Radishes are some of the fastest-growing vegetables you can plant. That makes them ideal for marking out rows where you seed other, slow-germinating vegetables. They also make an ideal choice for a child’s garden. The radish is the quickest and easiest root crop you can grow, so don’t let them stay in the garden too long. Harvest them as soon as they are big enough to be eaten.
There are a wide assortment of radishes from long to short, in reds, whites, blacks, pinks and bi-colors, some hot and some mild. If you can’t decide which you want to grow, try some of the seed packets that give you an assortment or buy several packages of different kinds to find out which you like best.
Like most root crops, radishes are not fond of being transplanted. Many grow small enough that they won’t stunt their neighbors if planted closely, but try not to seed them too thickly. They often germinate in as little as a week under good conditions. Give them full sun, a rich soil and plenty of water.
Pull radishes as they are needed. They are good raw in salads, make colorful garnishes and some people even like them cooked.
During the holidays — or at any time of the year — your garden can be a treasure-trove for interesting craft materials. And it’s all free. You can wander through your garden or neighborhood and find an array of possibilities for fun creations you can make yourself or for projects with the kids. Many of these will be perfect for household decor projects,Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations and center pieces, landscape decoration and other uses.
Look for dried seed heads that might come in round or odd shaped pods. Check out the seeds themselves for fluffy parachutes or interesting seed shapes. Sticks and branches come in a never-ending choice of shapes, sizes and textures. Grab a pine cone and moisten it to make it close up or dry it out so it opens fully. Snip dried leaves from a clump of decorative ornamental grasses or gather colorful or interesting shaped leaves that have fallen to the ground. Look for textured rocks, pieces of bark, dried flowers or grass inflorescences. Grow pumpkins and gourds to pile up in autumn or to dry into musical instruments or hollow out into bowls.
You can even clip branches of evergreen foliage, berries or other interesting gifts-of-nature from the backyard. Decorate your discovered treasures with colored or metallic paints, spray them with foams or textures, add glitter, ribbons and bows. You can arrange these materials into wreaths, or centerpieces mixed with fruits or vegetables or lit candles. Add colored paper, foil, colored strings and other materials. Put together miniature scenes, constructs or other décor. Or hang your creations from a door or entryway, tree branches or windows. Nature offers so many ways to make the holidays look festive.
So, check out the autumn garden for crafts and décor. It is a great way to create Thanksgiving and Christmas ornamentation, have fun with the family, appreciate nature and her gifts, and create décor that will enhance your surroundings to celebrate this holiday season. And even when the holidays are over, check out your garden for Mother Nature’s free donations for craft supplies and projects to keep you busy all year round.
Carrots are not difficult to grow in the vegetable garden. Like many root crops, they are biennials, meaning they grow the first year and flower and set seed the second. Carrots need to be dug before they begin to form flower stalks or they will become hard, bitter and woody.
Grow carrots from seed. They don’t like to be transplanted so thin seedlings so there is space between plants for each to develop without crowding its neighbor.
Give carrots a rich, moist – but not wet – soil. They like compost but manure will cause roots to fork. Remove stones and plant them where nothing will interfere with roots growing downward. There are short-growing varieties that are best for stony or shallow soils.
Carrots grow attractive feathery foliage and can be grown among other garden plants if you don’t have a vegetable garden. They will need to be dug when they are large enough to be eaten, so if you plant them among other plants be sure to make sure you have room to dig without injuring their neighbors. You can also grow them in pots so long as they have enough depth for the long roots to grow uninhibited. Harvest them when they are big enough to be eaten. Younger carrots may be smaller, but they are tender and tastier than the older giants.
Not only are fresh carrots flavorful, but they are rich in vitamins. Look for wide, short, or round varieties or try one of the colorful cultivars in red, purple, yellow or white instead of the usual orange. Enjoy your garden carrots raw, cooked or store them in a cool dark place for the winter.
Christmas trees (or, if you prefer, Chanukah bushes) are traditional decorations for the end of the year holidays. If you want to decorate your home this Christmas and either don’t have the room or don’t want the hassle of an artificial or live fir Christmas tree, you might want to consider a different kind of tree. Just because we are in the habit of hanging ornaments on fir trees doesn’t mean there aren’t other alternatives that might be easier and more convenient. Here are some other ideas for Christmas trees.
Hang your favorite ornaments on a shrub in a pot that you can later plant out in your garden. Lavender bushes are often trimmed into conical shapes and sold at this time of the year as rich-scented alternatives to the usual fir tree. Boxwoods are also ideal for this purpose. Rosemary and several other plants can be trimmed into a small Christmas tree shapes, too. You can often buy these Christmas tree substitutes in your local garden center or home store. Or you can cultivate and trim your own. After the holidays are over you can move these potted plants onto a balcony, patio or plant them directly into your garden if you live where winters aren’t too severe. If you are short on space, consider using miniature plants and designing your own holiday scene in a dish garden.
House plants can make handy Christmas trees, too. The Norfolk Island Pine is a large growing tree that is often used as an indoor houseplant in its juvenile stage since it adapts well to a pot and to indoor conditions. It is very decorative and will look great clothed with Christmas ornaments. In fact, you can hang decor from just about any of your indoor plants and fill your home with holiday cheer without buying a Christmas tree. When the season is over there’s no fuss making the transition back to general plant décor after the glitter is packed away.
Another alternative is to go artistic. Build your own Christmas tree. Recycle coat hangers, bicycle or car parts, paint a branch silver and dangle ornaments off of it. Stitch up a Christmas tree with odd pieces of fabric and fill it with pillow stuffing it to make a soft Christmas tree that can keep your children cozy at night like a stuffed animal. Recycling materials from your house and garden can make for creative and sustainable Christmas decor. The possibilities for building your own Christmas tree alternative is limited only by your imagination.
Of course, you can always buy that traditional fir tree for the holidays. But don’t let that stop you from considering some other possibilities this year.
Coffee certainly has a place in the garden. There is nothing more relaxing than sitting back to sip a good cup of coffee surrounded by the beauty of nature.
You can even grow coffee as a plant; a natural small tree known as coffea arabica. But you’ll need to live in a very mild climate to grow it outdoors. Otherwise, you can plant it in a pot to enjoy on the patio during warm months and bring it indoors when the weather cools. It also makes a good house plant – but don’t expect to get sufficient or quality beans to make your own coffee from growing your own plants.
There are other ways coffee — or the materials involved in making coffee — can help out your garden. You can recycle those inexpensive paper coffee filters for gardening help. And don’t throw the coffee grounds in the garbage either. Here is a little list of some of the ways you can make more use of coffee in the garden.
- Use coffee grounds to acidify soil and add nitrogen. Add them to a compost heap or dig them directly into the soil.
- Use coffee filters for germinating seeds. Moisten the filters and sprinkle the seeds on top. Pop them in a clear plastic bag and wait for them to grow.
- Line the bottom of a pot. Instead of using crocking or newspaper, try using coffee filters to cover the drainage holes in the bottom of a pot so the water passes through, but the soil doesn’t.
- Absorb oil spills on the driveway or greenhouse. Coffee filters make excellent absorbent pads.
- Press flowers in a book using coffee filters to blot up any moisture as the plants dry.
You know those stretchy plastic netted bags you can sometimes find as packaging around avocados, potatoes, frozen turkeys and other offerings at the grocery store? Don’t just throw them away. They can be useful in the garden.
Try using small net bags to protect ripening fruit or nuts on small fruit trees. Or bag a growing squash or melon while small. A young watermelon or squash may grow large enough to fill a turkey bag. And in the meantime, and those destructive gnawing critters seem to lose interest in your edible prize growing in the bag, leaving it alone to reach maturity.
For some reason, even rabbits and mice seem to be turned away from the plastic netting yet the bags are fine enough to create no impression even on soft growth while allowing daylight full access to the ripening fruits and vegetables. So the next time you buy something in a plastic mesh bag, don’t throw the bag away. You can recycle net bags and protect your fruit and vegetables at the same time. This tip works well on trees, in raised vegetable beds and even on ground-level beds.
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