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.