Edible Landscaping for Beginners: How to Begin a Plan

There is a trend emerging, a very good trend, toward homeowners filling their garden with edible plantings. Homeowners are trading out ornamental plants for the practical plants that produce food and nourishment for themselves.  How does a gardener begin with changing their landscape into a practical edible garden?  You might be surprised.  Try creating your "foodscape" by starting at the grocery store.  You read that right, the grocery store!  To make a garden plan you have to know what you want to grow and analyzing your food purchases is the best way to start. How to Start Planning Your Edible Landscape Create a "To Grow" List While you shop for your normal groceries take note of everything you purchase that you can grow at home. Take your receipts and write down the things you purchase to try to recognize any trends in your purchases. What do you buy the most…

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Vegetable Family: Solanaceae (The Nightshades)

The other day I wrote about crop rotation, it's importance, and it's benefit in the garden so today I thought we'd begin looking at the individual families of vegetables and how they fit into the grand scheme of things. Since it is probably the most popular family, because of one of its members (the tomato), we'll start discussing the nightshade or solanaceae family.  Calling this family the nightshades makes them sound a little like some sort of super villain from the movies but no, we're talking fruit and vegetables here. The Solonaceae (Nightshade) Family The Solanaceae family has many of the most popular vegetables in home gardens.  Obviously there is the tomato which is probably the number one plant in the vegetable garden (remember it really is a fruit). There are also the peppers which are well loved by those who can take the heat and even those who can't!…

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5 Fall Vegetables for Your Garden

Fall is creeping closer and closer each day which brings to mind cool evening breezes, pumpkins, festivals, the Fall Color Project (more on that later), and of course the fall vegetable growing season.  Most gardeners seem to garden almost exclusively in the spring or summer and don't even consider the fall.  It's probably since starting plants this time of year can be tricky.  Fall plants in Tennessee need to be planted early enough to have a couple harvests before the frosts come and often the temperatures are not conducive for easy germination of seeds.  Spinach Once started fall vegetables will do fine through the early frosts and will continue to grow (albeit a little slower) until the cold sets in for good when they go dormant.  Once spring comes back around the fall vegetables can spring back too and provide you with a delicious early harvest! 5 Fall Vegetables For…

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Vegetable Garden Progress: Melons, Potatoes, and Tomatoes

My lately planted vegetable garden is doing its best to get back on track!  It's been a busy spring time and everything got delayed until the official "whenever I could manage a few minutes" time.  But one of the great things about gardening in Tennessee is the long growing season.  Even if you don't get the vegetable garden planted within two weeks of the frost date, you still have plenty of time to get it in!  I'm excited to see some of our first tomatoes forming on the plants.  These tomatoes are on an 'Amazon Chocolate' tomato plant. It's an heirloom plant that so far I'm thrilled with even though I've never eaten a single tomato!  This tomato grew strong and healthy right off the bat from seed.  As far as the growth rate it out competed every other tomato I started from seed this year.  The stem is nice…

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5 Tips to Grow Great Summer Squash!

Summer squash is one of our family's favorite summer vegetables.  A grilled yellow squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper is a simple and delicious treat when cooked along with some barbequed chicken!  There are a few things to know about growing summer squashes in the garden whether they are yellow squash or zucchinis.  Today's Friday Fives will offer up five things you should know about growing summer squash.  Enjoy! 5 Tips to Grow Great Summer Squash Squash is one of those vegetables that is easy to grow from seed.  You can buy transplants but try to purchase squash transplants that are in biodegradable pots so you don't have to disturb the roots systems much when planting.  Squash is easy to grow and if your soil is a good well drained mix it should do great in your garden!  If not consider bush type squash plants and plant them in…

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5 Vegetables and When to Plant Them!

This time of year can be very confusing.  Especially when the weather throws a few curve balls like extra warm temperatures!  It almost makes you think it will be fine to plant those tomatoes four weeks early.  I know why, everyone wants bragging rights about that first ripe tomato! I thought for today's Friday Five post that I would mention when to plant several standard vegetable garden favorites.  Remember, just because a plant is available in stores doesn't mean you should plant it right away! Cherokee Purple Tomato When to Plant Tomatoes - While visiting a home improvement store this week I stopped in the garden area and told a lady not to plant the tomatoes just yet.  She was gathering up several varieties to bring home to her garden.  We are still three weeks before the safe planting date and 5 weeks out from the ideal planting date for…

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What New Vegetable Seeds Am I Planting for 2012?

It's bound to be an exciting year for the vegetable garden!  In fact every year I get excited by the potential new varieties of seeds to try.  The catalogs are full of amazing, mouthwatering, and delicious pictures and descriptions. (Don't worry I'm not eating the catalog - although I'll bet you thought about it too!) Whittling down the choices to a reasonable amount of seed for my garden and my budget is a challenge.  I always like to add a few new plants to the vegetable garden.  When I say new, I really mean new to me.  I prefer to garden with heirlooms for their seed saving capabilities and what I believe is a tendency toward superior taste.  Today's hybrids tend to be bred for better travel or disease resistance and there isn't as much focus on flavor.  So here are a few of the new choices I'm adding to…

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5 Vegetables I Will Always Grow In My Garden! (The Friday Fives)

It probably seems early and with scattered snow it certain feels early but it's never too early to start thinking about the vegetable garden! Store bought vegetables just don't thrill me the way the fresh garden picked varieties do. It makes sense when you consider that garden grown vegetables don't have to be picked days before use just to be shipped across the country.  The other huge advantage is that you know exactly what chemicals have or have not been on your vegetables!  Peace of mind is priceless isn't it?  That's enough with why you should grow vegetables in the backyard, side yard or anywhere in your vicinity - at least for today (I sense another Friday Five post coming on that topic!)  Let's take a look at the five vegetables that I will always plant in our raised beds! Woodle Orange Tomato Let's start the list off right with…

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The First Snowfall of 2011

Technically my title is completely incorrect!  We did have snow in January and February but this is the first snowfall of the coming winter season.  And technically this isn't even officially winter yet.  I'm just breaking all the rules for this post! I'm going wild! Anyway...yesterday we had a light snowfall.  It was the kind of snow that was so wet that when contact was made with the ground it quickly melted into regular old H20.  What snow coverage we had on the grassy areas didn't last long as the air temps were too warm to maintain the frozen precipitation.  Despite its brevity the snow was pretty! Snow on pot of pak choy. Snow on deck. Snow on chives and blue fescue pot. Snow on pyracantha branch. Almost looks like ice. The backyard with snow. The Blue Garden Shed with snow! Grassy area shielded from snow by a butterfly bush.…

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Raised Bed Vegetable Garden with Stone Borders

It's taken me all summer to get to it but I'm finally taking the first steps toward changing the vegetable garden to the parterre layout. I had some of the blocks sitting around for months now and others I borrowed from our patio sidewalk expansion which I just haven't had time to get to this summer.  Using the stone for the border is more expensive than wood but will last much longer.   For a comparison take the $2.50 cost per foot of these stone blocks and compare it with a piece of lumber somewhere around $5-6 for a 10 foot piece.  That comes to about $0.50-$0.60 per foot which makes the stone about 5 times more expensive.  The big advantage is that it won't ever rot and it looks pretty good! So far I only have one small portion of the raised bed vegetable garden put together.  Even it…

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