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

Fall Vegetable Gardening: As Winter Approaches

Well, it’s October now, and before you know it another vegetable gardening season will come to a close as winter sets in. There are some crops that do tolerate a good touch of frost, but generally speaking, vegetables don’t grow in the snow for good reason. That said, many common garden vegetables can still be planted late in the season and harvested. Right now you should be making arrangements for what’s going to be harvested and when, as well as protecting what is still in the ground from sudden drops in temperature. This is especially of concern overnight when the below freezing cold can creep in on little cat feet and steal your hard work. Here is an article by Bunny Guinness in The Telegraph that enumerates some of the preparations she recommends that keep her garden going even into very cold weather.

Fall Vegetable Gardening: As Winter Approaches

Winter gardens are like chilly swimming pools, refreshing and invigorating once you have taken the plunge. I like to get out in the garden most weekends, relishing the crisper air and more energetic types of winter gardening.

vegetable gardening

Vegetable gardening in the cold is possible with the right crop selection and planning. Photo by Alain Turgeon c/o Photos.Com.

Keeping your vegetable beds brimful so you have an “outdoor larder” stocked for continual use works in many ways. Making sure the soil is always covered with plants helps stop nutrients being washed through the soil, and keeps the soil structure and organisms in good order.

You can grow edibles you cannot buy and, most important of all, having a wide range of vegetables and herbs means your menus become more diverse and biased in favour of greenery.

The winter vegetable garden needs a little help in the soil department. No green manures for me, though. I would rather have a productive crop and just add compost to top up organic matter. I add this whenever I change a crop and earth up and top-dress with it too.

Check your soil’s pH. The RHS is offering free soil testing of four samples (to everyone, not just members) till the end of October (see rhs.org.uk). Even on my alkaline (pH8) soil, the continual addition of compost increases the acidity, so adding lime (usually in winter) is necessary.

When your vegetable gardening season starts coming to a close, realize that there is still plenty of life left in your garden. With the proper planning, plant selection and timing, you can still get another round of produce out of it. Why not try some of Bunny’s suggestions for your own garden and see what you can harvest. You might surprise yourself.
Please leave a comment below. If you’re one of those late season vegetable gardeners like Bunny, share your experiences with us. You can also click the like button and share this idea with a fellow gardener.
The beet is the melancholy vegetable, the one most willing to suffer. You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip.  —  Tom Robbins

Vegetable Gardening For Better Health

When it comes to vegetable gardening in general, I doubt that anyone would debate that growing your own vegetables isn’t good for your health. After all, the assumption is that you eat what you grow. That’s a given. Not many of us (well,not me anyway) would actually consider that simply by participating in the activity of growing your own food in your garden you are promoting your better health. That’s right! Yet, it’s so obvious nobody discusses it. Simply by going through all of the routine gardening activities like digging and moving soil, weeding, watering, planting and harvesting, you’re more or less doing the equivalent of going to the gym on a regular basis. Here is a short article outlining four health benefits derived from vegetable gardening written by Emily Main of Rodale News reprinted on the Mother Nature Network.

Vegetable Gardening For Better Health

If the idea of digging in the dirt has never much appealed to you, consider this: A growing number of studies are finding improved mental and physical health benefits of gardening that extend far beyond the obvious rewards of exercise and fresh air. And in this economy, the free food certainly doesn’t hurt. There’s no need to dig up your entire back yard, either.
You need only a window box or a few houseplants to see these improvements in your health:

vegetable gardening

Vegetable gardening promotes good health through regular physical activity. Photo by Comstock c/o Photos.Com.

1. Improve your satisfaction with life.
It’s hard not to enjoy life when you’re surrounded by flowers, vegetables and all the wildlife they attract — and now there’s science to back that up. Professors from the University of Texas and Texas A&M asked 298 older adults how they would rate their “zest for life,” levels of optimism, and overall resolution and fortitude and found that gardeners had significantly higher scores in all those areas than non-gardeners.
Whether you’re vegetable gardening as a hobby or you’re doing it on a larger scale for profit, there are significant health benefits to doing so. Eating what you grow is beneficial to your health in more ways as well. Just think, by tending your vegetable garden regularly, you’re saving yourself the cost of a gym membership too. What a bargain!
Participating in moderately intense, regular but sustained physical activity helps to maintain good health and can be done at almost any age. As we boomers get older, we’d be wise to consider activities such as gardening, walking, or even yoga as ways to keep ourselves fit and out of the doctor’s office.
Why not leave a comment below and share this post with a friend. You could also click the like button and share this with a gardening buddy and share the good news about how hard they’re really working on their health!
Red beans and ricely yours.  — Louis Armstrong

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

Does Vegetable Gardening Save Money?

Many folks start their own vegetable gardening efforts in an attempt to either get healthier or to save money. While it can probably be argued easily that the stuff you grow will most decidedly be fresher, and therefore healthier for you, than what you buy in the store, there are a lot of variables that determine if you’ll also save money doing it. Starting a vegetable garden and getting it established takes time, effort and money.  Here is a very short piece by Jenny Bardsley who wrote about her own experiences on this subject for the Herald Net.

Does Vegetable Gardening Save Money?

Here’s a picture of the harvest from our vegetable garden last Saturday. That’s almost $20 worth of organic vegetables pulled fromvegetable gardening our side-yard. So vegetable gardening must be saving our family a lot of money, right?

Read her entire post here at heraldnet.com:

Growing your own fresh organic produce by vegetable gardening in your backyard is probably going to make you feel better and, depending on how big it is, may even make you healthier because you got it at its freshest and most nutritious. But whether you save money doing it is debatable, certainly in the beginning anyway. Now, having said that, I by no means intend to discourage anyone from starting their own vegetable gardens. To the contrary — go forth and grow something. The exercise you get (just think of all those health club membership dollars you’re saving) and the pride of growing your own food (priceless) are worth quite a lot on their own. Spending money now on establishing and maintaining a family vegetable garden that, say, five years from now will have established itself reliably and has begun to pay back your initial investment is no different than taking vitamins and supplements to help prevent illness in the future. You either spend the money now for good nutritious food or you spend it later on medications and lots of doctor visits. There’s no free lunch any way you look at it.

Please leave your opinions and experiences below in a comment or two. Click on the like button and share with a friend.

Try the mustard, — a man can’t know what turnips are in perfection without mustard.  — Mark Twain

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.
Please share your thoughts and experiences here by leaving a comment below. Also, please click on the like button to share this idea with a like minded friend or relative.
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

Take Steps Now For Best Fall Vegetable Gardening Experience

For the best fall vegetable gardening experience this year, take steps early to grow vegetables that are appropriate for the late season. Certain crops are particularly suited to be planted in late summer or early fall and are usually always cold and frost tolerant. You can typically harvest them very late into the fall, some well into November. This piece written by master gardener Charlotte Glen for the Star News Online provides a great deal of guidance to beginner and experienced gardeners alike this fall planting season.

Take Steps Now For Best Fall Vegetable Gardening Experience

Don’t let limited garden space stop you from growing vegetables this fall. Many cool-season crops are easy to grow in containers

fall vegetable gardening

Vegetable gardening into the fall extends the growing season.

and now is the time to plant them.

Salad greens like lettuce, spinach, and arugula thrive even in shallow pots. They are often planted mixed together with herbs and other greens in bowl-shaped containers, providing all the ingredients you need for healthy, tasty salads in a single pot.

Supplies

You do not need a lot of supplies to start a salad bowl garden.

Start with the container, which does not have to be bowl-shaped. Rectangular window box containers and round pots work just as well. Containers of many types can be recycled for the purpose as long as they are at least six inches deep and have several drainage holes drilled into the bottom. I have even seen cardboard boxes used as planting containers for a single season. An old T-shirt can be wrapped around the outside of the box to help it hold together.

Next, you need potting soil. Most potting soils will work well, but avoid those that have a lot of bark. They are too coarse for smaller pots and will dry out too quickly.

If you are unsure of what to buy, choose a seed-starting mix. These mixes usually contain a combination of peat moss and vermiculite and are designed for use in shallow containers. There is no need to buy a soil that already contains fertilizer. In fact, it is usually better to add fertilizer separately.

Get the complete list for all of Charlotte’s fall gardening recommendations here at starnewsonline.com:

Late season vegetable gardening is something I am increasingly turning to in order to extend my growing season in the backyard. You can also use these techniques, with a little advanced planning, to help rotate your crops through your garden and thereby not deplete your soil of certain nutrients. Just go ahead and start some vegetable crops now and see what grows. You’ll have a significant amount of knowledge built up for next year by trying your hand at late season vegetable gardening this autumn.

Please share your experiences by leaving a comment below. What sorts of vegetable are you planting this fall? Click on the like button to share.

Weather means more when you have a garden. There’s nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans.  —  Marcelene Cox

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