What Hay Bale Gardening is About

Have you ever heard of hay bale gardening? This is a great way to grow fruits and vegetables when you have soil that is of poor or depleated condition. Hay bale or straw bale gardening is an interesting and productive way to garden. It has benefits that more traditional gardening styles and methods lack and yet it can result in less effort than those other types of gardening. It is a good idea to get an overview of what bale gardening is about, prior to planting the garden, even when planting time is many months away. Many gardeners who try it love this gardening method so much that it becomes their preferred way to garden. What hay bale gardening is Using bales of hay or straw for planting or growing vegetables and other plants is easy to understand, though there can be variations. Bales of hay, such as standard 135 pound bales, are laid on their sides so that the twine or wire strands that holds the hay together are roughly parallel to the ground. Note that it isn’t absolutely necessary to have the twine parallel to the ground. These bales become the foundation in which to grow the garden plants. Benefits Bale gardening usually takes less initial effort since the plants are grown directly in the bale. The method is also easier from the standpoint of weeding and maintenance, since a gardener can sit on a stool, chair or bench to do most of the work. Both hay and Continue Reading →

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How to be Successful When Growing Stevia

Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) is a plant that has become well-known for its sweetness. It is now grown commercially and the sweetness is refined and sold as a sugar substitute. Right now, most of the stevia extract comes from China. The good news for gardeners is that it isn’t hard to grow and it will even flourish in a big pot. General stevia information The plant is native to South America. It is a perennial, but isn’t tolerant of bitter cold temperatures. Gardeners in the north are advised to either grow it in pots or dig it up and put it in a pot when the temperatures get very low. The sweetness comes from compounds known as steviol glycosides. The two most important are rebaudioside and stevioside. For a time, stevia was banned in the US because of health concerns, but the FDA lifted the ban in 2008, with Europe following suit three years later. The plant has actually been used by tribal people in South America for well over 1,500 years now. There is a good reason for this. Pure stevioside is 100 to 200 times sweeter than sugar, varying a little depending on growth factors. Using the leaves without refining doesn’t result in this level of sweetness, however they are still sweeter than sugar, even unrefined. Planting stevia Stevia needs rich soil that drains well. It also likes to have plenty of space, so they should be placed a foot and a half away from other plants in all Continue Reading →

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Growing a Wintertime Container Garden

What do you do when summer gives way to fall and fall to winter, when you want fresh herbs and produce? Many people think that they are out of luck and must wait until the next growing season. That means that they resign themselves to eating the flavorless produce and dried herbs from the store. There is a better way. Imagine; it is the middle of winter and outside the wind and snow is blowing hard. The landscape is covered with its blanket of snow, and the dim light filtering through the clouds is gloomy. But in your living room, it is like a scene out of a tropical paradise. Plants are growing and blooming, the scent of herbs brighten the atmosphere of the room and fresh vegetables grace the table. Another scenario; you have a small place such as an apartment, with no yard or flower beds, yet you have fresh vegetables, herbs, and flowers that you’ve grown yourself. Not only are both of these possible, they are not difficult to accomplish, through container gardening. You don’t even need to have a green thumb. Nearly everyone is aware of people who have houseplants and while this qualifies as container gardening, it will be taken further here. The benefits far outweigh the difficulties. Container gardening First, look at the term, “container gardening”. It is exactly as it sounds, growing plants in pots or other containers. The pots can indeed be outdoors, on a patio, a balcony, or they can be Continue Reading →

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