Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tips to Improve Passive Greenhouse Heating With Heat Sinks

Passive heating is one of two greenhouse heating methods, the other one being the active method. The main difference between the two is on the power source. Where passive heating relies on the power of the sun, active heating depends on the power of electricity to generate heat.


Pros and Cons
From this main difference can be inferred the advantages and disadvantages of each heating method. On one hand, the passive heating method is more eco-friendly and more cost-friendly in the sense that little to no electricity is required. However, it is very dependent on the strength of the sun's rays such that it is virtually useless during the winter months when the sun is at its weakest.



On the other hand, the active method requires electricity to operate, which can be costly, complicated and not exactly eco-friendly in general. However, you cannot discount the fact that it can be used during the hard winter months when the sun is nowhere to be seen.


Harnessing the Pros
Still, despite the above mentioned limitations, greenhouse gardeners use passive heating to improve plant growth especially during the summer. The trick is in harnessing as much solar power as possible, of which heat sinks can greatly help with.



Simply put, a heat sink is any kind of material that allows the heat absorbed during the day to "sink in". During the night when temperatures around the heat sink are cooler, the trapped heat is slowly released, thus, providing for more warmth. Ultimately, the plants are provided with heat despite the surrounding colder temperature.



Now, you might be asking exactly what types of materials make for good heat sinks. Well, just to make a few suggestions:



Concrete, blocks, paving slabs and rocks piled inside a metal cage
Plastic barrels with lids are filled with water to the brim. One side is painted black and the other side is painted white. The white side faces the plants in the greenhouse while the black side catches the rays of the sun during the daylight. Keep in mind that black retains heat while white reflects it, thus, the arrangement.



Compost and well-aged manure can be used to create hotbeds, which should also deter flies from coming into the greenhouse. Of course, there are garden tips to maximize the use of the greenhouse heat sinks!



1. First, you have to use non-reflective black and white paint on the barrels. This way, the maximum amounts of the sun's rays are absorbed into the heat sink.



2. Second, make sure that the heat sinks are facing the sides of the greenhouse where there is maximum sunshine. This often means the south-facing side although you have to observe your area to determine said site.



3. Third, the heat sinks must be located inside the greenhouse and slightly away from the sides. This is because the glass panes of the greenhouse can quickly absorb the heat being emitted by the heat sinks during the night, thus, negating their value for the plants.



4. Fourth, you can wrap the north side (or whichever side is receiving the least amount of sunshine) with bubble wrap. This way, more heat is retained inside the greenhouse. And it helps to ensure that the greenhouse is tightly sealed during the night, too.



With this information on passive heating, you should set to work and make Mother Nature proud!


About the Author


By Whitney Segura
Whitney is the owner a company that sells Composting Accessories, such as the Norpro Composter, a useful green product to have around the house.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How to Treat Blossom End Rot in your Vegetable Garden

Blossom end rot occurs because the soil in your home vegetable garden is deficient in calcium. It also occurs when the weather in your area has been considerably wet followed by an immediate dry period.

Blossom end rot most notably affects peppers, squash, tomatoes and watermelon. As you can see in the picture, it looks like a dark circle and spreads to the end fruit as the vegetable will then look like it is rotting.

If not taken care of it could spread to the remaining of the unaffected portion of your garden and also lead to additional or secondary rotting.

Here are steps you can take to control blossom end rot in your home vegetable garden.

Prior to planting any vegetables, always obtain a pH level reading on your soil conditions. You can obtain good testing kits at your local garden center that will give you the amount of calcium you have in your soil.

After you obtain your test readings form your soil test kit as per step one, you will be able to tell if your soil is low in calcium. If you need to add calcium to your soil you have a variety of choice to do so, but the best, fastest acting as well as comparably affordable is more than likely limestone.

The test kit you purchased in step one should also give you the pH reading. If the pH reading is not highly acidic then add a little gypsum to bring the pH level to a more stable reading.

Finally, make sure you add some mulch over top over your topsoil so that the ground maintains an even moisture level and avoid excessive fertilizing so you do not throw out of balance all of the work you did in the previous steps. Just continue to monitor your soil conditions throughout the growing season and make adjustments as necessary.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Tips on How to Make the Most of Your Greenhouse


A greenhouse gives you a haven in which you can grow different plants regardless of the time of year it is. Greenhouses are avidly used all around the world, and provide many gardeners with a carefree gardening experience.

In many respects, since plants are kept safe under the protection of the greenhouse, many of the qualms that people complain about when it comes to environmental conditions are completely eliminated. This is one of the many reasons why so many people seek a greenhouse for their homes.

But are you getting everything that you should be getting out the greenhouse that you have nestled in your backyard? Believe it or not, there are many different products that are presently available that ensure you are getting all that you can get out of your greenhouse structures.

A product that has been able to make growing plants in greenhouses so incredibly easy and care free are electronic, or automatic water sprayers. There are sprayers that you can set to water your plants a certain number of times and at a specific time throughout the day.

We have all seen these automatic sprayers in different locations. One location where these sprayers are extremely common is in grocery stores. You will normally find these sprayers in the produce section because they are used to spray the plants that are on the shelves in order to allow them to maintain their vibrancy.

The light factor has always been a problem with greenhouses as well. During the summertime the light from the sun, as well as the radiation that bounces off of the sun, can become too much for plants that reside inside your greenhouse. As a means to solve this dilemma, many people are actually opting to obtain roller shades for the windows of their greenhouses.

These shades will ensure that enough life is coming into the structure but not too much to kill off the plants that are trying to grow within it. Another great way to get everything that you can possibly get out of your greenhouse structure is to make room for more plants to be harvested within its barriers.

You can begin by installing additional shelves in the building by basically grabbing a few planks of wooding and drilling them into the wall of the structure. The possibilities of what you can do to enhance your greenhouse experience are virtually endless.


Learn more information about us, please visit greenhouses

Thursday, December 24, 2009

An Herb Pot Is Great For Indoor Gardening

Herbs are renowned worldwide for an extensive range of uses. Even during the biblical period, herbs were regarded as wonder plant by many. This is for the reason that the purpose of herbs is not only confined to being an ingredient in cooking or in aroma therapy but also, they are known to cure common human ailments and diseases.

With this, many people find it a good idea to exert time and hard work to keep up a garden of herbs potted right in their backyard. A home herb garden can give you a handy supply of herbs anytime you need it for your next family banquet or for a quick relief to particular body pains and aches as well as for more severe ailments and diseases that a member of your family might be suffering from.

If you want to build an herb potted garden at home, you can opt what herb to plant from the group of herbs that are known to be helpful in cooking and medicine.

Basil, parsley, oregano and thyme are safe to start with. They are also some of the usual herb potted that easily grow without requiring so much time and effort. Basing on your tang and desires, the assortment of herbs that you wish to plan in an herb potted garden may differ.

Maintaining an herb potted garden within your home is truly a sensible thing to consider. The problem only arises if you do not have a backyard or lawn to transform into an herb garden. This is particularly true if you live in an apartment and classy condominium units. There is a simple solution for this kind of problem, herb potted!

Potting herbs actually does not necessitate too much time and expert gardening knowledge. The important thing is that you obtain a bit of planning particularly in knowing which kind of herbs can survive with other herbs using a single container. With only adequate water and light going in, the herbs will certainly grow easily.

When making herb potted, the very first thing that you must do is to purchase the right pots. Proper consideration should be made with regards to correct sizes of your pots since you must ensure that it fits the space allotted for them in the house. Also, you need to see that they have accurate drainage holes that can allow the water to flow. The next thing is to determine the type of herb seeds you want to plant.

The tiny ones are suitable for beginners since they tend to endure the environment indoors. When combining several herbs in just a single pot, you need to ensure that they are the same as regards water and nutrient absorption and species. With this, you are guaranteed that one kind of herb potted will not outgrow the others.

The actual seeds planting is the next thing you have to consider. In doing this, you should make sure to choose the right kind to help in the proper growth of the herbs. Also, the herbs must never be over soaked with water so, be careful each time you water them.

By Tim Adam

Tim is an experienced herb gardener and loves to grow herbs. To learn more about herb potted as well as other great herb gardening, planting, growing and using techniques check out his dedicated herb growing and care website http://www.herbgardeningplace.com/.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Few Benefits From Growing Your Own Vegetable Garden

Eating fresh vegetables that just came out of the garden are actually better for you than those purchased in a grocery store. This is true because many vegetables lose some of their vitamins and minerals after they are picked and have been stored for a few days.

However, if your getting the vegetables right out of the garden then they should contain a larger amount of vitamins and minerals compared to their grocery store counterparts. Also vegetables that are only a few hours old are much better tasting because they still contain all of their flavor compared to those that have sat for days and weeks.

Growing your own vegetable garden can a fun challenge, because when you first start your garden you have no idea if it will be a success or not. Since there are so many factors involved that we have no control over. Such as the weather, it may not rain enough for your garden to thrive on it's own so you may have to come up with a way to water it. Then again, it may rain a lot and get too much water, thus destroying your plants and vegetables. These are only a couple of the many challenges involved. However if you do have a successful garden then can be very proud because you have helped the garden to overcome many hardships.

Having a vegetable garden can also save you money on your food bills. As everything in the world increases in price, the cost of food does also. By having a vegetable garden you can trim your grocery bill by a significant amount each year. And if you store the vegetables by canning them you can eat from your gardens labors all year long because they will remain eatable for many months to come.

Since you grew the vegetables in your garden you know that they are safe to eat. In other words they don't contain any additives or preservatives. Many similar items at the grocery stores may have additives or preservatives that can be unhealthy for people to eat. So, by having fresh vegetables grown in your own garden you know exactly what your eating and don't have to fear.

By Brian E Howard
The author writes about many subjects, visit his website about miller plasma cutters and find the best miller plasma cutter online.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Home Vegetable Gardening: Controlling Aphids

They come in a wide variety of shapes, colors and sizes in your home vegetable garden and, no, I am not talking about the many varieties of tomatoes or peppers you just planted. I am talking about one of the most destructive species of insects that affects just about everything and anything you grow in your vegetable garden.

The insect species are called aphids. They reproduce asexually and thrive in warmer climates, which can create a tremendous aphid population in your home vegetable garden. If they are not caught early enough you mind as well kiss your vegetable garden goodbye. They do their damage by feeding off of soft leaves and stems of plants which stunt growth and lead to plant deformities. When the population of aphids each a number large enough, many will form wings and fly off to neighboring plants and the process starts over on the new plant. Here are some methods you can use to control the aphid population.

Your first step in any program is to come the realization that, yes, you have a problem. So say to yourself, hi, my name is, , I have a problem with aphids in my garden. Obviously I say this jokingly, but on a serious note, the first step you should take in controlling aphids is to use yellow sticky traps. They are available from any home or garden center and I have found that the ones that cost a dollar or two works just as well as the ones that cost five or six dollars.

Get to know what neem oil is. Neem oil is safe and affective way to control aphids (and other harmful insects) without damaging the plants or harming the environment or your family. You can pick up Neem oil at any garden center for under ten dollars and it is worth its weight in gold. Follow the application instructions on the brand of neem oil that you purchased as each brand has its own way to be used.

You can also create an environment in your garden that attracts lacewings and ladybugs, two beneficial insects that love to feed on aphids. Cilantro makes for a great plant that attracts ladybugs as does dill and fennel. Once you have the ladybugs in your garden you would want to keep them. A search on Google for `ladybug houses’ will give you plenty of results to purchase (or build your own) a habitat where they can lay their eggs. The more ladybugs you have, the better off you will be.

Do not become a victim to aphid destruction in your home vegetable garden. There are steps you can take to prevent and control them without using harmful pesticides.

About the Author
Mike is the owner of Mike the Gardener Enterprises, LLC where you can sign up for their Seeds of the Month Club and receive 4 packs of vegetable, fruit and herb seeds every month.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

7 Top Benefits of Liquid Seaweed Fertilizer

Seaweed has been used in its raw state for many years by gardeners to improve and nourish exhausted soils. Unfortunately most of its use was concentrated around coastal areas because of its bulk, however since the introduction of the refined liquid seaweed fertilizer, gardeners the world over have had a chance to experience the wide amount of benefits that liquid seaweed fertilizer can offer.

So what are the 7 top benefits of concentrated extract of seaweed?

1. Used as a rooting solution for cuttings, it will promote strong and vigorous development of roots giving the cuttings a superior chance of surviving.

2. Used as a general organic soil treatment, the solution encourages stronger, healthier plants that have a greater resistance to diseases.

3. Seeds that are soaked in the solution will have an improved percentage of germination and the roots and seedlings will enjoy enhanced vitality.

4. When applied as a foliar spray to flowers a day or two before cutting, liquid seaweed extract will give the cut flowers a longer life.

5. The solution provides natural hormones and nutrients in an immediate and easily absorbed form when applied as a foliar feed.

6. During drought and periods of stress, general use will encourage betaines that assist osmosis in plants and help them increase the uptake of nutrients and proteins that will give the plants a boost to overcome the distress.

7. Liquid seaweed concentrate contains starches called alginates that act like sponges. These alginates hold and supply water droplets near to a plants roots giving a more even supply of moisture to the plants.

There are many more benefits that liquid seaweed fertilizer brings to the garden. Generally the plants, flowers, grass and crops become vigorous and healthier. More fruit will develop, grass will be lush and green, flowers become more numerous and are more vivid and crops will be in greater abundance.

If you are interested in finding out more about this organic extract, please check out this site - liquid seaweed fertilizer and discover the gardeners best kept secret.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Houseplant Soil - Building a Basic Mix

There are three basic elements of a soil mixture for indoor plants, each available in different forms, and each needed in varying proportions by different types of plants. The following is a basic recipe that should be varied depending on a plants requirements. For example, for plants that like soil "rich in humus," you would double the quantity of humus. For a "sandy soil mixture," double the amount of sand.

1 part soil - the "base" of most soil mixtures, often called "garden loam." Soil may be acid, neutral, or alkaline; clay-like or on the sandy side; high in humus content, average, or low. If soil is acid, add horticultural lime for plants that need it. If it is heavy with clay, add more sand; if sandy, add more humus. (Your County Agent will tell you how to have your soil tested for acidity or alkalinity, or you can test it with one of the available kits.)

1 part humus - to condition the soil, make it lighter and more porous, help hold moisture. Humus may be prepared and packaged, or scraped up from the forest floor. Peat moss, partially decayed leaf mold or compost, and manures - always well-rotted - are humus materials. Add less humus if soil is highly acid or already humus-rich.

1 part sand or substitute - to improve drainage, aerate soil, separate minute particles so roots have air to breathe. Use coarse builder's sand, not fine-grained or salty seashore types. Or substitute bird gravel, chicken grits, commercial brands of pelletized volcanic rock, coarse or fine vermiculite. Add extra sand to heavy clay soils.

Sift all ingredients through a screen with a mesh at least as small as a half inch, to remove stones and other undesirable foreign matter. Add fertilizers like bone meal or superphosphate according to each plant's needs.

To illustrate the "grain of salt" with which this recipe should be taken - most cacti and other succulents are potted like potting indoor plants in a mixture of three parts coarse sand or finest gravel with one part soil. Some growers add humus, some don't. Many add lime to neutralize acid. But the epiphyllums, orchid cacti, need a good proportion of humus.

Try to know your plants' needs, and suit the soil mixture to them. When plants are growing well, resist the temptation to experiment with some other soil mix, no matter who recommends it. It may be just the thing for your neighbor's plants, completely wrong for yours. When you do change soils, do it temperately and tentatively - try it on one or two pots before you take chances with more.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Three Insider Secrets for the Home Vegetable Gardener

There is no magic formula to growing great tasting vegetables in your home vegetable garden. Just like anything else in life it takes time, patience and of course effort. Combine all three of these and you are sure to yield so great results.

However, just like a lot of other things in life there are secrets, tips and tricks in home vegetable gardening that will make your life easier, especially for those that are limited on time and or space. Here are some insider secrets that you can implement today in your home vegetable garden.

Companion Planting
This is the process of planting one vegetable in between or near another vegetable. Companion planting has a number of benefits. The most obvious is the use of space. This technique allows you to utilize the space in between bigger vegetables. Another benefit is to attract certain variety of helpful insects that will actually attack harmful ones. For example, white flies can be devastating to a tomato crop, but the trichogramma wasp will actually eat white flies. By planting something near tomato plants that attracts the trichogramma wasp you can virtually eliminate the white fly naturally without the use of chemical pesticides. There a number of great resources, such as the USDA and our own website, that give you companion planting suggestions.

Crop Rotation
This is the process of alternating the location of where you plant a vegetable from season to season. In other words if you plant tomatoes in row one this year, you might want to consider moving them to row three next season. Crop rotation serves a couple of important purposes. Each vegetable uses a certain amount of nutrients, some more than others. For example, tomatoes use a lot of nitrogen. By the end of the growing season the area where the tomatoes were planted will have smaller amounts of nitrogen. The following season you will want to plant a vegetable (herb or fruit) in that spot that will not require as much nitrogen and move the tomatoes to a spot where the soil is high in nitrogen. You get the point.

Raised Beds
Looking for better drainage in your soil and the ability to have your soil warm up faster in the spring? Then raised beds are the way to grow, er um, go. There are a number of methods for raised beds. They range from simply building up the height of your rows, to actually boxes and filling them with dirt. Whichever method you go with is fine, just make sure you do not use any type of pressure treated lumber if you decide to go the box route.

Many home vegetable gardeners simply plant their seeds and go. This is fine, but don’t you want more vegetables for all of that hard work you put into it? Me too. That is why I combine, companion planting, with crop rotation and raised beds. Give it a try with your home vegetable garden. You will wonder why you didn’t try these methods sooner.

About the Author
Mike is the owner of Mike the Gardener Enterprises, LLC where you can sign up for their Seeds of the Month Club and receive 4 packs of vegetable, fruit and herb seeds every month.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Get Your First Month Free when you Register for the Seeds of the Month Club

You asked for it and we have responded. Now you will receive your first month 100% when you register for the Vegetable Seeds of the Month Club. This is a great opportunity to give your club membership a try before you decide to buy. Visit the Seeds of the Month Club webpage at: http://www.AveragePersonGardening.com/seed_subscription.html and join today!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Four Points to Consider When Composting

There are a tremendous amount of benefits to creating and using compost for your home vegetable garden. Compost adds much needed nutrients and minerals to your soil to enhance the environment in which your plants will grow, it allows for better water drainage, and increases the volume of your soil. Here are some things you should consider when starting your own compost pile.


Location
Location is a key factor that you should consider before you even put the first items into your compost pile. I am not talking about where in your yard the compost pile will be, but more specifically whether or not your local town or city will even allow it. If you live in a rural part of the world, then chances are you will be allowed. However, if you live in a city, with lots of people, then you need to check the laws in your local area to make sure they are ok with it.

Ingredients
Now that you know you can actually have a compost pile at your house, what should you put in it? A good compost pile is made up of many ingredients of organic material. You want a good mix to ensure that all of the nutrients your plants and soil will need are included. Grass clippings, leaves (from various tree species), twigs, pine needles and so forth make up for great organic material. You can use your food leftovers, but because of the possibility of rodent intrusion, I bury my food scraps about eighteen inches beneath the top soil in my garden. My compost pile is solely for the material previously mentioned.

How Much
In short; as much as you can make and have the space for. In fact, the more the merrier I always say. Your plants can use a constant supply of compost throughout the growing season. This will lead to better tasting vegetables, healthier plants and better soil. A typical compost pile can break down in about three months, so I can keep three piles going so I can harvest fresh compost on a monthly basis all year round. If you can maintain a practice such as this, you will reap many benefits as well.

Work the Pile
Some purists believe you should leave the compost pile alone, while others say to check the temperature of the middle of the pile and when it reaches over 155 degrees Fahrenheit, use a pitchfork and turn the pile over. I have successfully created compost using both methods, although the `turning the pile` over method will create usable compost faster. The choice is yours.

Sun, water, soil and compost, the four basic items your plants will need to grow and thrive in your home vegetable garden. If you can master the art of creating good compost, your plants will reward you with tasty bountiful harvests for years to come.

About the Author
Mike is the owner of Mike the Gardener Enterprises, LLC where you can sign up for their Seeds of the Month Club and receive 4 packs of vegetable, fruit and herb seeds every month.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Top Four Mistakes a Home Vegetable Gardener Makes

It does not matter whether you have been vegetable gardening for twenty plus years or twenty plus minutes, you will invariably make some mistakes along the way that will lead to a less than hoped for production in your harvest. Here are the most common mistakes that I have seed many people make.

Wrong Seeds
Sure I like to eat oranges, bananas and kiwi just as much as the next person, but lets face it, I have no chance of growing any of them here in New Jersey. Just like someone who lives in an area of the world where the temperatures are always hot, they will more than likely lack the ability to grow cool weather crops such as spinach or lettuce. Plant the seeds to the vegetables that are indigenous to your area. You will have a greater chance of success.

Too Much Water
As crazy as it sounds, yes you can over water your plants. When you over water your vegetable plants you can cause root rot, an environment susceptible for fungus growth, and also wash away valuable nutrients your plants need like nitrogen. Most plants require moderate watering and what that means is the ground is moist but not wet. You can simply pick up the first couple of inches of your dirt and if it is crumbly or sandy then it is too dry and if water comes out when you squeeze it, then it is too wet. If you do not want to go that “unscientific route”, then spend a couple of dollars at your home or garden center and pick up a soil moisture sensor. You will get a much better reading, and they come with instructions to help make sure your plants are getting ample amounts of water.

Not Composting
One of the easiest and best things a home vegetable gardener can do to ensure optimal growth of their plants is to add a fresh supply of compost on a constant basis. Compost is nothing more than taking organic material such as grass clippings, leaves and your left over dinner, and allowing nature to take its course and break it down into what is called compost. There are a variety of methods for composting that go beyond the scope of this article, but you need to add compost to your soil throughout the year. Compost adds the many nutrients your plants will need to grow thrive and survive in a safe, affective and environmentally friendly way.

Late Harvesting
This is one I have been guilty of myself and that is not harvesting my vegetables when they should be. Of which, for me, are my zucchini plants. On Tuesday they could be ten inches long (I like to pick them when they are about twelve), and two days later when I go back they are near twenty inches. With zucchini if you let them get too big they will develop way too many seeds and that takes away from a lot of the “edible” portion. The same holds true for many other vegetables. The longer you wait to harvest the more flavor the fruit or vegetable will lose and even worse it literally rot right on the vine.

Home vegetable gardening is meant to be a fun and rewarding hobby but like all other activities it has its share of opportunities to make mistakes. Now that you know the common ones, you can fix these and move on to making some new ones, well, hopefully not.

About the Author
Mike is the owner of Mike the Gardener Enterprises, LLC where you can sign up for their Seeds of the Month Club and receive 4 packs of vegetable, fruit and herb seeds every month.

Home Vegetable Gardening: Common Questions that You Need Answered

The vegetable gardening community is 48 million people strong and still growing. Some do it as a hobby, others to grow the food they will eat all year round. Regardless of which is your reason, here are three questions I constantly get. If you have been wondering the same, here are the answers and the advice to carry out a good action plan.

I live in an apartment. Is it possible to grow great vegetables in pots or containers with such little space?

In short the answer is yes but with everything there is a longer answer to every question. Because you live in an apartment (or those that are in a condominium complex), you may also be limited to sunlight due to how your building is situated. Sun is extremely important to growing great vegetables. Without it they can not complete the process of photosynthesis and all of those great scientific happenings that go on unseen to the naked eye (I did not want to get too technical in this article).

If you live on the side of the building that gets the sunlight late in the day, then there is a chance you may not be getting enough. One excellent solution that came from a member of ours on our Vegetable Gardening Facebook page is to take your plants to work with you (if possible of course). If you drive to work you can leave your plants on top of your car (this was the member`s suggestion), or bring them in the office and place them by the window. Just remember to rotate your plants if you have more than you can bring in a single day.

What should I grow?

I answer your question with another question. What do you like to eat? Start there and then find out which vegetables are indigenous to your area of the world. For instance here in New Jersey we can not grow citrus fruits due to our lack of necessary temperatures, where as in the heat of the plains of Texas, spinach is almost impossible.

I love gardening, but hate it when I have to pull weeds. Do you have a solution that does not cost a lot of money?

What would any type of outdoor gardening be without weeds? More pleasant I am sure. However, weeds are one of those things that no one can avoid. You can simply pick the unwanted scoundrels as they pop up or you can make life easier on yourself and use the following method. Before you put any plants in the ground put down two layers of newspaper over your entire garden. As you lay the paper down make sure you wet the paper so it doesn’t blow all over the place. I would not recommend doing this on a windy day.

Once the paper is down, cover it with one to two inches of compost (preferably) or a mulch of your choice. Then go back and plant your vegetables. This method works best when you are transferring plants that were started indoors. You can use this method when starting plants directly from seeds, however not all seeds can push their way through two inches of compost or mulch.

Now that you have your questions answered, follow the information provided and get started on a great home vegetable garden.

About the Author
Mike is the owner of Mike the Gardener Enterprises, LLC where you can sign up for their Seeds of the Month Club and receive 4 packs of vegetable, fruit and herb seeds every month.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Adding Fennel to your Home Vegetable Garden


Fennel looks like a white bulb at the base with green stalks protruding from the top. Used a lot in Italian cuisines, fennel is crunchy with a bit of a sweet taste and can be found in other cultural recipes as well. Part of the Umbellifereae family it is in close relation to parsley, carrots, dill and coriander; however you should never follow these plants in a rotation or plant them near one another. Here are the steps to add fennel to your home vegetable garden.

Start by sowing your seeds indoors about 4 weeks prior to the final frost of the season. The seeds should germinate in about 14 days. For faster germination, consider using a portable greenhouse or humidity dome that is available at your local home or garden center for just a few bucks.

Once they are ready to be moved outdoors space them out no closer than twelve inches apart in the area of your garden that receives a lot of sunlight in soil that is in the pH range of 6.0 to 7.0. If you are not sure what your soil's pH range is you can pick up a soil testing kit for a couple of dollars at your local home or garden center. Don’t forget to give your fennel a moderate watering, just enough to keep the ground moist, but not saturated.

They will be ready to harvest when the white bulb of the fennel plant is about 4 inches across and firm to the touch. Once harvested, the plant should be used within 48 hours to take advantage of the fresh flavors that fennel has to offer.

Avoid rotating fennel carrots, parsnips, and other members of the carrot family. Fennel does get along well with sage and mint so it will make a good companion plant for them, but that is about it. Try not to plant fennel anywhere near other plants as it does not get along well with them.

As you can see fennel is not all too difficult to add to your home vegetable garden. Just follow these steps and you will be well on your way to adding some great fennel to your cuisine straight from your home vegetable garden.

About the Author
Mike is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the Rest of Us, available where gardening books are sold. You can follow Mike on Twitter at : http://twitter.com/mikethegardener or on his website at: AveragePersonGardening.com.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Adding Dill to your Home Vegetable Garden

Visit any website that features food recipes, do a search on dill and literally hundreds, if not thousands, depending on the website you visit, of recipes will appear for this great tasting herbs. The first one that comes to mind is dill pickles, but sprinkling dill in with some olive oil over top of some potatoes is a quick and tasty dish as well. Here is how you add dill to your home vegetable garden.

You can start dill seeds indoors before moving them outdoors; however they do not transplant well. Therefore simply wait until the potential for frost has passed in your area. The best way to plant dill seeds is to sprinkle some in the area where you want them to grow, cover slightly with soil and give them a moderate watering.

Dill grows best in soil that is a bit more acidic. A pH range for your soil in the area where you will be growing dill should be in the 5.5 to 6.5 range. If you are unsure of what the pH range of your soil is, purchase a home soil testing kit from any home or garden center. They cost only a couple of dollars. Follow the instructions on the kit to adjust your soil’s pH level to get it in the range noted above.

Dill likes full sun and moderate watering and high amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, so make sure you keep at least a one inch level of good quality compost at the base of your dill.

When the plant gets to the size of your liking it is ready to be harvested. Then simply harvest as you need. Dill also grows best when you simply leave it alone to do its own thing and only bothered when you harvest. So keep that in mind when you weed around your dill plants.

Besides being a great herb to add to your food dishes, adding dill to your home vegetable garden also has benefits to your gardening ecosystem. Dill attracts a variety of beneficial insects that go after insects that would normally do harm to your garden. So even if you do not consume dill, you should consider adding it to your garden.

If you, like me, follow a crop rotation in your garden, make sure your dill follows your beets and avoid following carrots or plants in the carrot family (such as parsnips). On a side note, dill makes for a good companion to plants in the cabbage family.

As you can see dill is easy to grow once you get the basics down. Simply follow the information above and you will be well on your way to growing great dill.

About the Author
Mike is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the Rest of Us, available where gardening books are sold. You can follow Mike on Twitter at : http://twitter.com/mikethegardener or on his website at: AveragePersonGardening.com.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Growing Cilantro

A rose by any other name is still a rose, or so the saying goes, but cilantro by any other name could be called Chinese parsley or coriander. A quick search on some popular food recipe websites and in the matter of seconds I was able to find hundreds of recipes. Cilantro can be used three times, well sort of. You can harvest the leaves and add them to do your dish as an herb, or you can harvest the fruit also called coriander seeds which have a lemony-citrus flavor when crushed or you can harvest the roots which have an intense flavor and are most notably used in Asian cuisine. Which ever way you go, there is no doubting that cilantro should be part of your vegetable garden.

No need to worry about when to start your seeds indoors because cilantro won`t do well using this method. The reason being is that cilantro does not transplant well, so any growth you would have indoors would more than likely be lost once you moved it to the outdoors. Start your seeds outdoors at least one week beyond the final frost. You can then plant cilantro every 3 weeks up until a week prior to the first frost in the autumn months. This will give you a steady supply of cilantro throughout the year.

Cilantro seeds take about 10 days to germinate and grow well in full sun with a moderate watering in soil that has a pH level of at least 6.0 but not higher than 7.0. To test the pH level of your soil, grab a home soil testing kit from your local home or garden center for just a couple of bucks. Once you obtain your reading follow the instructions on the package to raise or lower your soil`s pH level as needed.

When the plant is eight inches tall it is ready to be harvested. You want to harvest the entire plant. If you want to use the seeds of the plant simply let it grow until it goes to seed then harvest the entire plant. Once the entire plant is harvested you can use the roots, leaves and seeds (if you let it grow that far) for a variety of dishes.

Avoid following carrots if you plan on putting your cilantro in a plant rotation cycle and avoid planting cilantro near fennel as the two plants do not make sure good companions, whereas tomatoes make for a great companion plant.

As you can see adding cilantro, Chinese parsley, coriander to your home vegetable garden is easier than you might think. Get some in your garden today.

About the Author
Mike is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the Rest of Us, available where gardening books are sold. Sign up for Mike`s vegetable gardening newsletter at his website: AveragePersonGardening.com and he will send you a free pack of vegetable seeds to get your garden started.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Natural Insect Repellent for your Home Vegetable Garden

Two growing seasons ago some of my plants really got hit hard with an outbreak of white flies. Harmless to humans, they can destroy an entire garden and reproduce at an alarming rate in less than a month. Although they did get one of my plants before I had the chance to bring them under control, I did take some steps necessary to make sure that never happened again. One of those steps I took was making this natural insect repellent. Whereas I wanted to get rid of the white flies, I did not want to use some harmful chemical that would get rid of the beneficial insects and organisms in my garden. Here is the formula I used to help me with these insects and many others.

There are a variety of chemical based insect repellents on the market that work very well, but like most chemical repellents they are meant to “kill” not repel and if they are killing what they say they are going to kill then chances are they are probably “killing” everything else in the garden as well. But what you really want is to “repel” the insects so they do not come to your garden at all.

A good natural insect repellent starts with garlic and hot pepper. As a caution, depending on the type of hot pepper product you use it could cause irritation to the skin and eyes, so make sure you wear gloves and protective eye wear.

Get your ingredients for this natural insect repellent together. You will need five to seven cloves of garlic, one to one and a half tablespoons of a hot pepper powder or extract, cayenne works very well in this recipe, and 3 cups of hot, but not boiling, water.

Grind up the garlic in a food processor or blender and then add in the hot pepper extract product that you have used. Finally pour the hot water in and mix it up really good to combine the ingredients. Pour the mixture into a container such as a Tupperware bowl and set it aside for three days (yes three days) to allow the ingredients to steep thoroughly.

Once the three days are up, and using a strainer to separate the ingredients from the liquid, pour the liquid into a spray bottle that you will use to spray in the garden.

Finally you are ready to use the natural insect repellent. Although you could, it is not necessary to spray the repellent directly on the plants. Spray around your plants which create a barrier for them. Reapply after every rain or heavy watering.

As you can see it is a very easy recipe to follow and will do wonders for your garden and sanity by repelling those pesky insects that can wreak havoc on your crops.

About the Author
Mike is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the Rest of Us, available where gardening books are sold. Sign up for Mike`s vegetable gardening newsletter at his website: AveragePersonGardening.com and he will send you a free pack of vegetable seeds to get your garden started.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Growing Chives

Chives make up the smallest member of the onion family. It is a native plant to Europe, North America and Asia. The name chive is derived from the Latin word cepa which translates into onion. Beyond adding chives to soups, stews and of course on top of sour cream, chives give home vegetable gardeners an incredible tool and that is, chives have insect repelling properties that can control garden pests.

As you will see in a moment chives are easy to add to any home vegetable garden, herb garden or simply to grow some in a pot on your window sill all year long. Here is how you can add and grow great tasting chives to your garden.

The seeds of chives are fairly small and therefore do not require to be planted very deep in your garden or in the pot that will sit on your window sill. Just lightly cover the seeds with some dirt. Their seeds will germinate in about fourteen days, sometimes sooner depending on the region of the world you live in.

Chives like the soil neutral to slightly acidic. Make sure your soil`s pH level is above 6.0 and at or below 7.0. In order to test the pH level of your soil you will need to use a soil testing kit available from any home or garden center for less than a few bucks. Once you obtain the reading, follow the instructions on the test kit instruction package to raise or lower your soil`s pH based on your findings.

Chives can grow in either full sun or partial shade and require moderate watering, so make sure you keep the soil moist for your chives. Space your seeds out about eight inches to give your chives plenty of room to grow and spread.

If you live in a warmer region of the world you can harvest chives all year round. Simply cut the plants about an inch above the soil. For those in a cooler climate if you wait too long too harvest chives can die in colder temperatures. You can simply just harvest the entire plant when the reach a size that is ready to use.

Chives make good companions for carrots and tomatoes whereas they make bad companions for beans and peas. Never precede or follow any member of the onion family with chives in a crop rotation cycle and never allow your chive plants to reach the size where seeds will drop. Your garden could become inundated with chive plants.

As you can see it is fairly easy to add this great herb to your backyard, porch or patio garden.

About the Author
Mike is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the Rest of Us, available where gardening books are sold. Sign up for Mike`s vegetable gardening newsletter at his website: AveragePersonGardening.com and he will send you a free pack of vegetable seeds to get your garden started.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Home Vegetable Gardening: Growing Swiss Chard

Swiss chard is a wonderful addition to any home vegetable garden. With the many varieties there are to grow, you can literally add a wide range of colors and flavors to salads and many other recipes. Here is how you can properly grow Swiss chard in your home vegetable garden.

I like to start Swiss chard indoors about two weeks prior to last frost of the season. This gives my seeds ample time to germinate. If you plan on starting your seeds outdoors wait at least a week after the final frost of the season. Bury your seeds no deeper than a half inch, with the soil being no cooler than fifty degrees Fahrenheit and no warmer than eighty-five degrees Fahrenheit.

Swiss chard likes the soil pH level to be as near neutral as possible. Keep your soil around a pH reading of 7.0 or as close as you can get without going over 7.0. To take a reading of your soil’s pH level you can simply visit your local home or garden center and pick up a basic soil testing kit for just a couple of bucks.

Regardless of whether you started the seeds indoors or outdoors, space your Swiss chard out at least eight inches to give them and their roots plenty of room to grow. Your watering of Swiss chard should be moderate and even and they grow best in full sun.

You have a couple of options for Swiss chard when they are ready to be harvested. When the leaves get to be eight to ten inches you can simply cut the leaves off and eat them or you can cut the plant off at the stem about an inch above the soil level. The second option will allow the plant to continue to grow giving you more harvests throughout the season.

Swiss chard makes a good companion plant for cabbage, legumes and lettuce and bad companions for Swiss chard are beets and spinach. Also avoid following the bad companion plants in a plant rotation cycle.

As you can see growing Swiss chard is fairly easy. Just make sure you follow the steps above and you will be well on your way to a wonderful Swiss chard crop.


About the Author
Mike is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the Rest of Us, available where gardening books are sold. Sign up for Mike`s vegetable gardening newsletter at his website: AveragePersonGardening.com and he will send you a free pack of vegetable seeds to get your garden started.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Home Vegetable Gardening: Growing Basil


My favorite combination for basil is mixing sliced juicy beefsteak tomatoes with quarter inch thick mozzarella cheese then shredding the fresh basil overtop of the two and finally pouring some extra virgin olive oil on top to bring it all together. The basil really makes the entire dish “pop”.

Basil loves to grow in the heat and any cooler temperatures especially frost could reduce your basil to near nothing. Follow the steps in this article to learn how you can add this great herb, basil, to your home vegetable garden.

If you plan on moving your basil plants outdoors as opposed to just growing them in containers or pots on your window sill, I recommend that you start them indoors about 4 weeks prior to last frost of the season in your area. You can either use a portable greenhouse (called a humidity dome in some parts of the world) which is available from any home or garden center for less than $5.00. This will help the germination process for the basil seeds.

When the temperature outside is above 75 degrees Fahrenheit then you are ready to move them outdoors. If it gets a little cooler in the evenings don't worry so as long as the temperatures do not fall below 50. If that occurs just cover the plants with plastic milk cartons by cutting the bottom of the cartons off.

Space your plants out at least 4 inches in an area that receives full sun. This will give their roots plenty of room to "spread" out and the required amount of sun they need to grow properly.

Basil requires light watering and since it needs only low supplements of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, chances are no extra fertilization will be required throughout the season so as long as you were adding quality compost to the soil prior to planting.

When the leaves become large enough to use, they are ready to be harvested. Using a pair of scissors, cut the leaves off right before you are about to use them to maximize the flavor you will receive.

Maximize the space in your garden by planting basil in between your tomato and pepper plants. Basil makes for good companions to these plants. Avoid planting basil between or near beans, cabbage or cucumbers as basil and these plants do not work well together.

As you can see it is easy to add some basil to your garden. Once you get some going and are able to add fresh basil to your recipes at anytime, you will wonder why you never tried growing your own sooner.



About the Author
Mike is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the Rest of Us, available where gardening books are sold. Sign up for Mike`s vegetable gardening newsletter at his website: AveragePersonGardening.com and he will send you a free pack of vegetable seeds to get your garden started.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Home Vegetable Gardening: Growing Rhubarb

With a quick search on various food recipe sites I was amazed to see the number of different dishes you can create with Rhubarb. Usually rhubarb was always reserved for pies in my household, but you can do so much more with it.

I find rhubarb will grow best for you if you can pick up a few starter plants from a local home or garden center. Keep in mind that rhubarb is a perennial (it will return year after year) and loves to spread out fairly quickly, so plan your garden accordingly. Here is how you can add rhubarb to your backyard home vegetable garden.

Rhubarb likes soil to be on the more acidic side around the 5.5 to 6.5 range on the pH scale. You can simply test your soil with a home soil testing kit available from any home or garden center for just a couple of bucks. Once you have the reading of your soil follow the instructions on the kit to raise or lower the soil's pH level as needed.

Plant the roots of your rhubarb plant in the springtime at least one inch deep and no deeper than three inches in an area of the garden that receives light shade to full sun. A lot of gardeners I talk to like to plant rhubarb on the outer edge of the garden by itself and space them out two to three feet.

Once planted, make sure you water it well so the soil where the rhubarb is growing is constantly moist. As the rhubarb grows it will develop flowering shoots. Cut these shoots off as they are not needed.

Avoid harvesting rhubarb in the first year and in your second year only take a few so the rhubarb has time to really spread in subsequent years. Starting in year 3 you can really begin to harvest plenty of rhubarb and then every 5 years thin back your rhubarb by removing some of the plants. If it gets too overgrown the rhubarb won't develop properly.

Since Rhubarb is a perennial crop there is no need for crop rotation or companion planting. Just make sure you feed your rhubarb with a good supply of compost. It will thank you with tasty rhubarb for years to come.


About the Author
Mike is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the Rest of Us, available where gardening books are sold. Sign up for Mike`s vegetable gardening newsletter at his website: AveragePersonGardening.com and he will send you a free pack of vegetable seeds to get your garden started.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Home Vegetable Gardening: Growing Radishes

There are over 200 varieties of radishes, although most home vegetable gardeners grow the Crimson giant, champion or the cherry belle. These three varieties look like the small round red radishes most people are accustomed to.

Whichever variety you choose to grow, the steps to ensure a great radish harvest are virtually the same. Here is how you can grow great radishes in your home vegetable garden.

Radishes are one of those vegetables that are fairly easy to grow. In fact it is not necessary to even start them indoors. Regardless of whether you are growing them in a traditional backyard garden or in pots/containers or raised beds, growing radishes from the seed started outdoors is the best way to go. They can be grown in early spring, after the last frost, or in the autumn before frost sets in and they can germinate in as little as four days in optimal conditions. Do not plant the radish seeds any deeper than 1/2".

Radishes like to grow in a soil where the pH level is neutral or as near neutral as possible. You can test your soil's pH level by using a home soil testing kit available from any home or garden center for less than a few bucks. Try to get your soil's pH level above 6.0 and near 7.0 without going over. Most kits come with recommendations as to how to make the adjustments you are looking for.

Keep the soil moist. Radishes need a moist cool environment to grow in and if you let the soil dry out, it won't be long before your radishes stop growing. A moderate watering is all they will need. Remember you are trying to keep the soil moist not saturated.

Space your radish seeds out two inches to give them room to grow and plant them in an area that receives full sun, although some varieties will tolerate light shade. When the radish tops are about two to four inches above the ground they are ready to be harvested. You do not want to leave radishes in the ground for too long as they could develop a sharp or bitter taste to them.

To improve the flavor of your radishes plant them between lettuce. They also make for good companions to beans, beets, carrots, parsnips, peas and spinach and bad companion to fennel.

As you can see growing radishes are not all too difficult. Just make sure you plant them when the weather is cool outside, keep the soil moist and harvest them when they are ready to ensure great flavor.





About the Author
Mike is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the Rest of Us, available where gardening books are sold. Sign up for Mike`s vegetable gardening newsletter at his website: AveragePersonGardening.com and he will send you a free pack of vegetable seeds to get your garden started.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Home Vegetable Gardening: Growing Garden Cress

Herb gardening has swept the country. According the National Gardening Association over fifteen million people grow herbs.

An easy fast growing herb to add to your repertoire is garden cress. Garden cress is peppery tangy flavored herb that is easy to add to anyone's home garden.

Here are some steps that you can follow to ensure the success of the garden cress that you grow at home.

A lot of herbs are grown by themselves in a "herb garden". But it doesn't have to be this way. Garden Cress makes a great companion plant to bush beans, beets, carrots, lettuce and spinach to name a few. So keep that in mind when planting. The seeds of garden cress are small, so when you plant them a light covering of dirt is all they will need. Garden Cress seeds will germinate in as soon as 2 days and as far out as 6, so as you can see they grow quickly.

Garden cress likes the soil's neutral pH to be as close to neutral (7.0) as possible. Test your soil with a home testing kit, available from any garden or home center for just a couple of dollars. Follow the instructions that come with the kit to raise or lower your soil's pH level as needed.

Garden Cress likes full sun so pick a spot that receives the most sunlight and if you have an indoor herb garden, make sure you pick a window sill that receives sunlight first thing in the morning. As for watering, garden cress does not need much. Just keep the soil moist with moderate watering and you will be ok.

Your plants are ready to be harvested when they reach two to three inches in height. Simply cut them at the soil line with garden scissors. If you follow the steps above you should have no problem harvesting your garden cress in as little as two weeks. Do not let them grow to long as they could develop a bitter taste.

As you can see you should be able to add this wonderful tasting herb to your garden in no time and with very little effort.




About the Author
Mike is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the Rest of Us, available where gardening books are sold. Sign up for Mike’s vegetable gardening newsletter at his website: AveragePersonGardening.com and he will send you a free pack of vegetable seeds to get your garden started.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Home Vegetable Gardening: Growing Mustard

No not the yellow stuff you put on hot dogs at your backyard barbecue, I am talking about the green plant that adds some spice to your salads and other dishes. If you like spice with your food then add some mustard to the garden. You will be surprised as to how easy it is to grow. Here is how you can grow this cool weather plant right in your own backyard home vegetable garden.

It is easier to grow mustard if you start your seeds indoors. Start your seeds about two to three weeks prior to the last frost. It is best to use a portable greenhouse or humidity dome as that will speed up germination to less than six days.

Your mustard will grow best if the pH level of your soil is between 5.5 and 7.0. You can easily obtain the pH level of your soil by using a soil testing kit available from any home or garden center for less than a few bucks.

When you move your mustard plants outside, make sure they are in a spot that receives full sun throughout the day and especially sun first thing in the morning. Moderate watering is all mustard will need in order to grow and thrive. Do not over water as that could cause decay in the root system, or even worse, mildew to build up on the leaves.

When the leaves of the plants are about three to four inches they are ready to be harvested. When they reach this size you can clip off individual leaves and let the plant grow. If you let them go to six to eight inches then you can harvest the entire plant. The choice is yours, one of the beauties of home vegetable gardening.

Good companion plants include: bush beans, carrots, celery, cucumber, onions, and potatoes, where as you should avoid following cabbage in a rotation. Pole beans and strawberries make terrible companion plants.

As you can see mustard is not all too difficult to grow. Just make sure you plant your mustard when the temperatures are cooler outside. Early to mid spring and early to late autumn should do.


About the Author
Mike is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the Rest of Us, available where gardening books are sold. Sign up for Mike’s vegetable gardening newsletter at his website: AveragePersonGardening.com and he will send you a free pack of vegetable seeds to get your garden started.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Home Vegetable Gardening: Compost Tea

Imagine for a moment you are brewing your favorite cup of tea. You boil some water on stove, place your tea bag in a cup that can hold hot liquids, and when the water reaches a hot temperature to your liking you pour the water into the tea bag filled cup. You either walk away from the cup to let the tea bag do its thing or you stand there and steep the cup of hot brew to obtain the flavor that you so desire.

Brewing compost tea is basically the same way except you don’t use hot liquid and instead of a tea bag you use compost and although this wonderful elixir is great for trees, plants and shrubs, if you drank it, you would get extremely sick. But other than that they are similar (notice the sarcasm).

There are many recipes available to brew various kinds of compost tea, and all are very good. The most important thing is starting with good compost. Your compost should have an “earthy” smell to it. If it smells foul then it contains too much anaerobic bacteria and that could invariably do more harm than good to your vegetable plants.

Here is why you want to use compost tea in your home vegetable garden. It doesn’t matter if you have a ½ acre plot of land for your garden or everything you plant is in containers, compost tea works for every style of garden.

Compost tea is the result of steeping compost in water. The resulting tea is then spray on plants and it helps prevent diseases and stimulates plant growth. It does this because the tea contains microbes which aid in eliminating bad bacteria and fungus that may attack your plants. These same microbes are also absorbed by the plants as well as other creatures in the underlying soil to improve the plant and soil conditions.

Just like your own cup of tea when you add hot water to the tea bag it releases the flavors and color of the tea that you are looking for. Instead of using hot water, if you are looking to increase the number of microbes in your compost tea you simply aerate the compost water mixture with a simple aquarium pump and add a teaspoon of molasses to give the bacteria something to eat while they reproduce at a tremendous rate.

In some studies, according to findings on the USDA website, compost tea has shown to improve root development of many varieties of vegetable plants grown in the home vegetable garden, along with tastier fruits and larger harvests.

There is no question that compost tea, when brewed properly, can yield tremendous results for a home vegetable gardener’s harvest. If you have not added compost tea to your repertoire of home vegetable gardening “tactics”, you should definitely do so as soon as possible.


About the Author
Mike is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the Rest of Us, available where gardening books are sold. Sign up for Mike’s vegetable gardening newsletter at his website: AveragePersonGardening.com and he will send you a free pack of vegetable seeds to get your garden started.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Home Vegetable Gardening: Garlic

Here are some tips and advice you can use if you are trying to grow your own garlic at home. It is easier then you think, and as we all know, garlic adds great flavor to a lot of foods.

I was watching a rerun of an episode of the television show, Friends the other night and in the episode Phoebe accuses Monica of using way too much garlic when she cooks food at her restaurant. That led me to thinking is too much garlic a bad thing? Me personally, I don’t think so.

Beyond warding away vampires in horror films, garlic is a great addition to a lot of wonderful recipes you can prepare right at home. To make those recipes even better you can user garlic grown right in your own backyard.

Garlic is a tricky vegetable but not a complicated one to grow. If you give it the right environment you can harvest plenty to last you for months. For instance, garlic loves a soil rich in organic matter such as compost. So whatever area you choose to grow your garlic make sure you mix in plenty of compost. Burying your food leftovers at least eighteen inches deep in that same spot helps as well.

Garlic germinates at a cooler temperature. It likes the soil to be around fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit (thirteen Celsius). Once garlic germinates in the cooler soil, you can grow it in soil that gets a bit warmer but if you can keep it cool you will be better off.

Even though garlic itself can be a bit spicy, the soil it needs is anything but. Garlic loves the soil pH level to be above 6.0 and as near 7.0 as you can possibly get. The best way to test your soil’s pH level is use a home soil testing kit available from any home or garden center for less than five bucks. Under 7 and your soil is acidic. Over 7 and your soil is alkaline. Make adjustments to your soil as per the instructions on the kit.

Garlic loves full sun and light watering. Pick a spot in your garden that receives sun first thing in the morning and of course throughout the day. Also this same spot should have good drainage as garlic likes it moist but not saturated. Saturating the soil could cause the garlic cloves to rot. If you mix in plenty of compost you shouldn’t have much of a problem.

When the bottom two or three leaves turn yellow it is time to harvest the garlic. This usually occurs late summer or early autumn. On a side note planting garlic in between beets is a great way to keep the soil cool for your garlic.

Now you have no excuses for not adding garlic to your home vegetable garden. It doesn’t matter if you have a ½ acre farm or grow vegetables in containers. You can grow garlic at home during your gardening season.


About the Author
Mike is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the Rest of Us, available where gardening books are sold. Sign up for Mike’s vegetable gardening newsletter at his website: AveragePersonGardening.com and he will send you a free pack of vegetable seeds to get your garden started.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Reasons People Grow Vegetables


Now more than ever people are gravitating toward growing their own food and for reasons that aren’t as obvious as you might think. In this article we talk about some of the reasons why.





I began vegetable gardening at a very young age many many years ago thanks to my dad. He showed me everything I needed to know and I instantly loved it. Sure it was hard work (still is), but vegetable gardening is one of those hobbies where your hard work pays off in the form of something you can eat.

In my dad’s garden it was always about radishes, tomatoes and corn, and today in my own garden, the tomatoes still reign king followed by squash and peppers.

More and more people today are growing their own vegetables then every before. In fact the National Gardening Association, a non profit group based out of South Burlington, VT estimates that 48 million people grew a vegetable garden this past year, an increase of almost twelve percent from the previous year.

What may take you by surprise are the reasons as to why many are growing their own food. Off the top of your head you would think it would be the economy, but only 34% of people cited the slowing economy as the reason why.

Ranking tops on the list for reasons why people grow their own food was, for better taste. Fact is when you control what you grow, you also can decide when to harvest, and so on. That directly correlates to the taste of the food. Pick it too soon and it could be bland. Pick it too late and it could be bitter. You get the point.

Next on the list was people wanted to save money on their food bills. According to the USDA a single pack of vegetable seeds can produce well over $200 in vegetables compared to prices paid at your local grocery store. Throw in many varieties of vegetables and food saving techniques such as canning and you can literally wipe out any need to buy vegetables from your grocery store ever again.

On that same list, and rising quickly, is the ability to know that the food you are eating is safe. How many times have you turned on the news, read on your favorite internet news website or heard on the radio of an e. coli bacteria outbreak, or food recall. When you grow your own food, you know what you are putting in the ground, therefore controlling the environment in which the vegetables grow, making your food safer.

Maybe your reasons for growing your own vegetables differ from these, but whatever the reasons are, there is no mistaking the financial and nutritional value you get from home vegetable gardening.


About the Author
Mike is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the Rest of Us, available where gardening books are sold. Sign up for Mike’s vegetable gardening newsletter at his website: AveragePersonGardening.com and he will send you a free pack of vegetable seeds to get your garden started.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Home Vegetable Gardening: It’s All About the Compost

The best thing for your soil is compost. It contains all the nutrients your plants will need to grow and thrive. Here is how you can easily create your own and add good quality compost to your soil all year round.



Compost is the process of organic material breaking down into a rich dark black soil through the process of aerobic decomposition. Bacteria and other microorganisms feed on this organic material which breaks it down. Then as you move up the food chain other creatures such as the earthworm and nematodes, either eat the bacteria or the decomposed material creating even better compost.

The underlying environment is so advanced that it can take your left over food scraps, grass clippings, twigs and leaves and turn them into every nutrient your vegetable plants will ever need. The best part of this ecosystem is that it is already there and the only thing you need to do is supply it with an organic food source (more on that in a moment).

The most common form of composting is a compost pile. This is where you keep a pile of organic material such as leaves, twigs and grass clippings (to name a few). As the bacteria and microorganisms breakdown the material the center of the pile starts to heat up. When the temperature reaches a level that will make it harmful to good bacteria (usually around 150degrees) you then turn the pile over to bring fresh material to the center and the process starts over. You continue this until all of the material is broken down into a dark rich looking soil. From there you can mix it right in with your soil, brew compost tea, or add more organic material and keep the process going until you have the amount of compost you need.

An excellent second way to create compost is through creating vermicompost. Vermicompost, also called worm castings, is when earthworms eat organic material and their waste is what is leftover, creating the best compost your soil could have. The best organic materials you can feed to earthworms are your food scraps and leftovers. I find it easiest to simply dig a hole in my garden about eighteen inches deep and dump the food scraps into the hole, then cover the hole with dirt. The worms and the underlying ecosystem take care of the rest.

Of course this method makes it impossible to use the vermicompost to brew compost tea and if that is what you are looking for then your best bet is to maintain a vermicompost bin also known as a worm box or worm farm. You can make one yourself for fewer than fifteen bucks with a couple of Rubbermaid containers or you can buy one from your local home or garden center.

You simply add in food scraps, a little soil and of course worms. Then when the food scraps have all been ingested by the worms you remove the vermicompost, brew your tea, and add it to your soil or whatever your heart desires. You can repeat this process all year round, unless of course you run out of food scraps.

As you can see it is fairly easy to make your own compost. If you are willing to put in the time and effort, you can add nutrients to your soil that will yield better harvests for your fruits and vegetables.



About the Author
Mike is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the Rest of Us, available where gardening books are sold. Sign up for Mike’s vegetable gardening newsletter at his website: AveragePersonGardening.com and he will send you a free pack of vegetable seeds to get your garden started.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Grow Kohlrabi in your Home Vegetable Garden

Kohlrabi is cousin to cabbage and broccoli. The best time to grow this great tasting vegetable is in the cooler months in the autumn following plants that can only grow when the temperatures are hot. Here is how you can successfully grow kohlrabi in your home vegetable garden.

It is not recommended that you sow your kohlrabi seeds indoors due to the fact they germinate better in cooler temperatures that are more than likely readily available outdoors during the autumn months. Therefore sow your seeds in your garden no deeper than 1/2" and space them out at least eight inches.

For an optimal growing environment make sure you test the pH level of your soil. Kohlrabi likes the soil to be neutral or as close to neutral as you can get. 6.0 - 7.0 would be ideal.

For an optimal growing environment make sure you test the pH level of your soil. Kohlrabi likes the soil to be neutral or as close to neutral as you can get. 6.0 - 7.0 would be ideal. You can pick up a soil testing kit from Home Depot or Lowes or any garden center for just a few bucks.

Kohlrabi yields best in full sun but there are genetically engineered seeds that can tolerate light shade knowing the days in the autumn months, in regards to sunlight, are shorter. So make sure you plant the seeds where your garden receives ample amounts of sunlight.

Even watering is all you will need for kohlrabi. Keep the soil moist by moderate watering every couple of days. Do not saturate as that could cause root rot.

When the stems are about two inches in diameter you can begin to harvest. Simply pull the entire plant and trim off the leaves and the roots. Kohlrabi will store for well over a month in your refrigerator, so if you harvest the plant and can not get to eating it right away, do not worry, you have plenty of time.

As you can see kohlrabi is not that difficult to grow and harvest. Follow these simple few steps and you will be well on your way to adding a great tasting vegetable to your dinner table compliments of your backyard home vegetable garden.


About the Author
Mike is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the Rest of Us, available where gardening books are sold. Sign up for Mike’s vegetable gardening newsletter at his website: AveragePersonGardening.com and he will send you a free pack of vegetable seeds to get your garden started.










Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Home Vegetable Gardening: Tips for Growing Eggplant

The most popular variety of eggplant that people will recognize immediately is the black beauty. It is that dark purple colored eggplant that is about ten to twelve inches long and an oblong shape. However there are more than a dozen varieties available.

Eggplants like it warm. In fact they like the ground to be hot. This does not mean if the ground is a bit cooler they won’t grow. What it means is to have your eggplants excel in growth and produce faster the temperature of the soil should be around eighty-five degrees Fahrenheit (twenty-nine Celsius).

The best way to keep that temperature up there is by placing grass clippings around the base of the plant. When the grass clippings begin to decompose heat is generated and that heat transfers to the soil giving your eggplant the optimal growing temperature.

Because eggplants like it warm, I recommend that you start your seeds indoors. You can buy a portable mini greenhouse for less than five bucks at home and garden centers. Place them on your window sill where the sun hits first thing in the morning and in a few days your eggplant seeds will have germinated. Once there is no fear of frost outdoors and your eggplants are at least three inches tall you can them move them to the outdoors.

Once you have planted them in the ground, keep in mind that eggplants require lots of water and full sun. Without one, the other or both, it will take longer for them to produce their fruit, if at all. So make sure you pick a spot in the garden that receives sun all day and give them a heavy watering every couple of days or so.

For you advanced gardeners or those of you that want to take your vegetable gardening to a whole new level, planting beans, peas, peppers and/or potatoes alongside your eggplant all make for great companions to the eggplant. Although companion planting goes beyond the scope of this article, it is the process of planting different vegetables together in the same area because they compliment each other for a number of reasons. You can learn more about companion planting at our website.

Another advanced technique is monitoring the pH level of your soil. Soil test kits are available at your home or garden center for a couple of dollars and you can obtain this reading in just a few minutes. Eggplants like the soil to be a bit more acidic. Optimally the soil pH level should be in the 5.5 to 7.0 range for best results. Again, you can find more information about pH levels at our website.

Eggplant is best harvested when it reaches maturity, which is about ten to twelve inches in length for most varieties. Letting it go longer could result in flavor loss and too soon makes for a less tasty and harder fruit. When picking the eggplant I recommend that you use shears or garden scissors and cut the eggplant from the plant at the stem leaving half of the stem connected to the plant and half connected to the fruit.

Regardless of which species of eggplant you grow, the growing techniques for all varieties of eggplant are virtually the same. How you prepare them once you harvest them, well, I will leave that up to you.




About the Author
Mike is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the Rest of Us, available where gardening books are sold. Sign up for Mike’s vegetable gardening newsletter at his website: AveragePersonGardening.com and he will send you a free pack of vegetable seeds to get your garden started.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Make Money from your Home Vegetable Garden

If you are like me then you already enjoy home vegetable gardening. For me it is relaxing, educational, a good source for decent exercise but most of all rewarding. I am not talking financially rewarding, but rewarding in a sense of, at the end of a growing season I have something to show for all my efforts and that is plenty of fruits and vegetables.

But what if you want to take your home vegetable garden to the next level and say use it as a tool to earn some extra income. Maybe you just want to earn enough to pay for the seeds you buy, the water you use and the fertilizer you need to make everything grow.

It is possible, but just like anything else in life it takes work. So before you get started the first thing I recommend is make sure you are having fun with it. Don’t just do it because it makes you money, you can get any type of second job for that. Do it because you love it, brings a smile to the face and makes you happy. When this happens the money will follow.

The first way you can earn some extra cash is your own roadside stand or a stand at your local community flea market. When you harvest your vegetables you can set yourself up a little stand and sell it by the weight, quantity or whatever is easier for you. To get an idea of what you can charge for your vegetables, take a ride to your local grocer and see what they charge and make it comparable. If your harvest looks good and healthy, and priced right, you should have no problem making some sales.

A second way to earn some extra cash at your local flea market is to sell plants after they have germinated. It is a way for you to supply other home vegetable gardeners. If you have the space to germinate seeds indoors during the cooler months, transfer them once they have sprouted to pots, then you have everything you need to make a dollar or two per plant. Of course the larger the plants the more you can charge, but I will say there is a cut off for price and size. A dollar or two for a three to six inch plant is ideal and tomato plants do the best.

Who knows how to grow plants better in your area then you right? Well put that knowledge to the test and host a one day home vegetable gardening clinic for say five to ten bucks. You can go over which plants you grow, your success stories and so on, passing along your knowledge to others. The downfall is you will need a place to host it. Now I know our local library will let you use their rooms for a small fee as will the local schools, so start there first.

As you can see none of these methods mentioned above are out of the ordinary or crazy ideas. They are straightforward ways to utilize the skill set that you already have with home vegetable gardening and using that skill set to make you a few extra bucks.

About the Author
Mike is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the Rest of Us, available where gardening books are sold. Sign up for Mike’s vegetable gardening newsletter at his website: AveragePersonGardening.com and he will send you a free pack of vegetable seeds to get your garden started.