Addiction

9 Lessons Learned in the 2014 Garden

free range chickens

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.

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Categories: Addiction, jonesen'

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The Gardener and the Cook

The Gardener and the Cook

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
Find it:
Direct from the publisher
On Amazon

Categories: Addiction, book & film reviews, How to Grow

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Confession #27 The Christmas Tree Killer

indoor trees

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

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More of What’s New in Gardening for 2015

save money on seeds

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

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New Vegetable Varieties for 2015

baker creek seed catalog

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!

Botanical Interests

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.

Baker Creek

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

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Gardening and the Internet

Another spaghetti squash and even more beans.

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. ;-)
Garden on!

Categories: Addiction, jonesen'

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(Please Don’t) Eat (This) Tomato

Pompeii tomato

It is estimated that men hear as little as two words for every five a woman speaks.

Some women might suggest it is actually less than that.

And I know some men who might say “What? Did you say something?”

So it really came as no surprise last week when this scenario took place:

Mandolin: “That’s a nice looking tomato in that basket.”
Me: “Yes, it is the best of that variety that I grew. Please don’t eat it.”

Mandolin: “Don’t eat it? But it’s the best looking tomato in the basket.”
Me: “Yeah I know, I want to save the seeds from it. It was probably a twin tomato, but since it was the best one, I want the seeds. So, please don’t eat it. You can have any of the other tomatoes, just not this one.”

Mandolin: “Really? But that is such a nice looking tomato.”
Me: “Yes, it is. Here, I’ll move it to the side so you don’t forget.”

So the next day, when I came home from work, the tomato was gone. I knew what had happened.

When he returned from work I asked “Did you have a tomato today?”

“Yes,” he said, “that really nice looking one from the basket.”
“Was it good?” I asked.
“Oh yeah, that was a really good tomato.”

When I reminded him that it was the one I wanted the seeds from, he apologized.
Then jokingly added “But you kept saying ‘Eat tomato. Eat tomato.’”

Smart alack!

After almost 40 years together, I should have known better.
Say less, leave notes.

Categories: Addiction, confessions

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5 Mid Summer Garden Tasks

A mid summer garden.

No areas here are actually empty, they are just waiting to sprout.

Depending on your location, your garden is likely well under way and possibly even winding down.

Everyone tends to get busy this time of year, with vacations, picnics and even back to school preparations.

Still, your garden needs a little attention beyond weeding, watering and harvesting.

Here are a few things you should consider at this time of year:

1. Succession planting.

Some edibles, like parsnips, do better if allowed to grow throughout the winter and harvested in the spring. Many of the greens can take the cold and be harvested well after everything else has finished.
Check for your area, and replant any parts of the garden that are done producing.

2. Feed your plants.

Your veggies need your help. They are working hard to produce, and a good dose of compost tea would help keep them strong enough to provide you an abundant harvest.

We recommend a liquid feeding of Moo Poo Tea, shown here:

Haven brand Moo Poo Tea

Haven brand Moo Poo Tea

Here’s how to use it and why it works so well.

We will be using this later today to give the garden the shot in the arm it needs right now, from new seedlings to heavily producing veggie plants.

3. Prepare for Autumn.

-Be sure to have seeds for growing cover crops or mulch to help prevent weeds on hand.
-Check on tools, like pruning sheers, to be sure they are in good condition.
-Consider harvesting herbs now. You don’t have to wait until the threat of frost to get a jump start on bringing things in.
-Prepare a bed, or be ready to, for a fall planting of garlic.
-Have an area ready indoors for any potted plants you intend to bring in before the cold weather.

4. Get ready for next season.

This is especially important for anyone who starts seeds indoors and/or pushes the season with extenders such as cold frames.
Be sure you have the supplies you need on hand, as they may not be readily available when you need them.
Get your seed starting mix and supplies while the stores still have them in stock.

5. Consider indoor veggie growing for the winter.

We recently started seeds for a tomato that does well indoors, and have some herb seeds started as well. Updates on them will be forthcoming.

Growing tomatoes indoors.

Year round tomatoes?

Note: We were not paid to recommend these products nor given them for free. We are simply sharing what we like.

Categories: Addiction, gardening

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The Weather Changes Everything

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes in slow motion.

Here and in many other places in the northern U. S. the weather has been unseasonably cold.
People have mentioned the now dreaded term Polar Vortex, though technically that isn’t what is happening.

Still, we have yet to see temperatures hit 90F, and for some of the veggies growing, this is confusing.

The hardest hit are the real heat lovers like sweet potatoes, and the cold weather crops like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.

The sweet potatoes thrive in the heat, and with the cooler temperatures they are growing, but slowly.
Fortunately they are in a bed that can be turned into a high tunnel and the season extended.

cauliflower

Cauliflower, waiting.

The coles are just sitting there. Normally by this time of year they would have either been harvested, or if it was a very hot summer, bolted.
But neither has taken place; they are healthy plants, but confused at the same time.

It isn’t hot enough to make them bolt, and it isn’t cool enough to make them produce heads.

cabbage

Cabbage, on hold.

It is going to be really interesting to see what happens in the fall, we’ll get back to you on that.

Categories: Addiction, gardening, plant problems

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23 Things to Love About Growing Edibles

growing edibles

Future jelly, syrup or salad dressing.

Gardening and particularly growing edibles means many things to each individual, but there are also a lot of things we enjoy in common.

Perhaps you will find yourself here:

1. When the sunlight falls upon the water coming from the hose, and it makes a rainbow.
2. The smell of soil and the way it feels in your hands.
3. Seeing a seed sprout, and knowing what is to come.
4. Not having to read a food label.

growing onions

A year’s worth of onions.

5. Freedom from dependency on others for food.
6. The excitement of each new growing season.
7. The way the failures make the successes all the sweeter.
8. Grazing.

growing edibles

Thinning greens makes for lunch.

9. Finding new things to grow.
10. Getting unexpectedly hit by the sprinkler. A wee bit shocking, yes; but still fun on a hot day.
11. Filling the larder shelves.
12. Tomatoes. Jus’ sayin’.
13. The critters, all of them, both helpful and harmful.
14. Getting to know which veggie is which.
15. The ‘Do-over’ each year.
16. The Winter Withdrawal and planning time.
17. Botany. The Mad Scientist. The Muwahahaha! moments.
18. Seeing how different foods grow; like kohlrabi and walking onions.
19. The camaraderie with other food growers, sharing knowledge and info.

growing potatoes

Spuds for two.

20. Knowing exactly where your food came from and how long it took to get to your table.
21. Saving seeds for the future garden.
22. The stillness and meditative aspect of gardening.
23. Being in touch with and a part of life itself.

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Everything here is original (unless otherwise noted) and has legal copyright 2014 by Gardening Jones (tm), and cannot be re-posted or reproduced without permission. Any re-posting of information, photographs, and/or recipes is considered theft and subject to prosecution.

As gardeners, we love to share, so just let us know what your intentions are and we can work together. Please feel free to link any post you see. They say they call that Link Love.

How sweet.

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