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How to Double your Garden’s Production

November 22nd, 2011

Your garden already produces so much however, if you look at it through fresh eyes, you’ll be able to see how it can work for you.  With just a little extra time, and very little money, you can double the production of your vegetable patch, your fruit trees and your blooms, making your garden double the fun!

Sustainable Satisfaction

Making your own compost will easily double the production of your crops. With raised beds no longer do you have to worry about forking of the parsnips or club foot in the carrots? Your new soil will be rich in nutrients and suitable for any crop ensuring your waste is kept to a minimum and only the leaves and peelings are fit for your compost heap.

Whether you choose the hot method – quite simply starting with a heap of compostable material and letting the heat of the
layers rot it quickly whilst turning a few times, or the cold compost where you add you organic kitchen waste gradually and take the rotted material from the bottom, each one will enrich the soil and feed your plants and vegetables, making them very happy growers indeed.

Successive Success

Successive planting can also double the production, if you start off many vegetables and even tomatoes in the autumn in
a greenhouse; you can have an all year round harvest. Successive planting of lettuce, leeks, parsnips, almost anything you’d like to see on the dinner table, will ensure you reap the rewards as others are only just getting started.

Even sowing direct is easy. Just before the frost try sowing broad beans. Although they recommend sowing in March or April, you’ll be delighted with the results, as they know just when to wake from their winter slumber, and as they poke through the soil in early spring they’ll give you the natural indication of the weather trends and what to plant next.

Keyhole Gardening

The Permaculture garden is becoming very popular now, with keyhole gardening becoming an increasing trend, this uses the method of planting fruit vegetables and herbs together for ease of access, ensuring you only plant what you need and you make the most of the space you have. With sustainable methods a popular tip used by permaculture gardeners is to use cardboard or black print newspaper to prepare the beds, and then plant through them to detract weeds, and as it rots it also forms its own nutrients for the soil.

For decoration cover with woodchips or hay, and then plant strawberries with tomatoes, or marigold with carrots.  Marigolds have marvellous bug deterring properties and add color to any design.

The trick is to plant the crops that need the most care closest to your door, such as herbs and salad crops, then the further away you travel, plant those that need little care such as the broad beans or potatoes. This method also works well with bringing the garden into the kitchen, as you’ll find you eat much more salad and use more herbs when the accessibility is eased, whereas a potato being a staple food will not be ignored even if you have to walk a few meters to get it!

 

About the Author:

Humble Seed welcomes guest posts. “This post was written by Sam at Lavenderworld. Lavenderworld was launched last year and provides a wide range of products that are naturally beautiful from skincare to all kinds of plants and much, much more!”

 


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Tips and Tricks to Beat the August Heat!

August 14th, 2011

 

During the dog days of summer, when it’s oppressively hot, you and your plants need some TLC. It only takes a few hours for the sun’s rays to damage your plants beyond repair. Here are some quick and easy tips and tricks to help make what’s left of summer gardening more beneficial for your plants and more bearable for yourself.

  • Watering. Depending on what region you live in, you may be experiencing drought. If so, and if you are dealing with water restrictions, you will need to be thoughtful with the day(s) and time(s) you water. If you can, water your plants deeply and early in the morning. If you have drip irrigation, great! If not, you may want to invest in soaker hoses. And if you live in an area where it may be raining every now and then, a rain barrel is a great way to water your vegetables and reduce your water bills.
  • Feeding your plants. Because many vegetables begin to fruit in hot weather it’s important that you continue to provide them with nutrients. One easy way to do this is by side-dressing your plants with compost.
  • Taking note of your plants. When the heat is on, plants will show signs of distress. Look for browning and/or wilted leaves and little to no flowering. You may be able to save your plants for successful harvesting. Make sure to mulch 3 to 4 inches to help conserve water, and when watering, give your plants a good, deep soak. Mulching also cools the soil temperature by shielding it from direct sunlight.
  • Shade. If your plants are showing signs of excessive heat stress, you should provide them with shade during the hottest part of the day, generally between 11am and 3pm. You can purchase shading material at your local garden center or you can construct a shade barrier using old bed sheets and poles.
  • You. Summer’s heat can be brutal and dangerous so it’s important that you protect yourself when you’re tending to your garden during the day. Using sun block and wearing a wide brimmed hat, loose fitting pants and a light-colored long-sleeved shirt or tee shirt will help reduce skin damage due to the sun’s powerful rays. And make sure to have plenty of water with you if you’ll be working in the garden for any length of time. If you can, pull weeds and clean the garden in the evening.

August is one of the cruelest months for plants, but with care and caution you can continue to enjoy bountiful summer harvests.

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How to Make Your Own Compost

February 15th, 2011

 

If you’re planning a spring garden, you should consider composting. It’s a wonderful soil enhancer that is great for gardening, because it provides important nutrients that are released slowly over time for healthy plant growth. And it’s also good for the environment; composting lessons solid waste that would otherwise end up in landfills.

If you’ve ever been in a forest, you’ve been near and on compost. In the great outdoors, composting—a combination of digested and undigested foods left on forest floors and dry leaves—results in aromatic, rich and soft soil.

If you’d like to make your own compost choose an outdoor location that is close enough to your garden to make it convenient. You can make an open bin compost container using wood, chicken wire or recycled plastic. Open bin composts make it easy to add materials to your garden. Or you can purchase enclosed composting containers from various sources. The only garden tools you’ll need for composting are: pitch fork, for turning; shovel and/or garden cart, for transporting compost to your garden; and a compost thermometer, for checking the temperature.

Regardless of which type of compost container you choose, it’s a good idea to have two separate chambers. The reason for this is that it takes several weeks for the composting process to complete. You will not want to add new composting material to a compost pile that is already in process.

Composting materials are generally referred to as “greens” and “browns.” Green compost materials are high in nitrogen, and brown compost materials are high in carbon. In order for composting to be successful, it needs food, water and air.

Green materials include: fresh grass clippings; fresh cow, chicken, horse or rabbit manure; kitchen scraps, such as coffee grounds, fruit, tea bags or vegetables; green leaves; or leftover fruits from the garden. Brown materials include: brown, dry leaves; shredded cornstalks; dried grass; or straw. An ideal combination is 4 parts brown to 1 part green. Do NOT add items such as fish, meat, or shredded newspaper.

To start your compost pile, put a 4-inch layer of brush, hay, twigs or straw at the bottom of the compost bin. This coarse layer will allow air to be drawn up into the pile from the bottom. Then add a 4-inch layer of brown material followed by a thin layer of good garden soil. Garden soil provides necessary bacteria to get the compost to start breaking down. Then, add a 4-inch layer of green material followed by a thin layer of an activator, such as fresh manure. Continue this layering process until the compost container is full. Lightly mist each layer with a garden hose, but make sure not to get it too wet. If you can squeeze water out of the material, you have gotten it too wet. If so, add dry brown materials.

Within 7-10 days, the internal temperature should reach about 140 degrees F, ideally 160 degrees F. This is when you can turn your compost pile, moving the drier material from the outside edges to the inside of the pile. Make sure to break up any clumps that have formed. If your compost pile seems too dry, lightly moisten it. At this point, you can turn your compost pile every 14 days. Your compost is ready when it is dark brown and soil-like.

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Raised Bed Gardening

January 13th, 2011

 

If you have limited gardening space or poor soil conditions, you should consider raised bed gardening. Even just a small raised bed is ideal for growing herbs and vegetables.

To make a raised bed garden, it only takes a few steps:

1. Pick a flat location that gets at least eight hours of sun per day and is accessible to your water supply.

2. Decide how large the raised bed garden will be, both length and depth. Keep in mind that you will want to be able to easily access the middle of the raised bed from each side. As far as depth goes ten inches is ideal, but many vegetables will grow in a raised bed that is six inches deep.

3. Get your raised bed ready. If you can dig out the existing grass, if any, or loosen the soil to a depth of at least eight inches it will ensure that your plants’ roots have ample room to grow. Build your raised bed with 2 x 6 lumber pieces that are rot-resistant. Cut the lumber then attach the pieces together to build a frame. Place in the determined location. Make sure and use a level to ensure the frame is level on all sides, otherwise, water may run off one part of the raised bed garden. Fill your raised bed with quality top soil, compost and manure. Once filled, level the soil. That’s it! You’re ready to sow seeds!

4. Managing your raised bed garden is easy, but one thing to keep in mind is that raised beds tend to dry out faster, so it’s important that you consider moisture retention; mulching the top of the soil will help. Every spring and fall top dress the soil with fresh compost and manure.

Raised bed gardening is easily manageable and offers great benefits, including:

1. Better soil drainage.

2. Less soil compaction—no one is stepping on the soil!

3. Better soil conditions, because you are controlling what ingredients are in your garden.

4. Earlier planting, because raised beds warm up more quickly in the spring.

5. Raised bed gardening is also a great consideration for anyone who has arthritis or elderly gardeners.

If you have never tried raised bed gardening, or gardening for that matter, this is a great option for the upcoming spring gardening season.

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