How To Grow Okra

Okra Pods On Plant
Okra Pods On Plant

Growing Okra

It is exciting to grow your own okra. The okra vegetable is delicious, and the plant produces the most gorgeous flowers. Planting okra in your garden is simple and will enhance its beauty exponentially.

Okra comes in many varieties. Okra pods can be green, red, pink, and white. They come in a plethora of lengths and shapes. Some are short and stout while others are long and spindly. The okra plant grows quite tall, usually between 4-6 feet, so make sure you allow adequate space in your garden.

Planting Okra

The okra plant takes on average 2 months to reach maturity. They need consistently warm days to thrive, which means in many climates they cannot be planted until mid-June. For the seeds to germinate, the soil needs to be at least 65F. It is best to start by planting okra seeds indoors to get a head start on the season.

Plant the okra seeds in containers filled with rich potting soil. Put seeds in 1/2-1 inch deep. Once the seedlings have grown at least 3 leaves and there is no more chance of frost, they can be transplanted outside. Space them out 2 feet from each other with 2-3 feet between the rows.

Okra Irrigation

Okra plants should be kept well watered for the best pod production. They are quite hardy, however, and will survive minor dry spells.

When To Harvest Okra

The pods are best harvested when they are 2-3 inches long, depending on the variety. If they grow too large, they will get tough and woody. When they reach that point, they are basically inedible. Cut the pods off with a knife or shears as the stems are very tough. It is also recommended to wear gloves when cutting off the pods as many okra varieties have little spines that can cause skin irritation. Harvest the pods continuously to keep the plant producing and thriving. Okra can be harvested every day in the height of the growing season. Remove and discard any that have grown too big so the plant can focus its energy on producing new growths.

Storage Of Okra

Okra stores well at room temperature for a few days. It can also be stored in the refrigerator. Okra pods keep well in the freezer which means this wonderful vegetable can be enjoyed year-round.

 

 

How To Grow Eggplant

Eggplant Fruit
Eggplant Fruit

Eggplant (solanum melongena) of the potato family, and native to India.  This plant  usually produces dark purple fruit, however, some other colors are available.

Eggplants are an excellent addition to any garden. The variety of colors and shapes make them a fun choice for the backyard gardening venture. Growing eggplant isn’t difficult. However, Eggplants have specific requirements and need a long, warm, growing season. New eggplant seed varieties are being developed that allow for a shorter season and colder climates, so if this is a concern, seek out those varieties.

Growing Eggplant from Seed

To start, if you are planting from seed, the soil temperature needs to be between 80 F-90 F. In most locations, this requires you start the seeds indoors for the eggplant to have enough time to reach maturity. A heating mat or grow light may be necessary to keep the soil temperature up. The seedlings can be planted outside when the daytime temperature is consistently between 70F-80F. Start the seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the ideal outside temperature is anticipated.

How To transplant Eggplant Seedlings

Plant seeds in the grow pots 1/4 – 1/2 inch deep. They will need 12-14 hours of light. This is another reason a grow light may be necessary. Keep the soil moist but not water-logged.

Transplanting Eggplant Seedlings

After there is no possibility of frost and the seedling have 3-4 leaves, they can be transplanted to the garden. Planting eggplant in the garden is simple. Place the seedlings 18-24 inches apart in rows 2-3 feet apart.

How to Irrigate Eggplant

Eggplant plants demand regular and deep watering. Inadequate watering can lead to fruit drop. The plants may need to be staked, depending on what variety is planted. Tie the plants up to the stake as they grow.

When To Harvest Eggplant

Eggplants can be harvested when they reach a third of their anticipated size for the variety. This is when eggplants taste the best. The fruit should be smooth, shiny, and firm to the touch. A good ripeness test is to lightly press a thumb into the fruit and see if it bounces back. The fruit is past prime if the indentation stays. Overripe eggplant is bitter, and its seeds are large and the fruit is woody. Keep a close eye on the plants as they reach maturity so the fruit can be picked at its height.

How to Harvest Eggplants

A knife or pruning shears will be needed to cut the thick stem of the fruit. Continuously harvesting the ripe eggplant will encourage the plant to produce more.

Storing Eggplants

Eggplant should be used soon after it is harvested. Eggplant does not keep well; if necessary, store it at room temperature for 1-2 days before cooking.

Growing the Kahari Melon

Kahari Melon
Kahari Melon

The melons are a rust or copper-red with stripes of in green and cream, making this an unusually and beautiful melon. The pale green flesh is sweet, aromatic and slightly musky in taste, similar to a honeydew melon.

Planting Instructions

  • Sow in place about two weeks after the last frost of spring.
  • Plant seed about one inch deep, 12 inches apart, in rows 5 feet apart.
  • Or plant in hills, 4-5 seeds per hill, with hills about 5 feet apart.
  • In a four by four foot raised bed, I usually, plant plant a hill in a short way from each corner and let them spill over the edges and pathways. So, an out of the way bed is recommended.
  • In short-season climates, grow trans- plants indoors, starting about 1 week before last frost date and set out about 2-3 weeks after sowing; never let transplants become root-bound in their container.
  • These Melons may be trellised, but larger fruit may need a cloth sling to support each fruit ant to prevent wind damage.

Gardeners Note:

  • You may want to consider succession planting these melons, so, that you get a new harvest every two to three weeks.  Otherwise, you may find with an oversupply when they start to produce and with will allow you to pull up any vine, which may succumb to pest and/or disease.

Kahari Melon Size

  • The vines produce an abundance of 2 to 4 pound fruit.

Kahari Melon Storage

  • The melon does not store long and, therefore, should be used as soon as possible upon harvesting.

Kahari Melon Uses

  • Eaten as fresh fruit or in fresh fruit salad
  • As fresh water (our favorite method) or mixed in a smoothie


Coffee Grounds in the Garden

Coffee Beans and Grounds
Coffee Beans and Grounds

Coffee grounds are one of the kitchen wastes and business, which can be recycled in the garden. So then, the discussion becomes how to use the coffee grounds.  Using coffee grounds in the garden, basically, come down to composting. There several approaches to composting, which can be applied to coffee grounds.

The Value Of Coffee Grounds As Fertilizer

  • The three principal nutrients by which the value of fertilizer is typically measured are; Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). Measured by those nutrients, Coffee grounds do have value as a fertilizer when used as compost or applied directly as a soil

The NPK Value of Coffee Grounds

  • Nitrogen (N):28 percent
  • Phosphorus (P):06 percent
  • Potassium (K):6 percent

How Much Coffee Grounds To Use

  • When using coffee grounds as compost or when applied directly as a soil amendment, the volume of coffee grounds should be limit to more than 20 percent of the soil or mix to which it is being added. This rule applies to sheet, trench, and/or postal composting.

Coffee Grounds As Mulch

  • Coffee grounds are generally, fine ground and easily compacted so much so that they can form a barrier not allowing air and water to pass through your mulch. For this reason, coffee grounds are generally not recommended for use as mulch.

Sources of Coffee Grounds

From you Own Kitchen

  • An obvious source of coffee grounds as your own kitchen, Americans tend to drink coffee nearly every day so rather than throwing your coffee grounds in the trash toss minute compost bin and use of her garden fertilizer.

From Your Local Coffee Shop Or Restaurant

  • If you’d like to have more coffee grounds or you’re not getting enough coffee grounds for your purpose from your own kitchen, there are several local opportunities to acquire coffee grounds. In my local area, there are coffee shops like Starbucks or on the grind from which coffee grounds can be readily obtained. As a matter of fact, I’ve seen signs in the local Starbucks saying to ask the barista for coffee grounds for your garden. However, coffee shops may be an obvious choice, but there are any number of restaurants and cities and towns which can be taken advantage of with a little creative negotiation with the owner-operators.

Related References

Top 5 Ways to Preserve and Store Your Garden Harvest

Garden Vegetables
Garden Vegetables

There is always a special feeling attached to planting in a garden, seeing it grow, harvesting, preserving, storing, and then enjoying the fruits of your hard work. The periods where you have more great yields from your garden harvest are indeed a blessing, but for you to enjoy your garden produce all year round you need to learn to preserve them. Food Preservation and storage is fast becoming somewhat of a lost art, and it is quite embarrassing. Our great-grandmothers and grandmas all witnessed the basic economic movements and placed real value in learning and teaching food preservation to their daughters to take similar actions.

Some may be of the view that such skills are not as significant in this modern era, but I believe self-sufficiency is at all times very important. What necessary actions you take when you see an excellent deal at farmers marketplace or the grocery store? What is your response like when you get offers for agreement on a bushel of the harvest that always gets your attention in one way or another? What steps do you take when you get a bountiful harvest of green beans, berries, and others? There is only so much of any one food you can eat before you start losing your appetite or it begins to go wrong. If you know much about preserving your garden harvest, you can apply it and use your preserved produce all year round. Learning to protect and store your garden harvest is a practical skill we all need to utilize.

Dry Pack Frozen Strawberries
Dry Pack Frozen Strawberries

Freeze your Harvest

An excellent place to begin preserving and storing your garden harvest is by freezing it. Freezing is a unique way of storing fruits such as berries and peaches that have short lifespan especially once they are ripe. It is quite comfortable and straightforward, and anybody can do it. All you need do is cook your harvest into some preferred freezer friendly meals, or wash and blanch them before preserving them by freezing. Blanching veggies are essential for the reason that it stops enzymatic action (preserving color, flavor, texture) and eliminates bacteria.

The only real drawback of freezing is that you have a limited amount of space in your freezer. You can also develop the habit of placing labels (with dates) on frozen food as well. By taking this step, you would know the content before pulling it out to defrost and how long you preserved it in there. The following fruits freeze particularly well:

  • Blanched apples and beans (including runner and French)
  • Blueberries
  • Cranberries
  • Gooseberries
  • Peas
  • Rhubarb
  • Raspberries

Homemade Jam
Homemade Jam

Can your Harvest

Canning is amongst the most useful ways to preserving food. Most of us still have memories of our grannies canning fruits and vegetables. It is almost a lost skill that needs reviving. There are two known canning approaches:

  • Pressure Canning. And
  • Water Bath Canning.

The water bath canning is safer for most produce like fruits and jams. Nevertheless, if you wish to can meat or low-acidic veggies like green beans, you will be required to make use of pressure canning to make sure the preserving is safe. If you live in areas with considerable altitude, you also are expected to pressure can.

Everything you make can be canned, from chili and green beans to peas and pie filling too. Canning is feasibly most splendid due to its zero-space requirement in your freezer or fridge. You can also store canned foods in your basement, pantry, root cellar, or on kitchen shelves. Heck, you can preserve canned foods underneath the spare bed if you do not have enough space! Properly canned food lasts a lot more than any other means of preservation or storage.  Canning offers a great way to preserve your garden harvest and feeding your home.

If you have not done the canning process before, it is best you learn from trusted guidelines available. One of the things to bear in mind with the canning process is that higher levels of heat can affect part of the nutritious content of your canned food. So, it is worth discovering other food preservation and storing types.

Jars of Dehydrated Fruit
Jars of Dehydrated Fruit

Dehydrate your Harvest

If you lack enough space for storage, you can also consider dehydrating your food. You even can begin by making use of your oven pre-configured to its minimum level. Try drying some slices of apple, cereal, or any other food type you use in baking all through the year. You can make further exploration and make fun finger food like fruit leather, kale chips, and even dried vegetables that you can use in making soup.

Pickled Vegetables
Pickled Vegetables

Pickle  your Harvest

Another old-fashioned favorite, this method preserves and stores food by pickling it. When you hear somebody say “pickling” veggies, it at most times often implies they are keeping the vegetables in vinegar. Due to vinegar’s acetic acid constituent (should be no less than 5%), several sources say that produce conserved in it do not require to be chilled. Pickling involves dipping them in salt water made from salt, sugar, water, and other pickling spices. You also can make use of fresh leaves by inserting them in vinegar, then letting them stay close to 2 months in the dark. At this stage, you can strain them out and leave a pleasing flavored vinegar which you can use in dressings and other things.

The most frequently pickled item is obviously pickling, and it is an exceptional place to begin. But do not stop there. You can also pickle cabbage, carrots, okra, peppers, and a wider variety of other fruits and vegetables. Play with it and discover more choices you might like. Pickled plants make an excellent addition to snacks and salads all through the year. Once you begin pickling, you might just resolve to try fermentation on a bigger scale. It is a slippery slope, and you have been cautious.

Dry Beans Stored in Pantry
Dry Beans Stored in Pantry

Cold Store your Harvest

Another excellent method is the least Cold Store. It is the most straightforward means of preserving and storing food. Fruits like apples, cabbages, and root vegetables can be stored well in a cold, dark, and dry place. This storing option is the reason most houses have root cellars. Nowadays, your pantry might also be an excellent location for storing and preserving this type of product. If you are lucky to own a basement, you could smartly arrange some shelves around to keep loads of food for the coming months.

CONCLUSION

Learning a preservation and storage process for your garden harvest is vital to enjoying your hard work. Preservation and storage process for food during the harvest months are created to make your produce last long into the winter periods. Although some means might best be suited for some garden produce, you would always find a method to meet your demands. They are lots of information online relating to how to safely and adequately preserve and store your harvest. You can learn and apply such steps towards self-support and economic freedom. Learning new ways is always fun, and I can assure you would enjoy the processes involved in each of the techniques mentioned above. Yes, practice makes perfect, so whenever it is time to enjoy your garden harvest, always remember to set some aside and apply these storage techniques.

How to grow blueberries

Blueberries Planted as part of a good neighbor fence
Blueberries planted as part of a good neighbor fence

The blueberry not only bears delicious fruit high in fiber and vitamin C but does double duty as an ornamental landscape shrub. Blueberries are very easy for the home gardener to grow and enjoy.

How To Grow Blueberries

Choosing Blueberries

  • Chose blueberry varieties appropriate to you garden hardiness zone.
  • While blueberries are technically self-pollinating, the use of at least two different varieties will greatly enhance fruit size and yield.

Planting Blueberries

  • Plant with soil 1/4”- 1 1/2” above the root system
  • Spaced 4 ft. apart and mulched regularly.
  • Blueberries require an acid soil with a pH of5-5.0 with a high organic content to maintain moisture.
  • Newly-planted blueberries will need deep watering during their first spring and summer so they can establish themselves.

Ripe Blueberries On A Branch
Ripe Blueberries On A Branch

Caring For Blueberries

  • For best fruit production deep water when the berries begin to set and grow.
  • Add iron sulfate to acidify the soil, if needed.
  • Unless you have acidic soil, grow blueberries in large pots.
  • Feed with a fertilizer formulated for blueberries (according to package).
  • Mulching will improve plant health and fruit yield.
  • Pine needles are good mulch for acid-loving

Blueberry Problems

  • Insects and disease are rarely a problem.
  • Netting and other protective measures for birds may be required when berries begin to ripen.

Picked Blueberries In A Basket
Picked Blueberries In A Basket

Harvesting Blueberries

  • Harvest after berries has been blue for a few days for peak nutrient content.
  • The immediate consumption or preservation of the berries is recommended.
  • Blueberries can be used in smoothies, scones, muffins and a whole range of other delicious desserts. However, freezing my well be the easiest and way to preserve blueberries for future use.

Related References

 

 

How To Grow Apricot Trees

Apricot on a tree branch
Apricot on a tree branch

The apricots are a fine addition to a home growing repertoire. Apricot trees can be grown as fans, bushes or pyramid-shaped examples, or left to grow to a natural shape. Dwarf varieties are available which can be grown in containers, small space in the landscape, or trained along walls so that apricot trees can be suitable for even the very smallest of gardens.

Choosing an Apricot Tree

If you choose a self-fertile, you will only need to buy one apricot tree, which can crop without a partner tree. It is important to choose an apricot tree suited to the exact conditions where you live. The crucial factor is when the tree will blossom. Apricots tend to bloom early, so can be prone to frost damage if there is a danger of a late frost in your area. Bryan, Hungarian and Moorpark Apricots could all be good options for zone 8 in Texas.

Planting an Apricot Tree

Apricot trees will grow best in sunny, wind and frost sheltered, locations. They like a deep, moisture retentive, well drained and ideally slightly alkaline soil and will struggle in shallow soils which have low fertility. Be sure to space your Apricot trees according to the space requirements of the variety you have chosen.  Generally, I like to add two feet to the spacing to provide clearance for picking and maintenance. Mulch the trees with rich compost or well-rotted manure in March and early April. Mulch will help to fertilize and keep down competitive weeds.

Caring For an Apricot Tree

Newly-planted Apricot trees will need deep watering during their first spring and summer so they can establish themselves. For best fruit production deep water when the fruits begin to set and grow. Mature trees may also need to be watered if there are drought conditions.

If your tree is cropping heavily, then you should thin apricots to around 8-10 cm intervals when they are roughly the size of hazelnuts. You may also wish to prune for shape and size at the same time.

Apricots require insects for pollination. If there are not enough insects around yet when the tree breaks into bloom, then you may need to pollinate by hand to achieve the best possible yield. Better still is to encourage pollinators into your garden by companion planting apricot trees with a beneficial guild of plants that can help gather nutrients and which will attract bees and other pollinators to your yard.

Ripe Apricot
Ripe Apricot

Harvesting Apricots

Apricots will be ready to harvest in late June through August. The Apricots are ready to pick when the fruits have a golden-yellow color, are soft, and detach easily from the tree. Take care when harvesting to avoid bruising the delicate fruits and the immediate consumption or preservation of the fruit is strongly recommended. Apricots can be used in preserves, a whole range of delicious desserts, and dehydrated as a healthy treat.

Apricot Torte
Apricot Torte

Related References