Monthly Archives: August 2011

Housekeeping – General Items

So, this isn’t really a gardening post. It is a post to let you, my readers, know a couple of things.

  • Please give feedback on both our Facebook and Twitter page as well as in the comments section of the posts. Reader interaction would be great, its reassuring and then I know someone somewhere is reading this!
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  • There is a page titled “Requests or Advice”. Here is where you can submit topic requests or ask for gardening advice. (Sorry no human advice, I’m better with plants!)

All of this is because I want to help you grow veggies!

Container Gardening for Fall Vegetables

Have you ever thought to container garden? Container gardening is useful for a couple of situations. Pests such as deer, rabbits and ground burrowing pests would be deterred by a container garden located closer to the house. Containers would also help if you have very rocky soil, which is very difficult to remedy without lots of rock picking. The house would also allow for heat retention during these ever shortening days as fall approaches.

Some vegetables that can be grown in containers are beans, beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, salad greens, onions, peppers, radishes, squash and tomatoes. That actually sounds like many of the vegetables we eat everyday. So container gardening would be beneficial for many vegetables and the containers themselves are helpful for many reasons. As stated before, they can help deter pests, they are moveable, and they help to create a great starter environment. If someone wanted to start small, they could get a pot and soil for less than $20 that would be able to produce as much if not more than that in salad greens for the fall even more cost effective method for a container would be to get a bag of growing medium from your local garden shop or big box home improvement store. When you get home, poke holes on one side, enough for drainage, and then flip it over and cut a large hole on the other. This will be where you plant your veggies! The next year you can take this bag of soil and put it wherever you want, or you can grow in it again, but the plastic may be breaking down by this point.

Containers in the fall are helpful that they will help you with putting your summer gardens to bed with a cover crop or just resting them for a growing season. I know in my garden right now, there are things that need to still mature, and so, I can’t just start my fall lettuces and other cole crops.

Containers also do well in a cold frame or cloche. The two season extender methods are great for container gardening because you can add some heat sink items like milk jugs full of water or bricks at the bottom, both of which will release heat during the colder nights.Using containers in these methods will help to give room for the heat sinks in the cold frame or cloche.

So, does this help to get you into the mood for fall gardening, and maybe the easy way in a container?

Some Requested Photos

Here is a picture of our newly, truly complete garden beds 3 & 4. They have their mixture, and the irrigation run for them. On Sunday I planted some lettuce, broccoli, and spinach for the fall. We plan on putting another bed in before the fall is here, aptly named Bed #5!

Here is a picture of our composter, made for peanuts compared to a commercially available one. If you do make one yourself, be sure to get a black barrel or make it a black barrel. We noticed an immediate difference after we spray painted the white barrel with black paint!

So what has everyone else been up to?


Gardening will Make you Happy!

And growing some of your own food will make you healthy! But really, gardening will make you happier! If you Google the terms “study gardening makes you happy”, Google will pull up a slew of articles that point to a single study conducted by Dr. Chris Lowry at Bristol University in Great Britain. He hypothesized that there was a strain of Mycobacterium vaccae would increase the happy chemicals in your brain and thus reduce stress and anxiety. The articles go into some depth on his research, and so I will not elaborate here except to say that his findings show that this bateria is good for you, and your mental health.

Not only may the Myco bacterium help you be happy, but the act of just looking at the growth and the yummies coming out of your garden will make you happier. You can lean on your raised bed and just look, drift off into space. Lean on your hoe and just start staring off into the distance, not really thinking about much.

With the dark and gloomy months coming here soon, start thinking about getting outside and maybe do a little bit of fall and winter gardening. It will help you to unwind and maybe even help with the winter blues here in the Pacific Northwest.

Do you think that working in the garden makes you happier? Why?

Product Review – Garden Gloves

So for a while, I thought that the ONLY gloves that anyone should wear outside for yard work were leather gloves. I had found the perfect pair too. They were made by Women’s Work Gloves. They were fabulous gloves. I wore them into the ground though working around the yard. And then I needed another pair. I had  hard time finding them, so hard that I actually gave up. Yes, I know I could’ve ordered them online, but… its the instant gratification thing. I think I will order another pair here shortly.

But I needed a pair of gloves, so for the meantime, I picked up a pair of nitrile coated gloves made by Atlas. I don’t think they have a website, but I have found them in local nursery shops, and Amazon has them, but the shipping is much more than the gloves. They are good gloves for the garden and other light yard work. Their benefits include being washable, they protect that manicure you just got, and they keep the little, tough to remove, speckles of dirt out of your nails. Easy clean up afterwards.

Who makes your favorite glove? Add a link!

Another Addition for the Fall Garden

Another addition to my fall garden will be kale. Yes kale. While I was getting married last week it was on the menu at my mom’s home. I hadn’t tried it before, but I gave it a whorl.

She prepared it simply, just steamed and served. She said that usually she’ll add bacon fat to the mix, but even without it was good. It had the taste of spinach, but was a thicker, heavier texture.

Will you be adding kale?

All About Asparagus

So, you’re thinking of growing asparagus? It is an easy venture to start and you will be delighted at the results. To start, you will need asparagus crowns to get asparagus stalks. You can either purchase asparagus seeds or asparagus crowns. Asparagus seed is very hard to come by. Two companies that do carry seed are Territorial Seed and Victory Seeds. Crowns are much easier to come by and they might even be at your local nursery in the springtime.

If you decide to grow from seed, you will need to start the seeds 60-90 days before the last frost in the spring. Our last frost is generally April 15 and so the time to start asparagus seeds would be January 15 to February 15. Another consideration is thinning out the females once they start to put on seed. Females put more energy into seed production than pollen production which results in smaller less flavorful stalks come harvest time. No matter whether you start from seeds or crowns, you will not be harvesting spears until the third growing season.

If you decide to start from crowns, it will be an easier venture to start from and you will not have to thin the crowns if you have chosen an all male hybrid. I made the mistake of choosing a 50/50 blend, and so I must thin the crowns. If you do not thin the crowns to an all male set, then your bed life will be shortened due to overcrowding.

You will want to add a bone meal type fertilizer to the beds after you have planted the seeds/crowns. This will provide much needed phosphorus for the crowns to start with. I have used the Dr. Earth product for many different applications and have found them to be very helpful and they have a wide range of products. Throughout the growing season (and dry season here in the PNW) be sure to give your crowns a thorough watering once a week or so, and make sure their “feet” don’t become dry. This will stunt their growth in this season and subsequent seasons, also cutting down on the life of the asparagus bed.

The first two years you will be tempted to snag a few spears, but don’t. You want your spears to grow and undergo photosynthesis so that the roots grow healthy and deep so that they may store food for overwintering. These first two years you want to allow your asparagus to grow as much as it wants, until it turns brown in the fall. At that point you will want to cut the tall stalks (they may be as tall as 4′) and lay them atop the asparagus beds to decompose. This will allow the accumulated nutrients in the stalks to be composted and reabsorbed into subsequent year’s crops.

So, are you ready to start your asparagus bed?