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

A New Way to transplant Broccoli

The weather has been very cold but when the calendar says plant we have to get at it or all of a sudden we are way behind. We are covering everything with Re-may as we transplant to keep it from freezing. These rows of broccoli will not only keep warmer under the cloth but the Re-may will do double-duty as it will help to protect the starts from the white butterfly moth. The butterfly moth prefers these brassica plants for laying its eggs.
Cabbage Rows covered with Re-may Continue reading

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“The Recipe” makes 2 1/2 to 3 quarts of Grape Juice

It snowed this morning and so we feel the pressure to get the garden finished up. Of course we didn’t mean to wait until it snowed to harvest the grapes but these late grapes do taste better when they have had some light frosts on them, it tends to sweeten them.  The grapes are so loaded with clusters and vines that they were not able to ripen as much as we would of liked them to. Living this far north a late grape like Concord or Zinfandel takes longer to ripen and so it is a little iffy to have a nice sweet grape.

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Broccoli, Beets and Swiss Chard at the Farmers Market

The week has been fun selling at the Farmers Markets. It has been raining all week and has hardly quit pouring long enough for the customers to stop and look at the vegetables. But we have been blessed to have large heads of broccoli, beets, cabbage, Rainbow Chard, Cucumbers, Zucchini and Yellow Crookneck squash. Maybe the size has something to do with all the water coming down. And the flavor of the veggies are wonderful. It seems like the ‘first fruits’ of the season are always the best tasting.  I guess it is because we are hungry for the good taste of fresh produce.

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Sweet, the Sweet Potatoes are Planted!

Last year we received our sweet potatoes in early May. The weather was very cold and most of them died because we could not plant in the garden, thus we ordered them for the end of May this year.  It was exciting to get 500 last time and so we doubled our order this year.  Whew, all of us were planting for several hours last evening and this evening and we finally got it done.

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What Organic Fertilizer Can I Use?

What kind of fertilizer can we use that is natural or organic? This has been a hard choice for us for many years.  Since we eat everything that we grow, well I should say some of everything that we grow, and our whole vision is to keep our produce natural so that it is Real Slow Food for our own health and nutrition; how do we get enough fertilizer on the plants so that they are healthy and produce vigorously?

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Seeding Beets in Trays

We are trying a new way to seed the beets. In the early spring with the cold nights and rainy days it is hard to get a beet crop to come up in a good time sequence. The way that we have the garden with plastic mulch on the ground it is hard to get a good germination on root crops like carrots and beets. So I thought I would seed the beets on the seeding table and see what would happen. The first beets I scatter-seeded in a small tray and then transplanted them one per hole in a six-pack tray.  This did not work too good as the beets had very long roots when the plants were small and ready to transplant.  I had to try and tuck the long roots down into the cell pack; what did work was to seed the beets directly into the six-packs.  I seeded one beet seed in each corner of the six packs.

Seeding Beets

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Seeding Peppers

It is time to plant the pepper seeds. I know that your pepper seed package says 74 days and you are thinking, what does that mean?  74 days from February 15th is around the 1st of May and in this cold climate it just doesn’t compute.  What the days on the package are counting from is when you transplant or seed in the ground. Now if you live in southern California or some other zone 9 or 10 it is a good time to seed directly in the ground and you will get ‘fruit’ in the allotted amount of time.  Yep, those 50 degree nights really grow the vegetables. But in our northern states our plants will have to have a good head start and almost have buds on them when we set them in the ground. This will be after all danger of frost is past. We will begin to set out our peppers around May 12th. Last year I started them on February 1st and it was a little early as we had to pop off 2 inch peppers from the plant so as not to stunt the poor little things. We did have early peppers at market though, around the end of July.

Transplanting Peppers on May 20th

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Seeding Onions

The time is approaching to seed onions. Last year we started our onions on March 1st and they were about the right size when we were able to get them into the garden. Any time from mid to the end of February is fine for starting in this area. You just want them large enough to transplant to the garden when the nights have quit freezing. I will assume that you have been cooking your dirt and have it ready to mix together with the Perlite and the Peat Moss. The mixture that I use for seeding Onions is Continue reading

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It is Time to Order Seeds

It is a big job to order our seeds for the year and it usually takes most of one day.  Ken orders the corn, melons, winter squash, cabbage, broccoli and lettuce seeds.  I always order all the colorful peppers and hot peppers, summer squash, green beans and cucumbers.  I don’t know exactly why we do it this way; we just seem to pick the things we are most interested in and ‘dig’ in.  We work in the garden the same way.  He picks the things that he orders and I usually pick the things that I have ordered. Funny isn’t it? 
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Laying Down the Plastic-Mulch

Now that the t-tape is spaced for the next crop and laid out in rows then we can proceed to cover the area with the Plastic-Mulch. Ken has designed a tool that the plastic roll fits on.  It has a large handle bar and fits into each end of the roll. The Plastic that we usually use is 6 feet wide and about 2000 feet long. A new roll is quite heavy but the guys throw it around like it weighs nothing.

The plastic on the end of the roll is completely covered with dirt to stabilize it. Ben rolls out about 10 to 12 feet and then starts shoveling on the dirt. He makes sure that he overlays the previous row by 4 to 6 inches.  This allows for shrinking in the sun and some slipping in rain storms.  If he lays it correctly and places the right amount of dirt on the mulch we do not see too much movement.  Like the old adage. “A Stitch in Time saves Nine”  in this case, “Lay it right and you won’t have to do it twice.”

 

 

 

 

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