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

Seeding Garlic Cloves

After all the preparation, we are finally ready to begin seeding the garlic through the Plastic Mulch and into the ground.  Planting the clove through the plastic mulch does not take any more time than seeding garlic directly into the ground.  Taking a trowel we measure the distance between each clove by slicing the trowel vertical along the t-tape and estimating a distance of about 5″ to 6″ apart.  Digging 10 holes at a time, 5 on each side to lay out the distance between each.

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Garlic ‘Popping’

First we ‘pop’ the garlic to prepare it for seeding. A strange term for tearing the cloves off of the garlic stem but maybe it is like popping as you need to gently bend the garlic out until it ‘pops’ off of the stem. I slice through the protective layers of ‘skin’ to separate each clove and then put pressure on the clove until it separates from the bulb.  You can see how it is almost buttoned on. If you are not careful it will tear the root end which will make it less likely to sprout and grow.

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Have you planted your Garlic?

It’s time to plant the garlic.  The nights are cold and the days are crisp.  The time to plant garlic is generally 4 weeks before the ground freezes.  In this area the ground freezes around the third week in November.  Since this is the first of November it is time to get it in.  If you are organized you will have already put on your fertilizer and tilled it into the soil.  We are always so busy with the markets that we do not have time to deal with it until the markets are done for the season.  Ken took a day and drove to our favorite Rabbitry ladueslittlethings.weebly.com, our daughter’s, to get a load of fertilizer.  He helped her shovel and clean out the Rabbitry and brought home the ‘prize’ for our garden.  Thank you Mandy.

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Fall calls for a Pumpkin Pie Drink

The weather has changed and it is Cold!  It is the end of October and the frost still is not on the Pumpkin.  This cold gives me the desire to cook up something.  Since our garden is still full of small pie pumpkins and all our Farmers Markets are done; I can’t resist looking through recipes that use pumpkin.  I found a good one, Pumpkin Pie drink.  This drink tastes just like a pumpkin pie only it is a liquid.  First of course I ran out to the pumpkin patch to get a pumpkin.  I picked out two small ones, since I’m heating up the oven I might as well cook a couple of them to save energy and harvest a little more pumpkin puree.  The dogs had to come along and I had a terrible time trying to take a photo without them in it.  They were so happy to have me outside with them that they were full of frisk and frolic.

 

 

 

 

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Spacing the T-tape into rows

After we fit the seeper ends onto the t-tape then we stretch the t-tape down each row.  The holes are poked into the mainline and the seeper end of the t-tape is pushed through.  Our blocks have 50 foot rows so that is how long each t-tape is cut.  On the end of each t-tape Ken does an inexpensive and very niffty fitting.  He cuts 2 to 3  inches off the tape, folds the tape over once and slips the folded part through the 2 inch sleeve of cut t-tape.  This is handy when we need to drain the t-tape from sand or trash that has come through the system.  We pump out of the river and sometimes a line will get clogged; then we just slip the end off and run water out until it is clear, fold it back up and slip the 2 inch sleeve of t-tape back on.

 

 

 

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Fitting the Seeper-End on T-tape

After we cut the t-tape to the length of our rows then we will fit seeper-ends on the t-tape.  Taking the roll of tubing he will cut several 6 inch pieces to be used in the end of each row.  The seeper-end is a 1/4 inch fitting also.  He has to push hard to get the tip into the hose and so uses an extra glove for padding. In the past we have used spaghetti tubing, which is a black softer hose in place of the white tubing.  It is smaller and you would need to buy a smaller tip to go on the end.  We have had a harder time finding these in large quantities and so have switched to the larger size.

 

 

 

 

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Why Didn’t My Asparagus Come Up?

I was asked the other day, “Why didn’t my asparagus come up, I planted it four weeks ago?” Of course, I wasn’t sure how to answer because I didn’t see the crowns they bought, how lively they were, the area where they were set out, how deep they were planted, the soil they were planted in, etc. The only asparagus crowns I have seen in town this year were dried up and I remember thinking, “Wow, I doubt that those crown-lings would have any life in them.” Continue reading

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Sprouting Corn Seed

The weather has been so cold this spring that we have not been able to start the seeding as soon as we wanted to. We like to have corn seed in the ground by the 1st of April, but this year it has continued to snow or rain almost every day, and it has been so cold. We knew if we seeded the corn with the ground this wet and the weather so cold, the corn would not come up but just melt away in the wet dirt. So when we had success sprouting the corn we were so excited. Continue reading

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Transplanting Onion Starts

The day has arrived to set the onion starts in the ground. We like to put them in while the weather is still cool; a hot day will wilt them so badly that we will have some loss. The onions are healthy this year. We seeded them early enough that they were able to grow to a good 1/8 inch plus in diameter. We trimmed them a week ago and as you can see from the picture how much they grew and actually strengthened in just a few days. Can you see the white scars on top where they were trimmed?

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The Onions need a Haircut!

I’ve put it off for too long and now the onion plants are starting to suffer.  When the plants get about 6 to 8 inches tall we trim the onion plants to about half their length.  This strengthens the plant and allows the bulb and top to grow larger/thicker for transplanting.  If the plants are too small the wind will whip them and sometimes kill them.  So to strengthen them we just cut off about half the plant.  If you do this in a timely manner you can take the green onion in for dinner to use in your salads or just to cook up.  They will store in your refrigerator for several days in a zip-lock bag and sure are tasty this time of year.  Might even be your first garden harvest for the year. Continue reading

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