Straw for Mulch


Photo credit: Amber Burst

Using Straw for Mulch in the Garden

by Rachel

If you are starting out in backyard gardening like I am, you may find it difficult to figure out what kinds of materials you need and where to get them.  I know I have.

To this point, all of my raised bed gardens have been bare dirt.  I know this isn’t optimal; I have read up on all the garden blogs that say you desperately need to mulch your gardens for the following reasons:

  • Mulch keeps the soil temperature more even (warmer in winter months and cooler in summer months)
  • Mulch helps retain moisture in the soil
  • Mulch keeps weeds from being able to germinate
  • Mulch adds nutrients back into the soil as it decomposesView 20+ Styles of Raised Garden Beds -

But I was faced with the challenge of what to use for mulch. All of the mulch I see in stores is meant to put around landscaping, not raised vegetable beds.  A search online yielded tons of blog posts singing the praises of grass clippings and dried leaves. But you see, I live in an area that is going through a severe drought.  I don’t have a lawn to be able to use grass clippings.  I don’t have that many trees to be able to use dead leaves.  The trees I do have are Eucalyptus and Peppercorn, neither of which would be good for use in a garden.  So it seems my best, most responsible option is to use straw.

Read the full article: Amber Burst

Tamarillo or tree tomato


Photo credit: Garden Drum

Ripening tamarillos on my tree

How to grow tamarillo or tree tomato

Your daily fruits and vegetables



Get your daily fruits, vegetables with container gardening

By Brenda Anderson01047056cc6a37ff9fc14e156866204c

Four of the 10 leading causes of death in America (heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes) are linked to foods eaten. Consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help to reduce the risk of developing these chronic diseases. One of the best ways to make sure you are getting enough is to grow it yourself so that it is handy and less costly.

If you think that you can’t grow your own fresh, healthy vegetables because you don’t have a yard or because you have mobility issues, think again. Container gardening is the answer. Here is a brief step-by-step guide to getting started on your own container garden:

1. Choose what you would like to grow.

Tomatoes, carrots, beets, kale, peppers, eggplant, green onions, okra, beans, lettuce, squash, radishes and parsley are good container crops, but read each seed packet to see when they should be planted in our area and for other tips about the amount of moisture and light needed for that particular vegetable.

2. Use a potting mix instead of potting soil.

It is free of disease and weed seeds, holds moisture and nutrients, drains well and is lightweight.

3. Decide on a container.

Almost any container will work as long as it can drain out water and is large enough for your plant. Examples of great containers are a milk jug with holes poked through the bottom for drainage, the bag your potting mix came in, an old shoe or a small trash can. If you have mobility issues, you may want to choose a container that is smaller and more portable or buy a plant stand that has wheels on the bottom of it.

4. Plant your seeds or seedlings.

If you purchase seeds, you will have to start them in starter pots or sections of an old egg container (anywhere from about 4-14 days) and then transplant them to your chosen container when the second set of leaves appears. See each seed packet for how deep to plant your seeds. If you choose to start your plants from seedlings, simply place them into your container of potting mix and lightly cover the root area with soil.

5. Sprinkle water your plants two to three times a week at first, then water as needed.

Check the top inch of soil for dryness.

Read the full article: Victoria Advocate

Containers are the way to go


Photo credit: Google


Container gardening solves space issues

  • Phyllis Both – Sauk County Gardener

Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian. Wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes is Russian. Lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese. Garlic makes it good.” – Alice May Brock

If your soil is warm, you can get those tomatoes in the ground. I will hold off on peppers, basil, sweet potatoes and melons for another week. It’s not the temperature of the air that is most important but the temperature of the soil that is crucial. Putting a sheet of black plastic over soil about one week before planting warms the soil pretty fast.

I know some people don’t have room for a garden or have too much shade but still want to grow vegetables. Containers are the way to go. Any vegetable can be grown in containers, even sweet corn. An advantage of container gardening is you can start with a good potting mix. Good soil is the foundation of a good garden.

Plants in containers tend to dry out quickly and may need watering every day. They also need fertilizer since fertilizers tend to wash out when the water drains. I recommend a time release fertilizer such as osmocote mixed with soil when planting and a water-soluble fertilizer each time you water. I recommend scheduling a certain time of the day for care of your container gardens to make your life easier. Try to water in the morning if possible.

Read the full story: Baraboo News Republic

Container perennials

By Diana Stoll
The Planter’s Palette

Container gardening has become so much more chic than red geraniums, vinca vines trailing over the edge, and a green spike in the middle for height. In addition to the scads of new annual flowers introduced each year, savvy gardeners peruse the perennial benches for a wealth of container gardening opportunities.

Homeowners have driven two trends that benefit container gardeners. People are building homes with smaller yards, downsizing to townhouses, and focusing on hardscape features like patios and outdoor kitchens. As a result, plant breeders are creating more compact cultivars of parent plants to accommodate smaller landscapes.

Shoppers are also choosing longer-blooming perennials over those with the traditional three- to four-week bloom-time of many perennials. Downsized and longer-blooming versions of perennial favorites are perfect for container designers. Examples include black-eyed Susans, coneflowers, coreopsis, geraniums, Shasta daisies and yarrow.

Sophisticated gardeners, however, never rule out perennials based on shorter flowering periods. If they display attractive features that carry on even when the plant is not in flower, they are also utilized. Perennials like coral bells, foamflowers, lady’s mantle, lamium, pulmonaria and sedums have beautiful foliage and contribute color and texture whether flowering or not.

Other perennials are planted specifically for their foliage — artemisia, creeping Jenny, hostas, ferns, grasses, lamb’s ear and sedges are prime examples.

When planting perennials in containers, plant them much closer together than their recommended spacing in the garden and pay close attention to their watering needs. Perennials have larger root systems than annuals and may require more water when planted in a pot.

Read the full article: Daily Herald

Herbs in container



Container Gardening for Herbs

by Barbara Ryan

Every time I go grocery shopping I see lush, fresh herbs for sale in the produce department. Wouldn’t it be nice to have fresh herbs a step away from your kitchen?

Herbs do well when they are planted outside.

You can plant a raised bed or a container herb garden. A sunny location is important. If you want to grow herbs inside, you will need a very sunny south-facing window sill.   Herbs grown outside will yield a better result.

Herbs are perennials, biennials, or annuals. You can grow them from seed or buy plants. Small herb plants are available at garden centers.

Many herb-loving gardeners find it easier to start with plants. Since many herbs are perennials, it is an investment with returns. The chives that I planted last year are growing again this year..

Plant what you plan to eat. Figure out how many containers you will need.

You can plant each herb in a separate pot. If you have a large container, group two or three plants together. A 14-inch diameter pot generally works for any herb variety. An 8-inch diameter pot is the minimum size you should use so you do not cramp the plant’s roots. Make sure your container has a nice sized hole so that surplus water can drain away. This is very important.

Read the full article: Lehigh Valley Master Gardeners

Women and sack gardening




Across Africa, a New Kind of Container Garden Is Changing Women’s Lives

Growing food in sacks uses fewer resources and less labor and provides high yields too.
by Sarah McCollsarahmccolltpbp

Some people have the talent to take a simple idea and adapt it into a solution with far-reaching benefits. Take Veronica Kanyango of Zimbabwe, a grassroots organizer who works in home-based health care and hospice for people with HIV/AIDS. She’s managed to take a couple of bags full or dirt and turn them into an agrarian movement.

“You show her a sack garden, and she’s turned it into a network of women who are producing lettuce and tomatoes for the Marriott hotel,” said Regina Pritchett of theHuairou Commission, a nonprofit that works on housing and community issues for women across Africa.

Using bags of the sort you stuffed yourself in for a race on field day—which are filled with manure, soil, and gravel—sack gardening or farming has been successfully adopted in areas of Africa where agriculture faces distinctly different challenges. It’s proved an effective way to grow food in regions with drought as well as areas prone to flooding, in rural communities and in urban slums. At the Grassroots Academy coordinated by the Huairou Commission in the spring of 2014, Pritchett said, the concept exploded.

Read the full article: Takepart