Monday, May 30, 2011

"How To" Organic Gardening: HOW TO PLANT ONION SETS

"How To" Organic Gardening: HOW TO PLANT ONION SETS: "In the April article Companion Planting several site were given with lists of companion planting guides. Although these guides suggested ch..."


In the April article Companion Planting several site were given with lists of companion planting guides.  Although these guides suggested chive as a good companion plant for tomatoes I did not want my chive(perennial) in the main garden so I would have to dig up later.  I am going to try substituting onion around my tomatoes instead.

 I am planting onion sets close to the bottom of my tomato cages.  The tomatoes(caged) should not shade my onions much and close to the bottom of the cages will prevent me from stepping on them.  When the tomatoes are fully grown, getting close to the bottom of the cages is not necessary for picking and the onions should be ready to pull about the time the tomatoes are done producing.  I will also be planting marigolds with the tomatoes as well.

onion sets, blunt end(root) in ground, pointed end up
Onions sets are "set" into the ground about 1 inch deep and about 2 to 3 inches apart.  If you are trying to achieve the large fall onions as I am I will set my plants about 3 inches apart.

See the HOW TO PLANT ONION SETS for an illustration of planting.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

"How To" Organic Gardening: Direct Mulching

"How To" Organic Gardening: Direct Mulching: "I have talked about mulching around your plants and how that organic matter will break down during the summer and feed your plants as well a..."

Direct Mulching

I have talked about mulching around your plants and how that organic matter will break down during the summer and feed your plants as well as help with weed control.

Mulching your vegetable garden or flowers plot with other organic matter that you would rather not just sit on top of the ground can be down in several ways.  You can construct a mulch pile by starting with a layer of dirt, maybe 4 to 6 inches, adding organic matter such as vegetable or fruit peels, coffee grounds,  which would include your coffee filters,grass clippings, leaves etc then adding another layer or dirt and alternating until the mulch bin was full and then start another one.  Turning the mulch pile(airing it) from time to time will help the organic breakdown or you can just let it sit and it will break down on its own but will take a little longer.

My Grandmother and Father would do direct mulching.  That is, they would put any of the kitchen leavings in a trench or just dig a hole and cover it.  I think this was more a process of disposing of "messy" garbage for my grandmother than it was organic gardening at first.  Time was, regular garbage pick up was not available so digging a hole and covering with dirt was a sanitary way of disposing of kitchen and garden waste.  When people could see that grass or garden vegetable would thrive over these "holes" the light bulb went off that this must be a good thing.  Of course, Native American Indians could have told you that before the light bulb.

It is an absolute must that all refuse be covered well with dirt.  If you don't, you are giving a fertile breeding ground for files and misquotes and more to lay eggs to reek havoc on your garden and make your gardening experience miserable.

Since I don't have a much pile to dump winter refuse into I put my winter waste into tightly closed plastic containers and set them on my porch.  My porch is cool and the tightly covered containers keep the smell at bay.  Then in the Spring I can dig a ditch, pour in the winter gold and cover.  This feeds the garden globally where the mulching around the plant during the growing season feeds the plants directly.

Organic matter will break down to encourage worms to visit your garden and when rototilled in, break up any type of clay soil you have all the while adding great vegetable or flower food to your beds.

Meat product should not be put into your garden, it encourages meat eating animals to visit and dig in your garden.  If you want to add chicken, beef or pork bones to your garden make sure your holE is at leas 8 to 12 inches deep and add lime to the hole.  The lime will break down the bones faster and keep the smell under check to keep meat eating animals(dogs) from digging in your garden.  Bone meal and fish meal are sold commercially and are great additives for your garden but it they still smell good...dogs and cats will dig for them.  If you fish, clean your fish into a bucket and added the fish guts and bones to the garden with a little lime.

BOTTOM LINE:  Only paper, plastic and metal products should be going into the garbage can if you plant a garden almost anything else can go into your garden.  Save our planet and bury your organic garbage, even in the flower beds or just in your lawn. Dig around a clup of lawn and take the grass off top.  Dig your hole, deposit the organic matter, put the dirt back in and top with your grass plug.  Tamp into the ground and voila lawn fertilizing.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

"How To" Organic Gardening: Onion or garlic Chive, planting and drying

"How To" Organic Gardening: Onion or garlic Chive, planting and drying: "About a month ago a friend(Susan) told me to stop by and dig up some Onion and garlic Chive. She had more than she needed and I could have ..."

Onion or garlic Chive, planting and drying

About a month ago a friend(Susan) told me to stop by and dig up some Onion and garlic Chive.  She had more than she needed and I could have as much as I wanted.  So I took her up on it.

digging up chives
Susan lives in a beautiful place on 2.5 acres in Central Illinois that her and her husband are renovating.  Unfortunately my video camera was not working so I only got a very stills to share on digging up the chives.  As with most things I dig up I use the potato fork to pry plants out of the ground.

Chives are also good for companion planting.  Plant these in among your flowers for a great green back drop or around your garden.

Onion chive
The onion chive leaf most people are familiar with.  They are long, slender hollow leaves.  These leaves can be picked at anytime during their growth, short, medium or tall.  This plant is a favorite of window box gardens and pots right outside the kitchen door.  Fresh chive is ready for all those dip recipes.  Both types of chives will flower and the flower is edible.  Put these fragrant tasty flowers in your fresh salads to add color and flavor.  The onion chive has small purple flowers similar in shape to clover flowers.

flowering chive

The group of chive on the right would make about 1/2 of an 8 oz jar of dried chive.

The garlic chive has flat hollow leaves and be used and dried in the same way onion chives is used and dried.
Garlic Chive

The garlis chive has larger white flowers.  These chive can be planted around the edges of your garden to deter bugs and within your flower beds as really effective green back drop that is edible.

To dry the chive, cut some leaves about 3 inches above the base of the chive plant.  You plant will create addition leaves all summer long so don't worry about killing it or not having enough fresh fro cooking.  Chive is a perennial and I have planted mine on one edge of the garden for future use and divided some of the clumps into smaller clumps to sell at the Farmers Market.

Planting chive here on the other side of trees

When you have a small bunch cut bring inside and run water over to rinse off any dirt and then cut in 1/8 to 1/4 pieces for drying.
Cut Chive

Then I put my cut chive in a container lined with paper towel to absorbs moisture and let set on my kitchen table to dry.  This can take a week to two weeks.
drying chive
Once the chive is dry, store in a jar that will close tightly.

Store in a cool dry place just as you store your other herbs.  The best way to store any herb is a dark bottle.  That is why the "canned" spices will be fresher longer than the clear bottle spices.

Here is the video on HOW TO DRY CHIVE.
Do you dry any herbs from your garden or grow herbs for your summer cooking?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"How To" Organic Gardening: Plant Tomatoes

"How To" Organic Gardening: Plant Tomatoes: "It has been some time since my last post because my cameras decided to go South just when I need them. Now that I have them replace I can i..."

Plant Tomatoes

It has been some time since my last post because my cameras decided to go South just when I need them.  Now that I have them replace I can illustrate planting the garden again.  Sorry for the delay.

I had to go ahead and plant quite a bit of the garden so we will go backward and times with a description of how things got started by we will primarily go forward.


Plant Starts
I had some good success with growing my own tomato starts this year, third year trying it and first year getting a crop to start with so that saved some money on buying plants.  This year in my area a garden center is charging $1.90 for four plants, Orschleins started by charging $1.90 and reduced to $1.79 for six pack and looks like Wal-mart is charging $1.90 for a six pack.  The three types of seeds cost me $5.00 and I got over a dozen cherry tomatoes and Romas and a couple of Beefmasters.  So I had to buy a dozen slicing tomatoes.  I have enough Cherry tomatoes and Roma tomatoes left over to take to the Farmers market to see if I can get a few coins there, maybe make up for buying some.

Plant in soil to finger mark
When you plant tomatoes you want to dig a hole that is deeper than the top of your dirt in the starter pot.  Bury them up to at least the first leave level, the second leaf level is the best.  Tomatoes will sprout roots all the way up their stems, so planting up to the first or second leaf level give you more root coverage and stability for the plant.

Know your soil.  Buy a soil tester or ask gardeners in your area about the soil quality.  Unless someone has prepared your soil for good balance, the soil in your  area will be like everyone else's.   In my area the soil is calcium deficient, lots of clay.  The organic matter you provide will start to break up the clay as you turn it under year after year but will not add enough calcium for tomato plants.  In Missouri int soil is calcium deficient.  Add about 1 cup of calcium, or  gypsum to your soil and work it in with a hoe before planting.  This is supposed to help your tomato plant absorb the calcium they need.  In extremely wet seasons tomatoes have a hard time absorbing the nutrients they need from the soil to make good tomatoes and adding calcium in some form to the soil is supposed to help with this.  BLOSSOM END ROT  is another symptom of not enough calcium and too much water.  In very wet, rainy seasons it is difficult to have a well drained area for your garden(probably a good reason for raised bed gardens).  Last year was the first year I knew about adding calcium to the soil and I was glad I did when the season turned out to be very wet.  I had a good tomato crop while others were complaining about blossom end rot and bad production.

Once the tomato is planted surround the plant with organic matter, grass clippings, straw, shredded paper or whatever you have.  This method will keep the weeds away from your plants, provide constant moisture and as it decays feed.  This organic matter can then be plowed under to rot more through the winter months preparing your garden for next season.  NEVER put new manure directly next to your plants.  If you have found a source for manure, great but make sure it sits or is applied away from you plants until it breaks down a little or it will burn your plants.

Now you are ready to add stakes.  Although staking tomatoes is not mandatory, most gardeners will.  You can buy a variety of bush tomatoes but the production out put is not as good.  Commercial grower will stake their tomatoes in a row and string twine down each row from stake to stake, I have not tried that yet and maybe that is a test for next year.  This year I will be staking individually with wire cages and surrounding stakes with string.

You can use wire cages to surround your tomatoes to keep them off the ground.  Use concrete wire or pig wire, that is wire fencing that has at least a 6 inch square hole.  You have to be able to reach inside the cage to get your tomatoes, so a 6 inch holes in necessary.   I have some cages given to me that stand about 4 foot tall but you can get wire that is as tall(wide) as you want it. Form a round cage out of wire that is at least 18 inch to 2 foot in diameter.  I cut the wire in the middle of one of the horizontal pieces of wire all the way up one end of the wire which give me enough to wrap around the other end of the wire to secure it together.  Then when cutting the next piece from the roll of wire I cut close to the vertical piece to I have a straight edge to attach the other end to.  Then the third piece is cut in the middle again until I have all the wire used.

Once the cages are made, place one over the tomato plant and position it so the tomato plant is in the middle of the cage.   Twist the cage to mark where the cage will be secured.  Remove the cage and dig a 6 inch trench around the plant.  Place your cage back down around the plant and cover the bottom of the cage with soil and tamp in.  Then take a heavy wire or wooden stakes and weave it into the cage on one side and pound into the ground.  Once tomatoes are large enough to fit the cages they lean heavily on the cages causing them to fall over and wind will knock them over unless they are secured into the ground.  Move your mulch back into the cages.  I am planting onions around some of my tomatoes and some marigold plants around others to help keep bugs off my plants.


Cloth staking
To make "stake" type cages.  Use stakes that are 4 foot to 6 foot long.  You will need to pound into the ground at least 6 inch and 12 inches is better.  Put stakes about 12 inches from the base of the plant, I use three stakes per plant in a triangle shape but 4 stakes can be used in a square.  You can use two stakes and I will talk about that next.  Using the three or four stake method you can tie your tomatoes as they grow to the stakes or just create a cage with cotton string around them.  I will use the three stake method to create a "cloth" cage and talk about the tieing method with the single or two stake method.

Having the stakes in the ground, tie a piece of cotton string(cotton is important, it degrades when polyester will not), I use cloth(torn up sheets or t-shirts work great)around the first stake, pulling tight to next stake, winding around the second stake twice, then on the the third stake.  The wither start a new string or wind the original up about 1 inch and then around the stakes again forming a cage.  I will wind string up about 12 to 18 inch and then come back as necessary to wind more.  The cherry tomatoes usually grow about 6 foot tall where the roma and beef master tend to be shorter at the 4 to 5 foot height.  If you use string use a fairly heavy string because string the size of let says kite string is to small and will break and cut into the tomato when it leans on the cage.


My dad would use a single stake to stake our tomatoes.  He would use a six to eight foot pole, at least 6 foot  out of the ground and pound the stake in the ground 12 to 18 inches.  This single pole held the entire plant so it is essential to have a sturdy stake substantially placed into the ground.   Place a single stake about 6 inches from the plant, another directly opposite if you are going to use two stakes.  Then wait until you plant grows tall enough to be tied.  As you plant grows, put a piece of string(sloth strip) around the main stem of the plant, cross the strip and tie onto the stake.  Alternate from one side to the other as the plant grows.  Larger limbs of the tomato can be secure in the same way.  Best just to show you as the season progresses.

My stakes are in place now and I am waiting for the harvest.  We will be spraying a solution of Epson salts on the tomatoes and other plants to prevent some bugs and again help the plants absorbs the nutrients they need to create great vegetables.  So more later on tomatoes.  Take a look at the PLANTING TOMATOES video for planting tomatoes and INSTALLING METAL TOMATO CAGES or using STAKES AND STRING for webbing to stake your tomatoes.

How do you stake your tomatoes?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"How To" Organic Gardening: Companion Planting

"How To" Organic Gardening: Companion Planting: "When a person is organic gardening, bugs and weeds become an issue that needs to be solved. Since commercial fertilizers, insecticides ..."

Companion Planting

When a person is organic gardening, bugs and weeds become an issue that needs to be solved.  Since commercial fertilizers, insecticides and weed inhibitors can not be considered then other methods need to be found.  After all if you wanted to eat more of the same save yourself the trouble and buy at the grocery store, they have plenty of artificial products and hormonally changed products and who knows what to ingest all for the ready.

Last year I had lots of bugs on my pumpkins and various squash plants which destroyed the pumpkins, luckily the cucumbers and acorn squash escaped it but the zucchini and pumpkins did not.  I keep researching it and found that picking off the bugs was one solution, not one I like or will do; I will have to find another solution.

COMPANION PLANTING is one solution I knew about but never really tried.  This year is my trial year.  Companion gardening/planting is planting different types of plants inter dispersed with each other to help with bugs and weeds.  Planting onions and lettuce together, using corn for bean poles, marigolds for bug repellent, or sunflowers for bird perches are just some of the suggestions.  The Mother Earth News has one of the best articles on companion planting that I have seen so far.  Unfortunately, if you want to read it you will have to order or find one to buy because they are not publishing it on the web site, publication April/May 2011 on the news stands until May 23, 2011.

If you are planting a garden and have had success with companion planting let us in on your secrets.    

Marigolds: are supposed to do lots for a bug deterrent and the roots are supposed to control the bad nematodes(Nematodes are the most numerous multicellular animals on earth.  A handful or soil  will contain thousands of the microscopic worms, many of them parasites of insects, plants or animals. Free-living species are abundant, including nematodes that feed on bacteria, fungi, and other nematodes, yet the vast majority of species encountered are poorly understood biologically.)  Apparently rabbits don’t like marigolds either and many bugs just stay away from areas with marigolds; who knew.

French Marigolds(T. patula) and the Mexican Marigolds(T.  minuta) are supposed to be the best ones and if you want more information on those go to  Golden Harvest Organic Garden

I don’t know what kind of marigold seeds I have, just cheap seeds but I am going to plant them and then look for the seeds above and see how much they cost.

Golden Harvest Organics  has a great list of plants and their effects on various plants and pests.

Nematodes, destructive to vegetable gardens, a good guide to various vegetables. 

Nematodes associated with corn, potatoes, soybeans, turf, tree orchards and vineyards

Onions need to be planted with leafy greens like lettuce and spinach.  Unfortunately I didn’t know that at the time I planted my spinach and lettuce but as I harvest it or find gaps in the planting I will be adding onion sets.   As I plant the rest of my onion sets I am going to plant the radishes.  Part of this idea is deterring bugs, part is the leafy type plants shade the areas and prevent weeds from growing close.

Nasturtium: are supposed good for deterring aphids, squash bugs, and striped pumpkin beetles, and improving growth and flavor; plus you can eat the flowers, leaves and seeds.  I will definitely be planting these around my pumpkins, cucumbers and squash.  Whether I eat this or not has not been determined.

Lavender:  Are good for controlling white flies and moths, plus great for the potpourri.

The Iroquois Indians (Native Americans) did companion planting that was well developed and wide spread.  The tradition of the three sisters is interesting reading and well worth trying.  Renee's Garden has a great article on this Native  American tradition and a great story to pass along to the youngsters ( a fun history lesson).

Do you have a pest issue?  Have you solved it or need some help?  Let us know what your remedies and problems are, maybe all of us can use it or have a solution for you.  Don’t forget to take picture of your garden as you are planting and harvesting and share, we would love to see them.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


"How To" Organic Gardening: HOW TO MAKE ORIS ROOT FOR POTPOURRI: "Over grown iris lot My seedlings have been plants and they are sitting outside growing well. I have roma tomatoes, beefsteak tom..."


Over grown iris lot

My seedlings have been plants and they are sitting outside growing well.  I have roma tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, dill, bell pepper, cucumbers and lavender have all started growing well. 

I have my lettuce started in the no till area of my garden and I have planted a few onion sets (which I will show you how to plant) just as soon as my new video camera arrives; my other one died.   I won’t be time to plant the main garden for a couple of weeks yet

Dug up Iris
In thinking about potpourri that I want to make later this fall for the Christmas season, one of the things on my list was oris root.  This root chopped or ground is thought to be the staple fragrance in potpourri.  Upon further investigation I found out that oris root is iris root.  Yes, just the flower iris, using the rhizome root chopped or ground.  Further investigation showed that oris root is $6.00 to $7.00 per 4 oz.  

Well I have plenty of iris so I am going to make my own for the cost of drying time.

Iris Rhizome

As shown in the picture I have plenty of iris I can dig up and use without worrying that I won’t have any flowers; so I am.   The lot of iris is very weedy so it needs to be cleaned up anyway.

Those of you that would like to join me in experimenting on how to dry and use oris root I am going to offer 3 to 4 roots for the cost of shipping.  No charge from me just from the post.  It will ship in a flat rate box and sell for .99 cents.  By the time I pay Ebay for the auction and Pay Pal for the privilege of collecting your money, I am giving these away. 
Rhizome to sell

For those of you that want to plant these, feel free, I am including a few pieces that don’t have much root but are perfectly good for planting in case this works well and you want more oris root next year and the years to come.  Each box should contain 6 or more rhizomes and should make 4 oz. or more of chopped oris.

If you have plenty of iris yourself, join me.  Dig some up and lets try drying for  use later in the year.

Close up of Rhizome

This will be a great experiment if all of you will join in drying and chopping up your roots.  We will compare notes for the best results.  In case you just have to know, these are purple iris, nothing special about the color or type, just plain ‘ole iris.  Send me your comments when you get your package.  



Clean the Rhizome


According to the instructions I am getting from surfing the net you clean the roots and  then:

Some places say chop up others say strip the bark of the root off, then chop.  We will try both ways.

Clean all the dirt off your rhizomes, removing all roots.

Peeled rhizomes
Unpeeled cleaned rhizomes

If you smell the root while it is green there is no smell but it is said as soon as they are dry or as they are drying the smell comes through.  It is supposed to smell like violets.

Chopping the roots are like chopping up potatoes.  I chopped up in small pieces which will make it goof for potpourri and easy to make powder.

Cut out bad spots

 If you run across and bad spots in the root make sure you cut those out.  If you don't this will cause mold and decay during the drying process.

Left-peeled root, Right unpeeled root chopped

Place your chapped pieces on a piece of paper or paper towel to dry. 

on paper or paper towel to dry

If you have a large pile like I do, make sure you turn them a couple of time a day to get even drying and prevent rot.

To locate me on Ebay use this link.  I sell other things as well but not so many that a page search will bring the oris root up.


If you want to see additional information on oris root try some of these links.

Oris Root:Fixative for Potpourri

Oris Root: Mountain Herbs

Sunday, April 3, 2011

"How To" Organic Gardening: Creating a NO Till Orgnaic Garden Space

"How To" Organic Gardening: Creating a NO Till Orgnaic Garden Space: " I have never created a no till garden space but I started reading about how to do one and decided I would try that in a space I had al..."

Creating a NO Till Orgnaic Garden Space

 I have never created a no till garden space but I started reading about how to do one and decided I would try that in a space I had already being using as a garden.  Apparently, to keep weeds down it is suggested to till your garden in the fall to freeze any weeds seeds that may have gotten into the garden.  It is also suggested to till in the fall so your garden is ready for the Spring plants and your garden is too wet yet to till.  Well I didn't till last fall and I wanted my cool weather garden in so I am try no till gardening.  I hope it works, if it does, yeah, no more waiting on the weather to till the garden.  I will be trying to till my garden in the fall to make this process easier.  The picture to the right is a view of the no till area I will be using.
I will be laying down  at least 4 layers of newspaper on the ground and then adding at least 6 inches of shredded paper on top of that.  I am leaving about four inches between this layer of mulch to add my spinach and lettuce seeds as pictured on the left.  These row are about 20 foot long.  I use about one package of seeds per row.  Have a watering can handy and water down the sheet paper then put down the shredded paper or straw then wet it down again.  It does not have to be soggy just wetted.

Lettuce and Spinach like the cooler weather so these can be planted in Missouri just as soon as you can work the ground.  Usually in Missouri the snow is done by the end of February so I thought I was safe planting mid such luck we had a dusting of snow the third week of March.  I don't think it hurt the seeds I had already put in and if helped wetting down the paper so it
wouldn't fly away.  I had three rows in by the time it snowed, two rows of spinach and one row of Butterhead lettuce.  We will see if the snow hurt, since the ground did not freeze it is probably ok.

I got my shredded paper from a local company.  I suggest to contact any company that may shred their paper and ask if you can recycle it.  Good for the environment and great for them as it saves on trash space.

I started putting sheet paper and shredded paper down on one side of the row and then down on the other side.  All subsequent rows became easier as I only had to put one row of organic matter down before planting.
Once the paper was down on both sides of the row I use my potato fork to loosen dirt to plant the seeds.  Then I loosened the dirt more with my hands and created a furrow for the seeds, put the seed in the furrow and covered with dirt.  I found this to be a lot of work.  So the second row I did I hoed the dirt next the the paper then put my row of paper down next to that.  This was an easier way to have the dirt ready for the seeds.
The thick paper on both side of the row are supposed to keep the weeds down.  Of course the weeds will grow up where you are planting the seeds but those are easily identified and pulled. Since you are only pulling weeds in the seed row and not the space between the row this will save lots of back breaking work hoeing and pulling.

Putting a 6 inch layer of raw organic matter between the rows really works, plus this layers allows you to walk in the wettest gardens without getting muddy.  I was picking vegetables right after a major rain storm where it was extremely muddy and got very little mud on my shoes.  Great way to garden, saves on weeding, feeds the plants as the matter decays, gets rid of garbage (re leaving the land fills) and allows all weather picking.  NOTE:  straw or leaves can also be used.

I will be putting in 4 additional rows of lettuce and as I pick the spinach and lettuce I will replant one more time before it is too hot to grow the cool weather plants.

Friday, April 1, 2011

"How To" Organic Gardening: Making Organic Soil for Your Organic Garden

"How To" Organic Gardening: Making Organic Soil for Your Organic Garden: "The organic gardening website is a good source for learning how to make and use Organic material. &n..."

Making Organic Soil for Your Organic Garden

The organic gardening website 
is a good source for learning how to make and use Organic material.

A compost pile can be created at any time of the year, added to through out the year and the materials produced by your compost pile are all the fertilizer you will need to create that perfect garden.

This video series   
is a good one for learning how to create a compost pile, what ingredients you can use for creating a compost pile, and the essential necessity for turning and constantly aerating your compost pile.


Table scraps like
Banana peels
Egg shells
The outside leaves of lettuce, cabbage etc.
Broccoli or cauliflower stems(not good for worm beds)
Potato peels
Any vegetable or fruit peelings or leavings after trimming
Grass trimmings
Wood chips
Shredded paper
Wood ash
Charcoal ash

Compost ingredients ideally should be shredded or chopped up in pieces.

Compost layers need to be layered with soil, one layer compost ingredients, one layer dirt.  Ideally the compost needs to be aerated about once a week.   Use a potato fork to lift the ingredients and turn.  If your compost seems dry add water.  Compost should be moist, not sopping wet but moist.

Compost will take at least 2 months before you start seeing the dark soil filled with the organic microorganisms, but it is never too late to start your compost.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

"How To" Organic Gardening: Organizing for the Farmers Market

"How To" Organic Gardening: Organizing for the Farmers Market: "While it is still too early to plant I am going to plan for the Farmers Market. Last year(2010) I tried various set ups and this ye..."

Organizing for the Farmers Market

While it is still too early to plant I am going to plan for the Farmers Market.  Last year(2010) I tried various set ups and this year I will do the same.  I have made some aprons I will try to sell and then I am going to try dried spices and fresh and dried herbs.  I am also going to try fresh pastas and some sauces to expand my market.

I didn’t have apple butter last year or any of the canned, picante’s, pickles and canned jalapenos to start the season, this year I will.

I am also doing research on all the Farmers Markets with a close proximity to see how they set up and sell as well as I will try to visit some of the Organic Farms within Missouri to see how they process their products and what they are successful in selling.

One of the major differences between the Farmers Market here in Louisiana that I attend and some that I visit in St. Louis and surrounding areas is the time in which they are open.  Most open from Wednesday to Sunday, the one in Louisiana is open only on Saturday only.  Louisiana charges $5.00 for the one day while others will charge $10.00 for weekdays and $20.00 for the weekends.  The higher charge would not benefit me as I am only making between $25.00 to $75.00 on the weekend here in Louisiana now, so my small home garden is already not suited for the bigger cities.

This booth charge difference might be a clue to those of you that have a home garden large enough to sell items yet not big enough to handle the $20.00 charge.  Look for a smaller town Farmers Market to participate in to get started.

Below are some comparisons between Missouri Farmers Markets to help you find the market that may suit you.
name   product/price/license
SOULARD MARKET  730 Carroll Street, St. Louis, MO 63104 314 622-4180
product:75% non-food: yes, weekdays $10.00, weekends: $20.00, Business License: St. Louis
Sappington 8400 Watson Rd., St. Louis, MO 63119
must qualify as Farmer
Tower Grove Northwest Dr. & Central Cross Dr.ST. Louis, MO 63139
can work with other farmers, 150 miles from St. Louis, must register farm. Weekends: $35.00
Downtown Tower Grove Locust bewtween 8th and 9th, St. Louis
can work with other farmers, 150 miles from St. Louis, must register farm.Weekends: $20.00
Clayton Farmers Market 8282 Forsyth Bloulevard, St. Louis, MO 63105
weekends: $25.00, Business License required
Florissant Farmers Market 20 S. Florissant, Florissant, MO 63135
membership + $15.00
Kirkwood Farmers Market    

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"How To" Organic Gardening: Making Planters for vegtable starts

"How To" Organic Gardening: Making Planters for vegtable starts: "If you need more ideas of planner for your garden try the the National Gardening Association.National Gardening Association Planning Guid..."

Making Planters for vegtable starts

If you need more ideas of planner for your garden try the the National Gardening Association.

Now that we have a good idea of what we want to make from our garden, the planting guide is in place and we know what we need to hunt for in seeds and plants we are going to prepare for planting in advance.

We can prepare the planters and plant seed starts inside.  This can be started about the middle of March if you have grow lights or about now if you don't and live in the Missouri, Zone 5 area.

Here are the instructions for making the Garden_Crafts seedling pots:
MATERIALS:Paper towel or toilet paper tubes
Permanent marker
Potting soil
Container that will not leak liquid, preferable an outside container.

Divide the paper towel rolls or toilet paper tubes into equal parts, mine are 2 inches long.
I use a ruler with a pencil held at the 2 inch mark and then rotate the paper tube around against the pencil, with the end of the tube remaining at the end of the ruler.
Make a hole in the paper tube with a scissors and cut around at the mark.

Place the cut tubes into a container that will hold water. I use an outdoor container that later will have other
annual plants. Use something you can move easily outdoors after the seedling have sprouted.
Fill the cut tube with potting soil. Use potting soil that does not container fertilizer, I usually find my at the Dollar Store type outlets. The potting soil with fertilizer is formulated for flowers and will not supply your vegetables with the right kind of nutrients and if you want to organic garden the commercial fertilizer defeats the purpose.
Add your seeds based on the instructions on the back of your packages. Keep moist.
Yogurt cups could also be used for containers. They will not break down organically but they are great to use instead of buying plastic containers. Poke holes in the bottom and place in containers just like the card board ones.
To see a video on how to make these: How to Organic Vegetable planters

NEXT: will be planting the lettuce and spinach, the cold crop.  Lettuce and spinach can be planted now in Missouri, they don't mind cooler weather so we are going to try no till gardening with these crops.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

"How To" Organic Gardening: Organic Garden Planning - lettuce, peppers & potpo...

"How To" Organic Gardening: Organic Garden Planning - lettuce, peppers & potpo...: "We are continuing the planning process with a couple different kinds of lettuce, radishes, spinach, cilantro and jalapeno, chili and bana..."

Organic Garden Planning - lettuce, peppers & potpouri

We are continuing the planning process with a couple different kinds of lettuce, radishes, spinach, cilantro and jalapeno, chili and banana peppers.

Lettuce, spinach and radishes seeds will be planted directly into the garden.  I will try to plant Butterhead, Baby Romaine, Red Leaf and Green Leaf Lettuce,  I like the curly leaf spinach so I will be planting that along with red and white radishes.

I am going to try to plant my lettuces and spinach in raised plots.  I first have to dig out lots of iris’s.  I am going to dry those roots or Potpourri.

Jalapeno Peppers
A hot pepper with spicy, pungent fruits for cooking a pickling,  Fruits mature from green to a deep red color.
10 to 20

 Red Cayenne
Hot peppers add zest to sauces, salads, stews and dips. This pepper can also be pickled or dried for later use.  Can be picked gree but is spiciest when red
10 to 20
75 to 85

bannana peppers
buy seed

The final step is to decide what I want in term of making Potpourri and some other dried ingredients to make various mixtures.

I want to have a dried mixture to make herbal butter so I am going to plant
Basil, garlic, chives, parsley, tarragon, rosemary and marjoram.

To make some hot pads and mug pads I will need
Rosemary needles and find a good source for cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice

To make up Queen’s garden, citrus and spice or rose garden potpourri I will need:

Orange peel, grapefruit peel, lemon peel, rose blooms, hips and petals from pink and red roses, orris root(my iris), bay leaves, lavender, rosemary, hibiscus pods, star of anise.

Then I am going to start some asparagus and rhubarb.  These crops take 2 to 3 years before you have a crop so we need to get them started.  Rosemary also take time to grow and if I can find some reasonable priced I will be putting in about 6 of those plants for future picking.

Next addition is planting seedlings.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

"How To" Organic Gardening: Garden Plans-Cucumbers

"How To" Organic Gardening: Garden Plans-Cucumbers: "Planning the vegetable garden(continued). We are going to continue with the planning process with cucumbers. We will need two type of cuc..."

Garden Plans-Cucumbers

Planning the vegetable garden(continued).

We are going to continue with the planning process with cucumbers.

We will need two type of cucumbers.  The pickling cucumbers for canning and last year I was selling more “small” cucumbers than I was the slicing cucumbers.  We will make dill pickles, bread and butter pickles and pickle relish.  Other than pickles we will have to plant or buy red bell peppers, green bell peppers, onions and dill.  Since fresh dill is essential for dill pickles we will have to grow that as most grocery stores will not sell this and we are not close to a Market that sells fresh dill.

Valley Green Chicago Pickling
Thick,square ended, medium green thin fruits, 6 to 7 inches, 2 1/2 inch side.  Well warted, black spines.  Can be sown indoors 4-6 weeks prior to planting.
7 to 14
50 to 60

Burpee Straight Eight
A favorite white spine, even deeply colored symmetrically shaped fruits best picked with 8 inches long.
10 to 20 days
65-75 days

Spanish onions
This is an early maturing type of onion.  Bulbs are quite large when mature.  Best when started early in flats 6 to 8 weeks before trnasplanting to insure fully mature onions.  Very mild in flavor.

entire see pack
110 to 120 days
4 inches
America's Choice, California Wonder Green Peppers
Popular bell pepper with a mild, delicious flavor,  Fruits are lage, smooth and thick walled.
10 to 20 days plant indoors 8 weeks before frost free weather
72 after transplanting

Uniquely flavored leaves are used in salads, dips vinegars, and meat, fish and vegetable dishes.  The seeds are essential in many pickle recipes and are used to flavor baked goods, cheese and vinegar
65 to 70
1 inch

If you noticed in the above planting schedule the onions will not be maturing early enough to use in the relishes and salsa’s.  So we are going to have to find an onion that matures earlier than the one above if we want to use our garden onions for our canned goods.

Everything above starts maturing at the 6 weeks mark so we should be selling most of this in the Farmers Market about the 2nd week of June.  We will can, on Sunday, any cucumbers that have not sold at the Farmers Market on Saturday into pickles and relishes.  These canned item need to set in the jars for about 4 weeks before the flavor is good so we should be selling our first relished and pickles about the middle of July. 

I do have some canned goods left from last year that I will take to the Farmers Market as soon as I start attending to sell Strawberries and according to the FDA these canned good are suggested to resell up to 2 years, but if sales go as good as last year I should run out of my canned goods before I start canning this year.