small one. Here’s a link to keeping it on the cheap. Just remember you need warmth and a light source.
3. Grow food indoors during the winter. Here’s a few to try.
4. Start a garden scrapbook, if you haven’t already. It is a fun way to look back and to plan for your next garden, as well helping you to stay organized.
5. Extend your growing season outside. Of course, we recommend the Jones’ Garden System.
There are many other ways to get your gardening fix throughout the year. You can become a member of an online social media gardening group, read great gardening books, watch videos and podcasts, and so on. Just in the past few days we have started more seeds, transplanted one plant, and discussed and decided then ordered the onion varieties for spring. We’ll be looking at potatoes next, and then on to flowers and more edibles.
So you see, gardening never really ends when it gets cold outside, it just changes direction.
Categories: Addiction, jonesen'
23 December 2014, by gj
Part of the fun of gardening is trying new things. In the past we tried growing horseradish from a store bought root, and have been harvesting it now for years.
Last season we planted ginger and turmeric, bringing them outdoors when the weather was warm then back inside to continue their long growing season. The ginger we have now came from that planting, and we can harvest fresh ginger as we need it. The turmeric still has a while to go, but we expect the same result.
Last summer we also grew flax, and although the harvest was minor, the flowers were lovely and we enjoyed the experience enough to do it again. We intend to add quinoa to our grain repertoire, as well as bring back amaranth that we stopped growing only because we didn’t realize it was edible at the time.
We also tried, though unsuccessfully, to grow cardoon. Never let a good failure stop you though, so we’re going to give it another shot.
A few other things we have found are parsley root, which tastes like parsley except that you prepare it more like a carrot or parsnip. Neat. We’re also going to try to push the envelope and plant some Chia seeds. These are really meant for warmer climates, which makes the challenge to grow them in the north all the more fun.
Our Facebook group Gardenaholics Anonymous is going to grow both cucamelons and milkweed as a group project. It should be fun to share what happens in these gardens from around the world. If you would care to join us, just be sure first that milkweed isn’t invasive in your area, and choose a variety that likes your climate.
Of course, there’s always fun to be had trying some new varieties of more familiar edibles, as you can see in the picture above.
So what’s new on your list this year?
We’re always open to new ideas you know, hint hint.
Categories: Addiction, all about seeds, How to Grow
20 December 2014, by gj
There are always lessons learned in a garden, even by the more experienced growers. Here are a few we experienced last season:
1. Birds eat seeds. Chickens are birds. Don’t let the chickens free range where you just planted seeds, especially sunflower seeds, without protecting the bed.
2. There is such a thing as too much heat. Yep, southerners know this, but it isn’t something we in the north have a lot of experience with. Until we get a greenhouse.
3. Keep the cole crops away from fruit. Not just strawberries, apparently they don’t like grapes either. Though the broccoli raab didn’t seem to have an issue.
4. Plant more broccoli raab, less peas, more potatoes, less corn and more grains.
5. Speaking of grains, start the seeds indoors. See #1.
6. For us, not growing green beans was a good decision.
7. Three dozen tomato plants is just about right for two people who love to cook.
8. Plant even more flowers, it really did a lot to attract pollinators to the garden.
And most importantly:
9. Let your significant other help. Even if they don’t do things the way you would, it is still better to garden together. And just maybe, you won’t have to learn to play golf.
Categories: Addiction, jonesen'
18 December 2014, by gj
Now that we are no longer in the restaurant and catering business, Mandolin and I have found we have more time for the things we like to do best; namely gardening, cooking, and playing music.
Our involvement with social media has shown us that there are many people just learning to grow their own food, which of course makes us happy. What makes us sad is the disconnect with our food that we have also seen. A lot of people simply don’t know what to do with what they are growing, or even how it grows. We were surprised a lot ourselves way back when, we understand.
So it seemed a no-brainer to us that we should share what we know on both subjects, which we have been doing here and on our food blog.
We decided to take it a step further, and put this into book form. This way the beginning gardener can have the most important information right at their fingertips. No need to get online and look things up, it’s all in the book.
Included are how to’s for over 40 of the most common veggies, with tips and techniques to help make the whole process more successful.
To that we added more than 100 of our own recipes that focus on what you grow, and numerous pictures to help show you what your veggies and some of the dishes should look like.
This really is a work of heart. I’ll be honest and tell you our royalties for a book sold on Amazon are $1.06. Of course, that does help cover the cost of maintaining the blog, but it isn’t the reason for writing the book.
Y’all are. You, if you are new to gardening and/or cooking, or someone you may know. For that reason we would appreciate it if you would help us spread the word, by sharing this link.
Happy Cooking and Garden On!
~ The Joneses
Direct from the publisher
Categories: Addiction, book & film reviews, How to Grow
13 December 2014, by gj
A Forever Christmas Tree
It was two Christmases ago that we decided to pare back the decorations in the house. With that in mind, we also thought it would be great to have a forever Christmas tree, rather than buying a fresh one each year.
Not wanting a fake tree, we decided to pick up a little Norfolk Island Pine tree instead. They are great for growing indoors. We found a nice selection at a local big box store early in December, all sparkly and ready for decorating. They were small but we knew it would not take long until we had a nice size tree that we would never need to replace.
Or so we thought.
The poor thing barely made it through Christmas, let alone the new year. Mandolin suggested we buy a fake tree on sale, but I refused to give up so easily.
And so I doomed myself to repeat killing a tree the following year. This second one held on a wee bit longer. I repotted it and fed it, but it was obvious by Christmas day it was not long for this world.
Admittedly I am not great with houseplants, but I can keep them alive longer than just a few weeks.
We stopped in the same store yesterday, and as we happened by the tree display I commented “Should we buy another tree to kill?”
Just as Mandolin opened his mouth to respond, a woman standing nearby said “I’ve had one of those in my house for years. It’s huge.”
Now I never miss an opportunity to talk about my favorite subject and to learn more about growing anything. Mandolin wandered off and the woman and I discussed what she did vs. what I did. We examined the trees that were there and it turns out some of them were not sparkly at all. “Oh mine didn’t have anything sprayed on it,” she said. “Mine was more like this one.”
And she pointed to an untreated tree with obvious signs of new growth. You could see the difference in the health of the trees. The sparkly ones already looked like they were soon to be goners, the untreated trees were greener and had a lot of new growth.
“Oh, look at this,” the woman said, “This has three trunks, just like mine.”
That was the clincher right there. Maybe it wasn’t me after all. Maybe the sparkly stuff killed those trees.
I thanked her for her help, picked up the tree she had pointed to, and set about trying to find my husband.
“I knew you would be buying a tree,” he said, “After I heard what that woman told you about hers.”
“It’s a matter of gardener’s honor,” I answered.
Categories: Addiction, confessions
9 December 2014, by gj
Here are two different seed suppliers to check out for 2015:
Mike the Gardener
While a lot of seed companies are mailing out eye candy in the form of catalogs, Mike has done something different. He lowered prices.
How perfect is that in today’s economy?
By joining his Seeds of the Month Club, you can receive 4 packs of seeds in the mail for less than $3/month. This is a great way to get started on building a seed supply, and to keep one going. Not to mention how wonderful it is to get seeds when the ground is covered in white.
Mike’s seeds are all either heirloom or open pollinated varieties, so you can save the seeds from what you grow.
We’ve never received a pack we couldn’t use, but if that happens, there is a Facebook group for trading. His website also offers a great deal of information on gardening. You can even sign up to be an affiliate and make a little extra cash.
Johnny’s Select Seeds
Based in Maine and employee owned, Johnny’s offers what we consider to be the most informative catalog we have ever seen. We probably have learned more about gardening over the years from them over any other printed source.
Johnny’s carries both heirloom and hybrid seeds and plants, and they cater more to market growers; so you’ll see many of the 318 new products for 2015 are along those lines. Because of this, they offer a lot of hybrids that are resistant to particular pests, diseases, and weather. These seeds can help insure the success of your garden if you have been having specific issues.
One new seed that caught our eye was this summer squash, don’t think we have ever seen a yellow ball type. The fact that it will turn into a pumpkin if left unattended is neat.
They carry a wonderful selection of flowers and culinary herbs, many new varieties this year to choose from.
We have found both of these companies to have great customer service and wonderful products. Note that we are not compensated in any way to write about them.
Happy garden shopping!
Categories: Addiction, all about seeds
2 December 2014, by gj
And so it begins.
The catalogs are already arriving in the mail, the emails have started to show up as well; the new vegetable varieties for 2015 are here. It is always fun to see what new varieties are available to try, or what is new that a favorite seed company has stocked.
Of course we can’t list everything here, or even all the companies in one post. So for the month of December we will offer some links as well as our personal take on some of what we find.
Then you can go have at it!
A wonderful company that we have purchased from for years. For 2015 they have 50 items new to their line of seeds, including some fairly priced seed tapes.
Eggplant Listada de Gandia is a variety that has been around, but we haven’t tried yet. It was recently recommended to us by fellow GA member David G.
The Cucamelon Mouse Melon is another heirloom seed they are offering, and one we are anxious to try. We have heard some gardeners have a difficult time with this one. If you have tried it, please let us know how you made out.
Be sure to check out their new hybrid Sunstripe Summer Squash. It is a beautiful yellow striped bush variety that produces early. Just lovely.
They also have a nice assortment of seeds for edible sprouts.
The people at rareseeds.com are always on the look out for new heirloom varieties. This year they once again do not disappoint. They have over 300 new items total, it is easier to separate the veggies away from the rest of the new items by using their catalog vs. online.
Pink and purple sweet potatoes, the list goes on.
We were impressed with the Sunrise Bumblebee Tomato for its visual appeal, the Moranga Squash aka Pink Pumpkin, and the huge 1 pound Oxheart Carrot which is great for those with heavier soils.
Don’t even get us started on their selection of Amaranth.
So here are two companies to get you started. Get out your notepad, make a few lists; and the best of luck paring that down.
Been there, bought that.
Categories: Addiction, all about seeds
1 November 2014, by gj
It was easier to learn to grow food in the days before there was so much information available at your fingertips.
You could read a book or magazine, or ask a neighbor. The backs of seed packets and seed catalogs held the information that was easiest to access.
Now all you have to do is type a word and a world of information, both correct and not, is right there for you to sort through. And it can be mind boggling.
There is so much information that a lot of people have turned to social media for help. Again, there is good information and there is bad, though well-intended.
Did you see the one about how to tell the male sweet peppers from the female? Seriously.
So what’s a gardener to do?
First, find a source you can trust. Since you are here, we hope you consider us one. We turn to Mother Earth News and a few e-quaintances we have been reading for a while. We also read the .edu sites, though we know their info is primarily for farmers.
Personally, we avoid E-How, About.com and Yahoo Answers.
These venues allow anyone to submit, right or wrong. Sure there is some great info there, but we have also seen completely wrong information on all 3 sites.
If you can, ask a neighbor. The local farmers’ market can be a great source of information, and it is local practices that were successful in your area.
Above all, learn by doing. Have fun, experiment, keep it simple or complicated based on which you enjoy the most.
Don’t be afraid, don’t hold off planting something just because you might make a mistake.
Well, unless it is horseradish.
Categories: Addiction, jonesen'