If you enjoy starting your own seeds, you probably like to start them early to have more growing time. In warmer zones, it is quite easy to start seeds in mini-greenhouses and cold frames that can heat up nicely during the day. However, nights can still be a bit chilly – however, it is pretty simple to keep your seedlings snug overnight.
I love Chinese food! Not the typical suburban fried “chicken balls” in psychedelic orange sauce but authentic, regional cuisines I learned about while living in Toronto’s original “china town”. We had a hard time finding a restaurant that served my familiar favorites when we moved to Atlanta, so I began growing vegetables I needed to make the food I loved. Soon I learned that many of these vegetables grow well in cool weather and are frost tolerant.
This year my friend Debbie and I participated in one of the “nerdiest” of all gardening pastimes. We went to the Old Timey Seed Swap in Crawford, Georgia. The seed swap is hosted by the Southern Seed Legacy and is held at their Agrarian Connections Farm, out in the country, not far from Athens, Georgia.
I’m a Pisces and prone to be the classic pisean dreamer. I dreamed a lot about the home we would one day have, and what it would look like. So 10 years ago when we purchased our fixer-upper, I ended up with a daunting task – to create what was in my head, in reality. I began starting with the yard, as it seemed to be the easiest thing to fix if I messed up!
Some cats seem to like plants just as much as their human companions, but have you ever thought to garden for them? Three of my cats just love green stuff. One ate grass when she was an outdoor cat, another loves the leaves of lettuce and spinach, the third adores peas and broccoli - so I figured that if my cats love what comes out of the garden so much, why not bring the garden to them!!
Want to take your houseplants from potted plant to living art? Try some creative mulching ideas! Mulches retain moisture, help keep pets out of soil and keep your “dirt” from looking so dirty. This little extra touch will have your indoor (and outdoor) potted menagerie looking like you paid a bundle for something that cost you a buck!
I live in Atlanta, in what is termed a “transitional” neighborhood called East Atlanta Village. We are a diverse group in ethnicity and economic backgrounds. But the one thing most of us have in common is a love for the ground. Earth Day is a special day for our community and many people volunteer to improve our little slice of the Earth on this day. Come, join us to celebrate!
I cherish the reticulated iris in my garden as they are my harbinger of spring. Although their grass-like foliage begins to appear sometime around Christmas, their little pointed buds save themselves until the first few warmest days of February. Expectantly I wait through the colder days, hoping that the iris got a good, dry summer baking for maximum winter flower.
I confess, I am a seed-a-holic and if there were a 12-step program, I’d run the other way, because I like my vice. It seems innocent enough – I mean the packets are small, not too expensive (for the most part) and you actually USE them, right? Seed buying eventually turns into Seed Saving, seed saving eventually turns into seed trading…so many seeds, so little space…so CONFUSING!
This year I decided to weigh my vegetable harvest. This is one step in my goal to become more self-sufficient with our food source and improve my vegetable gardening skills and soil building abilities. The idea came from The Path to Freedom, a website that documents an adult family of four and their path to self-sufficiency in Pasadena, California. They weigh their harvest which will help them better estimate the next year's budget – they eat what they grow and sell the excess for income.
A few years ago, an enthusiastic pond gardening neighbor encouraged me to challenge myself, and add a water garden at home. With some trepidation, and his gift of a small black plastic, solid bottom pot. I dug my hole and began a venture into miniature ponds.
I have always loved to garden, however, I have not always loved cats. Our first cat came when a pregnant female abandoned her kitten in our crawl space. It was April, and it was the first year of our grass-less front garden. I was eager to get out there and plant, so I toted my 3 week old adoptee in a 5 gallon bucket – and she began to teach me how cats garden!
Ornamental herbs, those cultivated for beauty or for pollinator use are often overlooked by gardeners. We often tend to be single minded with the thought of planting herbs, and think only of their culinary value, and forget that they can add beauty to the garden as a perennial plant. Ornamental oregano’s are long flowering, have interesting shaped leaves and some have colorful or textured foliage – and there’s a pretty choice for so many climates!
The 12 month growing season in Georgia and my love for ethnic foods had me searching for a wide variety of vegetables I could grow all winter. After combing through many seed catalogs I discovered that some Japanese vegetables prefer cool weather – mostly those of the cold tolerant brassica family that are tastier with a touch of frost. They are delicious when young and tender in a salad, and terrific cooked when mature.
I began to grow native honeysuckles several years ago after falling in love with the Asiatic varieties but disliking their invasive habits in our American soil. I have found them to be drought tolerant and easy plants to grow. Casual gardeners frequently ask what they are - isn’t it nice to know that such an interesting plant can be native to our habitat?
Kudzu or Pueraria montana var. lobata, the miracle of Japan: with its ability to retain erosion, intoxicatingly sweet grape scented blossoms, and nutritious sources of food – unknowingly became a scourge of the South after its introduction to the US in 1902 by David Fairchild. Fairchild also witnessed the killer vine’s tendency to climb anything in sight, smothering it with leaves – not permitting light to reach the plant and sheltering the soil from rains. However, by 1935 Kudzu nurseries were popping up all around America, no doubt lured by a plant so easy to propagate, and so easily to sell as a “miracle plant” to farmers.
Ollas, pronounced O-yah, are direct and efficient watering devices for the garden. The original ollas, thought to be brought from Spain to South America were unglazed clay earthenware urns which are still used today in the Southwest.
Home gardeners can easily turn to more organic means of sustaining their gardens with all the current interest in going “green”. Most garden centers, feed stores, nurseries and hardware stores are carrying more organic elements that make organic fertilizing easy. All it takes is a few ingredients to have a complete fertilizer that also contains oodles of “micro nutrients” not normally available in chemical fertilizers – plus the benefit of improved soil composition and microbial life.
As the excitement of fresh spring bloom fades, gardeners often have to face the fact that summer weather conditions can bring real challenges to many gardeners across the country. Soaring August temperatures, drought, warm nights, dry or excessively humid air can be a challenge to the best of gardeners.
My uncle left an unlikely legacy when he passed away a few years ago. He left his beloved wife Mabel with a large collection of very life-like carved wooden birds, birds that he saw in their native habitats of Ontario, Canada.
The year 2007 was a challenging year for many gardeners. Some of us struggled in one of the worst droughts the southern US has ever seen, and many more dealt with more rain than they had ever experienced. Through these difficulties, we learn that as gardeners, we need to be prepared for anything. My own experiences with deluges of spring rains taught me to work on creating well draining soils and provide areas for water-run off. This past year, I learned that I should also be prepared for drought – and to be mindful of water shortages in the future. So I decided to make rain barrels so that I could have water for perennial plants, trees and shrubs. It's not recommended to use asphalt shingle run-off water on edible plants.