Gardening, Vegetables, Seeding, Tomatoes, you name it, the how-to is here.

Welcome to hands-on gardening. Here we share tips for low-cost vegetable gardening; information we have learned with our 30 years of experience using drip tape, plastic mulch, hoop houses and greenhouse seed propagation using organic practices.

Our garden grew from a small backyard kitchen garden to over six acres of vegetable cultivation. On these six acres of intensive garden, we provide enough produce to supply seven farmers markets. We have learned how to use drip irrigation for water conservation. We use plastic mulch to control weeds, maintain soil moisture and raise soil temperature. We also have learned how to use row-hoops to extend our season, control pests and protect our crops from frost.

Like the greatest agriculturist of our country, George Washington Carver, we have discovered the benefits of simple innovation, recycling and using organic methods.

Our Latest How-To Articles

The Best Slicing Cucumber

One of the best slicing cucumbers that I’ve found is called, “Sweet Slice“. It is our favorite cucumber. This is a bitterless, burpless, small seeded, very crisp and always a straight cucumber, unlike other cucumbers that claimed their right to straightness and were not when we grew them.

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What are all these Insects in my Asparagus?

What does an Asparagus Beetle look like? I know many of you wonder what happens to your asparagus plants when you’re not looking, asking why didn’t my asparagus come up? One of the problems that asparagus has is a little black and red beetle. This beetle is not the lady bug as the lady bug is actually one of the beneficial beetles which eat aphids and other small insect eggs and larva that harm your asparagus plants. I will show you a few photos that I took on my stroll through the asparagus patch and hopefully you will be able to see the difference in the beetles the next time you are in your patch.

Juvenile Asparagus beetle 1/4 inch long

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Seeding Asparagus

I thought I’d take a walk out in the yard and take pictures of the new baby Asparagus seedlings that are coming up volunteer everywhere, but it turned into a much bigger project…first about the baby asparagus.

The birds love the red asparagus berries that ripen in late summer and fall. They carry them around the yard and eat the berries and then let them drop wherever they are eating. One of their favorite places to eat is sitting on the yard fence. This area is always wet as we are watering the lawn constantly. I was shocked to see hundreds of little asparagus plants that came up under the fence as well as in my flower boxes on the porch. It was as if I had dropped a package of asparagus seed in the area.

 

 

 

 

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Where are the Corn Cobs?

I received a question the other day from a worried gardener. “Do the corn cobs form after it tassels?” All she could see were the beautiful corn stalks but not a cob in sight.

pc: Melissa Mitchell

pc: Melissa Mitchell

At first sight it looked like the stalks might be too close together to let enough sunlight in. The sunlight is what allows the corn cobs to develop. If the plants are too close in the total area then all you will get is fodder for the compost or your favorite pig. When we seed the corn it is about 8 to 12 inches apart in each row and then the row is Continue reading

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When should I prune my Grapes and Apples?

It is February and in zone 5 the time of year to prune our grape plants. The plants are still dormant and the sap has not begun to flow. This year it is a breeze to do the pruning as the snow has all disappeared and with the sunshiny days we feel like getting outside to do spring work. Usually this time of year there is about a foot of snow and it is hard to think about getting outside to do the dormant winter pruning.

Pruned Grape Plants Continue reading

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When should I order my Seeds and Garden Supplies?

Spring will be here before you know it so you better get your seeds and supplies ordered. Some questions you will want to ask yourself is what are you going to plant in your garden this year, and how am I going to take care of it? If you are as busy as everyone else seems to be on planet Earth you will want to do some serious planning ahead of time so that your garden is not a disastrous, weedy mess come September.

Ordering Seeds and Supplies

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When do I start my Petunia Seeds?

Are you asking yourself, when do I start my Petunia seeds? Petunia’s take 70 to 84 days from seed germination to first flowers, that is about 10 – 12 weeks. The commercial growers for the North-west area of the country start their seeds around the end of January or the first week in February to be ready for the first spring sales. The seeds started then will be large plant with blooms in the trays these are the ones used to pot up the full baskets of petunia’s with beautiful flowers on them.

Gorgeous Petunias

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What time of the year should I Fertilize?

I know it is hard to wait for Spring but there is four inches of snow on the ground and the night temperatures are still in the single digits, spring is coming right around the corner but it is not quite time to start outside gardening. If your fingers just can’t wait to dig in the dirt now is a good time to start some of those early seedlings.

Fluorescent Grow Lights

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Do your Beans have poor Germination?

Have you ever noticed how poor the germination is on bean seed that you seed directly into the garden? I used to think it was the seed I was buying but now I’m convinced that if the weather is not perfect the seeds damp-off or bugs get them and they never do come up. Sometimes our germination has been as little as 30% with only a third of the row popping out of the ground. Part of our problem is not waiting until the weather is hot consistently and with no chance of rain, but we cannot do that as we have to plant when the calendar says plant.

Bean Sprout
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Seeding Cucumbers into Plastic Mulch

The question is how do we plant seeds into the plastic mulch. It works real slick for the larger seeds like the corn seed, squash, melons and cucumbers which is what we will show you today. It is harder to do the smaller lettuce and carrot seed. But “where there’s a will there’s a way” is a very true statement. People used to tell us that we couldn’t have early corn in our zone 5 part of the country so of course I had to figure out a way to have my corn ripe first and beat the neighbor, kinda of a game or challenge you might say. And that is how this whole business began of learning how to garden for early season harvest…

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