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Organic Gardening Blogs

Chosen as one of the Top 30 Organic Gardening Blogs – March 2018

Tribute to Bill Martz – 4-2-42 to 10-3-15

Almost all of us experience loss at sometime in our life. And although every story is different, we probably all relate some degree to that wrenching emotion that comes from saying goodbye to one we love.

Depending on how close we are to the person we lose, the loss can be like losing a limb. As Robert Southey put it, “time may heal the anguish of the wound, but the loss cannot be repaired.”

It seemed to me the minute Bill died (October 3, 2015 at 7:48 EDT) almost all the normal cares, concerns, hopes, and fears of life fell away. Things that once mattered just didn’t matter any more. So often, it was like looking at the world through a thin curtain and that I was neither dead nor alive.

Bill’s unconditional love for me over 51 years of marriage left an imprint that can never be removed. His actions and words over our life together continue to be part of my actions, thoughts and decisions. I still “hear” his voice and sense his presence at every place he walked and was, even though I know he’s not here.

He was a gift – the most treasured part of my life.

We shared our lives, dreams, failures, successes, heartbreaks, strengths and weaknesses, the best times and the worst, the little joys and the big for more than 51 years.

He helped create an environment in our marriage that allowed us both to work towards becoming the best we could be in every area of our life.

Truly I am among the most blessed of women on earth.
I will love him and hold him dear forever.

Victoria Hanley expressed my feelings when she said,

“I have lived with you and loved you, and now you are gone. Gone where I cannot follow, until I have finished all of my days.”

Final Thoughts

Thinking of all of you who have lost someone dear. May their memories help give you the strength you need to go forward.

Bill Martz, artist, drawing in the Northern Neck. Part of the Chesapeake Bay area.

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Why Not Go for Being All You Can Be etc. (our story)

Before My Garden – A Dog Story

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Onions – What Recommendations Do You Follow?

When various information on any garden topic is promoted by well known writers in popular publications, that information is probably taken to heart by the vast majority of readers as “THE” way things should be done.

The unfortunate part of that is those articles are not always correct.

And many times even when information is accurate they can’t tell enough in the allotted space to fully explain.

I received an email some weeks ago from a publication that is considered one of the best, if not THE best on gardening stuff. They were promoting an article on onion growing, so naturally I read it.

It was written by someone who has won many awards for writing, is extremely well known as a garden writer, and gardens as a hobby.

Although the writer gardens in an area similar to mine, I noticed several things that I would disagree with to one extent or the other.

Following are 3 of the recommendations in the article. After the writers recommendation I’ve given mine and what I base it on.

When to Harvest?

#1 – Article Recommendation was to lift all the onions once half the tops in a planting have fallen over.

Here’s what I’ve written about that in my forthcoming book on onions:

“Even though onions in a bed may be of the same variety and were planted at the same time, they don’t all mature at the same time. They can be days apart or even a week or more apart.

“When you go by nature’s way to determine harvest time (the top falling over naturally), it will increase the storage potential for your onions. When the neck softens to the point where the tops fall naturally, the neck is able to shrink tightly when the onion is cured. That’s an important factor in storage life.

“If you ‘break’ the necks (harvest before they fall naturally), as many sources recommend, you decrease storage potential.

“Market growers often harvest all the onions in a row or bed when about half have fall over. The increased storage potential benefit mentioned above is of little value to them when they want to get their crop to market as soon as possible. But it can make a big difference for home gardeners who want onions for winter use.”

How to Plant – One step or Many?

#2 – Article Recommendation was to mix 1 inch layer of mature compost;( I understood this to mean add to the soil before making the furrow); make v-shaped furrow in bed; fill with 1 inch of rich compost or dusting of dry organic fertilizer.

This follows what is commonly recommended. And there’s  nothing wrong with adding mature compost if you want to.

But if you’re renewing your soil each year with organic materials there’s really no need to do any of that. And especially no need to buy and use a dry organic fertilizer.

The organic materials decaying/decayed will add everything to the soil that your plants need to grow.

Onions have been one of my main crops for almost 40 years and I’ve never done any of the things mentioned in the article when planting. I just pulled back the mulch and planted the onions.

(When I grew for market I planted 2,500 onions. After that I cut back to about 1,200.)

One of the most important things that was not mentioned in the article under “how to plant onions” was planting depth.

Planting depth should be about 1 inch. One of the most common mistakes gardeners make is planting onions too deep which results in small onions.

Curing Not Necessary? And Storing Where?!

#3 – Article Recommendation was to cure short-day onions for just a few days, then trim and store in the refrigerator.

I could hardly believe that one!  It too is addressed in my book as follows:

“Storage potential for short day onions can vary from 1 month to 3 months depending on the variety.  I’ve had them sometimes store well for 4 months.

“If you want short day onions to reach their full storage potential you must properly cure them rather than just let them dry for a few days. (Proper curing takes 2 to 4 weeks depending on humidity.)

“If you only have a few and you plan on eating them soon, leave them out just as if they were curing.

“Storing fully mature onions in a refrigerator is not a good idea if you want to enjoy the great taste of fresh onions.

“Cold, humid temperatures change the onions. They lose their flavor and that crisp moist texture.

“Conditions in a refrigerator are opposite the proper storage in a cool, dry environment with good air circulation.

“Young onions (scallions and green onions) pulled for fresh eating are the exception to the rule. They can be kept fresh for several days in a refrigerator without a change in flavor or texture.”

Final Thoughts

You’ve just learned several of my easy secrets to growing great organic onions.  In my forthcoming book, you’ll learn many more.

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Related Posts:

How to Have Garden Onions April Thru January

Growing Onions

Following Standard Gardening Advice/Some Examples and Why it Might Happen

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All content including photos is copyrighted by TendingMyGarden.com.

5 Points to Keep in Mind for Success in Getting Through Your Most Challenging Obstacles

In the garden and in every phase of our life we all face obstacles. Some only slow us down; others stop us dead in our tracks. And then there’s the total knockout that puts us down for the count.

#1 – It’s Not the Event That Shapes Your Future

Most of us don’t look forward to unpleasantness in any form. I know I don’t.

It seems however, to be a fact of life that if you can deal with the situation by walking through it and looking for opportunities, you build an inner strength and fortitude that enables you to bounce back more quickly and easily in the future.  And —possibly survive the current situation better than you went in.

For it’s not the event that will shape our future. But rather the thought process we use to get past the obstacle and find opportunities to improve our lives in spite of an unavoidable setback.

Whatever the obstacle, there are ways to deal with it that will shape your world for the better.

#2 – Requirement: You Have To Want To — And That Might Take Some Time

In most cases, “wanting to look for the good in a bad situation” is a lot easier to talk about than it is to do. Especially just after it happens.

Anger, fear, sadness, and frustration can be normal responses depending on the severity of the problem.

We need time to process what’s happened or is happening to us. Once we come to terms with the situation, we can better decide how to proceed.

#3 – Knowing This Fact Helps Us to See How Important It Is to Move in a Positive Direction

Fact: Negative feelings, thoughts, and reactions take a lot of energy and PREVENT (or at the very least hinder) the good outcome you want.

For years I had trouble with depression and sinking to the depths of despair when a seemingly insurmountable obstacle arose. I saw the situation in the worse possible light and thought the way I was seeing it was 100% accurate.

Those thoughts did nothing but drain my energy and make me feel worse. Once I changed my negative direction and looked for opportunities within the problem, even if it was halfheartedly, things started to improve.

Eventually, Bill and I formed the habit of giving ourselves time to process what was happening and then immediately thereafter looking for possible benefits and opportunities within the problem. From there we could better determine a strategy to deal with the situation.

Once looking for the benefits and opportunities within the problem is a habit, it’s automatic.  And that makes life a lot easier.

#4 – The Influence of Others – Those You Keep Company with, What You Read, What You Watch

People we choose to spend time with (be it family or friends) make a huge difference in success or failure in every area of our life. If you want to be – successful, positive, healthy, happy, etc. – surround yourself with people who have the qualities you want for yourself.

Those who are negative, unsupportive, and drain your energy will do you harm.

They influence your attitude. Attitude determines our thinking and behavior on which success or failure in overcoming any obstacle ultimately depends.

What we read and what we watch (movies,etc) also impacts our thinking and behavior. They’ll have the same influence as people we associate with.

You have to make the choices.

And as I mentioned in a previous post: make no mistake, no matter how small it might seem, every decision and choice is taking you towards your goal or away from your goal.

Aristotle Onassis
“It is during out darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”

#5 – Take the Action Best for You

Gather whatever information you need to formulate a plan to resolve whatever difficulty you’re facing and then take action.

Remember, there will always be someone with an opinion about what your course of action should be. And although it seldom hurts to listen, no one really knows your situation like you do. You’re the only one who can decide on the best course of action to take.

Don’t fall prey to the “instant gratification” and “quick fix” mindset that is highly promoted in our society. Often the best solutions are ones that take time.

Just because you don’t see immediate results doesn’t mean that what you’re doing is ineffective.

A good strategy coupled with consistent action pays off.

Final Thoughts

These 5 points have helped me get through a lot of difficulties over the years, including the one I’m experiencing now.

I hope they’ll be helpful in getting you through whatever obstacles you face now and in the future, be they great or small.

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Related post:

Choices – Making You Stronger or Weakening Your Resolve

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3 Tips for Fall – Lettuce / Bush Bean Planting, Squash Bug Control Strategy (& a personal note)

#1 – What You Need to Do to Get a Bountiful Supply of Lettuce Through Next Spring

To get a bountiful supply through fall, harvests through the winter, and the earliest supply of lettuce in the spring now is time to start your staggered plantings of lettuce if you haven’t already.

I usually start about mid August and stagger plantings every 10 days or 2 weeks through October.

That might seem like a lot of plantings but it’ll allow for some losses to weather, bugs, and/or seed not germinating. You have no way of knowing those things in advance so it’s beneficial to plan just in case.

Three of my favorite varieties for fall harvests are Sierra Batavia, Winter Density and Bronze Arrowhead. Also good are Rouge D’Hiver, Winter Marvel, Little Gem.

I’ve found Winter Density to be THE best for wintering over in my garden. (I protect from below freezing temperatures.)

Since I anticipate it being another month to 6 weeks before I can walk, I’ll be late getting started this year. But better late than not to have any lettuce. How bountiful my late plantings will be during the fall months will depend on the weather.

#2 – Want a Fresh Green Bean for Thanksgiving Dinner?

Masai bush beans are great for fall planting. They only take about 55 days from seedlings to beans.  Here in zone 7 there should be time to get beans before frost. Covering with a thicker row cover fabric should allow them to continue even a bit after frost.

A short bushy plant, the Masai plant produces long thin beans that are not only beautiful, but delicious.

If you have trouble with grasshoppers and other pests eating your emerging seedlings in the fall, you can start Masai Bush Beans in flats or pots. Transplant to the garden when they have 2 or more true leaves.

A great addition to Thanksgiving dinner. Or possibly Christmas dinner depending on your last frost/freeze date and how cold it gets.

#3 – Squash Bug Control Strategy – Do It Now to Cut Down on the Numbers Next Year

As I pointed out in a previous post you need more than one strategy to control squash bugs. One of the most important tactics is to prevent their overwintering in your garden.

Considering that female squash bugs can hibernate in the top 6 inches of your soil over the winter with as many as 250 eggs that will be viable NEXT spring without her mating again –– stopping even 10 females from wintering over could prevent as many as 2,500 bugs from attacking your squash next year.

You’ll need your dead or dying squash plants (or other cucurbits that the squash bug attacked) for this control tactic.

I gave the details in this post: Squash Bugs – End of the Season Strategy.

If you’ve already taken your plants out of the garden, I would recommend looking around where they grew. Some of the bugs may have stayed in that location.

Final Thoughts – a Personal Note

Thanks so much for your emails of concern and well wishes. They’ve meant a lot.

Still in my kitchen floor, but each day brings a tiny but noticeable improvement. Every little degree of movement gained makes things a bit easier for me and is very encouraging.

I’m heading towards getting up from this serious setback in better condition than before it happened. And wouldn’t that be something!! 🙂

All my best wishes for a great fall season. I’m thinking of you.

Theresa

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Related Posts:

Squash Bugs – End of the Season Strategy

Fall Planting – Less than Perfect Conditions

Time to Plan and Plant for Fall

Gardening and Life in General – Walking in the Direction You Want to Go

Fall Crops – Starting In Flats Can be a Strategy for Pest Control

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All content including photos are copyrighted by TendingMyGarden.com. All Rights Reserved.

Tomatoes – Save Time; Save Freezer Space; Get Better Tasting Sauce; Recipes for Kids, Formal Dinner, Appetizer

Tomatoes are just about the most popular home grown vegetable (fruit). Many who don’t consider themselves gardeners, still grow a few tomato plants every year.

I’m so spoiled by the taste of homegrown tomatoes from my organic garden that I won’t eat tomatoes from the store — organic or otherwise.

Tomatoes from my garden.

Other Ways to Enjoy Your Tomatoes

Here are some other ways to make the most of your tomatoes that I’ve previously written about.

Recipes

Want a recipe using your fresh tomatoes that the kids will love in the summer?  That you can also use for an elegant luncheon or a formal dinner during Christmas?  One that only takes 30 minutes to make and offers a taste of summer and is sure to impress your guests?

Tomatoe Sherbet- Serve at a Summer Luncheon or as Part of Your Main Christmas Meal

Here’s a recipe that’s so simple you probably won’t believe how delicious it is until you try it yourself. Serve it a an appetizer or as the salad in a formal sit-down dinner.

If you have to restrict your intake of salt, this is a definite must-try.

The post also tells you what Organic Gardening Magazine didn’t tell you about oils.

Fresh Tomatoes – Elevated (even more) to Gourmet Status

Sauce – Saving Time, Freezer Space and Getting Better Taste

Are you one who cooks tomatoes on the stove for hours to make sauce?
Is your freezer space taken up with whole fresh tomatoes?
Would you like to save time and space and still have the great taste of summer tomatoes in a much easier-to-work-with-form?

You can use this “sauce” right out of the oven with or without spices. You can freeze it in a fraction of the space taken by whole tomatoes. Great for quick meals all year: pasta dishes, soups, or by itself as a side dish. Use in anything that calls for tomatoes, sauce, or paste.

(The thickness of what you freeze will depend on how long you cook it.)

To get all the options offered, be sure to read all four posts.

Tomatoes – Roasted for the Easiest Most Delicious Tomato Sauce

How to Make Tomato Sauce or Tomato Paste the Easy Way

Quick and Delicious Tomato Sauce

Addendum to Quick and Delicious Tomato Sauce

Stir the roasted tomatoes.

After you stir the roasted tomatoes, this is what the sauce will look like.

What Tomatoes Make the Best Tasting Sauce?

Tomatoes with drier texture and little or no seeds are called paste tomatoes.
Many gardeners grow them especially for use in making sauce/paste.

Over the years I’ve grown dozens of varieties of paste tomatoes and have never found one that even comes close to the taste of regular tomatoes for making sauce or paste. I don’t grow them anymore.

If you grow both, you might want to do a test. Fix a batch of sauce with paste tomatoes and one with regular tomatoes. (Since the paste tomatoes are drier they’ll be finished sooner than the regular tomatoes.)

When both are done, thoroughly cooled, and before you add any seasoning, taste each and make your decision.

Final Thoughts

Wishing you an abundance of great tomatoes for use now and throughout the winter.

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All content including photos are copyright by TendingMyGarden.com. All Rights Reserved.

Time to think about Garlic – One of Earth’s Most Beneficial Foods

The medicinal properties of garlic were revered even in ancient and medieval times going back 5,000 years or more.

In World War I and World War II it was used as an antiseptic for wounds and given to prevent infections like gangrene.

During the time of the plague in the early 1700s, gravediggers in France are said to have used crushed garlic in their wine to protect themselves from the sickness.

Garlic In Modern Times

If you’re only a believer of what’s been researched by modern science you’ll be happy to know that garlic fits the bill. All you need do is Google and you’ll quickly find information on any specific you’re looking for. If you have problems like ulcers that garlic might irritate, that information is also available.

Garlic falls into the category of one of the few things that’s good for just about everything that ails you.

Where Does Super Market Garlic Come From

More than 50% of garlic consumed in the US comes from China. And yep, what you buy in the grocery store more than likely comes from China. If you want reasons for not buying things produced in that country review this post.

Finding a Source You Can Trust

Even if we grow our own garlic, we can’t always grow enough to get us through the year. Finding a source we can trust can be difficult.

GetGarlic.com is a source you can trust and is certified organic. Their large bulbs of seed garlic are grown specifically to be used as seed to produce healthy, hardy garlic in your garden.

If you don’t have enough garlic from your garden to get you through the year — or if you don’t grow garlic — no problem: GetGarlic.com has garlic for eating as well as seed garlic.

You can still choose the variety you want. The bulbs are just a bit smaller than bulbs of seed garlic. And there’s a nice savings on the eating garlic.

This small company is a hands-on family operation. Troy, his wife, and 6 kids grow all 20 of the varieties they sell.

The kids are very much involved in the day to day activities of the garlic business as part of their education. As a matter of fact, Troy wrote recently saying the kids handled all the harvesting this year while he was busy with something else.

Lydia and Lorna take a break (last October) from planting to smile at their Dad as he took the picture.

To Be Associated With TendingMyGarden.com

As you might recall from past posts, I often get requests from businesses wanting to advertise on TendingMyGarden.  Almost without exception when those businesses are further investigated, I find they don’t share the organic values that I encourage. So, of course, I decline their offers.

You can imagine how delighted I was 5 years ago, after an inquiry by Troy Greenberg about advertising, to find that GetGarlic.com shared the values TendingMyGarden encourages.

More Than Just an Advertiser

Troy and I correspond off and on throughout the year and we’ve become  good friends.The more I learn about the Troy and his family, the happier I am to have them associated with TMG and to be able to recommend them to you.

I consider them part of the TMG family and appreciate the service and product they offer you, my readers.

Troy took this picture of his daughter and son, Lydia and Elias, last October as they finished packing orders to be shipped the next day.

Final Thoughts

Their continued support (now 5 years) goes a long way towards making it possible for me to continue to give you the help you need to be successful in your garden.

I hope you’ll check out GetGarlic.com’s offerings. If you decide to order and have a chance to talk to Troy, his wife, or one of the kids, I hope you’ll let  them know how much they’re appreciated.

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Related Posts:

Growing Garlic – A Good Reason to Grow Your Own

Garlic – A good Harvest Possible Even With Too Much Rain

Garlic is a Family Affair At the Greenbergs in Wisconsin – Making Memories

Welcoming Back GetGarlic.com

Introducing GetGarlic.com

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All content including photos are copyrighted by TendingMyGarden.com.  All Rights Reserved.

Want More Yield from Potatoes?

I’ve covered Green Sprouting as a way to increase potato yields. But if you’re still not satisfied with your yield, knowledge of how different varieties grow and produce could make a difference.

Variety Classification

Varieties are classified as early, mid-season and late growers. But sources don’t always agree on variety classification. Days from planting to harvest might be more useful in choosing which variety to grow.

Days from Planting To Harvest

In general early varieties can be harvested within 60 to 90 days after planting. Those are the ones that delight us with the first new potatoes of the season. And their foliage is usually the first to die back. (Yukon Gold, Chieftain, and Norland are 3 of my early producing varieties. In my garden they produce in about 70 days.)

Late season varieties are those that continue growing for 90 to 120 days.

These are the ones I bring in during late fall for winter eating. I don’t have good conditions for storing potatoes, but I can usually keep late season varieties like Butte, Canela Russet, Red Pontiac and Kennebec looking fresh and perfect for two, sometimes three months.

You’ll find a lot of cross-overs in lists of midseason potatoes. Kennebec and Red Pontiac are listed as midseason by some sources and late season by others. Chieftain is sometimes listed as early; sometimes  midseason.

If I wanted to pick a midseason variety, I’d go with a variety that produced in 75 to 90 days from planting.

Different Growth Characteristics – Determinate and Indeterminate

Early varieties grow differently than late varieties.

Early varieties are considered determinates. For potatoes that means they grow in a layer, just above where the seed was planted. They’re finished after they produce that layer of spuds.

Late varieties are considered indeterminate and produce more. Potatoes are grown in multiple layers over a longer growing period.

Fingerlings might be the exception as I’ve read they’re determinate no matter how many days it takes them to mature. Wish I had known that many years ago when I grew fingerlings. Never felt their harvest was worth the garden space.

Keeping it Simple

You can find all kinds of conflicting information on how to grow determinate and indeterminate potatoes. But the basic information you need to be successful, I’ve given you here.

I like to keep things simple and easy.

All my potatoes ( determinate and indeterminate) are planted 6 to 8 inches down. I cover with a thick layer of straw.

When they start growing I add more straw.

As potato vines start to spread apart and lay down, I look for exposed potatoes and cover them with more straw. (Otherwise they’ll turn green from the light)

Final Thoughts

The variety of potato you choose can make a big difference in your yield. So can Green Sprouting.

But as always, your success with any vegetable will depend mainly on your soil.

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Suggested Reading:

Potatoes – Green Sprouting – Advice from A Leading US Grower

Growing Potatoes – It’s Hard to Mess Up

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All content including photos are copyrighted by TendingMyGarden.com. All Rights Reserved.

3 Tips – Potatoes, Lettuce, Tomato Hornworm and a personal note

Yes, I’m still in the kitchen floor, but getting better everyday. As you may have already imagined, my heart is out in the garden.

A reader wrote to me not long ago and said that the Secrets to Seed Starting Success PDF was filled with such “common sense” suggestions that she couldn’t believe she’d not already thought of them.

If we live and garden long enough most of these simple little tips will occur to us sooner or later. But the sooner we have them in our arsenal of tools for success, the easier things get.

Here are 3 tips to add to your list if you don’t already know them:

Potatoes – A Harvest Tip

If soil is heavy, has poor drainage, or is not yet improved,  potatoes left in the water logged ground can rot.

But if you have good drainage and your soil is moist during heavy rains but not soggy, your potatoes should be fine even left in the ground long after they’re finished.

So if you have reasons you don’t want to harvest all your potatoes at one time, you don’t have to.

I usually harvest enough for a few meals each time I harvest, beginning in May or June through our first frost long about November. They do well in the driest of summers and even during unusual torrential ongoing rains.

As long as you have potatoes covered well with mulch (straw, pine, leaves, etc) so they won’t be exposed to sunlight and turn green, they’ll keep nicely in the ground until the first frost.

Once exposed to freezing temperatures (or frost) they change composition and don’t taste as good.

Some varieties produce only at the level just above where they’re planted. A few of the tubers produced will show above ground when the vines start to die back.  Seeing that, I bring in straw and cover them. That fixes that.

Lettuce – Want It Well into The Heat of Summer?

If you love lettuce like I do, you’ll want it fresh from the garden as long as possible. And you can have it, provided you don’t stop planting with just one or two plantings in the spring.

My winter lettuces produce bountifully in late winter and early spring. This gives me plenty of time to start seed and transplant lettuce for the summer months.

From April to the first of June, I planted 4 times. Each planting was about 20 days apart.

Here it is mid-July. We’ve had many hot and humid days in the 90s.

The last two plantings (Sierra Batavia and Aerostar) are still producing crisp and delicious lettuce. The first two spring plantings are setting seed. (As you know I can’t walk yet, but Lisa gives me the scoop on what’s happening in the garden each day.)

Hornworms

These pests blend so nicely with tomato foliage they can be hard to find even when you’re looking right at them.

If you see damage (stems totally stripped of leaves) and still can’t see the worm, cut the damaged stems away. Come back later with a fresh eye and you’ll probably see it.

And just a reminder: If you see one colonized with the cocoons of the Braconid Wasp — leave him be. He’s paralyzed already and won’t do anymore harm. The young wasp will emerge and help you keep these pests in check in the future.

Final Thoughts of a Personal Nature

I want to thank you for the loving comments left to my post telling about my most recent challenge.  They were so encouraging to me.

I’m almost finished answering each message individually via email.  So, if you haven’t received a personal email from me, you will soon.

As I’ve told you many times, you are the most wonderful friends and readers in the world and there are none finer.   Thank you for your encouragement and caring.  I’m so grateful for having you in my life.

All my best and warmest wishes,

Theresa

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Related Posts:

Discrepancies in IDs – Hornworms – eggs or cocoons.

Lettuce Making Sure You Have Enough for Fall, Winter and Next Spring

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All content including pictures are copyrighted by TendingMyGarden.com.  All Rights Reserved.

Meeting Another Challenge

Change, heartbreak, hardship and other adversities can enable us to grow and become greater than we are. But they’re seldom welcomed with open arms.

If you’re like me it’ll take time and a lot of mental effort to turn those conditions into something that adds value rather than ruination to life.

I’ve fallen far short of my goals in the past four years. Bill being sick, his death, and dealing with ongoing grief have taken their toll.

Nonetheless my goals remain fixed. And one that is primary is to find ways to help you even more in your garden and your life.

It may be a longer journey than I anticipated, so I hope you will be patient and stay on the path with me until the very end.

Most Recent Challenge

I’m writing this post from my kitchen floor where I’ve been for the past two weeks after taking a bad fall by my garden.

After I fell I dragged myself across the yard to the drive way. My new neighbor found a thin piece of ply wood. As I held on she dragged me the rest of the way across the drive and the cement walk to my back steps. We spent the entire night outside until I could decide how I wanted to proceed.

I’d always wanted to spend the night under the stars, just not under those conditions. Nonetheless, the night was lovely and it is a night neither of us will ever forget.

At 6:30 AM I was moved into the house to my kitchen floor.

A Debt That Can Never Be Repaid

I called a friend to let her know I’d fallen. Although I didn’t ask or anticipate her coming over, she arrived shortly after with all kinds of healing herbs and tonics and food that she knew I might eat.

The next day my neighbor’s husband custom built a small frame around me to keep me in one place.

My neighbor comes every morning to give me the nutrients I need to speed healing and anything else that I need to get through the day. She returns last thing in the evening for a final check.

In addition to fixing the one meal that I eat each day, a friend harvested my onion crop, saving it from ruin. The list of what she’s done is far too long for this post.

I owe a great debt to these two women and their husbands for helping me at a time I needed it the most. It would be impossible to repay.

Computer is Difficult

I’ve only be able to use the computer for about three days. Still difficult lying almost flat on my back, being only slightly raised.

I’m gaining more movement everyday and healing nicely. Pain free about 98% of the time.

Walking Towards the Desired Outcome

As at any time in our lives the future is not sure. But as Bill and I have always done, I will continue to “walk” in the direction of the outcome I want.

Final Thoughts

Thank you for taking time to read this. I wanted you to know that you are always in my thoughts. If you need help, please feel free to email me as always.

Warmly,
Theresa

Bagged Manure – Is it Organic?

I’m helping a reader, Becky, from South Carolina with some problems she’s having getting plants to grow and flourish in her “enclosed” raised beds.

I feel confident that one of her problems is experienced by many gardeners who want to be organic.

Marketing today can easily deceive us into buying products that may give indication they’re for use in organic gardens, but they’re not.

Becky uses the brand Black Kow® “composted cow manure”. But there are probably many more brands that use the same approach to sell their products for use in organic gardens.

Is It Suitable For Use in Organic Gardens?

If you go to a brand’s website or look at their product bag and don’t see the USDA/organic (certified organic by the US Department of Agriculture) label anywhere, it’s not suitable for use in organic gardens.

And although that label is decreasing in its legitimacy due to pressure by big corporations – it’s the best national label we have to go by right now for packaged products. We have to educate ourselves to be sure we get what we think we’re getting.

The Word organic

The definition for the word “organic” is: relating to or derived from living matter.

Various companies legally use the word organic, which may imply to the unknowing reader, that the product is organic (meaning for use in organic gardens) when it’s not.

You’ll see wording such as:

  • all-natural organic way to improve native soils
  • (brand name) is an organic soil amendment

Also, the things accomplished by adding organic materials to the soil (such as helps moisture holding capacity, etc.) may be touted as something that comes as a result of using their product. (And that may or may not be true.)

These bagged manures (that are not USDA certified organic) in all probability come from feedlot operations, where it is common to have a 1000 or more animals confined. These are the only places they can get the volume of manure they need to sell nationwide.

In some states the confined feedlot operations have even caused problems with property devaluation because of the smell that lingers in the air for miles from these huge mountains of manure that for the most part are too much to get rid of.  There have even been human health issues from living too close to these feedlot areas.

In addition, antibiotics that are given to cattle conventionally raised, end up in the manure.  They’re not always rendered harmless by composting.

The Way Cattle Were Raised for Thousands of Years

For thousands of years cattle were raised on their mother’s milk. As they aged they’d graze most of the year and then winter on hay.

The Unthinkable

Then the unthinkable happened. Cattlemen found that adding protein to feed would fatten out the cattle more quickly. Feeding the cattle rendered animal parts (see below) was promoted as the new modern way.

Rendered animal parts: feathers, poultry feces, cow blood, parts of pigs, horses, fish, cattle and other animal parts not fit for humans.

It’s amazing to me that cannibalizing cattle, who are constructed perfectly for eating plants, would be considered “ok” by any sane person.

A Smack on the Hand After The Mad Cow Outbreak

After the outbreak of mad cow disease some time back, the government supposedly banned some of this perversion in order to “protect” the public from mad cow disease. But from everything I’ve been able to find, much of it is still considered “ok”.

Even after composting, I would not want to use manure from any of these conventionally raised animals. And  I definitely would not want to eat any part of these cannibalized animals.

Find Good Manure if You Can

If you can find manure that you know is good AND know how to use it – it’ll be fine for your organic garden.

Do You Need Manure for Success?

If you can’t, it’s really not a problem. You don’t have to use manure to be successful in your garden.
I’ve addressed that in many posts.

Fall leaves are one of the finest amendments you’ll ever find for your organic garden.

Final Thoughts

All of us can be fooled by today’s marketing. It takes some thought and a bit of knowledge to make sure you’re getting what you want.

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Related Posts – Suggested Reading:

Information to think on before you purchase food, hydroponics, afo/cafo meats, vitamins and grains for you animals that you might think is organic.

Manures – Good or Bad for the Organic Garden?

Soil Fertility – Without Manure or Compost

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