We used Eggshells in Our Garden. It Took 2 minutes & Improved Our Tomatoes 100%

We used Eggshells in Our Garden. It Took 2 minutes & Improved Our Tomatoes 100%

Ever see a tomato plant with the leaves dying back, or with dark brown tinting on the leaves? Or, have you ever seen a plant full of tomatoes…except all those tomatoes have brown and black spots on the ends that just seem to get bigger?

 

These are symptoms of calcium deficiency – and your garden needs some serious first aid!

 

You CAN fix it – if you’re fast enough! That’s where your leftover eggshells come in. If you have chickens or eat a lot of eggs, you can repurpose your leftover eggshells to improve your garden!

 

Calcium is an essential mineral, and it aids plant development by helping them form healthy, strong cell walls. Without calcium, your plants will experience lags and slow growth, and could die in the long-run.

 

As you can imagine, since we have so many ducks and chickens, we have a LOT of eggshells, and it’s a shame to just throw them away.

 

Eggshells, which are mostly calcium, are a perfect way to improve your tomato harvest  – and in this article, I’m going to show you how to do just that!

 

Stopping Disease In Its Tracks

Tomatoes can develop blossom end rot – which is a symptom of not having enough calcium. Should your tomatoes develop this disease, you can add crushed eggshells directly to the soil to help your plants.

 

Stop tomato diseases in their tracks by using eggshells in your garden!

 

Despite common belief, you can help a plant that’s developed blossom end rot, and the plants can produce healthy fruit once they’re no longer calcium deficient.

 

Before adding them to your garden, grind the eggshells in a blender or with a mortar and pestle to make the calcium more bioavailable. You can then mix the powder with water or  add it directly to the soil.

 

Just note that adding eggshells to your garden before the planting season will help prevent blossom end rot, and it’s better to prevent than to fix it.

 

Preventative Measures: Adding Calcium to Your Compost With Eggshells

While you can add eggshells directly into your garden, taking the extra step to compost them is also a good idea. As they degrade, they’ll help neutralize the pH of your compost, as well as leave rich minerals behind.

 

Be sure to wash and crust them before adding them to your compost so they won’t attract insects and other animals and so they break down faster.

 

Starting Tomato Plants In Eggshells

Another idea, if you’re feeling creative or truly committed to making sure your tomatoes have enough calcium, is to start your tomato plant seedlings IN eggshells.

 

When you transplant them, you can transplant the seedling AND the eggshell (which you’ll bury directly into the soil).

 

Stop tomato diseases in their tracks by using eggshells in your garden!

 

Whenever you start your tomato plants, clean out eggshells, leaving most of the shell intact. Place potting soil in the shell, and then insert your tomato seed.

 

As it sprouts, it will get nutrients from the soil, and the shell will continue to feed it long after it’s been transplanted (you should still side dress with compost when it flowers, however).

 

Safeguarding Against Pests

Coarsely crushed eggshells have the ability to develop a strong and highly effective barrier against the incidence and occurrence of pests such as slugs and snails, which also happen to love chomping down on tomatoes.

 

Slugs and snails have soft bodies, and the sharp spiky shells can cause some deadly harm – so the pests avoid the ragged eggshells at all costs.

 

Simply arrange the crushed layer of the eggshells around your tomatoes, and you can rest easy that snails and slugs will find something else to eat for dinner.

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Have you used eggshells to improve your tomato garden? Leave a comment below!

Garden In Small Spaces & Get A Great Harvest!

Garden In Small Spaces & Get A Great Harvest!

If you yearn for fresh veggies picked at the height of freshness, but aren’t sure how to garden in small spaces, then by the end of this article, you will have plenty of ideas to get you started.

 

For many years, I lived in a small apartment near Washington DC, but on my tiny balcony, I still managed to eek out some cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and strawberries.

 

Even if you have a small yard or no yard, you can still start a garden in strategic ways, and you can supplement your family’s diet while enjoying the pleasure of getting your hands in the dirt and watching the seeds you plant grow and thrive.

 

Decide on a location

Before you decide what to grow, you first need to consider light.

 

Your location needs to have plenty of sun; most vegetables need at least 6 hours of sun in order to grow and set fruit. If they don’t get that much, you will either have no vegetables or they will be stunted.

 

Does your porch or patio have room for a window box? You can install several planters, and choose attractive varieties such as pumpkins or butternut squash so your surroundings are beautiful as well as functional.

 

Your location should also be out of direct wind, and in an area where your plants will be protected.

 

Also think about how you will water your plants; if you have just a porch, you won’t be able to use a hose, for example.

 

If you yearn for fresh veggies picked at the height of freshness, but aren't sure how to garden in small spaces, then by the end of this article, you will have plenty of ideas to get you started!

Planters

When it comes to planters, you have lots of options. I had great luck growing cherry tomatoes in hanging planters. You can use ones that only cost $1 or ones that cost hundreds, but are self-watering, like this one.

 

Another option is a gardening table like this one, or a planter that aids in square foot gardening. Just be sure your planters drain well, and are spacious enough for your plants.

 

Don’t break the bank gearing up for gardening in your small space. Try galvanized buckets, food-safe five-gallon paint pails, or inexpensive window boxes.

How to decide what to grow

Even your window can support a window box that yields a plethora of herbs like mint, sorrel, basil, and thyme. You might also consider growing tea herbs like chamomile and rosemary. Oregano and parsley can be used in many ways to flavor a variety of meats or bulk up a salad.

 

Most of these herbs can be clustered together in a few window boxes to make the most use out of the least amount of space.

 

Cherry tomatoes, dwarf apple trees, and many other fruits and veggies thrive in appropriately sized containers.

 

Herbs, salad greens, and many varieties of peppers can be grown in kitchens, on window sills, or in the containers. Strawberries and cucumbers fare well in vertical gardens, and so does squash like zucchini or yellow squash.

 

When seedlings arrive at your local nursery, you can purchase some to kickstart your garden. Another more economical approach, is to ask friends and family for cuttings and sprouts or opt for low-cost, high-yield seeds or seedlings.

 

Remember, also, that many fruiting plants, like squash, require pollination to set fruit. If bees aren’t visiting your garden, you will need to hand-pollinate. You can do this easily with a Q-tip, gently sweeping pollen from a male flower and visiting female flowers on the plant, just as a bee would do.

Hydroponic gardening

Another option to maximize small spaces is hydroponic gardening. This is a different type of container gardening that involves no soil. To make starting easier, you can purchase a hydroponic kit that eliminates a lot of the guess work.

 

The frugal foodie in your family will love all the meals that can be prepared with the produce from your tiny gardens. One you have a system, you’ll find it’s quite easy to grow in smaller spaces.

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Do you garden in a small space? Got any advice? Leave a comment below!

 

10 Strategic Tips for Choosing the Best Perennial Plants for Your Garden

10 Strategic Tips for Choosing the Best Perennial Plants for Your Garden

Spring is here….and like everyone, we’re not just planting vegetables, but we’re looking to establish permanent flower beds to liven up duller parts of the homestead.

 

I don’t exactly have the greenest thumb out there, and perennials certainly aren’t my area of expertise, so I’ve invited my friend Valerie of Aspiring Homemaker to tell us how to choose perennials that are best for our gardens!

10 Strategic Tips for Choosing the Best Perennial Plants for Your Garden

 

Pouring over the pages of a nursery garden catalog, looking for the best perennial plant is one of my favorite things to do.  I believe most gardeners enjoy this dreaming and planning stage.

 

But wait.  Before you go out and buy, or order that perennial plant that seems to be calling your name, there are some things to consider.  

 

Rushing into it without thought, mostly likely will not get you the best perennial plant for your garden situation.  At best, you won’t be thrilled with your purchase, and worst case it might die, thus wasting your money.

What should I consider when buying a perennial plant?

 

Grab a notepad and pencil, or whatever you prefer to take some notes.  Answer the following questions on your notes.  Your answers will help guide you to find that perfect perennial plant for your garden.  One that you’ll love and that works with the overall landscape.

 

  1.  Do you have a specific location in mind, that you plan to grow your perennial plant?  

If you don’t, then you need to find a place that you desire to plant.  That is your number 1 question to answer.  It’ll be difficult to proceed without knowing that.

 

  1.  Is your location in full sun, shade or partial sun?

Pay attention to the sun pattern as well.  Will there be morning sun, or afternoon? Are there any trees that when leaved out, will block the sun.

 

Sometimes this can throw a gardener off in the planning.  An area will technically be in full sun, but as deciduous trees grow the condition turns to full shade.

 

  1.  Is the area near a southern exposure wall or other structure?  

This could make this area especially hot.  Some plants will not be able to successfully endure there.

 

  1.  Is there any other special conditions that might cause potential problems?  

Look around the location again.  If so, write it in your notes.

 

  1.  What is your soil type?  Do you have clay, sand, rich loamy soil?  

Before you plant your perennial, you’ll want to amend the soil to its ideal condition.  Nearly all plants need well drained soil.

 

  1. Is your potential plant location in the front of a bedding area, middle ground, or towards the back?  

You don’t want to place a low growing plant in the back of a flower bed.  It won’t be seem.  Similarly, you wouldn’t want (in most situations) to plant a large perennial in the front of the area.

 

The general pattern for best viewing is the largest plants in the back, creating a beautiful dramatic backdrop.  Your middle sized plants throughout the center areas.  Lastly the low growing plants in the front where they will be seen.

 

  1.  What plants are closest to the planting area?  

Write those down, and if they are blooming perennials, jot down the color of the flowers.  Make notes of everything to keep in mind regarding design.

 

  1.  What time of year do you want your perennial plant to bloom?   

Too often, this is sorely overlooked when planning perennial gardens. There will tend to be a rush of color when everything is in bloom for a short period of time; then nothing the rest of the year.  Write in your notes when the majority of your plants will be in bloom, particularly those nearest your planting location.

 

The exception to this would be if you intentionally want that big blast of color when everything is blooming at once.  Some gardeners will plant in a mono-color themed garden.  These are examples of intentional garden design, which can be very beautiful.  

 

  1.  Do you have spring bulbs planted in the area that are forgotten about?  

Many times when we think of an area we’d like to add a perennial to, the spot looks bare.  However, it might not truly be.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done this.  I’ve dug the hole to plant my new plant, only to realize I had spring flowering bulbs already there.

 

In this case, perhaps a decorative short, ground cover would be a good option.  It would fill the barren look, yet the spring bulbs can easily grow up through it.

 

  1.  What is your plant hardiness zone?  

This will tell you which plants can survive the climate you live in.

 

Summarize your perennial plant notes

 

Look carefully at the data you’ve written down.  There should be some key answers popping out to you.  Some of this information might actually be quite enlightening to you.

 

It may help your plant shopping process to briefly summarize your bottom line notes.  For instance, you may realize you need a tall perennial plant that needs full sun or at least afternoon sun.  It would need to be able to grow in sandy soil.  You decide that you need a plant to bloom in April, or at least have interest at that time of year.  You know your plant hardiness zone.

 

Now you can shop.  Look for plants that fall into your parameters.  You might discover perennials you had never considered before.  Consider plants that are perennial in nature, but perhaps you hadn’t really considered them in that light before.  Examples might be ornamental grasses, bulbs, small bushes, plants in which the foliage is the main attraction.

 

By shopping for perennials in this way, you are sure to find the best perennial plant for your garden.  It’ll be one that works for your situation, and your plant will have the best chance of thriving.

 

By Valerie Garner.  Check out my lifestyle blog at Aspiring Homemaker, you might enjoy the post Poisonous Plants and Children – Symptoms and Tips to Stay Safe.  You might consider following me on Pinterest.  Happy gardening!

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Which perennials are your favorite? Leave a comment below!

12 Vegetables You Can Start Now In Cold Frames! [Planting Guide!]

12 Vegetables You Can Start Now In Cold Frames! [Planting Guide!]

With spring on the way, you’re probably wondering “What vegetables can be started in cold frames?”

 

Great vegetable gardens for beginners ideas! 12 crops you can grow in cold frames for raised beds. Cold frames gardening just got easier!

 

 

(Want to grow a non-GMO organic heirloom garden? Click here to get the exact seeds I use in my gardens!)

 

There’s plenty you can do in your garden (in cold frames, that is!), even if frost is still in the air.

 

Here’s an answer to the question “What vegetables can be started in cold frames,” as well as tips to successfully grow them!

Lettuce

Want Non-GMO Organic Lettuce seeds? Click here to get the exact variety pack I love!

 

Direct sow your lettuce when temperatures inside your cold frame are between 45 F and 65 F.

 

Before sowing, till your bed very well since clumps of dirt or compost make it hard for the plant to germinate.

 

You can sow either individual seeds in rows or broadcast. After sowing, cover the seeds lightly with ¼ inch of soil.

 

When seedlings are 4” tall, thin to 4 – 16 inches apart depending on the lettuce you’re planting. Firm-headed lettuces require more space.

 

Plant lettuce with chives or garlic to control aphids. Sow continuously every 2 weeks for a continuous harvest.

 

Radishes

We love growing radishes because they’re as close as you can get to instant gratification in a garden. They’re ready to harvest in about 30 days.

 

Direct sow radishes 4-6 weeks before the last frost date in your area. Plant seeds ½ inch deep and 1 inch apart. Rows should be 12 inches apart and in full sun.

 

A week after seedlings emerge, thin radishes to about an inch apart. When crowded, radishes will sprawl and not form round roots. They will be woody and bitter.

 

Plant consecutively every two weeks for a continuous harvest of radishes.

 

what seedlings can you start in February?

 

Beets

Beets are perfect to start in a cold frame in March because they can survive frost and temperatures down to 32 degrees (although soil temp needs to be at least 50 degrees for the seeds to germinate).

 

CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE & DISCOVER 9 OTHER VEGETABLES YOU CAN START!