Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Many Uses of Garlic

From the earliest times garlic has been used as a food. Garlic has been used as both food and medicine in many cultures for thousands of years, dating as far back as the time that the Egyptian pyramids were built. Here you can see that garlic can be used ornamentally as well

The leaves, stems(scape) and flowers(bulbils) on the head(spathe) are also edible and most often consumed while immature and still tender.

You can grow your own garlic and now is the time to get started. Garlic can be grown in spring as well, but to get the biggest and best bulbs the plant needs the winter time to set its' root system and begin to set its' bulb as well.

  1. Plant from October 1st through November 1st or anytime right after the first killing frost.
  2. Leave the outer skin on the bulbs and do not separate cloves from the bulbs until you are ready to plant.
  3. Plant cloves root end down, 4 to 6 inches apart in rows.
  4. Cover with 2 to 4 inches of soil. The best soil offers good drainage and ample organic matter. Be sure to prepare the area by working the soil with a garden fork and add some quality compost. Consider adding worm castings and some organic fertilizer that will supply balanced nutrients (e.g. 10-10-10). By applying the organic fertilizer in the fall the nutrients will be available in the spring when the garlic begins actively growing.
  5. Keep weeds under control. You can facilitate this by mulching with a quality mulching material. Garlic does not do well in competition with weeds.
  6. Once the growing season begins in the spring make sure the developing garlic has ample water while growing, but let the ground dry out a few weeks before harvest.
  7. Harvest when the tops start to die and fall over (usually in midsummer).
  8. When harvesting, shake the dirt off. Clip the roots and tops, leaving an inch of stem above the bulb, then place on screens to dry for four to six weeks. Obviously, if you want to do garlic braids such as those in the picture above, then you would want to leave the tops intact. If you can, find a screen to lay the garlic on which would allow the leaves to hang down straight.

Garlic is easy to grow and doesn't have a lot of problematic diseases or pests. As a matter of fact it is a great companion to grow to help protect the plants around it.

Organic gardeners know that diversity in the garden creates a healthy and beautiful environment. It's also believed that certain plants help enhance the growing environment for other plants. Garlic is one of these plants and is often paired up with roses, as garlic is said to ward off pests that attack roses.

Garlic is a great choice for fall planting.

Happy gardening, organically...

Mother Earth's Farm

Monday, October 01, 2007

Fall Is Perfect Time For Planting and Building Your Soil

Now that the gardening season has run its course, most gardeners are kicking back and thinking the end of summer means the end of the garden. But, if you have decided that you want to make a go of gardening organically you must know that fall is not the time to get lazy.

Fall is the best time for planting your trees, shrubs and perennials with the long winter months providing the down time needed for building a healthy root system. Plus, fall is the most important time to be working on improving your soil.

If you are serious about going organic then you have to get the nutrients into the soil that the chemicals would normally provide and add the organic matter that sets the stage for healthy root growth.

Fall's chore list can be long, but the benefits go way beyond much of what you do during the hot summer months or the cold wet days of spring. If you do your work in fall you have winter to do much of your work for you.

There are three things you should concentrate on adding to you soil this time of year:

  1. raw organic matter

  2. organic nutrients

  3. finished compost


Unless you live where your weather allows you to garden year around your garden will lay fallow through the winter months. If you do garden year around then you should be allowing a portion of your garden to lay fallow in order to build up the soil between plantings.

By adding raw organic matter to your soil you feed all the beneficial bacteria and fungi that live in your healthy soil. These beneficials are a big part of your success in your organic garden. These beneficial organisms will need nitrogen to do their work and would benefit from an addition of a nitrogen source to help them function properly. A good source of natural nitrogen comes from animal manure. Fall is a great time to add manure to your soil. You don't have to worry about the manure burning anything as "O'man Winter" takes care of everything. See my post on animal manures titled "The Scoop on Poop" posted on 5/15/07 for valuable information on manures. If you don't have a ready supply of any type of manure available you can use granular organic fertilizer. This is a good one to choose:

All-Purpose Fertilizer, 25 Lbs.

Shredded leaves are at the top of the list for good additions to the soil in fall. It's the time of year when leaves are readily available and they break down to provide valuable humus. Use a shredder if you have one or mow over them with your lawnmower to break them up.


Nutrients from an organic source are not immediately available as with chemicals. This is why you need to add them to your soil in the fall, so the nutrients will be available next spring. Again, you are feeding the beneficial organisms with each addition to your soil. Kelp meal, greensand, soft rock phosphate, alfalfa meal, feather meal or bone meal are all good sources of organic nutrients. Many of these are also an excellent nitrogen source. Follow the instructions on the package for application rates. Sometimes a little will go a long way and more is not always better. It's all about balance of nutrients.

It's a good idea to do a soil test to determine the pH of your soil. Fall is a good time to adjust the pH so it happens slowly over time. If your pH is not in optimum levels for the plants you want to grow then it won't matter that the nutrients are there, the plant cannot utilize them.


If your compost bin, be it conventional or a worm bin, is not producing a large amount of quality, finished compost it is worth purchasing what you need to supplement it. Also, understand that your worm compost is different from conventional compost. A quality worm compost has a wide variety of beneficial organisms that will compliment the soil food web you support with your soil ammendments.

Purchasing a truckload of quality compost might seem like over-kill. But do it once and you'll never go through another fall without it. Store it on a large tarp to keep the area neat and keep it covered to keep it from getting soggy in the fall rains. The tubtrug is a great garden helper when it comes to getting compost where you need it. With it's bright colors it's easy to spot no matter where you leave it.

Colorful Tubtrug

As you remove the garden debris from your beds use a garden fork to work up the top soil down about 6" and work in a 3"-4" layer of compost.

Flower beds also need compost. As you cut back your perennials in preparation for winter work compost into the soil around the root zone. As you remove your annuals and plant new bulbs add compost as you work.

And as you plant your trees and shrubs, a few shovels full of compost added to the soil that goes back into the hole is a good idea.


By building your soil you are arming it with what it needs to help retain water, support healthy root systems, and help your plants fend off disease and pests. Building better soil is the single most important thing you can do to help guarantee success in your garden.

So get out of that hammock and off the patio and get to work on next years garden.


Mother Earth's Farm / VermiCulture Northwest

Worm Factory

The cleanest, most efficient way to compost with worms.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Take Action or "Raw" or "Organic Almonds Will Be No More

I have been reading this in the organic news alerts I recieve. Unless we, the people this legislation will effect, take action now politics will win!! This is a post I read on a compost tea forum I belong to. Use the link provided to let the USDA know how you feel.

"Under pressure from industrial agriculture lobbyists, the USDA has quietly approved a new regulation that will effectively end distribution of raw almonds, while putting many smaller almond farmers out of business. The regulation is scheduled to go into effect on September 1st, unless thousands of consumers take action now. The rule requires pasteurization of almonds, including organic, yet allows those same almonds to continue to be labeled as "raw". Nutritionists point out that raw, organic almonds are far superior, in terms of nutrition, to pasteurized almonds. One of the FDA-recommended pasteurization methods involves the use of propylene oxide, which is classified as a carcinogen in California and is banned in Canada, Mexico, and the European Union. Organic and family-scale almond farmers are protesting the proposed rule, saying it will effectively put them out of business, since the minimum price for the pasteurization equipment is $500,000."

Take action:

Don't let the industrial ag lobbiests win this fight. Fight back with your input. Take a stand!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

AACT - Actively Aerated Compost Tea

The picture shows the difference between having AACT sprayed on and not.

If you've never heard of it then it's time to start checking it out.

Here's a great testimonial I found on a Yahoo forum:

"I came in from applying ACT to a wheat crop just before dark. My wife was out mowing the lawns. When she finishes up she walks over to where I was rinsing out the sprayer and asks "Why does my lawn look so green and healthy?

Response "ACT, of course."

We haven't done anything different this year than any other. We have had roughly the same amount of rain as average. I have been applying ACT to the lawn about every 10 days or so since the first part of May.It seems to have made a large difference. We have some trouble spots that are more like cement than dirt, I've poured hundreds of gallons of ACT on them and now the grass is coming well. These spots also didn't used to absorb water, there would be puddles until it evaporated. Now water soaks right in. Gotta be the Tea.

She has been commenting on her flowers and garden for a while also. They look fabulous. I attibute all this to compost tea. It is the only thing we have done different this year. "

Brad - post

Just remember, to get good, quality AACT you need to start with good, quality compost.

I have some great information on my web site.

VermiCulture Northwest

You will also find one of the best tea brewers on the market for the home gardener.

Great gardens come from healthy soil.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Organic Control of Ants

I have Red Fire Ants on my little piece of the world.

When I mow I leave my mower set at it highest and leave the clippings on the ground to decompose and feed my lawn. The ants are very busy gathering the lawn clippings that have turned brown and building mounds for their nest.

Many of these mounds are quite large. One has been up to three feet in diameter and probably at least a foot high. This is a hugh colony of ants. It is out at the corner of my property where I barely notice it except when I hit it with my mower.

This picture of an ant colony is at the edge of a perennial bed outside of my front door. The picture was taken in the early morning hours while the ants were all still in the colony. This is a perfect time to take care of this colony.

A big pot of boiling water poured on this mound at this time would do a great deal in destroying this nest. Start around the edges and work your way in to the center very quickly. Be sure and wear protective clothing to avoid getting any splash of hot water or angry fire ants on your skin.

Natural enemies of fire ants have been tested for mass release for control of the ants in large areas, and progress is being made. Biological control agents include Beauvaria basisanna, a natural fungus disease that attacks them, and beneficial nematodes which can be found here => Beneficial Bugs Garden Pack. The beneficial bugs found in this pack are as follows:

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Scented Garden Its Own Reward for Garden Organic

The long hot days of summer are ahead of us and after toiling in the sun we deserve the time to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

People garden for various reasons:

  • To put food on the table, and in the pantry for winter.

  • For cut flower bouquets to adorn their homes with color.

  • For the scent of the freshly harvested herbs and vegetables or fragrant flowers.

The scented garden is one worthy of our hard work.

Here is a list of fragrant blooms that wait til evening to reward you for your hard work:

  • Nicotianas (alata and sylvestris, which are both white, are the most fragrant)
  • Brugmansia and datura (scentless in the daytime, they turn it on after dark)
  • Moonflower (a vine that thrives in heat)
  • Trumpet and Oriental lilies (plant as many different varieties as you can justify)
  • Acidanthera (peacock orchids need to be dug like glads, but are totally worth it).
  • Night phlox or Dame's Rocket (Hesperis matronalis is an easy annual from seed)
  • Stock (don't let the name fool you, this is a beautiful annual with a carnation-like fragrance).
  • Dianthus (not all are fragrant, but many of them are)
  • Tuberose (a tender bulb that needs to be dug and stored indoors)
  • Mockorange (Philadelphus coronarius, flowers are shortlived but fabulous)
  • Alyssum (more fragrant in the sun, but still quite fragrant after dark)
  • Hostas (some varieties have very fragrant flowers in late summer)
  • Petunias (seek out fragrant varieties— use your own nose to evaluate them)
  • Heliotrope (both the purple and the white varieties have a vanilla fragrance)

The garden can become a whole new world at night, especially if you accent your beds with lighting or special features.

Do yourself a favor and create outdoor benches and seating areas where you can sit and relax and breath in the essence of your hard work.

With real glass shades and verdigris steel “stems," these Bluebell Path Lights are beautiful garden accents even in the daytime. When evening falls, they provide 6 to 8 hours of illumination.
Solar Bluebells, Set of 4

Inside each of these ornaments is a sprinkling of "fairy dust", a special phosphorescent paint that absorbs sunlight by day, and glows by night adding magic and mystery to your landscape.
Fairydust Balls with Stakes, Set of 3

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Scoop on Poop

The Scoop on Poop

Back in the days when what you ate was literally the fruit of your own labor, you knew that if you wanted your soil to produce a bounty of food that you had to first feed your soil.

Since on the farm you had a ready-made fertilizer factory it wasn’t hard to do. Between the chicken, cows, pigs, rabbits, sheep, and horses there was plenty of fertilizer to go around.

As science discovered chemicals all that began to change. More folks lived in the city and depended on the local grocer for their food. Farms became less of a family thing and more of a business thing and the advent of synthetic fertilizer, touted as better and easier, became the way of growing crops.

Today, as organic food is making a come back, manure is being rediscovered as a fertilizer and soil conditioner and for use in a composting system. It is especially good for worm bin composting.

There are however, some manure that should not be used as mulch or composting where it will be used on consumable food. Generally speaking any meat eating animal manure such as dogs and cats should not be used because of a risk of parasitical or disease organisms that can potentially be transmitted to humans.

Animal manures are great sources of organic matter and nutrients that feed the soil, however a precise analysis would be far from accurate due to different feed and bedding material. But some generalizations can be made that can act as a guideline when using the different manures.

Manure N-P-K

Chicken 1.1 .80 .50
Diary cow .25 .15 .25
Horse .70 .30 .60

Steer .70 .30 .40

Rabbit 2.4 1.4 .60

Sheep .70 .30 .90

Sources: Rodale's All-New Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening, An Illustrated Guide toOrganic Gardening, by Sunset Publishing, and the Rodale Guide to Composting.

Chicken manure:

This is the richest animal manure in N-P-K. It is considered a “hot” manure and should not be applied in the garden without first composting it. It will burn any plants it is used on.

Cow manure:

Cow manure is a great soil conditioner on its own, but as bedding for worm bin composting it is a true gem. Worms love the cow manure as it is processed so completely after passing through all the cow’s stomachs and the cud chewing process.

Horse manure:

Richer in nitrogen than cow manure and considered “hot.” This manure will have a lot of seeds that will germinate if used without first composting to kill them. When using as a worm bedding the seeds will generally germinate in the worm bin and will be turned into the system.

Steer manure:

Bagged steer manure while readily available is not the best choice for gardens or worm bin. It is high in salts and in many cases has been sterilized to kill weed seeds thus destroying the beneficial bacteria as well.

Rabbit manure:

Higher in nitrogen than you might think as it is a dry manure. It also contains a large amount of phosphorus that is an important ingredient for flower production and fruit formation. It is also a good candidate for worm bin composting. As a matter of fact there are many rabbit farms that use composting worms under their rabbit hutches. A true symbiotic relationship.

Sheep manure:

This is another “hot” manure that is somewhat dry and rich. There will be a difference in manure of sheep raised on feed hay and grain as opposed to those raised on pasture.

How to use your manure

No matter what kind of manure you have available, it can be used in the worm bin. Remember that your worms will die if the bin gets too hot, so you probably want to do some pre-composting to help avoid that unfortunate event.

Think soil amendment, not mulch when using manure directly on your garden. It is best to spread the manure in the fall and let the winter deal with it, then till it into the top 6 inches of soil before spring planting. This is one of the reasons I say the gardening season begins in the fall.

The final word

Animal manure retains anywhere from 75 to 90 percent of the plant nutrients the animals are fed. What better recycling system could you have to return life to the soil to feed your plants?

Trivia: The best zoo doo is elephant dung!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Organic Lawn Lush and Green...

Sometimes a beautiful lawn can mean not having so much lawn. The less lawn you have the less work taking care of it. As a bonus, a border of mixed perennials and annuals will attract birds and beneficials that will do their part to keep your yard and lawn healthy with out chemicals.

Still, in todays world, as our lives have gotten busier, even a small yard demands too much of us and often our yard and lawn requires the help of a professional.

Enter Paul Tukey. Paul Tukey is a man on a mission. He wanted to start a landscaping business and after successfully building a million dollar landscaping company he started suffering from nosebleeds and shortness of breath. His doctor told him to stop applying lawn chemicals and the problems ceased. Although Paul had stopped personally applying the chemicals to lawns, his company continued with offering chemical treatments for lawn care.

Then something happened that made him take a hard look at what he was doing advocating lawn care that he knew presented health-care issues. He entered a store having a huge sale on weed and feed intending to buy the store's entire supply. But there was a child sitting on the floor playing in the contents of a bag which had broken open. When he mentioned to the mother that she might not want to let her daughter play in these chemicals she looked at him like he didn't know what he was talking about. When the manager likewise scoffed at his concerns he made up his mind to go totally organic with his lawn care business the next spring.

Now he spends most of his time on the organic bandwagon. He has written a book and has a TV show that he has done a great deal of research for, traveling around looking for organic success stories. And he has found many.

He has learned about different grasses, soil biology, and feeding the soil to enhance biodiversity. Organic lawncare can lead to a healthy, lush, green lawn, but a change needs to happen in the way one does things.

There are 10 basic steps for a successful organic lawn:
  1. Have your soil tested. Don't do anything to treat or feed your lawn until you know what the soil needs. The soil is the basis for a great lawn and should be at least 6 inches deep.

  2. Grow the right grass for your location and conditions. The most popular grasses grown are also the most needy when it comes to water and fertilizer. There are a lot of other options that might suite your particular situation.

  3. Water properly - Watering deeply and less frequently will encourage the grass roots to grow deep for moisture. This will help the grass survive drought periods. Watering in the early morning hours will get more water to the roots by avoiding evaporation and will allow the grass to dry. This keeps the environment undesireable for disease.

  4. Your soil is alive, especially if you stop killing everything with chemicals. The soil biology needs to be fed in order for the soil to feed your lawn. Organic matter feeds the soil which in turn nurtures your lawn.

  5. Rethink your mowing habits. Leaving the lawn clippings to decompose will feed your lawn naturally and supply 50% of your lawns nitrogen requirements. Keep your blades sharp and mow higher. The length of your grass blades are directly related to the length of the grass roots.

  6. Avoid synthetic fertilizers and soil ammendments. These can burn and any excess leaches out into the ground water. Use organic matter to feed and ammend your lawn. This helps build a healthy environment for your grass to grow in.

  7. Use a top quality compost as a soil additive. Both dry and liquid, a top quality compost supports the organic life in your soil. This is especially important when making a transition from chemical to organic.

  8. Treat weeds as messengers. They are telling you that there is a problem with the soil. Fix the soil and the grass will outgrow the weeds.

  9. Likewise, pests are messengers. Pests look for the weak, much like the predator in the wild. If a lawns environment is in balance, pests will not get a foot hold.

  10. Overseed - nature reseeds itself every year, renewing itself as the old dies out. Your lawn will go through this same process, however because of mowing practices it never has a chance to renew itself by setting seed. Therefore, you need to do it during the season that is best for your location.

There are many examples of successful organic lawns. This can be done. It must be done for the health of our families, pets, and the environment.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Raised Beds Are Perfect for the Organic Gardener

There is much to be said for raised beds. For gardener and plant alike a raised bed environment has many benefits.

For the gardener you get to do all your gardening from the garden path without bending over. The plants are at eye level so it’s easier to see pest and disease with the hopes of catching either early on before they do serious damage. On this note it is also easier to see the fruit as well at harvest time. Plus it just looks nice.

Raised bed designs by IP Woody's Creative Woodworks

For the plant there is the added benefit of a loose, custom blended soil and better drainage. Soil compaction is greatly reduced in a raised bed. The soil tends to warm up earlier in the spring and continue to produce latter in the fall. With the work area at a more accessible height weeds are less likely to get ahead of the garden as well. Soil amendment and mulch are more easily applied.

Last but not least raised beds produce more per square foot than ordinary beds.

Raised beds can be as static as long rows 3 – 4 feet wide with pathways wide enough to accommodate a wheelbarrow and worker. Or they can be built in marvelous shapes and put together to create special gardens and private places to hide-away.

While raised beds can be as simple as mounding up the soil, physical borders help maintain the integrity of the sides and allows for easier access.

The sides of a bordered raised bed can be made of many different types of material.
· Rock
· Brick
· Cinder block
· Straw bales
· Railroad ties
· Plastics
· And of course wood. The wood could be redwood or cedar. These woods are naturally resistant to rot.
One of the most important details to consider when building a raised bed is the corners. If not built properly they will not hold the weight of the soil inside the bed.

These easy to build raised beds were the designed by Landscape designer Lisa Van Cleef.


One of my favorite places to shop - Gardeners Supply
has many different styles of raised beds to choose from
if you don't have a do-it-yourselfer at home.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Springtime Calls for Gardening Tools and Chores!

Early Spring Gardening Tools and Chores

Spring flowers are beacons of light shining through what's left of the bleak winter landscape.

There’s no way around it, even if you did all your chores last fall, the first jobs to be done in the spring are clean up. So get your garden cart out, your rake, pruning shears and gloves and get to picking up all the trash left behind by mindless, rude human beings, and the ravages of Mother Nature.

Look for dead and damaged plant material. Be merciless when cutting back a plant that has suffered any kind of damage. It will come back stronger than ever.

Make sure any leaves and plant material that are diseased have been cleaned up and discarded properly to avoid recontamination of new growth.

Get out your garden fork and cultivator. Cultivate shallowly where there may be roots close to the surface, use the fork on open ground to break up the soil and allow for air and water to get through. Continued vigilance at this time will also help keep weeds down.

Watch for your early spring bulbs and make plans on where you want to expand and with what for the following fall. Draw diagrams and take notes. Don’t depend on your memory.

You should already be planting seedlings inside now for planting out later. Many hardy greens will thrive in the cooler temps of early spring. They are also quick and easy to germinate and they are fast growing. Prepare a plot for spinach, kales, Asian greens, sorrel, Swiss chard, miner’s lettuce, watercress and arugula. A simple tunnel providing minimal protection for these greens will have you harvesting delectable green salads very early on.

Organic seed list:

  1. Wild Garden Seed

  2. Johnny Select Seeds

  3. Peaceful Valley

Consider the Earth when you garden and keep it Organic!

Mother Earth’s Farm / VermiCulture Northwest

Friday, March 16, 2007

Time To Fertilize Your Lawn for Spring

Luscious Lawn Fertilizer

icon Click me

Everyone wants to have a lush, green lawn to start off the outdoor season. Do it organically and you can feel good about having your family out there playing on it and how you're effecting the environment. The product above covers all counts.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Do You Know Your Why When You Garden Organically?

Farming for the Future

In the rolling foothills of Southeast Ohio exists a movement of small-scale farmers who cultivate without chemicals or major mechanical input. For these visionary men and women of the earth, pesticides are an unnecessary hazard, while one’s own sweat and toil proves more efficient than fossil-fueled machines. Farming for the Future escapes from the grocery store to tromp through the fields with a diverse group of forward-thinking yeomen, illuminating the subtler and oft-forgotten aspects of the vital commodity we call food.

This 15 minute movie is well worth your time. Let it inspire you to make a difference in your corner of the Earth.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Organic Lawn Care

Mission Impossible?

Are you thinking of Spring? I know I am. Getting out without layers of clothes and heavy boots. To take in a breath of fresh air that doesn't burn your nose hairs. To look up at the sky and see blue. And to look at the ground and see GREEN!

There is something so uplifting and refreshing about the new growth of the Spring lawn. It speaks of a renewed life and a new beginning. We have not yet stopped to think of all the work involved in keeping it that way. Only that the expanse of the lush green growth lures us to be out on it after the long indoor season that is winter. We become possessed with the vision of a lush, green, "weed free" lawn. We will do whatever it takes... Will you? Even if it means creating a toxic experience for your family and pets? I hope not, because...

There is nothing like the feel cool blades of grass on your bare feet.

The soft cushion of a bed of grass beneath you.

Being that close to the earth is rejuvenating. It makes you feel alive inside, like a young child again.

Can life possibly get any better than this? Only when you know the grass is safe.

Well you can go ahead and play your games, send the kids out to play in the sprinkler. Because you'll be happy to know that there is an alternative to chemicals for the lawn. That you can go ahead and extend your "family room" to your lawn and know your family is safe to enjoy all their outdoor activities.

NaturaLawn of America is the lawn care industry’s recognized leader in organic-based lawn care services, and uses an eco-friendly approach to create a green lawn quickly, more naturally, and with fewer weeds. Their system relies on organic-based products, which promote healthy lawns that are safer for humans, animals, and the environment. NaturaLawn of America has been able to reduce weed and insect controls by over 85% year after year compared to the traditional chemical lawn care companies.

If NaturaLawn of America can do it then you and your lawn care company can too. Insist on it, for your family and pets.

You can do it and feel good about it! Do it yourself and save...

A Beautiful Lawn and Garden Most People Only Dream About! Your Lawn and Garden Will Be the Envy Of The Neighborhood- But Not At The Expense Of Your Children and Pet's Health... Save Time And Money" NO TOXIC CHEMICALS! Lawns Without Those Annoying Yellow Spots... Greener Lawns In Water Restricted Areas... Kill Ants and The Entire Colony, In Your Lawn And Garden Where They Live, In Less Than 3 Days!

Click here to discover how you can do it!

Here's to Spring in your neck of the woods.

Mother Earth's Farm

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Gardening Action

Spring is time for ACTION!

Starting early will help you stay ahead of pest and disease problems.

Wouldn't it be great if you could avoid all the pest and disease problems this summer that you have struggled with in the past? To be able to skip the sprays and dusts and the potentially hazardous exposure to your family and pets? Well you can reduce if not eliminate these problems, and now's the time—when you're prepping and planting—to make it happen.
Start Healthy

Healthy plants resist infestation, but a sickly, stressed plant will be an open invitation to pests and disease. As a gardener, your job is to provide ideal growing conditions, so the plants in your garden grow strong.
Organic gardeners know that the time to add soil enhancing organic amendments is in the Fall. This allows ol' man winter the opportunity to break down and release the essential ingredients needed for a healthy soil. If you weren't able to get your amendments added in the fall, consider trying to get a good early cover crop in. Or find a good quality compost with an organic fertilizer for your spring amendment.Take the time to loosen the soil with a garden fork down to about 12 inches deep. Doing this will open up channels for air and moisture, and make it much easier for roots to penetrate the soil. ========================================================
Healthy Starts

Begin with your own healthy seedlings or buy strong starts. Don't skimp on this early expenditure. Buying plants that are on sale because they have been on the shelf too long, or are leggy and leafless saves you nothing and costs you in the long term. The plants will take your valuable time and resources and then under-produce, or worse yet not produce at all.

Provide Protection

Whether you grow your own starts or buy transplants for your garden they will need protection from the elements. A period of hardening off, where the plant is set outside in a sheltered area for a few hours everyday, followed by cover from the harsher outdoor conditions once it is transplanted, will be needed. The young plant will need a few days to get its' roots established and will require steadfast protection. Stressing the plant at this stage will weaken it and leave the door open for pests and disease.

Devine Diversity

By planting a wide variety of plants in your garden you discourage any onslaught of any one particular pest. Many plants attract beneficial insects and predators of pest such as birds. By adding a small patch of marigolds here and there with a sprinkling of alyssum, dill or fennel you will be attracting beneficials as well as giving yourself a treat. Many of the plants that are considered weeds in many gardens are actually much needed food sources for attracting the main warriors in your fight against pests. Keeping a small patch of naturally occurring native plants will help maintain a healthy balance in your garden.

Some Beneficial Insects That Help Control Noxious Pests


Every gardener has heard of the darling little ladybug, which is renown as a voracious eater of many garden pests. Ladybugs and their larvae feed upon aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, scales, whiteflies, and many other smaller insects. They prefer aphids as their primary delicacy, but also eat the eggs of other insects, which is a real boon to gardeners. After an adult female's eggs hatch, their larvae alone will readily consume literally hundreds of aphids.

Green Lacewings

Lacewings serve as beneficial predators either as eggs, larvae, or adults. Their larvae will eat large numbers and many varieties of aphids, and also devour mealybugs, whiteflies, thrips, leafhoppers, red spidermites, and a variety of other soft-bodied noxious insects.

Dragonflies and Damselflies

These two beneficial insects are also a great aid to gardeners, as they catch and eat flies, termites, beetles, mosquitoes, and other noxious flying pests. Research indicates that dragonflies can zoom through the air at about 60 miles per hour while catching and eating their lunch along the way! Damselflies are not as large as dragonflies, neither can they fly as fast. However, they are also superb beneficial insects to have in your garden, as they also feed on many garden pests.

Predator Mites

There are several species of mites that feed on spider mites and sometimes will feed on thrips. These predator mites will not damage your plants as do the spider mites.

Scale Parasites

A very small parasitic wasp (Aphytis melinus) is another beneficial insect that will help keep your garden healthy. This little wasp attacks and destroys red scale as well as other types of scale on plants. As with any type of wasp, bee, or yellow jacket, please exercise care to avoid getting stung!

There are many other beneficial insects that can be introduced to your garden to help control common garden pests. These mentioned here are only a few of the most bothersome to gardeners, and will give you a starting point. If you need help identifying or controlling any of your garden insects, either beneficial or nonbeneficial, there are many excellent resources available. One very outstanding organization known as CSREES, Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, is a dynamic new international research and education network. The services of CSREES expands the research and higher educational functions of the former Cooperative State Research Service. This agency offers a wealth of information to not only gardeners but also the entire agricultural community.
A few tips to attract beneficial insects to your backyard

The needs of beneficial insects are not difficult to meet if you have a real desire to lure them to your garden. Many, if not all, probably already exist in your garden. Here is a short checklist that outlines their needs.


Beneficial insects will be happy with early blooming plants that contain nectar and pollen they can feed on. Some early bloomers they are attracted to include pansies, alyssum, Queen Anne's Lace, and fennel. Later in the season there are many others such as coneflowers, cosmos, goldenrods, or lavender that they will enjoy.

Water is essential for all insects and is easy to provide. Any type of container that will hold water can be placed in an inconspicuous place in your garden. It can be kept filled with water as you sprinkle your flowers, or you can also just let rain and dew collect in it. Just be sure there is always some water in it.

Shelter and a place to rear young

Try leaving some leaves or other debris under some of your larger shrubs as a place of shelter for beneficial insects. Or, place a dead log or some rocks and brush in one corner of your garden to provide a place of protection for them during cold or inclement weather. Like your butterflies, beneficial insects are cold-blooded and don't like cold, windy weather. They like a nice cozy place to hide until the sun comes out again. These sheltered places will also serve as a great place for them to raise their youngsters!

Avoid pesticides!

Select only organic or other natural insect control substances in addition to your beneficial insects if your garden should develop a serious infestation of harmful pests. If you really MUST resort to pesticides, try to select those that are the least toxic and use them sparingly. Otherwise, you will surely risk killing your beneficial insects — AND your butterflies and hummers as well!
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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Growing with Heirlooms

  • In gardening and agriculture, an heirloom plant is an open-pollinated cultivar that was commonly grown long ago, but has been largely supplanted in modern times by hybrid seed.

    Vegetables and fruits that have been grown for decades and passed down from generation to generation have come to be known as Heirlooms or heirloom varieties.
    Some experts say that a seed needs to be a least 50 years old to be considered an heirloom. Others believe a seed can not be called an Heirloom unless it is 100 years old or more.
    Heirloom plants open-pollinate, which means they are able to reproduce themselves through their seeds, unlike hybrids, which will not yield the same plant from a seed grown from their fruit.
    Heirlooms are evolution at its best, as gardeners saved the seeds of their best-tasting and most healthy plants to plant in next year’s garden, allowing the plant to adapt to the region, micro-climate, and pests.
    Without the diversity of heirloom plants, with their unique evolutionary characteristics and resistances to diseases and pests, today’s crops—which rely on these varieties to breed resistance into modern crops—are at risk for infestations and epidemics.
      The movement to preserve heirloom cultivars has been with us since the 1970s, with non-profit organizations, university agricultural programs and seed manufacturers, as well as small-scale farmers and home gardeners, recognizing the value of keeping a little piece of our heritage alive through cultivating heirloom seeds.
      It may prove difficult to find Heirloom varieties in your local grocer or farmers' market. And if you do you will probably pay more as it is more difficult to grow and ship these products commercially. But to grow these precious commodities in our own gardens, while they might prove more challenging, is worth the effort. The hybrids, while widely available, have been bred for certain characteristics at the expense of many of the desirable attributes of the heirloom.
      I encourage you to try your hand at growing heirlooms, and start your own tradition of seed saving to pass on down to your own future generation of gardeners.
      To your 2007 garden,