Thursday, May 29, 2014

#182: Mike talks Hydrating Vegetable Seeds with Annie Haven of Authentic Haven Brand Natural Brew

#182: Mike talks Hydrating Vegetable Seeds with Annie Haven of Authentic Haven Brand Natural Brew
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Annie Haven of Authentic Haven BrandIn this week's episode, Mike talks with Authentic Haven Brand owner, Annie Haven, about the benefits of using manure tea on the fruits, veggies and herbs you grow in your home vegetable garden.

Annie will explain how you properly use manure tea in your home vegetable garden, touch on valuable points if you have well water or city water, and talk about solutions for using manure tea regardless of the size of your home vegetable garden.

In this episode, here’s what we’ll cover:

  • What is manure tea
  • What are the benfits of manure tea
  • Using manure tea in your compost pile
  • Manure, its safety and what to look for
  • How to use manure tea in your home vegetable garden
  • Valuable manure tea techniques regardless of garden size
  • What to do if you are using well or city water
  • The organic industry and some classic real world case studies

Items mentioned in this episode include:

About this week's Guest, Annie Haven:

Haven Seed Co. was established in 1853 and incorporated in 1873. Haven Seed Co. grew for commercial seed until 1968 when the focus was then turned to Manure tea which was harvested from the horses used to pull the equipment through the fields and the livestock raised to feed the workers. Haven Co. processed and packaged the manure in large "Pillow case size bags", brewed the tea, then flood irrigated the fields to restore nutrients to the soil.

Authentic Haven Brand Natural Brew is harvested, processed and Eco hand packaged, from Haven raised grass fed livestock, free of antibiotics, growth hormones, herbicides and pesticides.

Over the past 7 years Social Media for Authentic Haven Brand Natural Brew has played a big roll in the introduction of brewing and feeding cow, horse and alfalfa teas to replenish needed nutrients to the soil.

Gardeners around the world have seen tremendous results in their gardens and indoor house plants once they started brewing and feeding Authentic Haven Brand Natural Brew.

Photos (click to enlarge)

photos: compliments of Annie Haven photos: compliments of Annie Haven photos: compliments of Annie Haven photos: compliments of Annie Haven photos: compliments of Annie Haven photos: compliments of Annie Haven photos: compliments of Annie Haven

Previous Podcast Episodes

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

How to Build a Bat House

Photo courtesy: National Wildlife Federation
Bats can eat more than 500 mosquitoes in an hour!  So says the National Wildlife Federation website.  How would you like to keep the mosquito population down to a minimum without having to spray harmful chemicals.  

Incorporating bats has been a long used practice for organic gardening methods.  Of course first you need to get a bat or two in your area, and without a house, they won't stay long.  

Check out this step by step tutorial by the National Wildlife Federation so you can build a bat house for your self.

6 Ways to Help Ensure Your Veggies Will Succeed

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Anytime you can pick up a few tips on making your home vegetable garden a bit more successful or productive, you simply have to read on.

Today, our good friend Gardening Jones, posted 6 tips for your home vegetable gardening that can do just that ... help insure your vegetables will succed.

Monday, May 26, 2014

5 Tips on How You Can Stop Your Tomatoes from Cracking

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Even the most experienced vegetable gardeners will have a tomato crack on them.  Don't ever feel like you are alone when this happens.  Our friends over at Tomato Dirt have written a nice tutorial on cracking tomatoes and what you can do about it.

There is a boatload of beneficial information in this article, so be sure to head on over there by clicking the link below and checking it out.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

9 Pest-Fighting Flowers

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Companion planting is a hot topic in the world of vegetable gardening.  You engage in companion planting for a variety of reasons, to attract wildlife that can aide in pollination, fighting pests, reduce disease and many more.

One of the cool things of companion planting, is to get to plant many things that serve a wide range of purposes as well as provide a lot of color and fragrances, such as this list of 9 Pest Fighting Plants, written by vegetable gardening author Greg Holdsworth.

There are some popular items on this list, along with some traditional favorites.  Enjoy!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

20 colorful plants for shade gardens

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If you have limited sun on your property but still want to grow some cool things, check out this list from  They list 20 colorful flowers that you can plant, grow and get to thrive in areas that receive ample amounts of shade.

Friday, May 23, 2014

5 of the Fastest Growing Vegetables that You Can Plant Now - This Week in Vegetable Gardening

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3 Best Reasons for Growing Your Own Mint - Mint.  It's one of those things you either love to grow it, or absolutely hate it.  I have yet to meet someone that says "mint, eh, it's ok" ....  There are some great uses for the various choices of mint that you can grow.  Check out this article by Barbara Pleasant, that will get your mint juices flowing :)

Volunteer Tomatoes - Here is another excellent and very useful article by Barbara Pleasant.  This time Barbara tackles volunteer tomatoes.  A volunteer tomato is one that grows in a place that you didn't plant one.  More than likely a compost pile or a garden bed area when you planted them in a previous season. 

5 of the Fastest Growing Vegetables that You Can Plant - Who wouldn't like to plant a seed and a week later harvest something, everyone, right?  Well ok, even with these 5 you still won't harvest anything in a week, but you will get 5 great tasting veggies in mere weeks. 

Engraved Garden Stone – A Garden Product Review - What would a weekly vegetable gardening round up be without at least one article by garden guru, Shawna Coronado.  This week she reviews some really cool engraved garden stones by Adirondack Stone Works
10 Favorites for Ohio - Do you live in Ohio? Do you live in the same growing zone as Ohio?  If os check out this article from The Whispering Crane Institute which lists 10 herbs that are favorites for Ohio.

What Plants Attract the Most Wildlife? - Wildlife gardens are becoming all the rage.  Who can argue?  What can be cooler when see insects and other creatures that you didn't even know existed in your area, let alone they are visiting your backyard.  Check out this quick article on what you can plant to attract some garden favorites.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

7 Ways To Get Your Kids To Eat Their Veggies

If you have been following this blog or listening to my weekly vegetable gardening podcast then you know I have two young sons.  And one of the greatest challenges for me, and probably for a lot of parents out there, is getting my kids to eat their veggies.

One of the best ways I have personally found to accomplish this is to have my kids involved in our vegetable gardening activities.  Specifically, each one has their own 3' x 3' garden bed where they can grow anything they like, on one condition ... they must eat what they grow.

Now while I won't say that they eat "everything", they do at least try everything, which is a great start.  

In this article by Kiran Dodeja Smith on a website I absolutely love, "100 Days of Real Food", Kiran gives you 6 other tips to get your kids eating their veggies.

How to Make Super Cheap Seed Starters

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Have you ever used those expandable peat pods (or pots depending on who you are buying them from)?  They are neat, and the kids really love watching them expand.  At least my kids do as do the kids at a recent gardening demonstration I conducted at my local school.

Before you go buy some of them, give this project a try with your kids (or if you are a kid at heart).  These look super cool to do and really easy.  Just a few basic ingredients is all you need.  Have fun!

13 Cheap & Easy DIY Greenhouses

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Greenhouses are a great way to get a jump start on your vegetable gardening season.  A lot of plants simply can not grow outdoors until the temperatures are warm to hot.  Tomatoes, peppers and eggplant to name a few.  

But, with a greenhouse, you can get these types started from seed earlier so that when the temps do warm up in your area, you can move them to a permanent vegetable garden bed.

Do you have the room for a greenhouse? If so, before you drop a few hundred dollars on one from the store, or $20 on a cheap plastic one from a home center, take a crack at building one of these 13 plans.

45 Fragrant Flowers You Can Plant Now!

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We have a lilac tree in our front yard area and when that lilac tree is in full bloom, the sweet aroma is unbelievable.  My dad, who is not much of a flowering tree (or flower) guy, came over my house not too long ago, and while walking up my front pathway, could not help but say, wow, "you can smell your lilac tree from the street."

Of course lilac is just one of literally thousands of very fragrant flowers you can plant to make the air smell sweeter, better and more inviting.  

Check out this list from Garden Gate Magazine.  They list about 32 of varieties and the growing zones they are perfect for.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

10 Herbs for Acid Reflux Relief

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Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or more commonly known as Acid Reflux, is a condition in which the stomach contents (food or liquid) leak backwards from the stomach into the esophagus (the tube from the mouth to the stomach). This action can irritate the esophagus, causing heartburn and other symptoms.

Do you suffer from Acid Reflux?   If so, your first step is to always consult with your family physician.  However, these 10 herbs, written about on might be able to help.  Again, consult with your physician first.

10 starter tips for growing tasty tomatoes

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I love growing tomatoes as do about 40 million other people in America. So it comes as no surprise that anytime you can pick up some helpful tips to make growing tomatoes easier, better and more rewarding, you jump on those tips.

Here are some really cool tips from Canadian Gardening to help you along with your tomato growing efforts.

How To Build The Ultimate Tomato Cage For Under $2….The Stake-A-Cage

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I love using tomato cages.  In fact the ones that I own are well over 15 years old.  I do my best to take care of them so they will last.  I do that because as you may know, tomato cages at stores don't come cheap.  I wish I had this tutorial back then.  I might have saved myself quite a bit money.

Check it out and give it a try.  I know I will.

How to Build a 5 Gallon Self Wicking Tomato Watering Container

The tomato is the number vegetable, er um, fruit grown in the home vegetable garden.  Who can argue?  They taste great and with so many size and color choices (over 2,000), everyone can just about pick a favorite.

In this video tutorial by The Rusted Garden, you are taken on a step by step journey on not only growing tomatoes, but how to do it in a 5 gallon container.  Fun stuff!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

12 Helpful Tips to Ward off Nasty Mosquitoes

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If you like mosquitoes, raise your hand ... ok, no one raised their hands.  There is a reason why.  Mosquitoes suck.  Ok, bad attempt at a pun, but you get the point. Mosquitoes can ruin a barbecue, a camping trip and leisurely stroll through your home vegetable garden.

What makes matter worse is all this talk about various viruses that mosquitoes can carry and pass along.   Although I have not personally met anyone that has contracted any such viruses from a mosquito bite, I'd rather not take that chance.

While these won't be the end all of your tackling mosquito issues, these 12 tips for reducing mosquitoes will definitely help.  Check them out.

How to Make a Weed Killer Spray ... Recipe & Tips

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Getting rid of weeds naturally is definitely in the top 5 of questions that I receive from gardeners.  There are a slew of recipes out there that you can try.  Most people want their weed killers to be organic or as close to organic as possible.

Here is a recipe that I would not qualify as organic but it's pretty close.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.

How to Build a Wood Garden Box

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Raised beds have so many benefits when it comes to gardening, that even if you add just one to your backyard you will surely be hooked and want more.

You don't have to run out and buy anything fancy, nor do you have to be a master carpenter to build one.  You can make raised beds out of a lot different items and as our friends at Food Storage Made Easy will show you, it's pretty easy to make a raised garden bed right at home.

The 10 Easiest Vegetables to Grow from Seeds

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Who wouldn't like to learn to make gardening a lot easier, especially when it comes to growing them from seed.  I know I would.

In this article from Green Child Magazine, author Amanda Hearn, gives you her 10 best choices for growing these easy vegetables, and how to do it directly from seeds.  Growing from vegetable seeds is always a treat for the challenge (certain veggies) and of course the ability to save some money.

Monday, May 19, 2014

12 Interesting Ways To Use Coffee In The Garden

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Coffee grounds can be used in a multitude of ways to assist with your gardening efforts.  The popular choice is to mix your spent coffee grounds into your compost pile.  Now that is probably the most popular use for coffee grounds, but did you know of some others?

Here is this article from Best Plants, they show you 12 more ways on how coffee grounds can be useful in your home vegetable garden.  Just remember to save those coffee grounds and if you don't drink coffee, not to worry, go pick up some free ones from Starbucks.

25 Of The World’s Best Organizing Ideas

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Do you need a little organization in your life?  If you are anything like me then that answer is a resounding YES!

I have to honestly say, organization is the one thing I need to constantly work on and stay on top of, so any ideas or suggestions that I get I warmly accept.

Here are 25, listed on the Home Made Home Ideas website, that definitely can help.  Comment below and let everyone know of your organization tips.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

#181: Mike interviews Niki Jabbour Author of Groundbreaking Food Gardens

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Niki JabbourIn this week's episode, Mike interviews Niki Jabbour. Niki is the author of the new book Groundbreaking Food Gardens: 73 Plans That Will Change the Way You Grow Your Garden as well as the host of the radio The Weekend Gardener, which airs every Sunday on News 95.7 FM out of Nova Scotia.

Niki is a prolific garden writer whose work appears in newspapers and magazines across North America, including Fine Gardening, Horticulture, Heirloom Gardener, Gardens East, Garden Making and Canadian Gardening.

In this episode, here’s what we’ll cover:

  • Get to know Niki
  • Growing fresh food year round
  • About Groundbreaking Food Gardens
  • Great garden plans for kids
  • Wildlife gardens
  • Pizza gardens
  • Cocktail gardens
  • Small space gardening ideas
  • Niki's garden radio show

Items mentioned in this episode include:

About this week's Guest, Niki Jabbour, author of Groundbreaking Food Gardens:

Niki's new book, Groundbreaking Food Gardens: 73 Plans that Will Change the Way You Grow Your Garden was published by Storey Publishing in March 2014. According to Niki, this book was "incredibly fun to write" and involved Niki chasing down some of her favourite garden writers, bloggers and experts who then created an edible garden plan for the book.

The book includes a very wide assortment of garden plans - fruits, berries, veggies, herbs, edible flowers and much more. Contributors include Mark Cullen, Marjorie Harris, Liz Primeau, Jessica Walliser, Steven Biggs, Joe Lamp'l, Barbara Pleasant, Debra Prinzing, Amy Stewart and Susan Morrison, Amanda Thomson, Jeff Lowenfels, Jessi Bloom, Nan Sterman, Paul Zammit and many many more!

Niki is also the host of The Weekend Gardener, a call-in radio show that has been on the air for over 8 years! You can join Niki every Sunday from 11 to 1 pm Atlantic time on News 95.7 FM, New 91.9 FM or News 88.9 FM or listen live online at

You can follow Niki's gardening adventures at or on facebook at The Weekend Gardener with Niki Jabbour page.

Previous Podcast Episodes

Friday, May 16, 2014

66 Things You Can Grow in Containers! - This Week in Vegetable Gardening

There are some excellent articles this week around the world wide web.  Here are few that I thought would be helpful to your vegetable gardening efforts.  Enjoy!

5 Reasons to plant a vegetable garden this year… even if you’ve never done it before!
As if you needed any more reason to grow your own food, but here are 5 more in this article on the blog. 

Vegetables Made in the Shade
Another excellent article by gardening author Marie Iannotti.  If you sun is at a premium on your property, and shade is in abundance, check out Marie's article.  Maybe it will "shed some light" on your vegetable garden.  (Ok that was a bad pun)

66 Things You Can Grow in Containers!
Now there really are no excuses as to why you can not grow some of your own fruits, vegetables and herbs.  Check this article out on the Urban Organic Gardener Blog.  There just has to be something on this list that you can grow right now. 

Gardening as you Get Older
Taking a step away from all the great tips and tricks about gardening, a little inspiration for us all to keep that gardening drive going as we move up there in years.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mike is interviewed by Niki Jabbour on the Weekend Gardener

Mike takes a break from gardening and podcasting to be the one getting interviewedvp.jpg.  On Sunday May 11th, Mike spoke with Niki Jabbour the host of the Weekend Gardening (News 95.7 FM) which airs on Sundays in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Listen in as they talk tomatoes, seeds, gardening and more. 

Listen Now:

Monday, May 12, 2014

Starting Your Vegetable Seeds

In this blog post I wanted to take you on a step-by-step of basic instructions on how to start your seeds.

There are literally countless ways you can start them so pick a method that works best for you. Here is just one example of starting seeds that I chose.  Comment below and let me know which method you prefer.

First let's go over the tools of the trade:

1] To start we're going to need something to plant them in. For this example we are using the six cell flat biodegradable seed starting planter from Cowpots

I like to use these because when it is time to plant them in the garden I can simply detach each of the cells and plant the whole pot.  Over the course of the gardening season the pot itself will biodegrade adding nutrients back into the soil.

2] Next we need some actual soil.  I recommend that you get a potting soil mix from your home or garden center that is formulated specifically for fruits, vegetables and/or herb seeds.

You can also create your own seed starting mix. There are plenty of recipes on the Internet.  One popular mix is equal parts compost and peat moss or coir mixed with perilite or vermiculite.  

I have used this mixture and it works great!  However, I like to reduce the amount of perilite or vermiculite to about a quarter of the part of the compost or peat moss.

3] Next up are the seeds that you are going to plant.  In this example I am using celery.  You can use whatever seeds that you would like just be sure to follow the instructions on the back of your seed packet as you move along with this process.

celery seeds from the Seeds of the Month Club

4] Finally you will need something to mark which seeds that you have planted.  I don't know about you but I can easily forget as I start planting a lot of different varieties of seeds.  For this step all you need are some wooden sticks and a sharpie marker.

We are now ready to begin!

First take your soil and fill up the cells of the seed starting six cell flat.

Make sure that you fill each cell in the six cell flat to the top.  Do not press down at this point.  Make sure the soil stays loose.  We will address the "flattening" down of the soil in the next few steps.

Next take your seeds and put them in each individual cell.  The amount of seeds you will put in each cell will depend upon the variety of fruit, vegetable or herb that you are planting.

In this case I am planting celery. As you can seen in the photo above, celery seeds are extremely small.   Unless you have tremendous dexterity (of which I do not), celery seeds are too small to plant individual seeds.

A good rule of thumb is the larger the seed the fewer seeds per each cell.  Of course this may vary depending on what you are planting, so be sure to read the back of your seed packet.

As you can see in the photo I took a pinch of celery seeds and just sprinkled them in each cell.  I will thin these out later when it the time comes to move them to their permanent growing location.

Next take an empty six cell flat and place it on top of the filled six cell flat as shown in the picture and press down firmly.

Some gardeners like to keep their soil loose.  I like to make mine a little bit firm and then put loose soil on top.  I personally have not seen an advantage of one method over the other, so the choice is yours.

NOTE: You can reverse the previous two steps if you like.  i.e. flatten the soil then add the seeds.  Again, the choice is yours.
In this next step, take a little bit more gardening soil and then fill up the six cell flat once again level to the top.

Now that the six cell flat is filled once again with soil do not press down on the topsoil.  You want nice loose soil above the seed so that it can break through the top to sunlight.

Finally write on the wooden stick with your sharpie marker the variety of seed that you had just planted and insert the stick into one of the six cells to Mark what you have just planted.

Give it a light watering and you are all done!  

Comment below and let me know which seed starting method you prefer :)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

#180: Mike interviews LaManda Joy the founder of the Peterson Garden Project

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Lamanda JoyIn this week's episode, Mike chats with Lamanda Joy the founder of the Peterson Garden Project.

Located in Chicago, IL, the Peterson Garden Project is a not-for-profit organization looking to inspire everyone they meet to grow their own food and community.

However, as you will find out in this episode, Lamanda took her own love of gardening and her life experiences, and used those skills to create a robust, community-focused gardening project that is so much more than growing veggies.

In this episode, here’s what we’ll cover:

  • History of the Peterson Garden Project
  • The size of the Peterson Garden Project
  • The amount of food produced at the Peterson Garden Project
  • Community Gardening in General
  • Neat tips and tricks of the Peterson Garden Project
  • The Peterson Garden Project expansion into helpful classes and orientations
  • A behind the scenes look at Lamanda's own home garden

Items mentioned in this episode include:

About this week's Guest, Lamanda Joy and the Peterson Garden Project:

It's true that most people today don't know how to grow food, but it's a challenge we've met before. During WWII Chicagoans started 1,500 commnunity gardens, known as Victory Gardens. And more than 250,000 people started home gardens, too. They did it all in four short years, and 90% of the people had never gardened before.

We just know that there is a better way to eat, a better way to garden, and a better way to sustain our natural resources.

Have we piqued your curiosity? Tempted you with thoughts of mouth-watering food and connections to your neighbors and community? We certainly hope so. Whether you want to roll up your sleeves and garden, volunteer, donate or learn, we'd just love to show you what we're doing and why we think you'll love it, too.

Previous Podcast Episodes