Garden mysteries

Woke up to a wonderful day! Nothing better than knowing your plants have gotten up to work for the best. As I’m to the garage/workbench, a whole entire bunch off these beautiful white cabbage butterflies woff pass me.

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My garage/workbench is where I would grow my seedlings for the best germination as it remains warm inside but not overly kill hot, the plant do 100% great in there. Right so I gear up myself ready for a good eventful day in the garden to see if it behaved itself at night (haha!)

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Surprised, i noshed on a good handful of strawberries, was delicious and yes, I was hungry…

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Right next it was my Pepino Melon plant which is grown by cuttings i did at a propagated workshop in my town.

I noticed something moved why i was examining the pepino melon plant, I wasn’t scared at first because this little fella was tunny as my pinkie!

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It was a yellow ladybug/ladybird with no spots this time. it was so cute!

Also my first self-grown sunflower bloomed today! Ta-dah!

Just goes to show your garden can be very rewarding with the hard effort put into it. Have a great day fellas! Stay tuned for updated post on its way! ūüôā

Hot Chillies

Chillies are a great usage in the garden, wildlife and dishes!

Caring:

  1. Prune your chilli trees in early/late season. Look out for the two main branches on the chilli plant. The plant grows into a “Y” shape,¬† with a bottom stem and two main branches.
  2. Follow one main branch up from its base to the first small branch that shoots off to the side from it. Use sharp scissors/secateurs to clip off this branch.
  3. Then follow up the same main branch, counting three more side shoots. Snip off the third shoot you find. Continue cutting off every third side branch on the main branch, between outer and inner side branches.
  4. Clip every third side branch on the other main branch to even out the plant. The remaining plant will have more room for air to circulate and fewer peppers for the plant to concentrate its energy on.

Remember to always give the nutrition to your chillies otherwise you could have bitter chillies at the start. Just simply add in organic matter/mulch to the soil around the base stem of the chilli plant. This will boost up the potassium of the plant to produce you hot chillies you expecting!

Harvest:

Chillies can be eaten at any stage, even when they are immature, when they would be green, purple or cream colour. Mostly chillies¬†will ripen to red or yellow colour. When you are ready to pick the chilli,¬†gently pull and twist the chilli off the plant making sure you hold the main plant stem so that you don’t snap it/damage the rest of the plant.

Homemade Organic Pesticide Spray:

What you’ll need:

  • 1 head garlic (peeled)
  • 4 onions
  • 1 tablespoon chopped hot chillies
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons dishwashing liquid

Preparation:

  1. Finely blend the garlic, onion and chillies with the oil and dishwashing liquid.
  2. Do cover it and let it set for 24 hours.
  3. Strain, seal and refrigerate.

To use:

Mix 1 tablespoon of the prepared mixture/oil per 1 litre of water and spray directly on insects and onto infected leaves, covering both sides.

This is effective for all the soft-bodied insects/pests such as aphids and whitefly, mites and small beetles too.

Other facts:

  • Chillies can be grown exactly as their parent plant/specie by ‘Seed-saving Method‘ and it FREE too!
  • Chillies can be grown in containers or raised beds. They adapt quite well if you give it medium maintenance.
  • Did you know that there are nearly 400 varieties of chillies.
  • In Zimbabwe the locals smear the chilli juice on the cloths to keep elephants away from destroying their farms. Elephants dislike the smell extremely!

 

Know how to grow LETTUCE

Lettuce is an annual plant of the daisy family, Asteraceae. Mostly grown as a leaf vegetable however sometimes for its stem and seeds apart of seed-saving method.

Planting instructions:

  1. Make sure the soil is prepared, organic matter should be applied to soil one week before planting seeds or transplanting ( requires both good aeration and water drainage)
  2. Seeds should be planted directly into the soil approximately 20 cm apart in length and width for a good outcome.
  3. When planting in rows, plant 20 cm x 20 cm apart, inter-plant garlic and chives in between the lettuce to repel/control aphids. they act as ‘barrier plants’ for the lettuces.
  4. Do cover your seeds with organic matter/mulch to boost up the germination.

Pest/Diseases:

  • Aphids
  • Whitefly
  • Earwigs
  • Rabbits
  • Cutworms
  • Woodchucks
  • White Mold

Harvest/Storage:

  • Lettuce should be harvested when full size, but just before maturity. You want it young and¬†tender.
  • Before maturity, you can harvest leaf lettuce by simply removing outer leaves so that the center leaves keep growing.
  • Mature lettuce taste bitter and becomes woody and it will go bad quickly, so check your garden¬†everyday.
  • You will need to cut the whole plant from the¬†ground.
  • It‚Äôs best to harvest in the morning before leaves have been exposed to¬†sun.
  • Keep lettuce in the refrigerator for up to 10 days in a loose plastic¬†bag.

Did you know?

  • Lettuce is apart of the¬†sunflower¬†family.
  • Does your Lettuce shows a wilting appearance? Simpy put the leaves in a bowl of cold water with ice cubes, let it soak for about 15¬†minutes.
  • Eating lettuce for dinner can be calming and help to¬†reduce stress.

Hints for Mint

Mint is an exceptionally refreshing herb to be used in ice teas, alcohol beverages, salads, smoothies and many more.

Mint is an invasive plant, it sends out “runners” and spreads wild than you think. Some of you have may experienced the troubles of the over-growing mint plant, this plant can virtually take up almost all the space in your garden. Not kidding, its a plant that can’t control itself. That is why our gardens needs us!

I learnt something new to prevent an over-growing of the mint as I had a tiny mint of my own was worried at the start.

To prevent your mint from over growing, as follows:

  • Fill your ideal pot of good aerated & drainage soil (Loam soil)
  • Plant in your mint into the pot
  • Next up, find a position in the garden you wish to plant it full sun and also thrives in partial shade.
  • Dig the whole deeper than your pot side in length and wider in width.
  • Put the pot with the existing mint in it into the hole you dug up.
  • This will keep the roots in the pot and prevent them from spreading under the ground and runners appearing later on.

Propagation/Cuttings: To be cut in Springs. Here is to know more about propagation.

 

Great ways to save money in the garden

You probably thinking I’m nuts about this subject…however, let me do tell you there are a gardeners out there whether they are beginners or professionals. Gardening is expensive at its times on a long-term run. To make a little profit/savings, we do what is called ‘Propagation’ & ‘Seed-saving Method’.

Propagation – The breeding of specimens of a plant or animal by natural processes from the parent stock.

“the propagation of plants by root cuttings”

Seed-saving Method РWhen using the dry method. This is the most common method of collecting seeds as It involves harvesting maturing seed heads and drying them for a period of time before crushing the seed heads and winnowing them to remove all but the actual seeds to plant. 

This can either be  success or a failure task, not many can succeed this for wrong reasons such as:

  • Poor seed germination (Deep soil depth in ground/planting trays)
  • Low/High pH level
  • Lack of nutrients
  • lack of water/over water
  • Low sunlight levels
  • Wrong seasons
  • Seed is not mature (should be dry and bulge/puffy in width)
  • A soil that lacks good aeration & water (avoid sandy & clay soils, Loam soil is preferred)

Propagating plants by simply taking cuttings of your existing parent plant at the fourth node. Removing all the existing leaves on the stem which is easier, leaving two sets of leaves at the top (apical meristem).¬†Mobile Nutrition is when all the old leaves nutrition are moved to the young leaves which is located at the top (apical meristem) providing much nutrition for a newer and sturdy growth to come. This is a great way to save you lots of¬† money and still know what plant you are growing because you did it yourself. You will also know its organic and free of GMO, which is fantastic! However do not be cornered if you don’t make it successful, I failed many times but now that I’ve learnt from my mistakes, I can assure you, its worth an experiment to try!

Seed-saving Method as i can assure you i have noticed it in one of my blogs, Its a safe and extraordinary task to try if you quite into seeds! This is just basically a much cheaper version of getting your seeds at the local nursery expect its for FREE! The only downfall is you will have o wait for when the next time it seeds, its a long-term thing however it teaches patience too. This is a lovely way to get together with family, friends or gardeners to prepare seedlings for the next season bed batch. Its also organic and free of GMO, so keep that in mind, its harmless to the environment,soil and animals of our world. This also comes away from the chemical side of ‘Monsanto’, this is a way by making a sustainable living by doing the seed-saving method and propagating your cuttings of a plant you want to clone for FREE!

To tackle a good propagation method, I prefer to:

  • Cut plant stem at fourth node (if can, cut thick stems (mature), prevent rotting in the inner vascular cells of the young plant (apical meristem))
  • Remove leaves existing on stem, leaving two sets of leaves located at top
  • Cover end of stem in root hormone (optional)
  • Plant the plant halfway in loam¬† soil (don’t over-compact the soil)
  • Water Lightly (avoid water-logging the soil)
  • Direct sunlight is required for this task
  • Within the next few weeks i recommend, this will give you a really good root system which is what you want for transportation of water and nutrients to the plant. (xylem & phloem system)

Plants that you can propagate in a hydro task: Click this link – Hydro herbs & veg made easy!

These plants that are grown in hydro/water can also be grown in soil but high maintenance is needed.

How to save stressed plants

Summer is particularly a gardeners favourite season to grow in, however it does have its pros and cons. Its a great season to be outside in the garden without having to wear extra gears such as raincoat all the time as you would do in cold seasons. This improves the yield of crops and maintenance of your crops.

It brings family, friends, KNOWLEDGE and a few secrets into the garden!

The pros:

  • This specific season is ideal for your the¬†Cucurbits family such as watermelon,butternut,gem squash etc.
  • The plant receives as much photosynthesis in summer than in cold seasons. This increases the level of nutrition, taste of the fruit, appearance, air ventilation and ease of access/maintenance in the garden/field.
  • Prevents soil from water-logging (Cold Seasons), however, Summer has free drainage soil.
  • Simple way to increase your crop size is by the use of¬†vertical gardening, this might decrease pest & disease level.
  • Do raised beds!¬†They hold the moisture & nutrition level better than the garden landscapes as there are a few competitors within the raised bed. This also decreases pest & disease level.

The cons:

  • The plant does require more water in summer than cold seasons as it dries up quickly, nutrients can become leached away, this can be prevented by mulching method.
  • This increases the pest & disease level of the plant such as white fly, aphids, mildew etc.
  • Can cause appearance damage by burning plant.

Signs of stressed plants:

  • The plant will have a wilted appearance where its leaves look soft, flexible and extremely fragile.
  • The plant will appear wilted after been transplanted on a hot day with little water attention.
  • WARNING: Do not transplant plants that have buds on a hot day, this causes stress to the plant as soon it wilts. The lack of water cannot provide all buds/gametes of the plant and this will cause the buds to fall of as the plant is in shock. You have then lost your crop.
  • PREVENTION:¬†Carefully cut off the unwanted leaves leaving two sets of apical meristem leaves using garden secateurs. Then transplanting it, water it until it penetrates to deep roots. Give it time to re-energize itself.

Want to know how to grow vegetables and fruits for FREE! I do seed-saving method and this provides me with fruit & vegetables that you buy at the local supermarket! Except it takes time to grow, BUT, don’t give up, it saves you a couple of grand in your pockets!

These are my seed-saving raised beds! Enjoy 

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Don’t forget to follow for loads of more gardening adventures!

Know how to grow SPINACH

Have you ever been satisfied by the look of fresh spinach at the supermarket. 

May the spinach be with you!

I enjoy walking around the garden with a hot cup of tea, having a good look at my lovely vegetables and fruits in the making. It makes me so happy that I don’t know where to hide it! it is always satisfying to see how small the plant was three days ago to how it is present.


The spinach is my absolute favourite to grow! it taste divine and scrumptious. It goes with almost every cooking dish you make! its one of those you MUST HAVE in your garden! 


Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) : 

Description: Cold-hardy vegetable, is a tender-leafed crop.

Season: Planted in early spring, fall and winter. It has similar growing conditions and requirements as a lettuce.

Benefits: Has the ability to be eaten raw or cooked.Has a higher rate in iron, calcium and vitamins than most cultivated greens and one of the best sources of vitamins A, B and C.

Planting method:

  • Prepare your soil with manure, compost, fertilizer or organic matter about a week before planting or you might want to prepare it in fall (if you live in an area with mild winters) so you can sow the seeds outdoors in early spring as soon as the ground thaws.
  • It is preferred to sow your seed directly into the soil as transplanting is not ideal.
  • Spring plantings can be made as soon as the soil can be properly worked. It‚Äôs important to seed as soon as you can to give spinach the required 6 weeks of cool weather from seeding to¬†harvest.
  • Select a site with full sun to light shade and well-drained¬†soil ( loamy).
  • Sow seeds ¬Ĺ inch to 1 inch deep, covering lightly with soil. Sow about 12 seeds per foot of row or sprinkle over a wide row or¬†bed.
  • Plant in mid-August for a fall crop, ensuring that soil temps are cool¬†enough.
  • Water the new plants well in the¬†spring.

Pest/Disease:

  • Leaf Miners: plant radishes in between the rows of spinchs attract leaf miners away from spinach. The damage that the leaf miners do to radish leaves doesn‚Äôt prevent the radishes from growing¬†underground.
  • Bolting
  • Mosaic Virus/Blight
  • Downy¬†Mildew
  • Aphids: Plant garlic in between the rows of spinach to attract the aphids.

Harvest:

  • Keep an eye on your plants. Harvest when leaves reach your desired¬†size.
  • Do not wait too long to harvest or wait for larger leaves, this is when the bitterness will set in quickly after¬†maturity.
  • The whole plant can be harvested at once and cut at the base or leaves may be picked off plants one layer at a time starting at the outwards of the plant. This gives the inner layers more time to¬†develop.

No dig gardening

An easy step-by-step to ensure you reach ‘No dig garden’ for the absolute best results!

From sandy soil to perfectly beneficial loam soil!

I had troubles with my soil, it is sandy soil as we live nearby the sea coast. As you’ll know is doesn’t hold much nutrients, water/moist capacity as the water leaches away on the surface when watered. Its acceptable to root fungi and disease as sandy soil remains warm in spring – summer. This soil is not nice to work with especially when digging a hole for a plant to be put into, the sand fills the hole half way before plant. However it is great for germination as the soil is soft feel, coarse particles and warm temperature making germination successful. I use wood ash to help boost up the sandy soil and correct it as well.

How my garden all started – Raised beds with a twist

The no dig garden system is the absolute best choice i ever made! WHY? Because there is no digging involved which saves me a back ache big time! This is great for all year around seasons – Spring, Summer, Autumn & Winter.

As following the context above, why no dig gardening is great in these seasons:

  • Spring – Provides excellent warmth for germination to take place, prevents soil from drying out, kept moist when mulched.High nutrition involved from beneficial organisms. Depresses weeds.
  • Summer – The greatest variety of vegetables & fruits are produced in this season, prevents soil from drying out, kept moist when mulched. High nutrition involved from beneficial organisms. Depresses weeds
  • Autumn – YES my favourite! This season does a huge favour, it naturally mulches the garden for you! Prevents soil from drying out, kept moist when mulched.High nutrition involved from beneficial organisms. Depresses weeds.
  • Winter – Keeps the plants warm from the freezing/snow temperatures. Helps plant retain its food storage.¬†High nutrition involved from beneficial organisms. Depresses weeds

What is mulch made of?

  • leaf mould/mold & leaves
  • branches & twigs
  • shredded cardboard
  • straw
  • grass cuttings
  • manure

This is what mulch looks like up-close:

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This is what my garden journey:

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21st August 2017

 

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07 October 2017

Benefits of Vertical Gardening

Have a small spacious garden but have a wild imagination!

Vertical gardening is made for you!

I recently had a problem when I ran out of space in my raised beds for my Cucurbitaceae family. BUT this lady didn’t let it stop her from gardening her veggies! I knew something had to be done, I could see it was going to cause trouble for my other veggies in the box, so I decided to grab the five bamboo dowels, smacked those¬†in the soil. Took the chicken string and twinned it around the indiviual bamboo dowels to form a guidance trellis for my butternuts at this state to grow upon. They look happy which makes me even more happy! They even flourishing at the moment. Some of my veggies have veg producing in the process. On Thursday, I had sprinkled on¬†wood ash liquid fertilizer to help boost the soil and promote the new growth of the plants, which did help! Not to only make them flourish like mad but their leaves are the healthy green you would dream of! You should try it, it works!

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Butternut growing up trellis – front rear box

The other benefits of veritcal gardening is if your garden is really small, this type of gardening system is the absolute best for you!

  • You will not just get the small quantity of fruit and veg in the first place BUT double or triple of it! How cool is that!
  • Also a great benefit is if you have butternuts, pumpkin, cucumber, gem squash etc planted nearby, their flowers won’t have a problem bearing fruit, there won’t be a need for you to self-pollinate.
  • The fruit and veg won’t be eaten by small creatures such as ants, bugs, slugs, grasshoppers as it is off the ground level where they would usually have access to eating or destroying it.
  • The fruit and veg will stand a better chance of not rotting due to not laying in water if it was a ground/horizontal system.
  • It provides the plant with a structual support as its tendrils hold the trellis, protecting it from wind damage etc.
  • It provides the plants with shade for those who like shade.
  • Also the plants provides shade which helps the soil below from drying out in hot/dry seasons such as Summer or Spring. Which is a huge favour!

When is comes to verical gardening, there are things need to be taken into consideration like:

  • Preparation before starting to plant.
  • Test your soil for a pH 7 – 7.5
  • Also remember to use your space wisely.
  • Planting the plants in a companion way, repels pest & diseases. Less fuss, more joy!
  • Go ECO!
  • Make note/record of when to harvest your fruit and veg.

Happy to help on any questions, contact me & I’ll get back to you ūüėÄ

 

Multiple ways of wood ash usage!

Wood ash is the opposite to coal ash, the ash contains of calcium,potassium,phosphorus and magnesium but also has traces of iron,sodium and zinc which is a vital nutrient to the plants growth!

Is is used to:

  1. It is used to neutralize the acidic soils, however if you are growing acid loving plants like blueberries, peppers, bush beans, beans, azaleas, rhododendron and hydrangeas. These plants will want a soil pH between 6 – 7.5. This is acceptable in this area because the nutrition in the fertilizer will be already dissolved in water and better transportation will take place by plant’s roots.¬†According to pH scale, acidic soil is from pH 1-6. A pH 1-6 (acidic soil) means your plants won’t receive enough nitrogen, phosphorus or potash/potassium(potatoes). Neutral pH 7, Alkaline soil is from pH 8-14. The wood ash contains 70% calcium carbonate and can be used be substitute for lime. Remember to not use all the ash at once, this could damage the plants. Do in small quantities such as sprinkling over your garden beds, around plants in the garden which will repel slugs and snails and fruit trees. Always retest your soil afterwards.
  2. This is great to add to your compost pile, it will help boost the heap’s potassium levels. Great to use for flowerings and fruiting plants. This should only be done is small amounts too because worms do not like acid. You probably don’t want to kill them, they are super beneficial in the soil!
  3. You can make a wood ash liquid fertilizer, this is to correct potassium deficiencies. The brown spots,curling leaf tips, yellowing between leaf veins and wilting, which slows the plant’s growth. These are signs that your crop is lacking potassium/potash. Also could not just be that, they could be dealing with pests and diseases. Try companion planting¬†to help repel the bugs and make your vegetables grow wild!
  4. To make the liquid fertilizer:¬†You’ll need to place ¬Ĺ –¬†¬ĺ of wood ash into a old pillowcase and tie is close at the top around a log. Place it into a garbage gallon filled with ¬ĺ water, leave for several days. After it has brewed, place a cup of it around your plants weekly.20171002_115425
  5. This is good to fertilize your lawn, especially in summer! Lightly dust your lawn with wood ash to help boost the green pastures. Then water it down to prevent the beneficial ash nutrients from blowing away.
  6. Helps melt ice and snow! Remember the wood ash contains potash or potassium carbonate, which is a type of salt that is much Eco friendlier than chloride based salts. This is great to scatter on driveways and walkways, melts the snow and ready to go!

Any questions? Happy to help! ūüėÄ Contact me and I will get back to you!

 

 

A blog on veg, seed savings and plant tips.