Friday, October 8, 2010

Taking a break

I have been taking a break from this blog for a while now. It is not officially shut down, yet I can't say when or if I will be returning to actively blogging.

Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Keeping Ground Squirrels And Chipmunks Out Of The Garden

Keeping ground squirrels and chipmunks out of the yard doesn't seem like something that most people would see a need for. But when they're eating your vegetables and their burrows are uprooting some of your plants they can become an annoyance real quick.

Keeping ground squirrels and chipmunks out of the garden

1. Traps. Traps can be baited with peanut butter, oats or nuts. I would personally avoid this one if possible. Trapping them seems like a waste when there's other ways of dealing with them.

2. Plant a groundcover. Ground squirrels and chipmunks like to scout for enemies from the entrance of their burrow. A tall groundcover can block their view, making them decide to move elsewhere.

3. Hardware cloth cages. Cages can be made out of hardware cloth to protect some of your plants. This one doesn't look good and it would be hard to do in the vegetable garden, unless you want to put your garden in a giant cage.

4. Repellants. You could try repellants, but their effectiveness is always questionable. If you go with repellants be ready to try several different ones to find the one that's effective, even then it may stop working sometime in the future.

5. Predators. Domestic dogs and cats can and will chase them or kill them whenever they see a ground squirrel or chipmunk. Squirrels and chipmunks will likely find a new home real quick when they're always being hunted by a pet.

That was 5 ways of keeping ground squirrels and chipmunks out of the garden. One might work well for you by itself or it might take a couple of them together, but the squirrels and chipmunks will stay away from your garden.

If you're interested in learning about simple and effective methods of vegetable gardening then...


Brandon Wilkinson

Edible Flowers In The Vegetable Garden

Many people think the place for flowers is in the ornamental garden, but growing some edible flowers in the vegetable garden can be a good idea. Some of the good reasons to add edible flowers is they can add some color to the garden and to your food, they can act as a food source for beneficial insects which feed on pests and they can act as a trap crop drawing pest insects away from your more desirable vegetables. In this article I'm going to talk about Nasturtium, Sunflower and Borage.

Edible flowers in the vegetable garden

1. Nasturtium. Nasturtiums have a slight peppery taste similar to watercress. They are also excellent as a trap crop, drawing aphids, whiteflies and cabbage worms away from your vegetables.

2. Sunflower. Sunflowers are well known for their seeds, which are loved by both birds and people. Their is a surprising amount of varieties of sunflowers, ranging in height from one foot tall to over ten feet tall, large single blooms to many smaller blooms and colors which range from nearly white to yellow to darker colors which I don't have the words to describe (I am a guy.)

Sunflowers are also good as a trap crop, attracting aphids away from the vegetables.

3. Borage. Borage is a small flower with a taste reminiscent of a cucumber, they can be added to salads or floated in drinks. They're also a good nectar and pollen source for benefical insects which prey on pest insects.

This was only 3 edible flowers that can be grown in the vegetable garden, there's more, some of them are common in the landscape. All three of these flowers have uses beyond being used as food and would be a great addition to anyone's garden.

If you're interested in learning more about simple and effective methods of vegetable gardening then...


Brandon Wilkinson

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Keeping Deer Out Of The Garden

Keeping Deer out of the garden is no small task, they can be active at any time, they're large and they can jump a surprising height. Most of the time they will avoid coming close to a house and might just do enough damage to be a nuisance, yet other times when food might be scarce they can eat an entire garden overnight. I'm going to offer some advice on keeping them out.

Keeping deer out of the garden

1. Fences. The best fencing to use is electric, but that can be expensive and when placed too close to the garden it can be unpleasant to say the least.

Conventional fencing that's 8 feet high will almost entirely prevent any deer from going over. Adding a second inner fence of 3 feet high will help increase the effectiveness.

2. Repellants. Repellants are for minor problems and their effectiveness can vary greatly. There are commercial repellants which can be tried, find one that is organic if you're going to be using it near food plants.

A home made repellant is mix 5 quarts of water with 5 eggs and soak the plants thoroughly, it may need to be repeated after a rain.

Some people say human hair is effective. You can ask your barber for some hair and put it in mesh bags, hang the bags about 3 feet above the ground and 3 feet apart.

Fences are the best method for keeping deer out of the garden, repellants are not likely to work during times when food is scarce which is also the time that deer will do the most damage.

If you're interested in learning about simple and effective methods of vegetable gardening then...


Brandon Wilkinson

Preventing Weed Problems In The Garden

Preventing weed problems in the garden isn't the easiest task, weeds are amazingly resilient and will grow in places that most garden plants would quickly die. Yet weed problems can be prevented fairly easily and simply with some planning and effort.

Preventing weed problems in the garden

1. Don't till. This one sounds crazy, but the reason is simple. Weed seeds need to be exposed to sunlight to germinate, if they're buried in the soil they'll never germinate and start growing in your garden.

Tilling turns the dirt over exposing countless weed seeds to sunlight.

2. Use mulch. Mulch has multiple advantages, one of them is it helps stop weeds from growing.

One way mulch will stop weeds from growing is by creating a barrier. Using a mulch like cardboard, newspaper, black plastic or landscape fabric will create a nearly impenetrable barrier for any weeds to grow up through. Any one of these kinds of mulch can have a more decorative mulch put on top if you don't like the way they look.

Another way mulch stops weeds is it shades the soil. If the weed seeds are always in the shade they don't get exposed to sunlight and won't germinate.

3. Use drip irrigation. Along with conserving water, drip irrigation helps to keep weeds from growing by putting all of the water where your plants will use it, rather than all over an area where the weeds can put much of that water to use.

That is three thing that are great at preventing weed problems in the garden. Put them to use and your gardening could be nearly weed free in only a couple days.

If you're interested in learning about simple and effective methods of vegetable gardening then...


Brandon Wilkinson

Advantages Of Mulch In A Vegetable Garden

There's a number of advantages to using mulch in the vegetable garden. Yet many people don't use anything in their gardens, just leaving the bare dirt to bake in the sun. I'm going to tell you some of the reasons that make mulch such a good thing in the garden.

Advantages of mulch in a vegetable garden

1. Conserves water. To anyone who has to regularly irrigate their garden this is a big deal. Mulch shades the soil so it isn't getting heated by the sun and the water evaporating out all day long.

2. Suppresses weeds. It can do this in a couple ways.

One way is it keeps weed seeds from being exposed to sunlight, they won't germinate unless they're exposed to sunlight.

Second way is that some mulches can create a nearly impenetrable barrier for the weeds to get through. Mulches such as cardboard, newspaper, black plastic and landscape fabric work in this way.

Note: don't try to use clear plastic as a mulch, it will heat up the soil and effectively kill all of the weed seeds along with your plants.

3. Adds organic matter. Organic mulches will break down over time, adding nutrients and organic matter which will help to hold water in the soil.

That was 3 advantages of using mulch in a vegetable garden, to sum it up using mulch makes vegetable gardening easier. Whether you are an organic vegetable gardener or a traditional vegetable gardener, mulch has enough advantages to deserve a spot in your garden.

If you're interested in learning more about simple and effective methods of vegetable gardening then...


Brandon Wilkinson

The Best Time to Start a New Garden

Many people would say the best time to start a new garden is the spring. And I would agree with them for the most part, yet that doesn't mean in any way that spring is the only time. A garden can be started at nearly any time of the year, there are times when the best time will be a matter of what is going on in your life. I'm going to spend some time talking about starting a new garden in the different seasons.

The best time to start a new garden.

1. Spring. This is for the most part the best time because the weathers cool, there's often plenty of rain and you have all of summer ahead for growing frost tender plants. And you have the cool of spring to grow the cool weather plants before the summer heat comes.

2. Summer. If you start a garden in the early summer you may have enough time to plant a variety of warm weather plants that will still ripen before the fall frosts come. But your also likely to have to keep a much closer watch on when the garden needs water.

Late summer is the time that you start the cool season fall and winter crops. The plants that are grown as cool season spring crops can be grown in the fall as well.

3. Fall. Unless you're in a warm climate, fall will be a good time to get a garden planned and ready for next spring. This is also a good time to get a compost pile started if you don't already have one.

4. Winter. Again unless you're in a warm climate there isn't much to do during the winter, planning for the next spring is best.

Spring may be the best time to start a new garden, but that doesn't mean that you can't start one during the summer or get things planned and ready during the other seasons of the year.

If your interested in learning about simple and effective methods of vegetable gardening then...


Brandon Wilkinson

Is It A Good Idea To Save Seeds From Supermarket Produce?

Is it a good idea to save seeds from supermarket produce? The simple answer is, generally not. I'm going to give you an explanation of why all these free seeds aren't that good to put into your garden.

Is it a good idea to save seeds from supermarket produce

The reason is that most commercially grown produce is from hybrid plants. Hybrid crops are the first generation from a cross of two different varieties of the same species of plant.

The reason hybrids are so often grown is because of something that is termed hybrid vigor. The benefits of Hybrid vigor are put to use extensively in commercial farming, everything from hybrid corn to hybrid chickens are grown.

Hybrid vigor causes crops to grow quickly, provides disease resistance and increases yield.

This makes hybrids sound great, why would I recommend not saving seed from these plants that grow so well? Because hybrid vigor is lost in the second generation, meaning the quick growth, increased disease resistance and higher yield are going to disappear in the plants that grow from the seeds of those hybrids. And it's hard to know what's going to show up from those seeds, the parent plants of hybrids may have been grown as two distinct varieties for hundreds of years, crossing such different varieties is a project for plant breeders not home gardeners.

That's the reasoning for it being a bad idea to save seeds from supermarket produce. They may be free but they can bring a number of problems that are easily avoided by just spending some money on seeds.

If you're interested in learning about simple and effective methods of vegetable gardening then...


Brandon Wilkinson

Want to Grow a Vegetable Garden?

So you've decided you want to grow a vegetable garden, that's great. It can be fun to grow your own food, you get it fresh, you can try varieties that you won't find in a store or you can even try vegetables that aren't sold in stores. Yet there is a couple things to consider before starting your garden.
So you want to grow a vegetable garden.

1. Size. The first thing to consider when thinking about your garden is how big you're going to make it. If this is your first garden you may want to go on the small side.

The reason for starting out a little small is that a garden is often built in the spring, many people are happy to get out of the house and work in the yard during this time of year, they're not so happy about tending to a garden that may be a little too big during the summer months. And if the garden is a little small any season of the year it can always be made bigger for the next season, especially when it was built in spring and you want to expand it during the summer for a bigger fall garden.

2. Location. Gardens are big and often in the ground, with the exception of a container garden, you can't just move the entire garden from one season to the next. Taking some time to pick the right spot is a very good idea.

The first thing to consider about the location of your garden is how much sun it will get. Vegetables like to have full sun, they can take a little shade but too much and they won't do well at all.

The second thing to consider is convenience. If it feels like a long walk to the garden then it might get neglected during the hot summer months or you might not feel like walking all the way out there to grab some fresh food to eat.

That was two things to consider when you decide you want to grow a vegetable garden. Keep them in mind when your planning the garden and things should end up being much more fun.

If you're interested in learning more about simple and effective methods of vegetable gardening then...


Brandon Wilkinson

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Easiest Vegetable Garden Beds

The easiest vegetable garden beds are different types of no-dig beds, which can surpass the more traditional tilled beds in productivity. While some people may try to say there is a specific formula that needs to be followed when building no-dig beds their really isn't. I'm going to give you 4 quick ways to build no-dig garden beds, going from the one I like the least to my favorite.

The easiest vegetable garden beds

1. Lay cardboard or about 10 sheets of newspaper on the ground, throw some mulch on top and cut holes in the cardboard or newspaper to set transplants through. This one will give you a weed free garden, but it makes no attempt to improve the soil so your yield isn't likely to be very good.

2. Plant directly into bags of topsoil. This ones simple, just buy some bags of topsoil, cut some holes into the side of the bag that's going to be laying on the ground, cut some holes in the top and put your transplants in. At the end of the year you can throw the bags away and leave the soil in place for next year.

With this one the soil is good and loose, which is good for the plants but your going to have to add some compost or other fertilizer to really get good growth.

3. Make a frame and fill it with compost or topsoil. Filling it with compost is better than topsoil, yet either way will make a bed with good loose soil. My only issue with this one is that much compost is going to be expensive.

4. Build a frame, lay cardboard or newspaper about 10 sheets thick on the ground, add 2-3 inches of hay, some good organic fertilizer such as blood meal, bone meal and manure, 2-3 inches of straw and then 2-3 inches of compost. I like this one because it's inexpensive and makes a nutrient rich bed.

This was 4 of the easiest vegetable garden beds that you'll ever find, all with no digging required. Number 4 is my preference, but it's just one of many ways. Now go out there and have some fun growing some food.

If you're interested in learning more about simple and effective methods of vegetable gardening then...


Brandon Wilkinson