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Aphids are very tiny sucking insects that are soft; pear shaped and may be green, pink, yellowish, black or powdery gray. Anyways, since you’re a gardener you know how threatening their presence in abundance can be to your crops. You wouldn’t really be bothered if their numbers were meager, but when the situation resembles a Rolling Stone’s concert you will take notice!

The tiny buggers!

The tiny buggers!

Other than actually seeing them in abundance, you can be alert to their presence if you see a long ant trail. Very much like groupies, ants worship the ground aphids walk on. The reason is that while aphids suck the life out of your plants, they secrete sweet sticky “honeydew” that ants find irresistible.

Aphid colonies tend to grow quickly, infesting one plant and quickly moving on to another. They can have devastating effects on your crops if you do not take action immediately.

Organic Aphid Control

1)      Know your beneficial insects. They are your cavalry in the war against aphids. Parasitic wasps, lacewings, leather-wings and lady bugs should be the first part of your defense. Or attack. Lady bugs eat an average of 5,000 aphids in their lifetime.

2)       Wash them off using a forceful stream of water. They are thrown off the plant and end up breaking their jaw so in the event that they get back on your plant they won’t feed too well! This is usually good for light-medium infestations.

3)      Plants that attract beneficial insects are a must in your garden.  Dandelions, Coriander, Dill, Fennel, Prairie sunflower, Parsley are few among plenty of plants that attract the good guys.

4)      You can use a mild insecticidal soap available in the market. Choose a product that does not have perfumes or additives that may harm plants. Mix the soap in water (make a weak solution at first) and spray on plants.

5)      You could always just wipe them off with a cloth or prune the leaves under which they feed.

6)      Control their henchmen, the ants, by using Tanglefoot or Stickem around the base of your plant or tree.

7)      Neem oil is supposedly great as, in addition to its insecticidal properties, it is a fungicide and has systemic benefits (the plant absorbs it, in turn controlling insects it doesn’t contact directly). It has been given the go ahead to be used on vegetables and ornamentals as it is safe by the Environmental Protection Association.

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Wouldn’t we just love to have our vegetables ripen before the usual specified time? Well, good thing is there are ways to shorten the wait for a fruitful harvest.

An early harvest!

An early harvest!

It’s very much possible says Mark Diacono who gardens on a 17-acre plot in Devon, England. Here are a few excerpts from his new gardening book “The Speedy Vegetable Garden”: “The one thing you will miss out on with speedy growing is bulk, but what you will get in return is layers of flavor; a sprinkle of hot and peppery micro-green radish here, a sweet and nutty, barely cooked new potato there, a garnish of cucumber-y borage flowers to finish a dish. These are the crops that will mark out your cooking as distinctly and unquestionably home-grown.”

Timing is apparently key. “Be slow to harvest and you’ll miss their best moments. These are fresh, lively and zingy flavors, flavors that can either fade or become bitter and overly strong as the plant grows on toward maturity. Tomatoes, strawberries and apples all want to be left on the plant until they are fully ripe to get the fullest, lushest flavors out of them,” Diacono says.

“Vegetables are a little different. Many get woodier, less succulent and lower in sweetness as they grow more mature, so really are at their loveliest picked young.” This includes new potatoes, radishes, baby carrots, zucchini, miniature cucumbers, spring peas, turnips and beets.

Also, if you want to be making meals out of your own harvest earlier grow varieties that have shorter maturity dates. Most heirloom tomatoes need 100 odd days to develop whereas cherry tomatoes need only about 65 days.

Of the many ways to jump-start your harvesting period here are a few:-

-Plant in the warmest site in your garden if you’re planting early.  “Even a small change in temperature can make a difference during spring and fall frosts,” says Jo Ann Robbins, an extension educator with the University of Idaho.

– Using enclosures over plants is a win-win. By covering the plants you’re moderating key factors such as temperature, wind and humidity enabling minimal interference to the plants. “Air and soil temperatures are warmer, and the cover will conserve heat radiation from the soil during the night,” Robbins says in a fact sheet.

– Starting vegetables from seeds indoors while it’s still cold outside will help you get the most of the growing season once it becomes warm outside. When it is finally warm outside you can transplant your mini-vegetable plants outdoors, thus staying ahead in the race for a quicker harvest. “Research shows the older the transplants, the better they will resist cold weather,” Robbins says.

– Get pro-active and warm the soil in your garden early. “Throw a piece of black or clear polyethylene over the soil in early spring, pin it down with tent pegs or bricks, and wait,” Diacono says. “The sun will warm it and excessive water will be kept off, leaving it in a fantastically workable state a few weeks later and conducive to quick plant growth.”

If you chanced upon this article and want to know about Tower Gardens read about them here!

Your Tower Garden can be used to grow just about anything except root vegetables, bushes, grapevines and trees! The versatility of the Tower Garden allows you to grow a wide range of crops, including fruits and vegetables like tomatoes and lettuce, herbs and flowers.

Yes, as pretty as this!

Yes, as pretty as this!

In addition, you can have your produce in lesser time than it takes to grow in soil. Gourmet lettuce and other leafy greens grow really quick and have been harvested in less than 3 weeks after transplanting.

Here’s an extensive list of crops you can grow in your Tower Garden:

Fruits and Vegetables

  • Amaranth
  • Beans, Broccoli
  • Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chards, Collard, Cucumber
  • Eggplant, Endive
  • Gourds
  • Kale, Kohlrabi
  • Leeks, Lettuce
  • Melons, Mustard Greens
  • Okra
  • Pak Choy, Peas, Peppers
  • Radicchio
  • Spinach, Squash, Strawberries
  • Tomatoes

Herbs

  • Basil
  • Calendula, Chamomile, Chervil, Chives, Cilantro
  • Lavender, Lemon Grass
  • Marjoram, Mint
  • Nettle
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Saltwort
  • Thyme

We have a great variety of certified organic heirlooms that you must check out! Click here to go to our store and browse through our authentic catalog of seeds.