Fresh figs are some of the tastiest and easiest fruits you can grow, and fig trees are incredibly attractive with their uniquely shaped green foliage even when they trees aren’t fruiting. Fig trees, when compared to other fruit trees, have one of the shortest wait times before you should expect fruit: usually 1-2 years after planting.
Find the right pot
After planting your fig tree in its container, water it well, then add a layer of mulch. The mulch will keep the soil from drying out too quickly. Put the fig tree in a sunny spot in your yard, and keep well watered. During hot summer weather, your fig tree may need more frequent watering, possibly even daily. Observe and respond accordingly to your tree’s environment. Note: If your tree’s leaves begin to yellow, chances are it is being over-watered.
Pruning your fig tree. Unlike most other fruit trees, fig trees typically don’t require routine pruning, but you can prune them to a size that works for your space. Depending on the variety, fig trees naturally mature around 10- to 15-feet tall or larger! Many fig-tree growers find that keeping them between 6-8 feet tall is most manageable, especially in a container environment. Some fig trees have a natural bush-like appearance if allowed to grow naturally. If your fig tree has more of a “bushy” shape and you’d prefer one main trunk, you can prune the additional low growth out until you are left with one main trunk.
So as some of you might know I actually have a black thumb. I don’t know what is worse then a black thumb? If there is something worse, well that is me. Basically the plants see me coming and they play dead in stores because that will inevitably happen once we get home anyway.
BUT! Every year Spring comes around and I see all the people with lovely gardens and flowers blooming and I decide to get back on the horse and try, try again.
This year is no different. I have already picked up a few herbs to plant and once again I am going to make an attempt at a little garden for my girls.
I have a friend that is a master gardener and she very kindly wrote up some great tips for where to begin when you want to start a garden.
I thought some of you might find this helpful – I know I certainly did! So here are her tips to selecting the right veggies for your garden:
Growing a vegetable garden is one of the most rewarding activities you can do for your family. Home grown vegetables taste better and have more nutrients than store bought veggies since you can pick them the same day you want to use them or even can them when they are at their ripest. There are an infinite number of veggies that you can grow in your backyard or even just on your patio or balcony. Here are a few perfect plants to grow in your first veggie garden:
Green beans are an easy plant to grow in your first vegetable garden. The only hard part is knowing if the plants or seeds you have are a bush variety or are climbers. If they are bush beans, then you don’t need to do anything other than plant them a half an inch under the soil and water in well. If they are climbers, you will need to add a trellis or plant them up against a wall so that they can climb up. Green beans start to produce on average 45 days after you plant them.
Cucumbers or zucchini are also very easy vegetables to grow. When planting the seed, make sure it is buried at least 3x the diameter of the seed. Since these tend to be large seeds, make a hole half an inch down and cover it up. In a week the plant will be about an inch high already! If transplanting, make the hole the size of the root ball and gently tease out the roots and place it in the hole then water it in well. These plants can get quite large so plant 12 inches apart. It should start to set out fruit after 30 days and you can be eating cucumbers and zucchini in as little as 60 days.
Tomatoes are another plant that are not too difficult to grow. There are so many varieties to choose from and selecting what you want to grow might be the hardest part! The key to tomatoes is to remember they will not set fruit if the daytime temperatures get over 90 degrees. If you are in the Southwest, plant tomatoes in February and after Mother’s Day in most areas of the Midwest and Northern states. Make sure that the tomatoes are not on the ground as too many insects and critters will eat them before you do! You can harvest the tomatoes when they are still green or you cut some of the vine with it and allow them to continue to ripen on the vine in your kitchen. (technically tomatoes are fruit but in cooking they are usually used as a savory ingredient so we included them as a veggie for the purposes of this post.)
Both spinach and leaf lettuce are also quite easy to grow for the beginning gardener. You can mix the seed and spread the mixture over an area and cut the baby leaves after they are a couple inches tall. This successive sowing will keep new leaves growing each week and allows you to have fresh greens until the weather gets too warm!
These are just a few of the perfect plants to grow in your first veggie garden. There are many more just waiting for you to try and see if you have a green thumb too!
I am not alone. From its humble beginnings as a southern European weed, dill has earned prominent places in Greek, Scandinavian and German cuisines, and dill is an important herb in traditional Indian ayurvedic medicine. Indeed, recent research has suggested that dill can enhance cardiovascular healthwhile working as a potent antioxidant. Dill teas have long been used to soothe upset stomachs, but instead of letting things get that far, I include dill (or fennel) seeds whenever I cook cabbage, beans or other “gassy” vegetables. I don’t know how it works, but a half teaspoon of dill seeds will neutralize the gas-producing compounds in flatulence foods before they ever get to the plate.
Much of my garden dill is used for making pickles, and while there is no hard-and-fast rule on the best stage of growth for harvesting dill for pickles, I prefer the green seed stage. This occurs about two weeks after the yellow flower umbels appear, typically about 70 days after planting. Healthy dill plants then continue blooming for four weeks or more. In comparison, my pickling cucumbers take 75 days to reach full production. In order to have robust dill plants for pickling, I start my dill seeds two weeks before my cucumbers, and use cloches or tunnels to get them off to a prompt start in spring.
Because I want my spring-grown dill to flower quickly, I use varieties like ‘Bouquet’or ‘Long Island Mammoth’ , which are famous for early blooming and overall vigor. After harvesting many green seed umbels for making pickles and bunches of leaves for everyday cooking, I let the spring-sown plants go to seed. Meanwhile, I direct-seed bushy ‘Fernleaf’ dill in early summer. Grown in beds or large containers, the summer-sown plants bloom from midsummer to fall, providing an endless supply of fresh dill “weed” (the thread-thin leaves), blossoms and green seed umbels for summer cooking and food preservation projects, like pickled green beans.
Some gardeners freeze dill stems that have been washed and patted dry, which gives better results than drying unless you work fast, with a dehydrator. However, dill seeds are easy to harvest, dry and store, and they do an excellent job of imparting dill flavor to a huge range of dishes. To harvest dill seeds, wait until the seeds start to turn brown; as the seed clusters gain weight, they may need staking to keep them high and dry. Gather the ripe seed heads by clipping them into a paper bag, and place the bag in a warm, dry place indoors for a week or more. Crunch through the dried seeds and stems with your hands, and then dump the contents of the bag into a large pan. The seeds can be sifted out, or you can use a fan to winnow out the bits of plant material. Allow the collected seeds to dry for another week or so at room temperature before storing them along with other spices in a dark, dry place.
Just before using them in breads or cooked dishes, I crush dill seeds with a mortar and pestle to help them release their essential oils. I always have too many seeds, so by spring I even feed some of them to the chickens and wild birds.
Many gardeners see volunteer dill seedlings in their garden every spring, but I am not one of them. I do keep trying, though, by placing mature seed heads in areas where I would like dill to grow. Cold climate gardeners may be shaking their heads now, because in chilly climates where dill reseeds, it does so with a vengeance. But the spindly little plants are easy to pull out, enhance weeding sessions with their fresh fragrance, and disappear fast in the compost pile.
Square Foot Gardening was started by Mel Bartholomew and he was experimenting on how to grow the most amount of vegetables in the smallest space available. He found out through his research that the key was in the soil. If the soil was enriched with tons of organic matter than the plants thrived and grew faster, stronger, and produced fruit quicker. He also noticed that there was a lot of wasted space in backyard gardens that created row gardens similar to what farmers do.
Farmers have row fields so that heavy machinery can go down them easier. You don’t really need to do that in your own backyard vegetable garden. Plus, in most cases he found out that you could do successive plantings in one growing season as the plants tend to mature faster and set fruit earlier than in regular gardening settings.
The most popular square foot garden size is 4′ x 4′ as it is easier to reach into the center from all sides and you don’t have to step inside the square and trample plants or soil to tend to the garden.
Use six-inch wide untreated lumber to build the outer square, but it can also be built with cinder blocks, bricks, and other materials.
It is important to place a weed barrier down to prevent weeds and grass from growing up into the plants.
If you are growing this on a patio or balcony, make sure to attach a bottom to the outer 4×4 square and you can make it 12-16” high. This height can grow many different types of fruits and vegetables!
The most important feature of square foot gardening is using this specific enriched potting soil mixture: blend different organic materials by using equal parts of bagged organic potting soil or compost, vermiculite, and peat moss. If using organic potting soil instead of compost, mix a few different brands together to give a good variety of nutrients to the mix. Every different brand of potting soil on the market has a unique blend and you want to capture those differences for square foot gardening. Add in organic fertilizers to this initial mix with a cup of blood and bone meal plus 2-3 cups of earthworm castings depending on the depth you have chosen.
Once you have filled in your square, water it down until you can squeeze a handful of the soil and no water drips out – that’s how you can gauge when all the water has been completely absorbed. Keep the soil evenly moist and don’t let it dry out.
Next make a 4×4 grid marked off with 12” squares out of string or even masking tape and place it on top of the soil. This grid shows you exactly where to plant. Think of it as each grid is its own mini garden. This spacing guide shows how many plants or seeds go into each square:
If you have a wood-burning fireplace, chances are you have firewood, right? Unfortunately, that also means you need place to store it! If you are like me, you want the firewood nearby so you don’t have to trek out to a cold shed through a snowy yard, but you don’t really want it inside. Firewood is dirty, it brings in some bugs and unless you live in a rustic mountain cabin, chances are it doesn’t do much for your style. But then if you store it stacked outside, you need to make sure it doesn’t trap moisture between it and the side of the house or become a perfect home for vermin in the garage. Oh, yes, on top of all that, you want it to stay off the ground so it doesn’t get waterlogged! So the perfect solution are these super easy DIY outdoor firewood racks. You can store your wood close, clean, and dry and it allows you to buy wood in bulk, saving you money. Time to “fire” up the DIY!
Our featured project above, is from our favorite woodworking girl, ‘Ana White’. Build a firewood rack with some simple connectors, and get free plans for this project from ‘DIY Done Right‘!
From ‘Home Depot’ you can use their firewood rack bracket kit and some 2×4’s to make your own firewood rack in just a few minutes. So simple!
This idea from ‘Metal Garden Beds‘ is smart and simple. They simply took a corrugated metal raised bed frame and turned it on its side… Instant firewood rack!
From Shayna (and Anthony!) at ‘The Wood Grain Cottage’, this DIY rolling firewood cartis perfect for storing your wood where you can easily get to it, but can be rolled out of the way as well. (BTW this also makes it easy to clean around and behind your wood pile, which helps prevent little furry creatures from settling in!) Lots and lots of step by step photos in this really clear tutorial.
From the forum ‘BBQ Brethren’, this DIY firewood rack was submitted by one of their readers, complete with plans! We love this because you can probably make it with things laying around your garage…and it does a great job of keeping the wood off the ground, which is great for areas with lots of snow.
This firewood rack from ‘Instructables’ uses no tools to construct. Pretty clever design!
This is a smaller version, same idea. Found on ‘Homedit’. Simply cinder blocks and scrap 2×4’s!
This is a simple DIY firewood rack we found on ‘Indulgy‘… Just lay pipe on top of concrete footings from the home improvement store, then stack your wood! Great economical way to keep your wood off the ground and draining properly from the weather.
Need one more idea? Ok we gotcha. Uploaded by a user on Pinterest, this firewood rack is simply three empty wood pallets, joined by wood braces. We suggest using screws, not nails, but even scrap wood will work! Brace both sides of the rack. Great upcycling!
Whether it is a small space issue, or the fact that you simply don’t want to dig up a large part of your yard to house a garden, container gardens are the next big thing in home gardens. We have pulled together 10 Tips For Successful Container Gardens to help you navigate through this with the best possible results. Not only can you save money in your grocery budget, but you can get your family involved in growing something from start to finish. This is a great family friendly activity, but also a perfect cathartic activity for anyone to do by themselves.
10 Tips For Successful Container Gardens
Know your climate. One of the biggest things to consider when planting any garden is what climate you live in. There are some plants that do best in dry climates, and others that require a lot of water and rain. Invest in an Almanac for tips on what areas of the country are best for specific crops, but also to know when the best times to start seedlings and plant will be. Almanacs are truly functional and informative items that help you to understand growth cycles and what temperature and climate specific plants thrive in.
Make sure you have proper drainage and irrigation methods in place. Not only will you need to make sure your plants are watered properly, you want to make sure your containers have good drainage. If you are housing your garden indoors, those plastic trays will serve you well underneath pots and containers to catch any excess water. If you are housing your garden outdoors, you may be able to simply allow them to drain onto the ground. Just make sure they have good drainage and proper watering.Take advantage of areas to hang your garden. Don’t overlook porches, lattice work outside your home or awnings that give you a place to hang plants for convenience.
Start small and work your way up. If you are uncertain about gardening in general, make sure that you start with something small and increase as you feel comfortable. An herb garden is a great place to start. Tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce or onions would be next in line.
Don’t forget to use fertilizer. There are various fertilizers out there to choose from. Use your own homemade compost, or purchase a fertilizer blend to mix into your soil as desired.
Utilize light appropriately. Some plants need light for a few hours a day, but need shade the rest of the day. This is the joy of container gardening! So often, your containers are easy to move around your home and yard. If you have plants that are picky about light, simply move the container as needed to utilize light and shade appropriately.
Don’t crowd your plants. Just because the plant is small when it goes into the container doesn’t mean it is done growing. Read the back of your seed packets, or research online for specific plant needs and plant accordingly to allow them plenty of room for growth.
Use proper containers for the plants potential growth. Similar to the last item on our list, make sure that your container is appropriate for the plant. A tomato plant will need deeper roots than lettuce. Plant accordingly.
Secure pots against wind. If your containers are outdoors, they will occasionally be top heavy due to plants and the produce on them. If you live in an area where wind and rain are common, you may wish to secure your pots to a railing or similar to avoid them falling and being hurt in the wind.
Don’t forget to care for them. One of the biggest mistakes people make when doing any kind of gardening is to forget about them. There is more to having a successful container garden than simply planting, watering and giving them light. Weeding your plants, trimming as needed, securing plants as they get heavy and regularly picking the vegetables they produce are all important. This is not a “set it and forget it” garden. It still requires work for success.
You can easily create a great harvest of home grown produce when you use these tips for successful container gardens. From what sized pot you use, to the method of watering your plants you must understand that vegetable plants are not an easy undertaking. The work you put into your container garden will be well worth it in the end, as you will have a wonderful crop of nutritious food to feed your family and save your budget.
If you have dozens of seed catalogs piled up, a garden wish list a mile long, and enough packets left over from last year to cover several acres, try these tips using the farmers marketas a guide to help focus your attention as you plan your garden this year.
Zucchini, canning tomatoes, slicing cucumbers, peppers, radishes, the ubiquitous yellow summer squash and even melons are all a dime a dozen in peak season. Make friends with your farmer and show up at the end of the market—you’ll probably get a deal. Ask your farmer if they have “seconds,” which are lower quality but perfectly good for eating and preserving in bulk. You may want to skip past growing these vegetables or only plant a small amount since they will likely be abundant throughout the season.
if you need Grow Cilantro
if you need Grow Zucchini
if you need Grow Okra
if you need Grow Cucumbers
Think long-term growing versus short-term growing. Broccoli, cauliflower, celery and leeks will take a very long time to grow and will use up space in your small garden for not much harvest yield. On the other hand, fresh herbs, lettuce or other micro-greens, peas, and cherry tomatoes all do well in small-scale gardens. They produce several harvests per crop and you can harvest the amount you want whenever you need. Zucchini flowers are another pricey purchase that you can grow yourself and are best when harvested fresh.
A gardener’s secret treat is a freshly picked okra pod eaten raw. It’s delicious, and best when the pod is much smaller than the typical size sold at the farmers market. Try planting a few stalks for this special (and very gut-healthy) treat. Ground cherries, stinging nettle and tulsi basil are on my personal list of hard-to-find items to grow this year.
While the farmers market is for groceries, your garden isn’t just about growing food. You may want to grow plants that attract beneficial insects and encourage biodiversity and beauty in your garden, such as alyssum, fennel, hairy vetch and others.
So be strategic in the coming growing season. You might not have a lot of land to grow on, but you can surely maximize what you have while accentuating your diet at the same time.
About the Author: Aliza Sollins spent five years working in urban agriculture as a co-founder of Boone Street Farm in the beautiful, gritty heart of Baltimore City, teaching canning classes, learning how to raise backyard poultry, and gardening with refugees from Iraq, Bhutan, Sudan, Burma and more. She is now the assistant manager of the Lexington Farmers’ Market in Kentucky.
Tomatoes are the perfect crop for small spaces: rewarding, productive and delicious.
Few people know more about growing tomatoes in containers than Nick Chenhall, tomato enthusiast and the man behind the excellent Tomato Growing website.
In the video below, Nick shares his six top tips to get a big crop of tasty tomatoes. Watch the video till the very end to discover that tomato growing is not Nick’s only talent!
In a nutshell Nick’s six top tips are:
1. Choose the right size container for the variety
2. Grow cherry tomatoes rather than big beefsteak tomatoes.
Cherry tomatoes grow and ripen more easily, and will usually give you a better crop. Dwarf, bush cherry tomatoes (perfect for small pots and hanging baskets) recommended by Nick include
And vine cherry tomatoes varieties Nick recommends include
Chose a non F1 variety if you want to save your own seeds – it’s easy to do with tomatoes .
3. Ensure the roots of your tomatoes receive a good supply of air.
4. Support your tomatoes with stakes or strings.
5. When watering, it’s important the whole soil area is saturated with water.
6. Feed little and often
Major living fence applications in the United States have utilized Osage orange trees (Maclura pomifera), also called hedge apple or horse apple. For an incredibly tough, enduring windbreak that’s a major player in a local ecology, probably nothing surpasses Osage orange. It was planted extensively in the central and eastern areas of the country in the 1800s (before the invention of barbed wire), especially to fence the rapidly colonized prairies. After the Dust Bowl in the 1930s, thousands of miles of Osage orange were grown as shelterbelts to prevent wind erosion.
Easily propagated from seeds, cuttings or sprouts from the roots, Osage orange is tolerant of a wide range of soils, resistant to drought, long-lived, and affected little by insects or disease. Planted at a spacing of 1 foot, in four years it makes a fence that is “horse-high, bull-strong and hog-tight.”