Archive for the ‘garden’ Category

Harvesting your garden

Use these guidelines to tell when to harvest your garden vegetables.  Common garden vegetables (and a couple of fruits) are listed alphabetically.

Asparagus Begin harvesting the third year after planting. Harvest when the spears are 6 to 10 inches above the ground but before the heads open. Cut or snap spears off at the soil line. Stop harvesting if spears show a marked decrease in size. Maximum harvest period is 6 to 8 weeks
Bean, Snap Bean Harvest before pods are full sized and when seeds are tender and about one-fourth developed. Harvesting usually begins 2 to 3 weeks after first bloom. Don’t allow beans to mature on plants or bean production will decrease.
Bean, lima, broad Harvest when pods are fully developed and seeds are green and tender.
Beet Harvest when roots are 1 1/4 to 2 inches in diameter. Some cultivars may maintain quality in larger sizes.
Broccoli Harvest when flower head is fully developed, but before the flowers begin to open. Cut 6 to 7 inches below the flower head. Side heads will develop after the main head is cut.
Brussels sprouts  Harvest the lower sprouts (small heads) when they are about 1 to 1-½ inches in diameter by twisting them off. Lower leaves along the stem may be removed to hasten maturity.
Cabbage Harvest when heads are solid, but before they split. On early cabbage, cut just beneath the solid head. Small lateral heads will develop from buds in the axils of the older leaves.
Carrot Harvest when ¾ to 1 inch in diameter or smaller when thinning. For storage, leave carrots in soil until a light frost occurs. Use care when harvesting, since bruising favors the development of soft rot during storage.
Cauliflower Cover curds when they are 2 to 3 inches in diameter by tying the outer leaves loosely about the head, or using leaves from other plants in the garden. Check for developing curds every 2 to 3 days, and retie if further development is necessary. Harvest when the heads are full sized but still white and smooth.
Celery Harvest when plants are 10 to 12 inches tall.
Cucumber Proper harvesting size is determined by product use. Pickles: Sweets are 1 1/2 to 2 inches long; dills are 3 to 4 inches long. Fresh slicing are 7 to 9 inches long and a bright dark green. Leave a short piece of stem on each fruit. Harvest daily and don’t allow fruit to mature.
Eggplant Harvest when fruit is firm and bright purple to black in color.
Jerusalem Artichoke Harvest tubers after a hard frost. Tubers can be stored in the ground over winter and harvested early in spring or, with mulch protection, during most of the winter.
Kohlrabi Harvest when the thickened stem is 2 to 3 inches in diameter.
Lettuce Harvest the older, outer leaves from leaf lettuce when they are 4 to 6 inches long. Harvest heading types when the heads are moderately firm and before seed stalks form.
Muskmelon Harvest when a crack appears completely around the base of the fruit stem. The fruit will readily separate from the stem.
Okra Harvest when 3 to 5 inches long and tender.
Onion Correct harvesting stage is determined by the type and product use. Harvest onions grown from sets when they are 6 to 9 inches tall for immediate table use. Onions grown from seed for fresh use should be harvested when the bulbs are 1/4 to 1 inch in diameter. Harvest seed grown onions for boiling when the bulbs are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Harvest for storage (seed or set grown) when the tops have weakened and fallen over and the bulbs are 2 or more inches in diameter. Harvest before hard frost.
Parsnip Harvest after a hard frost or in early spring before new growth starts. To harvest in spring, place a 3- to 5-inch soil mulch over the parsnips. Parsnips are not poisonous if harvested in early spring.
Pea Harvest when the pods are fully developed and still tender, and before seeds develop fully.
Edible Pod Pea Harvest when the pods are fully developed, but before seeds are more than one-half full size.
Peanut Harvest when plants turn yellow at season’s end or before the first early frost.
Pepper, green Harvest when fruits are full sized and firm.
Pepper, red Allow peppers to remain on the plant until they become completely red. This usually requires an additional 2 to 3 weeks.
Potato For storage, harvest when full sized with firm skins. Tubers continue to grow until the vine dies. For new potatoes, harvest at any early stage of development. This is usually when tubers are 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
Pumpkin Harvest pumpkins when they are fully colored and the skins have hardened enough to resist the fingernail test. Harvest before a killing frost.
Radishes Harvest when the roots are ½ to 1 ½ inches in diameter (Chinese radishes grow much larger). The shoulders of radish roots often appear through the soil surface when they are mature. If left in the ground too long, they will become tough and woody.
Rhubarb Do not harvest the first year after planting; harvest only a few stalks the second year. Established plantings can be harvested for approximately 8 weeks. The quality of the stalks decreases toward the end of the harvest period. Harvest only the largest and best stalks by grasping each stalk near the base and pulling slightly to one direction. Note: there is no evidence to show that stalks harvested from frost damaged plants are poisonous, so they should be considered safe to eat.
Rutabaga Harvest when the roots are full sized but before a heavy frost.
Soybean for fresh use, shell out just before pods begin to dry. For dried use, harvest when pods turn brown but before shattering occurs
Spinach Harvest by cutting all the leaves off at the base of the plant when they are 4 to 6 inches long. New leaves will grow, providing additional harvests.
Squash, summer type Harvest when fruit is young and tender. Your fingernail should easily penetrate the rind. Long-fruited cultivars, such as zucchini, are harvested when 1 1/2 inches in diameter and 4 to 8 inches long; scallops are taken when 3 to 4 inches long.
Squash, winter type Harvest when mature. The rind should be firm and glossy and not easily punctured by your thumbnail. The portion that contacts the soil is cream to orange when mature. Leave a portion of the vine (2 to 3 inches) attached to the fruit to help prevent storage rot. Harvest squash before a heavy frost.
Sweet corn Harvest when kernels are completely filled and in the milk stage. Use your thumbnail to determine this. The silks are dry and brown at this stage.
Sweet potato Harvest in late fall before the first early frost.
For peak quality, harvest 5 to 8 days after fruits are fully colored. Tomatoes lose their firmness quickly if they are overripe.
Turnip Harvest when roots are 1 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter.
Watermelon Harvest when full sized. The portion in contact with the soil is cream to yellow when mature.

Growing lettuce

Lettuce is one of the most popular vegetables in culinary arts and is used in salads and several other dishes. Hence, wouldn’t it be great if you could simply harvest one from your own garden? This will ensure the freshness of the lettuce while also saving you cost from having to buy them from the grocer.

Varieties of Lettuce

There are four basic varieties of lettuce and it is important to recognize each one of them since it requires different growing conditions. Each one are listed and described briefly below:


*Butter head: This variety of lettuce possesses a creamy center to it. It also has a milder flavor as compared to other varieties but takes a lot more time to mature. This is the type of lettuce often used in making salads.


*Romaine: This variety comes with crunchy leaves and is characterized by its upright cluster of leaves. It takes between 70 to 85 days in order for this variety of lettuce to fully mature. Like the butter head, this is also popular ingredient for salads.


*Crisp head: This is another familiar variety and requires cool weather for growing. Of all varieties of lettuce, this one takes the most time to grow and requires specific conditions. You know when it’s ready if the outer leaves possess a yellowish green color.


*Leaf Lettuce: This one requires less restriction in order to grow fully well. Unlike the romaine lettuce, this one comes with loose bunches of leaves. It is most suitable in warm weather.

Soil Requirements

Summer is the best time to grow lettuce because of the rich, humus-laden soil quality. The ideal soil condition is at pH 6.5, so you can test the soil before growing the lettuce to produce a better quality lettuce. It is often grown alongside other slow growing plants, such as broccoli or Brussels sprouts. Since lettuce thrives in moist conditions, make sure to regularly water the lettuce to moisten up the soil.

There are also different varieties of lettuce according to the season in which it is grown:

*Summer varieties – This refer to lettuce plants that are grown under hot conditions. However, make sure you choose an area for growing lettuce that is well shaded.

*Spring lettuce – This is more challenging to grow than the summer varieties. If you are living in a mild area, make sure to sow the lettuce seeds in an area that gets adequate amount of sunlight. Make sure to have proper drainage to the soil surrounding your lettuce plants.

Process of Sowing Seeds

An important thing to take note when sowing lettuce seeds is to sow at the position where you intend to grow them. Avoid moving lettuce plants, when possible. You can plant these seeds at seedbeds or boxes, ideally 2.5cm above the ground.

Observe proper distance between plants, roughly around 8-16 inches apart. This will provide enough room for each plant to grow without any disruption.

Time Periods

Take note of the following information to avoid harvesting lettuce immaturely:

*Expected germination time for lettuce: For hot weather conditions, it can happen around 6 to 12 days.

*Time between sowing and harvesting: It depends on the variety of lettuce you are trying to grow. For butter or crisp head lettuce, they take the longest amount of time from 8 to 14 weeks. For loose-leaf varieties, it takes about 6 to 8 weeks in order to be ready for harvest.

Other Growing Tips for Lettuce

Additional information when caring for your lettuce plants to ensure they grow healthy:

  • Moist soil is important in allowing the lettuce plant to grow fast and healthy. Therefore, make sure to water regularly. The best time for watering your lettuce plants is during the morning or midday. Watering at night can increase the risk of your plant developing diseases.
  • In order for the lettuce seeds to germinate, temperature must not exceed 80 degrees. If you are sowing during summer, make sure to employ proper shading devices on your plant bed. Or better yet, find a cool spot indoors to grow your lettuce.

Home grown potatoes

          Potatoes are relatively easy to grow,

and taste great when grown in your garden. While potatoes are a root crop, they still require full sun to produce the best potatoes. Potatoes will grow best in a slightly acidic soil that ranges between 5.9 and 6.5. Since potatoes grow underground a soft loamy soil will produce the best results. Potatoes can be planted in the early spring once the soil can be worked and reaches a temperature of about 45 degrees. Make sure that the soil is not too wet when you plants your seeds, or you face the risk that your seeds will rot before they sprout. While you might be tempted to try to use potatoes you bought in the supermarket as seeds, do not use them. First you don’t know if they are disease free, and second they may not give the best yields. About one week before you are ready to plant your potato seeds place them in an area that is at least 60F and receives plenty of light. This will help get the seeds started sprouting. The day before you are ready to plant use a knife to cut the large potato seed into smaller seeds. Make sure that each seed contains at least one eye. Potatoes will grow best if they are planted in rows. They should be spaced about one foot apart between plants, and the rows should be about 3 feet apart. The seeds should be placed under about three inches of soil. In approximately two weeks the seeds will sprout, and you should cove them with about four inches of soil. After another two weeks the stems will be about eight inches high, at this time you should add another four inches of soil. After this you will need to add one to two inches of soil per week. You must make sure that the potatoes are covered and aren’t exposed to light. If the potatoes do get exposed to light they turn green, and this green part has the potential to be toxic. Alternatively rows you could use large mounds that are about three feet in diameter and this will allow for about 8 plants. The same method of covering the growing potatoes with soil should be followed with this technique as well. Be sure not to use too much organic material in the soil where you are growing your potatoes, as this will increase the likelihood of potato scab. Therefore it is best to put any organic materials deep into the soil so the roots of the potato can grow into the rich nutrients. Potatoes should be watered frequently especially when they are flowering. When the plants begin to create a new tuber that is when watering is very important. It is best to water potatoes early in the morning so they are not wet overnight, and thus less susceptible to potato diseases. Potatoes are ready to harvest about two to three weeks after they are done flowering. You can harvest some potatoes now and leave others to keep growing and getting larger. If you want to store your potatoes they should be kept in a dark, well-ventilated location at about 40F. They can be stored for up to six months. It is important to rotate your potato crop from year to year as many diseases and insects will over winter, and cause trouble the following season if you don’t move your crop.


Mulching to control weeds


Everyone loves the benefits of a garden, but one of the worst enemies of a gardener is the weeds that grow in the garden. Garden weed control is important, as weeds are selected by nature and maintained as the survival of the fittest. Vegetables you may plant in your garden are selected for their taste; therefore they may be varieties that aren’t as tolerant as the weeds that will creep into your garden. Weeds can germinate faster, and often grow faster then the neighboring vegetables that they will be competing for nutrients with. Therefore you must always have a head start on the weeds in your garden, and keep them at bay. Some people may believe that by roto-tilling a garden they are getting rid of weeds as they are turned under the ground. However you may actually be making your weed problem worse, as turning over the dirt may bring weed seeds underground to the surface. The best solution is to cover your garden with mulch each fall to prevent seeds from getting into your garden. Weaker plants such as cabbage should be started indoors, and only transplanted to the garden when they are large enough to compete with the stronger weeds that will sprout in the garden. Unfortunately you will have to make time to pull the unwanted weeds from your garden. However it is easier to pull the weeds out when they are small and the roots haven’t taken a strong hold in the soil. Don’t let weeds get out of control, as you will be overwhelmed with the amount of work required, to keep your garden weed free. There are several garden tools that you may use, to help keep the weeds under control. These include swan and collinear hoes, as cape cod and farmers weeders. You can use the Swan hoe to sweep away the weeds, very similar to how you sweep a floor. Make sure you keep your weeding tools sharp. A sharp hoe will cut the weeds, and sever the plants from their roots. Additionally you can use a pair of scissors to cut weeds away from vegetables in tight areas that don’t allow the use of a garden hoe. There are several types of mulches that you can use in your garden to suppress garden weeds. The first type is known as organic mulches, and these include all types of dead plant matter. Straw, grass clippings, leaves, and hay are all examples of organic mulches. These must be spread thick enough to block the light and prevent weeds. Plastic mulches will produce similar results to organic mulches. However some plastic mulches don’t allow adequate water to pass through, and others heat the soil too much, and this may be detrimental to certain garden crops. Finally the last classes of mulches are known as living mulches. Here you plant so close together that nothing else can grow in the area. Some vegetables that can be used as living mulches include lettuce, spinach, and kale. Lettuce can be planted among other crops, as it is slow growing and won’t shade other plants as it matures. Additionally lettuce doesn’t use too many nutrients from the soil; therefore it won’t be competing with its neighboring vegetables.

Helpful Garden Tips

  • Harvest lettuce in the morning so that it is crisp and not yet wilted from the heat
  • Keep picking green beans or the plants will stop producing (they think that they’re done!)
  • Laying straw in the garden helps to control weeds, but keeps soil cool so it’s not as good for tomatoes
  • For a bushy basil plant, always cut above the second set of leaves, wait for additional growth and then cut again at the next level

You too can Grow an Italian Herb Garden


Italy is said to have some of the best cuisine in the world and, at the heart of that cuisine are their famous herbs. Growing your own organic Italian herb garden is sure to be rewarding and delicious. Whether indoors or outdoors, as additions to your vegetable garden or in a garden of  their own, Italian herbs are a delight to both grow and eat.

You may already be familiar with a number of Italian herbs. There is a good chance that you have some Italian herbs growing in your garden and an even better chance that there are some in your kitchen. Basil, fennel, rosemary, oregano, and parsley are all household names in Italy and around the world.


How to Plant and Grow Fresh Basil
Basil may be the most well known Italian herb. Basil is an annual warm-season herb that is sensitive to cold weather. While you may be familiar with dried basil, enthusiasts will tell you that nothing compares to a few fresh basil leaves. Basil is relatively easy to grow and makes a great addition to your vegetable garden. Grow basil next to your peppers or tomatoes, basil is said to improve the flavor of its neighboring plants. Basil is also said to repel flies and mosquitoes!

When planting basil, pick a site with full sun. Basil prefers warm to hot weather and a pH of 5.5-7.0. Basil can be planted in pots as well as directly in the ground; requires low watering and should be propagated by seed. Basil’s most common enemies are the Japanese beetle, slugs and snails. Start seeds inside and transplant when a few inches tall.

To avoid an infestation of slugs and snails, line your garden with copper strips or wire mesh. The charge that builds up on the copper surface, repels both pests away from your garden as they are unable to move across it.

Basil must be pinched back as it begins to flower as once it flowers it loses flavour. Pruning back the flowers will also encourage it to grow bushier. Leaves should be cut in the morning after the dew has dried. Do not wash basil leaves, as they will lose their flavor.


Tips for Growing Fennel
Fennel has a wide range of uses. You may be most familiar with fennel seeds, used in Italian sausage or chewed with candy after an Indian meal. Fennel stalks are also edible, though not commonly eaten in the United States. Fennel has long been believed to have numerous medicinal benefits, namely digestive, and is often made into herbal teas and tinctures.

Fennel is a perennial, but should be divided and re-planted every few years as the plants tend to lose flavor as they mature. They are propagated from seed and enjoy full sun and rich, well-drained soil. Fennel plants require light but even watering and have an enemy in the Carrot Rust Fly, which can be avoided by planting in a windy location.


A Dash of Parsley is Always a Good Idea!
Parsley is relatively difficult to grow and known for its long germination time. Before planting parsley, soak the seeds for two days, changing the water after one day, refrigerate them and pour boiling water over the soil plug. Why all of this work? Parsley seeds contain a chemical, which prevents germination, and this process works to get rid of it.

Though parsley is technically a perennial, it usually goes to seed in its second year and so is grown as an annual. Because parsley is difficult to transplant, it should be sown directly into the ground or into large, well-drained pots.

Parsley should be planted in full sun or partial shade. If growing in a vegetable garden, plant near asparagus, corn, peppers and tomatoes. Make sure that the soil is nematode free, as these are common pests where parsley is grown. If you do have a nematode problem, try introducing ladybugs and predatory nematodes into your garden.

Now Let’s Add a Dash of Oregano
If you are planning on growing oregano, talk to some local farmers. It is easy to start an oregano plant from a cutting of an existing one. Choose an existing plant with strong flavor to guarantee the quality of your own crop. Oregano is decorative as well as delicious, sprouting lovely little purple flowers at maturity.

Oregano should not be harvested until it has flowered, as this is when its flavor is the strongest. Oregano prefers full sun and matures best in hot weather. Oregano is a perennial and can spread very far; you may want to take this into consideration when determining whether to plant in pots or in the garden.

Everyone’s Favorite: Rosemary
Rosemary is a tough evergreen perennial, which can grow into a large shrub. Though it is sturdy and does well in many climates, rosemary is very sensitive to frost. Rosemary does well in the ground or in pots and grows pretty little blue flowers, which, can be used in salads or as a garnish. Rosemary makes an excellent hedge and is great for attracting bees.

Italian herbs make excellent compliments to your existing vegetable or flower garden. The fragrance of these potent herbs will make you feel like you are taking a trip to the Mediterranean every time you stroll through your own garden. Growing these herbs locally and organically is one of the best decisions you have made all year.

Fungi Problems?

Mushrooms usually appear during the rainy months, but they can appear throughout the year.

If you have lots of mushrooms growing after regular watering, it could mean compacted soil is not allowing water to drain properly.

Allow the area to dry out, aerate it, and apply some gypsite to help make the soil more porous.

How to Turn a Pallet into a Garden

Post image for How to Turn a Pallet into a Garden

Good news and bad news. I had planned to film a short video showing you how to make a pallet garden, but the weather didn’t cooperate. I was stapling the landscape fabric onto the pallet when it started drizzling and got really windy. That’s the bad news. But I know I promised a tutorial today, so I took photos and have kept my word to share how to make the pallet garden. I tried to be as detailed as possible. That’s the good news.

So keep reading my pallet loving friends, instructions on how to make your own pallet garden are just a few lines away…

Find a Pallet

The first thing you need to do is–obviously–find a pallet. I’ve had good luck finding them in dumpsters behind supermarkets. No need to be squeamish. It doesn’t smell. At least, it doesn’t smell that bad.  Don’t just take the first pallet you find. You’re looking for one with all the boards in good condition, no nails sticking out, no rotting, etc. If you intend to put edibles in your pallet, be sure to find one that was heat treated as opposed to fumigated with pesticides.

Collect Your Supplies

For this project, you’ll need the pallet you found, 2 large bags of potting soil, 16 six packs of annual flowers (one six pack per opening on the face of the pallet, and two six packs per opening on the top of the completed pallet garden), a small roll of landscape fabric, a staple gun, staples, and sand paper.

Get Your Pallet into Shape

Once you’ve dragged your pallet home, give it a once over. Are any of the boards a little loose? Is the wood chipping in places? Nail down any loose boards, and use sand paper to smooth down any rough spots.

Let the Stapling Begin!

Decide which side of the pallet will be the bottom when the pallet garden is completed and leaning against the wall. You are going to be covering the bottom, back, and sides with landscape fabric, leaving  the spaces between the slats and the top uncovered (you’ll be planting flowers in the uncovered spaces).

Lay the pallet face down. Roll the landscape fabric over the back. Cut two identically sized pieces that are long enough to go from the top edge of the back of the pallet and wrap all the way around the bottom, plus a few extra inches.

Hold the two pieces of landscape fabric together as if they were one piece of fabric. Fold over the top edge by one inch and center it on the top board of the back of the pallet. Staple the fabric into place near the top edge of the top board. Smooth the fabric out to the left and right and pull it taut. Staple the fabric down on the top, right edge of the top board. Repeat on the left side. Fill in between those three staples with one staple every two inches along the top edge of the top board.

When the top of the landscape fabric is securely attached to the top, back board, smooth the fabric down, and repeat the process along the bottom edge of the bottom board, except don’t fold the fabric under, leave a long flap on the bottom.

Pulling the fabric tautly along the bottom, fold the cut edge under, and staple the fabric down along the front edge of the bottom. Smooth the fabric out to the left and right and staple every two inches along the front edge of the bottom.

Now for the sides. Start near the bottom and fold the excess fabric inwards as if you were wrapping a present. Fold the cut edge of the fabric under and staple it down near the front, bottom edge of the side facade. Smooth the fabric out and place a staple every two inches along the front edge of the side of the pallet. The fabric should be taut but not in danger of tearing. Repeat on the other side of the pallet.

You should now have a pallet with landscape fabric wrapped around the sides, back, and bottom. Place more staples along the spine of the back side of the pallet, and anywhere else you think the fabric needs to be held down so that soil can’t creep into places you don’t want it to go.

Now for the Fun Part–Planting!

Bring the pallet close to wherever it’s final spot will be and lay it down face up. You’re going to plant it while it’s laying flat on the ground.

First slide the plants into what will be the top. Plant everything very tightly, you should have to practically shoe horn the last plant into place. Now that you have capped the top, pour the entire first bag of potting soil on top of the pallet. Push the soil into the pallet between the slats and smooth it out so that the soil is level. Repeat with the second bag of potting soil.

Push potting soil into the bottom cavity, so that there is a trench directly below one of the bottom openings. Plant six plants in the trench, so that they are very tightly fitted into the opening. Repeat with the other bottom opening. Now push the potting soil up against those flowers you just planted, making a trench beneath one of the openings in the second row. Plant your flowers tightly in that opening. Repeat for all the remaining openings.

When you’re done planting, you should have plants that are completely covering every opening (i.e. there shouldn’t be any place for soil to fall out). There should also be soil firmly pushed into every part of the pallet where there aren’t plants.

Caring For your Pallet

Now, I’m going to tell you what you should do, and I what I always end up doing (which is what you should not do). You should leave the pallet flat on the ground for a couple of weeks (watering when needed), so that the roots can start to grow in and hold all the plants in place. I can never wait though, so I always tip the pallet upright a few days after planting. Some soil does fall out, but it seems to be okay. But I think it would be better if you left it to settle and only tipped it upright after a few weeks. Do as I say, not as I do.

Water your pallet regularly, they dry out quickly. Pay special attention to the bottom two openings, they seem to be the driest. Fertilize with water soluble fertilizer added to your watering can (follow package instructions for amount and frequency).

Basic Four Square Rotation Garden Design


Divide your garden square into four by drawing a cross inside it. You now have a diagram of four square beds that you’ll use as a plan for your very own vegetable garden design. The four beds are for the four main groups of vegetable crops. The plants are divided into four categories based on the amount of nutrients that they need to flourish. Below is an example of these categories.

 Heavy feeders: These heavy feeders demand a lot of nitrogen. Examples of these are the large leafed plants like lettuce, corn, and even the vine crops like squash.

Middle Feeders: These middle-of-the-road feeders are the mid sized leafed plants with above-ground fruits like tomatoes and peppers.

Light Feeders: These feeders include the root crops like turnips and carrots. They like potash in the soil.

Soil Builders: These types leave more nitrogen in the soil than they take out. Examples of these are the legumes like peas and beans.

 How to Rotate

Vegetable garden design

Vegetable Garden Crop Rotation Plan


  • Each of the four types mentioned above goes into one of squares that you’ve diagrammed, called beds. 
  • From top-left and counter-clockwise; Heavy Feeders, Middle Feeders, Light Feeders and the Soil Builders. 
  • After every harvest and when replanting each season, you rotate each group to the next square, to reduce pests and soil problems. 
  • Make sure that when you rotate these four types, they always follow the same order given here. 
  • This means, that when you move the Heavy Feeders, they go to the Soil Builder’s previous position. 
  • The Middle Feeders move up to the Heavy Feeders’ former position, etc.Try to imagine a baseball game where in your players occupy bases. Each year you move the location of each plant group by one space, changing the location of your plant types.

    Another benefit of this kind of rotation is that the Heavy Feeders will grow better by transferring to the Soil Builder’s former spot which gives them more of the nutrients they require to flourish.

  • Building a root cellar to keep your produce.

    Instructions …things you’ll need: Shovel Excavator, tractor or backhoe 8-by-8-by-16-inch concrete cinder blocks–number determined by the size of the cellar (for a 12-by-12-foot cellar, you would need roughly 400 blocks) Fiberglass impregnated concrete bonding agent or concrete mortar 4-by-8-foot roof beams 2-by-8-foot for blocking between the beams Black plastic (6 mil or heavier) 9 sheets 3/4-inch plywood or OSB 6 feet of 2-inch PVC pipe 1 2-inch PVC 90-degree elbow … all items can be found at Evergreen Supply in Clark Fork.

    1 Choose where you want the root cellar located and decide how large a room you want. Dig a hole that will be two to three times larger on all sides so you have room to work. A tractor, backhoe or excavator make quick work of this project.

    2 Mark and square your corners. Lay out string lines and place your first row of concrete blocks. Stack the blocks to build the walls to about 7 feet, which takes 11 rows of standard cinder blocks, offsetting each row so the vertical seams don’t line up. Coat the exterior walls with a fiberglass-impregnated concrete bonding agent. This provides a watertight seal and locks the blocks together more securely than filling them with more concrete. Allow the bonding agent to cure. An alternative to this is to mortar the blocks together and then coat them with a concrete sealer. However, this is much slower, and has no greater strength.

    3 Place 4-by-8 beams across the roof every two feet. Secure the beams to the concrete blocks using ties and concrete fasteners. Install 2-by-8 blocking between the beams at the edge of the structure, securing them by driving nails at an angle into the beams. Sheet the beams with two layers of 3/4-inch plywood. Seal the roof with a heavy-duty, foundation-type sealing compound. Then place heavy black plastic (6 mil or more) over the roof to provide an extra layer of moisture protection.

     4 Carefully back fill all sides of the structure, doing a little on each side, then working your way around. Keep the pressure even on all sides, or the force of the soil can actually push the structure to an angle. Cover the roof preferably to a depth of two feet of soil. Plant grass to hold the soil in place.

    5 Frame in the doorway and install a well-insulated door. Ideally, you would build a short tunnel at the doorway and install two doors, creating an airlock for even better temperature control; however, this is not a requirement.

    6 Install a simple vent to allow air flow in the cellar to prevent mold and mildew from forming and keep the air relatively fresh. Using two-inch PVC pipe, run the pipe out the top of the cellar with the air deposited at the bottom of the cellar.

     7 Install shelves and bins for food storage.

    It’s also a good idea to either run a power line and install a light or place a battery-operated lantern inside the door for visibility.

    nepa_root_cellar                       shy_bear_farm_root_cellar

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