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Organic Gardening
Get dirty, have fun and grow more food with great gardening tips from real-life gardeners.

Creating Community in a Community Garden

Young Woman Showing Community Garden

Photos by Cameron J. Taylor

Today as I was masked and gloved, working away in the community garden, I noticed my own inner urge to chat with the gardener in the plot behind me. Under normal circumstances — ya know, back in January — I wouldn’t hesitate to walk over, shake his hand, and have a less than socially distanced chat. But things are different now.

You don’t know if you’ll offend someone by trying to talk to them. You don’t know if they’re overly comfortable with the situation and if you’ll have to tell them to stand back a bit. I decided to stop over thinking it and I struck up a conversation. We talked about how great his plot is starting to look after only being there for 3 months. The crinkle in the corner of his eyes told me he was happy to have a break in the stifled humid air of an oncoming Texas storm.

We talked about peppers, how great cedar mulch is, and how I ended up with the biggest tomato plants in the garden. The conversation so naturally flowed even with the distance, and finally I felt a twinge of human contact coming back into my time at the community garden.

I started thinking exactly how do you go about rebuilding a sense of community at the community garden during a pandemic?

Varied, Vital Roles of a Community Garden

Community gardens are not a new concept. However, I did not understand how incredibly much I’d learn from my fellow gardeners. I had no idea how nice everyone would be and how much free produce I’d be offered just because “I planted too much”. I’ve mostly learned about gardening from YouTube. But then after succumbing to the fact that it would be a number of years more before I was going to have a backyard garden, I found my community garden.

For $50 per year, you get a 10-by-20-foot plot of land to garden. Mine was rough, to say the least, when I got a hold of it. We were able to tour the property and pick an open plot and when I found mine, it was about 5 to 6 feet tall with a litany of different species of weeds. But I saw a 4-foot collard green plant poking through trying to find the sun. And I remembered my grandma telling me, “If something is growing strong in it, it’s a good piece of land.”

Alas, it was mine. I tempted my boyfriend to come help me with the promise that he could use a machete and feel like Indiana Jones for a couple of hours. We got it cleared on a hot September day last year and ever since, it has evolved over the weeks and months into being what it is today — which is the Spring/Summer 2020 garden, abundant and beautiful even with my rookie gardener mistakes.

Community Lessons in Community Gardening

However, there’s no way I’d have gotten this far in such a short amount of time if it wasn’t for the community part of the community garden. Dave was the one who told me that you can grow sugar snap peas in Texas all winter long. Julio was the one who told me I could bury plants I’d pulled up to regenerate the soil. Kate informed me that my Brussels sprouts were far too close together. And Jeff was the one who told me to think about adding some beauty to my space, prompting me to get into flowers.

You can learn just about anything on the internet these days. But it’s the anecdotal word-of-mouth information you get from seasoned gardeners that is beyond valuable — actually being able to have someone walk you over to their plot and show you what they’re talking about, show you their success, and go back to your plot and tell you exactly what to do. It’s an element of the community garden that isn’t found anywhere else.

Proud Young Gardener With Squash

Community Garden as Pandemic Refuge

Thankfully, I’ve still been able to go tend my plot at the garden during the pandemic. Living in the one-bedroom apartment with another human and two large dogs, I needed the escape. I hadn’t seen anyone for a number of weeks and I could tell certain gardeners’ beds were being untended.

The mix of gardeners is extremely varied both in culture and age, which makes it so rich. But I could tell the older people’s plots around me were suffering. I’d try to water them as much as I could but didn’t want to step on their toes. But the first day I saw my older plot neighbors, I cried. I waved to them, as I was busy pulling weeds, and they were masked and gloved with eyes darting around in fear. The fear was crippling for them. They looked over the garden, made a list of projects, and left very quickly.

You could feel the anxious and scared energy. I was heartbroken. The plot they’ve had for the last 5 years, the soil they’ve tended so carefully, and the community that they love so much, they have fear of. I cried right there. Maybe I have a soft spot for older folks, because I have such a close and special relationship with my own grandparents. Whatever the reason, my heart felt heavier instead of lighter after leaving the garden that day.

It’s likely that the only permanent fix is time, a vaccine, and general improvement in overall health and healthcare. But I can’t help but think if there’s small ways we can start to connect again. Maybe it’s sending out a recipe for things in season to the garden community. Maybe it’s introducing new gardeners via email to everyone. Maybe it’s creating a network of people who can help out on older people’s plots if they aren’t comfortable returning right now. I certainly don’t have an answer right now. But I do have hope.

My first in-depth conversation yesterday gave me a smidge of hope that someday I’ll have my beloved community back in full effect. I keep coming back to the notion that the garden reminds us of, nature remains. Even when there’s so many things you can’t do, focusing on the things you can do like being a good steward of the Earth, will bring you hope. Nature will show you that things can live and thrive, even amongst unfavorable conditions.

And above all else, gardeners have the best sense of hope, faith, and vision in their plants, garden plans, and more. We have to hold onto that more than ever right now.

Brooke Wiland is a true millennial, who found her homestead inspiration on Netflix and now saves vegetable scraps to make stocks, produces homemade apple cider vinegar and gluten-free bread, and grows a high volume of produce in her 10-by-20-foot community garden plot in Austin, Texas. Connect with Brooke on , and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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Why, When and How to Hill Potatoes

 

Maybe you hoped you could just drop your seed potato pieces in the ground, cover them over and wait for potatoes. More likely, you’d heard that you would need to hill your plants. Here I’ll explain why we do this, when to do it, how to hill, plus a couple of alternatives to hilling.

Initial Potato Development Stages and The Main Reason to Hill: More Potatoes!

The first things the seed potato does after planting is to produce roots, stems and leaves. This vegetative growth stage lasts 30 to 70 days. Bigger plants can yield more potatoes, so the goal for this stage is to produce large sturdy plants. Vegetative (leafy) growth of potatoes is favored by warm, 80°F (27°C) moist weather, but tuber growth is favored by cooler soil conditions of 60°F to 70°F (15.5°C to 21°C). This combination can be achieved in spring, when the soil is cooler than the air temperatures most of the time, or if you are planting in early summer, add organic mulches to keep the soil cool.

Tuber (potato!) formation and branching of the stems comes after the vegetative growth stage. All the potatoes that will grow on that plant are formed in this important two-week period. Flowering can happen too, but it’s not essential, so don’t worry if you get few or no flowers. The number of tubers produced per plant depends on the hours of daylight, temperature and available water in that short period of tuber initiation. Hilling adds soil to the stems, encouraging stem growth and providing more sites for potatoes to form.

Watering also stimulates the production of more tubers. When tuber formation begins supply 5 gallons per cubic yard (22.8 liters per square meter) of water. Water at this critical time, even if you can’t water at any other time. Short day length is optimal, with a night temperature of 54°F (12°C). High nitrogen also inhibits initiation. During this stage, leaf growth continues (the plant gets bigger).

When and How to Hill Potatoes

Start hilling (pulling soil up over the potato plants in a ridge) when the plants are 6” (15 cm) tall. Hill again two or three weeks later and two more weeks after that, if the plant canopy has not already closed over, making access impossible.

On a small scale, use a rake or standard hoe to pull soil up from the side of the row opposite to where you are standing. If you are sharing the job, one person can work each side of the row at the same time. If you are alone, turn round when you get to the end of the row and work back up the same row. Don’t be tempted to twist your arms around and move the soil up the side nearest you. You will damage your body by this distortion of your spine and shoulders!

At the next scale up, use a rototiller with a hilling attachment, or perhaps a wheel hoe with a hiller, if your soil and stamina allows. We have used our BCS walk-behind tiller, with a hiller/furrower attachment. Nowadays we use a tractor-mounted hiller that has disks turned inwards in pairs to ridge the soil.

Hill Potatoes for Weed Control

Potatoes are sometimes said to be a “cleaning” crop, as if they did the weeding themselves. Not so! Any cleaning that takes place is a result of cultivation. As with many plants, the initial growth stage is the most critical time for weed control of potatoes.

As well as providing more stem length underground for potatoes to grow from, hilling in sunny weather can deal with lots of weeds in a timely way, especially if machine work is followed up by the crew passing through the field hoeing, as we do. Sun and wind kill the weeds quicker, giving them little chance to re-root. Organic mulches also reduce weeds. Potatoes later in life produce a closed leaf canopy that discourages more weeds from growing until the tops start to die. Mary Peet in reports that potato yields were decreased 19% by a single red root pigweed per meter of row left in place for the entire season.

Hill Potatoes for Frost Protection

A potato plant after two late frosts of 30F and 29F.

Frost will kill potato leaves, but the plant underground is not killed and can quickly recover and grow more leaves. If you are expecting a heavy frost after your potato plants are 4 inches (10 cm) tall, try to hill them before the frost. We had a heavy frost May 9 this year which just about killed all the above-ground growth. But we knew it was coming and hilled to give our plants the most protection we could from the soil. I was amazed at how quickly the plants recovered. On the third day after the frost, the plants weren’t looking good. By day 6 they had new green growth and on Day 8, they looked almost as good as before the frost.

Two frosted potato plants on the third day after frosts, already recovering.

A potato plant on the eighth day after two late frosts, showing lots of new growth.

Alternatives to Hilling Potatoes: Thick Mulch

If you can’t hill, or really don’t want to, you can increase the effective depth of planting by covering the rows with thick straw or hay mulch. It does need to be very thick, if you are not hilling at all. So-called “lazy beds” of potatoes are made by planting the seed potato pieces under only 2 inches (5 cm) of soil, and then piling 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45 cm) of mulch on top. If you are buying the mulch, or spreading it by hand, the cost and time may leave you feeling far from lazy!

Mulching is easiest to do immediately after planting, before the plants emerge. It’s difficult to spread the mulch around the plants after they emerge. We don’t mulch our spring-planted potatoes because we want the soil to warm up from its winter temperatures – I don’t recommend mulching potatoes if the soil is cold.

When we plant in June, we cover the seed pieces with soil, then hill, then unroll round bales of spoiled hay immediately, like wall-to-wall carpeting. We choose this method to help keep the soil cooler through the summer. In warm conditions, deeper planting, hilling and thick organic mulches all help keep the plants cooler, as does irrigation. A couple of weeks after planting and mulching, we walk the rows, investigating the spots where there should be a potato plant but none is visible. Sometimes the shoots get trapped under the mulch and need to be freed up.

Alternatives to Hilling: Flaming

In wet weather it can be impossible to hill when you’d like to, and this is where flaming can save the day, as far as dealing with weeds. Although not an alternative to hilling in terms of providing more stem length underground, flaming can deal with rampant weeds if the soil is too wet to hill and it can buy you some time. Potatoes may be flamed at 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) tall. Flaming is not recommended for potato plants taller than that. See ATTRA’s

Flaming when the potatoes are less than 8 inches (20 cm) tall is also an effective organic control measure for Colorado potato beetles. Choose a warm sunny day when the pests are at the top of the plants. Flaming can kill 90% of the adults and 30% of the egg masses, according to ATTRA.

Third Stage of Potato Development

After the two-week tuber initiation period, the potatoes grow larger, but don’t increase in number. When the leaves start to turn pale, the plant has finished its leaf-growing stage and will be putting energy into sizing up the tubers under the ground. Adequate water and nutrients are important until the plant reaches maturity for that variety, up to 90 days. Try to ensure at least one inch (2.5 cm) of water per week, up until two weeks before harvest.

The size of the tubers depends on various growing conditions. Two or three weeks after flowers appear (if they do), the baby potatoes will be 1 to 1.6 inches (2.5 to 4 cm) across. The best temperature is around 65°F (18°C), and I’ve read that potato size decreases by 4% for every Fahrenheit degree (7% per Celsius degree) above the optimal. Spacing is another factor — we got large potatoes one summer because we had poor emergence and therefore wide spacing! The heat of the summer didn’t stop them. Finally, the tops naturally yellow and die. The skins of the tubers thicken, which makes them suitable for storage. No more growth is possible.

Pam Dawling works in the vegetable gardens at Twin Oaks Community in central Virginia. She often presents workshops at MEN Fairs, as well as sustainable agriculture conferences. Pam also writes for Growing for Market and other magazines. Her books, Sustainable Market Farming, and The Year-Round Hoophouse are available at . Her blog is on her website and also on Facebook.


 

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5 Easy Vegetables to Grow

basket of vegetables 

A basket of easy-to-grow garden goodness. Photo by Carole Coates

In my last article. I shared gardening tips for novice gardeners, and I promised a follow-up outlining some easy crops for gardening newbies. Some are not only easy; they are fast growers, too.

Let’s face it. Some plants are much harder to nurse. It takes great diligence to protect broccoli from pests, for instance. In my wet, short growing season, tomatoes are a huge challenge and, often, a disappointment. But other plants practically do all the work for you. (Think zucchini.)

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站As I mentioned in my last article, the smart newbie gardener will start small. Better to grow a few things happily and well than to overwhelm yourself. Consider selecting five vegetables to grow your first year, and go for easy-to-grow vegetables. Think, too, about what you and your family like to eat.

Let’s start by breaking down the easiest crops into five broad categories you can grow without being a garden guru. You might want to select one crop from each of the categories or choose several from one category and skip another.

For details about planting times and growing conditions, check the back of the seed package, read the details in gardening catalogs, follow one of the blog sites I referenced last week, or purchase a reputable book for beginning gardeners. One of my favorites is Niki Jabbour’s Year-Round Vegetable Gardening.

Salad Greens

These are are quick, prolific, and most often cut-and-come-again veggies. In other words, harvest by cutting an entire plant slightly above ground level and it will grow again—and again. You may get three or four cuttings from one plant. Or you can pick the outer leaves while the inner ones continue to grow. Salad greens can be planted early in the season. In fact, they prefer things a little on the cool side. You’ll have baby salad greens in as few as three weeks. For a continual supply, plant a few plants now and a few more every two-three weeks.

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站Arugula is one of the quickest growing salad greens and it adds complexity to your dinner salad. If you like a little bitter in your salad, this one is for you. I like to plant a mix for the maximum texture, flavor, and color. You can find premixed seed packets in most gardening catalogs. For something a little different, try, claytonia or vit (also known as corn salad or mâche).

Leafy Greens

Swiss chard and kale produce all season long, too. I find chard easier to grow because it’s not as subject to insect damage, while cabbage moth caterpillars can demolish kale almost overnight, though those pests are not as fond of curly varieties. On the other hand, kale is extremely cold-hardy, and it is hard to beat this easy-to-make kale salad幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站.  Chard can tolerate some heat but generally prefers cooler weather. With the multi-hued stems of some varieties, it is simply stunning in the garden. Those stems are edible, too. Plant in mid-spring and you can be eating baby chard in a month or so, long before it’s time to plant many crops. Kale can be planted even earlier. Harvest individual leaves and both of these nutrient-dense powerhouses will keep you in leafy greens throughout the growing season.

Legumes

Snow peas, sugar snaps, and green shelling peas can be planted as soon as the soil can be worked in spring. Plant again about two months before the average first frost date in your area for a fall crop. Trellising will save your back as well as valuable garden real estate.

If you’re looking for quantity, green beans will produce all season long if you pick them before seeds mature in the pod. Unlike peas, they shouldn’t be planted until after the last frost date in spring. Green beans are typically ready for harvest in 50-60 days. Broad beans, such as lima or fava take longer—75-80 days on average.

Unless you plant a bush variety, use a trellis. Trellising is as easy as making a tepee out of bamboo or even fallen tree limbs. Lots of items which no longer serve their original purpose can be upcycled to for clever and attractive vertical gardening

Roots and Such

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站Like salad greens and peas, radishes can be planted early in the season and will reward you with crunchy goodness in about three weeks. To avoid toughness, harvest when roots are the size of large marbles. Tip: while we most often think of radishes as a salad vegetable, both the roots and young leaves can be sautéed.

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站Garlic is super easy to grow. And to make things even better, it is planted when not much else is going on in the garden. Plant individual garlic cloves in late fall, cover with a thick layer of mulch, and wait until early summer. Remove mulch and wait some more. When half the leaves have yellowed and fallen over, it’s time to carefully dig them up. What could be easier?

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站Root crops such as carrots and beets don’t need much help after you’ve planted them, either. You can sow in mid-spring and again every two or three weeks for a continuous crop, harvesting young roots throughout the season. Both store well in the refrigerator crisper drawer.

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站Potatoes take only a little more effort. Mound soil from either side of the plants a few times during the growing season to encourage growth and protect tubers from sunlight so they don’t develop the toxin. solanine. While you can choose to pick a few along the way as new potatoes, wait until foliage has died back in fall to harvest the main crop. A real time saver.

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站For root crops, read up on proper curing and storage techniques to protect your crop.

Squash

Zucchini is every bit as versatile as it is prolific, making it an excellent choice for a small garden. But unless you have a large family or really, really love them, you only need a couple of plants. The same is true of that all-time summer favorite, yellow squash.

baby summer squash 

There isn't much as exciting as seeing a new vegetable appear in your garden. Photo by Carole Coates

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站Don’t forget about winter squash. Packed with important vitamins, they will last for months in a cool, dark spot like a basement or unheated closet, though you should check on them regularly to cull any that are going bad. It happens. Butternut squash is the best keeper.

Pumpkins are fun to grow, and they’re not just for decorating—or even holiday pies. Like butternut and other winter squash, they can be used as hearty side dishes or even meat substitutes. But their vines take up lots of space, so plant just a couple and plant them near the edge of the garden.

You may not think it, but chili with winter squash instead of meat is both delicious and filling. Winter squash can be roasted, made into muffins and quick breads, and serve as the star in soups, stews, casseroles, and winter salads. A real winner.!

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站Next up—fun in the garden. Stay tuned.

Carole Coates is a gardener and food preservationist, family archivist, essayist, poet, photographer, and modern homesteader. You can follow her Mother Earth News blog posts here. You can also find Carole at where she shares her take on life, including modern homesteading, food preparation and preservation, and travel as well random thoughts and reflections, personal essays, poetry, and photography.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts.

Grow it Yourself: My Advice to Beginning Gardeners

garden grow sign 

My garden gate

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站As we are jarred by headlines warning us of coming food shortages, more and more people are ready to turn their hands to gardening. Of course, there is more to growing than can be covered in one short article, but I have some ideas that can get you started.

The most important thing to remember is this: don’t worry that you are a novice. The best way to become an expert gardener is to garden. Gardening is the epitome of an experiential education. Gardeners experiment, and we learn from our experiences, whether successes or not. Here are a few tips for the beginning gardener.

Start Small

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站Every experienced gardener will tell you one of the biggest novice mistakes is going overboard. Did you know one summer squash plant can produce as many as twenty-five pounds—forty or fifty squash? All that enthusiasm for a giant garden can wear pretty thin by mid-summer. A hundred square feet—10 by 10 or so—is big enough to get you started without overwhelming you. If you still want more plants, you may want to think about adding a few containers. They take a lot less preparation.

garden bean tepee

A bean tepee can be made from bamboo or downed tree branches, and it takes up hardly any garden space. Photo by Ron Wynn.

Start Easy

Let’s face it. Some plants are simply a lot harder to take care of. It takes great diligence to protect broccoli from pests, for instance. In my wet, short growing season, tomatoes are a huge challenge and, often, a disappointment. I’d rather get mine at the farmers’ market. But other plants practically do all the work for you. Zucchini is such a big producer that you better not miss a day of harvest or you will find yourself with the infamous baseball-bat size squash. And they are extraordinarily versatile at mealtime.

radishes are easy

Radishes aren't just easy--they're also quick and provide an early reward for your efforts. Photo by Carole Coates

Other easy growers include salad greens, green peas, garlic, green beans, Swiss chard, and potatoes. Children get a real kick of digging in the dirt and coming up with fresh potatoes! I’ll be writing more about easy crops to grow in an article to come out soon, so be on the lookout.

Call on an Expert

And don’t be fooled into thinking you need a physical person holding your hand. My gardening bible is Niki Jabbour’s Year-Round Vegetable Gardening. You can learn why on my Mother Earth News blog post: Best Gardening Books.

Mother Earth News’ own Barbara Pleasant is full of practical gardening advice as well as tips on simple and imaginative ways to make use of all that produce you’re going to grow—like making beet raisins. Yes, you read that right. You can follow her or  or via her Mother Earth News articles. And by the way, her  is a must-have if you garden for year-round eating. This book is featured in my earlier blog post, as well. (Can you tell I’m a fan?)

Several television and radio series feature basic gardening tips, too. Check your local public radio or TV listings for programs such as Weekend Gardener or Mike McGrath's You Bet Your Garden. A new one I just came across is on Amazon Prime. . This series—designed specifically for the new gardener, devotes each 30-minute program to a single crop you can grow in the home garden or in containers with step-by-step guidance. It also troubleshoots common growing problems and includes some clever growing tips and recipes. 

Consider Alternative Growing Options

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站No garden space? No problem. If you have a sunny deck, patio, or driveway, you can plant in containers. Most garden vegetables can grow in containers—as long as you have drainage holes and choose good planting medium. Many plants offer dwarf varieties to make container gardening even more satisfying.

You can also grow indoors. Fill a planter with a mixture of your favorite herbs—ready for cutting right in the kitchen. Sprouts—a jar, a colander, a sunny window, and water and you’ll have salad and sandwich toppers in only 2 to 3 days.

There are all sorts of ways to get started gardening, and my bet is you will be surprised and pleased with the results. Let’s get digging!

Carole Coates is a gardener and food preservationist, family archivist, essayist, poet, photographer, and modern homesteader. You can follow her Mother Earth News blog posts here. You can also find Carole at where she shares her take on life, including modern homesteading, food preparation and preservation, and travel as well random thoughts and reflections, personal essays, poetry, and photography.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts.

Beginner's Guide to Growing Roses

 

Photo by Mio Ito on Unsplash

Roses are some of the most popular and beautiful flowering shrubs grown. From potted small miniatures to beautiful outdoor clumps all covered with plentiful blooms, there are seemingly countless varieties of roses for the home garden with an enchanting array of colors and aromas. Growing roses is actually not as difficult as you may think and is certainly worth the effort for those who take pride in showy blooms.

Selecting. 幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站There are more than 150 species many hundreds of cultivars. Breeders are constantly continuing to develop new varieties with brighter colors and rich aromas. The ‘Robin Hood’ Rose is especially suitable and can bloom six months each year. New varieties exist that can be grown as a hedge. The most important condition for abundant flowering of the bush is a place for planting.

Siting.幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站 Roses are sensitive to light and heat, which means that they need to be planted in places well-lit and reliably protected from cold winds. The best place is the south and southeast side of the plot, for the rose enjoys the morning and afternoon sun. Shady spots are suitable only for climbing varieties.

Planting from potted rose plants.幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站 Roses can be purchased as small potted plants or grown from seeds or cuttings. Seeds can also be used to propagate roses, but cuttings are faster and easier. Potted plants are more expensive but are a simpler way to start a rose garden. Plant roses in the spring. The size of the hole in which you plant your roses is one of the key factors to getting them off to a good start. Whether you are planting bare-root or container roses, you need to dig a hole deep enough and wide enough to accommodate the plant’s roots and to allow for good drainage, since roses don’t like wet feet.

If you are planting several rose bushes together, space them at least 3 feet apart to give the plant ample growing room as it matures. Roses are thermophilic plants, and as soon as the soil has warmed up well, but the buds have not yet blossomed, you can plant. Before planting, carefully inspect the roots: Cut off all damaged parts to living tissue, leave the remaining roots no more than 20 centimeters long.

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站Shorten the shoots on the bush. Leave strong shoots with six buds, medium-strength shoots with three buds, and cut weak and dried out shoots completely. There are a couple of methods for growing roses from pieces.

Photo by Irina Iriser on Pexels

Planting from rose stem cuttings. Most rose varieties grow well from stem cuttings. A cutting from a healthy, productive stem can produce its own root system and quickly grow into a new flowering bush. Although you can take cuttings throughout the year, those taken in late winter and early spring do well, because the plant is about to start sending out its new growth during this time. Four to 6-inch pieces of rose stem root easily when inserted in a potted mix and covered with a plastic bag to increase humidity. Cuttings root in about 8 weeks or when new growth starts.

Propagating using potatoes.幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站 The new plants can be planted out in spring after all danger of frost has passed. Cuttings can also be easily rooted in plain potatoes. Stem pieces with a 45-degree cut end dipped in honey or rooting hormone should be inserted in a potato scored with a screwdriver beforehand. Even stem cuttings from bouquets can be used. The potatoes should be planted out in pots or in the garden and covered with a jar or plastic bag.

Watering. Soil, temperature, and the surrounding plants affect how much water a rose needs. In temperate climates, weekly watering is usually enough. Two inches of water a week (4 to 5 gallons) may be all that is needed. If the soil is sandy or the garden is hot, dry, or windy, more frequent watering may be necessary. Care needs to be taken in areas where the soil holds a lot of moisture, as too much water can promote root rot.

Soil considerations. Rose bushes must also be located in well-drained, fertile soil. You can grow roses on any type of soil, with the exception of marshy and salt marshes. Loam is ideal soil for a rose. Loam is moderately loose, that is, it is able to pass air well, absorbs and retains water and the fertile layer well for about 10 centimeters. Roses must be located in well-drained, and fertile soils.

Mulching. The soil under the roses can be mulched. This provides additional nutrition, improves the soil structure, retains moisture in it, and dramatically reduces the number of weeds. It is good to use shredded straw, rotted manure, leaf humus, compost. Using tree park or nut shells will decorate the flower bed. Mulch the soil under the roses every spring as soon as the earth warms up and enough moisture is still stored in it. (The site should already be clear of weeds.)

Fertlizing.幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站 Though roses can thrive even when neglected, fertilizing would keep them healthy and blooming. So, it's best to fertilize on a regular basis. A store-bought fertilizer specific for roses is great. But there are also numerous homemade methods that can also be used. For example, banana peels supply potassium, the nutrient that promotes blooming. Just bury some banana peels at the base of the plant. Epsom salt, vinegar, kelp, molasses, and powdered fish are also good fertilizers.

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站A good rose fertilizer recipe is to combine 3 cups water, 2 tablespoons of molasses, 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt, 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon of kelp extract, and 2 tablespoons of powdered fish. Eight cups of the resulting fertilizer should be applied in summer at evening after the roses have been watered. The process can be repeated at the end of summer to encourage blooming till fall or winter.

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站The health and vigor of your roses depend on two things: the weather and the cultural practices you follow. The first you can't control, but the second one you can. Roses prefer a planting site with good drainage and ventilation. Avoid shady spots and dense plantings. Good air circulation helps the leaf surfaces dry faster, which helps prevent disease. Good luck getting started.

Michael Feldmann is a journalist and garden writer with a serious enthusiasm for growing roses.


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Why I Prefer Raised Garden Beds

 

In the past I have always had a vegetable garden “in the ground”. A couple of times we have just dug up lawn and made garden beds right there by adding cow manure and minerals. But in my latest garden I decided to try raised garden beds and I definitely prefer them to in-ground beds. Here’s why I prefer raised garden beds.

Better drainage and potential to hold moisture

My raised garden beds are made from roofing iron. I bought four raised garden beds from the local tank maker. They are about 3 ft (1 m) wide, 6 ft (2 m) long and 3 ft (1 m) high. I filled them in layers. Firstly using about a foot of our local clay sub-soil to seal the base. Then a layer of wood chip, saw dust and logs of different sizes. The aim of this layer was to mimic a concept called “hugelkultur” which uses buried wood to hold moisture in the garden.

I added polypipe with holes drilled on top of this layer, to use a concept called “wicking beds” which is based on watering into the root section rather than the top of soil. Wicking beds are usually lined with plastic, but I didn’t want plastic in my garden, so I used the clay layer to sort of seal the bottom of the garden bed and the wood layer to absorb the water.

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站The final layer was soil and manure from our cattle yards. This layer drains well and is good for planting seeds and seedlings directly.

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站Overall, the layers give me the equivalent of an in-ground garden bed dug to 3 feet deep (I’ve never been able to dig that deep before!). I can control the moisture in the bed by watering directly into the wood layer in hot dry weather, but they will also drain well if we get a lot of rain.

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站So far I have found that these raised beds hold water better than any in-ground bed that I’ve used. In summer we get very hot and dry weather, so keeping moisture in the soil is a huge problem for me. My vegetables grew better in the raised beds as I was able to keep more moisture in the soil.

Less maintenance

With my in-ground gardens in the past I found that I needed to regularly dig the garden, including working over with a fork regularly. With the raised garden beds I just need to top up the soil with composted manure as they settle and the level of the soil drops. This is relatively less work compared to the in-ground beds.

Easier on the back and knees

Having the beds at 3 feet high has been so much easier than gardening in the ground. I don’t need to bend or kneel all the time just to reach my plants. Weeding, mulching, planting and harvesting is all at waist level or higher.

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站The only draw back is when initially filling the beds, all the material has to be lifted up into the beds. We were fortunate to use a tractor for this, but if you were filling by hand, this could be hard work. You only have to fill them once though! After that the occasional top up is pretty easy.

Keep out critters without a fence

With previous gardens I have needed to fence the gardens to keep out rabbits, wallabies and other ground dwelling critters. Even my dogs have a habit of squashing plants if they are allowed near the garden! With the raised beds any animals that can’t jump or fly up 3 feet are naturally prevented from getting into my garden, without the need for an ugly garden fence.

Easy to set up shade and trellises

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站With previous gardens I have had trouble setting up shade over individual garden areas. The raised beds have been very easy to set up shade and trellises using basic fencing equipment. The soil is lose down to 3 feet, so its possible to put stakes or posts deep into the beds. Alternatively, posts can be screwed into the outside of the beds.

Overall, my preference is raised garden beds for vegetable gardening, I would never go back to in ground garden beds if I had the choice! If you are reconsidering your in-ground garden or planning a new garden, I encourage you to look at raised beds as an option, they may work for you too.

Liz Beavis is a small-scale cattle farmer and soap-making beekeeper in rural Queensland, Australia. On her , she sells beef-tallow soaps, honey and beeswak, and is the author of , , , and the . Connect with Liz on , , and , and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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The Best Garden Tool That Money Can't Buy

Holding up the sky in the squash patch 

Holding up the sky in the squash patch.

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站Our tool wall bristles with handles, blades, and tines. Many of those tools see daily use during the growing season. But I am going to tell you about our most important too, one we use every day of the year. Best of all, it won’t cost you a dime.

In the sudden surge of interest in home-grown food these days, I’m flooded with questions from people about how to start gardening. 

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站But before you rush out in a panic and sprinkle seeds all over—slow down! The most successful gardens are born out of observation and connection. Get to know your garden, and productivity will follow. I garden for the bulk of my food calories, and I want to make sure I’m using my energy wisely. So I take my morning cup of tea out to the garden and have a seat. I’ve been doing this ever since I moved here in 2003, and the show has never gotten boring. 

Daily observation has shown me when and where to plant, tied me to the seasonal rhythms of my home, and revealed which creature was eating my strawberries! Watching the garden for 15 minutes a day saves me loads of time in the long run. Plus, I enjoy it. I think the garden does too.

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站Here are some tips for starting your garden observation, though there are no hard-and-fast rules. 

Choose one spot to observe from幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站, to give a consistent perspective. An overturned bucket to sit on might make this more inviting, or even a lawn chair. Set yourself for success by making it comfortable. Is it something you can sit on in the rain?

Sit for long enough to notice more than first impressions幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站. Fifteen to 20 minutes is good. Longer is fine too, of course. In my early days of sitting, I would set an alarm for 20 minutes to avoid impatient clock-watching. 

Simply observe with all your senses幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站. Ideas may float into your mind. My garden time is where I get most of my best ones, so I bring a notepad to capture inspirations. But otherwise I keep simply paying attention to what is actually happening. What can I see? Hear? Smell? What direction is the wind coming from? Can I see the moon from here? Am I facing north, south, east, or west? Basic sensory engagement gets me out of my mind and into reality.

Come back in and record your notes.This is a powerful part of the process, though I acknowledge it can be easy to skip. Notes on first and last frost, wind direction, temperature, and patterns of sun and shadow have all guided my planting decisions over the years. They have led to much more produce than if I were simply going “by the book” and ignoring the microclimates of this place. For instance, last frost dates published for the city of Seattle, a mere 20 miles from my garden, are a whole month earlier than here. The better I understand the actual place I’m working, the more effectively I can use it. Keeping basic notes from year to year helps me do that.

Even in a spring frenzy of hoeing and planting, observation will yield tangible and intangible rewards. If I don’t take the time to appreciate the apple blossoms, wink at the mating earthworms, and soak in the bird song, why am I gardening in the first place? Get connected to your place, and the veggies will taste that much better. The place you live is sure to appreciate an attentive human, whether or not you even garden there. Practice your observation skills wherever you are. Might as well!

Alexia Allen is a farmer, teacher, and homestead orchestrator at  in Western Washington State. She taught at Wilderness Awareness School for 12 years before moving into farming full-time and enjoys a Renaissance woman life with something new every day of every season. Read all of Alexia’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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