Tag Archives: Gardening

The last year has just flown by. On The Home Front has been live for over a year now. To celebrate there will be a giveaway each week during the month of October. Be sure to go to the contest page and enter!

After looking through many of the popular garden posts from the last year, I found that this was one of the more popular posts. It’s not cold and dreary in Vermont yet, but it’s only a matter of time!

This post was originally appeared before this year’s growing season, scroll down to the bottom to see my results!

We’re having a cold, dreary day here in Vermont. It’s been raining on and off and I’ve even noticed a few snow flurries. Not the day to be working outside. Instead I have an inside project. I’m sure you’ve seen the seed tape they sell in catalogs. Designed to help you plant those very small seeds like carrots so you don’t have to do as much thinning. Did you know you can also make these easily at home?

Here’s what you’ll need:

Flour paste – ¼ cup flour and enough water to make a paste.

Strips of paper to make the tape, you can use black and white newspaper, single-ply toilet paper or a thin paper bag.

seed tape, vegetable seeds, planting

Strips of paper

Something to dab the glue on such as a small paintbrush or a toothpick.

Start by making the paste, start with the flour and add enough water until you have the consistency of a paste.

Check your seed packet for the recommendations as to how far apart the seeds should be planted.

seed packet, carrots, prudent living

Packet of Carrot Seeds

Dab the paste onto your strips of paper as far apart as you would plant the seeds. Just drop the seeds into the paste. Drop the same number of seeds that you would plant in your garden.

seeds, prudent planting

Allow seeds to dry in the paste.

Allow the paste to dry completely and roll up your tape. You are all ready to head out to the garden!

For most seeds you will just need to lay the tape down in your garden and lightly cover it with soil. Water and watch the seeds grow! The paper will eventually decompose and you’ll never see it again.

seeds, vegetable gardening, carrots

My homemade seed tape.

Here are the results, it was a successful year for carrots and the seed tape process.

vegetables, seeds

Carrot Harvest

Linked To: MsGreenthumbJean, SidewalkShoes, ASouthernDaydreamer, AnOregonCottage, TootsieTime

Imagine a product that enriches your soil, naturally. Built with organic materials in a form that your plants love. Biochar is a new product for avid gardeners and professional farmers, based on ancient methods of farming. Discovered in the Amazon, made in New England. Read more about this amazing product in the summer issue of Prudent Living Magazine.

online magazines, prudent living

Prudent Living Magazine

What is biochar? According to Wikipedia is it a name for charcoal when it is used for particular purposes, especially as a soil amendment. It can increase soil fertility, raise agricultural productivity and reduce pressure on forests. It is a stable solid; rich in carbon and can endure in soil for thousand of years.

gardening, prudent living

Biochar-Soil Enricher

After reading up on Biochar I decided to give it a try. I have several raised beds in my vegetable garden and I thought it would be a perfect amendment to the soil.  I purchased their spring blend, which should charge my garden for the growing season. The directions said to add it to soil for vegetable and flowerbeds in the spring. Just apply about a half-inch layer and till gently into the top few inches of the soil. Adding in the spring not only gets your plants growing this year but enriches the soil for years to come. It’s like making a long-term investment in my garden soil.

soil enrichment, gardening

Adding biochar in the spring.

When I was getting my raised beds prepared for planting I added a half-inch layer to each bed and gently tilled it in as directed. As the gardening season progressed I didn’t think about it again. Now as the garden season is almost at an end I started thinking about how the plants in those raised beds performed.

As you may remember I had an abundant yield of garlic.

garlic, gardening

Abundant Garlic Yield.

The raised bed that I use for growing lettuce is still producing!

gardening, prudent living

September Lettuce!

I was impressed enough with the results in these two beds that I will continue to use Biochar in my future raised beds!

Linked to: MsGreenThumbJean, SideWalkShoes, ASouthernDayDreamer, AnOregonCottage, FishtailCottage, BlissfulRhythm, DeborahJeansDandelionHouse, TootsieTime, CraftyGardenMama

Late season blueberries are a great way to extend your blueberry production. We have a total of ten bushes, most of which we’ve had for four years. When we purchased the bushes we made sure that we had a selection that would produce the entire summer.

fruit, home garden, prudent living

Late Season Blueberries

As a result we have several early bearing bushes, and a couple of mid  season bushes.

blueberries, gardening

Mid Season Blueberry Bushes

We also have several bushes that are still producing and will keep producing berries until we get our first frost!

Blueberries, prudent living

Late Bearing Blueberry Bushes

I love blueberries especially on my cereal in the morning and being able to pick them all summer is a wonderful treat. They will be missed once the cold weather sets in!

fruit, gardening

Picking fresh blueberries.

Blueberries are fairly easy to grow; they prefer a low pH in the soil. If your soil is neutral you can adjust it by adding plenty of acidic soil amendments such as pine bark, peat moss or leaf mold. The preferred pH is between 5.5 and 6.0.

Blueberries are packed with more cancer fighting, anti-aging, eyesight saving and disease fighting antioxidants than foods like spinach and salmon. They are wonderful in pies, on top of your cereal and in muffins.

muffins, gardening

Blueberry Muffins

Because blueberries are shallow rooted they like moisture. I have placed a soaker hose around each of my bushes so the plants can have a good watering during the drier summers. For the first couple of years the bushes need some pruning but after that cutting the plant back once a year will increase vigor.

You’ll find you won’t be the only one that likes blueberries; you will need to put some sort of netting over your bushes to protect them from the birds.

blueberries, birds

Protected berries

See my blog on Protecting Your Blueberries for more information.

Most blueberry bushes will start producing in their third year, but won’t really begin to produce fully until about their 6thyear. Mature blueberry bushes will produce about 8 quarts of berries per bush. If you want a relatively easy fruit to grow in your garden give blueberries a try. They will  provide you with plenty of fresh fruit  to enjoy during the growing season.

preserves, blueberries

Blueberry Lime Jam

As well as fruit for making preserves for your pantry, and they can also be a source of fall color in your backyard.

 

Linked to: MindAndSoulOnline, Frugallysustainable, TheThriftyHome, MsGreenthumbJean, SidewalkShoes, ASouthernDaydreamer, AtHomeTake2, AnOregonCottage, RaisingHomemakers, HomesteadSimple, BlissfulRhythm, TootsieTime

Labor Day has passed and there are signs of fall everywhere. The leaves are changing, the nights are colder, and it won’t be long before frost touches the valleys and hilltops of Vermont.

My garden did very well in some areas and not so well in others. We had a rather hot and dry summer, which is unusual for our area. My leeks did amazing well, soon I will be pulling and slicing them to put in the freezer.

fall garden, prudent living

September Leeks

 

The lettuce has preformed well all summer, we’ve enjoyed garden lettuce form the earliest days of spring right into the summer’s end.

greens, garden

Still enjoying lettuce.

Our corn did not do well at all; the summer was just too dry.

corn, vegetables

Disappointing corn harvest.

However the pumpkins did well and I will have plenty of pumpkins for soup, bread and pies.

pumpkins, fall harvest

Pie Pumpkins

The pole beans did well; I love the pattern of these Rattlesnake Beans. They are so pretty against the green foliage.

beans, vegetables

Rattlesnake Beans

 

Kale did very well and continues to grow. I have picked and harvested and frozen kale and still it grows!

vegetables, gardening

Kale

 

I’m always sorry to see summer come to an end but I do look forward to the slower pace of winter. It won’t be long before the new seed catalogs arrive and I begin to plan the garden for next summer.

fall, garden

Summers end

Linked to: MsGreenthumbJean, ASouthernDaydreamer, AnOregonCottage, SidewalkShoes, FishtailCottage, BlissfulRhythm, TootsieTime

How many of you remember that I planted my potatoes in buckets this year?

gardening, potatoes

Potatoes in buckets!

The great potato experiment! This past weekend I harvested my potatoes.

harvest, potatoes

Potatoes plants

Was it a success? I did not have the five-pound yield per bucket that some folks claimed I might get but I did get about a pound of potatoes per bucket. There was a total of 15 buckets and I got just under 15 pounds of potatoes.

gardening, prudent living

Yukon gold potatoes

Not enough to feed us thought the winter but definitely worth trying again. When I’ve planted potatoes in the garden I usually have four or five rows of potatoes and end up with a wheelbarrow full! Enough to feed us all winter and then have some to re-plant in the spring.

The potatoes stayed free of bugs and were so much easier to harvest. I just picked up the bucket and dumped it in the wheelbarrow!

harvest, gardening

Harvesting potatoes

It’s also an easy way to plant different varieties. I had Idaho gold potatoes in the majority of the buckets but I planted fingerlings in three of the buckets. We ate a handful that night for dinner. They were so delicious!

potatoes, harvest

Fingerling potatoes

I will try this again next year, either in taller buckets or in wire cages. Did you grow potatoes this year? How was your harvest?

 

Linked To: MsGreenthumbJean, SidewalkShoes, ASouthernDaydreamer, TootsieTime

I receive a lot of questions regarding composting; one common question is “What can I compost?”  Earlier this summer we built a compost bin out of pallets. It’s been wonderful to have such a large 3-bin composter. For our bin we’ve been layering weeds from the garden, bedding from our chickens and adding manure as we layer.

compost, gardening, prudent living

Layering in compost bins.

Most people realize that you can compost these things as well as fruit and vegetable peels, leaves and grass clippings.

compost, gardening

Chicken scraps or compost!

Did you know that you could also compost coffee grinds and your used tea bags? If you have a dog or cat at home that you groom you can also compost their fur! We even compost the hair that collects when our son gets a haircut at home!

compost, gardening

Hair can be composted!

Here are some things you can compost from your home:

  1. Coffee grounds and filters
  2. Tea bags
  3. Used paper napkins
  4. Pizza boxes, torn into small pieces
  5. Paper bags, ripped
  6. Stale bread
  7. Paper towel rolls
  8. Nut shells
  9. Wine corks (real cork)
  10. Paper egg cartons
  11. Toothpicks

    compost, gardening

    Toothpicks

  12. Cotton swabs made from 100% cotton and cardboard, not plastic
  13. Dryer lint

    compost, gardening

    Dryer lint

  14. Old wool clothing, cut into small pieces
  15. Envelopes
  16. Contents of your vacuum cleaner
  17. Newspapers, shredded

    compost

    Newspapers, just need to shred them!

  18. Ashes from your fireplace or outdoor fire pit
  19. Natural holiday wreaths
  20. Evergreen garlands

These are just a few ideas to get you started. I do not add cooked food or meat to my compost pile. I have read you can add such things as stale cereal, stale pretzels, plain cooked pasta and rice. However we have bears that like to get into the compost so I don’t add such things! Avoid adding cat or dog droppings as these may contain disease organisms. Don’t add meat, fat, grease, oils or bones as they do not break down and can attract pests.

Composting is a great way to enrich your soil and reduce your trash.

gardening, composting, prudent living

Compost

Linked to: AnOregonGarden, MsGreenthumbJean, Sidewalkshoes, ASouthernDaydreamer, TootsieTime, LittleHouseInTheSuburbs

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