Enjoying the Fall Garden

Fall is a great time of the year. It's always been my favorite season because of the fall colors, the cooler weather, and there are always events to enjoy. The vegetable garden is enjoys the cooler weather too. Gone now are the peppers and tomatoes, which both succumbed to frost, but instead we have kale, pak choi, mustard, and Brussels sprouts. All of those fall grown plantings enjoy the cooler temperatures and in fact have improved flavor due to the frosty temperatures. Growing greens in the fall in a Tennessee garden is a fairly simple thing to do. The Challenge of a Fall Garden The greatest challenge to growing a fall garden is pests. Until the frosts come many insects are trying to gather as much nutrition as possible to help them overwinter. Caterpillars are all over the place. Cabbage loopers are happy to eat anything green, not just cabbage.…

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Decorating Through the Holidays with Live Potted Plants

The holidays are an extremely busy time of the year. We go from Halloween with spooky decorations, to Thanksgiving with autumn harvest styles, then to finally to Christmas. For those who enjoy decorating (and have the storage space for all that stuff) it can be a great deal of fun, but for others who may enjoy the holidays much more than decorating for them there are options - especially if you are a gardener! This week I potted up some live plants that will be decorating our front entryway all the way through Christmas. Once Christmas is over they can be planted in the garden to add to the landscape as evergreen plantings. (All the materials for this planting project were provided by Lowe's for Lowe's Creative Ideas) I selected several different types of plants. The main plants are evergreen trees and shrubs that can serve as privacy screens and…

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And the Troy-Bilt Jet Leaf Blower Winner is…

First before I tell you who won the Jet Blower from Troy-Bilt I wanted to say thank you for entering! Giving stuff away is really one of the more exciting parts of blogging! The Jet is an easy to use leaf blower made by Troy-Bilt. The Jet easily blasts away grass clippings on driveways and leaves making cleaning up after yardwork a piece of cake. If you didn't win this JET but find yourself in need of a leaf blower you should be able to find it at your local home improvement centers for around $150. The winner of the Jet was selected through a random number drawing between 1 and 20. (The total number of commenters on the review post.) The lucky winner was the eighth commenter, Emily Rose! Emily please send me an email (TheHomeGarden@gmail.com) with the your shipping address and phone number and I'll relay that information to Troy-Bilt.…

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7 Years of Garden Blogging and A Giveaway from Troy-Bilt!

This week marks seven years since I began this blog, Growing The Home Garden. It's amazing to see how many changes have taken place in the garden and in my life since that late October day. When I started this blog our backyard was vacant of trees, plants, and anything resembling a garden. It's grown and so has our family. When I began blogging our oldest daughter was 2 and the next one was due to be born that Thanksgiving. Now there are four kids running around the garden, 3 girls and 1 boy. Everyday is an adventure! My little garden blog grew from barely anyone reading it (or even knowing it existed) into one that now gets a couple thousand visitors a day. My experiences in plant propagation, vegetable gardening, and assorted other garden projects have given me opportunities to work with great companies like Lowe's, Troy-Bilt, and several…

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How Long Does It Take Roundup to Dissipate from the Soil?

There are lot of home and garden products that a gardener can choose to use in the garden. Not all of them are good to use frequently and should only be used sparingly or not all all. Roundup is one of those types of chemicals. It accomplishes its goal very well but will leave residue in the soil. Here is a question I was asked this weekend about Roundup: Q. I am a renter, 2-1/4 years at present location. Landlord sprayed roundup before I moved in, so I've done container gardening from day one (and got him to quit spraying). What is your opinion/guess on how long, if any, to let the ground lie fallow before raising food in it? A. According to Monsanto (the maker of Roundup)in a document they published called Glysophate Half-life in Soil (link to PDF file) the half-life of glysophate is around 32 days. This can vary…

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How to Save Okra Seeds

It's time to put up the summer harvests and begin preparing for winter and next spring. One way to prepare for spring is to save seeds from plants you grew this year that you enjoyed so that you can grow it again next year. Okra is a southern garden favorite that is very easy to collect and save seeds from. There are only a couple steps to saving seeds from okra. First A Little About Okra Okra is botanically known as Hibiscus esculentus or Abelmoschus esculentus but we'll just keep it easy and call it okra. In it's most common culinary form here in the south okra is fried, but it can also be pickled or used in a variety of dishes. I grew two types of okra this year 'Bowling Red' and 'Star of David'. Both germinated great but neither of which grew well due to the grazing deer.…

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What You Shouldn’t Do With Your Fall Leaves

Fall is well underway and we all know that with fall comes mountains of leaves! The beautiful color changes can quickly transition into a thick carpet of smothering leaves on the ground. Many homeowners are smart and use this natural resource in the garden but others do one thing that drives this gardener crazy. What is it that you shouldn't do with fall leaves? Burn them. Why is burning leaves a bad thing? Two reasons: it releases pollutants into the air and it is extremely wasteful. Smoke and particulates get released into the air and decrease the air quality. Last year a neighbor burned his leaves and the wind brought the smoke right into my house. You don't want to breathe that kind of air. Burning leaves doesn't just cause pollution but it also wastes a valuable resource. Think about it. Have you ever been in a forest and looked…

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Light Up the Night with a Backyard Fire Pit and Solar Lights!

In the fall there are several iconic thoughts that spring to mind of most people. Cool crisp days evoke good feelings and memories created around fall festivals, apple cider, holidays, and other fall activities. One way to share the fall experience with your family is to add a backyard fire pit. What could be better than a cool crisp evening around the campfire with friends and family while roasting marshmallows and making smores? A simple backyard fire pit is an easy project that you can put together to add another special memory making activity to your fall events! (All materials for this project were provided by Lowe's through Lowe's Creative Ideas.) Keep safety in mind while building your fire pit. You need it to be far enough away from your house so that smoke or a large fire won't cause damage. You also need to keep the safety of small children…

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Organic Removal of Bermuda Grass

Last weekend I pulled out the tomato plants (all but three) and did the yearly Bermuda grass removal. Bermuda grass is one of the two most frustrating parts of my vegetable garden, the other being the deer. Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) grows and spreads through rhizomes (under the soil) and stolons (above the soil). Any piece of the roots or stolons left behind will regrow which makes removing Bermuda grass very difficult. To remove the Bermuda grass I use a trimmer and cut back all the grass to the ground. Then I till up the soil multiple times. After each run with the tiller I rake up the roots and stolons for collection and dump them. The remains never go in the compost bin as all it takes is one little piece of uncomposted Bermuda grass to wreak havoc later. I repeat the process until as much of the grass…

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Growing Heirloom Hot Peppers

I love heirloom plants and hot peppers are no exception. The fact that the genetic makeup of a vegetable or fruit can be traced back in time many years makes the special. In some cases they have a historical context, but the main reason I like them is that they usually have a better flavor than those that are commercially produced. In my garden there is no plant easier to grow than a hot pepper. I grow several different varieties of hot peppers which range in spiciness from mildly hot to extremely hot. I love a nice hot jalapeno pepper on a sandwich but generally shy away from partaking of those that might require hospitalization! Hot peppers (and other peppers) are fairly carefree once established. Early on in their growth cycle it is a good idea to give them a little nitrogen fertilizer to encourage some green growth and lots…

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