View TMG on your Mobile – Is it Mobile Friendly Now?

It’s been a long time coming, but finally I’ve made some changes that should have made TMG mobile friendly.  I don’t have a mobile phone, so I can’t be 100% sure until I get your help.

Would you take a look for me and let me know what you think?  Can you navigate and get to a list of recent posts as well as search for stuff? Here’s a link to the post about Mache which has a picture to check too.

Also would you take a peak at as well? I’ve made changes so that will show mobile friendly.

Thank you so much for your help.  I’ll be looking forward to your input!!


Mosquitos, Ticks, and Other Bugs – What Can You Do To Protect Yourself?

Since it’s been found that some diseases can be carried and spread through insect bites, the media is all over it. As much as they go on about something like this, they seldom offer a natural solution to the problem that really works.

Even though there is much information out there about how we can take care of ourselves, it takes some living and experience and/or time to know what’s true and what’s not. Information that can help us doesn’t always show up as quickly as we need it.

DEET – Should You Use It?

Probably the recommended chemical of choice to keep bugs at bay is DEET. (Don’t stop here and rush out to get some.  Read more before making that decision.)

As you probably know DEET is in hundreds of products — and sometimes in concentrations up to 100%. It’s been shown to harm brain and nervous system functions although most accounts you read say that has not been proven. (I’ve noticed that’s usually what most proponents of any harmful substance say when studies show it to be harmful.)

Rashes, numbing or burning lips, dizziness, disorientation, headache, skin irritation, difficulty concentrating, and nausea are also attributed to using DEET.

Recently I read about a study of National Park Service employees where 25% of them reported some type of health effect attributed to DEET.

Many Natural Products Are Just as Effect

There are many natural things you can use that are just as effective or more so than DEET. The “naturals” usually give protection from 6 to 8 hours. That might not be as long as DEET, so just reapply after 6 hours.

A Teacher Reports What Park Rangers Told Her Class

Couple of months ago I was in line to check out at our small, local health food store. The lady in front of me (who was a teacher) was talking to the owner about just having come from one of the area’s state parks with her class. The subject of tick and mosquito protection had been brought up.

The park rangers told the kids they use citronella essential oil and Badger Balm for protection. (Badger Balm would be the carrier for the essential oil.)

The carrier for an essential oil dilutes it and would keep it from possibly irritating the skin. How many drops per 1/2 tsp of carrier oil will depend on the individual essential oil.

Before you buy any essential oil read about it first. There are lots of sites out there that go into much detail about what each oil does, the suggested dilution, and any precautions you should take when using it.

Badger Balm

In case you don’t already know, Badger Balm is olive oil, beeswax, castor oil, aloe extract and the essential oils of birch and wintergreen. It’s an organic product that the company says contains no petroleum or chemicals of any kind. (In spite of being certified organic, I think some of the oils in their products may not be organic because they can’t get them for one reason or the other.)

A little of these balms go a long way!

It wasn’t clear to me if the rangers used the product that Badger offers which has citronella already mixed with the Badger Balm or if they used the plain balm and added their own essential oil.

My guess is they use the all in one product for convenience. Badger’s product for bug protection is a mixture of essential oils like citronella, cedar, lemongrass, rosemary and geranium which all have bug repellent properties.

Most essential oils can be mixed to receive the benefit from more than one at a time. You’ll easily see that when start looking around for information.

Many Essential Oils Repel Insects.

The Rangers told the kids they could also use cedar wood essential oil or lavender essential oil as well as the citronella.

Lemon eucalyptus is an excellent one and has been proven to be just as effective as DEET.

Mixtures -Getting the Benefits from Many Oils

Bill always kept a product called Bug Barrier ointment (now called Bug Block in stick form) in his “emergency kit” when he was out painting in the field.

It’s a mixture of the following insect repelling essential oils and Beeswax.

• Eucalyptus
• Cedarwood
• Rosemary
• Citronella
• Lemon Grass
• Lemon
• Tea Tree
• Peppermint
• Cinnamon
• Garlic
• Plantain
• Echinacea Oil
• Botanical Menthol
• Neem Oil
• Unbleached Beeswax

It’s organic and herbs are wild harvested whenever possible. 100% pure plant essential oils, with NO inert or inactive ingredients.

Thus, you’re getting the maximum concentration for potency and effectiveness in this product by Dr. Richard Schulze.

The real thing is going to cost more than something diluted. For example on some products you’ll see a certain percentage of the essential oil (let’s say 30%) and 70% inert ingredients. They could be harmful or not. You have no way to know. In most cases their main purpose would be to dilute the oil and therefore keep the price low. So be aware of that when you’re looking.

Want to Mix Your Own?

If you want to buy the essential oils and mix them in a carrier yourself or use just one, you’ll want the most reputable companies. If you’re interested, but don’t want to do all the homework on essential oil, there are some folks out there that have already invested all kinds of time looking for the best companies.

Don’t Want to Take a Year to Research?

The young woman who writes the web site WholeNewMom did an entire series on essential oils. I thought she did an outstanding job!

You can read all the details yourself on her site. She answers about every question you can think of. After MUCH research she ended up recommending Rocky Mountain Oils and/or Neal’s Yard Remedies. After checking them out, I would be inclined to go with her recommendation.

So What Do I Use?

I still have Bill’s unopened tube of Bug Barrier which I’ll keep just in case.

I could count on one hand the times I used the spray form of Bug Barrier that we use to keep at the back door.  Mainly I used it when May flies came out.  And every once in a while there would be a day that mosquitoes were worse than usual.

Other than that I don’t use anything.

Final Thoughts

If you’re bothered by mosquitoes, ticks, and other bugs, being outdoors is not as much fun. Having something like a good essential oil or a mixture of good essential oils can really make a difference.  And make that difference safely.

We all know that improving the health of our soil will make our gardens better able to fend off pest and disease attacks.  A health body that has the right nutrition will create a strong immune system and help make us “unappealing” to bugs.  And if we are bitten, our immune system will be able to take care of it for us.


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3 Ways to Plant in Dry Conditions – Make That 4

The ideal time to begin fall succession planting (in zone 7 at least) is mid-August if conditions will allow.

In years past, because of drought, it was October before I could transplant September- started seedlings to the garden. The big disadvantage to that is that you miss the late summer warmth that allows crops to grow enough to have an abundant harvest by October.

Rain was plentiful this summer. Made me think the fall planting season would be the easier than ever. The first planting definitely WAS.

Radishes germinated within a couple of day. Lettuces started mid August and transplanted the end of August are now fabulous and giving me a big bowl of lettuce daily. Had I missed that first start in August under great conditions, I wouldn’t be getting lettuce or radishes in the abundance that I love.

Three varieties of lettuce started in mid-August, my first planting for fall.


I pick this much lettuce every other day from the lettuce bed shown above this picture. Even without rain for more than a month it renews itself every day.

The rain stopped at August’s end. The first few inches of soil has been desert-dry since the first of September. Rain has been in and (disappointingly) out of the forecast more times than I can count.

Succession planting has to be continued anyway or I won’t have an abundant harvest late fall, through the winter and into early spring.

Here are the strategies I’ve used that you might find helpful as well.

#1 – Gives me the Best Results

  • Choose your spot.

Rain water gives the best results. Since my reserve is low I usually choose a small 3′ x 5′ section to plant using this strategy.

  • Soak the area with rain water. (This is the secret to this method.)

I hauled in about five gallons of rain water to soak the soil in the area chosen. (I use 5 gallon buckets half filled because it’s all I can carry.)

  • Cover with straw and let it settle overnight.

You wouldn’t have to wait, but my “gut” feeling said I should; so I did.

  • Transplant (You can also use this strategy to direct-sow seed.)

Next day I brushed back the straw. Ran my 3 pronged tool through the top couple of inches of soil. Put the transplants in. Watered them in with rain water.

  • Cover again with a light layer of straw.

If you have enough rain water,

  • water again in one or two days.

After that you can probably go at least 5 days, or maybe more, without watering the seedlings. And with these cool nights they might just make if fine even without rain.  Most of mine did.

Two rows of Winter Density seedling and a row of radishes of the far side using Strategy #1.  The radishes were direct seeded. Lettuce seedlings were transplanted Sept. 16. No rain yet.

#2 – Watering after planting

  • Choose the area.
  • Direct sow your seed. (Or put in transplants)
  • Cover lightly with straw and then water well with rain water.
  • Water every other day if you have enough water.

I watered a bed using this strategy 3 days in a row using about 1 1/2 gallons of water on a 3 x 5 space.

Ran out rain water. Seedlings are still doing ok, but if we get rain they will “jump”.

#3 –  Should you wait for Rain?

Long time reader and good friend Pat recently wrote:

Our weather has been very warm here, and SO dry!  I cleared a bed for fall plantings, but I want to wait for rain.  It’s in the forecast for this weekend.  BUT I’m getting ready for a trip to San Diego to visit family next week.  I think I will just wait til I get back.

Here’s what I suggested:

Right now you need as much fall growth as possible to go into winter. And a week or so will make a difference.

Go ahead and do the plantings (I assume you are direct sowing seed) and cover lightly with straw (or grass clippings, etc.) While you’re away it will rain and you’ll probably have seedlings up when you get back.

This morning I got another email from Pat:

I got the snap peas, chard, German giant radish, and collards planted early yesterday.  Then the rain came!!!  Hallelujah!  And there will be more on the way. 

Bonus Strategy

And then she mentioned another strategy that she thought of because she didn’t have time before her trip to clear more space in the garden for her spinach and kale.

I’m thinking of starting spinach and kale in my self watering planter.  My hubby won’t have to remember to water it!  And I can transplant them later.

Final Thoughts

Since we can’t know the future, waiting for perfect conditions is almost always a poor strategy.

And although we don’t know which of our actions (or plantings) will bear fruit and which will not, one thing we know for sure:

If we don’t plant, we won’t harvest.


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Six Reasons to Grow Mache

The first two reasons:

  • It’s one of the most delicious greens you can find.
  • AND it grows in the winter without protection. Brush back the snow (or chip into the ice) and harvest.

Without considering its other great benefits, those are reasons enough for almost any gardener to want it.

Mache is well known in European countries. It’s available in grocery stores there in spring, late fall and winter.

Being low to the ground, mache has to be hand harvested. That makes profit difficult, so it’s seldom seen in US grocery stores.

Friend and reader, Amy, whose husband is German, was with me in the garden one fall. Mache was everywhere. She knew exactly what it was because whenever they’d visit her husband’s home in Germany (in cool seasons) they’d enjoy this green in abundance. Later, she told me how delighted and surprised her husband was when she served the mache salad with dinner that evening!

Reason 3 – It reseeds.

Once it’s established you’ll have it every year without any work.


Reason 4 – Seldom available unless you grow it.

Growing your own is about the only way you’re gonna be able to enjoy this green.

Reason 5 – Mache can almost single-handedly make a tremendous contribution to your health at a time that you’re not able to get other greens to supplement your diet.

If you’ve studied nutrition you already know that almost all the minerals and vitamins we need to be healthy come from plants.

In the spring and summer we have a multitude of plants to choose from to get all the necessary vitamins and minerals we need. But in the winter, fresh greens are hard to come by.

Power packed with Vitamins A and C, mache also  provides iron, Vitamin B6, manganese, copper, potassium, phosphorus, Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and tryptophan (an amino acid).

These vitamins and minerals make it beneficial to your vision, immune system, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, skin-bone-teeth health, brain health, blood sugar levels and more.

Reason 6 – Growing it as part of a plan for emergencies (when there’s no access to stores and power is down) could help you stay alive and in good health.

It has it’s feet in the wild and is more likely to outlast things in the garden that need protection in cold weather.

For part of your emergency plan in warmer weather try malabar and/or magentaspreen. They have their feet in the wild as well and are edible for a much longer time than many garden greens. They’ll last until frost, and by that time mache will have made its appearance in the garden.

Final Thoughts

September is the perfect time to sow mache in your garden.

When you get all those rave reviews serving it as part of your Thanksgiving and/or Christmas feast, let me know.

Related Posts:

Growing Winter Greens – Starved for Lettuce and other Greens

Mache – Why Grow it and Secrets to Having Enough

Mulching, Weeds, Annuals, Crop Residue to the Rescue



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Fall planting – Lettuce – New Variety – Garlic – Winter Rye Strategy

Although we still have a few weeks of summer remaining, the change to fall is in the air.
It’s a great opportunity to enjoy one of the best and most enjoyable times to grow your own food.

Started my first planting for fall lettuce about mid August. Transplanted the seedlings to the garden day before yesterday. No rain. Soil was bone dry so carried in some buckets of rainwater to water them in thoroughly.

I seeded containers with 5 more varieties yesterday and will continue to plant at least every other week through October.

Key to a Continual Supply of Lettuce

If you want lettuce all through the fall, winter and into early spring just one planting of lettuce won’t do it. Succession planting is the key: plant some lettuce; in a week or two plant more; repeat.

For more tips to help you have all the lettuce you want, review the lettuce posts listed at the end. (I’ve written dozens of posts on lettuce; so if you put lettuce in the search box <upper left column> more will come up.)

New Variety (for me anyway)

It’s hard to beat my favorite varieties of lettuce: Winter Density (a romaine) and Sierra Batavia (a crisphead). Both delicious! And considered (by me) to be the best of the best in taste, performance and beauty.

Thanks to a friend, I’ve now discovered a variety that I like just as much as my favorite two. As a matter of fact, I’d go so far as to say that if this “new discovery” were in my garden along side the other two varieties, I’d be eating more of it than the others.

After looking at what various suppliers had to say about this new one, I understood why I liked it so much. It’s a combination of a batavian crisphead and a romaine!

It’s tolerant of hot weather. My friend brought me a crisp, beautiful head in the hottest part of July this year. Sweet as could be without a hint of bitterness!

I have high hopes of a great fall performance. And if it does well under my protective covers through the winter I’ll be overjoyed!

The variety is Concept. Why not give it a try. Serving it at your big Thanksgiving (and/or Christmas) dinner should bring all kinds of rave reviews.

Garlic – Tip for stress-free planting in October or November.

As fall and holidays approach, everyone seems to get busier.

Select the beds that you’ll plant with garlic and prepare them now. When the time comes to plant, all you’ll have to do is separate the cloves, plant, and mulch.

Mid October is a good time to plant in areas further North. Planting garlic that early here in Virginia gives me too much above ground growth before the cold sets in.

I wait until November to plant. That gives my garlic plenty of time to establish strong roots underground, but not make too much growth above ground.

Seed Garlic

Most seed garlic ships in October, in time for planting in almost all areas.

I’ve noticed the most popular varieties sell out rather quickly. If you haven’t ordered, it’s a good time to check it off your list.

If you choose to order from you might want to take advantage of the great savings on their Northern White, a porcelain variety that is big, beautiful, and easy to grow. And remember, you’ll get even more savings by ordering before Thursday, August 31, 2017. For the added 10% savings use the code earlybird2017. (That’s a total savings of 24% off the Northern White!)

(Click on the icon in the left column to shop.)

Winter Rye Strategy and Tomatoes (and other warm weather crops)

Now’s a great time to choose where your tomatoes are going next year if you plan on transplanting your seedlings into the stubble of winter rye.

With the help of still standing tomatoes and my garden chart I’ll look for spots that have not had tomatoes for at least 2 years; preferably 3. In late October or November I’ll sow winter rye seed into those spots.

Most of my beds are about 3’ wide by 16 feet long. Spots chosen for tomatoes will vary in size. I’ll sow the winter rye only where the tomatoes will go.

Makes it easy in the spring. I look at the rye and know exactly where my tomatoes are going to reside.

This strategy works great for almost any warm weather crop like cukes, squash, melons, peppers, eggplant, etc.

Final Thoughts

Even if you’re a beginning gardener, fall can be one of the best times to garden.

Grab the opportunity if you can.


Couldn’t resist adding two pictures of my entrance path bordered by the annual, summer poinsettia, that I use as a cover crop in some of my beds each year.  It’s above my elbow in height and beautiful.  All kinds of bees and insects swarming on it everyday.  They love it as much as I do.

The first is a close up view. The second shows more of the garden. (Pepper, tomatoes and asparagus ferns are visible as well as the summer poinsettia.)

Entrance path bordered by summer poinsettia at the end of August.

Taken from the entrance gate to show summer poinsettia and some of garden.

Related Posts:

Growing Garlic – A Good Reason to Grow Your Own

Growing Garlic – Yours Large Enough for You?

Lettuce – Making Sure You Have Enough for Fall/Winter/Next Spring

Still Eating Lettuces from Your Garden In January/or Not?

Lettuce – A Reminder – Ways to Have a Continual Supply from Fall Through Spring

Lettuce – Varieties to Keep You Eating All Year or at Least 10 Months

Lettuce – Sierra Batavia

Growing Lettuce Plan for a Continual Supply

Winter Rye as a Cover Crop – 2 Strategies


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Cover Crops – Hairy Vetch (and others) – Know the Facts Before You Plant

Cover crops for the home garden have gained popularity.

Many articles make every cover crop sound like one you’d want in your garden. And although the articles might mention some of the downside characteristics, most do it in a way that many gardeners wouldn’t recognize them as being possible problems.

Cover crops are a great way to help build healthy soil. BUT, in order to avoid a less-than-desirable outcome it’s best to do your home work first.

Learn the characteristics of the crop and how that will impact what you plan.

One Reader Recently Commented:

  • Not having any previous experience I planted winter rye into my garden beds last fall for the purpose of maintaining living roots through winter.

I assume his purpose for wanting “living roots” was to keep mycorrhizal fungi in the garden over the winter. But you don’t need large areas of cover crops (or living plants) to keep these beneficial fungi in your garden.

Here and there plantings of herbs like oregano, arugula, thyme, and/or sorrel will overwinter and keep these fungi alive and well.

So will strawberries.

Any perennial flowers you have in the garden will do the same.

When warm weather arrives and you plant the rest of your garden the mycorrhizal fungi will multiply and spread throughout your plantings.

He continues:

  • In the spring even after cutting and waiting two weeks direct seeding and transplanting had issues, no germination, stunted growth effecting some things more than others.

Winter rye has allelopathic properties. It suppresses the germination of other seeds. That’s why farmers wait at least 2 or 3 weeks after cutting and incorporating the rye into soil before they direct seed another crop like corn.

It can also affect transplants. (It doesn’t always. I dig planting holes into my winter rye stubble for transplanting warm weather crops and have never had a problem.)

And towards the end of his comment he stated:

  • This fall I’m going to try hairy vetch which I hope will not have all the side effects.

Although weak, hairy vetch also has allelopathic properties.

An even less desirable trait is the strong possibility of it becoming a weed. If it reseeds you’ll have it forever. I wrote about my experience with hairy vetch in this post.

To further insure the chances that it’ll be around forever is the fact that it contains “hard” seed. That means that not all the seed will germinate the year you plant. The “hard” seed will wait in the soil and germinate in future years.

All it takes is a plant going to seed unnoticed — and it’s off and running forever. I planted it almost 35 years ago; moved to a new location 18 years ago; and I still have it!!

Costs me time every year to pull it out to try to control it. (The seed came over in perennials I brought from my previous garden.)

Final Thoughts

I gardened many years before I knew about or how to use cover crops. Before I use anything new, caution is my guide.

When finally deciding to use winter rye in my garden, I planted only a small 5 x 3 foot area the first year. After reading so many “nightmare” accounts, I wanted to see first hand what it did and how I could manage it before I did any bigger plantings.

Cover crops can be great for our gardens. But I recommend you do your homework and start small.


Related Posts:


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Adjusting a Cover Crop Strategy for the Home Gardener

Readers who write to me about cover crops are sometimes under the impression that to use them they need heavy duty equipment.

That impression might come from articles and videos that show farmers on tractors tilling under various cover crops.

It can also come from a gardener using a crop like winter rye without knowing ahead of time how to deal with it. They’ve not planned a strategy that takes into account how difficult winter rye would be to turn into the soil without power tools.

Fortunately, we can use most all cover crops to improve the soil in our home gardens without the need for heavy equipment. With the right strategy,  a hand sickle and/or your other favorite hand tool is all you’ll need.

Know the Characteristics of the Cover Crop

You do have to educate yourself on the characteristics of the cover crop. Once you know that, you can work out a plan that gives you the benefits of the crop with minimum effort.

Example of a Farmer’s Strategy You Can Adapt

Here’s an example of a strategy a farmer might use. Altering it slightly will make it easy to use in your garden.

*The farmer might plant a field in buckwheat.

He might have decided on buckwheat because it can take insoluble rock forms of phosphorous and turn them into soluble forms that vegetables can absorb. It also scavenges calcium and other minor nutrients.

*Whenever the farmer’s strategy dictates, he plows the cover crop into his soil.

*After that he’ll plant another crop like rye which will hold in its green growth all the good stuff the first cover crop put into the soil.

*In the early spring the farmer might till under the rye which will slowly break down and return all those nutrients to the soil for use by whatever crop will follow.

Adapting the Above Strategy for the Home Garden

Here’s how I’m going to adapt that strategy for various beds in my garden this year.

  • This week I’ll plant buckwheat in a few garden beds. With a bit of rain, the buckwheat should germinate quickly (4 to 5 days) and be ready to flower in about 6 weeks.

My garden beds are permanent and have not been tilled in the 18 years since they were first prepared. I just pull back the mulch and plant.

  • With hedge shears I’ll cut it to ground level before it makes seed.

(I don’t use my hand sickle to cut buckwheat because it comes out of the ground too easily when you grab a handful to cut. )

  • I’ll leave the roots in the ground and scatter the cut biomass evenly over the bed.

At the end of October or into November:

  • I’ll sow seed of winter rye. It should come up just fine through the buckwheat roots and cuttings.

Next spring I’ll let the rye grow until the pollen hangs on the seed heads. That’s usually the last part of May in my area.

  • Then I’ll cut it (with my hand sickle) and lay the cuttings on top of the bed.

It’ll then be the perfect time to transplant warm weather crops.

  • Using a hand tool I’ll dig a few holes in the rye stubble for transplants like tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, cukes, or squash.

The stubble will decay by early or mid- summer. (You can add more mulch to the bed either before or after that happens.)

Final Thoughts

In this strategy, how the soil receives the benefits has been adjusted.

Rather than turning under the cover crops, I’ll let the soil life incorporate them for me.

However, I feel confident the benefits will be about the same. but with very little effort and a couple of hand tools.


Related Posts:

Winter Rye as a Cover Crop – Two Strategies

Cover Crop Ideas to Help You Make the Choice


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Garlic – A Good Harvest – Possible Even with Too Much Rain/ Tips/Proof/and Some Fun.

If you’re a garlic grower you’ve probably checked out a few (or numerous) sources about growing garlic.

On any topic there’s always something that just about everyone parrots as part of their two cents worth. One such statement about garlic is “Harvest when it’s dry.” Another is simply “watch out for rain”.

Those two statements leave much unsaid.

“Harvest when it’s dry” gives rise to more questions. And what in the world do you do if natures throws a curve ball with torrential rains when it’s time to harvest?

The “watch out for rain” warning is one of my favorites. What exactly does that mean? And what are you suppose to do when you see rain on the horizon?

Why Wet Conditions Can Ruin Your Crop

The bottom line about harvesting almost any crop in wet conditions is that too much moisture invites mold and decay. With garlic (especially in heavy soils) it can also stain wrappers and make the bulbs tough to clean. (Two concerns primarily for market growers.)

Being knowledgeable about how garlic develops from a few weeks prior to harvest through the curing stage greatly increases your chances of having a great harvest that will store well in spite of wet conditions.

Knowing When to Harvest

Leaves starting to brown are an indication that harvest is near. A good rule of thumb is to harvest when 40% (up to 50%) of the leaves have browned.

Keeping in mind that water stress can also result in browning of the leaves, it’s good in a rainy season to pull the soil away from a few bulbs to see what’s going on under the soil. Are the bulbs a good size? Are the skins pulled tight over the cloves? You might want to cut a bulb open to take a better look.

What Happens When All the Leaves are Brown

The cloves dry and pull away from the stem. Similar to a flower opening. The bulbs can be used for immediate use in the kitchen, but they won’t store well when they’ve gone this far.

Two Things to Help You Better Understand When to Harvest

  • #1  –when garlic bulbs are formed

“— the bulb swells as the leaves START to dry down. Bulbs should be well-sized by the time about 25% of the plant leaves are brown.”

  • #2 – why the number of green leaves is a key factor in determining time of harvest

“Brown or dead leaves represent bulb wrappers, either — already decayed or in the early stages of decay — In other words, brown leaves above ground usually indicate bulb wrappers that will be lost as the garlic is harvested, cured and cleaned.”

It’s important to save as many bulb wrappers as you can to help insure better storage. Green leaves represent the wrappers that will most likely make it to storage.

I learned both things from Ron Engeland’s book, Growing Great Garlic (considered the definitive garlic grower’s guide).

After Harvest

Keep the garlic out of direct sun and get it to the curing area as quickly as possible. (Direct sun deteriorates quality.)

Do NOT wash.

Leave the roots and leaves on the bulbs until after curing.

Curing to Preserve Your Garlic

Curing usually takes 2 to 4 weeks. It can take up to 2 months if conditions are humid.

The most important things you need to consider in choosing your curing location are

  • good air circulation and
  • protection from the sun.

Below is a picture of the Greenberg’s curing set up.  The old corn crib on Troy’s grandmother’s neighboring property perfectly meets the requirements for air circulation and protection from direct sun.

Now for the FUN:

As you will recall from past posts, is a small family owned company growing organic garlic on about one acre. The “laborers” 😊 are the Greenberg kids (and an occasional borrowed neighbor)  under the supervision of their Dad, Troy.

5 of the Greenberg kids and a neighbor bundle and tie garlic after harvest.

The garlic growing area is saturated this year from all the rain.

Troy tells me that this section of Wisconsin gets torrential rain just about time for garlic harvesting every 3 to 5 years. So far they’ve had no trouble with the mold and decay associated with harvesting in wet conditions. They, of course, do everything they can to follow good principles for garlic growing — many already mentioned at the beginning of this post.

Because of the rain, the Greenbergs now have their own temporary pond, complete with giant frogs.  The kids take advantage of the water and have fun while it lasts.

The Greenberg kids sail their boat on the rain-made pond.

Frogs came when the rain made the pond.

Special Scoops for TMG Readers:

Scoop #1
In spite of all the rain, Troy was very excited about the huge bulbs of Russian Giant, a purple stripe variety of garlic. Some of the bulbs are 3 inches! That’s some kinda BIG garlic!

Last year they didn’t have enough to sell. This year they do!

You’re getting this scoop ahead time, so if you want to grow this “giant” put your order in now! (Click on the Get Garlic icon in the left margin.)

Scoop #2
For ordering early (before August 31, 2017) you get 10% off. (Don’t woryy, garlic won’t be shipped until September.)

I didn’t see the 10% early bird special on GetGarlic website, so be sure to ask for it when you order before 8/31/17.  (Update: – Use the code earlybird2017 by August 31, 2017 to get the discount.)

Scoop #3

When GetGarlic first started, they over bought Northern White, a porcelain variety.

When they realized they’d grown too much, they put it on sale. (Other garlic is $19.00 a pound and Northern White is $16.34 a pound. A substantial savings of 14%.)

Troy told me customers have loved it because it’s so beautiful and the cloves get so big.

This porcelain variety would be a great one to try, even for beginners. And with 10% off by ordering before August 31, 2017 you save a bundle.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully you found a piece of information in this post that you didn’t already know and that you can apply next season to get an even better garlic harvest.

And I hope the pictures and stories that Troy shared made you smile!

When you order your garlic from, please thank them for their continued sponsorship of TendingMyGarden. (This is their 3rd year with TMG.)

Their sponsorship goes a long way towards making it possible to keep TMG up and running and continuing to give you the help you need to be successful.

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Tomatoes – Ways to Stake – Tip to Help Prevent Splitting and No Taste Fruit after Rain

A week or so ago we had torrential rains! Friends a couple miles down the road measured 6.5 inches of rain in just a short few hours.

For the most part, I stay out of the garden when things are this wet. But the day after the rain I was anxious to see if any of the stakes holding my tomatoes had fallen over.

If that happens it may not unearth the roots totally, but disturbs them enough that the plants could put all their energy towards ripening the existing tomatoes and not producing more.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing at the end of the season when there’s little time for new tomatoes to form, but August is way to early for that to be desirable.

I can’t remember how Bill and I first staked tomatoes. But eventually, I found steel stakes like those pictured below. Each year I’d get a few more. (They stack easily for storage after the season.)

Steel Tomato Stakes

They’re a 59 inch length including the 14 inch prongs that go into the ground.

They’re sturdy (to a degree) and hold a lot of weight. The description online at Gardener’s Supply indicates they’ll hold over 100 pounds. That sounds about right. The problem comes when it rains a lot and the ground softens. Then the stakes are prone to lean with the weight of the plant and its fruit. That can loosen (pull out) the roots to one degree or another.

Wind intensifies the problem.

And that’s why I was anxious to get out and inspect after that rain.

Could the Problem Be Avoided by NOT Staking?

It could be avoided by not staking and letting the tomatoes sprawl.
BUT, everything has it’s pros and cons.

The first year I gardened I just let the plants sprawl. It only took that one season for me to decided I didn’t like that.

First, it takes more space than I’m willing to give.

Second, I got tired of crickets and slugs feasting on tomatoes laying on the ground.

That can happen with staked tomatoes too, but seldom compared to when plants sprawl.


Help for Splitting and Tasteless Tomatoes After Heavy Rain

*Soil that has been deeply prepared and improved every year with organic matter will drain water, rather than becoming water logged. The soil will be wet — but well drained. (If you have framed beds that have been filled with soil but still have hardpan at the bottom, your soil will be water logged after a lot of rain.)

*Plants with heavy foliage can absorb much more water and thus, the fruits don’t take up as much water.  (This would be a reason in favor of not pruning tomato plants heavily.)

The 6.5 inches of rain we had the other week did not affect the taste of my tomatoes. Nor did it cause any splitting.

If we were to have days of that, I’d be concerned.

Also, keep in mind that some varieties are more prone to splitting than others. Those might need to be picked before the rain.

Tomato plants and pepper plant in garden.

Tomatoes picked from plants in the garden after the heavy rain. (Cherokee purple and Mikado.)

Tomato plants usually get very large. I only prune when a branch is getting in the way. Or maybe at the end of the season when I know that there’s no time for new fruit to develop.

Tying up the same plant to just one stake would not only get too heavy, but the foliage would be too thick for good air circulation. At least 3 or 4 stakes per tomato plant is ideal. <See the previous picture of tomatoes in the garden.>

By the way, these stakes are perfect for pepper plants. Use the 59 inch ones for peppers that get about 4 feet tall. Shorter ones are available for peppers that grow only 2 1/2 to 3 feet.

(I use old stockings cut in strips to tie plants to the stake.)

One stake and one plant – the exception. Just to have a tomato close to the house I planted this one in the worse possible spot.  In spite of that, it’s a gorgeous plant, but just didn’t grow a lot of foliage like the ones in the garden.  The red mark is where the stake ends.

Tomatoes picked from the plant just pictured after the heavy rain. Open pollinated Big Beef. (by Gary Ibsen)

Some tomatoes and peppers in the small meadow bed. I found a huge tomato concealed in the foliage where I’ve drawn the red circle.  Its picture is below this one.

My old scale is about an 1/8 of a pound off. The tomato is only a little over a pound. It too is the open pollinated Big Beef. but just a lot bigger than the other 3 from the plant in the poor spot.

Other Methods to Stake Tomatoes

The ways to stake tomatoes are probably endless, but below I’ve mentioned two that really appeal to me. If I were just starting out, I’d think about trying one.

They’d be more secure than what I have and not require the constant vigilance over the entire season.

Cylinders of Concrete Reinforcing Wire

I had a friend who made 4 feet tall, 19 inch cylinders out of concrete reinforcing wire. (You’ll recall from the second picture down in this post that wire comes flat.  You can then cut and bend it to the shape you want. The 4 inch square openings in the wire are large enough to get your hand  in and out with a big tomato.)

T-posts were driven two feet into the ground and he’d weave the wire cylinder over the posts to hold it upright and secure. Never had trouble with wind and heavy rain causing them to fall over.

Utility Panels (a/k/a Cattle Panels)

I don’t have the room for this method, but I like it a lot.

T-posts go in the ground every 5 to 10 feet for the length of your row.

A utility panel (available in various lengths and widths) is then secured to the t-posts. Tomatoes are planted every 2 or 3 feet.

Each plant can be tied to the panel after it’s about a foot or two tall and then it’ll take care of itself. No need to worry about more tying or pruning. The few branches that end up on the ground are not much of a problem. You can leave them or cut them off; whatever you prefer.

Final Thoughts and Two More Pictures

Because of the cold in May, I didn’t transplant tomatoes into garden beds until the last day of May and the first week in June.  Needless to say, I was into mid July before getting a tomato.

It was worth the wait!

I’ve drawn red over the top of the tomato stake so you can see how the plant towers over it.

From inside the garden looking out at one of the borders. I enjoy the beauty and long bloom time of this Heliopsis each year.

Garden notes and pictures – May

Eating asparagus, some strawberries, onions, various lettuces and greens, rapini, collards, radishes, parsley, sorrel, and thyme.  Potatoes are growing quickly so “new” potatoes are not too far in the future.

Garlic and Onions

After that nice rain we had yesterday I noticed that about 8 garlic plants had turned brown over night. I pulled them up right away because I’ve had that happen before.

The root rots and the plant dies. It doesn’t happen to all of them, but it does happen to some. I’ve come to be on the look out for this especially when we have ongoing cold overcast and/or rainy days.

Also happens to a few onions each year. And no, I’m not 100% sure what to call it although my first guess after researching when it first appeared 5 years ago was pink root.   What I do know is that it’s best to get those weakened plants out immediately since the fungus (if its pink root) can stay in the soil for years.

Always rotate your onion (and garlic) crops so that a bed only has onions every 3 years; 4 is better. Some sources suggest 6 years which would be almost impossible for me.

Looking at an angle across garden rows.

Lettuce all Year (or at least 10 months)

Lettuces from last fall are stalking and look great.

I’ve been starting and transplanting new lettuces since mid February. Once a jug or flat germinates, I start more.

I’ll continue to plant through June although if it turns really warm I’ll have to start it inside where it’ll be cool enough for germination. After that I’ll resume starting seed in mid August through October.

If you want lettuce continually as I do, you’ve got to succession plant or more than likely you’ll find yourself without lettuce for a few months. Of course, there are lot’s of secrets to getting a continually supply even from lettuce that most folks consider “finished”. (See this post for one. )

Winter rye was ready to cut the last week in April. Laid it on top of its stubble.

#1 – onions in the meadow bed; #2 – cut winter rye; #3 – mache seeding; #4 – single onions; #5 – a group of onion seedlings planted to produce sets


As regular readers know from prior posts the invasive roots from the monster trees on our bordering property have pretty much ruined my asparagus beds in the garden. The picture below will give you a better idea of what I mean.

The widest part of the red handle is 3/4 of an inch wide. The asparagus on the left are from an asparagus plant put in 3 years ago on the other side of the property. It has no root competition from the invasives. The asparagus on the right are in the garden and have to compete with the roots. They still taste good, they’re just much smaller and getting smaller every year.

asparagus comparison – ones on the left have no competition — ones on the right do

I started 3 different varieties from seed this year. Now to find a place to put the seedlings so they can grow undisturbed until next spring. I transplanted Connover’s Colossal seedlings in a grow bag. A garden bed will house the other varieties for the year; just not sure where yet.

Then next year I’ll move all to a permanent location as far from the invasive trees as possible. This will help insure that I have some asparagus to eat after those root totally diminish the other plants.

asparagus seedlings – If you have maple trees you already know those brown things in with the seedlings are maple seeds. They fall like rain from my big maples.


I dug a hole in some of the rye stubble and put in 5 tomato plants yesterday.

I’ll put in at least 15 to 20 more plants over the course of the next couple of weeks. I’ll also pot up a few seedlings to have on stand-by just in case I lose a transplant for one reason or the other. (Back up is always a good policy.)

tomato seedlings ready to transplant


Pepper seedlings are tiny. That’s nothing new around here. See this post.

An observation: the seed that I saved from last years crop of a certain variety germinated more quickly than seed from other varieties that were purchased. Also the seedlings are larger. Other variables could account for it, but I’m definitely making a note of it.

pepper seedlings from seed I saved last year

The borders are starting to bloom and it’s most welcomed.

Pink tradescantia is not as strong a grower as the blue, but I just love it.  Makes me want to have company so I can decorate the plate with the flowers (which are eatable).


I never tire of these royal purple iris. Elizabeth’s gold, my early day lily in the picture below, has an abundance of blooms this year making the purple iris show up more than ever.  Also note the blue tradescantia behind the iris.


Elizabeth’s gold.


Planted last year, these snapdragons are at least 2 1/2 feet tall.  In spite of the wind and rain we had last week, they’re still standing straight.


Easy Going is a floribunda rose in my fence border.  Blooms are beautiful and prolific!

Final Thoughts

I hope you are enjoying your garden.

My thoughts are of you as I tend mine.


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