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Archive for the ‘Vegetable Gardening’ Category

Garlic: The Stinking Rose

Garlic (Allium sativum) has been used for centuries for both cooking and medicinal purposes. Known as the ‘stinking rose’ and Russian penicillin, its medicinal purposes have been documented for centuries and have always been a popular remedy for colds, coughs, and sore throats. Garlic was used in World War I and World War II to cure many diseases and because it is a potent antiseptic. Garlic is universally known for its health benefits. It is an excellent source of phytochemicals and contains vitamins A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), C, iron, phosphorous, sulphur compounds, and calcium. Medical studies have shown that it lowers blood pressure, reduces cholesterol and hypertension, prevents some cancerous tumours, protects against bacterial and fungal infections, and is good for the blood and heart. It is useful as an expectorant in respiratory ailments, eliminates toxic metals, and supports the immune system. Garlic may prove to be useful for diabetics, as it seems to regulate blood sugar levels.

As a culinary spice, the Indians, Egyptians, and Europeans have appreciated garlic for thousands of years, and most notably the Italians and Chinese who have made extensive use of this much-loved plant. There are records of garlic use dating back 3,000 years and botanists believe that garlic probably originated in central Asia thousands of years ago. In North America, early colonists discovered that the First Nations people were using a native species of garlic to treat a variety of medical problems including snakebite and intestinal worms.

Garlic is a moderately hardy herbaceous (herbaceous means a plant that lacks woody tissue and dies to the ground at the end of the growing season) perennial. It grows from 2-3 feet (0.6-1m) tall and has flat, long, pointed green leaves extending from the base. The young leaves grow 2 feet (0.6 m) tall and have a delicate chive-like flavour. Garlic has erect, hollow, green stalks that support pink or whitish flowering clusters or bulbils that appear in mid-summer. The leaves are organised into segments called cloves and may have anywhere from 4–15 cloves in a bulb. Garlic does best in rich, well-drained, highly organic soils, prefers full sun, although it will grow in partial shade. Avoid over-watering or the bulbs will rot. Garlic has white energy for chromotherapy purposes.

Garlic is available throughout the year but it is easy to grow your own. To plant, separate cloves from the head and plant cloves with the pointed end up. Garlic can be planted in early spring or late fall. It is best to plant cloves or bulbils available from nurseries or garden catalogues as store bought garlic is often sprayed with a sprout and root inhibitor that confuses its natural growth cycle. Fall plantings produce the best yields, as garlic needs a long growing period and a cool period below 10° C (50° F) for two months. If over-wintering in zones 3 or 4, plant cloves at least 3 inches (8 cm) deep and mulch with leaves or straw; otherwise plant bulbs 2 inches (5 cm) deep and 6 inches (15 cm) apart. (In the winter, I plant store-bought garlic in pots and snip the leaves to impart a fresh garlic flavour to salads and soups.) Garlic is generally pest and disease free.

Harvest garlic when the leaves die back and begin to turn brown and collapse. Pull up the mature plants and dry in the sun for a week; then trim or braid the stalks and hang the garlic braids in the shade to dry further. To store, keep in a dry, dark place with good air circulation. Garlic will keep for up to 6 months if stored in temperatures no higher than 0° C (32° F). Leaves, bulbs, and bulbils may all be eaten.

In the garden, garlic helps protect plants from fungus and pests. Scientists at New Castle University have shown that a barrier of garlic oil is an effective slug and snail repellent. Planted near roses, it aids in fighting black spot. Garlic spray is used to discourage many insects and combats various blights found on vegetables and flowers. To make garlic spray, mince garlic and add water. Some people add a few drops of vegetable oil to the spray to make it cling to flowers and foliage. Garlic spray is a non-toxic alternative to using harmful chemicals in the garden.

In the kitchen, garlic can be used fresh, dried, or powdered. Fresh is best. To peel, place the garlic cloves on the work surface and whack with the flat edge of a knife. The garlic will crack out of the skin making it easier to peel. You can also put the garlic in boiling water for 30 seconds, drain, and then peel when cool. Crush with the flat edge of a knife and slice or chop as necessary. Garlic can be used to enhance the flavour of seafood, salad dressings, stews, casseroles, vegetables, soups, meat dishes, pasta, vegetables, and poultry. When roasting meat, make slits in the meat, sliver garlic, and stuff into the slits. Roast the meat as usual. Roasting or baking garlic mellows the taste. To eliminate garlic breath, chew the traditional breath fresheners: parsley, fenugreek, or fennel.

Garden Tips for Planting Super-Sweet Grape Tomatoes

Spring time comes and with it comes the time to plant your garden. Garden tips range from the type of soil to plant in to ways to water your plants in order to get a full yield. However, when planting grape tomato seeds, the main garden tip is to plant them in a container inside. This will help keep them warm and give them a safe growing environment.

The best garden tip for planting sweet grape tomatoes is to prepare the soil properly. Using a good soil is essential and it doesn’t hurt to beef it up a bit. Depending upon where you live, soil can range anywhere from very fertile to don’t plant here dirt. When living in an area that has dirt that is not ideal for planting, go to a garden store and ask what type of soil they advise. The more fertile the soil, the better the plants will grow. If organic grape tomatoes are what you seek, using ordinary potting soil and an indoor container will keep the insects away and will make the tomatoes pesticide free.

Container gardening will help those who live in apartments or houses without large yards grow tomatoes indoors. These containers range from the average flower pot to multi-plant containers that can hold up to a dozen small plants. Another form of container gardening is to rent or buy a hydroponics system to grow your tomatoes in water. Growing grape tomatoes in a hydroponics system guarantees a completely organic, juicy, and super sweet grape tomatoes. The only problem with using a hydroponics system is finding a way to prop growing tomato plants up while they scale to new heights.

The greatest garden tip that you’ll ever receive is to water your plants. The more water that a tomato contains, the more watering it will need. Tomatoes are approximately ninety percent water and if they are not watered enough they will end up being shriveled and sour. No one likes a sour grape tomato, so keep your tomatoes warm and the soil wet and you’ll have super sweet grape tomatoes growing in no time.

Fun and Food in Home Grown Vegetable Gardening

Growing vegetables in your garden can save you money. During harvest time, your own produce becomes part of your meals. Home gardeners feel deep satisfaction in preparing salad or seasoning the casserole with freshly picked plants from their own vegetable gardens. Their feeling of the taste is incomparable. Fresh surplus are distributed to friends and love ones while some are keep frozen.

It doesn’t require much space to grow vegetables. Even a container pot or a window box will do the trick. Where space is limited, you can grow a mini-garden indoor or outdoor. If you have a good sun, access to water and enough containers, growing a garden’s worth of fruits and vegetables in a limited space is a no-brainer. You can even harvest more than one crop if your choice of plants and planting schemes are all well planned and executed. Windowsills, balconies and doorstep areas can be used, as well as empty packs of milks, pails, plastic buckets and cans.

When planting in containers, proper spacing is very important. One sturdy plant is better than several weak ones. Crowding chokes root systems will slow growth and poor production. With container vegetable garden, you no longer need to worry about poor soil types and bad drainage, or heavy-duty tiller to break up hard clay and rocks. There is no weeding to worry about and you can change the looks of your container placements by simply moving them around anytime to a place you wanted to.

Vegetable gardening offers a change from the monotony of the supermarket. You can grow variety of vegetables that you want. When choosing plants for your vegetable container garden, consider container worthy crops such as beans, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, eggplants and radish. Other root crops such onions and turnips can also do well in containers, but remember to always take care of these crops by ample fertilizers and water. Also consider grapes and berries. Though some take a while to get established, they bear fruits more each year. Planting for fall crops can be started in early summer, though summer planting can still be done in June in most regions.

One great advantage of growing vegetables and spices in containers involves the advent of the upside-down gardening. Crops with the likes of tomatoes, basil, parsley, rosemary and peppers do well with this approach. The ideas is that the vines will cascade downward instead of growing up a stake. A grow box can be treated by punching perforations through the bottom of a container. The other option is to purchase a device specially designed for this purpose. Upside gardens do not require a great deal of space and is perfect for balconies and patios.

Equally important, seeds and soil must properly be taken cared of in your vegetable container garden. Seeds do not always have to be bought. Reasonably fresh dill, anise, fennel, coriander and other seeds already on the spice rack should grow. If not, they are too old to add much to food anyway and should be replaced. Scoop out seeds from vegetables you’ve bought, dry them a week or so before planting.

Soil preparation on the other hand is very crucial for good results. Have the soil tested. Every state has a land-grant college that will test soil for a small fee. It will give abundant basic gardening advice, and garden resources tips. Start growing those veggies in your garden and turn your home made meals into something truly special. Take care of your plants to make them productive by keeping them watered and harvested.

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