How to Plant a Robust Chard Crop from Seed

Swiss chard is a vegetable that isn’t hard to grow and to many people, the leaves are superior to spinach in flavor. Chard is also higher in minerals and vitamins than spinach. This is also true of beet root, because beets and chard are the same species of plant; Beta vulgaris. Chard is quite high in vitamins K, A, E and C and is a very good source of magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, iron and calcium. It is high in fiber, as well. It is great for dieters, too. A cup of boiled chard contains only 35 calories. Here is how you can have a robust chard crop, starting with seeds. Getting started Chard is considered to be a cool weather crop, but don’t let this fool you. This vegetable is frost hardy, however it tolerates hot weather, as long as it gets plenty of water and the soil drains well. Chard will even grow in partial shade, although it loves sunshine. In fact, in summertime heat, it does well if it is shaded from the afternoon sun. For instance, it can be planted on the east side of taller vegetables, such as corn or zucchini. By the time the corn or zucchini is tall enough, the heat of the summer becomes an issue and those plants give the chard a sun screen against the afternoon sun. When to plant chard Since chard is frost tolerant, the seeds can be planted two or three weeks before the last frost. There Continue Reading →

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Saving Money With a Homemade Drip Irrigation System

Flowerbeds filled with attractive flowers and other plants can add beauty to the outside of homes and buildings. Once everything is growing, though, it needs to be watered in order to stay alive and keep adding beauty to the home and yard. Many people invest in a garden hose and a sprinkler, or a soaker hose, to do the watering. While these work well, this isn’t the most efficient way to keep the flowerbeds watered. A drip irrigation system is inexpensive to make, it takes less effort to water the flowerbeds, it is better for the plants and it uses less water to get the job done. That last should be explained. In the heat of the summer, especially during the daytime, when you use a sprinkler a huge amount of the water evaporates before it even hits the ground. This is the reason people should water at night or in the early morning, before temperatures reach their hottest. Also, being watered from above, particularly when the sun is shining on the plants, can cause the leaves to burn as the rays of sunlight are intensified. This is the same principle that causes swimmers to sunburn easily if they get wet and then lay out in the sun to dry off. Watering plants from below is much better for the plants, because the sun’s rays aren’t intensified, but more of the water is able to sink down to the roots, where the plants can use it. Making a drip irrigation Continue Reading →

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Cheap Gardening Tips and Tricks For Yard and Garden

Even if the yard and garden are small, it is quite easy to end up spending large amounts of money on the yard, flowerbeds and garden. With the economy what it is, many people don’t have the money to spend. Indeed, many people garden primarily to save money on food costs. Thankfully, there are a few simple tricks that are designed specifically to save money on taking care of the yard, flowerbeds and garden. Water gauge To have healthy plants, it is a good idea to give them a proper amount of water. A sprinkler will work well in watering most of the outdoor plants, yet there is still the issue of making sure that they get the right amount of water. There are commercial rain gauges that can be purchased that are made for this. Some of them are quite inexpensive, though they also fall apart easily. There are some that are more durable, but more cost-prohibitive, too. You can make your own at virtually no expense, though. In fact, they are so cheap and easy that you can make several and if one becomes damaged, there is little problem with throwing it away and making another. Start by saving one or more of the 8-oz tomato sauce cans as you’ve used the contents. Wash the can thoroughly, inside and out, then make a mark halfway between the top and bottom of the can, with a permanent marker. You now have a homemade water gauge. The can is about Continue Reading →

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The Importance of Checking Soil Temperature

A lot of people understand that when there is a hard frost, many of the less hardy plants in the garden are likely to die. What fewer people understand is that soil temperature is just as important as air temperature in keeping the plants alive. This can be confusing because a frost is caused by a combination of air temperature and humidity. With the emphasis that even weather stations put on frost reports and warnings, it would seem that soil temperature is unimportant. This would be an incorrect assumption. For most garden plants to flourish, they require a healthy root system. If the soil temperature is too cold, the roots die or struggle to develop. This is the reason that plants may continue to grow in the fall even after they’ve been ‘singed’; that is, a light frost has occurred and perhaps killed a number of the leaves. If the soil is still warm and the roots are still in good shape, the plant continues to grow. Taken a step further, have you noticed how some plant seeds will lay on or in the ground, not germinating even when the air temperature becomes quite warm? Many seeds in this situation will actually rot, rather than germinating. This is because of the ground or soil temperature. If it isn’t warm enough, the delicate roots of seedlings won’t survive, so the seeds don’t germinate. Some seeds won’t germinate until the soil temperatures get substantially above what we might consider to be warm. Continue Reading →

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Making and Using a Tiered Bed Garden

One of the problems that many people have with gardening is in finding the room for the garden. In a traditional garden, a lot of space is needed in order to grow enough plants to provide food enough for a small family. However, a traditional garden is gardening in two dimensions; length and width. A third dimension is being wasted; height. Tiered bed gardening takes advantage of that space that isn’t being used. Tiered bed overview A tiered bed usually amounts to a frame that is filled with dirt. Upon this frame, another smaller frame is built and also filled with dirt. This is repeated as many times as is wanted and the area allows. It might not seem like this would grow more plants than traditional rows would grow. However, a tiered bed will actually allow two or three times as many plants to be grown. This is because you aren’t growing in just an area, you are growing in a volume – three dimensions. This can be most easily seen after explaining how to build a tiered bed. Building the bed Many different sizes of tiered beds are possible and even different shapes can be built. The idea is easy to master, though, so we’ll concentrate on a very basic design that covers a plot of six feet by six feet. The frame can be made of 2×12 lumber or with three 2×4‘s. The first step is to drive 2×2 stakes into the ground, two inches apart and Continue Reading →

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Increasing Garden Harvests with Companion Gardening

Companion gardening is a very old and proven method of growing various fruits and vegetables close to each other, for the mutual benefit of the fruits and vegetables. Some plants strengthen each other. In other cases, one plant might repel pests of the other plant. Of course, some plants shouldn’t be grown together, too. Let’s look at some of the best plant companions. Note that for proper coverage of this topic, it will probably take several articles. These might be written if there is enough interest. This article is only a sampling, when it comes to companion gardening. Tomato companions Tomatoes do well when they are grown around the asparagus bed. The two plants mutually repel pests of the other. One of the herbs that goes extremely well in tomato dishes is basil and as it happens, basil is a companion plant of tomatoes. Even if the basil is grown in pots, it is beneficial to put the pots near the tomato plants. This is helpful in another way, too. Both basil and tomatoes have the same needs in regard to sunlight, water and fertilizer. However, basil reacts faster than tomatoes, so by observing the basil, you will know when the tomatoes are in need of something. For instance, they start to droop when they are very thirsty and before tomatoes show that they need water. Tomatoes grow well with garlic, because garlic is a powerful repellant of aphids. In fact, this is the reason garlic is often planted near Continue Reading →

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Overview of Growing Chives

Chives are members of the alliums or onion genus. They belong in the lily family as a consequence. Widely considered to be a valuable culinary herb, chives also has many of the medicinal and health properties of the other alliums. Growing chives isn’t at all difficult and in fact it grows wild through much of North America, Asia and Europe. It is also native to these areas. Normally, these plants are grown for their leaves. The roots are small and tend to be flattened, while the blossoms don’t have the robust flavor than the leaves have. The flowers are pretty, though, which make them suitable for flowerbeds. They even grow well in pots. There are two main species of chives; garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) and onion chives (Allium schoenoprasum). Onion chives have beautiful purple flowers and garlic chives have white ones. The leaves of garlic chives are also flat, rather than round and hollow like onion chives. Soil Chives will grow in most soil, from poor to rich. Though they do best and grow fastest in good soil like that found in most gardens and flowerbeds, they aren’t particularly picky. The soil should drain well, so if the dirt is primarily clay, it is a good idea to dig in some finished compost and/or sphagnum moss. Fertilizer for chives For the best crop of chives, they can be fertilized every month throughout the growing season with either liquid fish fertilizer or a diluted solution of 20-20-20 liquid fertilizer. Bonnie’s Plants Continue Reading →

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Difficulties when Growing Blueberries

A lot of people love the taste of blueberries, whether used fresh, in pies, jelly, juiced or any number of other ways. It seems to just make sense that quite a few gardeners would want to grow the plants; not just as a way to save money, but also to have the freshest possible berries. The bushes are hardy and not tremendously difficult to grow. However, there are a few problems that can be encountered when growing or even trying to grow them that can lead to failure. Knowing what they are is a first step toward overcoming the problems. Soil acidity Unlike so many fruits and vegetables that prefer soil that is quite close to being neutral, or neither acidic or alkaline, blueberry bushes grow best in quite acidic soil. There can be a bit of variation depending on the species or type of blueberry, but this is a plant that loves the pH to be around 6.0 to 5.0 or even less, on average. If the soil has a pH that is much higher than this, the bushes won’t grow very well, the plants may not form many or any berries and the plant may die. Though the soil pH can usually be lowered, trying to grow blueberries in dirt that is too alkaline is a common problem. The soil should be soured before the bushes are even planted, ideally. What makes this a worse problem is that quite a few people want to avoid chemicals in their Continue Reading →

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