Planning A Vegetable Garden

| April 28, 2012
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

Planning a vegetable garden is easier than you might think. Whether or not a vegetable garden is productive, depends on how well space, sunlight, nutrition, and irrigation are used. Here is our basic guide to a productive garden.

Grouping Plants
Some vegetables like

Watering and Nutrition
Various vegetables have different watering needs. Make garden maintenance easy, by planting similar vegetables near each other. A typical grouping would be tomatoes, snap peas, tomatillo, eggplant, and peppers in one area, while squash, melons, cucumber, and pumpkins are planted near each other in another area of the garden.

Plants with similar nutrition needs should also be grouped. Plants grouped by watering, sun, and nutrition needs, make adding fertilizer, soil amendment, or compost to the garden easy.

Space Conservation
Squash, Melons, cucumbers, peas, beans, and other vegetables sprawl. Multiple vegetables planted too closely will compete for space, sun, water, and nutrition, and ultimately be less productive than a few less, but healthier plants

Use cages, trellis, and poles, to train sprawling plants like cucumber, zucchini, squash, peas, or green beans vertically.

Sun and Shade
Plants have different sun requirements. Place taller plants at the North or Northeast end of the garden, so they don’t shade other plants. In some places, it may be possible to use the shadow cast by taller plants, to the advantage of plants that need more shade.

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Raising Chickens

| April 17, 2012
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

Raising chickens can be a great way to become more self-sufficient. The most common reason why people want backyard chickens is for the fresh eggs. But besides having fresh eggs every morning, there are many other reasons to raise a flock of your own. Chickens are easy and fairly inexpensive to raise, and you’d be surprised to find out that they are friendly pets with lots of personality. Chickens produce some of the best fertilizer and are always willing to help provide chemical free bug and weed control.

Chickens have a group mentality and are very sociable, so plan to have at least 2-3 birds in your flock.  You should always check with your city’s law and ordinances before getting chickens.  Most local feed stores will have day old chicks in the spring time, or you can purchase eggs online to hatch on your own.

The first 60 days of a chick’s life are very important. You must be dedicated to keeping a clean and safe home for the chicks until they are ready to be put into a coop.  The more time you spend playing with the chicks, the friendlier they will be towards people. Letting your chicks explore the outside is also very important, just make sure they are constantly supervised as they are an easy prey. A few staple items are needed:

  • A young chick broader- A cardboard box works great, just make sure you get a bigger box when the chicks start growing (This happens quick!)
  • Flooring-  Shredded newspaper is easy. This must be changed frequently, never allow it to become too wet.
  • Temperature- 90-100 degrees the first week, decreases 5 degrees each week. A 100 watt bulb pointing in one corner of the box works well.
  • Food and water- Chicks need a starter feed or mash for the first 6-8 weeks.  Plenty of fresh water is also required.

After the first 60 days, general care of your chickens is pretty straight forward. Once your chickens get their feathers they are ready to be moved outside.  The design of your coop will vary depending on what you plan on doing with your chickens. Plan on having at least 2-3 square feet per chicken inside your coop.  You will also want to make sure the coop is protected from both predators and the elements.  If you are raising your chickens for eggs, you will want to make sure you are feeding them a laying blend of scratch or pellets and that they get their veggies too! Chickens love garden scraps, breads, and don’t forget the bugs! Most chickens can also lay around 4-6 eggs a week.

Chickens are such unique birds with personalities and amusing antics that will be sure to make you laugh. They offer you a wonderful “pets with benefits” experience, from fresh eggs to help in your gardens.



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Organic Pest Control

| April 17, 2012
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

No garden is perfect, or at least it doesn’t get that way without some occasional trouble caused by weather, nutrition, or pests. This article focuses on the latter, common garden pests, and how to control pests organically. Check out the common pests below, and our recommendations.

Most Small Insects
Most small insects will get consumed by larger predatory insects. The most beneficial, is probably the mantis. Hatching a mantis egg sack inside your garden can help prevent future pests, as well as take care of smaller ones.

Snails and Slugs
Copper tape. Copper creates an electrically charged barrier that repels slugs and snails, and works when wet.
Corry’s Slug and Snail Copper Tape Barier

Extracts, Oils, Acids, Salts. Organic options made from extracts, oils, acids, and salts repel and kill snails, slugs, silverfish, and other insects.
Monterey All Natural Snail and Slug Spray RTU

Ants, Aphids, Bagworms, Borers, Beetles, Caterpillars, Codling Moth, Gypsy Moth, Loopers, Leaf Miners, spider mites, Tent Caterpillars, Thrips, White Flies, Earwigs, Grasshoppers, Lace Bugs, Mealy Bugs, other larvae

Spinosad. What is Spinosad? Spinosad is a naturally occurring bacterium that has become a leading organic pesticide globally.
Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew

Insecticidal Soap
Ortho Elementals Insecticidal Soap

Preventative strategies
Why treat a problem when you can avoid it altogether? Try adding plants that dissuade pest insects from your garden.

Planting Garlic, Onion, Peppermint, and Marigolds in your garden can be effective in repelling beetles, ants, aphids, and other common insects.

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IncrEdible Color

| April 13, 2012
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

Garden vegetables don’t have to be green and boring.  The right selection of plants can produce vibrant edible color.  Check out our suggestions for some fresh ideas on colorful veggie fare.

Famrers Market

Amaranth: (Amaranthus Caudatus,generically known as Love Lies Bleeding pictured on homepage) Amaranth is a flower ranging from gold to red to purple, with edible leaves and seeds.  The seeds are also a gluten free psuedograin.

Beans: Purple Podded Pole Bean, Swiss Heirloom, Velour Dwarf Purple French Bean Bush, Homer Nelson Family Pink Tip Half Runner Bean, Mosaic Yard Long Bean, Swiss Landfrauen, Purple Italian Marconi Stringless, Cascade Giant Pole Snap Bean, Cosse Violette Pole Bean.

Cabbage: Purple Cabbage, Red Cabbage

Carrots: Selective breeding can produce a plethora of carrot colors

Purple Carrots

Chard: Chard is available in a variety of colors, ranging from yellow, to orange, red, and purple. It’s aesthetic both in the garden, and on a plate.

Corn: White, Silver, Bicolor, Ruby, Pink Blue, Red, Black, and Streaked.  The hybrids and varieties are nearly endless.

Garlic: Heirloom Garlic has a white with a purple ombre

Kale: Purple Kale

Lettuce: Red Leaf, Red Frilled, Belgium Endive

Okra: Red and Burgundy Varieties

Peppers: Bell Peppers, Pri Pri, Thai, Tabasco, Habanero, Cubanelle, Scotch Bonnet, Datil

Potato: Rasalind, Blue Swede, redskin

Radish: A lot of varieties offer different shades of color, and slice patterns. Interesting varieties include: Bunny Tail, Plum Purple, Watermelon, and Daikon.

Squash: Yellow Summer Squash, Yellow Crookneck.

Tomatoes: Yeah, we know! Botanically they ARE fruits, but we usually treat them like veggies so they make our list.  Tomatoes exist in a lot of hybrid, heirloom, and modified varieties.  They introduce bright colors, unique shapes, and a range of sizes into your garden fare.  Looking for a more unique or aesthetic variety?  Try and find some Black Sea Man, Snow White Cherry, Yellow Pear, Ida Gold, Black Krim, or Garden Peach.

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