organic gardening

I was down at the allotment for 9am this morning and it felt good to get an early start on all the clearing up. I got so much done below is a list for anyone who is interested.

- weeded four beds next to my greenhouse

- moved two small compost heaps into my new long bed

- layered and topped up my compost bins, adding shredded paper, grass cuttings and all the old cuttings and remnants of the plants I grew this year

- started some nettle fertiliser

- collected my first batch of leaves that will break down to leaf mould

- added the left over chicken pellets to one of my raised beds and dig it in

- added torn egg boxes and newspaper to my extra long bed and topped it up with well rotted manure all ready for next spring

- added a layer of newspaper to all other raised beds ready for a layer of manure (when I get the next batch)


All in all another productive day down at the allotment 😀

1週間留守にして帰ってきたらまだ緑だったトマトが真っ赤になっててびっくり 笑

立派に育ってくれてありがとう。涙

さてどのようにしてたべようか。シンプルに塩かな。もしくはカプレーゼで。


It was still small and green when I left home for one week vacation but became this big juicy looking bright red tomato when I got back! Made me smile when I saw it. Now the question is how should I eat it? Simply with salt or capprese salad? Hmm…

A Vegetable Growing Cheat Sheet

This brilliant info-graphic gives some great tips to start growing vegetables. You might want to check about the months for planting listed for your zone, but the rest of the tips are relevant no matter where you live!

10 Things this Vegetable Growing Cheat Sheet will show you

  1. When to plant
  2. How far apart to plant seeds
  3. What needs propagating
  4. What needs to be in a greenhouse
  5. What size pot to plant in
  6. Distance to thin seedlings out to
  7. Germination & maturation times
  8. Which pests to look out for
  9. What veg works best together
  10. When to harvest!

Growing your own food instills a true sense of the value of food, and it’s not difficult. Large yards with plenty of sun can grow enough vegetables and herbs to significantly supplement your household needs, and even small homes and apartments can have herb pots.

​A Vegetable Growing Cheat Sheet:

A French potager garden with butterflies visiting the broccoli. A “Provence in Ojai” garden. #landscapedesign by ‪#paulhendershotdesign paulhendershotdesign.com

youtube

How to get your chickens and quail to garden for you and get rid of pests and weeds. This is particularly useful when making a new vegetable and flower garden in grass, where there are wire worms, slugs and all kinds of beasties ready to eat your delicious plants! All the very best and enjoy seeing me being savaged by an impatient but lovable quail, Sue

Top 10 Companion Plants

10. Three Sisters (Corn Squash and Beans)

Native American agricultural tribes have been using this combination of corn, squash and beans for centuries because it works. A fish would be buried under a small mound for fertilizer and corn would be planted on top of the mound. Squash would cover the ground beneath the corn while the beans climbed up the corn and added nitrogen to the soil. Multiple mounds could be integrated into an edible landscape. Though this is only one combination of plants that work well together, it is simple, proven to work, and a great basis for understanding permaculture gardening strategies.

9. Yarrow

Yarrow is a beautiful wildflower that both repels insect pests and attracts beneficial insects to the garden such as predatory wasps, ladybugs, butterflies and bees. Yarrow is known for its beautiful, intricate leaves and bright flowers and can be effectively used to combat soil erosion. Besides benefitting the garden, this herb can be used as an anti-inflammatory agent, a tonic, astringent, or can be used in a variety of other medical uses. Flowers can be used to make bitters and has been historically used to flavor beer. Due to its hardy nature, yarrow thrives just about anywhere in the garden and comes in a variety of colors, making it excellent for aesthetic and practical purposes in any garden.

8. Stinging Nettles

Possibly the most unpleasant plant on this list, the stinging nettle is considered a weed by most. Chemical secretions within this plant cause it to burn when handled, so exhibit caution. Despite its drawbacks, stinging nettles are used in a variety of medicines and remedies including gastrointestinal aid, BPH, increasing testosterone in bodybuilding, or as a treatment for rheumatism. The leaves are eaten by many types of caterpillars and will increase the amount of beneficial insects in the garden. Stinging nettles are a natural repellent to aphids and the roots contain anti-fungal properties. Nettle leaves can be cooked as a healthy green or dried and used in herbal teas (soaking in water and cooking eliminate the sting). This weed is extremely beneficial, though care must be taken around the stinging leaves.

7. Wormwood

A strong, but pleasant smelling plant, wormwood is most famously used in absinthe, though can also be used to brew beer, wine, and in making bitters. This hardy bush contains chemicals that are the base of all standard malaria medications, but with wormwood no medication is necessary. It is a natural mosquito repellent, as well as a deterrent for moths, slugs, fleas, flies, and mice. Scattering wormwood around the perimeter of a garden acts as a natural fence to ward off unwanted visitors.

6. Marjoram/Oregano

These perennial herbs are a great addition to nearly any garden. They are unobtrusive to other plants and will increase yields of beans, asparagus, chives, eggplants, pumpkin, squash or cucumbers amongst many others. As long as the light is not being blocked and there is plenty of room for root growth, most plants will thrive alongside both marjoram and oregano. An aromatic mixture of herbs such as mint, spearmint, oregano, lavender or lemon balm can fill any empty spaces in the garden, stifling weed growth.

5. Mint

Everyone needs an herb garden. Besides repelling moths, ants and mice, mint is a great addition to many drinks, desserts, or as a garnish. Keep mint with other similar herbs and they will quickly fill out the space. Cabbage and tomatoes reportedly increase yields in the presence of mint, but proceed with caution. Despite all of its benefits, left on its own mint will take over a garden. It grows back with a vengeance after being cut. That being said, there will be no reason to ever buy mint at a grocery store again.

4. Beans (Legumes)

Everyone loves beans, and for good reason. Part of the legume family, they don’t need much space, they’re healthy, and they will revitalize your garden soil. Unlike many plants that use up valuable nitrogen from the earth, beans actually put it back through special enzymes in their roots. Known as nitrogen fixing, legumes take atmospheric nitrogen (N2) and convert it to Ammonium (NH4) in the soil, making this macronutrient available to future and current plants in the vicinity. Aside from plants in the onion family, beans will thrive alongside most crops. For best results, plant legumes before, after, and amongst heavy feeders like tomatoes, squash or broccoli.

3. Chives

Great in soup and even better in the garden, chives are a hardy, low growing part of the onion family. Besides inhibiting mildew growth and repelling many harmful insects, the bright purple flowers are known to attract bees, which are needed to pollinate squash, tomatoes, cherries, or a plethora of other flowering plants. Chives are best grown under most types of trees, bushes and vines but should not be present alongside beans. Harvesting can be done throughout the season as this plant will constantly regrow its leaves. Chives and other members of the onion family are excellent additions to any garden.

2. Garlic

Besides flavor, garlic has a multitude of benefits for many plants. Because this bulb thrives in shaded, nutrient rich soil, cover plants are recommended. Garlic has been known to deter ants, mosquitoes, aphids, cabbage butterflies, caterpillars, snails, tomato worms, weevils and vampires (can never be too careful). Despite all the apparent benefits, avoid planting garlic with any type of beans, cabbages, or sunflowers since they will compete with one another for valuable nutrients. Next time you have an extra clove of garlic, plant it under a fruit tree, amongst cucumbers, or interspersed with lavender. It will grow with minimal effort. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and garlic certainly is that friend.

1. Tomatoes and Basil

Probably the most well known example of companion plants. Besides improving each others flavor, tomatoes and basil really do work together. The tomato vines provide shade for the delicate basil, which delays flowering, lengthens the harvesting season, and overall increases the yield. Meanwhile, basil is a natural repellent for fruit flies, house flies, and aphids who want nothing more than to lay eggs in a plump, delicious tomato. Tomato roots run deep, while basil tends to stay closer to the surface, eliminating competition between the two plants. High yields and high flavor means true plant love.

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Backyard Foraging: Chickweed

Who says you can’t farm in the winter? I just grew a crop of chickweed! Ok, for real tho - this was not intentional. I eat for chickweed from my backyard throughout the year to keep the population down. I don’t feel the need to exterminate this nutrition powerhouse with any “-cide”. This past winter, some seeds made under the garden box covering and exploded in growth. We can’t eat all of this, so instead, the weed honorably fulfilled its namesake as fodder for the flock. Coming out of the winter blues, the hens feasted like maniacs. They cleaned out the box and left the overwintered garlic bulbs unscathed. Commander Comet seems pleased by the efforts of her flock and I am delighted they saved me time from manual weeding and money on feed.

HOW TO SAVE YOUR OWN GARDEN SEEDS GUIDE

BASIC SEED SAVING FOR BEGINNERS

These sheets are designed to be a very basic introduction to seedsaving.   Hopefully they should help you to grow good quality pure seed that will grow true to type for year after year. Seedsaving is easy; people have done it for thousands of years, in the process breeding all of the wonderful vegetables that we eat today. Only in the last century has it been taken over by professionals.   With a little care you and all your neighbors can grow better seed than you could ever buy; ideal for your own conditions, with better germination, and growing stronger, healthier plants.  

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