The Cheap Vegetable Gardener http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com Growing vegetables using grow boxes, LEDs, computers, and great soil Sat, 27 Feb 2016 18:03:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://i2.wp.com/www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/27537_115190498525969_6837_n.jpg?fit=32%2C32 The Cheap Vegetable Gardener http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com 32 32 When to start garden seeds indoors: Seed starting calculator http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/when-to-start-your-vegetable-seeds/ http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/when-to-start-your-vegetable-seeds/#comments Tue, 23 Feb 2016 05:19:50 +0000 http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/?p=4537 The post When to start garden seeds indoors: Seed starting calculator appeared first on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener.

When you start seeds indoors in a vegetable garden, it can be difficult getting your schedule down to ensure that start your vegetable seeds with enough lead time that they are mature enough to venture outside but also not so large they take over your growing area. Personally this has been a difficult part for me […]

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When to start your vegetable seeds

When you start seeds indoors in a vegetable garden, it can be difficult getting your schedule down to ensure that start your vegetable seeds with enough lead time that they are mature enough to venture outside but also not so large they take over your growing area.

Personally this has been a difficult part for me where I am really good getting the early vegetables started on time (onions, peppers, tomatoes) but when it comes to the later plants and/or second/third plantings is where I begin to get forgetful.  Over the years I have come across a couple of great tools to make this easier that I thought I would share.

No matter which option you choose to start garden seeds indoors you will need to determine an important date, your last frost date. There are many sites/tables out there that will give an estimate I actually have a couple posts on the subject but at the moment my favorite site that makes this very easy is WeatherSpark, it uses historical data with great visuals to easily determine when the best probability of picking the right date. Here you can take a look at this historical data and make your call of what date you think will be safe.

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1. Create a garden schedule.  Just by figuring out your last frost date and doing a little math (Excel works great for this) you can determine the optimal seed starting dates and even get a general idea of when your plants should be ready for transplanting.  What I love about this technique is you can tweak it each year as things worked well (or not so well) in previous years to get the schedule finely tuned to your particular garden and the micro-climates within it.

In addition knowing an estimate of when these plants will be venturing out in the wild can assist in your space planning for your seeding area as well as having a reality check if you see your peppers will be ready to be transplanted in March when it doesn’t get above freezing until mid-June.

Here is my schedule for starting seeds indoors my area and estimated last frost date (April 20th), though sure everyone that is reading this will not have the same date as mine so thanks to my infinite nerdiness I made the following table so you can adjust the “Last Frost Date” to yours and see how my schedule would look in your area.

 Last Frost Date:  
Vegetable Name Seed Start Date Estimated
Transplant
Date
Estimated
Harvest
Date
Celery 1/19/2013 3/18/2013 4/24/2013
Onion 1/19/2013 3/25/2013 5/24/2013
Leeks 1/19/2013 3/21/2013 6/3/2013
Kale 1/26/2013 3/7/2013 3/22/2013
Artichoke 1/31/2013 4/27/2013 6/20/2013
Kohlrabi 2/9/2013 3/15/2013 4/5/2013
Pak Choi 2/9/2013 3/6/2013 4/10/2013
Parsley 2/8/2013 4/6/2013 4/24/2013
Lettuce 2/9/2013 3/6/2013 4/5/2013
Broccoli 2/9/2013 3/15/2013 4/20/2013
Pepper – Jalapeno 2/9/2013 4/28/2013 4/25/2013
Pepper – Bell 2/9/2013 5/4/2013 4/25/2013
Swiss Chard 2/16/2013 3/20/2013 4/7/2013
Cabbage 2/16/2013 3/31/2013 5/7/2013
Brussel Sprouts 2/22/2013 3/31/2013 5/23/2013
Collards 3/2/2013 3/24/2013 5/1/2013
Tomato 3/2/2013 5/4/2013 5/21/2013
Spinach 3/9/2013 4/23/2013
Peas 3/9/2013 5/13/2013
Turnips 3/9/2013 5/8/2013
Watermelon 3/16/2013 5/27/2013 6/14/2013
Basil 3/24/2013 5/14/2013 6/22/2013
Potatoes 3/30/2013 7/8/2013
Radish 3/31/2013 5/5/2013
Beets 3/31/2013 6/4/2013
Carrots 4/9/2013 6/23/2013
Corn 4/9/2013 5/7/2013 6/28/2013
Cucumber 4/9/2013 5/16/2013 6/8/2013
Okra 4/9/2013 5/11/2013 6/13/2013
Pumpkin 4/9/2013 5/7/2013 7/28/2013
Summer Squash – Sunburst 4/9/2013 5/16/2013 6/3/2013
Winter Squash – Hunter 4/9/2013 5/16/2013 7/3/2013
Zucchini 4/9/2013 5/16/2013 6/3/2013
Lettuce 4/13/2013 6/7/2013
Beans 5/4/2013 7/13/2013
Dill 5/11/2013 7/15/2013
Carrots 5/27/2013 8/10/2013
Broccoli 6/22/2013 8/2/2013 8/31/2013
Cabbage 6/22/2013 8/2/2013 9/10/2013
Kale 6/22/2013 7/22/2013 8/16/2013
Kohlrabi 6/22/2013 7/29/2013 8/16/2013
Cabbage – Napa 7/24/2013 8/21/2013 10/7/2013
Pak Choi 7/24/2013 8/21/2013 9/22/2013
Onion – Bunching 7/24/2013 10/2/2013
Turnip 7/24/2013 9/22/2013
Lettuce 8/3/2013 9/27/2013
Spinach 8/10/2013 9/24/2013
Corn Salad 8/10/2013 9/29/2013
Garlic 10/12/2013 2/14/2014
Pak Choi 12/14/2013 1/26/2014 2/12/2014

* N/A because vegetables should be sown directly in the ground.

 

2. Create a garden plan online and get reminders.  My favorite online vegetable gardening software is GrowVeg.  It is very easy to use and provides some great visuals when to specifically plant seeds and transplant your seedlings outdoors, which you can see below.

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In addition you also can recreate a virtual copy of your garden and plan exactly where you want to plant your vegetables, to ensure your ambitions for growing a huge crop this year does not exceed the reality of the limited space you have to actually grow.  It also remembers where you planted vegetables in previous years to help enforce crop rotation to ensure pests/diseases will be forced to remain in check.

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Though one of my favorite features is the weekly reminders, once a week you get a simple email letting you know what plants you should be starting/transplanting that week.  This was very helpful later in the season where I probably would have completely forgotten about my carrots without this helpful reminder.

 

3. Buy a garden planning book.  If you want something that you can really get your hands on you might want to check out the Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook helps with this problem by providing weekly reminders of what vegetables you should be order/planting and what preparations you should be doing in your garden.  This can be a very helpful tool in getting a little more organized in your vegetable garden.

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Already falling behind on your seed planting here are a few great options to get a great selection of seeds without spending a lot of money:

  • One of my favorites is Burpee Seeds, they have been around since 1876 and definitely know their stuff. The actually have a seed sale going on now where you get $15 off on order of $75 (just use code AFFB4A35) expires on 1/15.
  • The name is not too exciting but Generic Seeds offers no thrills packaging with quality seeds and very reasonable prices and if you spend $20 or more shipping is on them.

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Opening weekend at the farmers market http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/opening-weekend-at-the-farmers-market/ http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/opening-weekend-at-the-farmers-market/#respond Thu, 14 May 2015 16:09:00 +0000 http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/?p=14581 The post Opening weekend at the farmers market appeared first on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener.

We actually had some great weather the first couple weekends of the farmers market.  We got our typical early season purchases (kettle corn and apples) though also got some strangely slightly higher priced flowers for mothers day. Though we did learn something important after our first visit…be sure to not eat right before going to […]

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We actually had some great weather the first couple weekends of the farmers market.  We got our typical early season purchases (kettle corn and apples) though also got some strangely slightly higher priced flowers for mothers day.

Though we did learn something important after our first visit…be sure to not eat right before going to the farmers market and stay hungry for the great food.

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Chicken coop and chicken update http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/chicken-coop-and-chicken-update/ http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/chicken-coop-and-chicken-update/#comments Tue, 12 May 2015 15:59:43 +0000 http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/?p=14573 The post Chicken coop and chicken update appeared first on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener.

Well good news I got the chicken coop done just in time for the little guys to move out there this weekend.  In all I like how it turned out and for now feel it should be pretty secure with the solid floor, elevated coop, and entirely wrapped in 1/2 inch hardware cloth (a bit […]

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Well good news I got the chicken coop done just in time for the little guys to move out there this weekend.  In all I like how it turned out and for now feel it should be pretty secure with the solid floor, elevated coop, and entirely wrapped in 1/2 inch hardware cloth (a bit pricey but probably worth the cost of waking up to raccoons in the coop…)

 

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I did have a couple additions after taking this picture by adding a little window at the bottom of the clean out door so the kids and take a peek at the chickens without having to open the door.  I also installed the ramp to get from the coop to the run.

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Inside the coop I went natural with a simple stick to use as a roost since I have so many of these around the property…though at the moment the chickens are more interested in pecking at it than standing on it.  I also have a standard light with 75 watt bulb which I am keeping on all day and a infrared heat lamp I am just turning on at night in case they get a little chilly.

Once they get a little less “chicken” and actually venture outside during the day I will turn off the light during the day and as they get a little bigger will wean them off the heat lamp as well (possible bringing it back this winter if we get some colder than typical winters.

Will plan on creating another post eventually with some specifics of construction and the cool features I added as well as things I probably would have done differently.

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Countdown for chicken coop http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/countdown-for-chicken-coop/ http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/countdown-for-chicken-coop/#respond Tue, 14 Apr 2015 04:57:27 +0000 http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/?p=14529 The post Countdown for chicken coop appeared first on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener.

This weekend we picked up our chicks at Keep It Simple Farm.  Our three kids, my two nieces, and one of my daughter’s friends each picked out a chick and we ended up with one Silkie and five Ffrizzles.  They are currently two weeks old so I now have four weeks to finish building a […]

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This weekend we picked up our chicks at Keep It Simple Farm.  Our three kids, my two nieces, and one of my daughter’s friends each picked out a chick and we ended up with one Silkie and five Ffrizzles.  They are currently two weeks old so I now have four weeks to finish building a chicken coop.  Fortunately the first weekend was very productive.

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My design is to have a chicken run that is six feet by ten feet with the coop being four feet by six feet giving a decent amount of space to explore.  Given we have raccoons hanging around in out backyard having the so plan is to have a solid wood floor and wrap the entire chicken wire in 1/2 inch hardware cloth to help protect those soon to be grown up chickens.

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Mantis 4-cycle tiller/cultivator review – Day 1 http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/mantis-4-cycle-tillercultivator-review-day-1/ http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/mantis-4-cycle-tillercultivator-review-day-1/#comments Tue, 14 Apr 2015 04:16:48 +0000 http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/?p=14520 The post Mantis 4-cycle tiller/cultivator review – Day 1 appeared first on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener.

A week before I was about to move to my new house with a much larger yard I got an email from the nice people at Mantis asking if I would like to review their 4 cycle tiller/cultivator.  Given I needed to start from scratch of a new garden and had a decent amount of […]

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A week before I was about to move to my new house with a much larger yard I got an email from the nice people at Mantis asking if I would like to review their 4 cycle tiller/cultivator.  Given I needed to start from scratch of a new garden and had a decent amount of land to use it on it sounded like a great idea.

The tiller came in the box requiring some basic installation requiring some basic tools.  This was pretty easy though guessing it was from some of the long days moving/unpacking but I had some trouble handles put on the right way.  Brain kept forgetting I had the thing upside down :)  Though after probably about 30 minutes I had the tiller assembled ready for its first mission…expanding the garden.

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I previously pulled this ivy-like ground cover away with a rake and some gentle massaging by yanking on it pretty hard and was hoping to have the tiller do some of this heavy work for me.  The tiller had some serious power though the ivy just wanted to hang onto the tines and eventually had to remove them to get the mess I created cleared.

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Though it had the power to clear this ground cover out this is probably not exactly its designed use so results probably should have been expected.

After clearing some ivy I decided to try digging into the ground a bit by pulling the throttle and walking backwards with it.  This caused the tiller to dig deep into the ground where I remembered that my new yard has rocks 3-4 inches down which one ended up getting stuck in the tines where I again had to remove them.  In the future I should reverse the tines to use as a cultivator unless I have cleared the rocks deeper ahead of time.

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Though I was not too successful with my first use I admittedly was pushing the intended use of this tiller but I was very impressed with the ease of starting (after reading directions) and the power this tiller/cultivator has while still being light enough to pack around with minimal effort.

What is also pretty cool about this tiller is there are optional attachments such as aerator and dethatcher which gives some options to extend it’s functionality without having to take up much extra space in your shed.

My next mission for this tiller is to clear an area of grass under my youngest daughters playset before laying down some wood chips which I expect will go much smoother than this mission…

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The Cheap Vegetable Gardener has moved http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/the-cheap-vegetable-gardener-has-moved/ http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/the-cheap-vegetable-gardener-has-moved/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 03:47:25 +0000 http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/?p=14485 The post The Cheap Vegetable Gardener has moved appeared first on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener.

So after decades of living in home in suburbia with a minimal amount of land this month I have moved to a new location where we have 1 acre of land to work with.  Great news is there is awesome potential for gardening here, it also means I have to start over from scratch leaving […]

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So after decades of living in home in suburbia with a minimal amount of land this month I have moved to a new location where we have 1 acre of land to work with. 

Great news is there is awesome potential for gardening here, it also means I have to start over from scratch leaving my previous more mature plants behind…

Though this definitely provides me with some additional space for a garden there are a good portion of our land has some mature trees so still a good portion of space that is devoid of good light for vegetable gardening.

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I started by planting a couple apple trees and as a last minute decision I also picked up a pear tree…

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Now for the apple trees I did my research and made sure the varieties I got were compatible (Honeycrisp and Ginger Gold) to use as pollinators for each other by ensuring there was not a dreaded black dot when looking at the compatibility chart below I took a picture of at the Grey Barn Nursery where I also bought my trees.

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The pear tree (Bartlett) on the other hand I was not as careful by just buying the one so looks like another tree purchase may be in my future.

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I also planted a blueberry bush this time spending a bit more money for a mare mature plant given the little stick version I bought at my local home improvement store probably took 4 years to get this size and was just starting to produce.  Hopefully this way I might even get some berries to snack on this year (if the birds/squirrels/raccoons don’t beat me to them)

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Also found a good fence line to plant some raspberries knowing moving was in the future last summer instead of throwing the sprouts that would pop up in my yard or sneak into my southern facing area for summer veggies into the compost I carefully removed them and put them up into pots which I transplanted into my new location…guess this is a bit of bringing my old garden with me in a way.

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So for my actual vegetable garden I am sticking with cinder blocks since they are cheap and I can easily expand the garden as I have more time and plants to fill it (not no soil on blocks on the right going to expand there soon.  I also continued my habit of filling the cinderblock holes with strawberry starts.

One great thing about having a bit more space I can now buy screened compost by the yard and let it sit in a pile for a while, much cheaper than my previous buying bunch of bags of mystery compost opening them up and wonder if they mislabeled bark as compost….

For my planting I am going with the tried and true Mel’s Mix (1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss (or coconut coir), 1/3 vermiculite) which I load up into my garden cart (another new purchase) and add to my planting areas.

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So a pond is also an addition to our new property, though I like the look/sound of this reality of maintenance has me a bit nervous so guess you may be hearing a bit about this in the future.

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One other potential addition in the future to our property will be chickens we haven’t pulled the trigger on this yet though I have bought the wood for the chicken coop…the building of said coop has not made it as the next priority of projects since we moved in…not sure how chickens and cheap vegetable gardening may go together exactly but sure they will come up 🙂

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Starting some onion seeds http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/starting-some-onion-seeds/ http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/starting-some-onion-seeds/#comments Wed, 14 Jan 2015 04:28:41 +0000 http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/?p=14295 The post Starting some onion seeds appeared first on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener.

My three year old was really excited to start planting some seeds so we planted some red onions and put them in the grow box.  This is a little ahead of my usual planting schedule but only by about a week. Though the grow box does have automated watering my daughter insisted on watering them […]

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My three year old was really excited to start planting some seeds so we planted some red onions and put them in the grow box.  This is a little ahead of my usual planting schedule but only by about a week.

Though the grow box does have automated watering my daughter insisted on watering them herself with her favorite yellow elephant watering can.  If all goes well should have some decent sprouts by Valentines day.  Plan on starting leeks next weekend and possible try growing celery for the first time this year.

What’s your garden plan this year?

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Handy Tips for a Great Garden http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/handy-tips-for-a-great-garden/ http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/handy-tips-for-a-great-garden/#comments Fri, 02 Jan 2015 03:56:00 +0000 http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/?p=8053 The post Handy Tips for a Great Garden appeared first on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener.

Put an end to the mini-gardens you have been planting along the windowsills and rooftops. They are well kept and easy to look after but are in no comparison to the garden you can plant around your house. Let this be the time when you decide to go with the urge of planting a proper […]

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Put an end to the mini-gardens you have been planting along the windowsills and rooftops. They are well kept and easy to look after but are in no comparison to the garden you can plant around your house. Let this be the time when you decide to go with the urge of planting a proper garden and experience its beauty and charm.

Garden lovers do plan to plant their own garden every year, but without proper information they expect that it may soon turn into a disaster.

A well-planned garden may save you from many problems. Once saved from these problems, your garden will be your admiration and the best part of your territory.

Here are just a few handy tips for a great garden. Keep these in mind before you pick up a trowel or open a seed packet.

1. Plan Your Garden

A complete plan should be made to plant a healthy garden, which may save you a lot of time and energy later. Everything is important, from selecting the right place for a garden to choosing what you can grow according to the season. Seeds are usually sown in spring, while Fall is favorable for planting trees, shrubs, bulbs and some other perennials.

You should keep in mind what kind of garden you want to grow, a fruit garden, a vegetable garden or a flower garden. Know when to sow and when to reap. And the area should also be selected according to your plants’ need of sunshine.

It is your garden and it is up to you to plant whatever you wish to. As in the beginning, we suggest that start on a small level and once you understand the nature of your plants then go expand the boundaries of your garden.

2. Clean up the Area

You need to clean up the area where you are planning to start growing a garden. You can get rid of the sod covering by smothering it with newspaper. Place a layer of five sheets of newspaper with a 3-inch layer of compost (or combination of potting soil and topsoil) on it and then wait for about four months to let the compost and paper to decompose.

3. Your Soil Matters A Lot

If you know your soil type, then you can easily manage it and get the best out of it. The three basic types are – sand, silt and clay. And if you can’t recognize which one is yours, then take help from a nearby nursery on garden center.

Soil needs a boost as well, which can be done by adding some simple organic matter to it. Such organic material includes the addition of a 2- to 3-inch wide layer of compost, decayed leaves, dry grass clippings, or old manure. It enhances the nutrient level and encourage life-giving soil microbes and worms.

Know when to dig the soil. Though, digging loosens the soil so roots can penetrate more easily, but digging when the soil is too wet or too dry can ruin its structure. You should dig only when the soil is moist enough to form a loose ball in your fist, but dry enough to fall apart when you drop it.

4. Mulch, the best friend of your garden

Sun, rain and mulch are known as the best friends of a garden. A couple of inches of mulch will help in keeping weeds out and water in. The different sorts of mulch which are available are pine needles to cocoa hulls to bark chips. As for a vegetable garden or bed of annuals, you may choose a mulch that decomposes in a few months. Longer-lasting mulch is used for perennials, such as bark chips.

5. Bring seedlings home

Bring all the seedlings outdoors (whether home grown or store bought) and expose them to a steadily increasing amount of sun, wind, and temperatures lower or higher than what they were used to indoors. This process of hardening off gradually introduces seedlings to the conditions in your garden. It may take about 2 weeks.

6. When to Plant

The ideal time to plant is when there is rain in the forecast and no frosts or heat waves expected. Incase forecasts are not that helpful, then try to plant in the late afternoon or early evening to minimize the time the seedlings bake in the sun. And before planting anything, water the soil a day before to keep it moist.

7. Planting

You should know which species to plant together depending on their similar requirements of soil, light and nutrients. You can either plant a single type or multiple types. Planting different species together may eliminate the risk of facing attacks from plant-specific pests.

Keep some space between your plants. Spacing is good for their growth and the bare patches can be filled with flowering plants.

8. Water Wise

The most important element in a plant’s life is water. Seedlings should never dry out; they should be watered daily while they are small. New transplants also need frequent watering, every other day or so, until their roots become firm. The rest of the water requirements depend on your soil and climate.

Watering should be done slowly and deeply. The way you water a plant determines its health.

9. Pests and Diseases

Once you have decided to plant certain species, then make sure you know what kind of pests and diseases attack them. Find organic ways to keep your plants healthy enough to avoid any pest problem. And be prepared to tackle their arrival. It is better to know your problem beforehand.

10. And the hard work continues…

A healthy garden is not a single-day story. You have to keep watering your plants properly and keep maintaining your garden. Fertilizers may change according to the season and you shall need to fertilize the soil halfway through the season. Keep up with your plants’ needs and take care of them.

Get ready to have a garden of your own and rejoice its pleasure. You just need to keep investing time and effort. It will all pay off when the plants will grow up and you will be sitting back enjoying the blessing of having your very own garden. A little hard work today will bring in plenty of joys later.

Author Bio:

Christine Rudolph is a content writer at B&C Pest Control, a Lake Mary Pest Control Provider. Serving homeowners and business owners with its effective pest management and extermination solution.

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Simple pumpkin cheescake recipe http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/pumpkin-cheesecake-recipe/ http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/pumpkin-cheesecake-recipe/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 00:48:56 +0000 http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/?p=14085 The post Simple pumpkin cheescake recipe appeared first on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener.

I made my first pumpkin cheesecake a few years back and has been a recurring addition to our Thanksgiving dinner ever since then…though baking cheesecakes can be/sound a bit intimidating with a few techniques mentioned below it can be pretty easy to have success on your first attempt.  In addition this is also a great […]

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I made my first pumpkin cheesecake a few years back and has been a recurring addition to our Thanksgiving dinner ever since then…though baking cheesecakes can be/sound a bit intimidating with a few techniques mentioned below it can be pretty easy to have success on your first attempt.  In addition this is also a great way to get rid of my masses of pumpkin puree in my freezer saved from this years pumpkins

Pumpkin cheesecake recipe
 
Ingredients
  • 1 graham cracker crust (homemade or store bought)
  • 16 oz. of crème cheese (2 – 8 oz. packages)
  • ⅔ cup brown sugar
  • 1.5 cup of pumpkin puree (or one can of store bought pumpkin)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • 2 eggs
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees
  2. Beat cream cheese until it appears fluffy
  3. Add sugar, pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger and and beat until well combined
  4. Add eggs one at a time and beat until creamy
  5. Place empty graham cracker crust to a cookie sheet and place in oven with rack pulled out. Fill with mixture until full and carefully push rack (and cheesecake) into the oven. You can attempt this pour and move away from the oven but unless your day job is working on a bomb squad most likely this will lead to some filling on the floor and yourself.
  6. Bake for 50-60 minutes keeping a careful eye on the edges if you start to see some browning your cheesecake is done cooking.
  7. At this time I turn off the oven and crack open the door a few inches to let things cool down gradually, optionally you can pull it out and place the cheesecake on a cooling rack for 1-2 hours. Though if you are in a hurry you can speed up the cooling by placing your cheesecake in the refrigerator after 10-15 minutes though you significantly increase the chance of causing a ugly split down the middle of your nice cheesecake.
  8. After cooling for 1-2 hours cool or overnight(if you can wait that long)

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Crossbred pumpkin and zucchini? Is that a pumpzini or Pucchini? http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/crossbred-pumpkin-and-zucchini-is-that-a-pumpzini-or-pucchini/ http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/crossbred-pumpkin-and-zucchini-is-that-a-pumpzini-or-pucchini/#comments Sat, 30 Aug 2014 00:52:45 +0000 http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/?p=8771 The post Crossbred pumpkin and zucchini? Is that a pumpzini or Pucchini? appeared first on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener.

So past few years I have been collecting seeds from my luxury pie pumpkins to plant the next year.  Everything was going as planned, they sprouted on the grow box brought them outside when the temperature was right and planted them in the garden.  They made a long vine and sprawled throughout my hard, then […]

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The post Crossbred pumpkin and zucchini? Is that a pumpzini or Pucchini? appeared first on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener.

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So past few years I have been collecting seeds from my luxury pie pumpkins to plant the next year.  Everything was going as planned, they sprouted on the grow box brought them outside when the temperature was right and planted them in the garden.  They made a long vine and sprawled throughout my hard, then came the fruit…

Instead of the typical nice small round baby pumpkin, I saw something that more closely resembled a zucchini.  So my best guess is I made a crossbreed, which is not surprising since I have a pretty small area in my yard of southern facing full sun so pumpkins and zucchinis are planted in near vicinities.

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Not expecting to be the first person in history to do this I went online and found a few other references of other people doing this as well.  Sounds like my best bet is to roast it like other squash and is supposed to have a pretty creamy texture.  Will let you know how it turns out in a couple weeks…

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How to make your tomatoes turn red? http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/how-to-make-your-tomatoes-turn-red/ http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/how-to-make-your-tomatoes-turn-red/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 14:27:00 +0000 http://cheapvegetablegardener.wordpress.com/2009/07/29/how-to-make-your-tomatoes-turn-red The post How to make your tomatoes turn red? appeared first on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener.

While going searching my logs I noticed the query in the topic. My first response, in my sarcastic mind was, “Uh red paint, maybe a red permanent marker?” After some more serious thought I did get some more helpful ideas. Don’t be greedy: I know it is hard when you want to get as many […]

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While going searching my logs I noticed the query in the topic. My first response, in my sarcastic mind was, “Uh red paint, maybe a red permanent marker?” After some more serious thought I did get some more helpful ideas.

Don’t be greedy: I know it is hard when you want to get as many delicious tomatoes as possible and you let your plants go wild producing as many fruit as possible but unfortunately you hit the end of your growing season with 70% of those tomatoes to never to become ripe before the first frost. You can prevent this by pinching off any suckers that are not part of the main vein of the plant. Sure you may not get as many fruits but your plant can spent more of its energy getting that fruit red instead of growing more green tomatoes to throw in the compost.

Be light on the nitrogen: Do not give your plants too much nitrogen during its growth period. You will get a big beautiful plant, but unfortunately fruit will bear too late in the season to mature into ripe red tomatoes.

Get supermarket quality tomatoes from your garden: Of course tomatoes ripened on the vine will have the better taste but when your season runs out and your tomatoes are still green what can you do?  One option is to take any flawless tomatoes (no bruises, no cracks) place them very gently in a cardboard box padded on bottom with newspaper and place in a cool humid location. You may also add a ripe banana to speed up the process by adding a little extra ethylene.  If you are luck in a couple/few weeks you should have some red tomatoes.

Just eat the green tomatoes: If all else fails there is always the option of breading them with some bread crumbs, salt, and pepper and fry up until golden. There is also the green salsa option which I am planning on trying out this year…ok I may have been a little “greedy” this year.

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How to save jalapeno seeds http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/saving-jalapeno-seeds/ http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/saving-jalapeno-seeds/#comments Sat, 16 Aug 2014 02:41:00 +0000 http://cheapvegetablegardener.wordpress.com/2009/09/07/saving-jalapeno-seeds The post How to save jalapeno seeds appeared first on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener.

I am attempting to grow the best pepper plants I can indoors (grow box) so I started with jalapeno peppers.  They grow relatively small 2-3 feet and require 2-3 gallon container for growing.  While this is fine for an outdoor garden, though indoors I can only sacrifice 1 gallon container.  This summer I grew several […]

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I am attempting to grow the best pepper plants I can indoors (grow box) so I started with jalapeno peppers.  They grow relatively small 2-3 feet and require 2-3 gallon container for growing.  While this is fine for an outdoor garden, though indoors I can only sacrifice 1 gallon container.  This summer I grew several jalapeno plants which spent half of their life in the grow box and spent our warm summer outdoors.  All of the plants produced but there was definitely a clear winner which had incredible early yields even with its small growing quarters.

I used several immature peppers (green) for salsa this year but allowed several peppers to mature (red) which I will be saving the seeds for planting this winter and next summer for future plants.  By hand selecting the best parent plants should be good old natural selection at work.

The process to collect pepper seeds is pretty simple though I must first provide this warning:

WARNING: Peppers are hot, especially the veins.  When handling peppers use caution and wash your hands well with dish soap.  Under no conditions do not rub your eyes or pick rub your nose before washing your hands or you will be regretting it for a couple hours.  Using gloves is also recommended.

That being said slice the peppers lengthwise with a sharp knife.

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Use a fork or spoon to gently dislodge the seeds into a small bowl.

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If you are lucky enough to have hot sunny weather still (week of rain here) lay they out in the sun for a couple days and store them in a cool dry place until you are ready to plant them.  If you are sun challenged like me set them on a windowsill for a few days.

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As I have said before saving you own seeds is very easy and free and as an added bonus you can personally pick the best plant to be the donors of seeds for your future plantings.  In my case I also have the benefit of a plants that is genetically grown to following my sporadic watering and care patterns.

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How to save tomato seeds http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/how-to-save-tomato-seeds/ http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/how-to-save-tomato-seeds/#comments Wed, 06 Aug 2014 13:06:49 +0000 http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/?p=2491 The post How to save tomato seeds appeared first on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener.

It is really easy to save tomato seeds is a little more difficult that other vegetables seeds, but with a little patience and the right technique you can save your seeds with very little effort. Step 1: Get the seeds.  The easiest way to get to your seeds it do cut the tomato across the […]

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It is really easy to save tomato seeds is a little more difficult that other vegetables seeds, but with a little patience and the right technique you can save your seeds with very little effort.

Step 1: Get the seeds.  The easiest way to get to your seeds it do cut the tomato across the hemisphere as shown below.

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This will give you easy access to the seeds, though if you are slicing your tomatoes at a different angle you can easily pull out some seeds with a prong of a fork or spoon.  The cutting board will normally hold more than enough seeds than I will need for the following year.

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Step 2: Get the junk off the seeds.  The seeds have a gel-like substance that surrounds the seeds along with some pieces of flesh that you did not take the time to pick out.  There are a couple of techniques to do this:

  1. Add some water to the seed mixture, cover with plastic and let them ferment for a few days.
  2. Mix tomato seed mix with equal amount of powdered disinfectant cleanser and let sit for 30 minutes

Given the fermentation methods can stink up your kitchen and the powdered disinfectant methods doesn’t exactly sounds organic I went with my own method I call the soak and rinse technique.

Drop the seeds in a small bowl with some water and let soak for a couple hours.  Pour off anything floating to the top (seeds too they won’t germinate) into your sink

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Pour what remains into a strainer and give a quick rinse with water.

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Repeat the soak and rinse process twice a day and notice the amount of gel decreasing.

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Once the seeds look like the ones below (about 2-2.5 days) they are ready to be dried.

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Step 3: Drying the seeds.  I do this by spreading the seeds on a labeled coffee filter trying best to keep seeds from touching.  Once they dry (couple days to a week) store them with your other seeds.

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With very little effort and a few days of waiting you can collect seeds to use/share/trade for next season.

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Tomatoes: Upside down, Ground, and Self Watering Container http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/tomatoes-upside-down-ground-and-self-watering-container/ http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/tomatoes-upside-down-ground-and-self-watering-container/#comments Wed, 06 Aug 2014 03:45:13 +0000 http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/?p=8046 The post Tomatoes: Upside down, Ground, and Self Watering Container appeared first on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener.

On of a common questions I still get is, do you still grow tomatoes upside down?  Does that really work better than just planting in the ground? Well I decided to do a little experiment and start several tomato plants from seeds and grow two in an official Topsy Turvy planter, two in the ground […]

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On of a common questions I still get is, do you still grow tomatoes upside down?  Does that really work better than just planting in the ground?

Well I decided to do a little experiment and start several tomato plants from seeds and grow two in an official Topsy Turvy planter, two in the ground with fertile soil, and one in a homemade self watering container

Each plant was placed in the same area in my yard and was watered the same amount at the same time.  About every 10 days I would also water with a diluted solution of water with fish emulsion.  You can see some results in the pictures below.

Upside Down Planter

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Self Watering Planter

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Ground

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Overall the upside down planters by far are having the best yields getting fruit 3 weeks before other plants.  The self watering planters had the healthiest looking plants though yields were decent though taking their time.  The plants in the ground are having some serious issues though still producing some tomatoes though doubt the plant will survive to have red fruit.

After this and previous years results I really don’t think I will be planting tomatoes in the ground in the near future…

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how to fix crystallized honey (chunky) http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/how-to-fix-crystallized-honey-chunky/ http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/how-to-fix-crystallized-honey-chunky/#comments Wed, 02 Jul 2014 01:50:53 +0000 http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/?p=6569 The post how to fix crystallized honey (chunky) appeared first on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener.

Got that little bear of honey but it is all chunky and won’t come out?  Just place it in a mason jar and fill with hot water (tap or boiling can work) and loosely add a lid to keep some of the heat in.  Check on it in a few minutes and you should have […]

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Got that little bear of honey but it is all chunky and won’t come out?  Just place it in a mason jar and fill with hot water (tap or boiling can work) and loosely add a lid to keep some of the heat in.  Check on it in a few minutes and you should have nicely flowing honey again.  Still a little chunky?  Repeat the process again.

This happens because well honey is sugar and as time goes on small crystals can form and then grow making this chunky mess…this is the same process you would do to intentionally make some sugar crystals like below.

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By heating the sugar up you dissolve these crystals making nice looking honey again which pretty much has a shelf life of forever.

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Strange banana ripening http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/strange-banana-ripening/ http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/strange-banana-ripening/#respond Wed, 18 Jun 2014 17:02:18 +0000 http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/?p=6559 The post Strange banana ripening appeared first on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener.

This is definitely a first for me, sort of a happy accident so the bananas do not ripen all at once and end up with a bunch of overripe ones before you can eat them…if only I could determine how to make this happen on purpose I could make millions 🙂

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This is definitely a first for me, sort of a happy accident so the bananas do not ripen all at once and end up with a bunch of overripe ones before you can eat them…if only I could determine how to make this happen on purpose I could make millions 🙂

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Ultimate Plant Cage/Stake/Plant clip review http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/ultimate-plant-cagestakeplant-clip-review/ http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/ultimate-plant-cagestakeplant-clip-review/#comments Sun, 11 May 2014 04:02:23 +0000 http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/?p=6138 The post Ultimate Plant Cage/Stake/Plant clip review appeared first on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener.

This nice people at Global Garden Friends were nice enough to send me a few of their product to try out with my garden this year and given today I was bringing out my cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, and pumpkins from the grow box it seemed like a great time to put them to the test. […]

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This nice people at Global Garden Friends were nice enough to send me a few of their product to try out with my garden this year and given today I was bringing out my cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, and pumpkins from the grow box it seemed like a great time to put them to the test.

The first product I tried out was their Ultimate Plant Cage which is a plastic ring that comes in four parts with spikes you can stab into the soil.  I used this on my self watering planter which I just planted a tomato plant into today.

What I like about this system is you can actually assemble this around your plant which is helpful if you are a bit late adding a plant cage to your plants.   Also on this right are six small posts which you can attach their Ultimate Plant Stakes (included with the kit) where you can adjust the height and the width as needed to support your growing plant.

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I also use a few more of their Ultimate Plant Stakes to give my peas a little help as they start to take off in the next couple weeks.  The only complaint I have for these is there is not a lot of resistance when you extend these stakes so supporting from an angle may work ok but if your weight is a direct downward force I could see these potentially collapsing under some load.

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In addition they also sent me some plant clips which you can use to assist your vegetables to climb their trellis until they have adequate support on their own.  I have done twine and zip ties in the past but what I like about these is they are much easier to remove when the time comes and also pretty large so easy to find to reuse on other plants as needed.

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I suspect I will be able to use them to help my peas, tomatoes, and cucumbers find their trellises when the time comes.

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Cheap desktop aquaponics system http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/cheap-desktop-aquaponics-system/ http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/cheap-desktop-aquaponics-system/#comments Fri, 25 Apr 2014 04:05:38 +0000 http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/?p=6024 The post Cheap desktop aquaponics system appeared first on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener.

I wanted to create a fun project with my daughter and a proof of concept for an aquaponics setup to have running in my grow box.  For those of you new to this concept this is growing plants in a soilless environment (much like hydroponics) but instead of paying for expensive nutrients you use naturally […]

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I wanted to create a fun project with my daughter and a proof of concept for an aquaponics setup to have running in my grow box.  For those of you new to this concept this is growing plants in a soilless environment (much like hydroponics) but instead of paying for expensive nutrients you use naturally occurring bacteria and fish poop to grow plants.

Now there are fish farm kits out there but given most of the parts for this build I had sitting idle in my garage I decided to construct my own.

First after a trip to IKEA I found some plastic tubs just the right size for my grow box.  I got two of the bins and one lid.

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This is the basic idea of how this goes together, fish in the bottom plants on top.

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Next I took a 1/4 inch drill and made several holes on both the bottom of the top tub and also through the lid.  I also added a few extra hole in the lid to ensure water can drain faster from the lid than the water coming in from above.  I also drilled a big enough to fit some 1/2 in plastic tubing from an old fountain pump I had lying around.

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It is a bit hard to see from this picture but I cut the top of a 2 liter bottle off and drilled a hole in the cap just big enough to fit the top of the plastic tubing through.  I then drilled six 1/4 holes and pushed a 6 small pieces of irragaction tubing (pieces of straws could probably work here as well) and positioned them right under the plants roots.

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I then filled the top tub 1/3 with aquarium gravel (washed pea gravel would work as well) that I had sitting the the garage and topped the rest with some clay pellets.

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Next add some plants and pour water from the top until the tub below is full, start the pump and add a few goldfish and the process begins.

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As the fish breath, poop, and pee they will produce ammonia (NH4) this is pretty worthless to the plants but after a few weeks Nitrosomas bacteria will begin converting the ammonia (NH4) to Nitrates (NO2) which plants can absorb some of the nitrogen from but not very efficiently.  Finally Nitrospira bacteria will convert the Nitrates (NO2) to Nitrates (NO3) which is easily converted by the plants producing some nice vibrant greens with fish poop.

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You can even do this whole process without even having fish by simply adding pure ammonia to you water which will create the same natural bacterial processes without having to remember to feed your fish and a small bottle of the stuff only costs a couple dollars on Amazon.

        

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How to make the most of a small garden http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/how-to-make-the-most-of-a-small-garden/ http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/how-to-make-the-most-of-a-small-garden/#comments Fri, 25 Apr 2014 02:52:55 +0000 http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/?p=6014 The post How to make the most of a small garden appeared first on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener.

Today’s post was written by Ricky, who works for www.SwallowAquatics.co.uk. Ricky is a garden lover and enjoys nothing more than spending time in his own, diminutive but beautiful garden. So the size of your yard leaves a little – okay, a lot – to be desired, but that doesn’t mean you should permanently hang up […]

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Today’s post was written by Ricky, who works for www.SwallowAquatics.co.uk. Ricky is a garden lover and enjoys nothing more than spending time in his own, diminutive but beautiful garden.

So the size of your yard leaves a little – okay, a lot – to be desired, but that doesn’t mean you should permanently hang up your secateurs. You’ll be surprised at what you can squeeze into your space with a little ingenuity. Check out our tips below, and let us know your ideas!

Wall to wall

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Image credit: The Blue Girl

When floor space is limited, it’s time to get creative with other surfaces. One trend that is particularly popular in small gardens is the living wall, or wall garden idea. There are various ways to create an interesting, structured display such as in the image above, but climbers such as ivy, honeysuckle and roses will work just as well and create a more unruly feel.

Hanging baskets are another great option for your vertical garden – as long as you hang them appropriately to avoid injuries! Check out some more ideas on how to structure your walled garden here.

Color pop

Sticking with the vertical surfaces idea, it’s important to make the most of any patches of wall or fence that peek through in between your plants and pots. You could paint walls or fences in a bright color to add interest even on the drabbest of days, or even use the space as a canvas and create a mural. Check out these tips on how to paint your fence well.

Man in the mirror

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Image credit: jimwolffman

Mirrors are a small room’s best friend – and that applies to your outdoor room, too. Just like they do indoors, mirrors will make your garden seem bigger than it is by creating the illusion of extra space. Make sure you treat or the frame of your mirror so that it is protected from the elements.

Twinkle, twinkle

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Image credit: Wonderlane

Garden lights don’t have to be restricted to tacky Christmas novelties, and there’s no need for your garden to end up looking like Blackpool Illuminations. As well as offering a little extra security during the darker hours, a few lawn lights will allow you to enjoy your garden for much longer and, when placed cleverly, can make use of the space to show off the best aspects of your garden.

Whether you want something subtle, or a more grotto-like feel as in the photo above, go for solar options for a low cost, environmentally friendly option. Here are a few tips on how to go about installing solar lighting in your yard.

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Giving the Toads a Happy Home with Earth, Water and… Garden Furniture? http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/giving-the-toads-a-happy-home-with-earth-water-and-garden-furniture/ http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/giving-the-toads-a-happy-home-with-earth-water-and-garden-furniture/#comments Tue, 11 Mar 2014 02:50:43 +0000 http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/?p=5926 The post Giving the Toads a Happy Home with Earth, Water and… Garden Furniture? appeared first on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener.

There was a toad that lived in my mother’s garden, and I always considered myself lucky to happen to catch a glimpse of him by a rock before he hopped back into the dense flowers and vegetables. When the summer rain was fresh on the plants, little toad would always be hanging out by the […]

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There was a toad that lived in my mother’s garden, and I always considered myself lucky to happen to catch a glimpse of him by a rock before he hopped back into the dense flowers and vegetables. When the summer rain was fresh on the plants, little toad would always be hanging out by the edge of the garden. I always wondered what his home looked like, and why he lived in the garden instead of the wilderness. Now that I have my own garden, I wanted to see more of little toad and other amphibians. They truly are amazing animals, and it is such an honor to be able to provide a good habitat for them so I can sometimes look in on their life and wonder what it’s like to be a toad!

After a bit of research into what type of real estate really does it for amphibians, I found out I need to provide shelter, hibernation spots, and a breeding area. Implementing a few structures with earth, water and garden furniture will really give amphibians a nice place to settle down in. Here are some tips for making your own garden toad-friendly, whether it’s because you like the amphibians or just their positive effects on gardens.

Rocks

Toads love to hide under rocks, so scatter a few throughout the garden in piles and border any paths or boundaries. You can also use wooden logs for this. Either way, it adds some more design to your garden and comfort for the toads. Some toads will also hibernate underground, digging deep below the freezing line, but others will rely on cracks in wood or rocks because they aren’t as good at digging.

Interestingly enough, Scientific American maintains that many frogs will freeze to the point where their heart and lungs stop beating in the winter. The level of glucose in their vital organs acts as antifreeze and the heart and lungs will start working again once the temperature warms back up.

Ponds for mating, hydration, and hibernation

Even if you don’t have a pond, you may still get a happy toad to live in your garden as they are a dry-land equipped amphibian. If you want more variety such as frogs or salamanders though, install a pond to prove the adequate hydration and ecosystem they require.

Putting a small pond in or near your garden isn’t as hard as it sounds. I just dug a hole in the ground, covered it in strong plastic, and waited for the rain to fill it up. You can also fill it with water from the hose, but you will want to make sure the chlorine has fully evaporated by the time any amphibians come near it. If you pick an area of low ground where pools form naturally, the rain should be fine to fill it up.

A pond also provides a hibernation spot for aquatic frogs. They will partially bury themselves in the mud below the surface and take in oxygen from the water.

Make sure the pond is far enough away from chemically treated lawns, poisonous trees or other plants that pose a threat to amphibians and reptiles. Instead, proactively install plants that will proved shelter and attract the kind of insects amphibians enjoy.

Garden furniture for hiding

I really like the wild, overgrown look of vines twisting into everyday objects, so I decided to incorporate furniture into my garden to provide shade, depth of space, and a dense hiding spot for the amphibian residents of the garden. I found a really cool, intricate looking wrought iron bench and planted Black-eyed Susan vine transplants, weaving them through and around the bench. I like to think that the frogs, toads and salamanders love the natural looking fixture as a potential hiding spot.

 Blackeyed Susan Vine

I also added another bench to the front-most outer side of my garden, this time using a cute little wicker design with cushions for actual sitting. Depending on the season, I leave this piece of furniture protected with a garden bench cover for the most part, and wait for it to rain in the early evenings. Once the rain ceases I go out to the garden and quietly uncover the bench for some amphibian (and rainbow) viewing relaxation. It’s probably one of the best things ever!

Amphibians are magnificent creatures, but they’re not the only garden-beneficial animals. What is your favorite garden wildlife, and how do you attract them to your yard?

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New logo for CheapVegetableGardener.com http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/new-logo-for-cheapvegetablegardener-com/ http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/new-logo-for-cheapvegetablegardener-com/#comments Thu, 27 Feb 2014 03:41:02 +0000 http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/?p=5894 The post New logo for CheapVegetableGardener.com appeared first on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener.

When I first created this blog 6 years ago I through together a simple logo with my very limited graphic design ability (or lack there of).  I had always intended on improving this in the future but had never gotten the opportunity to do this. Fortunately our Danish friends at AxisCepromup were great enough to […]

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CVGLogo2[1]

When I first created this blog 6 years ago I through together a simple logo with my very limited graphic design ability (or lack there of).  I had always intended on improving this in the future but had never gotten the opportunity to do this.

Fortunately our Danish friends at AxisCepromup were great enough to put a logo together to replace our existing one.  What do you think?

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Groundhog Day: Is spring coming early? http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/groundhog-day-is-spring-coming/ http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/groundhog-day-is-spring-coming/#comments Sun, 02 Feb 2014 15:13:28 +0000 http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/2011/02/groundhog-day-is-spring-coming.html The post Groundhog Day: Is spring coming early? appeared first on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener.

Sorry, Punxsutawney Phil did see his shadow so six more weeks of winter.  Though for those of you with a blanket of snow on the ground and more coming this is probably not hard to believe. Just for the record Punxsutawney Phil is only right 39 percent of the time so probably best to not put […]

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The post Groundhog Day: Is spring coming early? appeared first on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener.

Sorry, Punxsutawney Phil did see his shadow so six more weeks of winter.  Though for those of you with a blanket of snow on the ground and more coming this is probably not hard to believe.

Just for the record Punxsutawney Phil is only right 39 percent of the time so probably best to not put too much of your seed planning on his prediction. Keeping fingers crossed…

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New way to use egg cartons for starting seeds http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/new-way-to-use-egg-cartons-for-starting-seeds/ http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/new-way-to-use-egg-cartons-for-starting-seeds/#comments Sun, 02 Feb 2014 04:57:27 +0000 http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/?p=5819 The post New way to use egg cartons for starting seeds appeared first on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener.

I have used egg cartons to plant seedlings before but here is a slight twist, instead of taking the whole lid off I cut the top off the lid.  This not only gives you a neat place to label your seeds but more importantly, it provides an extra inch of depth for your seedlings to […]

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I have used egg cartons to plant seedlings before but here is a slight twist, instead of taking the whole lid off I cut the top off the lid.  This not only gives you a neat place to label your seeds but more importantly, it provides an extra inch of depth for your seedlings to get a running start before being transplanted to your garden.

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Multiple rain barrels hooked up with common garden hose connectors http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/multiple-rain-barrels-hooked-up-with-common-garden-hose-connectors/ http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/multiple-rain-barrels-hooked-up-with-common-garden-hose-connectors/#comments Sat, 01 Feb 2014 03:56:20 +0000 http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/?p=5816 The post Multiple rain barrels hooked up with common garden hose connectors appeared first on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener.

Last summer I setup some cheap rain barrels which I describe in this post which worked great though had one major flaw.  If you wanted to do some maintenance or add any new barrels you would have to literally have to saw them apart.  This time around I came up with a design that is […]

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The post Multiple rain barrels hooked up with common garden hose connectors appeared first on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener.

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Last summer I setup some cheap rain barrels which I describe in this post which worked great though had one major flaw.  If you wanted to do some maintenance or add any new barrels you would have to literally have to saw them apart.  This time around I came up with a design that is not only simple but can be done with almost no tools and uses common garden hose connectors.

Materials needed

 

Construction

Knowing Pascal’s principle I wanted to take advantage of all the height I could safely get.  I chose to elevate my rain barrels by taking cinder blocks 2 wide and 3 high.  I then place two 4”X4” lumber cut at 4 foot lengths to provide a few additional inches of height, but also provide some room for my connections under the barrels.

Now I have a firm foundation not it is time to get these barrels hooked together so I can get maximum water pressure and access to the water in all of the barrels.

The caps on the barrels (pretty common) I picked up had a nice feature of including some nice threads on the inside of them.  This provides me a nice 1 inch thread I can get a nice tight seal.  The only problem these are sealed closed.

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Not having a drill bit just under one inch in diameter I used a pocket knife to carefully cut the inner cap off being careful to not harm the threads.

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Whats also great about this threads is they match that of standard garden hose connections.  So my taking the male end of one of the garden hose splitter with a 4-5 wrappings in Teflon plumbers tape and screw it into the cap you opened up in the previous step.  Repeat this process for all of your remaining rain barrels.

Note: This addition of Teflon plumbers tape is technically optional should be water tight without this but seems like a cheap insurance for the alternative of having a slow leak under your barrels.

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Next add one end of male the garden hose to the end you typically would hook up to your faucet and hook the other end (other male end created using Male garden hose mender mentioned above.  For this I cut an old garden hose which had a couple leaks in it to proper length since obviously 25 feet of hose between barrels would be some serious overkill.

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If you have more than two rain barrels you can then use short lengths of typical garden hose (one male/one female) and link them together in a similar manner.

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For overflow I went with a pretty simple option of drilling a hole and manually threading a pipe fitting that attached to piece of tubing (easy finds at your local home improvement store)

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Better picture of overflow…this tube goes right down to the drain the water used to flow down with the drain spout.  So once all the barrels are full all the excess water will just flow down here.

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Speaking of the drain spout I used some cheap vinyl drain pieces to redirect the water into a 3 inch hole I cut in the top of the barrels.

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I added a piece of screen to filter out the leaves and little piece of sediment that may come from the roof.  I also screwed on a plastic lid I scavenged from the recycling bin which I cut a matching 3 inch hole into.  This had a decent lip on the lid to help direct the water into the barrels when the rain starts coming down pretty hard.

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Overall I really like how this came out.  Not only does this allow me to easily add new rain barrels and I decide to add them but I also with the valves on the 2 way garden hose splitter I can easily start/stop flow from any barrel and do maintenance on another barrel without having to draining all of the water from the system.

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Making your own potting soil http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/making-your-own-potting-soil/ http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/making-your-own-potting-soil/#comments Sat, 25 Jan 2014 21:49:24 +0000 http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/?p=5802 The post Making your own potting soil appeared first on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener.

The last few years have bought a bag or two of potting soil for my spring planting though each year I am disappointed when I open the bag containing a bunch of bark , twigs, gravel, and even several pretty large rocks. This year I have decided to make my own potting soil with very […]

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The post Making your own potting soil appeared first on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener.

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The last few years have bought a bag or two of potting soil for my spring planting though each year I am disappointed when I open the bag containing a bunch of bark , twigs, gravel, and even several pretty large rocks.

This year I have decided to make my own potting soil with very little effort and much less cost.  Given I just recently harvested my compost bin and got about 15 gallons of screened compost as my starting point to make my own mix.

CVG Potting Soil Recipe

Ingredients:
Directions:

Add all ingredients to 20 gallon trash container.  Mix thoroughly with large shovel until everything is well incorporated.  Cover with lid with several holes drilled in the top (otherwise moisture+no light = mold growth)

 

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You can use a smaller container than 20 gallons but would not recommend one smaller or it can be a decent reach to get the last of the soil out of the bottom…

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