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To grow a veggie garden or not, that is the question! Hmmm?

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Photo by Computix

After musing about how food is processed and the dangers we hear regarding processed food my husband and I decided that we would grow our own veggie garden. With the words pounding in my head, “can’t eat pork; swine flu, can’t eat chicken; bird flu, can’t eat meat; Mad Cow, can’t eat eggs; salmonella or can’t eat fish; heavy metals in their water. Well I drew the line about veggies and fruits that have the “bad” herbicides and pesticides” and decided to plant some things I know are okay to eat. Hikes! So much bad press about the four letter word, F-O-O-D!

So I have two healthy peach trees started and I got online to buy a tree called a “fruit cocktail” tree that has been grafted with four different fruits. Growing well I might add. Next came the desire to grow the veggie garden. At first we were not sure where to begin, which part of the yard to give up to this project and finally settled on a whiskey barrel on the patio that has garlic, green onions and cilantro growing along with a hanging tomato planter. Then we made a space for tomato and peppers plants and well, more garlic in a flower garden that we re-homed veggies in this space as well. And finally to complete this project we moved on to a 4 x 6 foot raised bed that will have more tomatoes along with some other veggies, we haven’t decided on which ones yet. I think maybe eggplant would be a nice addition. Or possibly sweet corn, squash, okra, or snap beans. Another thing I did was plant yellow squash in my flower beds to run in between my flowers. It is a great idea to co-mingle the plant habitats and it adds dimension to the gardens.

Gathering all the information I could find led me to realize that I am not alone in the quest to grow a veggie garden. Raised beds are a convenient and easy way to have a few fresh veggies and it is not a full time garden project! There are some disadvantages to a raised bed. For example it dries out faster in the hot summer months along with the added expense of the materials to build it. And they are not well suited to sprawling veggies like watermelons. But the great thing is my demographic is in Zone 7/8 so I have the added benefit of a longer growing season so I will be moving on to root vegetables later on in the season.

Water is a concern as well. Like every other cost rising in America the water bill is going up too. So problem solved! Rain barrels. I have two. Yesterday I got my second one after attending a workshop on rain barrel water conservation. And an added benefit there was I got a free rain barrel! Okay well sure I have to paint it and put the hardware on it but that sure beats a couple hundred dollars for a finished one! And I get to participate in a study on rain barrel use in my State.  Since I already use a rain barrel I find this no hardship.

Okay you might say, that seems like a lot of work. Well a short cut is what is called a “Lasagna Garden” which is eco-friendly and pretty easy. It is a no-dig, no-till method and is eco-friendly because you use your yard and kitchen waste to “compost” your new garden. Anything you put in a compost pile you can put in the Lasagna garden.  Here is a list just to name a few things that can go in the garden:

• Grass Clippings
• Leaves
• Fruit and Vegetable Scraps
• Coffee Grounds
• Tea leaves and tea bags
• Weeds (if they haven’t gone to seed)
• Manure
• Compost
• Seaweed
• Shredded newspaper or junk mail
• Pine needles
• Spent blooms, trimmings from the garden
• Peat moss

CAUTION!!!!! Never put meat products in the compost pile.

Just layer the garden alternating greens and browns, shredded newspaper, peat moss, grass clippings, etc. The best time to create this garden is in the fall so that it will be composted for spring gardening. And if you want more detail to get the finished product may I suggest a book I found invaluable by Patricia Lanza. Tips Lasagna Gardening: A New Layering System for Bountiful Gardens: No Digging, No Tilling, No Weeding, No Kidding! This book is very useful.

I am pretty excited about trying my hand at this little garden project and maybe I can produce enough to have some tomato sauce for the fall or make homemade salsa. Yum!

Canning…well I will cross that bridge when I get to it!

The Impatient Gardener: Dividing Daylilies

There are three good reasons to divide your daylilies: first, to control the size of the plants; second, to rejuvenate them; and third, to increase their number. Daylilies are hardy and extremely tolerant of dividing. So when should you divide them for the optimal color?  Fall!

Remember those beautiful flowers are best divided when the flowers have faded.  Doing so sends all the energy to the bulbs and leaves for growth. That means you get to really enjoy your blooms before you do the dirty work.

When you’re ready to divide, start by watering the plants thoroughly so that ground is easy to work. Prune the stems and foliage to about 6 inches above the ground for ease of division. I always use a garden fork to dig out the roots for separation. Then shake the bulbs loose of dirt.

If the plant is large to begin with you might want to separate into several plants.  Replant the smaller ones in an area that you have prepared and voila! Wait for spring and Mother Earth will show you rewards!

Daylilies come in many different varieties. One of my favorite places to find them online is at Oakesdaylilies.  Happy Gardening!

Fall is here from the Impatient Gardener

Fall has finally come and the trees are turning, so where is the best place to see beautiful color this time of year? Since the trees need cold nights to change here are few places you might consider.

The New England area always comes to mind when considering the fall foliage. Possibly Massachusetts, New Hamphire or Vermont?

I live in Alabama and we’ve got some fantastic views at the Cheaha State Park. October – November is peak season for this park which is surrounded by the Talladega National Forest.  The drive is breathtaking any time of year but in the fall …

So slip on that sweater, grab some warm drinks and head out to enjoy the trees. Except for gas to get there it is virtually a free escape from all the cares of the day.

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My Garden…

I was a “late bloomer” to gardening, only getting into it after I turned fifty, because I was busy raising a family, moving around the U.S. and well, keeping up with my responsibilities. I should have known it was in my blood. My mother was a gardener. My brothers and sisters are gardeners; so it only stood to reason I would eventually fall in love with gardening as well.

There is nothing that clears the head better than digging in the soil. While working away among the blooms, the oxygen starts flowing, my head clears and all the worries and cares of the day seem to slip away. Whatever is worrying me seems to fade into the earth, leaving me feeling relieved and alive.

When I’ve finally feel purged, I sit under my pine trees to relax and take in the day. My pine trees gently moving in the breeze, full of birds. This time of year it is the little black birds, mockingbirds and hummers that come a callin’. Gardening is the best medicine and if you are a gardener you know that. If you do not garden take my word for it. Oh, and did I mention that it’s a good workout, too?

Gardening means you do not have to waste time, energy or gas driving going to the gym. You can save money on clothes because unlike gyms that require a certain kind of “work out” clothing, I can just grab whatever I want and head out to the garden. Well okay, I require a great pair of gloves and a good sun hat. Both are used and soiled from use. I have no one to impress except that row of flowers that couldn’t care less.

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