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.

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

 

 

A Guide to Conserving Water in a Permaculture Garden

Pound in Woods
Pound in Woods

Conserving water is always essential in a garden, and especially so in a climate such as the one experienced in Texas. Whether you believe in climate change or not it is prudent to take measures to use water more wisely and more sparingly. This guide to conserving water in a permaculture garden will help you to do this in your own backyard.

Permaculture emphasizes the importance of managing water successfully, as well as reducing the amount of water we require to grow our food. For gardener’s converse water, it is essential to understand how water is stored in a garden.

During rainfall, the water will flow through the landscape in predictable ways. It will be stored in the soil and be taken up into trees and plants. Permaculture teaches us practical ways to ensure that the water cycle of our planet continues to function as it should, and ways to manage the flow of water on our sites to make use of this natural resource to grow our food.

A rain barrel set up to catch rain
A rain barrel set up to catch rain

Harvesting Rainwater in a Permaculture Garden

Water will naturally flow downhill. In sloping sites, creating a pond or basin in a dip on the lowest part of the site is one way to gather and store rainwater for later use. We can also collect rainwater from the built environment by attaching butts or barrels to the downspouts on our homes.

We can also slow the rate at which water escapes from our gardens by creating earthworks such as on-contour swales (or ditches). These swales are depressions filled with organic materials which catch and store water. By planting along swale lines, we can make the most of all the rain that falls on our land.

Conserving Water in a Permaculture Garden

Catching and storing rainwater in our gardens is only part of the picture. We can also take measures to reduce the amount of water that we require to grow our food.

  • Drought-Tolerant Planting

One of the things we can do to conserve water is chosen the right plants for the right places. When choosing plants for your garden, always consider how much water they will require. Consider drought-tolerant plants native to your area if you live in a low-rainfall area. Salvia, phlox, and verbena are three wildlife-friendly examples of drought-tolerant plants native to Texas.

  • Shade Creation

In addition to considering planting drought-tolerant plants, it is also a great idea to consider planting trees and shrubs for shade. Shading the soil will slow the rate of evaporation and reduce water loss during the summer months. Great drought tolerant shade trees include the Chinkapin Oak, the smaller Lacey Oak, and deciduous holly.

  • Mulching & Ground Cover

You can also reduce water evaporation from the soil in your garden by taking care to cover the soil with mulches of organic matter or ground cover plants.

  • Low-Water Use Irrigation Methods

Of course, water will still be required by your plants. Choosing low-water-use irrigation methods can help you to direct the water to exactly where it is needed, without using more than you need to. Low water use irrigation methods include wicking beds and clay pot irrigation.

These are just some of how you can catch, store and save water in a permaculture garden.

 Related References 

A Guide To Attracting Wildlife in a Permaculture Garden

Fox In The Shade
Fox In The Shade

 If you are a keen gardener then doubtless you love watching the wildlife that comes into your garden. You may enjoy watching the birds, for example. In a permaculture garden, you will discover that the whole ecosystem teems with life. Food forests and other diverse garden ecosystems are great at attracting wildlife – far better than a boring lawn! This guide to attracting wildlife in a permaculture garden will help you understand the reasons to attract wildlife and learn how to attract wildlife in a range of different ways.

Bee Covered In Pollen
Bee Covered In Pollen

 What Wildlife Can Do For Us

 It is lovely to watch wildlife in your garden – but this is not the only reason why, as gardeners, we should do all we can to encourage a range of creatures into our backyards. Here are some of the many things that a diverse range of wildlife can do for us:

  • Pollinate our fruit trees and other food crops.
  • Predate pest species such as aphids and blackfly, slugs and snails.
  • Add fertility to the garden soil (through droppings, for example).
  • Spread seeds and propagate useful plant material.
  • Aerate soil and aid in nutrient transmission and spread.
  • ‘Recycle’ old plant material and help in decomposition.
  • Naturally ‘prune’ plants and trees through grazing.
  • Increase diversity and beneficial interactions, thereby making your garden ecosystem more stable and resilient.

Almost every mechanism and natural cycle in an organic garden involve some form of wildlife in some way. The more you think about what wildlife is doing for you, the more you will appreciate the creatures, large and small, with whom you share your space.

Cardinal On Holly Branch
Cardinal On Holly Branch

 Attracting Wildlife Through Planting

 One of the most important things that we can do as gardeners to attract beneficial wildlife to our gardens is to plant a wide range of wildlife-friendly plants. For example, certain flowers will be particularly good at attracting bees and other pollinators, while fruiting trees or bushes may attract birds and mammals that eat pest species.

When planting for bees and other pollinators, it is important to consider providing for these insects throughout the year by choosing appropriate plants that are in bloom in Spring, Summer, and Fall. A useful list of bee-friendly plants for Central Texas gardens can be found here: Central Texas Bee-Friendly Plants. You’ll also be able to find out more about which plants to choose to attract different types of wildlife by chatting to other local gardeners and the staff of local plant nurseries and garden centers.

 Attracting Wildlife Through Habitat Creation

 Beyond choosing the right plants, there is more than gardeners can do to attract wildlife. By creating a range of different habitats in your backyard, you can attract a wide variety of different creatures. For example, a garden pond could encourage aquatic creatures to move in and can also be a boon to birds, mammals, and insects. A brush pile will provide shelter for bugs, beetles, and other creatures. Bird boxes, feeders, and baths can help to create a bird-friendly habitat. Try to create diverse environments of shade and sun, cool and hot, to increase the natural diversity in your garden and make it more resilient.

Related Reference

Garden Notes – Week of May 7 2018

Refreshed Garden Patch Mulch
Refreshed Garden Patch Mulch

New Layer of Mulch

Put a fresh layer of much on my paths between my raised beds, which helped the appearance of my vegetable garden. Also, will help to keep the weeds down.

Yellow Flags for Insect Control
Yellow Flags for Insect Control

Yellow Flag with Captured Insects and Bugs
Yellow Flag with Captured Insects and Bugs

 

Replaced Yellow Flags for Insect Control

This week I pulled down my old yellow flags and put up new ones for insect control as you can see from the picture they’ve already started filling up.

Yellow Zucchini Squash
Yellow Zucchini Squash

Spaghetti squash which has set fruit
Spaghetti squash which has set fruit

 

Zucchinis and Spaghetti Squash Are Setting Fruit

now the weather has warmed up this week my squashes have started setting fruit. Especially, the yellow zucchinis which I was even made able to harvest three of this week and throwing the oven.

Apricot starting to ripen on the tree
Apricot starting to ripen on the tree

Tangerine tree with young fruit
Tangerines are starting to grow

Fruit trees are setting fruit

I was pleasantly surprised this weekend to see that my apricots despite a cold snap have put on a few fruits and are starting to ripen in turn yellow. Also, my tangerine tree has got a few young immature fruits on it which hopefully will mature later in the season.

Loose leaf lettuce in the garden succession planted with moon and the stars watermelon
Loose leaf lettuce in the garden succession planted with moon and the stars watermelon

Fresh salad from the garden

we managed to get a nice salad out of our garden this week of loose leaf lettuce and beet greens. Although, it’s getting late in the season for the loose leaf lettuce.