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Make friends with some garden bugs PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 30 April 2017 11:07

The more one gardens, the more one can start to appreciate some of the insects that come and visit the garden. Of course, you need the bumble bees, honeybees, hornets, flies, etc. for pollinating many plants. But did you know the following varieties of insect are actually good for your garden and can help keep the bad guys away?

Beneficial insects include:
Ladybugs - eat mealy bugs, aphids, scale bugs, thrips, etc.
Praying Mantis - eat just about any other bug, so you don't want too many
Lacewing Larvae - they will rid the plants of aphids
Assassin Bug - will eat beetles, caterpillars
Hover Flies Larvae - also called Syrphid Flies are striped like bees. The larvae love aphids
Ground Beetle Larvae - live in soil and dine on cutworms, slugs, root maggots. The adults often look metallic.
Predatory Stink Bugs - eat grubs, caterpillars, larvae. Some types of stink bugs are pests.
Damsel Bug - like a smaller Assassin Bug, they eat aphids, caterpillars, leaf hoppers, thrips
Minute Pirate Bugs - really small black bugs with white "v" on their backs. They eat aphids, mites, thrips, etc.
You can check out http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/graphics/photos/insectsimages.new.htm or http://www.insectimages.org/ to identify these insects.

Last Updated on Sunday, 30 April 2017 11:22
Soil in Urban areas PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 13 March 2017 13:11

Test your soil or use containers in your city garden. So, you've got some yard space in back or front of your townhouse or apartment building. It's got adequate sun and you aren't too far from a water source. The soil, however, doesn't look so great. Mixed into the weeds are broken glass and trash. Upon digging, you find that the weeds are so pervasive they almost form a network in the soil. On top of that, you start to wonder what else is in the soil.

You could get the soil tested by sending out a sample to a soil testing lab but that would take time and money. The weather is warm and just right for starting a garden so what do you do? Container gardening is the answer. A container can be anything from a raised bed box of 2' x 2' or larger, to large pots, fence boxes or window boxes. The choice is yours depending on your budget and ability to bring in soil and water. If all you've got is a stoop, try using large pots for cherry tomatoes, herbs and salad greens. Got some fences around the yard space? Use fence boxes for greens, herbs and small vegetables. If all you have to look at is a brick wall, look for a grid system to hang pots or boxes off of. It is important to have your soil tested or use containers if you want to eat what you grow. Common urban soil contaminants can be:
leakage from old oil tanks
landfill contaminants
industrial waste
solid waste seepage
excess pesticides (for rodents, etc)
medical waste
construction materials like paint, thinners, etc.

You get the picture. It's always better to be on the safe side if you are planning on eating what you grow. There are many kits for easy assembly of raised bed boxes. Now, there are more "vertical growing" tools for small urban spaces like the Gro-Box and the Garden Tower. Search online and you can find a solution that fits your space and your budget. Happy city gardening!

Last Updated on Monday, 13 March 2017 13:14
Winter/Early Spring Greens PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 02 March 2017 11:13

Have a garden box that you grew beets, chard, escarole, kale, spinach in? When the cold weather sets in you might want to consider keeping these going. They are all pretty sturdy and cold resistant vegetables. They are also some of the most healthy greens you can eat. These dark leafy greens are rich in antioxidants, vitamins C, A, folic acid, and minerals like calcium, iron, and potassium. They are also a good source of fiber in the diet. All in all, eating these winter greens can be a big help in the cold weather when nasty visitors like the flu arrive. It doesn't take too much effort to turn a garden box or small section into a cold frame. If you already have a garden box, you are already half the way there. Find some translucent, heavy plastic (you can find this at Home Depot or a hardware store) and fasten it over the wood frame. Keep moist inside, but often you will find there will be condensation when the sunlight heats it up. You might want to raise one side up higher with wood so the snow or ice doesn't sit on it. If there is a small section of the garden where the greens are you can buy small ready made tents or frames made with plastic (from an online garden supply site) or get creative and rig one up yourself. Beet greens are rich and vitamins and a good cleanser for the system. The small leaves are good in salads, the larger ones can be stir fried or steamed.

Swiss Chard is tasty like spinach but without the bitter taste. It makes a great addition to salads and can be substituted for beet greens or spinach.
Kale is another winter favorite. It comes in a variety of colors and leaf shapes. It is a good source of fiber and tastes great fried up with onions and oil or butter. It is a little on the tough side and does need to be steamed or fried.
Escarole looks a little like lettuce but has thicker leaves with more flavor. It is used in Italian cooking, often sauteed with butter or wine, or as a lettuce substitute in salads.
The humble Dandelion is prized for its leaves which are said to have medicinal properties. (some say they help prevent cancer) If you pick them outside your garden (make sure nobody used any nasty herbicides around them). They have a bitter taste but are added to liven up the taste of salads.
Spinach is another staple cooked or used raw in salads. With a little added protection from the cold it can last well into the winter.
A good idea for cleaning these greens is to soak in cold water with a little salt added. Then give them an additional rinse with cold water. There are plenty of other greens not mentioned here that can be grown in the cold. Everything from collard greens to bok choy can continue growing with a little help when the weather gets cold. The health benefits of these greens really justify a little extra effort to keep them going outside in the winter.

Last Updated on Thursday, 02 March 2017 11:17
Waking up to Spring PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 28 February 2017 13:51
Finally, the weather has warmed up. The bulbs are raring to go here. Can't wait to start some veggies and flowers for spring inside. Cleaning up the leaves and dead growth is the task now.


Here are the early tulips and daffies starting out.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 February 2017 14:05
Garden 2016 recap PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 14 January 2017 10:28
Here are some favorites from the 2016 Summer Garden. Enjoy!

Tasty, spicy nasturtiums!


water garden

monarch and mimosa


Last Updated on Saturday, 14 January 2017 11:10
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photo: Jeannie Cote


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