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Garden Ideas - Espalier Trees and Raised Beds

posted Mar 27, 2012, 12:52 PM by K Day

Since we live in the city, we have a smallish yard/garden space. Today I've been reading about Espalier Fruit Tree's and am in love. A friend of mine did this for the garden of her Greystone but it never occurred to me to do it here. Well consider it considered! 

I found this great article that gives step-by-step instructions on the planting and growing. And HERE is some info about the different patterns you can grow. 

I also found THIS guy who built super raised beds for his potatoes, tomato tumblers and figs! 

Green Gardening

posted Mar 27, 2012, 12:35 PM by K Day

I've never been uber-green but as I get older and learn more about the world around me, it really does seem to make sense. As I begin to think about the garden this year I've run across some good tips and ideas that I'd like to remember but know I won't. Hence, I put them here :) 

Making a plan
Ask yourself the following questions. Remember, it's o.k. to only implement one. Something if better than nothing.
  • Can you make a transition from chemical gardening to organic gardening?
  • Where can you go to find organic pest controls and fertilizers?
  • Do you have room for a compost pile?
  • Can you use rain barrels to collect rain water from the gutters?
Get your garden tools ready
Some handy tips to keep your garden tools in tip top shape
  • Rub Linseed oil on all of the wood handles and use a wire brush to clean the rust off of metal parts.
  • Take special care of your pruners. Clean anything used to cut/trim plants with turpentine. Then clean off the turpentine with denatured alcohol. 
  • Sharpen blades and oil all moving parts
  • When using pruners, keep a disinfecting spray with you to spray on them after cutting and moving from bush to bush. You can easily transfer disease if you do not disinfect your pruners.
Service your lawn mower
If you take it to a shop, go early, before they get busy in April and May. 
  • Sharpen blades
  • Clean the carburator 
  • Flush the fuel lines
  • Clean and set the spark plug
  • Wash, dry and oil the filter sponge
Garden Clean Up & Prep
Tidy up your garden early so things can sprout unobstructed
  • Clean out the leaves from garden beds and around perennials.
  • Cut down ornamental grasses to about 3-4 inches tall. 
  • Cut off other winter foliage to make room for new growth.
  • Pull weeds
  • Fertilize 
  • Clean out pots that you'd like to use this year so they are ready to plant when you are. 
  • Check your garden hoses and sprinklers.
  • Add compost now. If your soil is black then it probably doesn't need much. If your soil is tan, add about 3-5 inches of compost and till it into the soil, down about 18 inches.
  • Butterfly bush and roses are ready to prune in late winter or early spring. Prune these plants in the spring. Prune out deadwood or any winter damaged plants now. 
  • To keep birds away from your seeds try hanging CD's in bushes and trees. The flashing light scares them away. Otherwise use netting or milk plastic over your beds.  
Green Garden Chemical
  • Eucalyptus Oil Disinfectant 
    • 1.6 ounces (50ml) Eucalyptus Oil
    • 1 quart watrer
    • Store in opaque container, out of sunlight
  • Grapefruit Seed Extract Disinfectant
    • 1 gallon warm water
    • 20 drops grapefruit seed extract
    • Mix and pour in spray bottle
  • Other disinfecting agents include
    • Vinegar - add a few drops of essential oil to mask the smell
    • 3% hydrogen peroxide
    • Grain Alcohol (or cheap Vodka), mixed with 30% water to stop it from evaporating too quickly

Sunflower Houses and Bean Tee Pees

posted Dec 29, 2011, 10:12 AM by K Day

I love to garden! At least that's what I tell myself and it's true for the first part of the summer.  Somehow we always seem to drift away from our beautiful garden at some point and by the end of summer we have a full grown mess to clean up. Although we do still harvest quite a bit from the mess :) 

That being said, we are about to embark on a major home remodeling project that will undoubtedly turn our already busy life into full blown chaos. Hence maintaining a garden is low on the priority list. Fortunately for us we have friends who run a CSA! So this year we will be getting our organic veggies from our friends :) Woo Hoo!!!!! However, I still want to grow something... I've been trolling the garden websites and have found super cool things ~ A Sunflower House and a Runner Bean Tee Pee! I think Taka would love either or both of them so I think this is what we will do this year. Beans and Sunflowers :) 

Here are the web links for both projects. I hope ours will turn out as well but cross your fingers for us :)

I love the way they intersperse other plants and why. This would be a great lesson in learning about how plants can help protect one another, help each other grow, etc. 

Recommended flowers include Mammoth Grey Stripe which grow to 12 ft tall. It is recommended to intersperse a large flower with flowers that only grow to be about 4 feet tall. This way the kiddos can be eye to eye with some of the sunflowers. 

Also consider growing camomile and catnip as they are soothing to children. Although the poster planted mint, I would not. Mint has a way of overtaking everything... I may add some planters with mint though as it does have a beautiful aroma and would do nicely with the camomile. 

If the link above didn't work try copy & paste:  http://www.rain.org/~philfear/sunflowerhouse.html

I think I'll start with either scarlet runner beans or painted lady bears or maybe both. Both have great flowers!   

Garlic as a Perrenial

posted Dec 29, 2011, 10:09 AM by K Day

Garlic You Only Plant Once
Rodale's Organic Gardening, April 1987
by Larry Korn

There’s a way to grow garlic without replanting each year. A Washington gardener explains how.

Joe Capriotti doesn’t plant garlic, but every year he harvests hundreds of pounds from his backyard in Montesano, Wash. His technique goes against the common practice of planting and harvesting garlic each year as if it were an annual plant. Most people don’t realize that garlic can be grown as a perennial.

Capriotti, who once worked as a chef and as a logger in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, developed his technique over many years of experimenting on his 1-acre homestead. Now, at 80, he proudly displays the fruits of his research. When I visited his place in western Washington, I found Capriotti to be an active man with a sharp wit and a delightful sense of humor. His other experiments have ranged from testing apple, peach, plum and pear varieties to new techniques for growing strawberries and potatoes. But his real love is garlic.

“This patch of elephant garlic hasn’t been planted or plowed for more than 20 years,” Capriotti says, leading me to a 25-by-40-foot area where healthy garlic tops of various sizes grow without apparent order. “When the plants are about 2 feet tall, seed buds will form. Be sure to pinch off the buds or you won’t get any garlic. The large plants will form cloves. The other, smaller plants will die back, but will come up again the following year. Did you ever dig clams? Well, the small holes the young garlic tops leave after they die back look like little clam holes all over the soil.” 

In August Capriotti pulls up the largest plants that have been pinched. “I just pull ‘em out of the ground by hand or use a garden trowel if they won’t come,” he says. “I have never weighed how many pounds have come out of this bed, but it’s 200 pounds or more.” Capriotti also inter-plants garlic with berries and young fruit trees. Volunteers may be found almost anywhere in the garden. 

After harvesting, Capriotti uses a hand-push cultivator to lightly till the surface and uproot weeds that are already growing. He waters the bed to cause the weed seeds to germinate, then cultivates the surface to eliminate those young weeds. In September the area looks bare and abandoned. “My neighbors used to look at it and ask, ‘Hey Joe, aren’t you going to plant garlic this year?’ “ he says. “ ‘No,’ I’d answer, ‘I never plant garlic. It’s already in there.’ “ 

In October, Capriotti spreads a 3- to 4-inch mulch of cherry and apple leaves. The mulch keeps any more weeds from sprouting and would prevent the garlic from coming up, too, if it weren’t for the timely arrival of the wood thrush, or winter robin, from the local forest. These birds, which move to the open lowlands with the first cold weather, eat insects that live under the leaves. They turn the mulch, disturbing it enough for the garlic to sprout through. Last year, for some reason, not many thrushes came, but robins took over and did the job nearly as well. Capriotti has built bird boxes all around his house and watering ponds nearby to attract birds of all kinds. Besides turning the garlic mulch, the thrushes, robins and warblers effectively control insects throughout the garden.

By spring most of the mulch is gone. Night crawlers and microorganisms have turned it into rich compost. “Don’t dig manure into the soil when you start the bed, Capriotti suggests. “I tried that one year when I was trying to get huge cloves just for show. The plants grew big enough, but they were only the leaves—no cloves. If you want to fertilize, spread 1 inch of well-rotted manure on top of the ground. After a patch has had no fertilizer for many years, it is necessary to do this. By not plowing, and by spreading a little manure once in a while and a mulch of leaves every fall, I get elephant garlic bulbs of all sizes — some weigh over 1 pound. The shopkeepers I sell to don’t like it when they get that big. It’s too weird — the customers have never seen anything like it.”

Garlic likes full sun and grows well in most soil conditions, but the soil should not be too heavy and it must have good drainage. “Garlic hates to have its feet wet and will rot in boggy areas,” Capriotti says. “Don’t water in the summer, especially with an overhead sprinkler. I don’t even sprinkle my strawberries or raspberries nearby because I’m afraid some of the water might get on the garlic. If it rains heavily after the Fourth of July, it rots some of the plants and you get a lot of culls. I replant the culls later in areas that look kind of sparse.” 

This way of growing garlic has emerged from a lifetime of living and working close to nature. It requires no machinery or chemicals — only a hand cultivator and a garden trowel. “You have to have the right soil conditions,” Capriotti says, “and you have to be aware of everything going on in the garden.” The technique is simple yet sophisticated, and closely follows the natural cycle of garlic, a perennial plant. Capriotti is proud of his way with garlic and loves to remind his many visitors, “I don’t plant garlic — I only harvest it.”

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