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Posts tagged ‘companion gardening’

Endless supply of seeds and how to have your own

If you wanted to plant variety of vegetables this year, you probably noticed there was shortage of seeds, at least in Ontario it was. I didn’t find any arugula, Bell pepper seeds and early pickling sort of cucumber seeds also. Green onions were not that good, they really took abnormal time to come up and, generally, they were not doing that great. It was the seed tape. What do you do if you really want some particular vegetable and there is no way to get seeds on time in the middle of pandemic? Online ordering was out of question for me because shipping would have taken way too much time.

You have probably seen and watched time-lapse videos about how beautifully seeds start to sprout if you use the real vegetable. For me, it happened accidentally with tomatoes on the vine this spring. I was digging up soil. It was also time to prepare garbage for the next morning and I had really soft and not appealing tomatoes on the vine in my fridge. They were ready to be thrown out. I simply buried these tomatoes at one end of the future vegetable bed and forgot about them. After a while, I’d say, quite a while, I noticed new tomato plants had appeared in that spot.

Tomatoes on the vine

I had read before that if you use seeds from a real vegetable, there won’t be much harvest or possibly such plants won’t produce at all. That is not true at all. It certainly took some time (May-July) to see they will produce, but these plants are actually stronger than plants which I started from seeds which I had bought. Tomatoes on the vine are doing great, they will be red soon.

The same goes for paprika or Bell pepper. I just used seeds from a real Bell pepper which we had bought at the grocery store. These plants are doing really well, they were just blooming last week, and I cannot see why these blooms wouldn’t turn into vegetables. I have used my own seeds which we normally harvest for the next year: calendula, nasturtium, dill, cucumber, tomato, paprika, pumpkin and so on, basically, anything which has collectible and visible seeds.

Basket of veggies from my backyard

I also buried pumpkin seeds from a previous year’s pumpkin in the soil. It had survived all winter, and I just never got to pickling or using it. My pumpkin plants are doing really well. The problem with pumpkin or sunflower seeds is that backyard squirrels and chipmunks will go for big length to get to them. I had to build a firm fence around, so that the roots of tiny startup plants would not be disturbed. Other than that, just place these seeds in rich soil on a small hill, and pumpkins will do fantastic.

Beautiful dill

For green onions, I cut off the part which has root, allow it to become stronger in water and plant it outside. Such green onions grow much better than the ones from seeds. I’ve been using these green onions all summer and will plant a few more as soon as it’s not abnormally hot.

Backyard gardening

Here is my rating of plant health depending on type of seeds or plant seedlings from worst to the best.

Seedlings and young plants from a nursery or garden center are usually doing the worst. Such plants are much more susceptible to changes in weather, as well as to plant diseases. I’m not buying any ready plants for about 5 years already. It might seem it is going to be much slower process when starting, for instance, tomatoes, Bell peppers and cucumbers from seeds, but that’s not true. They catch up pretty quickly providing the weather cooperates. Day and night temperatures need to be reasonably high for faster sprouting.

Second place take plants which I started from seeds, and seeds were bought at a store. Depending on what type of seeds are available: organic, not organic, colored or on tape, results will vary. I find that some seeds on tape are fine, for instance, lettuce and cucumber, and some are not, I can mention green onion. The best for me have been organic seeds with no color applied to them and not on tape. Certainly, that depends.

The absolute winner among plant seedlings are the ones for which I used either the real vegetable or gathered and prepared seeds on my own. As always, do it yourself from start to finish appears to be the best way to do anything. That includes collecting and preparing seeds or just using suitable vegetable which otherwise would go into food garbage.

Lovely veggie basket

August is time when we can still plant some seeds. In fact, we have to wait until it gets cooler and then we can plant radish, spinach and lettuce again. Depending on variety, kale will do fine also because it requires cool weather. Parsley and basil will have enough time to come up and then, you just take them indoors in October. Plant arugula since it takes no time at all. In fact, depending on your region, there are many more plant varieties, but I’m just mentioning the ones that fit the growing season for me in Ontario.

When it comes to gardening, experimenting is the best way to find out what your plants want and like and what results in rich harvest.  I’m seeing companion gardening is mentioned frequently. I must say that I have used it for as long as I can recall. That was inevitable because my gardens have been rather small and I had container gardening here and there, therefore, I could never plant some group of vegetables or one type of plants in a separate bed. Everything was always mixed up. Like I said before, some flowers literally protect vegetables, and, thus, we have much better harvest.

Companion gardening

Good luck with your garden whether it is big, small or tiny! The most important factor with gardening is the willingness of gardener to take some risks and experiment, as well as observe results. Just like in art which I’m writing about in my art blog.

Trying garden this year? Try these simple steps to harvest more

Gardening can be so many things: source of never-ending pleasure, good daily exercise, great hobby and so many delicious vegetables to add on your plate. Especially this year, it was hard to get even seeds. It looks like many people decided to start a garden this year when COVID-19 has made our life complicated. Why not? The vegetables we buy at store have been already sitting in a warehouse or shelf for a while. What we pick in the garden, is as fresh as it gets. You also know what is in your vegetables, herbs, berries and plants. Content of nutritious vitamins and minerals is definitely higher in fresh vegetables and herbs. You cannot lose with a garden! You can only gain.

Better harvest from small garden

The weather can be anything: very rainy, extremely dry, cool or very hot, windy and humid, as well. Our garden has to survive all weather conditions. Watering can be an issue. Watering too much and too frequently will harm plants and cause rotting of leaves and roots which later results in plant diseases. The best watering times are early morning and night when the sun is almost down or down. Observe plant reaction and check soil on touch, better not the surface only, but a few inches down. If it feels moist, leave those plants alone and water them next time.

After heavy rains or prolonged periods of dry and hot weather, some plants will die off regardless of what you do. I have observed that plants which I start from seeds will tolerate harsh weather much better and they will stay healthier much longer. If some plants have fallen out, start from new seeds again. Ready plants which we buy from nurseries, are generally weaker because most likely they had controlled conditions before. It might be too late restarting Bell pepper or tomatoes, but beets, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, cucumbers, not to mention green onions, lettuce, dill, parsley and basil will have enough time to mature.

We can give plants some extra nutrients, too, but the best is to keep it as natural as possible and you have to pay attention to type of soil and plant condition. It will be visible what it needs. If you have given some fertilizer your plant, but leaves are still light green, yellow with brown rims and similar, then these are insects or too wet/too dry or too heavy soil. Sometimes plants literally burn in too hot weather, then consider shading if possible.

How to make gardening fun

Some plants, especially herbs with strong smell, such as basil and parsley will keep insects away. They are not all pest resistant, but in my experience, they work well together with tomatoes and lettuce. Green onions work well in my garden to prevent bugs from my peas. I usually mix up plants because I have comparatively small space, so, I cannot use separate bed for only one type of plants.

Better harvest from small garden

Pot marigolds (calendula) and nasturtium grow very well between my other plants. They look great and, due to their pest attracting or insect deterring properties, they help to keep my vegetables healthy. Nasturtium flowers are edible and calendula flowers cure us from many health issues. For herbal treatment purposes, we collect new and fresh blooms and dry them.

Small garden, big harvest

I like dill all around cucumbers. Traditionally, Latvian food uses a lot of dill, parsley and green onion. Dill regulates and normalizes blood pressure. It is believed that eating decent amount of dill will lower high blood pressure. Not like a pill, but with regular use, it becomes more normal. Parsley, dill and green onion are extra health boosters. Use parsley/dill tea compress on face and it will regain useful look. You can drink it as morning drink for general tone. Dill seeds need to be planted every 2-3 weeks (the same about lettuce and arugula) if you want to have it fresh all summer and until the first frost. We collect dill seeds to use as herb and also to have it for new plants next year. Use dill seeds when pickling cucumbers, as well.

Efficient gardening

If you see that some plant is taking over and the other one is suffering, it’s time to transplant one of them. If some plant has damaged leaves, remove them right away. Observe what’s causing it: how moist or dry the soil is, are there any bugs or insects visible and so on. Pests often love the underside of leaves.

Better harvest from small garden

When tomato plant becomes too bushy, we cut out the suckers (the new branches which develop in the crook between main stem and large branch). That is very necessary in the greenhouse. My tomato plants grow outdoors. I would say do not prune them too much, especially if it is a single, separately growing tomato plant. Detach suckers if you have many tomato plants growing together and they fight for space and it’s visible that plant does not produce any fruit because of too many leaves. We can always use common sense: if you leave only bare main stem, the plant will burn out in hot sun.

Better harvest from small garden

Garden requires daily care. Many garden works are physical work. No need for any other exercise if you work out there watering, weeding, refreshing, planting daily.

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