Friday, April 30, 2010

Growing Potatoes in a Bag

Growing potatoes in a bag is not something I have ever tried, but my friend, Jan,  in New Orleans, LA took photos of her potatoes planted in a bag. She places soil in the bottom first, then as the green plant grows she covers it with more straw. When the potatoes are ready, she just splits the bag and there are the potatoes, no digging!  She is going to try kitchen bags next year because these bags were too large for her plants and needed huge holes for drainage.

Are you adventurous enough to try this?

Visit Jan's sites for lots of tips on gardening and ponds

Friday, April 23, 2010

Spring Gardening is Here!

Lettuce ready to go in the garden.

Tomato plants transplanted into 4 inch pots. Whenever these freezing nights moderate, the tomato plants will find a home in the garden. We use gallon milk jugs to protect tender plants from cold weather. 

Garden is ready. We added lots of horse manure last fall. The ground worked up beautifully. The straw is pushed away from the strawberry plants and rhubarb.

Rhubarb plants are near the strawberry plants. Both are looking healthy.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Recipe--Home-made Granola Cereal

My neighbor gave me this easy-to-prepare granola cereal recipe this winter and now I am addicted to it! No, I don't grow any of the ingredients in our garden, but it is such an easy, good-for-you recipe. I thought you all would like to have it before you get into the canning, freezing craziness when your gardens produce all those great veggies and fruits.


GRANOLA RECIPE--Thanks, Cathy!

8 c. old fashioned oats

½ c. + 1 T olive oil

1 T vanilla

½ c. + 1 T honey

1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

½ c. each almonds, walnuts, pecans

½ c. each raisins, cranberries, dried fruit

325 degree oven

Combine oats, oil, vanilla, honey, and cinnamon. Spread in single layer on baking sheet.

Bake 30 minutes turning and stirring every 10 minutes. Add nuts after first 10 minutes.

Remove from oven. Cool. Stir in dried fruits. Store in air tight container.

Yield 11 cups

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Getting the Garden Ready for Summer....Florida Style

This photo features our new raised bed garden. You can see where my hubby and our neighbor filled up the new raised area with horse manure and topsoil. (We are still eating the lettuce you see in front, so that will get covered when we pull it up before we head North.) They screwed down a dark mesh weed barrier fabric over the top of the soil hoping to keep weeds away while we are gone for the summer as well as to "cook" the soil, sterilizing it.

As you may gather, the soil in our backyard is sandy. Our hope is that with this raised bed of good, rich, sterilized soil, we will be able to grow fantastic vegetables next winter. (This was the coldest winter FL has experienced in 15 years. Not a good growing year.)

We will be heading North next week hauling all the little plants my DH has started for our northern garden. If you remember those tiny sprouts pictures in previous blogs, they are ready to transplant now. And again we start the next season of vegetable husband's desire to garden 12 months out of the year. And so it goes.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How to Make Your Own Rain Barrel

Rain barrels are effective ways of gathering rain water from the gutters on your roof. You can use this rain water to fill a watering can or to irrigate your garden by attaching a hose or soaker hose. According to the Southwest Florida Water Conservation District, a 1/2" rainfall will fill a 50-55 gallon rain barrel. 

Rain barrels cut down on the use of water from your municipal or well systems resulting in you saving some cash. I knew that would get your attention.

Make your own rain barrel by following these steps.

Find a 55 gallon food grade plastic barrel with a lid. Check on Craigslist or food manufacturing companies for these barrels. You may pick them up for free just so the company or supplier can get rid of them. If purchased, expect to pay about $10. each. You do not want a barrel that contained chemicals. Be sure to get a dark color because light or clear barrels will allow light to grow pipe-clogging algae.

Locate the barrel near your garden, flower beds, or containers.

You will need:
1. Four cement blocks stacked in two layers for a platform. Blocks are 8"x8"x16" each making a 16" square surface to support the weight of a full barrel of water. This sturdy platform raises the barrel off the ground allowing space fill a container or to attach a hose to the spigot.
2.  1/2" male spigot
3.  1/2" flat spade bit or wood bit
4.  1" male PVC adaptor
5.  1" street PVC elbow
6.  2 to 3 feet of 1" PVC pipe
7.  Metal or wood sabre saw blade

The downspout will enter the rain barrel through the lid, so trace the outside of the downspout on the lid closest to the outside of the barrel, then cut with the sabre saw.  Snip the downspout so that it will be about 3-4 inches inside the barrel. Before you begin the next steps, take time to flush out the barrel by partially filling it with water and then dumping it out through the downspout hole washing out any material/debris collected in the bottom. You may disinfect with a solution of bleach and water if you wish. Be sure to rinse thoroughly.

For the overflow pipe, drill a hole large enough to thread the male adaptor into it two inches from the top of the barrel. Place the street elbow facing down into the adaptor. Place the pipe inside the adaptor.

Drill a hole two inches from the bottom of the barrel for the spigot. This will not allow debris settled on the bottom to enter and clog the spigot. Caulk the threads to seal the opening. Wait 24 hours to allow caulking to dry.

Place a screen in the gutter before the outlet to catch leaves and debris. Even with all the precautions to keep debris out of the water, it is a good idea to dump out and wash out the barrel once in awhile to keep the over flow pipe and spigot clear and free running.

For the finishing touch, the artist in the family, can paint some garden designs, flowers, butterflies, bees, etc. to decorate if you wish.