Winter In The Vegetable Garden: No Season For Discontent

Now that winter is upon us, there’s still plenty to do in the vegetable garden. Aside form any pruning that didn’t get done earlier in the fall, there’s plenty to do just getting your garden soil prepared for next spring and the new growing season. Here’s an article by L. Woodrow Ross written for the Independent Mail at IndependentMail.Com all about what we should be doing in our gardens and around the yard this winter to get a jump start on spring.

Winter In The Vegetable Garden: No Season For Discontent

vegetable garden

Take the time to prepare your vegetable garden soil this winter to get a jump on next spring. Photo by audaxi c/o Photos.Com.

Humus can be added to improve the texture of the soil. This can be leaf mold or purchased peat moss. Leaf mold is easily created by composting leaves that you rake from your lawn in the fall. By the following fall they will have broken down and created leaf mold that is a wonderful amendment for the soil. Four-foot high fence wire can be staked into a circle and leaves piled inside and allowed to compact and decay for garden use.

In addition, a compost heap is a good investment for gardeners. Vegetable peels, decayed fruit, watermelon and cantaloupe rinds and other kitchen discards may be composted to create rich amendment for gardens and ornamentals. Composting can be done by created wooden bins and tossing vegetable matter inside. A little soil can be thrown in to hold moisture and it can be sprayed with a garden hose. Use a pitchfork to turn the compost occasionally.

Commercial compost bins come in many shapes and sizes. Some are elevated and barrel-shaped. They can be turned with a crank to mix the contents and are among the easiest to use. Others are simple plastic bins that have top-loading features and doors that open at the bottom to remove the composted material.

To maintain the soil in the best condition for spring planting, cover the surface with several inches of straw or leaves to keep it from freezing and to maintain moisture. If the soil is fertile, this covering will even allow earthworms to be active in the soil during the winter months. When the mulch is raked away in the spring, the rows can be laid off and you are ready to plant with a minimum of effort.

Read original article here:

The winter vegetable garden is still a place with plenty of activity if you focus on all the under the scenes action. Go ahead and get your soil and any plants and trees that need tending if you get a nice day. You’ll thank yourself later this year (and so will your vegetables).

Please go ahead and share your thoughts and opinions below by leaving a comment. Click on the like button and share this with a friend. I also have another magazine I’ve started over on ScoopIt! that has more interesting and fun articles for your reading enjoyment!

Get The Best Dirt On Vegetable Gardening

There’s a lot of dirt being spread about vegetable gardening these days. No, really. The soil is where it’s at. Plenty of organic material broken down and decomposed from previous tenants of the earth ready to feed your garden for next season. Anything that grows uses nutrients from the soil to build itself into a plant. Only by decomposing and leaving its components behind can something else grow there in its place. Replacing nutrients with things like compost (the ultimate in nutrition for soil I might add) is a natural way of keeping your vegetable garden’s soil well balanced in the building blocks of life that your tender young plants will need to thrive in the spring. UC Master Gardener Nanette Londeree writes in Marinij.com how to amend your soil to get it ready for next year.

Get The Best Dirt On Vegetable Gardening

FALL IS FOR PLANTING. Whether you’re ready to set out cool season vegetables, add a specimen tree or divide your perennials, you can get a jump start on next season’s growing by planting now. It’s also a great time to invigorate beds for spring planting.vegetable gardening

If your garden is blessed with oodles of chocolate-colored, crumbly, vibrant soil just waiting to be used, you needn’t read any further. But if, like many Marin gardeners, you’ve got soil that looks like brick in the summer and glue in the winter, you may want to transform it into plant-friendly soil by amending it — adding materials to improve it.

But what do you add? A visit to your local nursery can put you on overload with the dizzying array of products, so it’s helpful to understand what you want from a material before buying it.

First some terminology: an amendment is any material mixed into the soil that indirectly aids plant growth by improving the condition of the soil, like its structure or texture, water retention or microbial activity.

The terms soil conditioner and amendment are often used interchangeably, both serving to improve the chemical, physical or biological properties of soil. Mulches are organic or inorganic materials placed on the soil surface to help prevent weed growth, conserve moisture and add organic matter to the soil as they break down. A number of materials used as soil amendments can act as a fertilizer by providing nutrients to the soil, or be applied to the soil surface as mulch.

Original article here at marinij.com:

Vegetable gardening teaches us many things, including a very important lesson about the continuity of life. We “get out” what we “put in” to our vegetable gardens. The seed provides the program, the sun and the earth provide the energy, and the nutrients within the soil contribute the building blocks to make a new plant. It’s truly amazing to contemplate the magnitude of such elegant simplicity! Why not try it yourself? Connect yourself to the infinite through your gardening next year.

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Shall I not have intelligence with the earth?  Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mold myself.    —  Henry David Thoreau

Organic Vegetable Gardening: The Dirty Dozen And The Clean Fifteen

Many of us practice organic vegetable gardening to improve the nutrition value of what we feed our families, while at the same time eliminating unwanted pesticides from our diets. A recent study indicated that organic and commercially grown produce were, for all intents and purposes, identical. So, they concluded, why spend the extra money for organic produce? Here Bobby Shuttleworth writing for the WAFF.Com provides some insights into the study’s conclusions that there were no real differences between organic and commercially grown produce. Now, we all know better, don’t we.

Organic Vegetable Gardening: The Dirty Dozen And The Clean Fifteen

A recent report by Stanford University looked at more than 200 previous studies comparing organic and non organic produce. Parkway Campus Registered Dietician Kim Donohue deciphered the study.

“Statistically, there was no significant difference in the vitamins. Now there was a difference in the pesticide levels,” said Donohue.

And that can make a healthy difference for the careful shopper.organic vegetable gardening

“Of course organic foods do have lower pesticide levels, although fruits and vegetables do make natural pesticides to protect themselves,” Donohue said.

She said produce also absorbs pesticides differently.

Donohue said it goes back to what’s known as the “dirty dozen” or the “clean 15.”

“Fruits and vegetables with thinner skins tend to hold more pesticides. Fruits with thicker skin tend to hold less pesticides. Apples, imported grapes, sweet bell peppers – they have more pesticides.”

She said produce grown in the U.S. also contains fewer pesticides.

See the list of the dirty dozen and the clean fifteen here at waff.com:

Organic vegetable gardening produces pesticide free and nutrient rich produce. You know it and so do I. I’ll be discussing this in an upcoming post in more detail and putting this into better perspective for you. Stay tuned.

Go ahead and leave a comment and share your opinion on this. Have you seen the study? What do you think? Please share this with someone and click the like button to do so.

I have always thought a kitchen garden a more pleasant sight than the finest orangery. I lovee to see everything in perfection, and am more pleased to survey my rows of coleworts and cabbages, with a thousand nameless pot herbs springing up in their full fragrancy and verdure, than to see the tender plants of foreign countries.                                           —  Joseph Addison

Hong Kong Elevates Organic Vegetable Gardening To New Heights

When it comes to organic vegetable gardening, maintaining higher standards is everything. In Hong Kong they appear to have a distrust for the produce coming from mainland China. With all of the scandals that have been reported concerning what is getting sprayed on ghe produce coming out of China that is for sale in Hong Kong, many locals are going out of their way to avoid this produce and growing their own vegetables by organic methods. Writer Mary Hui presented a piece in the New York Times, reprinted here in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s online edition, describing the lengths to which Hong Kong residents have been going to in order to ensure their food’s wholesomeness.

Hong Kong Elevates Organic Vegetable Gardening To New Heights

HONG KONG — Kimbo Chan knows all about the food scandals in China: the formaldehyde that is sometimes sprayed on Chinese cabbages, the melamine in the milk and the imitation soy sauce made from hair clippings. That is why he is growing vegetables on a rooftop high above the crowded streets of Hong Kong.

“Some mainland Chinese farms even buy industrial chemicals to use on their crops,” Mr. Chan said. “Chemicals not meant for agricultural uses at all.”

As millions of Hong Kong consumers grow increasingly worried about the purity and safety of the fruits, vegetables, meats and processed foods coming in from mainland China, more of them are striking out on their own by tending tiny plots on rooftops, on balconies and in far-flung, untouched corners of highly urbanized Hong Kong.

“Consumers are asking, will the food poison them?” said Jonathan Wong, a professor of biology and the director of the Hong Kong Organic Resource Center. “They worry about the quality of the food. There is a lack of confidence in the food supply in China.”

Organic food stores are opening across the city, and there is growing demand in the markets for organic produce despite its higher prices. There are about 100 certified organic farms in Hong Kong. Seven years ago, there were none.organic vegetable gardening

There is no official count of rooftop farms in Hong Kong, but they are clearly part of an international trend. New York has many commercialized rooftop farms established by companies like Gotham Greens, Bright Farms and Brooklyn Grange. In Berlin, an industrial-size rooftop vegetable and fish farm is in the pipeline. In Tokyo, a farm called Pasona O2 takes urban farming a step further: Vegetables are grown not only on roofs, but also in what was an underground bank vault.

With 7.1 million people in one of the most densely populated cities on earth, Hong Kong has little farmland and almost no agricultural sector. The territory imports more than 90 percent of its food. Hong Kong is hooked on vegetables, and 92 percent of its supply comes from mainland China.

On a recent morning at one of Hong Kong’s bustling and chaotic fresh produce markets, known here as “wet markets,” a woman bought three Chinese squashes for a good price. “Vegetables are expensive nowadays,” she said wearily. “Even if I cared enough about organic food and worried about chemicals, there’s nothing I can really do about it.”

Organic vegetable gardening produces nutritious and chemical free produce. Growing cam be done almost anywhere using square foot gardening techniques and raised bed gardens. When your food supply is questionable, do it yourself and make sure it’s safe to eat.
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A vegetable garden in the beginning looks so promising and then after all little by little it grows nothing but vegetables, nothing, nothing but vegetables.                            — Gertrude Stein

Organic Vegetable Gardening: Cheap And Delicious

When you think of organic vegetable gardening, do you think healthy, inexpensive or just plain tasty? Well, you can certainly think of all three and be correct. Raising vegetable crops organically means using the energy of the soil and the sun efficiently, which is simply what nature already does. Nutrients are recycled and move through the system while maintaining an equilibrium, never needing to be replenished from any external sources. This is also the least expensive method of raising vegetable plants for the long run. Many restaurants prefer organically grown produce and work their menus around what’s available locally. This is because it’s freshest and has the highest nutrient content when it’s just harvested and hasn’t traveled thousands of miles to get to the end user. Here’s a short article from WRAL.Com that highlights some of the major benefits of organic produce that local markets and restaurants prefer over non-locally sourced vegetables.

Organic Vegetable Gardening: Cheap And Delicious

Two reasons many people don’t eat enough vegetables are cost and flavor. Many turn to cheaper processed foods packed with

organic vegetable gardening

Organic vegetable gardening produces crops with more flavor and nutrients than commercially grown. Photo by Paul Grecaud c/o Photos.Com.

sodium.

But one easy alternative is to grown your own.

Organic culinary farmer Maggie Lawrence is getting the most out of her summer produce before time runs out.

“One more good month of warm weather before we get a frost,” she said.

Everything she grows in a garden on the campus of SAS Institute in Cary ends up in Chef Scott Crawford’s kitchen at Heron’s restaurant.

“The key here is that it’s harvested today, cooked today and consumed today,” Crawford said.

As picked produce sits day after day, it loses flavor. So the restaurant menu is built around what’s available and ready for harvest.

Read the entire article here at wral.com:

When you factor in all of the costs, including transportation, organic vegetable gardening techniques are far more economical if you source the produce locally. Using natural fertilizers instead of petroleum based enhancers also does not deplete the soil of trace elements. Organically grown vegetables are available from local producers, and buying from them supports the local economy as well. So why not support your local growers and go organic?

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Never eat broccoli when there are cameras around.                                  —  Michael Stipe

Basic Vegetable Gardening Tips Every Beginner Should Know

As a now former novice vegetable gardener, I was very interested in getting the very best basic vegetable gardening tips to start my garden out on the right foot. I read a lot of websites and bought several books to help me get everything going. I felt I had mastered a  sufficient amount of beginning vegetable gardening skills with all of my reading. I was now ready to get out and practice in my field. One thing I didn’t consider was to have the soil tested to see what it might be missing. Now, fortunately for me (maybe it was luck), I had a good year and there weren’t any problems. I did add in lots of manure and compost. I never thought to check the acidity, or pH, of the soil. Greg Bowman would probably have advised me against skipping this step. Here he writes for the Calhoun Times and tells it like it is when you start to get down into the dirt.

Basic Vegetable Gardening Tips Every Beginner Should Know

I will be the first to admit it, I do not vegetable garden a lot. Maybe that won’t send shockwaves through the community, but between assisting my clients and then being coach and/or driver to the girl’s ball and 4-H events there has not been time in my

basic vegetable gardening

Follow some basic vegetable gardening tips for the best garden crops this year.

personal schedule.

I did grow up in a family where working in the family garden was a right-of-passage. Still today my grandparent’s vegetable garden is successful with my grandfather and uncle doing most of the management.

Today, I would like to share some tips on successful vegetable garden. The bulk of vegetable gardening for 2012 is complete, but now is a good time to lay the ground work for 2013.

If you do not soil sample, please give it some thought. Regular readers of my articles will know I have said this many times. If you don’t soil test, you are just guessing on what you need to purchase when you visit the store of your choice when purchasing fertilizer and lime.

I am going to venture too that we have folks that may fertilize each year, but have not put a bag of lime on their garden in decades. When you talk soil fertility, you need to give thought to soil pH. Soil pH can really be a big player in you having garden success or failure.

In our area of Georgia, we can tend to be more acidic or have more low soil pH. When the soil pH is low, much of that good fertilizer may never get used by your plants. This time of year is a good time to soil test your garden because you may need to start improving your soil pH now in order to see an improvement for next growing season.

Basic vegetable gardening skills are easy to pick up on but once you get better at it there’s always more to learn to keep improving. Get a new book or go on line and see what you can read about that you didn’t know. Every new item of knowledge will enable you to grow larger and tastier crops every season. Remember, it isn’t what you know so much as what you don’t know that often makes the biggest impact on results.
Please go ahead and leave a comment and share your gardening experiences. Click the like button and share this article with a fellow gardener.
Shipping is a terrible thing to do to vegetables.  They probably get jet-lagged, just like people.   — Elizabeth Berry

Square Foot Vegetable Gardening: Smallest Footprint For The Biggest Reward

It’s nice to know that all of your backyard gardening efforts are going to pay off, but it’s doubly great when you are practicing square foot vegetable gardening techniques that minimize your impact on the planet. I’ve written before on the subject of square foot gardening, and vegetable gardening practices that incorporate these methods have the least negative impact on the environment while at the same time producing the greatest yields of vegetables and produce for the amount of soil used. I’m of the opinion that, just like fresh water, nutrient rich topsoil is a dwindling resource and must also be conserved and used wisely. Here is a very short article (with recipes – that’s always a bonus) written by Mel Bartholomew for the Sioux City Journal.com about square foot gardening and why we should be planting in that direction.

Square Foot Vegetable Gardening: Smallest Footprint For The Biggest Reward

There’s a spark in the eyes of square-foot gardeners when they explain how much food they

square foot vegetable gardening

Square foot vegetable gardening maximizes yields from soil and minimizes carbon footprint. Photo by Ablestock c/o Photos.Com.

harvest, how easy it is to start, and what they plan to grow next year. The chief zealot is Mel

Bartholomew, whose passion for the idea he developed 30 years ago is inspiring a new generation of backyard gardeners.

“With my engineer and efficiency training, I started making a list,” he recalls. “Why do we plant in single rows? Why is the next row 3 feet away? Why do we plant a whole pack of seeds? We will never eat that much. And if you plant everything at once, it comes to harvest all at once.”

A failed community garden experiment inspired Bartholomew to solve the tilling, spacing, harvest and weeding issues in traditional gardening. He built his first square-foot garden (still intact) on his Long Island property with squares instead of rows to minimize weed-prone areas; 48-inch square plots so anyone can reach across to work the interior squares; and a different plant in each 1-foot square for beauty and diversity.

That was 1981. Two books and a PBS television series later, square-foot gardening is being taken up by a new type of gardener, one concerned with food miles, carbon footprint, sustainability and food safety.

See the original post here at siouxcityjournal.com:

Try your own hand next season at square foot vegetable gardening to see how much produce you can realize from a tiny patch of soil. Just think of yourself as being a good steward of the valuable resources that have been placed under your care.

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Pray for peace and grace and spiritual food, for wisdom and guidance, for all these are good, but don’t forget the potatoes.

                                                                                                                                                   —  John Tyler Pettee

Heirloom Organic Vegetable Gardening Tips: Keep Your Seeds For Next Year

I think that one of the best aspects of organic vegetable gardening is your ability to propagate your vegetable plants each succeeding year. As long as you are using heirloom varieties and not the commercial hybridized seed varieties, you can isolate and preserve your seed stock for the next season. Once they’re dried, store them either in the refrigerator or some cool dry location away from light. The article here is more focused on flower seeds, but the principles apply. I’ll be setting up a static page here soon that covers this topic in detail for those of you who are interested. preserving our seed stock has become more important lately due to economic and climate factors that may make it necessary for many of us to depend on our vegetable gardens to grow more of our own food than ever before. Here is a short primer on seed preservation by Master Gardener Joe Lamp’l written for Scripps Howard News Service that recently appeared in Wicked Local Ashland.

Heirloom Organic Vegetable Gardening Tips: Keep Your Seeds For Next Year

One of fall’s most pleasant chores is collecting, drying and saving the seed from my favorite garden flowers and vegetables. It’s

organic vegetable gardening

Organic vegetable gardening heirloom plants allows saving seeds for next season. Photo by IT Stock Free c/o Photos.Com.

relaxing, and fills me with anticipation about next year’s garden even as this one is winding down. I also love to share seeds with other gardeners. This preserves and propagates favorite plants across the land — and propels them into the future.

You can collect most any seed, but I recommend starting with easy-to-save kinds like sunflower (Helianthus divaricatus), Zone 3-8, or hollyhock (Alcea rugosa), Zone 4-8, and those whose seed is expensive to buy commercially, like gerbera daisies (Gerbera jamesonii), Zone 8-10.

Hard-to-find seed like Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum biflorum), Zone 3-8, are good candidates, too. Collect from as many healthy, robust plants as you can. This helps preserve genetic diversity and reduces the chance for passing on undesirable traits such as susceptibility to disease.

It’s best to harvest from heirloom or open-pollinated plants — those propagated by wind, insects and other “natural” means — rather than hybrids.

Using organic vegetable gardening techniques you can very easily preserve and propagate your vegetable seeds for next year. There are methods for preparing your seeds for longer term storage, but I plan to cover that topic in a report that’ll be up in the near future. Try your hand at saving some seeds for next growing season. You can always start them indoors and see if they germinate before committing them to your vegetable garden in earnest.
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The man who has nothing to boast of but his ancestors is like a potato – the only good belonging to him is under ground.  — Sir Thomas Overbury

First Hospital-Based Greenhouse To Grow Organic Vegetables Year Round

Wouldn’t it be terrific to be able to grow organic vegetables year round? Having the benefit of all of that nutrient-dense and pesticide-free produce at your fingertips would be a windfall to your continued good health. Well, who better to to implement this idea than a hospital? After all, you have a population of patients who are trying to recover from their illnesses, as well as hospital staff who have to be at their physical best all of the time. Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital located in West Bloomfield, Michigan (coincidentally where I grew up) has become the first hospital in the nation to build and start a hospital-based greenhouse. I mean, such a great idea! Feed people nutritious organic vegetables and fruits so they can recover more quickly and to enhance the dining experience which provides positive psychological benefits that will also improve the overall experience for patients. A recent article by Sylvia Rector written for the Detroit Free Press highlights this concept.

First Hospital-Based Greenhouse To Grow Organic Vegetables Year Round

Perched on a 8-foot ladder, Michelle Lutz reaches into the leafy tops of the pole-bean vines growing toward the glass roof of Henry

grow organic vegetables

Grow organic vegetables year round in a greenhouse.

Ford West Bloomfield Hospital’s new $1-million hydroponic greenhouse.

“The first ones!” the resident farmer declares, holding up several young pods.

Already that morning she had picked red and green lettuces, heirloom cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, edible nasturtiums and bunches of herbs for the hospital’s kitchen, which uses the produce in patients’ meals and its cafe.

Dozens of kinds of vegetables and herbs — five types of kale, 23 kinds of tomatoes, five varieties of basil, eggplants, squash, hot and sweet peppers, fresh herbs, microgreens and even strawberry plants — have been thriving since mid-summer in what Henry Ford officials say is the first hospital-based greenhouse in the nation.

It is surprisingly prolific. Hospital chefs no longer have to buy microgreens or basil, their most-used herb, because the greenhouse produces all they need. “If I manage this properly,” Lutz says, indicating her 12-by-20-foot hydroponic table, “this will produce 15,000 heads of lettuce in a year. For 240 square feet, that’s pretty incredible.”

But growing organic vegetables year-round for the hospital’s kitchens isn’t the only purpose of the gleaming, 1,500-square-foot glass structure and its adjoining educational center, both entirely funded by an anonymous donor.

The buildings, which will be unveiled Saturday, are designed to educate and inspire everyone from patients to the public to make healthier food choices — in keeping with the hospital’s mission of promoting wellness as well as treating illness.

And because of Michigan’s high childhood obesity rates, many of its educational center exhibits and programs are geared toward kids.

“We want to make sure that every single day we have yellow school buses coming here from all over southeast Michigan,” says hospital CEO Gerard van Grinsven. “We want to influence our young ones to start thinking differently about food and what they put in their bodies.”

His vision for the project doesn’t stop at the West Bloomfield campus. “Ultimately, we can take this to downtown Detroit and start producing food for the entire (Henry Ford) system — not have it just here,” van Grinsven says.

“This is not just about a little greenhouse. It’s about planting seeds,” he says.

Read the entire article here at freep.com:

To grow organic vegetables in a greenhouse attached to a major hospital is very leading-edge. Given recent and some would say drastic changes coming soon to a health care system near you, being able to improve nutrition as part of health care delivery is a natural step forward. We should all try to grow something in our own gardens and improve our health over the long run in order to decrease the risk of having to be in the hospital in the first place. Try your own hand at growing something in your backyard. If you happen to be in a position to have access to a greenhouse, it expands your growing season and your options as a gardener.

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Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.   —  Doug Larson

First Lady Michelle Obama: Vegetable Gardening For Health

First Lady Michelle Obama broke ground on the south lawn of the White House in 2009 to expand their kitchen garden. Endorsing vegetable gardening for better health and setting a positive example to help combat the rampant obesity epidemic in the U.S., the First Lady was assisted by students from the Bancroft Elementary School of Washington D.C.  The point of it was to help connect her family to the source of their food as well as to provide fresh produce for the First family’s table. An article by Julia Inslee for the Examiner provides some details and insight.

First Lady Michelle Obama: Vegetable Gardening For Health

In her speech at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night, Michelle Obama proved to the country what a passionate,vegetable gardening loving, intelligent, and conscientious woman she is. She showed the nation that she not only cares deeply for her family, but for the citizens of this country. She has taken her duties as First Lady seriously by championing projects that will affect positive change in the personal lives of Americans. This is no more apparent than in her endeavor to create a White House Kitchen Garden on the lawn of the most iconic house in the country in order to model healthy living and eating habits to a nation of skyrocketing obesity.

Original article here at examiner.com:

Vegetable gardening connects us with the source of our food and links us more tightly to that which gives us life. Our food is more than just a collection of calories we ingest every day. Eating is a spiritual activity that is supposed to enhance our lives. Filling our faces with empty calories and junk detracts from our physical health and robs our spirit. Connecting our bodies with the earth through the foods we eat nourishes our physical bodies and our spiritual nature. Sharing this valuable connection with others through vegetable gardening connects us all together.

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It’s bizarre that the produce manager is more important to my children’s health than the pediatrician.         — Meryl Streep