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How to Measure How Much Sunlight Your Garden Space Gets

Watch the video below and learn how to observe key temperatures in your area and map the sunlight and shadows in your garden space for success!

All plants have ideal growing temperatures. Outside those optimum temperature ranges, plants become less productive, and growth grinds to a halt. Too far outside the zone, plants die. It’s crucial to know what temperatures your plants need and when those temperatures happen in your area! 

 

Your vegetable plants need 6-8 hours of sunlight minimum to thrive. Measuring hours of sunlight and mapping your shadows BEFORE you dig or build your garden beds will ensure your plants’ success.

Download our complimentary shadow mapping template

Once you understand your climate, you can let Mother Nature do the work. She’ll even let you take the credit! 

Share what shadow mapping has taught you about your garden space!

One Crop Rotation Rule to Prevent Diseases in Your Garden

Plan your plants to prevent disease in your garden!

When you’re thinking about what to plant where this year, you should be thinking bigger picture…what crop rotations each year will help you prevent the kinds of diseases that wipe out all your hard work and your harvest.

To help you create a plant plan that works for you, Stacey created this video about how to use crop rotation to prevent 3 of the most common “big nasty diseases” you might see pop up in your garden:

If you would like more in-depth instruction on planning your garden for success, check out our Crop Planning course. It’s a sure fire way to feel more in control of your garden every time you plant.

What crops do you like to rotate? Let us know below!

Vegetable & Herb Gardening in Different Growing Climates

Getting to know your local growing climate is one of the first steps to growing a thriving vegetable garden. But there’s a big difference between learning about your climate and feeling limited by your climate.

Your growing climate matters. It determines what veggie varieties you’re going to grow and when you plant and harvest them.You’ve probably heard that vegetables and herbs thrive in an “ideal” temperature range of 50-85 F (10-30 C). But how many places on Earth consistently stay in that ideal range? Not many!

You don’t have to live in ideal conditions to grow lots of food all year long.

There’s no denying great growing conditions help. But once you understand the language of plants and what they want, you can grow vegetables anywhere at any time of year. You just have to get a little creative!

“There are as many creative ways to grow your own vegetables as there are places on this earth” -Stacey Murphy

In this two minute video, Stacey shows you what’s possible if you want to grow food at an unusual time of the year OR in a less than ideal growing climate.

What grows best in your climate? Share your creative gardening tips with us!

Productivity Tips on How to Lay Out a Garden

Jason Matyas
Seeds for Generations

Jason is a 2022 Superfood Garden Summit presenter.

“Starting Seeds & Caring for Seedlings”

Jason Matyas is a husband, father of seven, homesteader, lifelong gardener, 20-year Air Force veteran with 9 worldwide deployments including two tours in Afghanistan, and visionary entrepreneur and public speaker. He is the founder of a family business with his children called Seeds for Generations that provides heirloom garden seeds and inspiration for gardening as a family. Jason is also the Executive Producer of the documentary film Beyond Off Grid, and founder of the Return to the Old Paths project devoted to inspiring and equipping you to reduce your dependence on the modern economy and seek true freedom by Returning to the Old Paths of productive households and local community interdependence.

In previous posts (see entire blog series here), we’ve already discussed the most important planning considerations for your garden, but there are a few other considerations that you may find helpful as you’re finalizing your plot. Keep these things in mind while considering how to lay out a garden.

Considering Garden Size

In an earlier post (see entire blog series here), we touched on garden size (i.e., available space), but it’s worth repeating here. The size of your garden is determined by which growing method you use. There are many different methods, but the most basic methods are row gardening, square foot gardening (popularized by Mel Bartholomew), and container gardening. You can also use vertical growing methods, which are great for small spaces.

Regardless, you’ll want to maximize your planting area by placing paths only where absolutely necessary. Generally, you don’t want more than four or five feet between your paths, because most people can only reach two and a half feet, so keep this in mind.

Laying Out Your Garden

Once again, your layout entirely depends several factors, including sunlight. Like we mentioned previously (see entire blog series here), you’ll want to orient your plot towards the south to get the maximum sunshine potential, which will help plants grow better. If you’re growing plants that may struggle in a lot of direct sun and heat or bolt (i.e., go to seed) in hot conditions, consider planting those varieties where they’ll be protected from afternoon sun.

Positioning Crops in Your Garden

How you position crops together may impact their productivity, so consider using companion planting techniques to create synergy and play off of natural relationships between different plants. Plants like basil and tomatoes grow well together, for example.

In addition, sometimes you can plant two different crops in one space during the same growing season, such as lettuce with cabbage. If you do this, you will have harvested the lettuce before the cabbage grows completely into its space. If you don’t know how many days the plant takes to grow to maturity, check the seed packet–that information should be listed there.

Also, while planting, ensure that you have adequate access for harvesting later. If you don’t harvest winter squash or corn until late in the year, for example, you usually  don’t need to make it very accessible during the spring and summer. But tomatoes and cucumbers that will need picked every other day? You’ll need to access them easily, without crushing other plants.

Productivity Tips on How to Lay Out a Garden – Conclusion

Garden size, garden layout, and garden plant positioning. That’s all you really need to know when it comes to learning how to lay out a garden. Now get planting!

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

Are you a garlic grower? Share below your garlic tips, recipes and growing experience.