Monday, May 25, 2015

Tuesdays with a Twist #112

Good Morning and welcome to another No Rules Party! 

Is it Tuesday again? This month I've decided to try something NEW.
Each week I will share 2 features: Most Clicks and Most Likes
I'd like to encourage ALL of you to visit different links that have been shared and like all of your favorites.  SHARE this party on your social media to get more people to see what you've shared!

In case you missed it, Mary's Heirloom Seeds has 
OVER 40 ITEMS ON SALE thru 5/26/15!

Are you ready for the party?   We're your hosts 
Back to the Basics


Most clicks: Blessings of Old Fashioned Work
from Strangers & Pilgrims

Most likes: (same)

The party starts every Tuesday at 7am EST and will continue until Saturday at 11:59am.  Feel free to stop back any time and "like" your favorites.  Please visit other blogs if you have a moment. 
Share older posts as well as new ones.  No limit on links!
*Pictures should be your own* 
By linking up you give us permission to use these photos
 (with proper link backs) in our features.   And now for the party!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

HUGE Heirloom Seed SALE

Planting with Coconut Coir

Mary's Heirloom Seeds
On behalf of Home Gardeners, both novice and seasoned vets, Food Activists, Homesteaders and Heirloom Seed Enthusiasts, We have decided to offer our Biggest SALE Ever!
Over 40 Items on Sale - 3 Days Only
**Seed Packs as low as $1**

Jumbo Pink Banana Squash
Chinese 5-Color Pepper
Green Zebra Tomato
Mortgage Lifter Tomato
Cherokee Purple Tomato
Amana's Orange Tomato
Japanese Daikon Radish
German Giant Radish
Genovese Basil
Red Shiso Basil
English Lavender
Red Sorrel, Bloody Dock
Golden Wax Bush Beans
New Jersey Wakefield Cabbage 
Nero Toscana Cabbage
Rotonda Bianca Sfumata Eggplant
 Arugula "Roquette"  
European Mesclun Mix
May Queen Lettuce
Yellow of Parma Onion
Little Marvel Garden Pea
Calabrese Broccoli & PURPLE Sprouting Broccoli
Giant Golden Pascal CELERY

1 pound Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth
2 pounds Food Grade DE
3 pounds Food Grade DE (Save $9)

Love Lies Bleeding Amaranth
Snowball Self Blanching Cauliflower
Laurentian Rutabaga
Tam Dew Honeydew Melon
Lemon Bee Balm
Are You ready to GROW? 

Mary's Heirloom Seeds

All of the seeds listed are open-pollinated, non-gmo and non-hybrid,
non-patented, untreated, organic, heirloom garden seeds.
Mary has signed the Safe Seed pledge.  
Most seed orders placed Monday-Thursday are shipped
within 24 hours, except for holidays.
*$10 Order Minimum*
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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Growing Carrots from Seed to Harvest

There are two main types of carrot - early and maincrop, which also come in long and short root varieties. As their name suggests, early varieties are planted earlier on in the year and take 12 weeks to mature, whilst maincrop varieties are planted a few months later.

Soil conditions for growing carrots
The ideal soil conditions to cultivate your carrots would be a light, sandy, well-drained earth with a slightly acidic pH balance of 6.5. Planting should start once the soil reaches a temperature of 65°F (18°C).
Climate conditions for growing carrots
To get the best results, carrots should be cultivated in a sunny spot that receives plenty of direct sunlight. The seedlings will be able to cope with some shade and even a small amount of light frost, yet lots of sunshine is always the best for this crop.

Soil preparation
The soil should be prepared approximately 2 weeks before you are due to plant the seeds. Dig an area of about 1ft (12 inches) deep and work the soil so that its texture is even, fine and crumbly. Remove all debris, particularly any stones, which can cause deformation of the carrot's shape, and work in some fully rotted organic matter, which will keep the soil loose and moist, perfect growing conditions for the carrot.

For early varieties planting will take place in mid-February and therefore you should prepare the soil at the beginning of the month, whilst maincrop varieties can be grown from late April.

One week before planting you can add a general fertilizer, one that does not contain high levels of nitrogen, as this could cause the seeds to grow multiple roots. In most cases, plenty of compost or peat moss is enough for carrots to grow well.
Planting the carrot seeds
Thinly plant the tiny carrot seeds in drills that are about ½ inch deep. Drop a few seeds into the soil at every inch. The rows should be approximately 8 inches (20cm) apart. Cover the seeds with fine soil and apply a very thin layer of straw or shredded bark. Germination takes place within 15 - 20 days.

Thinning the seedlings
The seedlings should be carefully thinned out when they have sprouted and reached a height of approximately 1 inch (2.5cm). Space them out so that they are first 2 inches (5cm) and then 5 inches (12cm) apart. Thin the seedlings at night, as this is when the carrot fly are absent, and destroy all trimmings by either burning, burying or binning them.

Ensure that the roots of the seedlings do not suffer too much disturbance, as this can affect their growth. Pat down the soil after thinning, as carrot fly like to lay their eggs in loose soil.

Apply a layer of mulch about ¾ inch thick once the plants have been established.
Watering the carrot seedlings
The soil should be kept moist at all times but carrot seedlings do not need to be deluged in water. Water when the soil is dry and keep the soil moist and the plants will be happy!

Fertilizing the carrot seedlings
Do not over-fertilize the carrot plants. Carrots do not need high levels of nitrogen to grow well and so use fertilizers that contain nitrogen sparingly. In most cases, the use of plenty well rotted organic material is enough.

Harvesting the carrots
Early crop varieties will be ready to harvest some time in June, whilst maincrop varieties can be harvested in August.

The carrots should be removed from the ground as soon as the foliage begins to shrivel up and wilt and when the carrot has turned a deep orange.  Gently loosen the roots with a fork and then remove the vegetable by hand.

Harvesting should be carried out at night, for the same reasons that thinning of the seedlings is done at this time of day.  Store the newly dug carrots in a box that has a layer of sand on the bottom and place in a cool, dark and dry location.

Carrot pests
The carrot fly is the main insect that can cause problems when cultivating this crop. It lays its eggs in any soil surrounding the base of the plant that is loose. The eggs turn into maggots, which then attack the plant and destroy it. Ensure that trimmings are disposed of and that soil around the plants is firm. 
Parisienne Carrot

Companion Plants with Carrots
Their pals are leaf lettuce, onions and tomatoes. Plant dill and parsnips away from carrots. Flax produces an oil that may protect root vegetables like carrots from some pests. One drawback with tomatoes and carrots: tomato plants can stunt the growth of your carrots but the carrots will still be of good flavor. 

Carrot disease
The carrot plant may be prone to a number of fungal diseases. Look out for signs of wilted or spotted leaves and any type of irregular markings. Too much water, sun or nitrogen will also affect the plants negatively.

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Growing Organic Cabbage from Seed to Harvest

There are so many unique varieties of Heirloom Cabbage and GREENS.

70 days. (Brassica oleracea capitata) Easy to grow, they are very productive. Small pointed heads have a mild flavor and mature without splitting. 2-3lb.,dark green outside and creamy light green inside. This very early variety was sold commercially by Peter Henderson in the late 1860's. 

Cabbage is best grown in a temperate climate, and should be planted in an open and sunny spot that can either be in full sun or partial shade.

Soil Conditions
Most types of cabbage require a well-draining, light - medium soil with a neutral pH of about 6.5 - 7.0.

When growing cabbage, the soil should be prepared well in advance, especially if you are enriching the soil with organic matter. If you are sowing the cabbage seeds in spring, prepare the soil in autumn by digging in plenty of well-rotted compost or manure.
Planting Seeds
Sow the seeds at 1/4 - ½ inch deep.  If you are direct sowing, leave 6 inches between rows. When seedlings reach a height 4 - 6 inches and have 5 or 6 true leaves, they will be ready to transplant.

It is best to water in the evening, the day before you are due to transplant, and then plant the seedlings 12-18 inches apart for spring cabbage. Allow approximately 1 foot between rows. Make sure that you firm down the soil around the plants.
Pak Choy (bok choy) Cabbage
45 days. Pak Choy is a non-heading leaf type Chinese cabbage that produces large, succulent, nearly round, smooth, glossy green leaves with snow white stalks.
Pak Choy is very cold hardy and grows over an extended period of time. The leaves grow 8 to 10 inches long.  Harvest the whole head or use the outer leaves so they just keep coming!

Hoe around the plants to remove all weeds and apply a mulch to suppress weeds from appearing. Mulch will also retain moisture, which is extremely important during the hot weather. The cabbage plants must not be allowed to dry out, as it will affect their growth. 
Companion Plants for Cabbage
Celery, dill, onions and potatoes are good companion plants. Celery improves growth and health. Clover interplanted with cabbage has been shown to reduce the native cabbage aphid and cabbageworm populations by interfering with the colonization of the pests and increasing the number of predatory ground beetles. Plant Chamomile with cabbage as it Improves growth and flavor. Cabbage does not get along with strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, rue, grapes, lettuce and pole beans.

Organic Pest Control for Cabbage
DIY Organic Pest Control Recipes

Diatomaceous Earth!  No preparations necessary!  
DE kills aphids, white flies, beetles, loopers, mites, snails, slugs, leaf hoppers, and harmful pests. Use DE inside your home, greenhouse or outdoors on fruits, vegetables, flowers, grains and grass. Apply Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth up to and including day of harvest. Check out Using Diatomaceous Earth for Non-Toxic, Natural Pest control 

Harvesting Cabbage is easy.  Simply lift the whole vegetable from the ground with a garden fork or spade, or cut the stem, just above the lowest leaves of the plant.
Baby Bok Choy33 days.   Irresistible baby pak choy cabbage. Great for salads and stir fry.  Pak Choy is fast growing and great for winter-time greenhouse growing.

"Chinese cabbage, often called Chinese leaves in supermarkets are the odd one out in the cabbage family. They look more like a cos lettuce than a cabbage for starters.
The cultivation method is completely different than conventional cabbage as well, they do not like root disturbance and usually would be sown in situ rather than being transplanted.

Cultivation of Chinese Cabbage
Like the other brassicas they like a rich soil with a high pH - neutral at least..
Sow about 3 or 4 seeds at 30cm spacing each way, usually in May although some fast growing varieties can go in as late as early August and thin to the strongest seedling. Harvest is from late September to min-November."

Cabbage is full of vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, B, C and K as well as iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous and manganese. 
Looking for a recipe for all your delicious cabbage?

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Growing Broccoli from Seed to Harvest

Calabrese Broccoli can be an easier and quicker variety  to grow than other types of broccoli. 
48 days. (Brassica oleracea) An Italian heirloom that was brought to America in the 1880s, 5-8" heads and many side shoots.
For the best results, broccoli should be planted after a crop of peas or beans, as these vegetables leave deposits of nitrogen in the soil, which is much needed by the broccoli for healthy growth and development. 

Broccoli is a cool weather crop that generally thrives in cooler temperatures that do not exceed 30°C (86°F). The ideal temperature for cultivating broccoli is between 65 - 75°F.
Broccoli should be planted in an open, sunny or partially shaded area.  I like to soak seeds for up to 24 hours before planting.
Sow broccoli seeds thinly, approximately 1/4 inch deep in rows that are 2 feet apart. Cover the seeds loosely with soil and water well. The seeds will germinate within about 10 days and then the seedlings can be thinned out to 1 foot apart (for Calabrese).
 Calabrese is an extremely fast-growing crop and some varieties will be ready to harvest from anything between 40 - 65 days. If sown in April or May, the broccoli should be ready to harvest from July onwards until November. In warmer climates, plant early in the year and again in Fall.

Romanesco Italia Broccoli
Romanesco Italia Broccoli 
75-100 days.    The true and popular Italian heirloom with spiraling, apple-green heads that are so superbly flavored.   Romanesco broccoli heads are really densely packed clusters of lime green flower buds that develop in the center of a leafy rosette. This variety is widely grown in northern Italy.  
Harvest the broccoli when the side florets start to loosen slightly but the main head is still very compact. Cut at the base of the stalk, so that the main head is removed.
Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli
Fertilizer Requirements for Broccoli
Broccoli plants are heavy feeders and will do well with a dose of fertilizer every couple of weeks. Use a well balanced fertilizer for best results. This will give the plants enough energy to get large enough to support full heads of broccoli. 
If you are interested in growing broccoli organically, you can work some compost or well-rotted manure into the soil before planting. You can also use organic products like Mary's Organic 3-4-4, Blood Meal or fish emulsions to fertilize your broccoli plants.

Companion plants for Broccoli include: Basil, Bush Beans, Cucumber, Dill, Garlic, Hyssop, Lettuce, Marigold, Mint, Nasturtium, Onion, Potato, Radish, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme and Tomato. 
Celery, onions and potatoes improve broccolis' flavor when planted near it. Broccoli loves plenty of calcium. Pairing it with plants that need little calcium is a good combination such as nasturtiums and beets. Put the nasturtiums right under the broccoli plants. Herbs such as rosemary, dill and sage help repel pests with their distinct aromas.

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Growing Organic Beets from Seed to Harvest

Beets can germinate in soil temperatures as low as 50 degrees, making them ideal for the early spring and fall vegetable gardens. Beets don’t care for overly acidic soil, so gardeners should perform a soil test before planting to ensure that the pH is between 6.2 and 6.8. If the soil is too acidic, add lime until the pH is properly adjusted.

Table beet (also known as garden beet, blood turnip or red beet) is a popular garden vegetable throughout the United States. Beet tops are an excellent source of vitamin A and the roots are a good source of vitamin C. The tops are cooked or served fresh as greens and the roots may be pickled for salads or cooked whole, then sliced or diced. Beet juice is a basic ingredient of Russian borscht. The garden beet is closely related to Swiss chard, sugar beet and mangel.
Chioggio Beets
When To Plant
Beets are fairly frost hardy and can be planted in the garden 30 days before the frost-free date for your area. Although beets grow well during warm weather, the seedlings are established more easily under cool, moist conditions. Start successive plantings at 3 to 4 week intervals until midsummer for a continuous supply of fresh, tender, young beets. Irrigation assures germination and establishment of the later plantings.

Spacing & Depth
The beet "seed" is actually a cluster of seeds in a dried fruit. Several seedlings may grow from each fruit. Plant seeds about 1/2 inch deep and one inch apart.

Allow 12 to 18 inches between rows. Poor stands are often the result of planting too deeply or the soil's crusting after a heavy rain. The seedlings may emerge over a relatively long period of time, making a stand of different sizes and ages of seedlings. Some gardeners find that placing a board over the row after planting preserves the soil moisture and eliminates crusting from hard rains. The board must be removed as soon as the first seedling starts to emerge.

Hand thinning is almost always necessary. The seedlings should be thinned to 1 to 3 inches apart. If thinning is delayed until the plants are 3 inches tall, those removed may be cooked greens, similar to spinach. Some cooks leave the small root (usually about the size of a marble) attached to the greens.
Though it is seldom done, beets actually may be transplanted. Some care must be taken to get the roots oriented vertically so that the beets can develop properly.
Golden Beets
Frequent shallow cultivation is important because beets compete poorly with weeds, especially when small. Because beets have extremely shallow roots, hand weeding and early, frequent and shallow cultivation are the most effective methods of controlling weeds in the rows. Deep cultivation after the weeds are large damages the beet roots. Like most root crops, beets need a fertile soil (especially high in potassium) for vigorous growth. Keep your beet plants uniformly supplied with moisture for best performance.

Beets can be harvested whenever they grow to the desired size. About 60 days are required for beets to reach 1 1/2 inches in diameter, the size often used for cooking, pickling or canning as whole beets. Beets enlarge rapidly to 3 inches with adequate moisture and space. With most varieties, beets larger than 3 inches may become tough and fibrous. Beets may be stored in a polyethylene bag in a refrigerator for several weeks. Beets also may be stored in outdoor pits if the beets are dug before the ground freezes in the fall. Cut off the tops of the beets one inch above the roots. Beets store best at 32°F and 95 percent humidity. Do not allow them to freeze.
Detroit Dark Red Beets
Selection & Storage
Beets can be harvested at any stage of development, from the thinning to the fully mature stage at about 2 inches in diameter. The "thinnings" are beets that have been pulled from the ground prematurely to make room for others when rows are overcrowded. Thinnings can be eaten raw, tops included, in salads or roasted. Beets are high in natural sugar and roasting brings out the natural sweetness.

Beets vary in color and shape based on variety. The most common is the deep maroon globe-shaped beet. There is an Italian variety which has pink and white rings upon slicing. The golden globe is globe-shaped and orange in color then it turns golden yellow when cooked. Another variety is white and still another is pink.

When harvesting beets, separate the green tops from the roots leaving an inch of stem on the beet. Beets larger than 3 inches in diameter are often fibrous and woody. Beet greens are packed with nutritional value but must be prepared separately. Upon storage the greens will quickly draw the moisture from the root greatly reducing flavor and the beets will become shriveled. Leave one inch stem and the taproot intact to retain moisture and nutrients. After separating, beets store well for about a week in the refrigerator. Use beets while they are still firm and fresh.
Bull's Blood Beet
Companion Plants for Beets
Good for adding minerals to the soil. The leaves are composed of 25% magnesium making them a valuable addition to the compost pile if you don't care to eat them. Beets are also beneficial to beans with the exception of runner beans. Runner or pole beans and beets stunt each other's growth. Companions for beets are lettuce, onions and brassicas. Beets and kohlrabi grow perfectly together. Beets are helped by garlic and mints. Garlic improves growth and flavor. Rather than planting invasive mints around beets use your mint clippings as a mulch.
Recipes for Fresh Beets

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