For many gardeners, the first frost of the season isn’t too far away. The cold bite of winter will be here before we know it, so now is a good time to start thinking about how to protect your garden over the frigid autumn and winter months. There is one simple thing you can do to get a jump start on gardening next spring. Protect your soil and annual plants until the spring by planting cover crops in your garden. Cover crops will help protect your [Read more...]
Building a raised garden bed on an incline can be tricky. If your garden area is on a hillside, you will need to have higher sides on the downhill side to retain the soil. If it’s only a slight incline, you may be able to level the box by placing the higher side into a slight trench to level it.
However, if your incline is too steep, or you don’t want to dig a trench, here is a simple way to make a level garden bed which sits on the ground and requires no digging.
This box is built with some leftover 6′ privacy fence *panels. We used uncut boards for the front and back, and cut a board in half to make the sides of a 3′ x 6′ box. The corner posts for our box are cut from a 2″x2″ cedar post. The lengths of the corner posts are determined by the desired box height, and the amount of slope you are working with. We had an 8′ post and cut it into (4) 2′ lengths.
A common size for a raised garden bed is 4′x8′. Anything wider than 4′ will make it hard to reach everything without stepping into the bed, which compacts the soil. The length of the box is [Read more...]
In the middle of summer, your garden may be in full bloom, so there isn’t much planting you can do outside. However, you could put your green thumb to work on an indoor or windowsill herb garden! Herb gardens are extremely easy to start and have many benefits.
An herb garden in the kitchen windowsill not only increases the aesthetic appeal of the room, but can also [Read more...]
We’ve had a really great harvest this year – we even planted a second batch of green beans that are coming up great! The tomatoes are really coming in fast and sometimes hard to keep up with. On Monday 50lbs of tomatoes were harvested, and there are plenty more green ones that will be ready to be picked soon!
- : 363.3
Mason bees are a native bee found throughout most of the U.S., and are very effective pollinators. They are metallic blue or blue-black, and a little smaller than the honeybee. Mason bees pose minimal threat for stinging, as the males do not have a stinger, and the females only sting if trapped.
Mason bees are not able to excavate their own nesting cavities, so they lay eggs in whatever they can find. They like to lay their eggs in small cavities such as woodpecker holes, hollow stems, and artificial nesting cavities like cardboard tubes and paper straws.
A female mason bee forages for pollen and nectar from fruit trees, flowers and vegetables. She packs the nectar into the far end of a nesting cavity until there’s enough to feed a young bee. Then the female lays a single egg and seals up the cell. She continues this process down the tube until she has filled the entire chamber with eggs, then moves to the next tube. The larvae hatch a few days after the eggs are laid and begin eating the food the mother bee collected for them. They pupate in the cell and remain there over winter. The bees emerge when the weather warms in the spring.
Mason bee homes are [Read more...]
Througout each week, Nancy guides us and Katie, Brandon, Susan, Larry and a host of Sunday worshippers help harvest, weigh, and deliver. All good!
- : 157
Here’s a good use for your shredded documents. These decomposing seed starters are fun and simple to make.
Pack a couple handfuls of shredded paper into a large cup or small bucket and cover with warm water. Let soak for at least an hour to soften the paper. Pour the mixture into [Read more...]
The combination of cooler than normal temps and not much rain the past week has cut back on production a little. Our sandy soil needs rain (so we began watering again) and our tomatoes need warm evenings. Still, we were able to harvest a little for the local food pantry today.
- : 33
Rain barrels are an excellent way to conserve and reuse rain water. This system is designed to capture rain water that runs off your roof. The barrel is connected to a water spout on the side of your house and can usually hold around fifty to eighty gallons.
Water that normally flows off your roof during a rain can be collected and saved. Then it can be used to water your garden during dry spells. This helps save the environment and also saves money on your water bill. If heavy rainfalls cause lowland flooding in areas around your home, this would be a good way to help reduce the minor yard floods which can damage lawns and gardens.
Care needs to be taken when storing the water. Be sure the container is sealed well and has a screen to prevent mosquitos from getting in the container and laying eggs. You will also need to keep an eye out for algae that could sprout and grow over time. Wash the barrel out occasionally, and try to use the water as soon as possible to help reduce the chances of algae growth and mosquitos. Periodically check to make sure all closures are tight so mosquitos can’t get in.
Many home improvement stores carry rain barrels, with different styles and sizes available. Some have planters on top for flowers. For the DIYers, there are rain barrel making kits available, so you can make any container into a rain barrel. Some businesses sell, or even better, give away, their used food grade barrels instead of tossing them into the landfill. Call and check with local businesses in your area to see if they have barrels they would give away. While these barrels are usually blue or white plastic, they can be decorated and painted however you choose. You could also build a wooden fence or planter to place the barrel behind. A quick online search will bring up multiple tutorials explaining the rain barrel making process.
Check with your local community college too. Many community colleges offer rain barrel making classes, and every student leaves with a completed rain barrel, and the knowledge on how to make more.
Rain barrels are a great way to conserve water and can make a great afternoon DIY project!