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, 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'



(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



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, 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, 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



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.

Categories: jonesen'



Possibly the Hardest Part of Gardening

At some point every spring, the hardest part of gardening arrives; resisting the urge to over plant.
Once everything is in, what is there to do?

Intercropping basil and tomatoes.

There is already basil in with the tomatoes.

gardening in zone 5 - 6

There are beans coming up in the corn bed.

Intercropping beans, squash and corn.

Even this corn bed is slated to have additional beans and some squash.

growing vegetables vertically

Even though there is room being conserved by growing vertically, it still is never enough.
So the only thing left to do now is wait.

intercropping vegetables

Oooh, except maybe there is a wee bit of space there, just enough for another squash mound.

And after that we will wait patiently, really.
Or, at least try to.

Categories: Addiction, jonesen'



Jones’ Laws of Gardening

homegrown onion

if something can grow wrong, it will

• A passing shower, desperately needed, will do just that.
• When in doubt, if you water your garden- it will rain.
Conversely, if you don’t, it won’t.

• If your seeds don’t come up when they should, plant more.
The first seeds will then come up immediately, followed closely by the second batch.
• This is especially true when it comes to zucchini.

starting seeds indoors

carefully labeled

• If you do not label your seedling trays, one of 3 things will happen:
—–Your trays will get moved without your presence
—–Your trays will get moved by you, but someone else will be blamed
—–You will claim that your trays have been moved, because otherwise you surely would have remembered what every tray contained
• If you carefully label your trays, one of 3 things will happen:
—–You will forget what your shorthand means
—–You will meticulously transplant your seedlings, and forget to label the new pots
—–You will successfully get your transplants into the ground, but forget what you planted where.

garden plan

the best made plans

• A thoughtfully planned-out garden is just asking for trouble.
• Never underestimate the combined weight of any vining squash.
• Weeds are very good at growing next to a vegetable plant they resemble.
Rest assured that when you pull it out, it will have some potting soil attached to the roots.
• Never direct seed before a heavy rain. Nature can move rows.

And last:
• A watched tomato will never ripen. Something else will get to it first.

Categories: faq's, jonesen'



Confession #64 – A Happy Garden

Life is not even.

Life is not even.

It was almost 40 years ago now that I sat in my first college Psychology class. The Professor walked in and proceeded to warn us of something called Medical School Syndrome.

This is when young premed students find they have the symptoms of many different diseases and disorders. The same thing can happen when you start reading psychology books.

The truth is whether it is physical or mental health, we all have a few symptoms. As long as they aren’t severe, we’re okay.

Another spaghetti squash and even more beans.

Squash and beans creating a green wave.

Now a few years later, and married with children, the first two garden beds go in. Growing up I had mostly seen flower gardens, so with those in mind I planted the trellised veggies in the back, followed by a handful of bush beans, then the greens in front. There were two beds, one for each of our kids, and they looked pretty.

There were no rows, but one thing I noticed is that they were even; even numbers of vegetables that is. That was the first time I realized that although I do not have an affinity for straight rows, I also don’t like odd numbers.
Not to the extreme that it has a negative impact on my life mind you, but it does affect the appearance of the gardens.

squash plants in the garden

Letting them trickle out into in the garden paths.

So our gardens are all raised beds, with mostly even numbers of veggies. The roadside garden is almost even on each side, but for the swerve of the fence lines and the esthetic addition of trees and brambles somewhat scattered about. No one bed is solely planted with just one veggie, and that intermix appeals to me.

Although my mind does prefer evenness in numbers, my heart leans towards more of a natural flow in spaces.

And that’s what makes my garden my happy place.

Categories: confessions


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Many Things to Celebrate

bees and sunflower

Better together.

Dear Gardening Friends,

Since we began posting late in the fall of 2009, we have had many occasions to celebrate-

A graduation, weddings, beginnings at college, the birth of our grandson.

We also have had the wonderful experience to get to connect with many like minded gardeners both seasoned and new, professionals in the field, wonderful entrepreneurs who love gardening, garden writers, and all around fantastic people whom we are happy everyday to be linked to.

By answering questions and listening/reading what others say, we have learned a great deal, and our gardens show it.
That gift is also priceless.

Our friendly group Gardenaholics Anonymous is fast approaching 3000 members, and if you look to the right you will see this blog is about to break 200,000 wonderful people who took the time to stop by.

Even our personal page on Facebook stays just shy of that ominous 5000 mark and the new page past 1400.

So this post is a Big Grin Thank You! to all of you for being a part of our lives, even if our only connection is through the written word- we are still connected.

Very soon this site will reach the Quarter Million mark.
Can you believe it?
If you had suggested that might happen 4 years ago, we would have laughed so hard we probably would have gotten the hiccups.
Or worse. :-)

So as another Thank You! we are planning something (Shhh!!! It is a surprise!)
For now, we just want you to know how much y’all mean to us, and we hope we have helped you in someway because you sure have made a great difference to us!

Namaste and Happy Harvesting!

Categories: Addiction, jonesen'



An Edible Garden – The End & The Beginning


This is the final post in this series, as we come to the present.



It was in 2010 that we made the garden smile, with a simple truckload of mushroom soil. If ever we are asked to recommend one soil amendment, that would be it.

Every single part of the garden thrived and the larder was overflowing with filled canning jars. It was only recently that the last jar was opened.

2011, from memory.

2011, from memory.

Likewise the abundance continued into the following year. We were starting to see more of a problem with critters, though; attracted by all the food I guess.
This was part of the inspiration, along with the difficulties we know more urban gardeners face, that led to a design for a garden system.



The following winter was extremely mild with an early spring, and the squirrels in particular were everywhere. Mandolin Jones started referring to the garden as the ‘Squirrel Buffet‘.
Yeah, it was that bad.

As if that was not enough the weeds were also quite prolific.
This must be what it is like to live in a warmer region.

The first year.

The first year.

We were armed though. With the garden design built, we were able to protect most of what we grew.
In the roadside garden 1 of every 5 tomatoes was being bitten by squirrels, in spite of the deterrents we used.
In the new system all were safe.



In 2013 the squirrels were not as bad but the weeds were worse in the roadside garden. The entire front row was covered in a think layer of newspaper and landscaping fabric, and filled with pots of herbs.
That worked very well to keep the weeds out, and container plants are easier to take care of when they are grouped together.

More perennials were added that year, including a number of fruit trees and berry canes. We got our first serious harvest of cranberries too.

The Jones' Garden System

The Jones’ Garden System

Most of the experimentation took place closer to the house.
With the garden design, now being referred to as the Jones’ Garden System, we were able to extend our harvest by 3 weeks on each end of the season.
It sported the first ripe tomato in the area, and didn’t lose a single one to critters. The beans were also producing sooner, and continued to be harvested longer into the fall.

The vertical aspect also did quite well, and was so much fun having squash and melons growing up and out the top. It was so neat to see the fruit hanging down and growing completely free of pests.

There were hardly any weeds to pull either.

It was so much easier in fact that we are now in the process of turning the roadside garden over primarily to perennials. We will still need to protect them from critters of course, but it won’t be as much of an issue.

I’m thinkin’ we’re going to have extra time on our hands; time well spent canning.

Categories: Addiction, gardening, Keeping up with the Joneses


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