Saturday, November 1, 2014

Winter Break

It's at this time every year that things start winding down in the garden. It's been a great year.

This was the first year that I have been able to sell produce. I hope to expand that next year to be able to offer more fresh, locally grown, organic produce to my friends and neighbors. I'm also adding more flower beds to the garden this year in hopes of offering cut flower bouquets in next year's boxes.

Since the garden is going to bed for the season, so is the blog. I have found that it's best to rest during the quiet season rather than struggle to try to find reasons to write. I will, however, still be active on social media. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook for glimpses of daily life. I will be back after the holiday season to share all about my 2015 garden, which promises to be the biggest and best garden yet!

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Friday, October 17, 2014

How to Use Cover Crops in the Home Garden

Online research offers a lot of information on cover crops for large agricultural practices, but what's a gardener to do when they want to use cover crops in the backyard garden?

How to Use Cover Crops in the Home Garden outlines the benefits of cover crops, the easiest crops for warm and cool seasons, and how to use them. Experience the benefit of using cover crops in the garden with this simple guide.

Visit my book page to download for kindle and find out how easy it is to use cover crops. 

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October Garden Plan

Click for a larger version
While it may not look like it, the garden is actually getting pretty close to being put to bed for winter. I have 5 beds planted with cold weather crops (kale, turnips, arugula, mustard, perennial chard and lettuce). Several beds are planted with perennials, so I don't have to do anything with those beds. Strawberries, onions and asparagus are cold-hardy. All the empty beds have been planted with Austrian winter peas as a winter cover crop. This will prevent winter weeds, loosen the soil and add nitrogen. Having winter cover crops makes my job so much easier when it's time to plant spring crops. Once it's removed, I will have loose, rich soil ready for planting.

See the rest of the plan, and my entire crop list on my page.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

How to Get Rid of Bermuda Grass... Permanently

With so many gardening topics, many of which are too detailed for a blog post, I have decided to branch out to eBooks. While I have loved having my articles in publications like Do South Magazine, Citiscapes and Edible Ozarkansas, none of those outlets really allow me to get into the details of growing food.

Why Write an eBook?

My reluctance to enter the world of garden books is that it seems like nearly every topic is saturated. However, one of my frustrations, and perhaps one of yours too, is that garden books tend to make the process of growing food complicated. I love reading books about growing food written by scientists. I like understanding how the soil environment works to make nutrients bioavailable. I enjoy that, but does the average gardener who just wants a few fresh tomatoes really need or want to know about mycorrhizae? I doubt it.

I like to share information in the same way that my grandpa shares info; with just enough information that you know how to do it and why it works. Gardening should be accessible for everyone, not just those with a biology degree and not just those with $1000 to invest in fancy raised-beds, but truly everyone.

With the task of making gardening easy-to-understand and accessible to all, I am branching out into eBooks. I released my first eBook "How to Get Rid of Bermuda Grass.... Permanently!" last week with great results. In this book I share why conventional methods don't work, why Bermuda is so darn difficult to get rid of and, most importantly, two methods of removal that do work. With 4,000 square feet of garden space, I do not have time to battle Bermuda grass. This is why I have developed these methods that continue to work years after they were first done. If I can do it, anyone can.

Are You Tired of Battling Invasive Grasses?

If you are tired of battling invasive grasses, consider purchasing my book. It contains valuable information on getting rid of, and keeping out, Bermuda grass. If you read it, please leave me a review. I'd love to know what you think! Feedback will help me improve my future books.

What gardening topic do you want to know more about?

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Saving Seeds

Seed saving is obviously frugal, since you're getting for free something you would otherwise buy. If you buy the cheap brands at the drug store or Wal-Mart you spend .50-$1 for low quality, mass produced seeds. If you go through a seed magazine, buy organic, or purchase locally you will spend 3 or 4 times more. That reason alone is enough to save seeds. This is, however, not what I consider the greatest benefit of saving your own seeds.

At the end of the year, when your crops produce seed for next year it saves the adjustments that it has made for your specific soil, your climate, and the diseases prone to your area. It's like a tiny little hard drive right there in your flowering plant.

Here's my dried up flower from my basil...


And I plucked off each tiny flower...


I opened each one up and, lo and behold, a tiny black seed!


Dill is even easier to remove seeds, but a lot of people just let the seeds fall. Dill requires absolutely nothing to come back next year. See how the seeds are right at the end of each tiny branch? The flowers wilt away, but the seeds remain to be carried by a stiff wind or tossed around by a passing critter.


I put my cutting in a plastic bag and shook each one to get a good collection of seeds for next year.


In saving my seeds, I was absolutely amazed as thought about the full circle of planting, from seed to seed and the absolute perfection of the process. I was reminded of these verses...

"If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.  "

Matthew 6:30-33 (The Message)

Are you a seed saver?

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Garden Insects: Good vs. Bad

Do you ever look at a bug and wonder, "Is this good or bad?" I have started a pinterest board to help identify those insects, what they are good for or what problems they cause. I have several links with insects from egg to adult and each is labeled "pest" or "beneficial". I plan on adding to it for as long as I find new insects.

Follow my insect board here

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

How to Make Kombucha

After buying kombucha at the natural food store (at $3.50 each!) it was an economical decision to start making it myself. It's much easier than you might think. In fact, if you can make sweet tea, you can make kombucha.

Since I was given a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), I didn't have to make one myself, but there are simple instructions at Food Renegade. You can even buy SCOBYs on eBay.

Ok, now that that's taken care of, prepare to be underwhelmed by the complexity of basic kombucha making.

Basic Kombucha Recipe

1/2 gallon filtered water, divided
5 small bags of tea (black, green or white. I like white the best)
1/2 cup of organic cane sugar
SCOBY stored in 1/4 cup fermented kombucha
1 half-gallon glass jar

  1. Bring 1 quart of water to a boil and add tea bags. 
  2. Boil for 7 minutes. 
  3. Remove tea bags and stir in sugar until dissolved.  Allow to cool to room temperature.
  4. To a half-gallon jar, add the brewed sweet tea, SCOBY and kombucha.
  5. Fill the rest of the jar with filtered water.
  6. Cover the jar with cheesecloth or a  paper towel and secure with a rubber band.
  7. Place the jar in a dark place (the inside of a kitchen cabinet works perfectly) and wait let ferment. I let mine sit for 9 days, but start tasting after 7 days to make sure you have fermented it to your taste. The longer it ferments, the more sour it gets.
  8. Remove the SCOBY, pour the kombucha into individual jars or cover and refrigerate.  
  9. Store the SCOBY in a dark place, in a jar with a lid, with 1/4 cup of kombucha.

Let me warn you, don't drink the whole thing in a day! Kombucha is one of those things you need to build up to. It has live bacteria which will work in your gut to battle bad bacteria and help digest your food more efficiently. The influx of too much good bacteria at once will lead to stomach upset, and no one wants that. Start with a few ounces a day and work up from there.

Have you ever tried kombucha?
Have you ever made kombucha? Share your favorite recipe!

**note: I don't have any affiliation with this site, and they do sell retail products but I've found some wonderful information and recipes at KombuchaKamp

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