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What’s eating my garden greens? (5 common garden pests)

An ounce of prevention is worth dozens of pounds of fresh herbs and vegetables.

You’re planting lots of food in your garden, specifically greens… and all of a sudden there’s someone else eating all your food before you have a chance to harvest it… ARG!

Everyone has some pests that show up in the garden. But before you can kick them out of your garden, you need to figure out WHO has invaded! Typically, there are 5 (actually 6!) common pests that give gardeners the most trouble. Watch this video to help identify these unwelcome guests:

Once you identify which pests, diseases, or weeds have come into your garden, you can start showing them the door! 

What are favorite, or not so favorite, visitors to your garden?

Become a Closet Gardener and Grow Greens Indoors Year Round

Growing greens year round means you you can enjoy fresh, organic food at your fingertips! That’s why Shannon started this beautiful closet garden to grow greens indoors. Plus she shares some hidden benefits that her doctors can’t explain… gardens really do HEAL!

Shannon asked how she might improve her yields. Watch this video to discover what she has already done and how she might tweak her system to improve her yields with tips on watering, “flies”, and lights.

Eating well and boosting your immunity is a year round lifestyle… it doesn’t have to stop just because it’s cold outside or there’s snow on the ground. Discover the secrets of successful indoor and outdoor winter gardens.

Are you a winter gardener? Share your magical adventures below!

Journaling for Joy: 3 Garden Journaling Myths BUSTED

Garden journaling is one of the most underused tools for gardeners. It’s also a tool that research shows can decrease anxiety, depression, and stress. That means that along with the joy you’re getting from gardening directly, you can further increase your state of joy simply by keeping a journal. 

But if keeping a garden journal is so beneficial, why aren’t more growers doing it?

Objection #1: Time 

Growers are busy with their lives and gardening tasks. Often, the assumption around journaling is that you have to do it every day or for a long period of time. 

But one study revealed that the time it takes to receive the benefits of journaling are less than most people believe (1). In the study, people diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) showed significant decreases in depression scores when assigned to write about their thoughts and feelings for just 20 minutes over three consecutive days. A follow-up later also showed that the benefits continued four weeks after the individuals participated in the study. With just three consecutive days of journaling for just 20 minutes, individuals with a very serious depressive disorder decreased their depression scores. 

Getting benefits from journaling doesn’t have to take giant amounts of time.

What do you think might happen if you wrote for three consecutive days for just twenty minutes each about the single biggest challenge you’re facing in your garden?

Objection #2: The avoidance of deep emotions. 

When we bring deep emotions to the surface, it can often disrupt the flow of our daily lives and productivity. But what if the journaling process could shed light on the logic you’re currently using that may be holding you back from realizing your full, vibrant, incredible self?

In a study titled, ‘Self-writing as a tool for change: the effectiveness of a psychotherapy using diary,’ (2) findings demonstrated that daily diary writing can encourage personal reflections and changes, capture micro-transformations, and shed light on argumentative logic used to represent self and problems occurring for the individual. Other studies show that when people write about emotional trauma, there is a marked improvement in their physical and mental health (3).

If you journaled every day about your garden, how many micro-transformations could be brought to your attention? 

How much more clearly could you see how far you’ve come on your garden journey? 

And how much could your mental and physical health improve?

Objection #3: Growers often feel like journaling won’t really improve their gardening results.

An in-depth examination into the ‘Use of Reflective Journaling to Understand Decision Making’, (4) a myriad of insights emerged when psychotherapists and other clinicians practiced reflective journaling about their cases. Insights were not only gained for the individual therapist, but for the therapies they were using to support their patients as well.

By reflective journaling about our gardens, you gain insights into your individual decision making about your garden. And by sharing your insights with other growers, leaps in gardening methods are possible as well.

Ultimately, studies on journaling have brought to light benefits ranging from improvements in mental and physical health to gaining insights on our decision-making processes. And while more research is needed to discover just how much time is needed and specific methods that may prove more beneficial, current studies show that you can get benefits from journaling without dedicating your life to becoming a writer.

References:

1. Krpan, K. M., Kross, E., Berman, M. G., Deldin, P. J., Askren, M. K., & Jonides, J. (2013). An everyday activity as a treatment for depression: The benefits of expressive writing for people diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, 150(3), 1148–1151. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2013.05.065  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3759583/

2. Faccio, E., Turco, F., & Iudici, A. (2019). Self-writing as a tool for change: The effectiveness of a psychotherapy using diary. Research in Psychotherapy: Psychopathology, Process and Outcome, 22(2). https://doi.org/10.4081/ripppo.2019.378  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7451300/

3. Smith, M. A., Thompson, A., Hall, L. J., Allen, S. F., & Wetherell, M. A. (2018). The physical and psychological health benefits of positive emotional writing: Investigating the moderating role of type D (distressed) personality. British Journal of Health Psychology, 23(4), 857–871. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjhp.12320 
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6174944/

4. Cook, J. M., Simiola, V., McCarthy, E., Ellis, A., & Stirman, S. W. (2018). Use of reflective journaling to understand decision making regarding two evidence-based psychotherapies for PTSD: Practice implications. Practice Innovations, 3(3), 153–167. https://doi.org/10.1037/pri0000070 
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6426332/

Crystal Meserole
GYOV Instructor and Harvest Club Support

Crystal owns and operates a one-woman wholesale commercial living microgreen operation in the mountains of western North Carolina. After working and managing local restaurants for over a decade, she saw the need for chefs to have access to more affordable, organic food for the delicious creations they craft for our communities.

Crystal hopes to stand as a clear message to anyone who thinks they can’t grow: You can. Anyone can. With the right system, mindsets, and mentor, everything becomes possible.  

Have you gained insights from journaling about your garden? Do you experience more joy when you’re journaling? We’d love to hear! Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!

Forming a Habit of Garden Journaling

Creating a habit of garden journaling can be a bit challenging. It’s easy to get busy or distracted. Or perhaps you haven’t yet discovered the deep insights that can come from journaling about your garden. 

Click here to check out our past blog on the Hidden Gems of Garden Journaling.

Are you not currently keeping a garden journal, but you know the benefits and the profound impact it can have on your journey? You want to do it, but you haven’t yet made it a habit and integrated it into your busy schedule. You might feel you don’t have enough time. 

If this is you, you need to know that you can keep a journal successfully in as little as 20-30 minutes per week or just 5 minutes a day! If you’re wondering how that’s possible, it’s all about how the garden journal is structured. 

Most journals are either totally blank, leaving you to guide yourself, or they’re so guided you feel like you’re having to conform to the journal versus the journal conforming to you and your needs.

To have a journal that conforms to you, you want to think about the 3 main types of garden journaling. Yes! There are three different types of journaling, and it’s ideal to choose a different space for each. The first is Go ACTION mode, the second is observation, and the third is reflective. 

In addition to choosing different places for each of these modes of journaling, you want to create a ritual around journaling. If you’re thinking you don’t have time for journaling so you definitely don’t have time for a ritual, here’s the deal: A garden journal ritual doesn’t have to be elaborate. In fact, it should be quick, lasting no more than a few minutes.

What does a garden journal ritual look like? 

My personal ritual for reflective mode journaling is to set the mood with music, light incense, and to make tea. But no matter what your ritual looks like, the important thing is to perform it in the same order every time.

Each time, I perform my ritual in the same order. First, I start the hot water for my tea, get my cup ready, choose my tea, and add my honey. Then I put music on, light incense, and get my journal out. And that’s about when the hot water is done heating, so I’ll pour my tea and carry it to my space. I set a timer so I don’t have to be interrupted by my mind constantly wondering what time it is and if I’ve gone over. I sit for a few moments, letting myself brew with my hot tea. Once my tea has brewed to my liking, I will take my first sip, THEN start journaling.

Performing your ritual in the same order each time solidifies the habit more and more over time. Eventually, as you go to start your ritual, your body and mind will immediately begin to get into the state of that journal mode.

Choose rituals and habits that you already perform in your daily life that ‘put you in the mood’ for the particular type of journaling you want to do that day. Let’s say you want to journal about a garden project. Instead of a ritual that puts you into a comfortable and relaxed state, you might choose a ritual that gets you into the mood to take action!

If you take an early morning run, you might start your action task journaling by putting on your running clothes and shoes, even if you’re going to sit at the table and make your tasks lists. Because that is a habit that gets you in a state of GO!

The rituals you perform should help you get in the mood of what you’re about to do…and also help you get out of the mode you were just in. Let’s say you’re on your way to do some observation journaling in the garden. You also do a five minute meditation every day on your break at work just to clear your mind. You could use this same five minute meditation just before you go to your garden to do your observation journaling. That way, you can clear your mind of what you’ve been doing to make room for what you’re about to do.

Whatever your rituals are, they should work for YOU. If you find a ritual isn’t working the way you want it to, change the ritual. Keep experimenting until you find what works. Just like the garden journal, your rituals should conform to you, not the other way around.

 

Crystal Meserole
GYOV Instructor and Harvest Club Support

Crystal owns and operates a one-woman wholesale commercial living microgreen operation in the mountains of western North Carolina. After working and managing local restaurants for over a decade, she saw the need for chefs to have access to more affordable, organic food for the delicious creations they craft for our communities.

Crystal hopes to stand as a clear message to anyone who thinks they can’t grow: You can. Anyone can. With the right system, mindsets, and mentor, everything becomes possible.  

Share your rituals or your ideas for a garden journal ritual below!

Vegetable Crops for Hot Weather Gardening

Hot Weather Crops for Your Garden

Choosing hot weather crops

The first key to success with hot weather gardening is choosing crops that are well-adapted to heat.

Summer crops like tomatoes, cucumbers, and melons all fare well in heat and humidity. But if temperatures climb above 90 and stay there, production will slow significantly.

The hot weather crops on this list originated from tropical or subtropical climates, and several of them have been staples in these areas for thousands of years. They have the genes to take the heat! Each crop comes in many varieties, and each variety has its own unique set of climate adaptations.

Notes on temperatures

Air temperatures are listed below. Soil temperature differs from air temperature and has just as much (if not more) impact on your plants. Research your specific cultivars for their soil and air temperature needs.

Temperature profiles for each crop include “low,” “grows,” and “slows” averages. Individual cultivars vary.

Low: At or below this temperature, your hot weather crops will stop producing and may suffer long term damage.

Grows: These are the ideal temperatures for growth and production

Slows: When air temperatures climb this high, your plants’ production will slow. Note that they will survive beyond the “slows” high temperatures. They just won’t grow or produce optimally.

Okra

Temperature Profile

Low: <55°F at night 
Grows: 75-90°F
Slows: >95°F 

Okra was cultivated by ancient Egyptians and is an important crop in tropical and subtropical climates worldwide. In West Africa, for example, the leaves, flowers, seeds, and buds serve an impressive variety of functions, from paper pulp to coffee additive. In the American South, fried okra is a popular side dish that traces its roots to the transatlantic slave route ingenuity of West African women, who braided its seeds into their hair before they were captured and enslaved.

At their peak, okra plants have an other-worldly vibe with distinct leaves, gorgeous flowers, and pleated seed pods.

Okra gets big–up to 8 feet tall and 5 feet wide. Because of its size, okra casts quite a shadow and is great to interplant with less heat-tolerant vegetables.

The seed pods grow quickly and become tougher the bigger they get. It’s best to harvest the seed pods frequently when they’re about 4 inches long. You can cook them fresh or freeze them, and they pack an impressive nutritional punch.

Growth and production slow above 95°F. When you regularly see >95°F days, prune okra plants down to about 2 feet tall for a bumper crop later in the season. You can also prune them anytime they start growing too tall for you to reach! 

Sweet Potatoes

Temperature Profile

Low: <50°F
Grows: 85-95°F
Slows: >100°F

Sweet potatoes are one of our favorite hot weather crops, but…they’re not actually potatoes! Potatoes are tubers that like temperatures at or below 80°F, and sweet potatoes are tuberous root vegetables perfect for hot weather gardening.

Sweet potato plants produce vigorous vines that quickly spill out into your garden, so make sure you give them plenty of space or a trellis. The leaves are also edible raw or cooked, so you can get your greens in while you wait to harvest the tuberous roots 🙂

You can store raw sweet potatoes for several months in a cool, dark place with good ventilation. Frozen, cooked sweet potatoes are good for six months.

Growth can slow over 100°F, but your sweet potatoes will stay healthy even in that heat if you keep them watered.

Malabar Spinach

Temperature Profile

Low: <50°F
Grows: 75-85°F
Slows: >95°F

You won’t have seen this one at the grocery store yet, but Malabar Spinach is gaining popularity as a great green for hot weather gardening. Most leafy veggies can’t take the heat, but this one sure can.

Malabar Spinach is a vine that can grow six feet or longer. Trellising helps, as does frequent harvest! You can grow Malabar Spinach in full sun or partial shade. The leaves become particularly big and juicy when they get some shade.

You can cook Malabar Spinach or add it to salads just like common spinach. Keep your plants well-watered so the laves don’t become bitter.

Growth slows above 95°F, but making sure your Malabar Spinach has plenty of water and a little shade will keep your plants happy until temperatures cool down.

Hot Peppers

Temperature Profile

Low: <50°F
Grows: 70-90°F
Slows: >95°F

Hot peppers might seem like a no-brainer for hot weather gardening, but just how hot can they handle?

Just like tomatoes, peppers experience blossom drop if temperatures get too hot. Bell peppers are less tolerant of heat than hot peppers. Among hot peppers, temperature tolerance of individual varieties and cultivars. A good rule of thumb is the hotter the pepper, the more heat it can handle.

Make sure your pepper plants get plenty of water. If temperatures regularly top 95°F, pay attention to them. If you start to see blossoms drop, give them some shade. Experiment with different varieties and cultivars to see which hot peppers thrive best in your climate.

Cowpeas

Temperature Profile

Low: <60°F
Grows: 70-95°F
Slows: >95°F

The term “cowpea” includes a wide variety of cultivars with all sorts of textures and flavors, from black-eyed peas to lima beans. Like Okra, cowpeas or “southern peas” originated in West Africa and are an important crop in tropical and subtropical climates.

Cowpeas are a legume, so they are actually beans, not peas. Like other legumes, cowpeas fix nitrogen and build soil. They can be a cover crop and green manure, as well as forage for livestock. Rotating cowpeas through your garden beds will increase the production of other vegetables as well.

If you live in an arid, hot climate, cowpeas are a great option! They are the most drought-tolerant crop on our list, and they continue producing even under harsh conditions. In very dry climates, you may need to provide some water when they flower. Otherwise, irrigation may not be necessary, and it’s important to avoid overwatering.

You can eat cowpeas fresh or leave them on the vine to dry for long term storage.

Let’s do this!

Hot weather gardening is about learning to work with the conditions you have. You can’t change the weather, but by selecting plants that grow well in your conditions, you set yourself up for success with less heartache and less work.

 

Amy Davis
Wordsmith and Client Support

In an age of increasing specialization, Amy proudly calls herself a generalist. She holds a Master’s degree in English, a RYT 200 yoga teacher certification, and is working her way through a bachelor’s in Biology. She believes in nurturing and following curiosity, then taking what you’ve learned and sharing it to better the lives of others.

Amy is an avid chaos gardener and has worked in agriculture for several years. In 2017, she first apprenticed on a Certified Organic vegetable farm and later took over as operations manager there. She also served as greenhouse manager for a local restaurant’s urban farm, and she spent a year in AmeriCorps service to an agriculture nonprofit specializing in education for beginning farmers and gardeners. She has a passion for greenhouse work, and she loves watching tiny little seedlings grow and turn into lunch. Amy and her husband grow an ever-evolving front yard garden in southern Appalachia (apple-atcha).  


References

Albert, S. (2022, June 9). How to plant, grow, and harvest sweet potatoes. Harvest to Table. Retrieved August 15, 2022, from https://harvesttotable.com/how_to_grow_sweet_potatoes/

Anderson, C. R. (n.d.). Southern peas. University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.

Anderson, M. (n.d.). Pepper. Aggie Horticulture. Retrieved August 15, 2022, from https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/archives/parsons/vegetables/pepper.html#:~:text=A

Fern, K. (n.d.). Basella alba. Useful Tropical Plants Database. Retrieved August 15, 2022, from http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Basella%2Balba

Kemble, J. (2022, August 8). Rejuvenating okra: Producing two crops from one planting. Alabama

Cooperative Extension. Retrieved August 15, 2022, from https://www.aces.edu/blog/topics/lawn-garden/rejuvenating-okra-producing-a-spring-crop-and-a-bigger-fall-crop-from-the-same-planting/

Oregon State University. (2019, October 1). Okra. Oregon State University College of Agricultural Sciences. Retrieved August 15, 2022, from https://horticulture.oregonstate.edu/oregon-vegetables/okra-0#:~:text=TEMPERATURE%20REQUIREMENTS,for%20germination%20is%2060%20F

Parkell, N. B., Hochmuth, R. C., & Laughlin, W. L. (2016, April 24). Leafy greens in hydroponics and protected culture for Florida. IFAS Extension. Retrieved August 15, 2022, from https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/hs1279

Pothour, G. (2014, February). Growing sweet potatoes in the Sacramento area. Sacramento ; University of California Cooperative Extension – Sacramento Country.

Qiu, Y., & Liu, G. (2020, September 8). Florida cultivation guide for malabar spinach. IFAS Extension. Retrieved August 15, 2022, from https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/HS1371

Schumaker, P. (2019, June 11). Southern peas – a summer vegetable and a cover crop. UF/IFAS Extension Charlotte County. Retrieved August 15, 2022, from https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/charlotteco/2019/06/11/southern-peas-a-summer-vegetable-and-a-cover-crop/

Smith, P., & Shaughnessy, D. (2003, April 23). Southern peas. Clemson Cooperative Extension Home & Garden Information Center. Retrieved August 15, 2022, from https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/southern-peas/

Smith, P., Polomski, R. F., Shaughnessy, D., & Snipes, Z. (2020, January 14). Okra. Clemson Cooperative Extension Home & Garden Information Center. Retrieved August 15, 2022, from https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/okra/

Do you have a favorite Hot Weather Crop? Share your hot weather gardening success below!