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!
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
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:
- 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…
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Grandma’s garden sketch
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.
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.
well-planned edible gardens
Kidding Around In Our Edible Gardens
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!
garlic scape topped burger
DO let this information “leek” out. Leeks are an amazing vegetable to grow yourself and super easy to care for too.
I know local prices vary, but I live in one of the most expensive markets in the USA. So, chances are you’ll pay less than the $4 I paid for two small packs of baby leek plants. I wound up getting about 30 full-grown and amazing leeks.
What’s the secret you ask???
I wish there was more to it, but these babies are simple as can be to grow. Actually, I am so happy there is not more to it. Simple is perfection!
The main thing that I did to get such healthy-sized leeks is water frequently. This was especially important during the hot, dry summer that we experienced this year in my neck of the woods.
Some days that extra watering was a pain in the overalls. However, now we have the bounty of the harvest to remind us how much the effort is worth it.
Lastly, I noticed that my home-grown leeks are so much cleaner than the ones I buy in the store. Washing them is a snap compared to their store bought friends. I credit this to the less sandy soil that we have here on the DIY backyard farm.
Traditionally, leeks are grown on very sandy soil which makes cleaning them difficult and time-consuming. As you can see from the top photo, we did not experience any difference in quality. I believe this is because our soil is so loose and drains well.
Leeks have made it to our list of must have vegetables for the 2017 growing season. Do you grow leeks? If not, are you planning on growing them now that you have read this post?
We are offering our biggest discount ever to help get folks into fall edible gardening. That’s right, many of the veggies and herbs you grow in spring and summer can also carry over or be grown again in the fall.
Act soon because most zones need to begin planning (and even planting) now! You will love having an extended growing season and probably save some money on produce too.
We want to help get you started by offering $4 off the $14 price of our edible garden planning guide book. You can only get this discount by buying direct from our eStore. Enter code W84YWAVZ to get the $4 discount. Offer expires 08/31/2016.
Plan Your Garden, Garden Your Plan!!!!!
Happy shopping and great growing!
It’s July and nearly 100° here on the DIY Backyard Farm. Lots of people who stop by ask how we still have lettuce, arugula, spinach and other heat sensitive greens.
Our secret is all about choosing the right neighbors. True, we do have great neighbors living near our DIY Backyard Farm, but in this case I am talking about plant neighbors!
As you can see in the picture above, we have our own living adjustable umbrella shading a new crop of lettuce. The large kale plant is acting as a sun shade for the very heat sensitive lettuce below it. The really cool part (no pun intended) is you can pick off some of the kale leaves in case there is not enough sun. Conversely, if you need more shade the kale plant grows so fast it won’t be long before the umbrella opens up wider.
This is not exactly an example of companion planting in the more traditional sense that you might read about in gardening books. However, it works for us!
Impossibly ripe golden raspberries. If you grow these you’ll know exactly what I mean!
Check out our posts on berries for more info.
We can’t believe the amazing, spring-like weather we are enjoying here in New Jersey. We are working our soils and nourishing our garden loving souls far sooner than expected.
One of the many wonderful things about gardening is how there’s only a few tasks you must complete to be successful, but so many more you could complete just for the heck of it. Did we really need to build our own pea trellis this evening?
Of course we could have just bought one, but my daughter and I felt like doing something creative. We needed time together to just chill and create. That is garden therapy! That is living!
It took us 30 minutes to turn her soil over and design and build the little trellis. It took me about 3 minutes to forget about my troubles from the day.
How do you unwind in the garden??? Do you want to learn to grow you own healthy, delicious produce just like we do? Check out my book and learn how!
Are you suffering from spontaneous bursts of flavor across your taste buds? Having dreams of being engulfed by the smell of freshly picked tomatoes? Maybe you can’t stop thinking about the satisfying crunch of the season’s first asparagus?
Relax, unless you have a greenhouse or geodesic dome you’re likely just suffering from edible gardening withdrawal. I know we are! Why else would we take turns dutifully carting out our remaining boxes of culinary herbs each day?
Herbs On Wheels
Depending on where you live, you might have experienced a recent warming in the weather. The soil might even look workable. Stop!
The whole point of this message just hit home! Your soil is trying to trick you into playing with it. Resist young grasshopper. For if you don’t you might be toiling in the mud and setting yourself and your garden back by days and maybe weeks.
Your soil is lonely. Little to nothing has been actively growing in weeks. It wants to play! However, just like a young child, it needs a little guidance. In this case gardener guidance. If you start playing with the soil too soon in the season you will likely just turn over a top inch or two of brownie mix-looking mud. The next few inches down might be frozen solid or totally water logged from rain and snow melt. Trying to work the soil too soon will potentially disturb the structure of your soil and create more work for you later on.
Wait unti the soil is defrosted enough to be worked. An easy test is to grab a handful of soil and form it into a ball with your hand. Next, try breaking the soil ball apart with your hand or dropping it to the ground from a few feet up. Does the ball break up into small pieces when dropped or tapped with your hand? If your soil ball remains intact or only breaks into a few large clumps than it is probably too wet to work with. The soil should be more crumbly. Is crumbly a word?
So, be patient while you wait for your soil to be ready. It will come along soon enough. Spend the extra time and newly found gardening energy planning your garden, organizing your seeds, buying seeds, starting seeds and cleaning your tools. You could also read our book!
You see, there is plenty to do right now!