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The truth about Dandelions

8 Apr

  


Back in Colombia, (where I come from) dandelions are part of our childhood, we blow their seeds every time we have the opportunity, we as kids loveeeee them! They are everywhere! Playgrounds are never treated with chemicals so dandelions are part of our grass year around! 

Now, I am teaching my daughter how to do the same thing…blow them when you see them… And… She likes it!! 


I know there are found as weeds worldwide,  but did you know that they actually are flowering plants in the family Asteraceae? Yes, same as Asters, calendula, chrysanthemum, gerbera, dahlia, zinnias…. And many many more. So maybe this weeds is not too much of a weed! Furthermore, is completely edible and has amazing health benefits including antioxidants! 


I am going to try this recipe over the weekend it seems delicious is pretty much is like cooking spinach http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/sauteed-dandelion-greens-242014


And hereby there are 3 ways to prepare dandelion tea: http://omgirlsguide.com/2013/04/22/how-to-make-dandelion-tea-3-ways-dedicated-to-earth-day/


I hope you enjoy it, Thanks for reading! 




How to plant Onions? How to Harvest Carrots?

19 Feb

How to plant Onions?

My Harvest

(This is me last year, with lots of vegetables…including my old radish jejejeje)

 

Last year, we started our first Vegetable plot in our neighborhood church with full sun. We have had 2 plots with about 3 hours of sun in our backyard for over 3 years (shade its limitation for higher yield). At our new plot, so far it has been an amazing experience. We planted, garlic, onions, green onions, carrots, kale, purple kale, radish, beet root and broccoli.

We have harvested lots, lots and lots of both kales, some carrots and 1 thousand radish!!

TIP #1: Radish grows very, very fast and all its ready at the same time, so plant according to your needs!
TIP #2: Fertilize your plot at least once a month with organic fertilizer. (Our carrots are still small and we planted them in October)

Hereby are 2 videos that I made today, enjoy:

How to plant Onions? http://youtu.be/0OH3DudIUz8
How to harvest carrots? http://youtu.be/sioxOxwfKGI

Thank you for visiting, your comments and tips are VERY appreciated!
http://www.facebook.com/arcoirisdesigngardening

How to attract birds to my backyard?

10 Feb

How to attract birds to my backyard?

When we first moved to Mindtown Atlanta, there were not many birds visiting our abandoned backyard. Nowadays, we are visited for over 30 species during the year. Some are local birds and some are migratory birds.

We basically planted evergreen shrubs such as hollies, aucubas, ligustrums, anise and many others. And most importantly we have 2 birdbaths and 3 water fountains. Water is the key to have many birds in our backyard.

Tip: Place one birdbath with stand close to a tree so the birds can feel protected and they will have a place to clean their feathers. And another one on the floor surrounding by plants such fatsia japonica, a holly tree or azaleas. Birds seem not to like birdbaths without shrubbery around it. Make sure to clean the birdbath at least once a week and refill it with fresh water every other day (even if water its frozen).

Most importantly, please do not apply any pesticides in your garden. If you apply an insect control for example you will kill not only the undesired insect but the beneficial as well, then a bird will eat this insect and then you will be poisoning the bird too.

How Important is Water for Birds?

It is VERY important, birds like other (all) animals, need water to survive. Birds also use

water for bathing, to clean their feathers and remove parasites. Every day we have many birds visiting our backyard’s birdbaths and water fountain. I don’t even have to place bird food anymore, because with water I attract more birds than ever.

Check out the following videos and pictures:

Video:

http://youtu.be/KnS_HAenrAo

 

Pictures of my backyard birds:

http://www.facebook.com/arcoirisdesigngardening?ref=hl#!/media/set/?set=a.292875447415130.62926.181272451908764&type=3

Interesting sites:

http://www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw/Members/BirdNote09–ProvideWater.pdf

http://blog.wbu.com/2012/07/16/how-important-is-water-for-birds/

http://www.georgiawildlife.com/node/2620

Which vegetables can you grow in February?

1 Feb

What to plant in February in your Vegetable Box?

Have you always wonder what to plant during the winter months in Atlanta? You can grow many vegetables that MUST be planted during the cool season. Hereby, you can find some of the vegetables that you can plant in February.

FEBRUARY PLANTING

Vegetable                            Days to harvest

Asparragus                                   2 years
Beets                                     55 – 65 Days
Broccoli                                  60 – 80 Days
Cabbage                                 70 – 120 Days
Carrot                                     70 – 95 Days
Collards                                    55 – 75 Days
Kale                                       50 – 70 Days
Lettuce                                    60 – 85 Days
Mustard                                   40 – 50 Days
Onion, green                                 60 – 90 Days
Onion, dry bulb                            100 – 120 Days
Peas, Garden (english)                     60 – 70 Days
Peas, edible pot                             60 – 70 Days
Peas, Southern                              60 – 70 Days
Potatoes, Irish                               70 – 90 Days
Radish                                      25 – 30 Days
Spinach                                     40 – 45 Days
Turnip                                      40 – 60 Days

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How to Use Fireplace Ash for Gardening

11 Jan

photo

Winter is the perfect season to collect your fireplace ashes either to store them in a save container or use them into your garden. When wood burns, nitrogen and sulfur are lost as gases, and calcium, potassium, magnesium and trace element compounds remain.

“Wood ash has a very fine particle size, so it reacts rapidly and completely in the soil. Although small amounts of nutrients are applied with wood ash, the main effect is that it is a liming agent.” (1) Furthermore, calcium works as soil amendment, helping to maintain chemical balance in the soil and improves water penetration.

Uses:
1. As calcium and Potassium soil amendments
2. Enrich compost, enhance its nutrients by sprinkling in a few ashes to the mix.
3. Block garden pests. Spread evenly around garden beds, ash repels slugs and snails. Salt in the ashes dehydrates these insects.

Calcium and potassium are both essential to plant growth. Hereby, I am listing the symptoms of both deficiencies.

Symptoms of calcium deficiency:
– Necrosis at the tips and margins of young leaves,
– Bulb and fruit abnormalities,
– Deformation of affected leaves,
– Highly branched, short, brown root systems,
– Severe, stunted growth, and
– General chlorosis.

Symptoms of potassium deficiency:
– Yellow and brown spots on leaves
– Leaves drop off
– Smaller and fewer fruits
– Fruits appear deformed or small

BEFORE applying ashes to your plants please keep in mind that too much ash can increase pH or accumulate high levels of salts that can be harmful to some plants, so use ashes carefully. And don’t use it in acid-loving plants such as blueberries, cranberries, rhododendrons and azaleas would not do well at all with an application of wood ash.(1)

1. http://emmitsburg.net/gardens/articles/frederick/2004/ashes.htm

4 vegetables that you can grow in the winter in Atlanta

29 Dec

4 vegetables that you can grow in the winter in Atlanta

Middle fall I planted radish, sweet onion, broccoli, garlic, spring onion, carrots, kale and chard. I have harvested most of the broccoli, radish, kale and chard so far. Now, I have space to incorporate more winter vegetables in our planting box. These are the 4 vegetables I recommend to try EARLY winter:

1. Beets
2. Kale
3. Collards
4. Swiss chard

Please plant before the first freezing weather.

Colors of my Garden – SEPTEMBER

9 Oct

Bee on Basil flower

Bee on Basil flower

Sky is the limit rose

Sky is the limit rose

Swallowtail butterfly caterpillarr

Swallowtail butterfly caterpillarr

September 15, 2012 030

Homestead verbena

Homestead verbena

Grape tomates

Grape tomates

Frangipani

frangipani

Wren baby birds

Wren baby bird

Colors Of My Garden – MAY

2 Jun

Astilbe pink

 

 

Astilbe White

 

Aucuba Gold dust

 

Azalea Nancy

 

Basil flower

 

Black Bamboo

Coleus Kong rose

 

Colocasia Blue Hawaiian

 

Confederate jasmine vine

 

Gardenia August beauty flower

 

Hydrangea Blue

 

Hydrangea deep pink

 

Hydrangea Endless summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lily King of Whites

 

Orchid

 

Pink lily

 

Sage Variegated

 

Sedum floriferum

 

Small leaf pink azalea

 

 

Snapdragon white

 

Stinkbug nymph

 

Strawberry Flower

 

 

Torenia blue moon

 

White frangipani

 

 

Colors of my Garden – APRIL

2 May

May Night Salvia

Banksia climbing rose

Blueberry

Cilantro Flower

Deep pink foxglove

Double Red knockout rose

Light pink climbing rose

Paper bark bloom

Purple shamrock – Purple Clover

Recurve ligustrum

Sky is the limit rose

 

Hydrangea Endless summer

 

Arugula flower

 

Baby Cardinal in nest

 

Bleeding heart

 

Common Garter Snake

 

Dogwood

 

Lavander foxglove

Lily of valley

 

Heuchera mocha Flower

 

Pink climbing rose

 

Floxglove Pink

 

Amaryllis red

Romaine lettuce

Strawberry

 

Sweet bay laurel flower

 

Clematis White

 

Foxglove White

 

Yellow Swallowtail Butterfly

Snowball viburnum

Strawberry

White foxglove

White mazus

Why is important to have an Organic Compost Pile?

12 Jan

               Composting is the biological decomposition of organic material into humus. The process occurs naturally, but can be accelerated and improved by controlling environmental factors. Garden compost is a mixture of vegetable waste materials which are collected together in a special container and left to rot down. Properly made and well rotted, the compost can be incorporated to the soil and will add nutrients to your plants and helps retain moisture in the soil.

             “Every compost pile is a complex eco-system of decomposition experts.  “Team Compost” consists of microorganisms and macro-organisms choreographed to take advantage of changing temperatures, moisture, oxygen and pH.  Each group has a specialty and as the conditions in a pile change, the main players change accordingly.

               The main groups of microorganisms in soil are bacteria, fungi, protozoa and actinomycetes.  These tiny little creatures are major players in decomposition.  In a teaspoon of compost, you may find up to a billion bacteria, 440-900 feet of fungal hyphae, and 10,000 to 50,000 protozoa.  In a similar but more dramatic statistic, one once of healthy soil may contain 54 miles of fungal strands.” (1)

             Macro-organisms, such as mites, ants, millipedes, centipedes, sow bugs, springtales, flies, snails and slugs, spiders, beetles, and earthworms, are also tremendously important in the compost pile. They are active during the later stages of composting – digging, chewing, sucking, digesting and mixing compostable materials. In addition to mixing materials, they break it into smaller pieces, and transform it into more digestible forms for microorganisms. Their excrement is also digested by bacteria, causing more nutrients to be released.

Micro- and macro-organisms are part of a complex food chain.

            As we all know, it is always necessary to add some organic matter to the soil to supply plants with nutrients and to give the soil a good structure. Fertilizers will provide food but not humus; only rotted organic matter can supply this.

What goes to your pile?

Any soft vegetable material such leaves, stems, grass mowing, flowers and so on.  I found this very interesting table at eartheasy.com

Material Carbon/Nitrogen Info
 Fruit & vegetable scraps Nitrogen  Add with dry carbon items
 Eggshells neutral  Best when crushed
 Leaves Carbon  Leaves break down faster when shredded
 Grass clippings Nitrogen  Add in thin layers so they don’t mat into clumps
 Garden plants  Use disease-free plants only
 Lawn & garden weeds Nitrogen  Only use weeds which have not gone to seed
 Shrub prunings Carbon  Woody prunings are slow to break down
 Straw or hay Carbon  Straw is best; hay (with seeds) is less ideal
Green comfrey leaves Nitrogen  Excellent compost ‘activator’
 Pine needles Carbon  Acidic; use in moderate amounts
 Flowers, cuttings Nitrogen  Chop up any long woody stems
 Seaweed and kelp Nitrogen  Rinse first; good source for trace minerals
 Wood ash Carbon  Only use ash from clean materials; sprinkle lightly
 Chicken manure Nitrogen Excellent compost ‘activator’
 Coffee grounds Nitrogen  Filters may also be included
 Tea leaves Nitrogen  Loose or in bags
 Cardboard without ink Carbon  Shred material to avoid matting
 Corn cobs, stalks Carbon  Slow to decompose; best if chopped up
 Wood chips / pellets Carbon  High carbon levels; use sparingly

  

When to Start?

          “You can start a compost pile any time of the year, but there are limitations during certain seasons. You can build your pile as materials become available. In the spring and early summer, high nitrogen materials are available, but very little carbon materials are available unless you stored leaves from the fall. In summer you start to have garden debris, but your mowing may be lessened due to high summer temperatures. Fall is the time of year when both nitrogen from cool season lawn mowing and carbon from fallen leaves are readily available”. (2)

How to build it?

         The Pile should be built directly onto the soil. I recommend to build it in layers of 6-8” deep of vegetables material followed by 1” of organic soil with a sprinkling of lime on top of this to prevent the pile to becoming to acid. Repeat these layers to the height you have decided on. If the weather is dry, spray each layer with water. Add some earthworms too.

 Care

          “Temperature plays an important role in the composting process. Decomposition occurs most rapidly between 110° to 160°F. Within two weeks, a properly made compost pile will reach these temperatures. Now you must decide how you want to compost. Do you want to add to your pile or just let it continue as is?

          If you want to add to your pile, you can do so throughout the growing season and into the winter months. As you add fresh material, you will need to turn and water your pile more often. Monitoring the temperature and turning whenever the piles temperature dips below 110°F keeps your pile active at its highest level, and you will have the fastest breakdown. This means turning the pile more often. This can be weekly and it is work! In reality, the average composter turns their pile once every 4 to 5 weeks. This mixes in the fresh material with the older, adds air to the pile and allows you to add water. With this method, a pile started in the fall, added to and turned the following summer will be ready in late fall of that year or the next spring.

             If you are not adding lots of new material, turn and water the pile 5-6 weeks after initial heating. Make sure to turn the outside of the old pile into the center of the new pile. The compost should be ready to use about 3 to 4 months later”. (2)

Benefits:

Soil conditioner. With compost, you are creating rich humus for lawn and garden. This adds nutrients to your plants and helps retain moisture in the soil.

 

Recycles kitchen and yard waste. Composting can divert as much as 30% of household waste away from the garbage can.

Introduces beneficial organisms to the soil. Microscopic organisms in compost help aerate the soil, break down organic material for plant use and ward off plant disease.
Good for the environment. Composting offers a natural alternative to chemical fertilizers.
Reduces landfill waste. Most landfills in North America are quickly filling up; many have already closed down. One-third of landfill waste is made up of compostable materials”. (3)

Dictionary:

Humus:

In agriculture, humus is sometimes also used to describe mature compost, or natural compost extracted from a forest or other spontaneous source for use to amend soil[3]. It is also used to describe a topsoil horizon that contains organic matter (humus type,[4] humus form,[5] humus profile). (4)

References:

1. http://www.compostheaven.com/compost.html

2. http://web.extension.illinois.edu/homecompost/building.html

3. http://eartheasy.com/grow_compost.html

4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humus

Website Links for Education and Solutions:

http://www.greenfoodservicealliance.org/composting

http://www.compostheaven.com/compost.html