gardening people, places & things
3 July 2014, by gj
Early light harvest of greens while zucchini heads up vertically.
Since you are reading this you are probably already a gardener, congrats!
Perhaps you have a lot of space that you would like to optimize, or maybe you just want to get more from a smaller area.
There are gardening techniques that have been around for thousands of years that can help you do just that.
25 corn plants with bush and pole beans
Intensive gardening is a technique that incolves planting veggies close together, even in the shade of one another, to get more from the space. Of course you will need to be diligent so as to not have disease issues, and to be sure all plants have the water and nutrients they need.
Succession planting allows you to replenish then refill up spaces as they open.
So you have pulled those early planted carrots, how much time do you have for another crop?
Growing vertically, from the typical peas and beans to the more unusual squash and melons adds even more bounty in the same space.
Keeping plants warm in early spring.
When you utilize season extenders like those pictured above, you can increase the quantity you harvest by as much as 50% here in the zone 5/6 area. The actual amount depends on your climate.
That’s a lot.
These pics are of the test model of a garden system we designed primarily for those in suburban areas, but with everyone in mind.
After 3 years of testing we found we can pretty much double our harvest by using the techniques mentioned above, as well as the built in critter protection.
10 tomato plants with basil below.
Now we don’t want to be a commercial on our blog.
If you would like to learn more, click here.
In the meantime, know that however much space you have, there are fun and really easy ways to make the most of that.
More veggies? Yeah…
You Can Grow That! is a collaborative effort by gardeners around the world who want to help everyone enjoy growing.
For more posts on other gardening topics, just click on the logo above.
Categories: gardening, techniques, you can grow that
15 June 2014, by gj
Social media has afforded us the wonderful opportunity to e-meet other gardeners and talented individuals; some of whose paths we otherwise might have never crossed.
We do so enjoy introducing them to you in our Sundays in the Garden series.
So without further eloquence, please meet one of our equaintances, Christina Kamp~
Hi, Gardening Jones and friends.
Here in Oklahoma we run a family childcare home, Little Sprouts Learning Garden. We have kids ages 1-11, and know that what kids eat is incredibly important to their growth and development.
We also feel that what is in our food supply is alarming, so for the past three years have taught the kids to grow chemical free food for themselves.
They are learning skills they can use for a lifetime.
In addition to the other activities we do at Little Sprouts, the garden teaches the kids social interaction, math, reading, and endless science lessons, so it’s a big part of what we do each day.
It also helps keep the kids active in a world where video games, computers, and television are king.
The benefits of gardening carry over into every area of learning, so it’s an amazing activity to do with kids.
Children are 80% more likely to try a food they helped grow, and that’s helping these Little Sprouts learn to like a whole lot more things than they did before we started the garden.
The kids also learn to cook, which encourages them to try new things.
The changes in them, and me, are amazing!
Childhood obesity and diet related illnesses are increasing in epic proportions. We need to do something now to change the future, especially here in the United States. The art of gardening, until recently has been dying slowly over time. It’s a skill that we can’t lose. We need it.
Look what we grew!
Our journey toward better food has been fun. I would LOVE to help other childcare providers, teachers, and others who work with kids to start gardens.
We have a book about our trials, failures and successes that hopefully will be published soon, that would help get the information people need to do that.
There is also information about it on a new blog called Little Sprouts Learning.
You can find us on Facebook for updates.
We would love for you to join us in our journey!
Categories: gardening people, places & things, sundays in the garden
3 June 2014, by gj
Perfect little harvest.
Newer to many home gardens than its brassica relatives, broccoli raab is gaining favor rapidly.
And for good reason.
Like cauliflower, cabbage and of course broccoli, you can start the seeds indoors to be ready to transplant about a month before the last spring frosts.
Similarly, it prefers cool weather and is perfect for that spot in the garden that gets a wee bit more shade than the rest.
See the numerous side shoots?
It has a few advantages over the others, especially broccoli which has always been difficult for us to time just right.
Actually, that is one of the pros of broccoli raab; the timing doesn’t matter much.
You see, you can eat the mini heads even if they have started to flower. Just harvest the heads as they begin to mature.
Or, you can pick the entire plant when the heads first appear, and enjoy stem, leaves, shoots and all.
Small heads beginning to flower.
It is also a heck of a lot faster from seed to table.
We planted our transplants out at the end of April, and they were ready to harvest in just 4 weeks.
Seriously, the other transplants were just coming out of transplant shock.
We found the flavor to be much milder than broccoli, so it is a good intro veggie for young ones and those who do not favor broccoli.
Whether you have had issues growing broccoli, have a short season, a small garden or are in a hurry to get some good eating, give broccoli raab a try.
You Can Grow That! is a collaborative effort on the part of garden writers around the world, to simply help others learn to grow. For more fun reads, click on the logo above.
Botanical name: Brassica rapa
Common names: broccoli raab, rabe, broccoletti
Hardiness: Prefers the cool. Transplant out early or direct seed well into spring and again in the fall. May over winter in some areas.
Days to maturity: From transplants 4 weeks, direct seed 6 weeks.
Height: About 24″
Seed source: Open pollinated.
Use: Culinary. Use the leaves, stems and heads as you would beet or turnip tops; raw in salads or cooked.
Categories: broccoli raab, you can grow that
31 May 2014, by gj
Photo by Sally Getz of part of her garden.
There are times when no sooner does a seed get planted than the battle with critters begins.
My Facebook friend Sally Getz of Colorado had been facing an annual mass seed theft in her garden until she came up with the fabulous idea.
She purchased cheap clear plastic cups from a dollar store.
After planting and watering her seeds, she dug in a cup over each one, bringing more soil around the cup to hold it in place and not let the winds blow it over.
She kept them watered as needed.
Not only did the cups protect the seeds, they acted as mini-cloches to keep the seeds warm and moist.
Of course this helped them sprout sooner.
Sally is one really determined gardener, she did this for over 800 seeds.
No replanting this year and we hope it will be her best garden ever
You grow girl!
Categories: gardening people, places & things, techniques
4 May 2014, by gj
Aww, isn’t it a cute little thing?
There are numerous varieties of basil, including Lime and Lemon, Thai, Cinnamon, Italian Large Leaf and even Bazel Warv.
Admittedly, you can’t actually grow that last one.
But when we came across this Basil Bonsai, it looked almost like a plant from science fiction.
It is an ornamental and edible grafted plant that has the trunk of a bonsai tree and the top portion of a fine leaf basil.
This combination allows you to have fresh basil all year round, no matter what your climate.
And, well, it is cool to look at.
Great taste awaits.
Plant grafting can afford the gardener some great opportunities.
Our gardens sport a number of grafted fruit trees for example. One pear tree produces three different types of fruit in a much smaller area than three trees would.
For trees that need more than one variety for pollination reasons, these 3 in One or All in One fit the bill.
But back to the basil.
Be careful when transplanting.
Like any plant that is grafted, be sure the area where the plants meet remains above the soil line.
Otherwise the plant will grow new roots and go back to its original state.
It is easy to see where the graft is in the picture below.
Where green basil stem meets brown bonsai trunk.
So far our bonsai is only a few weeks old, and standing a little over 5 inches high. They can get to about 12″ or so tall.
The directions suggested it be harvested lightly and from below, eventually creating a dome shape on top.
We’re adding this post to the category The Experiments, and will keep you posted.
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!
Categories: The Experiments, you can grow that
4 April 2014, by gj
It was about 3 years ago that I brought home a curry plant from the local nursery.
My husband giggled “You can’t grow curry.” he said, “Curry is a combination of herbs and spices.”
Of course it turned out he was right; after all, food is his field. Apparently what I had purchased was a delightfully smelling ornamental plant. Drat.
But telling me “You can’t” do anything only makes it a challenge, and I finally figured out that you really can grow curry.
Well, close enough.
It started out with me trying to grow as many of our own herbs and flavorings as possible.
Some, like mints, are simple. Others, like garlic, take a little more work. Still others, like ginger, take more know-how and time.
As the seasons came and went, there was less and less from the store on our herb shelves and more from the garden.
Still that curry thing bothered me.
Until recently that is, when I actually read the list of ingredients from the back of the bottle, given in order of amount:
Coriander- A No brainer. How often do gardeners complain their cilantro has bolted? Yep, those little seeds are coriander. We got this one!
Turmeric- Okay, it is getting a little harder. Turmeric is a root that takes almost as long to grow as ginger, specifically about 8 months. It is a perennial in zones 9-11, but like ginger it can be grown indoors in colder zones like we have. You can sometimes find it fresh at Asian or India food supply stores and in some markets. I couldn’t find it locally, but was able to order some from Amazon.com. The price wasn’t too bad, and you can replant some of what you harvest so it is a one time purchase.
Mustard- It doesn’t say on the bottle of store bought curry, but most often it is the mustard seed that is used as a spice. All we need to do is let it bolt and harvest the seed. Now we’re talking!!
Cumin- This relative of parsley is a new herb for our garden this year. It is often confused with the biennial caraway, but cumin is actually an annual plant. It can be planted as soon as the ground can be worked, so here it will be going in the ground this weekend. What you harvest are also the seed heads. We will be posting more on all of these as the season progresses, hopefully with lots of pictures!
Fenugreek- Another new one for us. This should be a fun season! Also easy to grow, prep your seeds first by soaking (we recommend Moo Poo Tea, link above right) or scarify. Soaking is much easier. Fenugreek will be great because both the leaves and seeds are edible.
Paprika- Another easy one. Paprika is simply a dried and powdered pepper from the group Capsicum annuum. These can range from sweet to rather hot. I’ll let him decide which ones he want to use, as we are growing quite a variety of peppers this year.
Cayenne- This seemed a little redundant to me, but I guess they are looking for a cayenne specifically. Yeah, we have that covered as well.
Cardamon- This very expensive herb actually can be grown at home. I have read that you can plant the brown type found in the grocery store, but I don’t know if that is true. Instead I found seeds online; after all, I’ve gone this far I can almost taste victory! It looks like another plant that may need some special attention, but that’s okay by me.
Nutmeg, Cinnamon, and Cloves- What? No! All 3 of these, the least of the ingredients, are derived from trees; and ones that I highly doubt grow in our area. When I looked up a substitute for nutmeg, it said cinnamon. When I did a search on a substitute for cinnamon, I found cloves.
It began to look like I really couldn’t grow curry after all.
Until my husband read this post on varieties of basil.
“There’s a Cinnamon Basil?” he asked. “You should grow that!”
“Why would you want cinnamon basil? I responded, “That sounds like an odd combination to me.”
“No, they are great together. When I use curry powder, I always add some basil. I love the way they taste together.”
So there you have it my friends, never say “You can’t grow that” to a gardener.
Unless, of course, you want them to prove you wrong.
We will post updates on the plants throughout the season. When we make the curry powder, we will add that recipe to our recently revived foodie blog page here.
Of course, we will also add some recipes that feature curry.
We’re betting this will taste much better than the store bought stuff.
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, preparedness, saving money & time, you can grow that
9 March 2014, by gj
Saving the world one step at a time.
Many of you have heard us mention our youngest daughter, but we never explained why we chose her nickname.
When she was little, she used to pretend our backyard was a continent filled with many countries. When disputes would break out between them, she would negotiate peace. Of course each country had its own language which she made up, and it helped that she could speak them all.
As she grew she always took the best road. She found out which companies had good trade practices, and would purchase from them and not from others. She would buy from the shoe company that gave another pair to the needy. She even planted a garden for the sole purpose of giving the food away.
Flash forward to her freshman year in college, when she is invited to present her work on Conflict Resolution Between Countries at a conference, rubbing elbows with people who at the very least are in a master’s program, many of whom have their doctorate. And it goes on from there.
I could sit here and brag about her GPA, or how many languages she speaks and how many majors she has, but I won’t.
Instead I would like to show you something she sent to family and friends as her birthday approaches:
“For those of you who would have bought me a drink on my 21st, I would *really* appreciate, in lieu of alcohol, a donation to help send young girls in India to get an education.
The Child Brides: Send Them to School instead
Her concern for these young girls far outweighs any thought for herself. It truly is just that simple.
And that my friends, is how she got her name.
Categories: gardening people, places & things, sundays in the garden
23 February 2014, by gj
Shawn isn’t finished with college quite yet, but already he owns his own garden products business and has invented something we thought many of you might find interesting.
Along with his business partner Michelle Mendez, Shawn designed a way to make planters from cork. These lightweight pots are better than plastic because they allow air to get to the soil, and better than traditional clay since cork has natural antibacterial properties.
A local news station featured them, take a look at the video here on Besta Cork.
You can see just how the pots are made by hand, it is really neat.
The planters are also good for the cork trees, as removing their bark is akin to shearing sheep.
If you are looking for a unique gift, Corkit pots can also be purchased with a Sprout pencil. Plant the eraser end, and it degrades releasing seeds. How fun is that!
Note: No compensation was received for writing this post, we just thought we would share something pretty cool.
Categories: gardening people, places & things, sundays in the garden
4 February 2014, by gj
You Can Grow That! is a wonderful group of garden writers led by C. L. Fornari whose mission is to take a few minutes each month to encourage others to garden.
Occasionally C. L. will have an optional topic suggestion, and I’m sure when she posted this one her intention was to have others actually insert the name of the town they live in.
But that’s where the snag came in. You see, we don’t live in a town, not even close.
We live in an Unincorporated Community of somewhere around 5000 people.
Small ‘town’ living doesn’t get much smaller than that.
We put in a roadside garden.
We have a grocery store, 2 churches and a post office. We even have a dollar store.
We have no sidewalks or street lights. We don’t even have a traffic light.
You could probably fit all the stop signs in the back of your truck.
Of course, the police would make you put them back.
The bank is in the same building as the farm & garden; you get the idea.
One neighbor grew a fence.
So how could we put up a post on this topic?
Then the idea struck… let’s turn this over to you.
Go ahead, insert the name of the town you live in.
How could you make where you live more beautiful?
Perhaps you can get other gardeners to Plant a Row for the Hungry, or start a community garden.
How about starting an annual Seed Swap Day or Plant Exchange.
Maybe form a Garden Club that will spruce up some of the local community areas.
(We don’t have those either.)
And another decorated theirs.
What do you say?
Where are you from, how’s the weather, & what are your thoughts on the subject?
We would love to hear what you think!
Click on the link to read more You Can Grow That! posts.
Categories: gardening people, places & things, you can grow that
4 January 2014, by gj
Easy to grow, nutritious and delicious.
If you have seen Forks Over Knives then you know of the overwhelming amount of evidence that shows consuming 20% or less of your protein intake from animal products can stop and even reverse health issues, as well as promote weight loss.
They’re not talking mild issues either, but rather heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and even some cancers.
Okay, I know, I know… Bacon.
That’s what we thought, too. But it has been almost 2 years now since we decided to limit meat to once per week, and almost 1 1/4 years since we decided we really didn’t want it at all anymore.
Perhaps being a cook and a gardener, making the change was a tad easier.
Still there are many books out there, including a few by the cast members of the documentary, that will help making that switch to be easier and very delicious.
Once you see how much better you look and feel, well- even Bacon just does not hold up.
So what foods can you grow to keep this a tasty and healthy lifestyle change?
Pert near anything, actually.
Most veggies have a good amount of protein in them.
The highest numbers are found in beans, peas and legumes; especially in dried beans.
Think you’ll miss the bacon in your homegrown baked beans?
Probably not, but in the beginning try adding a smoked salt, Liquid Smoke, or Truffle oil to get that smoked flavor.
You won’t want to ever go back.
Soy is a member of the legume family, and often processed soy is substituted for meat. If you buy it, look for Non-GMO labels.
You can grow your own soybeans and enjoy them roasted in the form of edamame.
Nut trees will also provide a delightful abundance of vegetable protein. Check to see what is hardy in your area.
Quinoa (pron Keen-wa) has the most complex proteins of any veggie, similar to meat.
It is a relative of spinach, which is also high in protein when it is cooked down. You can grow it and harvest the seed, if you live in a cooler climate and have the room.
If you have the space and love a new seed to try out, go for it!
Really, even though getting enough protein is what concerns most people new to limiting their intake of meat, it probably will never be an issue.
Think about it… if we couldn’t get enough easily from plants, wouldn’t all animals be meat eaters?
The only way Mandolin will eat beets.
If you have thought of limiting your meat intake, or even becoming vegetarian or vegan, this is what we would suggest:
1. Never say never.
Start off easy, and give yourself one day each week to eat whatever meat you want. After a while, you may just lose interest. Even if you don’t, you are still better off.
2. Be creative.
Eating is one of the few basic human needs we enjoy in public. Have fun with your dishes. Experiment. Share.
3. Grow what you can.
You know it will taste better if it is homegrown.
4. Don’t be defensive.
We did find that some people react strongly when you tell them you are giving up or even limiting meat in your diet. Don’t let them get to you.
The simplest answer when they ask “Why?” is
“For my health.”
For some reason, that does not bother them and after all, it really is the truth.
You Can Grow That! is a collaborative effort by gardeners around the world to help others learn to grow.
Click on the link above for more.
Categories: you are what you eat, you can grow that