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3 Vegetable Plants for Busy Gardeners

We know that there are lots of busy gardeners out there. You’re trying to get fresh food on the table, but you have all these other priorities as well. There’s always lots going on.

What’s the easiest thing to grow when you’re busy? In this video, Stacey shares three crops she likes to grow and why she grows them together.

Grow greens with ease and enjoy fresh food even when you are busy!

We love to hear from you! Share your busy gardener tips below!

From Garden to Soothing Oil: How To Make Lavender Oil in Your Kitchen

With the increasing change and unrest in the world, resilience is a big topic and easy to use self-care tools are required for all of us to stay the course and take care of ourselves and our communities. We are only as strong as our weakest link. So many people are stepping up their self-care and herbal medicine making right now. Knowing how to rejuvenate and restore is big medicine for these times.

Not only are herbal oils themselves an antidote for what we are experiencing, there are so many little-known techniques for using the oils to help you ground, center and find the alignment of what is true for you now. We are partnering with our friend Kami McBride to help bring this herbal knowledge more into awareness so more people can benefit from such simple and inexpensive herbal self-help techniques.

Kami is doing a free workshop on herbal infused oils. She has 34 years of experience perfecting the art of making herbal oils, if you are at all interested in refining the quality of your herbal oils, her teachings on herbal oils are the most comprehensive you will find anywhere.

Lavendar Oil Kami

It’s amazing at how many long-time oil makers are talking about how they didn’t even know that this kind of upgrade was available for their herbal oils.

Also, if you are just starting out with your herbal oil making, this workshop will be invaluable. Her free workshop is only up for a short while, so make sure to take a few minutes now and gather up the nuggets you won’t find anywhere else.

Growing New Herb Plants from Clippings

You do not need seeds in order to start your own herb garden. All you need are some healthy plants! Instead of spending money at a nursery, you can take cuttings from woody-stemmed perennial herbs, put them in water, and have a whole new plant in a few short weeks. Read on to find out how simple propagating herbs can be!

Choose Your Herb

You can grow many herbs from cuttings, but it doesn’t work for all herbs. You want to look for perennial herbs with woody stems.

Annual herbs do not grow well from cuttings because they bolt and turn to seed more quickly, and their stems are soft. Avoid parsley, cilantro, and dill, which are all in the same family.  

Perennial herbs with woody stems will work best. They may flower, but they’re like evergreens. They just keep growing back again and again, and that’s why they work really well as cuttings.

If you’re new to growing herbs from cuttings, rosemary is a great starter plant. Oregano, sage, thyme, lavender, and mint are also excellent options! Mint especially grows anywhere. It grows wild. 

Basil is an annual and has a softer stem, but it is fabulous to grow from cuttings. You just have to make sure you change out the water very regularly because of that soft stem. 

Source a “Mother” Plant 

The best time to take your cuttings is in early spring, when perennials are waking up and sending out new growth. Make sure to take your cuttings from healthy, high-quality plants. However you source them, we recommend using organic plants that haven’t been treated with pesticides and chemical fertilizers.Organic plants tend to be healthier and thrive as cuttings!

Of course, you can take cuttings from your own plants. Using your own plants is an excellent way to add to your existing herb garden. You can also share the garden love by growing herbs from cuttings and gifting them to friends and family. 

Garden friends are always a great resource. Maybe your friend has some beautiful herbs growing in their garden, and you cut a little bit. Not only will you have a new plant, but you’ll also think of your friend every time you harvest it!

You can buy plants from local growers, farmer’s markets, nurseries, and garden stores. While you do have to pay for the “mother” plant, you can harvest cuttings from this plant for years. As long as the plant you buy is healthy and has several stems, you can take a cutting from it as soon as you purchase it. 

Harvest Your Cutting

Once you’ve found a healthy plant, take your cutting from a stem with new growth. Look for stems that are soft and green towards the tip. 

Cut a 3-4 inch piece of new growth below the leaf node. The leaf node is where the leaves are coming out of the stem. 

You want to put your cutting in water (see below) soon after you harvest it. If you’re harvesting from a friend’s plant, ask them for a little jar of water to take home or a wet paper towel to wrap the stem in. 

Not all cuttings will take root, and that’s okay! Take an extra cutting or two just in case. Especially if you’re using your own plant, you can do this in batches. If you end up with more plants than you need, that’s the perfect opportunity to share. 

Encourage Root Growth

Once you have your cutting, your main goal is to encourage it to grow roots. Clean water is vital here, so it’s best to put your cuttings somewhere in your daily path. That way, you can easily watch them take root, and you can notice when the water needs changing. 

Follow these simple steps to help your cutting develop roots:

  1. Before you put it in water, make sure the lower portion of the stem is clear from plant material. Plant material in the water can invite mold and bad bacteria, and we don’t want that! Choose a small jar and remove the lower leaves so there aren’t any leaves in the water.
  2. Fill your jar or cup with water, and place the stem in the water. Prop up the stem if you need to. Be sure to clear away any plant material that falls into the water as well.
  3. Place your jar and cutting in a sunny window.
  4. Every couple days, change out this water, especially if you see particles floating in it. 

Your cutting will grow roots within a few weeks! 

Plant Your New Herb

After the roots have grown, plant them into some potting mix. We recommend transferring your new plant potting mix before you plant it in garden soil because soil is heavier, and all the new roots might end up glommed together. Potting mix is looser, so your roots can spread out and get a little bit sturdier before they go into a planting bed.

When you put your plant into the potting mix, clear off a little of plant material from the bottom, especially if those lower leaves look droopy. Plant all the way up to the first set of healthy leaves so that all of the roots and most of the stem are under the potting mix. 

You may choose to skip the potting mix and transplant directly outside if you have loamy soil rich in organic matter. Your plant may experience “transplant shock” and look a little sad for a few days. Just give your new plant its best chance, and keep an eye on it! 

Celebrate!

Growing your own by taking clippings is a rewarding, empowering way to add herbs to your garden. Not only can you save money on quality herbs, but you can make connections by taking clippings from garden friends and sharing the herbs you grow with others. And it’s so fun to watch them grow! Kids especially enjoy this activity and love checking for new root growth. 

Attention all gardeners! Plant Basil!

Four reasons why you want to download this FREE Basil eGuide…

  1. Learn the magic and healing properties of the basil plant
  2. Explore different ways to successfully plant basil
  3. Become an expert at nurturing and caring for your basil plants
  4. Harvest, store & enjoy your basil

Share your herb garden WINS with us!

Grow Your Own Immune Boosting Garlic For Improved Health & Vitality

Summary:

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.

Why Grow Garlic When You Can Buy?

Flavors You Can’t Find at the Store: Grocery store garlic is bred for one thing: shelf life. While this is helpful for food being transported hundreds and thousands of miles, the cost of breeding for shelf life is a loss in flavor. In addition, there’s not a lot of variety at the grocery store. They carry one of three typical varieties. However, when you grow your own garlic, you can choose from over one hundred different varieties and flavors.

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!

PRO TIP: in the early spring, plant lettuce between the rows of garlic. Your garlic and lettuce will be ready to harvest at the same time, so you get two crops out of the same space. Plus your planting bed will be clear to plant summer crops.

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. 

Limited on space? Container growing can help you see opportunities instead of limitations. You can customize your container garden to fit your space, budget, physical abilities, and lifestyle.
Check out our NEW Container Gardening Micro Course

Getting Started Growing Your Own Vegetable and Herb Seedlings

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:

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. 
  5. 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.  

Check out our NEW Garden Freedom Series Micro Course for more information and instruction on successful seed starting. In this course, you’ll find resources for setting clear goals that reflect your values and make gardening everything you need and want it to be…

 

NOTE:  This article contains affiliate links and Grow Your Own Vegetables, LLC may be compensated when you click and purchase through the links above. By purchasing through these links, you’re supporting our mission to help green the planet and create food stable communities across the globe. We only recommend products we LOVE and that help growers on their quest for a fresh food lifestyle.

Growing Basil & Avocados: A Tale of Two Plants

Every single plant you decide to grow can make a huge difference in your life.

How about $1,000 in groceries per year from just ONE garden pot? It’s all about choosing the right varieties for your strategy and goals… That’s what makes growing food WORTH IT! So just how much of a difference can choosing the right plant make for you in a single year? Watch and find out!

And… discover an unexpected secret to making awesome pesto.