Planting and Growing Green Beans in the Home Garden

    If you wonder if you can handle growing vegetables on your own, you should try green beans! Growing green beans is easy and rewarding, and fun for both kids and adults! Also called snap beans or string beans, they can grow in pots or garden containers, or in-ground. You can fit them into small places as they really don’t need much space. Bush beans can also be planted close together as they will use each other for support, making staking unnecessary. They need some fertilizer and a bit of water, but these plants are not fussy. They are not infallible either, they just aren’t difficult plants. For these reasons they are an ideal vegetable for kids to grow or for adults who want to start out with something simple. The seeds are large, also making it easy for kids to handle and plant. With the pictures below I will take you right through it. Did you know? Some helpful tips before we get started: Although sometimes called string beans, most varieties of green beans nowadays do not have much of a string in them. It’s just an old name that sticks around, and in fact this unpleasant characteristic has been more or less “bred out” of them. I have tried several varieties myself and haven’t had a problem. These days they are usually referred to as snap beans due to the snap you’ll hear if you break a fresh bean. […] Read more »

How to Grow Carrots From Seed to Harvest. Tips & Pictures

  Homegrown carrots are known for their sweet and flavorful taste. They also have a bit of a reputation for being hard to grow, but I have found that carrots are fairly easy if they have the right growing conditions. A little bit of information and preparation goes a long way. Being a hobby gardener only, and not a professional, I have personally grown carrots successfully for several years. I’ll show you what I do and give you some how-to tips that can make a big difference in getting them to germinate and grow properly. First some information to help you understand what carrots need in order to thrive in the home garden, then some practical pictures to show you exactly what to do: How to seed, germinate, grow, and harvest homegrown carrots.   Important factors to be aware of Soil conditions Carrots like sandy, well drained soil. They do not do well in clay, compact, rocky, or water logged soil. They like moisture, but not wet soil that will not drain. If your natural soil is not optimum for carrots, you could try a raised garden bed and prepare it with soil that will work better. Otherwise, gypsum may help improve clay based soil. Before you sow, till or work the soil deep and well, down to a couple of inches below the debt of fully grown carrots. Remove rocks, twigs, roots etc. Carrots like loose soil with little […] Read more »

Growing Tomatoes Part 3: Common Problems & Natural Solutions

  Growing Tomatoes: Common Problems and How to Handle Them Growing your own food can be fun, educational, and very rewarding. Tomato plants seem to be among the most popular to grow in that regard. Unfortunately, tomato plants can develop a myriad of different diseases and problems, although I find that despite a few issues now and again I am usually able to harvest loads of deliciousness! Even though a lot of things can go wrong in a home garden, there is also a lot you can do, and naturally so, to prevent or handle diseases, bugs, and disorders. In this post I will focus on a few common conditions on tomato plants that I have personally experienced, and what I have found to be helpful in that regard. I will not go into every disease and pest problem that can occur as I am a hobby gardener only, so I will leave it up to the experts to help you with the rest.   Tomato Hornworms  These beautiful (or creepy!) worms are a very common pest in the United States. They can do significant damage if you do nothing to prevent them or get rid of them as they find their way to your plants. If left alone to feast, they will consume the majority of plants and tomatoes, growing several inches long. That’s what happened to my plants years ago as I didn’t even know they existed! There […] Read more »

Growing Tomatoes Part 2: Transplanting Outdoors & Care

Growing Tomatoes; Transplanting Outdoors & General Care After seeding inside, then transplanting tiny seedlings to larger pots to grow and develop, the time will eventually come when the plants will need to move outside. In this post I will show you how to get your tomato plants ready for the outdoors and how to further care for them. In my previous post, Growing Tomatoes Part 1: Seeding & Transplanting Seedlings, I went through the process of seeding and caring for tomato sprouts. Growing Tomatoes Part 3: Common Problems & Solutions is also worth reading to keep you a step ahead, preventing disease. Once tomato sprouts have reached a certain size, such as in the picture below, they will take off and grow very quickly; several inches a week is not uncommon. Tomato plants crave direct sun and warmth all day long and they will also absorb a lot of water. I often water twice a day at this stage, with holes on the bottom of the cups to allow drainage.  May 1: May 6: If you have extra plants on hand to share with friends and family, this is a good time to pass them along. Preparing for Transplanting Outdoors: Weathering Once the weather has warmed up sufficiently and the danger of night frost has just about passed, it is time to “weather” your plants in preparation for outdoor transplanting. Weathering means to gradually get them used to the climate […] Read more »

Growing Tomatoes Part 1: Seeding & Transplanting Seedlings

    Growing Tomato Plants from Seed Growing plants from seed can be a very rewarding and fun experience when you start with just a few, basic know-how’s. I have seeded everything from broccoli, peppers, and watermelon, to beans and much more. And, of course, lots of tomatoes! In this post I will use pictures to show you what to do to plant tomato seeds, how to care for the tiny seedlings, and also how to transplant them when the time is right. The first time I seeded anything at all, more than a decade ago, was a complete flop. Since then, I have learned just how easy it can be and have grown to really love seeding my own plants. My absolute biggest mistake in the very beginning was to put the newly seeded trays away from where I could see them, in order to also keep them away from my cute little toddlers. The problem was that since I didn’t see them, I forgot about them (the trays, not my toddlers! Ha!) and didn’t water the seedlings often enough. When I did water, I didn’t realize just how fragile these tiny plants were, and knocked them over while watering from a watering can that was far too forceful for them. The poor little plants didn’t stand a chance and quickly gave up. And so did I. I did not believe I had it in me to grow anything […] Read more »

Herbs & Flowers for Natural Pest Protection – Update

This past spring of 2012, I started looking into various flowers and herbs etc. that might help deter and prevent pests in my vegetable garden in a natural way. I wrote a post on this subject early on in the season, Herbs & Flowers to Naturally Control & Deter Pests, in which I described a few plants believed to be helpful as pest control, and made a decision on which plants I wanted to try for my own garden. In this post, I will give you an update on how things went, and whether it seemed to work. All in all it was an interesting project, and though I did had some pest problems, I still think it was worth adding these plants to my garden. PETUNIAS The small section of green beans definitely took the biggest hit, this year as in previous years; the petunias I planted were supposed to help control Mexican bean beetles, but I would say the effect was very limited. The plants seemed just as attacked as before, but the difference was that (amazingly enough) I did not actually see any of the worms this year. I did see one beetle, but no worms, although the evidence of them were all over. So if I decide to plant snap beans next year, I will have to do something more drastic. For some reason, and I’ve also noticed this before, later in the season the beetles […] Read more »

Tomato Hornworms and How to Get Rid of Them

  Several years ago I used to keep tomato plants on my deck (before my fenced in garden.) One summer I saw that my plants were wilting and not looking healthy, losing a lot of leaves and twigs. I figured I wasn’t watering enough. Despite better efforts, my plants continued to go downhill, looking worse every day, until they were missing most of their leaves and dying. I also noticed several partly eaten tomatoes still on the plants. I couldn’t understand what was wrong. While studying my plants, pondering what might have gone wrong, I suddenly discovered two large, fat, brightly green worms on one of the stems! I was both shocked and horrified at the sight! I had never seen anything like it! My husband did a quick search on-line and discovered that these two hungry caterpillars were tobacco hornworms, and that they are extremely common in North America. They cause a lot of damage to tomato plants, and will destroy them completely if left alone. These worms are often mistaken with tomato hornworms, which is closely related. It doesn’t matter much which type they really are, as they do the same damage, feed on the same plants, and are controlled in the same ways as well. If you really want to know the difference between these two worms, there are a couple of things to look for: The tobacco hornworm has white stripes along its body and has […] Read more »

Building Our Vegetable Garden Fence, w/ Pictures

  When we decided to put in a vegetable garden, we realized a proper fence with a good gate was essential. As you can see, our property is surrounded by a lot of woods, and we have wild life to show for it. Approximately 90% of all the trees we have planted, whether apple trees, dogwood, flowering pear, or maple trees have been destroyed by deer and rabbits, despite much effort to prevent it. Naturally, we figured: if these animals love trees, they will surely love our vegetables! So a fence was never a question, it was a necessity. In this post, using lots of pictures to explain, I will describe how my husband built our fence; I assisted a little here and there, but he did all the planning and building. He didn’t have any pre-made plans to help him, he just thought about what might make sense and went from there. Several years later, it is still going strong and in very good shape. And to think, all I wanted was some wire to go around and some way of getting in and out of my garden, and this is what he built me! According to himself, my husband is a technical kinda guy, not a handy-man. And while he is excellent at anything technical, I beg to differ. Just look at that nice work! More beautiful than I ever hoped for, and highly functional! Thank you, sweetheart!!! […] Read more »

Growing Potatoes Part 4: Harvesting and Storing Potatoes

    In this post I will go over some details on when and how to harvest potatoes, as well as what I have learned about storage. Also see my other posts in this same series: Part 1, Getting Started; Part 2, Choosing Seed Potatoes, Preparation; and Part 3, Planting and Growing Potatoes. After a couple of months of preparing, planting, watering, and tending to my plants, all along wondering what’s happening under ground, I find myself getting giddy in the anticipation for a well deserved, tasty reward. The work load has definitely been tolerable, so much so that each year I have found myself wishing to expand my designated garden area to allow for more potato rows. It really is quite simple; when all is said and done, it seemed I did little more than stick the seed potatoes in the ground, cover with dirt, cover some more, water, and wait. Then comes time to dig and eat! I just love sticking my pitch fork in the dirt to discover what might be hiding underneath! What will happen when I turn the soil over? There could be nothing but balls of packed soil and little rocks. But most of the time, out roll firm spuds of different sizes and colors; sometimes yellow, sometimes red, or just plain gray or brown; it all depends on the variety I planted, of course. My kids yell, “There’s one! Wait, there’s more!” What […] Read more »

Growing potatoes Part 3: Planting and Growing Potatoes

    This is Part 3 in my series “Growing Potatoes”. In this post I will provide pictures and information to show you how to plant and grow potatoes. Also see the links to  Part 1: Getting Started,  Part 2: Choosing Seed Potatoes, and Part 4: Harvesting and Storing Potatoes. How-To Reference Guide For your convenience, I have added a little how-to guide for easy reference in the very beginning of this post, and more detailed information beneath. For metric measurements, see Conversions to Metric in the top menu bar. 1. Choose certified seed potatoes. 2. Plant whole, small seed potatoes, or cut into 2-inch pieces with at least 1-2 eyes in each. 3. Let cut pieces sit for 1 day after cutting until a thin callous forms on the cut sides. 4. Plant in spring as soon as soil can be worked, or any time after that; but allow enough time for maturing before winter. 5. Dig a 6 inch deep trench for planting, or a 6 inch deep hole for each seed potato. 6. Plant potatoes or pieces 1 1/2 foot apart, sprouts up, and around 2-3 feet between rows. 7. Cover with 4 inches of dirt. 8. When sprouts emerge, cover with 4 more inches of soil. 9. When green stems emerge again and are 8 inches tall, cover / hill with dirt half way up the stems, up against the plants. 10. After 2-3 more weeks, […] Read more »