Keeping up with the Joneses
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'
25 January 2015, by gj
You probably have heard terms like phytonutrients and antioxidants used when people are talking about nutrition, or maybe when they are trying to sell you a food product.
It is part of the same idea of eating a rainbow, in that by choosing a variety of different colored fruits and vegetables, you will get a more diverse assortment of phytonutrients, and therefore a healthier diet.
But is there a difference in these substances when they are the same vegetable, as is the case with the white, orange and green cauliflower shown above?
Actually, there is. The chemical process that makes these heads different colors also offers different phytonutrients. This is the case for all veggies, you can read about different colored carrots here.
Now when it comes down to it, eating orange cauliflower is still, overall nutrition wise, more like eating white cauliflower than it is like eating an orange carrot.
So why bother to grow a variety of different colors of the same veggie?
Eye candy; but in a good way.
It is a well known expression in food service that people eat first with their eyes. Who wouldn’t be much more interested in a cauliflower salad or a crudites plate that had 3 or 4 different colors of cauliflower?
Whether you feed kids or picky adults, consider color when you choose what to plant. Not only will they be more likely to eat it, they will get a better assortment of those phytonutrients.
May as well bump up that nutrition while you’re at it!
Check out our Veggie Comparison Tables here for more info.
Categories: faq's, gardening
18 January 2015, by gj
By now most people know that the bee population is declining and we need to act swiftly to stop and hopefully reverse it.
But you might think there is little you can do personally to help. That’s not true, you really can make a difference.
1. Give them a home.
Build a Mason Bee House with a few simple tools. Mason bees will populate the house and help your garden at the same time.
Then build a few extra and give them to your family and friends.
2. Have their back.
Read this article on helping the bees. In it there are a number of things you can do to be a part of the solution.
3. Clean up their environment.
Find out if the plants you are buying at your local garden center contain the deadly pesticide known as neonicotinoid that you saw mentioned in the above article. To do this, simply ask the staff who their plant supplier is, then send them an email.
An equaintance of mine did this. The supplier at her center is Bonnie Plants, so she sent them an email. This was their response:
Bonnie Plants does not utilize any form of systemic neonicotinoid pesticides/insecticides (neonicotinoids class includes; acetamiprid, clothianidin, imidacloprid, nitenpyram, nithiazine, thiacloprid, dinotefuran and thiamethoxam) in the greenhouse production of transplants. Neonicotinoids are not contained in any seed nor are they utilized in any stage of the growing process. I do hope this information is helpful to you and alleviates your concern.
Thanks for writing in, and have a good day.
(Since this was a personal email, we removed the people’s names.)
And by all means, stop using products such as Round Up in your yard.
4. Feed them well.
Intersperse your veggie garden with the types of plants bees love. You can call your local cooperative extension and see what plants are best for your area.
Here in Northeast Pa. we find they are attracted to sunflowers and creeping thymus in particular. Look for plants that bloom early to get things started, and for others that have a long blooming season.
If you have any friends that are interested in nature, please pass this on and encourage them to help as well.
To win the battle we need the good guys to outnumber the bad guys. It’s important to the bees, and to our food supply.
Categories: preparedness, special posts
4 January 2015, by gj
America really is the Melting Pot, and nobody knows this better than veggie gardeners.
While many are familiar with numerous Asian veggies as well as those of Europe and our Indigenous peoples, less avail themselves of what the people of India have to offer. Of course, growing conditions are always a consideration. Still there are wonderful flavors to be had by trying some of what this culture enjoys.
Most people unfamiliar with Indian cooking think first of curry, a combination of ingredients often found in Indian dishes. One less familiar ingredient is Fenugreek, also known as mathi, which is a staple in Indian cuisine.
You can use both the leaves, which have a very mild maple taste, and the seeds. The plant has numerous health benefits, find some of those here.
What we enjoyed most was the way it combines its flavor to those in many of the dishes we have tried. Our favorite is Mathi Matter, a combination of cashew butter and peas in a cream sauce with fenugreek and spices. It may sound a bit odd, until you taste it. It is now Mandolin’s favorite way to eat peas.
To grow fenugreek, simply scatter the seeds on soil when the weather is warm. You can presoak them to speed up germination. Cover lightly with more soil, and keep watered. Before too long the sprouts will emerge, and you can begin to harvest.
It can be eaten as a sprout, or allowed to grow larger to harvest the leaves. Thin the sprouts to allow 6 ” for the plants if you are going to continue to grow them. The picture above shows both stages. As a bonus, the plant sprouts pretty little white flowers, the seeds of which are also edible as a tea or spice.
An intercultural experience in your backyard garden?
Botanical name: Trigonella foenum-graecum
Spacing: 6-8″ for larger plants
Harvest: Sprouts, leaves and seeds
Conditions: Prefers warmth, sun and a well drained soil. No additional fertilizer needed in good soil.
Height: 1-2 ft.
You Can Grow that! is a collaborative effort on the part of a number of gardeners around the world. Each month they write a post specifically to help and encourage everyone to grow something. Find more posts by clicking on the logo above.
Categories: herbs, you can grow that
3 January 2015, by gj
“I’m not going to buy from that seed company, they are owned by Monsanto.”
“Where can I buy non-GMO seeds?”
There remains much confusion surrounding this subject, so for 2015 we’re going to lay it out there. Be forewarned this is a rant, albeit a self-restrained one.
If you really want to hurt Monsanto, here’s how:
1. Stop buying their crap.
We’re not talking about a pack of Early Girl tomato seeds. The fraction of a penny they would make from that purchase is so small, nobody at the company would bend over to pick it up off the ground.
If you really want to stop giving them your money, and this is the hardest thing, stop buying:
Anything made of/with corn unless labeled Certified non-GMO. This would include products with high fructose corn syrup meaning most sodas, jellies and syrups, chips and crackers, and more. READ THE LABELS. Most corn oil, canola oil, soybean anything and more contain genetically engineered products.
Likewise, a lot of our meat supply contains genetically engineered products. Cows, that’s where beef comes from, that aren’t pasture raised are force fed corn that is often genetically engineered. In case you didn’t know, cows don’t normally eat corn, they eat grass. Watch Food, Inc.
Chickens, which do eat corn normally, along with a host of other veggies and meat, are being fed a diet comprised mainly of genetically engineered corn. Likewise their eggs are affected. Look for organically raised chicken and eggs. Forget free-range alone, that doesn’t mean crap. Look for organic.
If you are going to get soy in the form of edaname or tofu, buy brands like Nasoya that are labeled Certified non-GMO.
2. Stop saying GMO.
The is an abbreviation for Genetically Modified Organism, and it is clouding up the discussion. Know this: every living thing, unless it is cloned, is genetically modified. You are, we are. Your cat is.
It is important to know the terminology before you speak:
Genetically Modified: Any living thing that is not exactly the same as another. The wind blows pollen from my corn plants to my neighbor’s. Their corn is now genetically modified. A bee flies from my pumpkin’s male flower to my zucchini’s female flower, that zucchini’s seeds are now genetically modified. This is what is usually called a hybrid, and it is getting confused with genetically engineered. A hybrid can/does happen naturally, and even when human-made, it is a cross between two similar plants. A tomato and a tomato, corn and corn.
Genetically Engineered: On the other hand, genetic engineering is not natural. A bee cannot do it, nor can the wind. It takes a micro-engineer to cross corn with the bacteria e.coli, and a tomato with a fish.
If we stop saying GMO and genetically modified, and replace that with the correct term genetically engineered, things will be easier to understand for everyone. Really, words matter.
3. Pass the information on.
Some people think that they cannot make a difference, that one person doesn’t matter in the larger scheme. Yeah? Good thing Gandhi didn’t think that way, or Madame Curie.
Here’s your chance to affect change:
You know what the reality of these words are, and the extent that genetically engineered crops have infiltrated our food supply.
Make that change, share the knowledge.
The next time someone pops open a Coke and starts talking about food labeling, tell them the truth. When they are concerned about buying ‘GMO seeds’, show them this post.
Knowledge is power, get the word out – the only real defeat is not trying.
Categories: GMO's, you are what you eat
5 December 2014, by gj
So much of the corn being grown in the US is now genetically engineered by crossing it with e. coli, then doused heavily with pesticides.
Although you can find organic alternatives, if you have the room you can grow quite a lot of popcorn. Just 10 plants can yield anywhere from 4000-12000 kernels, in only an area about 12″ x 30″.
Choose a variety that is recommended for popping, here are a few to look at.
Grow like you would sweet corn, just don’t harvest as soon. Let the corn stay on the stalk until the plant starts to die off, or the ears begin to fall over. Leave in the husk to dry for about a week. The longer it dries the easier it is to get the kernels off, simply by pushing on them with your thumb. You can make it even simpler by twisting the cob or breaking it in half.
When the kernels are completely dry, just store in a food grade container.
How you pop it is up to you. It can be done in the microwave, but we prefer the old fashioned stove top method of popping it in just a little oil in a covered pot on med-high heat.
And just to be on the safe side, we also have a really old popcorn popper that can be used over an open flame, back from the days before Jiffy Pop and Monsanto; you know, when corn was just corn.
You Can Grow That! is a collaborative effort by gardeners around the world to encourage others to grow something. Click on the logo above to read many more such posts.
Categories: corn, you can grow that
28 November 2014, by gj
Often referred to as Tree Rats by aggravated gardeners, squirrels can do a lot of damage. They can jump 6 ft. straight up, and have been known to use sunflowers as a mode of transportation; snacks included. Fencing does little to stop these pests, unless it is an electric fence.
Squirrels enjoy taking just a few bites from a juicy tomato, and then moving on to the next one. It can be very frustrating to pick a beautiful, long anticipated fruit, only to find bite marks.
But there are a number of things you can do to help keep your veggies safe.
1. Use hot pepper.
Squirrels hate that stuff. You can use it as a spray or just buy a cheap powdered spice. It will need to be reapplied after a rain or after watering, that’s the down side.
If you have a bird feeder, lace it with hot pepper as well. The birds don’t care, but it will help keep the squirrels away.
2. Use a motion sensitive sprinkler.
This will startle the squirrels and then may just move to some other garden instead.
3. Let nature do it’s thing.
If you already have a dog, try letting it get in the area of the squirrels. Cats can be great at scaring off squirrels, just be sure they don’t damage your garden themselves. Letting your pets into the garden, unless they are trained, can also do harm.
You might consider attracting some owls to your neighborhood instead. They do a great job at rodent control in general. Supply them with a place to live, and you get the added advantage of catching glimpses of these beautiful birds.
4. Give them what they want, but on your terms.
Squirrels only take a few bites of a tomato because what they are really after is the water content. Of course they do more damage in the hottest part of the season, which is also when the tomatoes are ripening.
You can help by providing them with a water source. We use an old birdbath set on the ground. Little by little, move the water source away from your garden and you’ll be drawing their attention away as well.
Categories: gardening, pests
22 November 2014, by gj
There are a number of items you may be recycling that can save you some money when it comes to indoor growing.
You can start seeds in a lot of clean containers, such as:
1) Yogurt Cups
2) Plastic produce containers
3) Empty toilet paper rolls
4) Likewise, scaled down paper towel rolls
5) Aluminum cans, be careful cutting these
6) Tin cans from canned soup or veggies
7) Milk cartons
8) Wax cartons such as for orange juice
9) Disposable cups such as solo cups
10) Other food grade plastic containers such as tofu tubs, guacamole, and ready to eat food trays
The main thing to remember is that you need some form of drainage holes. This is easy enough to do in plastic with a scissors or sharp knife. Use caution of course.
For metal containers hammering a nail through them in a few places should do the trick.
Keep in mind you need enough room for the plants to be able to establish their root systems. We would say no less than 3 inches.
You can aid germination by covering containers with (11) recycled plastic sandwich type bags, as shown above. You can see a tiny seedling just sprouting, surrounded by water droplets. This creates a green house effect, keeping your seeds moist until they sprout.
And when that happens, there is one more way to upcycle using a sharpie marker. (12)
Don’t tell me you’ve been getting rid of free plant markers.
13.) When you transplant, you can still use some of the larger food containers, 5 gallon buckets, as well as reuse pots from plants you have purchased. Again, be sure all containers are clean and have drainage.
Categories: all about seeds, extending the season, How to Grow
16 November 2014, by gj
And so it begins
When it comes to larger financial decisions, my husband and I hold off unless we both agree. Usually, when one person doesn’t want to spend the money, the other one finds creative ways to talk him into it.
And so it was with an unheated room that would be a great place to not only start seedlings, but also to grow food through the winter.
“You would have to make it worth it,” he said, not really wanting an increase in a utility bill.
To a gardening addict, just the activity itself is worth it.
“Like how?” I asked.
“Well, if you grew tomato plants and sold them, that would be good.”
Hmmm, that was part of the plan but that would be months away yet.
“How about having fresh tomatoes and herbs all year?” I suggested, appealing to the cook in him.
“And hot peppers?” he asked.
Let the growing commence.
Here are some of the best veggies to grow indoors:
1. Carrots- small round types such as Parisienne.
2. Tomatoes- romas, Tiny Tom or patio
5. Hot peppers
7. Garlic chives
8. Meyer lemons
9. Snow peas
11. Watermelon- small types such as sugar baby
12. Fruit trees on dwarf tree stock
Note there are a number of fruiting trees that are available grafted to dwarf root tree stock, far too many to list.
Categories: container gardening, extending the season, garden projects, The Experiments
15 November 2014, by gj
Winter’s ill effects.
Not all gnomes are cold hardy, in fact some do not handle the outdoors well at all. Unfortunately they are not labeled and won’t tell you themselves. As of yet nobody has compiled a classification table for them, but we’re working on it.
So all a gardener can do for now is to use your best judgement.
Here are a few tips we’ve learned that may help:
1. If your gnome is a one of a kind or an unusual breed, and not from a family of metals, consider it to not be weather hardy unless you are told otherwise. These, the most unique of gnomes, are likely descendents from the family line of Plaster of Paris. The gentleman pictured above is a good example. These gnomes require the utmost care and should be afforded the best accommodations.
2. If your gnome originates in the orient, it may have the wherewithal to handle the harsh weather, but will likely not last more than one winter without showing the dire effects. These folk are usually happy to be hoarded into any enclosure, and left to their own devices until spring.
Happy in hiding.
3. Smaller gnomes often prefer to associate themselves with a land feature, and are unlikely to handle the weather well. This is not only true for winter, as many of these gnomes are very outdoor-sensitive. Unless you can offer them protection such as a covered porch, it is best to keep them inside all year.
4. Some gnomes can handle decades of being outdoors 24/7. It has been our experience that these types are usually from a family of Ceramics. They can be distinguished by accessories in bright acrylics, and often will have distinguishing marks in the form of initials on their bottom-most feature.
5. And finally, if your gnome is wearing anything other than a red hat, consider it suspicious. Red is the traditional color, any other implies a rebellious nature. These fellows are best placed year round in such a way that they cannot go anywhere unseen. Do not trust them too close to other gnomes, as they may try to convert them.
Are they plotting?
In summary, you can tell a lot by just looking at a gnome. Most cannot handle winter weather, and are best brought indoors. Some cannot handle wet weather at all, and others well… just don’t turn your back on them.
Naming gnomes and some gnome links.
Gnomes on Pinterest.
Categories: fairy and miniature gardens