Category Archives: Gardening

Learn from my gardening experiments and experiences in this category.

Spring is Blooming!

It’s definitely spring time around my neck of the woods! My wildflowers are shooting up and starting to bloom, the sun is shining, and the breeze is blowing. I’m hoping we have just enough rainy days to keep everything as green and beautiful as it is now.

signs of spring

Tiny shasta daisy seedling coming up

pink dianthus blooming

These pink dianthus have been blooming for a few weeks now

We’re seeing butterflies, birds, bees, and all kinds of insects everywhere! I heard that we’re going to be seeing a swarm of cicadas this year. It’s been 17 years since they’ve come out in full force. I hope it isn’t too bad! We have lots of fruit trees and I’ve heard that is what cicadas prefer.

companion garden patches fruit trees

Our garden tilled up into companion patches–you can see our fruit trees behind the garden!

butterfly eating nectar

Check out this pretty tiger swallowtail butterfly stopping by my wildflower garden for a snack!

Wildflowers are my favorite! They are all shooting up so fast out here. Some of them are blooming already. Before long, these beds will be full of vibrant, colorful flowers in different shapes and textures! I love how natural and earthy a wildflower bed looks.

yarrow

A patch of yarrow growing up

bachelor buttons

A bunch of bachelor buttons will be blooming here before long!

I know the names of lots of wildflowers that pop up, but some of them have me clueless. There is a really pretty variety of pink, white, and red flowers that come up every year in one of my wildflower beds. Do you know what it’s called? I haven’t a clue! If you know what it is, please let me know if the comments section. ūüôā

mystery wildflower

What am I?

Companion Planting and Garden Planning

This year my garden is going to be totally different than it has ever been. Instead of making rows of vegetables, I’m growing my garden in small patches. Each patch will contain groups of companion plants that aid each other. I’ve been planning this since last year when my garden went kaput!

In addition to small companion patches, I’m adding flowers into each patch. Flowers are beneficial because they attract good garden bugs and cover the ground space, leaving less room for weeds to grow.

black eyed susans, marigolds, nasturtium, and lavender

Flowers are great for your garden!

Flowers in a vegetable garden? Sounds crazy, I know! I’m hoping that the end result is both beautiful and functional. I’m planning on planting marigolds, yarrow, black-eyed susans, daisies, asters, echinacea, lavender, and sunflowers! Hopefully they will do their job attracting ladybugs, hoever flies, lacewings, and wasps to the garden. Those insects are great at keeping garden pests at bay.

painted daisies, echinacea, asters

More wonderful flowers to keep your garden healthy

So what plants go well together? I’m so glad you asked! Here is what I’ve determined are good companion plants based on gardening experience and research into the topic. I have not included beans or peas because we don’t plant them here.

  • Asparagus should be planted near basil, parsley, tomatoes, and marigolds
  • Cabbage can be planted near celery, chard, cucumber, lettuce, onion, potatoes,¬†spinach,¬†chamomile¬† garlic, catnip, hyssop, rosemary, sage, dill, mint (in a container!), nasturtium, tansy, and thyme
  • Carrots go well with lettuce, onion, peppers, radishes, tomatoes, chives, rosemary, and sage
  • Celery likes to be near cabbage, tomatoes, chives, garlic, and nasturtium
  • Chard should be planted near cabbage and onions
  • Corn does well next to cucumbers, melons, parsley, potatoes, pumpkins, squash, marigolds, white geraniums, and pigweed
  • Cucumber can be planted near cabbage, corn, radishes, tomatoes, marigolds, nasturtium, oregano, and tansy
  • Eggplant does well near peppers and marigolds
  • Lettuce likes to be near cabbage, carrots, onions, radishes, strawberries, chives, cucumbers, and garlic
  • Melons do well near corn, pumpkin, radishes, squash, marigolds, nasturtium, and oregano
  • Onions can be planted close to cabbage, carrots, chard, lettuce, peppers, strawberries, tomatoes,¬†chamomile, summer savory, pigweed, and sow thistle
  • Parsley makes a great companion to asparagus, corn, and tomato
  • Peppers go near carrots, eggplants, onion, and tomatoes
  • Potatoes can be planted near cabbage, corn, eggplant, horseradish(very good at 4 corners of potato bed), sunflowers, and marigolds
  • Pumpkins like to be near corn, melon, squash, marigolds, nasturtium, and oregano
  • Spinach does great near cabbage, strawberries, and eggplant
  • Squash should go by corn, melons, pumpkins, borage, marigold, nasturtium, and oregano
  • Strawberries love it near lettuce, onion, spinach, thyme, and borage
  • Tomatoes are good near asparagus, carrots, celery, cucumber, onion, parsley, peppers, basil, bee balm, chives, mint, borage, and marigolds
  • Broccoli can go near onion, dill, sage, and peppermint
  • Cauliflower likes to be near onion, peppermint, sage, and thyme
  • Chives should be planted near onion and cabbage
  • Eggplant does well by peppers and lettuce
  • Marigolds can be added near basil, broccoli, cucumber, eggplant, potatoes, squash, tomatoes, and melons
  • Catnip helps pumpkins and squash
  • Lavender aids cabbage and cauliflower
companion planting

My garden plan sketch

This year, my garden will have four patches of companion plants. Here is what I’m planning:

1. Strawberries, spinach, lettuce, eggplant, cilantro, cucumber, marigold, cauliflower, broccoli, carrot, onion, chives, and lavender

companion plants

2. Corn, sunflowers, squash, cantelope, watermelon, pumpkin, catnip, oregano, parsley, marigold, nasturtium, lettuce, carrot, onion, chives, cucumbers

companion plants

3. Potatoes, cucumbers, marigolds, cabbage, chives, lavender, sunflowers, corn, echinacea

companion plants

4. Tomatoes, asparagus, cilantro, zucchini, parsley, okra, peppers, eggplant, carrot, onion, and marigolds

companion plants

We don’t plant beans of any kind because Eddie is allergic to all fava beans. Even the pollen from bean plants can cause a reaction, so we keep them out of our gardens.

seedlings for companion patch garden

Seeds I started have begun to sprout!

strawberries

Baby strawberry plants!

onion seedlings

Onions are sprouting up too!

I’m so excited to see how everything does! Are you doing a garden this year? What does it look like?

Nutrient Deficiencies: Look at the Leaves!

Ever wonder why your plants‘ leaves are turning funny colors or just not looking so good? Me too! I found this informative article all about how to identify nutrient deficiencies in plants. If you have a garden, you should definitely check it out!

Identifying Nutrient Deficiencies in the Garden | ECHO Community Gardens – ECHO.

Basically, you need to keep an eye on your garden and really pay attention to the condition of the leaves on your plants. You should be looking at the old leaves, new leaves, leaf edges, and even the veins in the leaves!

Once you identify which nutrients your plants are lacking, you can fix the problem by applying fertilizer or other things to the soil around your plants.

I recommend using a nice, rich organic compost in your garden. If you aren’t able to make your own, you can buy bagged compost at most garden centers.

Deficiencies you can observe in your plants’ leaves:

 

http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/field/news/croppest/2007/12cpo07a4.htm

Identify deficiencies in your plants by looking at the leaves!

  • Not enough nitrogen presents as yellowing of the leaves from the bottom of the plant to the top. The leaves will look pale throughout the plant and the yellowing will begin on the outer edges of the leaves.
  • Too little phosphorus can make leaf tips look burnt and leaves closer to the bottom of the plant may turn dark green to reddish purple.
  • Older leaves on the bottom of the plant will begin to look wilted and scorched if you have a potassium deficiency. You may also notice the leaves losing color from the base of the leaf inward from leaf margins.
  • If calcium is lacking, you’ll noticed newer leaves at the top looking distorted or odd-shaped. It can also cause premature rotting of fruits/vegetables.
  • Too little magnesium makes leaves turn yellow on the edges from the bottom of the plant up. A green arrowhead shape will be left in the center of the affected leaves.
  • Sulfur deficiency causes young leaves at the top of the plant to turn yellow. Sometimes the bottom leaves at the base of the plant will also turn yellow.

Do you have a garden? Have you noticed any of the leaves showing symptoms of nutrient deficiencies? How did you fix it?

Nitrogen Deficiency – My Poor Broccoli!

Last weekend we bought some broccoli and cauliflower seedlings for the garden. We found them at a plant stand in near the flea market while we were out and about doing our Saturday errands.

We got two 4-packs for a dollar each. Can’t beat that price! The only problem is they aren’t looking so good now…so I did a little hunting. The lower leaves are yellowing quickly and the little seedlings look pretty sad. I need to fix them fast before they die!

Help! I need nitrogen!

Yellowing leaves indicates nitrogen deficiency

I quickly learned that broccoli plants are susceptible to nitrogen deficiency. Thank you, wikipedia! I really hope this helps my sad little broccolis.

Interestingly, plants are more likely to become nitrogen deficient if there is sawdust present in the soil. That’s because of the high carbon content in sawdust. Now I’m pretty sure plant stand guy said he used composted manure and sawdust for his greenhouse plants…

So how do you treat nitrogen deficiency in plants? By adding a nitrogen rich fertilizer! You can use blood meal or some other kind of fertilizer. However, be careful not to apply a fertilizer with too much phosphorus.  This encourages early bloom, which could make your yields smaller. Blood meal is the way to go to heal your nitrogen deficient plants!

Nitrogen deficiency – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Do You Know the Correlation Between Weather and Chocolate?

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE chocolate. Without chocolate, my life would not be complete! Chocolate was my first love and it is the only one that has never judged me, hurt me, or picked on me. Haha, just kidding…but chocolate has been there for me no matter what! ūüėČ

A chocolate bar and melted chocolate. Chocolat...

Image via Wikipedia

So of  course when I saw an article discussing how weather affects the production of chocolate, I had to read it. Interestingly, cacao trees can only be grown in the hot, humid environment very close to the equator.

Severe weather can be disastrous to the cacao trees and the subsequent production of chocolate. Since weather patterns seem to be growing more extreme and downright unusual, I worry about the future of chocolate.

A cacao tree with fruit pods in various stages...

Image via Wikipedia

After reading the article (cited below), I have learned a valuable lesson. Don’t take anything for granted, not even chocolate! It doesn’t matter if you see it in every grocery store, gas station, or stop-n-go, the production of chocolate is tedious, time-consuming, and¬†very¬†dependent on weather conditions.

How Weather Around the World Impacts Chocolate – weather.com.

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