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Small Garden Techniques and Ideas

With ever more people taking an interest in growing their own vegetables as part of a drive towards self-sustainability, or at least a growing desire to take more control of what they consume; the interest in how to get more out of the often small spaces available is, unsurprisingly, growing also. Thankfully there are a number of ways to grow veggies in small spaces and some great ideas for a small garden such as Raised Bed Gardening, Square Foot Gardening and Container Gardening – generally referred to as no-dig gardening owing to the lack of effort needed to grow plants in general, and vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, onions, peas, beans etc in particular.

This technique is especially important for the numerous city-dwellers who have taken up the idea, and for whome large garden space – or any garden space at all – is virtually non-existent.

S.F.G. Enter the technique of growing veggies in limited spaces!

Square Foot Gardening BookSquare Foot Gardening as with the Raised garden bed is one of the most popular small garden ideas at the moment, as it allows you to truely maximize your growing abilities, by concentrating a number of different plants within the same small area. In the SFG method this area is measured at 4 x 4 feet square. This in turn gives you 16 foot-square areas in which to grow your plants. Now I’m the first to admit that this does not seem like a large enough growing area to supply the average family; however nothing could be further from the truth, and the fact is that with correct planting this small area is indeed extremely effective at ‘producing the goods.’

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Using Grass Clipping As A vegetable Garden Mulch

Ok, I’ll admit that this may not be the most exciting topic in the gardening world – however the results of mulching with grass cuttings with regard to weed control, positive recycling and improved crops are actually quite exciting – if you’re into that sort of thing :)

I have quite a large area of grass to cut, and especially in the spring time with the early growth spurt this means that I have a fair amount of grass to dispose off. Normally of course this would not be wasted, but is added to the general composting pile as a rich source of nitrogen and composting energy to the heap. However even this can get a little overwhelmed in the spring, and the danger with too much grass on the compost heap is that if you do not turn it regularly then you will end up with a solid mat of grass choking the compost.

This grass mat does not decompose or compost very well, or at least I should say that it takes a while – a year at least.

So What’s The Answer?

grass mulching

Simple, use the grass clippings to mulch around the veggie patch. Also sometimes called layer composting  (though in fact this is a slightly different process) it is an extremely effective way to benefit your plants, and has many benefits in general – just check out the list below. Read the remainder of this entry »

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Enter The Shining Flower Beetle:

Ok, I’ll admit the headline title was a little dramatized :)  However they are shiny and they are also Beetles – the beetle in fact of the genus Olibrus from the family of Phalacridae. There now, don’t you feel all the better for knowing that! Hmm

Anyway these little beggars were all over my Swede flower-heads like a rash of creeping shotgun pellets, and for a brief moment I thought they were a real garden pest and were making a meal out of all my hard work and setting about to destroy my swede crop.
Thinking initially they were the tiny Leaf Beetle about to turn my swede leafs into organic colanders full of tiny holes, I approached the bugs to give them what-for with the garlic water spray.

shining flower beetle

Tiny black beetle infesting swede flowers

Close-up however I noticed they did not immediately leap away. Now the thing that distinguishes the flea beetle is the fact that they will immediately jump away as soon as you approach them – it is how they get their name after all, and it is also how they escape from predators.
These little shiny critters however just kept creeping around the flower heads, intent on getting the nectar from the flowers. On closer inspection they were not the jumping flea beetles of the family Chrysomelidae, but instead were the relatively harmless beetle known as the Shining Flower Beetle.

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Back To Our Roots

By Norman Stone | Filed in Growing Vegetables, Pest Control
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The Root Cellar And Modern-Day Homesteading

A quick glance through all the farmers periodicals and ‘hip-n-happening’ homesteading magazines, TV shows and general gardening magazines, is all it takes to realise that there is a huge rush to get ‘back to the basics’ with regard to producing our own food and bringing up the kids in such a way that they have an understanding of just what it takes to put food on the table.

hobbit house root cellar entrance

No need to make a root cellar entrance boring! Original artwork. Copyright – Agnieszka Gorak

Not only that, it is starting to dawn that we may not always be able to rely on the supermarket shelve to provide our food; as could be the case in any sort of international catastrophe – a concern that is also rapidly growing in the phyche of the concerned.

Even city dwellers in high-rise apartments are looking to the roof in order to set up Raised Beds for growing vegetables, and Square Foot Gardening techniques are being promoted as a way of producing great veggies in very limited space.

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Here is just a quick post to emphasize just how simple it is to get the maximum benefit out of a few seed potatoes, using a ‘trench’ method to maximise the final crop. With more and more people now looking to grow vegetables in small spaces, growing potatoes in barrels and other containers has become incresasingly popular – and quite rightly so as the results can be very impressive.

Here is a stupidly simple set-up I have used utilising some old bricks I had lying around. They are not even cemented together, just laid ‘drywall’ style to make sure joints are overlapping for strength – a simple Raised Bed in effect. It may not be the prettiest planter you have ever seen :) but it does do the job rather well – and tidies up the yard by using up some old bricks!

simple potato planterThe actual construction is in the form of a ‘lean-to’ against the raised platform that my oil tank rests on. This gives me a height of approx 20 inches in which to grow my spuds.
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How To Propagate Your Berry Plants

Once you have decided which berry plants to grow for your winter fruit-stock, then the next decision has to be how to go about it!Fortunately this is not rocket science, and growing berries to make Jam’s, Jellies, chutneys and a whole selection of fruit smoothies – not to mention great comfort food like fruit pies etc – is definitely doable for most folks.

So with that said, here is a brief outline of the methods to propagate your berry plants.

Seedlings:

Trellis for blackberries

A simple frame-work like this would be ideal for two rows of blackberries or other trailing cultivars.

Most varieties prefer well drained, loamy well-composted ground with a good mixture of manure and organic material. Some support is usually required, especially when the fruits develop and the branches will sag with the weight if not tied to something.

Planting against a wall or fence where wires can be strung is ideal, or making a simple frame like the one in the picture will enable two rows to be supported by the one frame-work.

The young plant should be dug into the ground and pruned quite severely to encourage new growth, especially if you are hoping to get new shoots to transplant later.

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