Gardening in Straw Bales (Google / Dave’s Garden)

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Gardening in Straw Bales: Overcome Poor Soil, Limited Space, Weeds, Mobility Problems, Aching Backs and more

By Darius Van d’Rhys (darius)
May 21, 2008

As Gardeners we are often vexed by too small a growing space, less-than-desirable soil, too many weeds or a host of other problems. Many of us are also subject to the trials of the body, impeding our physical ability to garden. There are some options to help us with our gardening woes and here is an introduction to one, Straw Bale Gardening.

This article will cover some of the benefits of straw bale gardening, what you can grow in the bales, and tips on how to grow in them. Continue reading Gardening in Straw Bales (Google / Dave’s Garden)

CCF : Plant Growth In Fruit Trees and Organic Gardening (Google / Tristate Observer)

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Six Research Teams Study Plant Growth In Fruit Trees, Organic Gardening

NAMPA, ID – An organic gardening product with the recently discovered ingredient that triggers plant growth is now being distributed nationally by TerraLife, Inc. here.

In tests conducted by a variety of research organizations, CCF also has protected fruit trees against frost, spurred fruits and vegetables to produce more vitamins, shortened harvest time and increased the shelf life of vegetables.
The organic gardening product is derived from an edible mushroom grown for three years o­n a sterile mixture of pineapple and papaya puree, sugarcane molasses and water. CCF is not, however, a fertilizer. It simply sends a message to plants to grow,” said Jos Zamzow, TerraLife vice president. “As soon as you apply CCF, its essential to provide enough food for rapid plant growth.Dr. JimZs Secret Formula Concentrated Compost Factor, or CCF, can produce roses the diameter of dinner plates, tomato plants that tower overhead and shoulder-high bell peppers.

The Hawaiian Organic Farmers Association has approved CCF, and worldwide patents are pending.

“CCF is o­ne of those o­nce in a lifetime discoveries, said Wesley Chun, a former University of Idaho academic researcher and consultant to TerraLife. One of my colleagues, Mr. Bryan Hiromoto, found the substance and has been studying it for the past three years.

Chun, who holds a Ph.D. in plant bacteriology from the University of California, Riverside, has been senior editor for Plant Disease, Phytopathology and APS Press, the publishing arm of the American Phytopathological Society, and a member of numerous research review panels for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The effect is remarkable, and can range from increased plant growth to increased production of seed, flowers and fruit, Chun added. The way CCF works, particularly at extremely low concentrations, is a fascinating biological puzzle that we are near resolving through our research efforts.

Tests so far have been conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington State University, Hawaii Agriculture Research Center, University of Hawaii, Oregon State University, Pennsylvania State University and several commercial growers.

Among the findings are the following:

Flowering plants such as roses, orchids and pikake a favorite for Hawaiian leis, produced more blossoms.

The Vitamin C content of strawberries was 600 percent higher when they received applications of both CCF and TerraLifes flagship product, the all-natural fertilizer Save-a-Tree.

Cabbages showed remarkable plant growth. They took 10 days less cropping time, the average weight almost doubled, and shelf life increased.

Lettuces grew faster, and were more resistant to refrigerator freezing.

Resistance to nematodes, a type of parasitic worm, increased in grapevines, strawberries, coffee, tomatoes and other vegetables.

The number of pumpkins increased by as much as 33 percent and total yield, measured in pounds, increased as much as 44 percent.

Fruit trees grew faster and were more resistant to frost.

Frost protection is o­ne of the most exciting benefits of CCF, Zamzow believes. When CCF is applied to the trunks of fruit trees at dilutions of 1 part to 9,000 parts of water, it protects them for up to 45 minutes at 25 degrees.

One or two degrees of protection for fruit trees can be the difference between losing and saving an entire crop, Zamzow said. We think the frost protection comes because CCF causes the plants to create sugars, and the glucose acts like antifreeze in the cell tissues. This is a very preliminary conclusion, and were continuing to study how CCF can improve plant growth in vegetable gardens and ornamental gardens as well as in fruit trees. We expect CCF to be extremely popular in organic gardening.

CCF is available at retail nurseries and garden centers or o­n the TerraLife Web site at Wholesale orders can be placed through four major nursery distributors: L&L of Fremont, Calif.; Gard’n Wise of Salt Lake City; Jensen Distribution Services in Spokane, and United Pipe & Supply of Boise.

The retail price is $29.95 for o­ne-fourth ounce, with larger sizes available. Four drops of CCF is diluted with a gallon of water, and then sprayed o­n the crowns and trunks of plants.

Development of Dr. JimZ Secret Formula products, distributed by TerraLife, Inc., began four generations ago when the Zamzow family opened a feed mill near Boise and became interested in organic gardening principles.

Other products are Save-a-Tree fertilizer; Plant Wash, a blend of minerals and fatty acids that stimulates plant growth by cleaning the leaves; Plant-It fertilizer, a planting and transplanting mix that combines fertilizer, root starter and mycorrhizae; Bloom KaBoom!, which maintains flowers o­n blooming plants and fruit trees; Huma-Iron granular humate for laws; and Foliar Calcium spray.

All products contain o­nly natural ingredients and are safe for use around children, pets and fish. Save-a-Tree is the o­nly non-leaching manufactured fertilizer in the world.

Additional information is available o­n the Internet at or by calling 1.866.855.9552. Individual orders may be placed o­nline.

Product photo and other photos available upon request.

Release Summary:

An organic gardening product that triggers plant growth and provides frost protection to fruit trees now is available nationally.

Living Breathing Plants: the Best Mulch of All (Google / Veggiegardeningtips)

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The Scoop on Mulching a Vegetable Garden

Living Breathing Plants: the Best Mulch of All

Recently I outlined the limits that I set when mulching the veggie garden. But I do away with all reservations when it comes to my favorite type of garden mulch — a living one! If you’re not familiar with the term, a “living mulch” simply refers to the use of live vegetation growing in the garden to produce many of the same benefits as your ordinary straw, wood chips, shells, needles, grass clippings, plastic films, shredded leaves, landscape fabrics, sawdust, newspaper, or stone mulches.

Mulching the Vegetable Garden with Plants

With a living mulch the same plants that are being cultivated to yield a delicious harvest will also provide the additional benefits of shading the soil to conserve moisture, reduce competition from weed growth, and protect the garden’s soil from exposure to the elements just as an organic mulch would.

This mulching strategy is best employed in concert with the use of raised beds, and works to perfection when the entire growing area is covered from one end to the other by a crop of veggies spreading their canopy of leaves across the bed.

The key is proper spacing when you seed or transplant the crops within the raised bed and keeping the weeds under control when the veggie seedlings are just starting out. Try to space the plants just far enough apart in each direction so that upon maturity the crop will fill out the beds and the tips of adjoining plants will just barely touch each other, as shown in the broccoli photo above.

If you plan and plant it right you’ll wind up with a garden bed that’s covered with healthy plants all shading the ground to conserve moisture, boost humidity levels, protect the soil, and provide a micro growing environment that your vegetable crops will love.

Choking Out Weeds While Building Soil Fertility

Another good example of a living mulch is a thick and lush cover crop such as oats, buckwheat, rye, or legumes. The right cover crop can blanket the garden all winter long or during periods when the beds are temporarily vacant in order to prevent erosion, loosen soils, and increase the garden’s fertility.

Planted thickly, a cover crop will deprive weed seeds of the sunlight and favorable growing conditions that they need to germinate and thrive in the garden. Some cover crops are useful for attracting beneficial insects, or can even yield an edible harvest of their own if you desire.

Growing mulches of cover crops is also a great way to produce large amounts of organic matter for use in building compost piles to further enrich the garden. You really can’t go wrong by incorporating cover crops into your planting rotations.

If you like the idea of allowing your plants to shoulder some of the responsibilities of water conservation, weed control, and general maintenance, then it’s time to put living mulches into play in your own veggie patch. The result will be a productive and attractive garden with soil that is healthy and fertile, along with increased resistance towards weed growth.

Harvest a multitude of benefits from gardening (Google / Community Press)

Read at : Google Alert – gardening

There is a reason why many cultures depict paradise as a garden. Both words bring to mind a sense of tranquility, peace and contentment. So those who insist there is no time for gardening in their hectic lives may want to re-evaluate that position. The benefits reaped from planting a garden can be personal – providing fresh, wholesome food for your family or serving as a creative outlet – or public in that gardens often strengthen the entire community. And it doesn’t take a lot of space to derive benefits from gardening. A patio with a few pots of flowers or vegetables can be every bit as satisfying as gardening on a vast expanse of land. Buying your produce from the supermarket can be expensive and, at times, unsatisfying. Picked before they are ripe and shipped over great distances, the taste and price often are not what you hoped they would be. It can be difficult under those circumstances to get the recommended 5-8 daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Continue reading Harvest a multitude of benefits from gardening (Google / Community Press)

Sunflowers a perfect gardening project for children and beginners (Google / Columbia Missourian)

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Sunflowers a perfect gardening project for children and beginners

May 21, 2008

Do you enjoy the cheerfulness of sunflowers? Sunflowers are easy to grow, perfect for children or beginning gardeners and come in many varieties. Whether you want pint-sized plants for containers or giants for the garden, sunflowers come in a full range of colors: yellows, oranges, russets, ivory and bicolor. Sunflowers can be enjoyed by anybody with access to the sun, a piece of land big or small, or to a flower pot. They are good as cut flowers as they produce enough blooms for the table and last a long time in arrangements. Continue reading Sunflowers a perfect gardening project for children and beginners (Google / Columbia Missourian)

Container gardening on Chicago windowsill (H. HOUGH / Willem)

A nice message from Heidi HOUGH (Chicago) :

I’m delighted to know that our little synopsis was helpful. We continue to enjoy your site and send grateful thanks for including our project, which is just getting underway in year two. In the meantime, I’ve got some cool-weather greens growing in plastic boxes (with drainage holes) up on our second-story window sills. Arugula, spinach, chard, French breakfast radish, and lettuces. I like to eat them right out of the box (like a grazing animal–I am shameless).Chicago windowsillChicago second story windowsill container with fresh vegetables.


 Vegetables in plastic trays high above the street

Young lettuce grown in the city


French breakfast radishes close to the kitchen

red lettuce

Lettuce on a windowsill can be decorative like flowering plants



On May 5th I posted the following message :

Some weeks ago I discovered that people in Chicago were growing plants in buckets. Bruce FIELDS, Heidi HOUGH and their friends developed a very interesting system. I asked them to receive more information on it and to be enabled to publish some of their marvelous pictures. Heide came up with a splendid solution : THEIR FLICKR PAGE. Here is her message :

“I have finally set to order my flickr page. I hope this helps you and others see how we set up our growing buckets. You may freely use any of my pictures at your site.

Here’s the link:

We are excited that it could be useful to people whose water supply is not as bountiful as our own, 20 blocks from Lake Michigan.

Heidi Hough & Associates Inc
1904 W Division
Chicago IL 60622

Text going with the Flickr Page :

Our homemade earthboxes–really earthbuckets–were created from food-grade buckets we had left over from the leaky roof years. We’ve shown a very rudimentary step-by-step series on how to build these buckets. This link is far more comprehensive:

Here’s a good video that shows the process: eurl=http://www.h…

Art built the trellis, which worked beautifully for tying up the climbing cukes and tomatoes. With neighbor Bruce down the street in Wicker Park, Chicago, we had a lot of fun during this first year growing veggies on our rooftops. Go see his pix and descriptive text for more on this Year One of the rooftop garden experiment.

And our supportive friends helped us cook and eat the bounty.


I strongly recommend all the visitors of my blog to have a look at that wonderful series of pictures, explaining how the Chicago team build their bucket system.

My sincere congratulations to Heidi, Bruce and their Chicago team.”


Today, I received Heidi’s magnificent pictures of her “windowsill garden” (above). I believe that just a look at them will convince a lot of people to follow this splendid example, showing how simple and easy it is to produce fresh food in and around the house, even on a windowsill in a city like Chicago.

Did I recently hear food crisis ? Did someone mention high food prices ? Anyone of us, wherever we live, can partly solve that problem. Just grow your own vegetables and herbs (and some fruits) in containers in any location : balconies, terraces, windowsills, patios, platforms, open spaces around the house, flat roofs, etc. Even the cheapest containers, like plastic or PET bottles, yoghurt pots, buckets, sandwich boxes etc. can be transformed in mini-gardens or mini-greenhouses (see former postings on this blog). Give it a try and become a skilled gardener like Heidi HOUGH or Bruce FIELDS (see my former postings on their successes).

Container gardening : uncontained possibilities (Google / The Kansan)

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COLUMN: Container gardening offers uncontained possibilities

Newton —

Gardening is for everyone! If you don’t have a huge backyard to grow vegetables or a big area to plant a flower bed never fear. There is always a way to garden in limited space.


Container gardening has many advantages. People with physical limitations may appreciate the ability to garden without bending over or kneeling. Container gardens can also bring the garden closer to one’s home or outdoor living area, such as along a sidewalk that is accessible from a wheelchair. Container gardens can place culinary herbs close to the kitchen to snip and used in cooking. Container gardens on patios or decks give people with limited outdoor space, such as apartment dwellers, the opportunity to enjoy plants.

Potting mixes that are used in containers are lightweight and easy to work. Small containers or those with wheels can be moved with the seasons to place the plants in favorable growing environments. When not in use, containers can be stored out in the garage or basement.


Kansas’s weather can make container gardening a challenge. Extreme summer heat coupled with high winds can quickly dry the roots of container plants. This can be minimized by carefully selecting plants, growing media, site and watering methods.

Growing media

Heavy, poorly drained soils are a key contributor to poor plant growth. A well-aerated, well-drained, lightweight soil is best for container gardening. The soil must support the plants and provide water, nutrients and space for the plants to grow.

Garden soil is not recommended for containers because the watering required by causes garden soil to compact, leading to poor aeration and drainage. Soilless mixes are carried by many garden centers and are ideal. These mixes are less likely to contain weed seeds or disease organisms than garden soil. Ideally, soilless growing media should be replaced every year.

Plant selection

Containers can hold one to many different types of plants. When using more than one plant species in a container, arrange them to take advantage of their forms, colors, textures, heights, and bloom times. Containers with multiple species are arranged with a vertical plant, such as an ornamental grass, vine on a trellis or spike in the middle to provide height to the arrangement; plants with color such as geranium or lantana around the vertical element to attract attention; and plants with trailing habit such as ivy or ornamental sweet potato to spill over the rim.

Perennials and annuals are often a good combination as the perennial plants can be purchased in large sizes to make an immediate impact while the annual plants are developing. Herbaceous and woody perennial plants used in containers can be saved and planted in the garden in the fall. Choose plants that are adapted (sun, shade, wind, reflected heat, and other site conditions) and meet the functional and aesthetic requirements of the existing landscape. Select plants with similar growing requirements if they are placed in the same container.

Plant care

Container grown plants must be watered and fertilized more frequently than other garden plants because of their restricted root system. Plants should be fertilized according recommended label rates, every two to three weeks using a water-soluble fertilizer.

Potting soils may contain small amounts of fertilizer. These mixes will not need fertilizer for the first six to eight weeks.


Scott Eckert is Harvey County Extension agent, horticulture.

Gardens in Containers and Planters (Container Gardens)

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Gardens in Containers and Planters : Explore Container Gardening

Benefits of Gardening in Containers: Do you live in an apartment complex where digging up a little sod is out of the question? Or, maybe you just don’t have the physical ability to tend a large garden, but still want the benefits and rewards of having one. Have you considered container gardening?

Container gardening is simply growing your garden in – you guessed it – containers! It was born of a strong desire, and in some cases a need, to produce herbs, vegetables, and flowers within a limited amount of space and/or poor soil conditions, all which can be controlled by gardening in containers.

Container gardening can be beneficial for many individuals and situations:

• The disabled and the elderly – container gardening offers easy access.
• Problem soil – containers allow you to control your own high-quality soil.
• Space – Container Gardens utilize minimal space.
• Apartments/Condos – addresses limited access to garden plots.
• Gourmet cooking – easily grow fresh herbs and vegetables for cooking.
• Plant enthusiasts – for those who just can’t get enough gardening!
• Mobility – container gardens are easy to move around as needed.
• Convenience. Keeps your flowers, vegetables, or herbs close at hand.

The design of your container garden doesn’t need to be complicated or even expensive. For a simple, yet effective container garden, follow these simple steps:

1) Determine how much space you have available.
2) Determine what types of plants you want to grow.
3) Select your containers accordingly.
4) Choose your garden soil mixture. (For more info on garden soil)
5) Take into account the availability of sunlight and shade.
6) Shop around for just the right plants, soils, and containers.
7) Make everything look good! Get some great looking garden planters, or accent with wall fountains. Don’t stop there, Cast Stone Garden Fountains or wall water fountains will add a nice water feature to your garden.


Great Reasons to Grow Your Own Veggies (Dave’s Garden)

Read at : Dave’s Garden Weekly Newsletter

Great Reasons to Grow Your Own Veggies

By Tamara Galbraith (TexasTam)

April 22, 2008

Life in the United States certainly has changed since I was a pup…and I’m only 45. The climate is in a state of flux, the price of gas has soared, and the amount of food being imported into our country will soon outweigh the exported. There’s never been a better time to start growing your own vegetables and fruits. Why? Let’s examine the situation a little further.

The Climate

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found in a 2007 study that several factors will affect mass food production in the near future:

“Overall, food production is projected to benefit from a warmer climate, but there probably will be strong regional effects, with some areas in North America suffering significant loss of comparative advantage to other regions. The U.S. Great Plains/Canadian Prairies are expected to be particularly vulnerable. Climate change is expected to improve growing conditions for some crops that are limited by length of growing season and temperature. (e.g. fruit production in the Great Lakes region and eastern Canada).”

Climate change also has a widespread effect on plant growth: the behavior and aggressiveness of certain plant diseases and pests, adverse affects on beneficial insects, birds, and animals, the composition of soil, water quantity and quality…the list goes on.

Energy Use

When the cost of produce rises, it isn’t necessarily due to a sudden freeze in Florida or a drought in California. The price of gas greatly affects food costs due to transportation expenses. Remember when something as small and light as a bunch of scallions was 3/$1?

If enough people would grow their own food, it would make a dramatic difference in energy demand, traffic congestion, and the emission of greenhouse gases.

(On a related point, produce that hasn’t logged a bunch of “food miles” is better quality. It’s fresher and isn’t bounced around in transit. According to environmental writer Bill McKibben, 75% of the apples sold in New York City come from the West Coast or overseas, even though the state produces far more apples than city residents consume. Isn’t that ridiculous?)

Food Safety

Here’s a scary stat: The FDA inspects only about 1% of the imported foods it regulates, down from 8% in 1992 when imports were far less common. (The USDA, which regulates meat and poultry, is much stricter.) The FDA also doesn’t require that exporting countries have safety systems equivalent to those in the USA.

Here’s more from a story that ran in USA Today in March, 2007:

“The decline in FDA inspection resources has been pronounced in the past five years. While food imports have soared about 50%, the number of FDA food-import inspectors has dropped about 20%, the agency says.

“Meanwhile, more food imports come from developing countries, where pesticide use is often higher than in the USA, water quality is often worse and workers may be less likely to be trained in food safety, says Michael Doyle, head of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia.

“A 2003 FDA study found pesticide violations in 6.1% of imported foods sampled vs. 2.4% of domestic foods. It has not been updated. Several years earlier, the FDA found salmonella and shigella, which can cause dysentery, in 4% of imported fruits and vegetables vs. 1.1% of domestic products.”



A packet of tomato seeds will set you back, on average, about $3. Let’s say 50% of the 100 seeds in the packet germinate and become fruit-bearing plants, and that each plant bears a minimum of 10 lbs. of fruit. That’s 500 lbs. of fruit for $3.

Conversely, a bag of cherry tomatoes on the vine (about a dozen, if you’re lucky) also costs $3.

Of course, when growing your own, you could calculate the cost of soil additives, tomato cages, canning supplies, water, mulch, etc., and the value of your time and effort spent tending to the plants, but I think the benefits are pretty clear.

My message is, of course: grow your own stuff. Climate can be controlled more effectively, unless you opt to have a large farm; the management of your food crops shouldn’t be all that daunting. Cloth can protect from freezes as well as hot temperatures. Soil quality can be manually altered to your crops’ needs. Everything — including watering levels, pest and disease problems, etc. — can be more closely monitored under your own watchful eye.

Best of all, you will know what – if any — pesticides and fertilizers are being applied to your food crops, instead of being forced to buy mysteriously-produced food that wasn’t safely grown or properly inspected.

Even a family of five doesn’t need much yard space to host a highly productive garden. If you’re pressed for yard space, use containers. “Vertical gardening” – training vines to grow up instead of spreading out – is also effective and efficient. If you have a yard, consider ripping out some of the grass and making it into a veggie garden. That lovely green lawn is a huge and unnecessary water waster anyway.


Gardening can help your grocery bill (Google / Gazette Xtra)

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Gardening can help your grocery bill


Please read an interesting full text at the website of the Janesville Gazette (URL above)