How to tell which zucchini flowers are “female”

Lots of people ask me how to tell which zucchini flowers are the female ones.   As the old saying goes, “a picture is worth 1000 words”.

The picture below shows a flower that is clearly attached to what looks to be a baby zucchini. That is a clear sign that you are looking at a female flower. Also notice that the stamen of the female flower is different from a male stamen.

If you look real close you can see there is actually a broken off male stamen inside the female flower. I did that to help bring the pollen from the male flower into the female flower. We have lots of pollinators, but why take chances!

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How to Keep Backyard Vegetable Gardening Easy

Here is a brief video featuring some quick tips and visual proof that backyard vegetable gardening can be easy and not too time consuming. Plus, remember that time spent in the garden is not time wasted. Spending time in the garden can be relaxing, is fun to do with others and puts one in touch with something other than a smart phone!

Enjoy!

Perfect Garden or Productive Garden???

radish picker

imperfect rows of baby radishes ready for salad!

There’s a saying entrepreneurs use that goes a little something like this, “perfect is the enemy of done”. They are referring to the relationship between trying to craft the perfect product or solution and actually getting that product or solution to market. Don’t fret about perfect!

Edible gardeners would be wise to follow the same advice. Forgot about magazine perfect gardens, don’t fantasize over idealistic visions of vegetable rows lined up like soldiers ready for a salad bowl battle.

In my experience, things will go wrong in the garden. Seeds will get washed away or will fail to germinate. Animals and other pests will eat crops. Mother nature will do her best to both support your efforts and frustrate you into near submission. However, the wise and persistent edible gardener will always persevere if they don’t worry about being perfect.

Relax, keep expectations in check, enjoy the imperfect beauty of nature and just get gardening. Seeds will sprout, plants will grow (mostly) and you will have food to enjoy. Takes notes along the way and get better and better at the process each season.

Enjoy that imperfect garden!

4 Things You Can Do Now For a Great Edible Garden in 2017

It’s the time of year for lists. In the last 7 days I have seen lists about:

  • top ways to lose weight
  • saving money
  • getting organized
  • etc.

Seeing such lists got me thinking about the top things an edible gardener can do today to prepare for their best vegetable, fruit and herb gardening season. Come to think of it, if you have a productive edible garden then you will eat healthier, probably lose weight, surely save money and maybe even learn some new recipes. Talk about a life hack!

OK, without further delay, here you go:

  1. Review your notes from the previous season(s). What would you improve upon? What went right in the past? Did you jot down any ideas for new plantings in upcoming seasons? That brings me to #2…
  2. Get inspired. Start browsing those seed catalogs and find some new and exciting plants to grow this season. Before you know it the time will be right to begin starting indoor seeds.
  3. Do an inventory of your seeds and other supplies. It helps to do this before ordering any seeds because we gardeners tend to forget about that end of season discount purchase of seeds and potting mix.
  4. Start sketching out your garden plans.Have some fun here and don’t be too rigid. Your first sketch likely will not be the final one. It helps to see your mental garden plan on paper to ensure it makes sense for your space. I have included garden planning worksheets in the back of my latest book on getting started in edible gardening. I hope you will check it out and maybe purchase it too.

Before starting these activities be sure to include anyone who will be a part of your gardening endeavors. Your group will be more engaged if they had a hand in the planning of the garden.

garden plot sketch

Grandma’s garden sketch

 

 

You too can make your vegetable and herb gardening seasons longer

For many years, we have successfully extended our growing seasons for vegetables and herbs. We do not have a greenhouse and we do not spend much time or money creating effective cold weather protection.

Need some inspiration (and proof) that you can grow edibles well into December? Check out this video to see what we have growing right now. Notice the real snow on the ground!

Do this now to be healthier instantly

I was inspired to write this post after seeing my Word Press Daily Prompt email today. The one word prompt was, “artificial”. The minute my brain sorted out those 10 letters it clicked! One of the reasons my family and I stay so healthy is because we have nearly eliminated artificial ingredients from our diets.

So how can this tidbit of information help you get healthier instantly?

Right now at this very minute you can make the decision to limit or eliminate artificial ingredients from your diets. While you are at it, keep the ingredient lists short for any meals or snacks you are planning.

How many ingredients can you see in the picture below?

 

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What did you guess? If you guessed one you are wrong. The answer is actually two. Two fresh, delisious and organic goldren raspberries grown right in our backyard.

It might not be raspberry season for much of the world, but most people can grow their own food for many months of the year. When you have a farmer’s market outside your door it is easy to eat natural and keep ingredient lists to a minimum. Check out some scenes from our DIY Backyard Farm.

Winter, spring summer and fall. In our garden we have something for all!

Even if you live in an apartment on the 44th floor you can still keep artificial ingredients to a minimum. Shop carefully, buy fresh, local produce whenever possible and order simply prepared foods when eating out. Are you going to start being healthier in this very instant? Are you inspired to plan a bountiful, edible garden of your own?

Nothing artificial, keep it real and get healthier today!

Do This to Grow Better Produce Next Season

How has your growing season been going? Did you learn anything new, discover a new vegetable, fruit or herb that you want to grow again or find a new technique to trellis that you do not want to forget?

Each growing season offers new lessons. That is what makes edible gardening so darn fun (and addicting).

Things are beginning to slow down in the DIY Backyard Farm. As the days get shorter the plants grow slower. The weeds go slower too! That means there is less to do and more time to enjoy the amazing harvest. We still have tomatoes, peppers and some other all-star summer vegetables. There are even some golden raspberries showing up for a curtain call. It is like we have worked hard all spring and summer cycling to the top of a steep mountain. Now it is time to coast down the other side.

The extra time allows for reflection and some preliminary planning. The image below is of a real garden notes sheet for one of our tomato gardens. I included it here as an example of how we catalog our experiences and ideas. These notes will be a huge help once we begin planning for the next season’s crops.

If you take notes like these you will be a better backyard farmer and grow superior produce year after year. My book contains garden planning worksheets and garden notes pages like the one below. I hope you will buy a copy today.

Garden Notes

Garden Notes 

Must Read For Anyone Interested in Growing Their Own Food

Today I was prompted by a few things to revisit a previous post I created to help our followers grow their own garlic.

First, I read yet another article on the dangers in our food supply. Sadly, not all our trading partners feel it is important to give us clean, safe and healthy foods. The power of the almighty dollar often outweighs the importance of good, quality food. This particular article cited the use of chemicals on foods that you would not want on your foods. Garlic was one of the key foods mentioned in th article. Further Googling and reading on the topic led me to another article where crops were grown on human waste. Gross! Growing your own food helps you identify where your foods are from. Would you grow your foods on human waste or use unsafe chemicals to treat or condition your foods???

Next, the nice folks at WordPress who do the daily writing prompt tempted and challenged me with the word, “fragile“. That word made me think of our food supply. It sure sums up the conditions I see in and around the world of food. We have the unknown dangers of GMO’s (unlabeled in many cases too), chemicals with nasty side effects, tons of synthetic fertilizer use and a very fragile ecosystem. Many farmers do not even use the term soil anymore. It is now a, “growing medium”. At our home we grow our own food and encourage others to do the same. No GMO’s here. No pesticides or synthetic fertilizers either. We plant it, care for it and pick it when needed. It sure feels good to be so close to a large portion of our food supply.

Lastly, it is almost the time of year for planting garlic here in the Northeastern USA. Garlic is so easy to grow and happens to be mentioned in many of the aforementioned news articles on imported garlic. Here is my chance to hook you. What would be more fulfilling and rewarding than creating your very own backyard farm of organic garlic? Perhaps just one small row of vampire repelling goodness?

Go now and grow!

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garlic scape topped burger