Understanding Manure For Your Home Vegetable Garden

I love the scene in the television show Seinfeld where character George Costanza, played by actor Jason Alexander, is talking to a female named Kelly, played by actress Tracy Kolis, about his love of the word manure. The funny line is, “when you consider the other choices, manure, is pretty refreshing.” Of course Kelly cuts the date short as she finds talking about the subject pretty strange.

Had Kelly been a vegetable gardener she might have gone off on a tangent as to the wonderful benefits manure has for your home vegetable garden. I guess the “show about nothing” did not want to take that route.

Manure from the proper sources (I’ll get to that in a moment) presents you with a great opportunity to add much needed nutrients back into the soil and with seasoned manure from these same sources, you can brew a wonderful elixir called manure tea. We’ll cover manure tea sometime in the future.

Here is how manure works to benefit your home vegetable garden. Manure is nothing more than organic matter that contains tremendous amounts of nutrients your vegetable plants can use, such as nitrogen. However, in order for your plants to use those nutrients they must be released from the manure. The only way this can occur is to have a higher life form feed on the manure (yeah I know it sounds gross) such as worms that then release their own castings that plants then use. This is just a basic overview of course.

There are both good and bad manures that you need to know about. Your dog, cat and human manure is bad. It can be toxic to your plants as well as the underlying ecosystem. Do not use these manures. Good manure comes from sources such as cows, horses, chickens and other types of grain or grass fed live stock.

Now that you know how manure works and what the good types of manure are, the next obvious step is to know how to add it to your home vegetable garden. Simply add the manure to your garden and mix it in with your soil. The important part, which I will get into in a moment, is knowing exactly at what time of the year you should be adding it. Make sure you mix it in thoroughly with a pitchfork, broad fork or tiller.

This step is crucial in the adding stage and that is what time of the year should it go in. If you have fresh manure, meaning it is less than 6 months old (yeah I know who keeps the dates on this stuff), then it is recommended that you mix the manure into your soil at the end of your growing season, which for most of us is in the autumn months. If you have seasoned manure then you should add it no later than 4 weeks before planting. This gives it plenty of time to start releasing all of those wonderful nutrients.

So where do you get manure? You could buy it at a local home or garden center, but why do that if you can get it for free from a local horse or cow farm. Just check on websites such as Craigslist in the farm and garden section. Also, if you do find someone that is willing to give you some manure, make sure the livestock are not fed with any types of grain or feed that contain chemicals. Those chemicals could be passed to the manure.

There is no question that adding manure to your home vegetable garden has tremendous benefits. Knowing where to get it, what kind to use and how to add it is just as important to know.

About the Author
Mike is the administrator for the largest vegetable gardening group on Facebook and the very popular Seeds of the Month Club. You can now join the Seeds of the Month Club risk-free.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Michael_C_Podlesny/125919


Home Herb Gardening Made Simple

You can easily have a home herb garden at home by following a few simple steps and maintenance. Though you may think growing home herb gardens is not something as essential as tomatoes or bell peppers, you will have many uses for your home grown herbs and will see how much money you begin to save at the local market.

The first step to knowing which herbs to grow is to look and see which you use. There you can make a list of the spices you use the most and the seeds you need to purchase in order to start growing. As you begin to scope out an area for creating your own home herb garden, look for soil that has a good amount of drainage. You want to insure that if your soil gets accidentally overwatered, it does not drown your seeds. If your soil does not have adequate drainage, dig a small hole about a foot into the ground and place a rock that is broken in half. Replace the dirt and this will allow your water to have the proper run-off it needs.

Do not think you need to purchase starter plants in order to have a home herb garden. Growing herbs from seeds is just as easy as growing from a starter plant. By purchasing seeds, you will save yourself a great deal of money as well. Many herbs will grow extremely fast just from seeds. You can see some begin to sprout in less than three weeks!

One of the best things about growing home herb gardens is you can typically grow them year-round. If you want to grow indoors, most herbs that are traditionally grown outside can easily be converted to indoor greenhouses or pots. Be sure to create starter plants outdoors in the spring and transplant them into pots to grow inside throughout the winter. Always wait at least six to seven months until you harvest your herbs when growing outdoors.

Once you have harvested your herbs there are endless possibilities. You can dry them, freeze them, preserve them, etc. Give your herbs as gifts to family and friends. You can even create aromatic potpourris that are refreshing and bring a new scent to your home. If you master the green thumb at creating your own home herb garden, you can start selling your herb collections online or to locals. Try creating jellies or even homemade potpourris and selling them to consumers. A lot of people like to buy starter herbs from local growers and you will be interested to see how much profit you can make off selling your own starters. Herbs are a great way to save money, but also possibly make money!

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Follow These Tips to Grow Healthy Artichokes in Your Home Vegetable Garden

In warmer areas it can be a perennial but for most of us where the temperatures drop artichokes are an annual. Artichokes are easier to grow than you think. Simply follow these steps and you will be well on your way to a healthy artichoke harvest.

Starting with the planting depth, artichoke seeds are fairly average in size. This means you can plant them fairly deep, up to a quarter inch beneath the surface, and they will be able to push through the soil with ease.

Artichokes thrive well in warmer temperatures and even better so if you can get the ground temps to be between seventy to eighty degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 27 Celsius). If the growing time with warmer temperatures is limited in your area, then start them indoors around eight to ten weeks prior to the final frost of the season.

Many vegetable gardeners overlook the pH balance of their soil. However, this simple measurement could be the difference between artichokes thriving and merely surviving. Luckily for us vegetable gardeners, artichokes do well in a pH range from 6.5 to 8.0, meaning slightly acidic to slightly alkaline. A pH soil test kit is available at any home or garden center for about four dollars.

Now that you are ready to put your artichokes in the ground make sure you give them plenty of room between plantings. Twenty to twenty-four inches is ideal. Their roots will get plenty of room to expand, and that gives the plant plenty of space to get all the nutrients it needs to thrive.

Artichokes do well when they get plenty of sun, so make sure you put them in an area in your garden that gets a minimum of 8 hours of sunlight per day.

As for watering, artichokes like it heavy. Give them a daily dose of water or at minimum every other day. Invest in a soil moisture tester which measures the level of moisture in the soil. Keep that line on the tester above the three-quarter mark and you will be ok.

There is no question that you have the ability to grow great artichokes. It is one of the most overlooked vegetables for the home garden. Follow these tips and you will be well on your way to growing great tasting artichokes in your home vegetable garden.

About the Author
Michael C. Podlesny is the administrator for the largest Vegetable Gardening page on Facebook.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Michael_C_Podlesny/125919


5 Common Home Vegetable Garden Terms and What They Mean

Frost Zones
Here in the United States the Department of Agriculture has put together a map which sections off various regions into zones. This is done for a number of reasons as it pertains to gardening and one of them is to know when your area will be hit with frost. Frost is nothing more than ice crystals that form overnight when the temperature drops thus freezing any moisture. Plants such as tomatoes and peppers cannot withstand frost for more than a night, maybe two if you are lucky. Therefore, knowing when frost will hit your area is beneficial. A Google search on the words “frost zone map” will result in many different varieties of maps to choose from.

pH Scale
Ok, so maybe it has been a while since you had a science class. The pH scale is a measurement of how acidic or alkaline something is. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with less than 7 being acidic and more than 7 being alkaline. 7 is neutral. As it relates to vegetable gardening the pH scale is used in measuring the acidity of the soil. Ideal soil conditions range on the scale from 5.5 to 7.5. This is where most plants thrive. Some do well in soil that is more alkaline such as cauliflower in the 8.0 range, but if you keep your soil neutral to a bit more acidic you will do fine. You measure the pH level with a soil test kit or soil tester available from any home or garden center for less than $10.

Compost is organic matter than has decomposed. Most vegetable gardeners keep what is called a, ‘compost pile’. It is pile of leaves, twigs, grass clippings and other organic items. This pile breaks down over time resulting in usable, nutrient rich compost. Compost is then mixed in with your garden soil to add those nutrients in so your plants can grow and thrive. There are various kinds of composting techniques such as a compost pile, vermicomposting and trench composting to name a few.

Soil Aeration/Aerate
This is the process by which your soil obtains more air which is favorable to plants for their growth. For lawns you will see a machine used where plugs are pulled from the soil creating holes. Those holes allow air to get in. For vegetable gardeners, especially the home vegetable gardener, the pitchfork or a broadleaf fork is the tool of choice. For larger gardens, a powered garden tiller will do the trick. These tools will help you to turn the soil over and allow air to get in.

The Letters N-P-K
You have probably seen these letters on bags of fertilizers in your local home or garden center. They stand for (N)-Nitrogen, (P)-Phosphorous, and (K)-Potassium. They are the most common because they are the primary macronutrients your plants need to grow. All are very important to the growth and production of your vegetable plants. A Wikipedia search on the words “N-P-K fertilizer” will give you more in depth information.

About the Author
Michael C. Podlesny is the administrator for the largest Vegetable Gardening page on Facebook.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Michael_C_Podlesny/125919


Home Herb Garden Handiness For Hiding Bugs And More

The home herb garden is a notable expansion to a vegetable garden, or just a sizable accomplishment in the realm of self-sufficiency altogether. Herbs are remarkably flexible and have a number of diverse uses. They are perfect plucked fresh from the home herb garden and used in your favorite recipes. Of course, they are often dehydrated and stored for seasoning at a later date too. And certain herbs can be readily used as natural air fresheners.

Learning the basics of harvesting will be key to your home herb garden success. It’s important to learn the ideal time for picking. Herbs are sensitive to wind and heat, as this affects how the plants distribute their essential oils. Believe it or not, you’ll be better off harvesting herbs on still days when there is lower humidity. You can sneak in after the dew has evaporated and right before the flowers open.

You’ll have some options when harvesting from your home herb garden. You can take just what you need for a particular recipe, and always use it fresh. Yet, you might also want to get some extra while you’re out there, especially since they can be so readily dried and stored for later. If you go that route, it’s just important not to take more than about one-third of the plant at any given time, since this can stunt its growth. You need to leave enough behind for the plant to grow back and thrive.

As for loading up on extra now so you’ll have it later, there are three good ways to preserve the herbs you get from your home herb garden. First, of course, you can dry them. People like to string them together. Just clear the foliage that might be near the bottom of the stems. After you’ve bundled them, hang them out of the direct sun in some cool and dry place. Depending on the herbs you are preserving, another option is to put the individual leaves on a drying rack. You’d just want to turn them several times so they dry evenly. People have also used dehydrators or even the microwave, but air drying is best.

After drying, most folks like freezing the proceeds of your home herb garden. This is a simple approach. You can cut the herbs in small pieces and lay them on a cookie sheet. You line it with wax paper first, however. Freeze them all. Once done, they can go in a storage bag for convenient later use.

A less popular, though equally viable, option for preserving herbs is through a medium. In this case you’re taking the items from your home herb garden that are appropriate for being put in salt or vinegar. Examples would be mint, tarragon, or basil. With salt, you just layer the herbs and alternate with layers of salt. After they are dried, you just remove them from the salt and save in a Ziploc bag.

Still, if you are a fan of grabbing goodies from your home herb garden for immediate use, there’s nothing like that freshness. They can be easily cleaned by putting them in a bowl of cool water. You can always use the sink too if you have a lot. A little bit of salt is useful to get out tiny bugs that might be hiding!

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