garden planning

seed starting indoors

The Basics of Seed Starting

The Basics of Seed Starting 814 610 Eco Garden Systems

Planning is important when starting seeds. Get a head start on vegetable sardening season planning with these seed starting tips.

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backyard garden

Ten Ways To Make Your Backyard Garden Something To Be Proud Of

Ten Ways To Make Your Backyard Garden Something To Be Proud Of 974 547 Eco Garden Systems

The concept of gardening isn’t just about nurturing nature. Your house equally needs to be beautiful. Gardening ensures that your spare time is useful. And a backyard garden is a great place to start.

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Time to Prepare for Fall Gardening

Time to Prepare for Fall Gardening 560 315 Eco Garden Systems

The garden season here in the Midwest is at its peak and it is now time to pull the summer plants that are done producing and plant those that will bring you into a harvest in the fall. These can include numerous vegetables and even though it is hard to pull foliage that still looks good, getting a head start on succession planting will ensure harvesting before estimated frost dates. Fall plants can include peas, broccoli, spinach, lettuce, and kale. Tomato plants and pepper plants are in their prime and will continue to produce well into the fall months so they can be left alone to do what they do best in warmer weather, grow and produce. Here are a few tips to consider when preparing and planting your succession harvest. Location! Location! Lettuce is one vegetable I like to have all summer. It can be sowed continually as long as it has a certain amount of shade to cool the soil. If the soil is too hot lettuce seeds will not germinate. If you do get some growth, the heat can still make them bolt early so location is important. Mulching or planting lettuce near towering plants will ensure enough shade to encourage growth. Looking for lettuce seeds that tolerate heat will also help in maintaining lettuce all season long. Some examples include Green salad bowl, Black Seeded Simpson, Summer Bibb and little Gem. These are a variety of lettuce and include bibb, leaf, and romaine types. With the cooler temps going into the fall, lettuce will grow like it did in the spring. Sometimes I seed lettuce in smaller containers and transplant when space opens up in the garden. If it is a mild fall, having fresh greens for the Thanksgiving table is very likely. Temperature Beans! Beans!…

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Those Glorious Seed Catalogs

Those Glorious Seed Catalogs 560 315 Eco Garden Systems

The after holiday winter blues tend to set in about now as we anxiously await warmer air and longer days. The idea of flowers and fresh vegetables are on the foremost thought of every gardener. Seed catalogs are arriving and Sunday afternoons are spent marking old and new vegetables, fruits, and flowers to plant. Like many catalogs it can be overwhelming and a bit enticing to purchase more than we need or to purchase seeds we always wanted to try, only to find out they do not work in certain climates or soil types. Here are some basic terms to think about when shopping catalogs and seed packets: • Hybrid: This is a term used to describe any seed that has been cross-pollinated. An example might be cross-pollinating a drought tolerant vegetable with a vegetable that produces a high yield giving you a drought tolerant, high yield producing vegetable. Plants grown from these seeds do not produce seeds that can be used to plant again, or if you do, it may have poor results. One that comes to mind as an example is sweet corn. • Heirloom: Your grandparent’s tomato! Heirloom varieties are open-pollinated meaning the seeds you collect will produce plants with the same characteristics as the parent plant. It is like preserving the past. They tend to be less expensive than the hybrid seeds and gardeners swear by better flavor and more nutrition. As a new gardener, heirloom seeds give you an opportunity to save the seeds to plant later. These seeds planted each year tend to eventually adapt to your climate and soil. They are hardy and will resist diseases and pests as well. • Organic: Seeds that are produced without synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. These seeds produce vegetables that are better for beneficial insects. There are…

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traditions

Gardening at the Espelien’s

Gardening at the Espelien’s 560 315 Eco Garden Systems

My father loved to garden. When I was a young boy he only grew ornamental plants in our small backyard in St. Paul, MN.  When we moved to the suburbs (better schools, closer to his job) he was able to designate a large piece of our backyard to growing fruits and vegetables.  The front and side yards got more of the ornamental – but the new layered produce garden got most of his attention. An engineer by training and trade (although he never finished his degree as pesky youngsters started arriving to crowd the little house on Wilder Ave.) he became meticulous in his planning.  The upper tier did not start all strawberries – but it soon became that due to the creeping nature of the plants.  We had June berries, mid-berries and late berries and the quality was always just okay – not sure if it was soil or he just could not wait to pick them (or perhaps we lost all of the good ones to the critters – maybe one day I will tell the woodchuck stories which are hilarious or the bunny stories which are sort of sad) but the berries never were the greatest.  Either were the odd things he would plant – broccoli, asparagus, Kohlrabi, etc. – not sure the ground was right and weather in Minnesota was always problematic – but the Kohlrabi was always a weird taste experience. Tomatoes – on the other hand – were a thing of beauty.  I remember when the entire middle level of the garden was tomatoes – almost too many varieties to count and all with his one garden hack: a coffee can with nail holes punched in the bottom.  You filled the can with water and the water would slowly drip out to keep the…

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Beneficial flowers

Beneficial Flowers for a Vegetable Garden

Beneficial Flowers for a Vegetable Garden 560 315 Eco Garden Systems

All flowers are beautiful! With the thousands of varieties that can be purchased it is hard to pick just a few; however, there are certain types of flowers that can be very beneficial to a vegetable garden.  There are many different types you can incorporate into your garden that are not only pretty, but repel insects, encourage pollination and are edible! When planting these flowers in a raised or elevated garden one thing you need to consider is space. Some of these flowers can multiply and expand, eventually over taking your garden; in raised and elevated beds try to plant dwarf varieties or bush varieties that won’t exceed a certain amount of room. Here are few of the most talked about vegetable garden flowers and why they are good companions in-ground or elevated gardens. Nasturtiums  Nasturtiums are an easy annual to grow with edible flowers and leaves. Nasturtiums have a peppery bloom that can be put in salads and added to other dishes. They are good companion plants to cucumbers, squash and broccoli. When planted next to these vegetables they will trap aphids and repel squash bugs. Nasturtiums add a colorful beauty to the garden, have a nice fragrance and come in bush and vine varieties. In raised beds, they work well on the edge of the garden growing out and over the garden bed. Marigolds Marigolds are another simple flower to grow and maintain. They are one of the most popular flowers to grow among your vegetables because they repel bad bugs and attract potential pollinators. Known for their strong fragrance, marigolds deters nematodes and the aroma confuses pests if planted in or around your vegetables. Because they are a bush annual they work well in raised beds without taking up much space. Marigolds are especially beneficial planted next…

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carrots1

Companion Planting: Find Your Plants Some Friends!

Companion Planting: Find Your Plants Some Friends! 440 627 Eco Garden Systems

  When it comes to planning your garden it is important to consider where you plant your vegetables and what you plant next to them because each vegetable is unique in structure and flavor. Competing for root space and above ground space or just keeping the bugs away are important to consider when planning your garden. With any garden experience, trial and error will give you an idea of what works and what does not. Three key points to companion planning in your garden are: Pest control Soil space and nutrients The cardinal points: north, south, east and west. Pest control is a big factor in any garden because most of your pests come from the plant itself or the soil you plant it in. Not all bugs are bad; however, some are extremely beneficial such as pollinators and predators. Walking out to your garden and seeing spider webs strung from plant to plant can be a welcoming sight; however, remain observant of these eight-legged guests as spiders do eat potentially bad bugs, but they can also eat their share of good bugs as well.  Planting companion plants next to each other can help deter a lot of the bad bugs. An example of this is decoy planting. Marigolds and Nasturtiums, which are edible, are good to plant between vegetables because they mask the smell of the vegetable plant, which in turn confuses the garden pests. They also repel pests such as nematodes and beetles. Root space and soil nutrients have a huge impact on what you plant and where you plant them. Heavy feeders such as cucumbers and cabbage should be planted next to light-feeding carrots so there is no competition for soil nutrients. Planting shallow-rooted vegetables next to deep-rooted ones will eliminate root competition, as well as planting…

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