Chop & Freeze Your Vegetable Harvest for Later: Cutting through the misinformation & avoiding mushy beans
There’s nothing better than harvesting and eating fresh, homegrown, and organic vegetables fresh from your garden. Part of harvesting process is being ready to know how to cook, prepare and preserve all that food.
However, the second best thing to eating fresh vegetables from your garden is savoring the taste from your garden in the off-season.
Make the most out of your garden harvest by properly
In this video, learn what the top two questions we receive about preserving & storing your vegetable harvest PLUS …
– The BEST shortcut to storing your tomatoes
– Two vegetables you can simply chop and freeze
– Why can’t you just chop and freeze most vegetables for long term storage?
– How do you freeze vegetables so they don’t get mushy?!
– Plus… the benefits and drawbacks of freezing your garden harvest
Remember: Pulling garden freshness out of the freezer means quick meal preparation!
Store bought garlic is bred for shelf life, not flavor or nutrient density. Luckily, growing nutrient dense garlic varieties takes very little time and effort. You can grow enough garlic for a whole year in just a 4’x 6’ (1.2 x 1.8 m) garden bed. Discover how to grow your own garlic, bursting with flavor and nutrients for your health and vitality. Plus, get the pro tips on how to maximize your garlic nutrition.
Garlic is an ancient remedy
Garlic is one of the world’s oldest cultivated agricultural crops and has been used for centuries to treat a vast number of diseases and ailments. From malaria and meningitis to tuberculosis and typhoid fever, garlic has been recognized as a powerful healer throughout time in cultures across the globe.
There was a time when people hoped to cure misunderstood ‘evils’ with garlic and other alliums. Today, scientific studies are confirming many of these ancient medicinal remedies. More on the allium family and some of their benefits here.
Of all the alliums, garlic single handedly wards off more ‘evils’ than any other vegetable or herb. It’s no wonder it was revered to have magical properties.
Health and Disease Prevention You Can’t Buy: Studies show a direct correlation between flavor and the presence of nutrients for many foods. That great garlic flavor is an indicator of more nutrients and therefore more health for you. Allicin is just one of the many active compounds in garlic that supports your health. You can read the amazing benefits of allicin here.
You don’t need to settle for less. Enjoy superior flavor and health when you grow your own garlic. Plus, it’s easier than you might think!
How To Grow Flavorful and Nutrient Dense Garlic
When inviting plants into your life, it’s important to remember that plants want to thrive. They do whatever it takes to grow strong and turn to seed for the next generation of plants. Your role as a caretaker is to provide the best conditions for your plants to flourish. Here are the eight considerations when growing garlic.
1. Growing Garlic: A Great Choice for Busy Growers
Unlike other annual garden veggies and herbs, most garlic grows from fall, through winter and all the way to summer. Growing garlic takes very little maintenance so it’s great for busy people. Once garlic is in the ground, the only thing you may need to do is mulch before temperatures freeze. Then curl up with a cup of hot tea and take the entire winter off. That’s right, nothing left to do but wait until harvest in late spring, early summer!
2. Choosing the Right Garlic for Your Climate
Hardneck and softneck varieties can be grown in colder climates, but if you live in a warmer climate, you’ll want to choose a softeneck variety. For more on choosing the right variety, grab your complimentary printable Garlic Growing Guide here.
Sow garlic at the beginning of your cool season. Hardnecks need the first four to six weeks of growing to be between 32-55°F (0-12°C). Softneck and warmer tolerant garlic varieties can be planted in warmer temps, but need to be below 80°F (23°C) for the duration of their growth.
Garlic sprouts should be at least 6-8” (15-20cm) tall before temperatures drop below freezing. When sprouts are at least 6” tall, mulch the garlic bed with a light material, like organic straw to protect it through the winter. You can also use mulch to keep the soil cooler in warmer climates.
3. Your Garlic Plants Want 6-8 Hours of Sunlight
Without proper sunlight, your garlic plants cannot photosynthesize properly. Because sunlight hours change through seasons, you’ll want to make sure that wherever you plant your garlic it is getting 6-8 hours of full sun from fall through summer and up until harvest time.
4. Quality Soil Means Nutrient-Rich Food
Health starts underground. If growing in a container, choose a high quality, organic potting mix. If growing in soil, ensure it is well draining with plenty of fertility. Keep your fertility levels up by adding a 2” layer minimum of organic compost on the top of your potting mix or soil each growing season.
5. How Many Garlic Plants in How Much Space?
You don’t need a lot of growing space for garlic. You can grow enough garlic to savor year round in one 4’ x 6’ (1.2 x 1.8 m) garden bed. And that one garden bed can give you much more of that cherished garlic flavor beyond the bulbs.
Before your garlic head fully matures, grab an early harvest with hardneck varieties. Hardnecks produce edible shoots on the top of the plant called ‘scapes.’ Simply cut the scapes when they are between 6-10” (15-20cm) long and enjoy them raw or cooked. They make a delectable addition to sautees!
6. Watering for Perfect Garlic Harvests
When you first plant your garlic, water 1” (3cm) per week until leaves emerge. Then, reduce watering. No need to water once temperatures go below freezing.
When the ground thaws, water 1” per week in temperatures of 60-70°F (15-21°C) and 2” per week in temperatures of 70-80°F (21-26°C).
PRO TIP: Watering less often and more thoroughly is best.
7. Harvesting and The Secret to Getting Superior Garlic Harvests
Harvesting garlic is easy! Your garlic is ready for harvest when lower leaves turn brown and papery. Using a digging fork, gently insert the digging fork into the soil and lift the garlic heads from soil.
But you don’t have to wait until the garlic is mature to start harvesting. Aside from the scapes of hardneck varieties, you can enjoy delicious fresh spring garlic by harvesting before maturity and cooking immediately.
Important Tip When Growing Garlic: The secret to getting superior garlic harvests is to save the largest, healthiest bulbs for planting next year.
8. Curing and Storing Your Garlic
Once you’ve harvested your garlic, gently brush off the excess dirt. Never wash harvested garlic or get the bulbs wet as this can cause your garlic to mold. Hang your garlic or lay on a wire rack out of sunlight for 2-4 weeks in temperatures of at least 80ºF (26ºC). In colder climates, curing can be done indoors.
Once cured, cut the stems off and peel the very outer layer of skin off the bulbs. Store in a ventilated, dark, dry area at 60ºF (15ºC). When garlic is cured properly, it will store for anywhere between 4-12 months, depending on whether you’re growing the hardneck or softneck variety.
For everything you need to know about garlic varieties and growing, grab your own complimentary Grow Your Own Garlic Cheat Sheet in printable format here.
Celery Used as Disease Prevention for Thousands of Years
Did you know celery (Apium Graveolens) was used almost exclusively for medicinal purposes from 850 BC through the 17th century? A 2017 phytopharmacological review on celery confirms “…the Apium has emerged as a good source of medicine in treating various diseases.” From weight gain and skin conditions to rheumatic tendencies and chronic pulmonary catarrh, celery is proving itself to be a powerful plant for many ailments and chronic diseases.
Three reasons to grow your own celery
Protect yourself from toxic chemicals. Celery is ranked as one of the Dirty Dozen by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), making it one of the most contaminated produce items on the grocery shelves. When you grow your own, you know exactly how the plants were grown and create a toxic free future for yourself and your loved ones.
Choose foods that are nutrient rich. When you have no idea where your food is actually grown, that’s a big question mark where your health is concerned. Your health starts in the soil, and growing your own food allows you to focus on quality soil. Plus, food starts to decompose the moment it is harvested. There’s no telling how much of those vital nutrients were lost before your food reaches your plate.
The flavor of homegrown celery will surprise and delight you! It’s easy to overlook celery for flashier vegetables. But that is a big mistake, especially in the garden. Because homegrown celery is so much more fragrant than store bought. You quickly rediscover why it’s been in recipes for thousands of years, not just for its health benefits but for its unique homegrown flavor.
Important Tip No One Talks About When Growing Celery
Growing celery from seed is not recommended for beginners. It is one of the more finicky seeds and takes longer than most to germinate. When you find good quality, celery plants at a trusted nursery or farmers market, you will have more success and faster harvests.
If you can’t find celery plants, growing from seed is still an option. Discover best practices in the Grow Your Own Celery – Cheat Sheet.
How To Grow Nutrient Dense Celery
When inviting plants into your life, it’s important to remember that plants want to thrive. They do whatever it takes to grow strong and turn to seed for the next generation of plants. Your role as a steward is to provide the best conditions for your plants to flourish. Here are the eight considerations when growing celery.
1. Growing Celery is Great for People With Busy Lives
Celery is among one of the easiest plants to care for in the vegetable and herb garden. Once your garden is started, it takes just minutes each day to harvest and care for celery. Luckily, most pests avoid this fragrant herb making it easy to care for too.
2. There IS a Celery Variety for Your Climate
Plant your celery outside once night temperatures are above 55°F (12°C). Celery grows best in temperatures between 55-80°F (12-26°C). Living in a hot, dry desert climate? You’ll have better success planting in dappled shade or under shade cloth.
A favorite among many gardeners is Tango variety. It performs well under less than ideal growing conditions such as heat and moisture stress. And the flavor is fragrant with stalks that are more tender and less fibrous.
Which other varieties to consider? Tall Utah is an upright plant, rather than one that spreads out. For color, Giant Red or Chinese Pink varieties are a fun way to add some unusual color to your meals.
3. Your Celery Plants Want 6-8 Hours of Sunlight
Without proper sunlight, your vegetable plants cannot photosynthesize and grow. Your outdoor celery needs 6 hours of sunlight minimum. NOTE: Sunlight and grow lamps are not the same thing. When growing indoors, your celery plants need 16 hours under grow lamps.
4. Quality Soil Means Nutrient-Rich Food
Health starts in the soil. If growing in a container, choose a high quality, organic potting mix. If growing in soil, ensure good drainage, structure and fertility. Add a 2” layer minimum of organic compost on the top of your potting mix or soil each growing season.
5. How Many Celery Plants in How Much Space?
Celery is perfect for small gardens. While planting celery 6” (15cm) apart is recommended, squeezing that spacing to 4” has some benefits. It may lower your harvest per plant, but you’ll get more harvest overall since you have additional plants. This is a great option for people with small growing spaces.
For container gardens, choose a container that is 12” (30cm) wide and at least 12” (30cm) deep for four celery plants or cutting celery clusters. This will give you and your family of four several celery stalks for 2 out of 3 meals daily.
6. Water, Water and More Water!
Celery is 95% water by weight, and needs more water than most vegetables. It’s a marshland plant, so it prefers consistent moisture. That means watering each day (temperatures above 70) or every other day (temperatures below 70). Watering celery once a week typically doesn’t work unless you get significant condensation every night in your garden. How do you know if you need more water? If your celery plants wilt, water more.
Living in a hot, dry desert? Add 6” mulch to the soil which can drop the soil temperature by 10 degrees Fahrenheit! The soil holds more moisture which keeps roots cooler.
7. How to Harvest Celery for Maximum Yield
You might read that it takes celery 60-80 days before it’s ready for harvest. If you were growing a head of celery like you find at the grocery store, that might be true. But the good news is that you can harvest much sooner with this PRO tip!
PRO Tip for more abundant celery harvests: Cut what you need, when you need it. When the plant has at least 10 stalks, no matter how small they are, start harvesting and enjoying your celery. Simply harvest the outermost stalks and keep at least 7 stalks on the cluster at all times. Your plants may last the entire growing season with this continuous harvest method. That’s WAY better than waiting for one single head of celery!
To harvest, use a sharp knife or pair of scissors to remove each outermost stalk as close to the soil as possible. Keep the cuts as clean as possible as old plant material and ragged cuts are places for pests and diseases to fester.
8. Can You Store Celery For Later?
Like most herbs, it’s best to cut and use celery fresh. After all, that is the benefit of your garden, putting the absolute freshest food on your plate at each meal! But if you are harvesting a lot of celery at once, water is the trick to keeping celery fresh. One option is to place stalks in a glass of water on the counter. Display the vibrant green harvest while keeping it hydrated until you’re ready to use.
Celery is a staple in cuisines around the world! If you are considering preserving celery for all your winter soups, use a dehydrator to remove most of the moisture for long term storage. Pro tip: grind your dehydrated celery into a powder and store in an airtight container in a dark cool space to enjoy your harvests year round.
Get the complimentary Grow Your Own Celery – Cheat Sheet with everything you need to grow celery in this two-page printable format.
Whether you’re shopping for a loved one who is new to growing food or a seasoned gardener or anything in between, we’ve got you covered. Get quality essential garden tools and soil fertility supplies so you can save time, work with ease, and maximize your harvest yield and nutrition. And for all you folks who love to give gag gifts and stocking stuffers, check out the fun bonus section!
A Tip for Gift Shopping in A COVID Economy
This year, it’s all about finding new ways to celebrate our family and community. How special will the gardener in your life feel when you get together with friends and family and pool your resources for a unique gift. Tell everyone to ship one or two garden items to you, then you can create a customized basket. Make sure each item is labeled with the gift giver’s name. And remember to have everyone send a sweet card wishing them an abundant first harvest.
The Number One Gift Every Grower Needs
The number one tool every new grower needs first is a good garden mentor that can show them the ropes, empower them and support them when they come up against challenges. This is what GrowYourOwnVegetables.org is all about. Here’s three programs that provide the best garden instruction for everyday people. You don’t need a science degree to grow amazing food, just easy to understand lessons.. And right now, take advantage of bonuses worth hundreds of dollars when you grab these courses today.
The How to Grow $400 of Vegetables & Herbs in 40 Days Course is great for beginners and self starters that want quick results their first 40 days of growing. It’s a fun 40-day garden adventure to kickstart your garden fast.
Holiday Gift Basket: Choose Your Garden Harvest Container
When you’re building your Holiday garden gift basket for your loved one, forget placing the gifts in an actual basket. Instead, use the container as an opportunity to give your loved one of the most essential garden supplies: a harvest container.
Our top choices for harvest containers are great for small, household gardens. They were chosen based on the following criteria: durability, ease of use, , and multi-functionality.
Multipurpose Garden Harvest Basket Mod Hod Blue:
Harvesting fresh from the garden can bring unwanted soil inside This Garden Harvest Basket is ideal for rinsing your harvest outside so you keep your kitchen clean.
Garden Hod, Small:
This wood and metal harvest container makes this the eco-friendly choice. PLUS, it allows you to wash your harvest outside while it’s still IN the basket so you keep your kitchen clean.
Our top harvest container choice for large garden harvests is none other than the original Tub Trug with the flexible 3.7 gallon colander. This flexible and extremely durable harvest container is the number one garden container for all your garden tasks. Made from 100% food grade plastic, these containers are frost and UV resistant!
– Collecting and transporting weeds, making weeding easier with less mess.
– Carrying compost and amendments along while you plant seeds and seedlings, You can even DRAG it preventing awkward hauling of bulky bags.
– Washing harvests so you keep the soil out of your kitchen.
– Collecting larger harvests in the garden eliminating back and forth trips.
Holiday Gift Basket Garden Essentials
When it comes to gardening, there is such a thing as too many tools. The more tools you have, the more cleaning and upkeep you do and the more things you lug around the garden. So when it comes to the essentials, less is best. The most important tools for growers are gloves, pruners and a set of hand tools.
The Flex Dial Bypass Pruners will be the best pruners you’ll EVER have. Do your hands get tired pruning and harvesting? Adjustable grip fits YOUR hand & reduces fatigue during repetitive cuts. Includes full steel core & ComfortGEL Grips.
Choosing a hand tool set is so important! A gardener’s work is physical so it’s vital to care for your body and avoid unnecessary strain. Even having the proper tools can put stress on your body if they are poorly designed or not super durable.
Originally made for people with arthritis, these stainless steel tools are really just good for anyone wanting to take care of their body. They feature non-slip soft grip handles that keep hands and wrists in a neutral position, taking the stress off hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders and backs with the ergonomic design. Choose the long handled set for your loved ones who need to sit while gardening more often and those who are wheelchair bound.
PRO TIP: For successful gardening, watering less often and more deeply is best for plant health. The best method for deep watering is to water lightly, then come back and water more deeply after about 10-15 minutes.
The Holiday Garden Premium Gift Basket Additions
Of course there can be no gardening without seeds and soil fertility! But before we showcase our unique seed finds, you should know: garden set ups are often extremely costly. And if you’re just starting, on a tight budget, or renting your home, you may not want to spend a bunch of money and time on garden set ups only to walk away later. That’s why we love these!
100 Gallon Raised Bed Grow Bags These 4 feet (1.2 meters) diameter, 12 inches (30cm) deep bags have reinforced handles for transport, and they are durable! They last three years in normal gardening conditions. And the best part? They are only $29.99 each. That’s only $10 per year for a whole raised bed.
– New gardeners
– Gardeners on the Go
– Growers with physical limitations
– Busy Growers who need to have it done already!
Buy, open, fill with raised bed soil media, and start growing! Built to last, even commercial growers use them. So if you’re looking for the perfect raised bed for your gardener, the 100 Gallon Grow Bag is where it’s at. Need something deeper? Check out the 200 gal bags. Oh, and they’re also sustainable, made of food safe recycled plastic and felt!
Garden Holiday Gift Basket Top 3 for Soil Fertility
Soil Fertility is EVERYTHING! Studies show that about 80% of all pest and disease issues come from less than ideal soil conditions. And while chances are your gardener will need more than what might fit in your harvest gift basket, a sampler pack can help set your new grower on the right path. And for seasoned growers, a sampler pack can help them experiment with soil fertility options they might not yet know about.
Baby Greens: This collection is great for brand new growers who are dedicated to a healthy lifestyle full of fresh, nutrient dense food or anyone who wants to add a handful of health to every meal. Also a good choice for indoor winter growing.
Chef’s Herb Garden: Some herbs (like rosemary) can be a little tricky to germinate, but overall, this herb collection is a great choice for those interested in a kitchen herb garden and people who just want to dip their toes into the gardening world.
Container Veg: This collection is a great choice for container gardening, raised bed gardening and gardening in small spaces. It’s also a good option for new growers who want to dive in to gardening and learn how to grow a variety of fresh food.
The Heirloom Collection: This collection is for growers with at least a few seasons worth of experience. But we don’t want to deter new growers from going all in either! If your new but you’re diving straight into larger scale homestead gardening, this collection is an amazing collection of seeds. All these open pollinated varieties have been around for at least half a century. Pro Tip: Store seeds in a cool dry dark environment. An airtight container in the fridge works well. They will last much longer this way.
Fall Veg Collection: When most people start growing, they immediately head for the summer season vegetables like our beloved juicy tomatoes! But warm season crops can be more challenging than the cooler season crops. That’s why we like the fall garden collection for new growers. Start with the easy wins like radishes, beets, and kale in the cooler weather of fall… and bonus! These crops can be grown in spring too so you get double the harvest!
Taste the rainbow with purple carrots, striped tomatoes, red Brussel sprouts and Bright Lights Chard! The Funky Veg Kit sports 20 non-GMO seeds per variety, the perfect amount for a small vibrant colored garden.
Wildflowers are beautiful and attract bees and butterflies for pollination! Eight “Throw N’ Grow” organic seed bombs (chemical-free & non-GMO). We love this idea for people who want to have some outside fun with the kids.
The Ultimate Garden Gag Gifts
Right now, deadly fires rage across the drylands, destroying everything in its path. As ash debris scatters into the air before floating down to blanket the earth, the effects of these fires span miles beyond the fire zones. As a grower, you can not only protect your vegetable and herb gardens from the effects of these wildfires, but you can also help protect your home and neighborhood from fires.
Protect Your Community from Wildfires
As a grower, you can help protect your community from wildfire devastation using a few simple but effective preventative techniques:
Replace anything made with wood. Since anything made of wood is a contributor that fuels fire, eliminate any structures you can that is made of this material. Replace wooden benches and fences with metal ones, remove any dead branches and dry materials you see on your property. You don’t have to put these branches and dry organic materials in the trash. Put them in your compost pile and be diligent about keeping it moist with the brown to green ratios.
Automate your irrigation. One of the most powerful tools growers have at their disposal is automated drip line irrigation. This ensures your property gets the proper moisture it needs, reducing dry matter that easily catches fire. Drip line irrigation is also easy to install, saves growers a lot of time spent watering, conserves water, reduces plant pathogens spread through water molecules in the air, and helps prevent water runoff and nutrient leaching.
If the fires get too close and you have to evacuate, you can increase watering times to make sure the ground stays nice and saturated, and help slow the fire down should the fire reach the property. It won’t stop the fire but can give firefighters an edge. Every extra second counts.
Choose alternative building materials. If you’re thinking about building a shed or other structure on your property, consider using natural building materials like rock or cob (a natural building material made from straw, clay, and sand). Cob houses can be insulated with slip straw (a straw soaked in a liquid cob material) that is extremely fire-resistant when properly made.
Let nature help you. Nature is intelligent. Native plants in desert regions are drought tolerant. They require a very low amount of water so they won’t dry out the soil the way plants that need a lot of water will do to desert soils. Many of these desert plants (like succulents) hold large amounts of water in their leaves.
Replace your water-loving grass lawns and landscape plants with drought-tolerant, native plants. These beautiful and diverse plants can not only create an aesthetic landscape but together, act as a natural water tank against fire.
Ultimately, the goal for prevention is to eliminate anything you can that could fuel the fire. And while one person making these changes won’t save a whole community from burning down, spreading this information to others in your community and encouraging them to implement these strategies can create a fire resistant landscape.
Protect Your Garden and Harvest from Wildfires
While the ash from trees can actually improve gardens, that’s not the only ash you’re getting in a wildfire. Ash from buildings made with conventional construction materials are laden with chemicals you don’t want in your food. While the construction ash is diluted with the forest ash, you’ll still want to take every precaution you can to reduce chemical contamination.
Cover your garden. If you can, cover your garden with clear or translucent plastic. If you have season extension low tunnels or cold frames over your garden beds, use this to cover the top and reduce ash debris. It won’t eliminate the ash you’ll get from wind drift, but it will help.
If you don’t have season extension, even covering your garden area with a waterproof tent can reduce chemical ash exposure. Enclose the tent on all four sides but leave the side covers a foot or so off the ground to allow enough air to get in and circulate. Adding a small fan inside the tent will help your plants get the air circulation they need.
Not everyone can cover their whole garden. If this is the case for your situation, you can vastly reduce the amount of ash your soil absorbs by laying plastic weed barriers down on the soil.
Dust wildfire ash off your garden plants. If you notice large amounts of dust on your plant leaves, you’ll want to remove that to make sure the plants can transpire as needed. Dust will block the pores of the leaf (called the stomata) and prevent the plant from cooling. It will also affect the plants ability to absorb sunlight. Gently dust plants with a mildly damp cloth.
Use your best judgment when harvesting in the ash zone of a wildfire. Any amount of construction ash can still be harmful. Covering your garden will help, but you’ll still want to take precautions when harvesting.
Luckily fruiting crops like tomatoes don’t absorb through the skins of the fruit. Still, wash fruits three times to ensure you’ve removed all the ash debris. Use a soft brush on the more porous fruiting crops (like beans) while washing. As an extra precaution, peel fruiting crops that can be peeled and dispose of the peel.
For root crops, so long as a large amount of ash doesn’t fall on the garden and get absorbed into the soil, you can safely harvest roots and give them an extra rinse or two. However, cut and dispose of any root tops exposed above ground.
For herbs and leafy crops, you’ll want to take the most precaution. Leaves are more absorbent and porous so there is more potential for contamination. Leaves that are soft and fuzzy (like sage and comfrey) should not be eaten. If you’re farther away from the fire and the ash is light and you’ve been dusting the leaves, you’ll still want to wash your shiny leafy greens multiple times.
The closer you are to the fire, the less you should harvest. Pay close attention to the health of your plant and consider how much ash your plant is being exposed to. If there’s a thick heavy layer of ash or you’re downwind from a construction zone burn, don’t harvest. It’s better to be safe.
The good news is, that doesn’t mean you have to start all over and lose your plants! Instead, take note of where the ash is, dust leaves and remove as much ash from the soil as you can. Once the fire is out and the air has cleared, remove as many leaves as you can. For crops like kale and chard, remove all but the 3-5 inner most leaves. For lettuce, cut the whole head off about 3” above the soil line (most lettuces will grow back again if not cut too short). For herbs, prune them as deeply as you can. Once the new growth has appeared, you can begin harvesting again.
Gardening in Wildfire Country: It’s Not All Bad News
While wildfires require gardeners take extra steps to protect their vegetable and herb harvests, it’s not all bad news. There are some side benefits our gardens get from wildfires too. Knowing the benefits, you can capitalize on them, bringing the most benefit to your garden possible.
In desert drylands where fires are most prevalent, the sunlight is very intense. This high-intensity heat can cause plant burn and heat stress that lower plant immunity and make them more susceptible to pests and disease. It also dries out any exposed soil, rendering it barren. Barren soils have less insulative properties than fertile soils resulting in more extreme temperature swings that accelerate climate change.
The debris from wildfires diffuses sunlight. The soil and plants receive relief from the intense heat and light. And the diffused light also allows the vegetation to absorb light in areas that normally don’t receive it, reaching even the lowest leaves of plants. This increases plant vigor, producing healthier, happier plants. To get the most gain out of this, leave as many leaves on the plant that you can and keep your plants dusted. This will increase the chances the plant survives and thrives through the wildfire ash zones.
Wildfires also release a high amount of carbon dioxide into the air. While this isn’t a good thing, if your plants are dusted, they can get a super dose of this and increase their ability to thrive through an ash zone.
Fires also break down nutrients and minerals at rapid speed, paving way for super healthy growth. This new growth is nutrient-dense, providing a higher quality of pollen and nectar for our precious beneficials and pollinators. This brings growers an opportunity to increase their beneficial population. Take advantage of the post-fire opportunity by increasing the native plants that provide habitats for our precious beneficials.
Important Note from the GYOV Team
With thousands forced to evacuate and many more thousands dealing with poor air quality and other consequences caused by the wildfires, our thoughts are with you. Our hearts go out to those experiencing loss and we send our blessings to all of you. We hope the information in this article will help you harvest confidently during this challenging time, reduce future devastation to our communities, and rebuild stronger, thriving ecosystems.
Like so many others, we are devastated and heartbroken by the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless others. Our thoughts and prayers are with their loved ones.
2020 has challenged us on so many levels. The silver lining of these challenges is that it is providing an opportunity to focus on what really matters even when it’s difficult. It allows us a chance to acknowledge aspects of our reality that open a deep and very old wound so we can reconnect as a whole Earth community.
There’s a painful divide in our culture, one that is hundreds of years old.
If you’re following the Black Lives Matter movement, you’ve probably heard the phrase “structural racism”. But what does it mean beyond its definition?
What you may not know is that BK Farmyards (our first business name) was rooted in social justice… specifically food justice.
In our Brooklyn community, we recognized that there were higher rates of asthma and chronic diseases like heart disease, Alzheimers, and diabetes among people of color.
And there was also less access to fresh, affordable, organic and culturally appropriate foods among our communities of color. As we converted unused land to farms, we focused on how we could make a difference in our own community and bridge the fresh food gap causing higher chronic disease and illness happening in our own neighborhoods.
One of our projects, the Youth Farm, provided leadership and job opportunities for young people of color. It was a space for people of all races and ages to come together to explore what food justice means.
We started getting press because it was an exciting project.
So we made an internal agreement. Media and press were only allowed to cover the project if they were willing to use the words “structural racism” in their article. We wanted to use our platform to acknowledge biases in our country that lead to unequal health burdens placed on people of color.
Some media agreed to use the phrase. But many editors took it out, because it was scary to acknowledge. As you might imagine, we also lost a lot of press. But it didn’t change our mission… or our minds.
The message that Black Lives Matters is prevalent now, because of all the people willing to take the risk to stand up and give voice to what’s important.
On the one hand, my heart hurts because it took hundreds of years and cost hundreds of thousands of sacred lives to acknowledge this massive structural divide.
On the other hand, it makes me want to sing.
Because we’re here now, acknowledging what’s been here for far too long and investigating it together.
This moment in history is beckoning us towards something new…
It’s time for us to listen deeply.
It’s time for radical self acceptance.
It’s time for us to make space for all the uncomfortable conversations, because they are the ones that matter most.
We are being met with new information and all the ideas we stood by yesterday are going through a metamorphosis. Together, we have the power to shift this transformation into a beautiful new life and improve the health and well being of all our communities.
It’s time to acknowledge our own fears of speaking out and taking risks.
Conversations are the glue that holds us together, that connects us.
And it’s a time to forgive ourselves when we accidentally stick our foot in our mouth and say something that is unintentionally biased.
Because biases gone un-investigated can lead to fatal errors in judgment.
And if you feel called to DO something, there are a couple things you can do to amplify the message that Black Lives Matters.
You can join a protest and help the people of this movement create more peace simply by standing next to them and uniting your voice with theirs so they feel and are heard.
And have an uncomfortable conversation with someone that doesn’t look like you.
Have them with your friends and family too.
Remember, your garden is wonderful place to sit and listen and celebrate the biodiversity of this Earth too.
If you’re anything like me you’ll want to jump to solutions immediately…it’s human nature. But I am reminded of a conversation I had with Nikki Silvestri in 2013 when she was Executive Director of The People’s Grocery in Oakland.
I was telling her that I felt helpless, that I just wanted to DO something…, to be part of a solution.
And she told me that the only thing to do was to love.
To face the pain and bring love and radical and unconditional acceptance of myself and others.
It’s time the wounded voices of our communities be heard and the broken heart of our culture be healed. Peace comes from opening our eyes and ears and hearts.
Is it possible that we are ready for that? The Black Lives Matter movement gives me great hope.
I appreciate you for reading this email. For listening and searching for answers to your questions about what matters to you.
Peace & carrots,
Stacey Murphy & the GYOV Team
Seedlings are the baby plants you see at the nurseries, ready to be transplanted into your garden. But you might want to grow your own instead. While there are many benefits of starting your own vegetable and herb plants from seeds, there is one BIG reason why you might consider purchasing instead. Here’s the most important considerations for growing seedlings at home.
Benefits to growing your own:
- You know exactly how the seedlings were grown. Ensure your plants are grown organically without any toxic chemicals entering your garden. When purchasing ask whether plants have been treated.
- You ensure your plants immunity is high for a healthy life. Temperatures and conditions are important to baby plants, and stress at a young age can cause transplant shock or a weak plant that doesn’t yield well. Sometimes you bring home a seedling, plant it, and it dies. And you’re not sure if it’s something you did. But it could just be a plant that wasn’t cared for properly.
- You have complete control of when you put plants in the ground. When purchasing transplants, you are relying on what’s available at the stores. And what you want is not always there when you need it. Growing your own means you can plan ahead for your most abundant harvest.
- You have access to hundreds of varieties of vegetables. There are so many varieties of mustard greens and tomatoes on the planet that nobody could even tell you how many there are. And that’s true of most vegetables. Choose exciting varieties for flavor, yield, what grows well in your climate.
- You save money. Once you get the hang of growing HEALTHY plants and you have all the supplies, you will save money. However, the first few years, planting your own can actually be more expensive than buying transplants. This is the one BIG reason you may want to purchase instead.
Three garden supplies essential to growing your own seedlings
You’ll need 1) growing medium (not soil), 2) containers to put it in, and 3) grow lamps if you’re growing indoors. We’ll focus on containers in this article. But real quick, our favorite growing medium is Fox Farm Ocean Forest, It’s got everything your plants need in one bag, from earthworm castings, bat guano, sea-going fish & crab meal to forest humus and moss. This mix will not disappoint! Click here to get it on Amazon. And here is a bulk order option.
This article is too short to include recipes for making your own mix. A couple key ingredients to include are perlite, vermiculite, peat moss or Canna Coconut Coir and Wiggle Worm – Worm Castings. For small gardens choose the 4.5-pound size. For larger gardens choose the bulk 30-pound option.
This is not a complete list, just some of our favorites to get you started.
Reusable Containers for Starting Vegetable and Herb Seeds
Generally, plastic trays are flimsy and end up in the landfill after just one or two uses. However, one farm is changing all that and helping to redefine our relationship to the Earth. Bootstrap Farmer offers durable trays with a one year warranty against warping and breakage… that’s amazing! Clean trays between use to prevent disease spread.
These are the best, longest lasting trays on the market. And they have different cell sizes available. Get cells for smaller varieties like lettuces here and get larger six cells for your larger transplants like tomatoes and cucumbers here.
Containers You Plant Right in the Ground
Avoiding plastic altogether?, Consider Fertilpots over at Arbico Organics which compost right into your soil. Plant the whole thing in your garden and avoid any transplant shock from handling the plant. Unlike many similar compostable products, they are OMRI listed meaning the ingredients have been tracked as organic. Fertilpots are breathable and help prevent roots from getting root bound, too. However, the downside is that you have to keep buying more.
“Soil Blocking” Eliminates the Need for Containers
Soil blocking is a process where you press your growing medium together into squares that hold together without the need for containers. Once you have the right equipment for this process, you never have to buy containers ever again. However, you do have a higher initial investment to get started.
There are benefits to this method: no cleaning trays, conserving growing medium, and providing optimal root health. The details of how to soil block effectively is the topic of another post. NOTE: You’ll need to mix your own special growing medium (not one that you can buy at a big box store), and a bit of time to get used to the process.
Soil blockers are for anyone who wants to get away from plastic, has a little extra time and money, wants the healthiest seedlings and plans to garden long term.
20 Cell Soil Blockers come in a hand held and stand up versions. The stand up soil blocker is much easier on your wrists, shoulders and back. 4” Soil Blockers are the largest blocker available and are perfect for your larger transplants like tomatoes, gourds, cucumbers, eggplant, etc.
How do you make your garden decisions?
Ultimately, there are many garden choices you will make. Some questions to consider: What do you really have time for? What feels like the best environmental choice for you? And what amount of investment feels good right now? Whatever suits you and your lifestyle is the right choice for you. And that goes for making decisions about seed starting at home, too.
3 Keys for Successful Indoor Seed Starting
Here are the 3 most important keys to help you grow strong seedlings and transplants. Stick around for the BONUS key at the end… it may be the difference between killing all your seeds and being able to grow your own healthy babies. NOTE: This video is not intended to show you EVERYTHING about seed starting, just to help you avoid some common mistakes growers make.
Susan is a dietician who knows that nutrition is absolutely fundamental to a healthy life. So Susan started gardening right at home… And eventually bought a whole farm to expand what she could grow!
With the new location, Susan and her husband are running into some typical challenges, experiencing new pests and wondering how they can work with their climate better.
Watch the conversation here for some climate tips (and garden advice from a Dietician!).
Growing greens year round means you don’t have to rely on the grocery store for your fresh, organic food… which is great if you keep having recalls on greens in your local area! That’s why Shannon started this beautiful indoor closet garden. Plus some hidden benefits that her doctors can’t explain… gardens really do HEAL!
Recently, Shannon asked how she might improve her yields. Discover what she has already done how she might tweak her system to impove her yields with tips on watering, “flies” and lights here.
Finding the right holiday gift for a gardener isn’t easy. Gifts that often appear helpful aren’t. And sometimes the ones that seem mundane can be fantastic. It can take years for growers to find gadgets and supplies they love. So how can friends and family find the perfect garden gifts this holiday season? We’ve got you covered! Here’s the top ten most useful and exciting products on the market for your holiday gift list.
#10 The Gift of Time
Even when a garden is optimized, growers typically spend 40% of their time harvesting. That’s almost half our total time in the garden! That’s why this tool can make all the difference. Check out these 5 Blade Scissors!
Why waste time harvesting your food, hauling it inside, pulling out the cutting board and knife, and using a bunch of energy and time chopping? Just grab the scissors and cut your harvest right into the bowl! And with five blades, you’ll save even more time and energy.
#9 Garden Like A Superhero
Okay, so while this tool isn’t going to make you more powerful than a locomotive, you will be able to prune with 3 times the cutting power with the Fiskars 32-Inch PowerGear Bypass Lopper.
Fiskars makes great products in general, but this Lopper is made with reinforced fiberglass composite making it lighter than others.
It also sports a unique gear technology giving you more power without straining your hands, wrists and muscles cutting those thick branches. In fact, you can easily cut branches that are up to 2” (5cm) in diameter with this puppy. And the corrosion-resistant, non-stick, fully hardened blade means it will last a lifetime. In fact, they stand behind their product with a lifetime warranty and their claim to pruning fame: “This superior- grade tool is lighter, stronger, and more powerful than anything you’ve ever used.”
#8 The Mini-Superhero
For smaller pruning tasks, check out our favorite tool in the garden, the Bypass Pruner by Corona . Because no two hands are alike!
The flex dial allows you to set the pruners to match YOUR hand size and to adjust to the size branches you’re cutting, reducing hand fatigue.
#7 Love Yourself As Much As Your Garden
Body abuse is common in the garden. Growers, you know what I’m talking about. There is that weed that just won’t let go and you won’t give up even though you left the proper tool in the shed. Or you’re determined to finish shoveling mulch or compost even though you’re tired. For us seasoned growers, perhaps you simply turn your head to look at a beautiful butterfly and crick your neck. 🤣
A gardeners work is physical and it’s important to take care of your body and avoid unnecessary strain. Even having the proper tools can put stress on your body if they are poorly designed. That’s what makes these tools so great.
Originally made for people with arthritis, these stainless steel tools are really just good for anyone wanting to take care of their body. They feature non slip soft grip handles that keep hands and wrists in a neutral position, taking the stress off hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders and backs with the ergonomic design.
The tools also allow gardening from a seated position as well. This is especially helpful for anyone with knee issues or where bending is restricted. The long handles allow for reaching to the back of the beds.
A long trowel, fork, cultivator and hoe are included in this set of 4. Don’t need all four? They sell them separately, so you can just grab the ones you need!
#6 Worms in the House
Yep, you heard me right! Vermicomposting can now be done right in your family room with style… and without mess. While we haven’t tested this product out yet, we couldn’t wait to share this brand new composting bin for all of you who boldly go where no gardener has gone before!
Marketed as suitable for a family of 1 to 3 people, the design of this indoor ecosystem is super sleek. According to company, the Biovessel aesthetics were accidental as it is designed from almost two years of biological research, experiments, and observation on the process of food waste decomposition to maximize efficiency.
The ease of use makes it perfect for busy people; simply add food waste and it does the work for you. No more running out to the garden every time you need to discard your scraps (which makes it good for cold winters!). Even for large families, this Biovessel makes a great mini composter for smaller scraps.
There is a bit of monitoring of moisture, light, and pH levels, as with all composting. When done correctly, there is NO ODOR. And with the exception of the 7 Liters of bedding soil and 500–600g of composting worms, the Biovessel comes with everything you need to start composting.
This is an awesome learning tool for teaching kids about composting and encouraging good environmental habits. With so much waste generated by modern ways of living, this design brings sustainability home for even the most densely populated cities, transforming waste into one of the most precious resources on the planet: worm castings.
#5 Bringing the Indoors Out
We love nature so much that we talk about bringing the outdoors in most of the time. But in this case, we’re bringing the indoors OUT to save you tons of time and energy in your garden with one simple tool: a hose trolley.
A Hose Trolley is a greenhouse growers best friend. And
for the outdoor gardener who uses a hose to water, it
makes watering plants a breeze! It keeps nozzles clean,
reducing the chance of spreading plant diseases, prevents hose wear and tear, and eliminates potential for tripping and accidental plant damage that happens when hauling the garden hose all around the greenhouse.
There are many hose trolley’s on the market, but we chose one most likely to stand up to outdoor elements, so you can rig this in your OUTDOOR garden too (for those without greenhouses). This Hose Trolley Kit includes an aircraft cable corrosion-resistant stainless steel pulley, hose supports, rope clip, hose turnbuckle, 10 additional feet of hose to get to the spigot, a trigger released lance, and their best hose – the Gilmour Flexogen. It also comes in 75’ and 100’ lengths for the extra large gardens.
#4 Craftsmanship at its FINEST
Few tools are hand-crafted nowadays. No tools that we’ve found can compete with the more common mass-produced tools on the market… with one exception.
Made with hand forged steel, wrought iron, hand turned American Black Walnut wood, each tool is built individually using traditional blacksmithing techniques. Each tool is set into its own hand-turned hardwood handle so there are no welds increasing the strength of the tool.
Of all our years and experience gardening, we’ve never come across such beautifully handcrafted tools. Each tool is unique and put quite simply, a masterpiece.
This set of five garden tools is perfect for both beginner and experienced gardeners. You’ll receive a large planting trowel, a narrow perennial trowel, square hand hoe, pointed hand hoe, and a three- tined rake. So if you’re shopping for a special someone with an eye for high-quality traditional crafts and an interest in gardening, this collection will light up not just their holiday season, but every growing season too!
#3 Garden Smarter, Not Harder
Garden set ups are often extremely costly. And when you’re just starting, on a tight budget, or renting your home, you don’t want to spend a bunch of money and time on your garden set up only to walk away later. That’s why we were excited to find these:
These grow bags are just over 4 feet (1.2 meters) in diameter and 12 inches (30cm) deep. They have reinforced handles for transport and are reusable lasting three years in normal gardening conditions. And the best part? They are only $29.99 each. That’s only $10 per year for a whole raised bed.
While these raised bed grow bags are great for anyone who wants to grow, they are perfect for gardeners just setting up and those on the go. They’re also great for gardeners with physical limitations, eliminating material hauling, heavy lifting, and best of all ZERO labor. Buy, open, fill with soil media, and start growing!
Built to last, even commercial growers use them since they have superior aeration and drainage to raised beds with solid sides. In fact, the only products that Bootstrap Farmer sells are ones they use on their farm. So if you’re looking for the perfect raised bed for your gardener, this 100 Gallon Grow Bag is where it’s at.
Want to get more than one? Get 3 for $69.99. Oh, and one more thing: they’re also sustainable, made of food safe recycled plastic and felt.
#2 The Micro-Dream Tray
As a commercial microgreen grower, having the right trays are invaluable! So many of the trays on the market are downright junk and you’ll be lucky if you get two to three plantings from them. But these are different…
Combine them with these extra strength 5×5 trays (also known as 801 inserts) made of heavy duty, recycled, food grade, polypropylene plastic and guaranteed not to warp or break. I was skeptical, so I put them to the test. And I cannot imagine going back to what I was doing before.
These trays are great for anyone wanting to grow more varieties per batch (fits eight 5×5 trays to one 1020 flat), reduce their environmental waste, and save money. Not only that, but their design provides better drainage than the traditional inserts, saving even more with reduced crop losses. As an added bonus, I ran them through the dishwasher with no problem. These trays are the stuff of dreams for micro growers.
Say goodbye to flimsy non-sustainable trays for good with Bootstrap Farmers’ superior quality 5×5 Microgreen Trays.
#1 The Garden Tower® 2
Grow up to 50 plants and vegetables in 4 sq. feet (1.2 sq meters) with this Garden Tower! So much thought went into the materials and design of this indoor or outdoor growing container there was no way it could be anything but number one on our list!
The Garden Tower® 2 is made of 100% food grade HDPE (non-toxic, BPA & PVC free plastic) components), FDA-approved dye and UV-protection for health, durability and recyclability.
Supporting up to 1,000 lbs, the feet allow the tower to be anchored securely to any platform while still being able to rotate 360° for optimized sun exposure and growing in tight spaces
Planting pockets allow for easy planting and fast harvesting.
For mobile growing, you can get the Premium Caster Kit.
With a patented GT2 vermicomposting tube right down the center, you can compost directly into the tower where plant roots can access nutrients and oxygen from the perforated holes.
Compost release gate allows for seasonal removal of finished compost not used by the plants & provides for aeration from below.
Removable compost/nutrient tea drawer can collect up to two gallons of nutrient enriched water for another pass by plant roots.
The Garden Tower®2 is perfect for growing lettuces, herbs, kale, chard, smaller varieties of peppers and other plants with smaller root systems. To top it all off, it comes with a whopping 5-year manufacturer warranty. This container can last up to twelve years in the harshest of climates!
With all the thought that went into this special grow container, it’s no wonder it was recently named the “Worlds Most Advanced Container Garden.”
The only question we have for the company is, ‘Is there anything you didn’t think of!?’
BONUS! For Your Winter Pantry
This isn’t a garden gadget. Actually, it’s for you, right now. While you’re busy running around prepping for your holiday season, we wanted to remind everyone to take care of yourself and give your body that extra boost your immune system will need to stay healthy.
As the immune support and other benefits elderberry provides us becomes more realized, good quality elderberry syrup is getting harder and harder to find, especially at an affordable price. This is your place to do that.
Our good farmer friend, John Moody and his wife’s potent elderberry syrup is the best on the market. You can get a huge 16 ounce bottle of their original formula for $24! That’s normally what a decent quality 4 ounce bottle costs! Plus, they have low carb, low honey, and an infant friendly formulas. No need to take it like a cough syrup though, use it in your everyday life; from hot teas and lemonades to glazes and marinades, elderberry syrup is for every day immune support. My personal favorite is as a spread for turkey sandwiches and on waffles!
NOTE: This article may contain affiliate links. If you click on them and take action, I may be compensated. I only recommend products I LOVE and that will help you.