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Title: Vegetable and Fruit Gardening
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From: USA
Registered: 11/21/2008

(Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:37 AM)
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Here is where you will find articles about Vegetable and Fruit Gardening.


Many plants have natural substances in their roots, flowers, leaves etc. that can alternately repel (anti-feedents) and/or attract insects depending on your needs. In some situations they can also help enhance the growth rate and flavor of other varieties. Experience shows us that using companion planting through out the landscape is an important part of integrated pest management. In essence companion planting helps bring a balanced eco-system to your landscape, allowing nature to do its' job.

Companion Planting

Plants Good Companions Bad Companions
Beans Rosemary, Peas, cucumbers, Radishes Onions
Beats Bush Beans, Cabbage, Onion, Sage  
Carrots Chives, Rosemary, Sage, Radishes, Lettuce Dill
Chives Carrots  
Cucumbers Beans, Carrots, Onions, Radishs no strong herbs
Dill Lettuce, Cucumbers Carrots
Lettuce Beans, Carrots, Cucumbers, Onions, Radishes  
Marjoram good to all vegetables  
Marigolds plant throughout the garden  
Nasturtium Cucumbers, Tomatoes  
Onions Beets, Cabbage, Carrots, Cucumber, Lettuce, Pepper, Tomatoe Beans, Peas
Oregano good to all vegetables  
Peas Lettuce, Beans, Carrots, Radish Onions
Petunia Beans  
Rosemary Beans, Carrots  
Roses Garlic,  
Sage Carrots, Peas, Beans Cucumbers
Tomatoes Basil, Carrots Corn, Fennel

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RE:Vegetable and Fruit Gardening
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:38 AM)

Pine Straw Mulch

by Scott Jacobs

Mulching is undeniably the single best thing you can do for your garden and landscape. Using pine straw as your mulch will not only save you time and money, but can give you a garden that is the envy of your neighborhood!

Mulch is a very important tool in the garden and landscape that:

•helps prevent loss of topsoil from wind and water erosion

•reduces water usage by maintaining soil moisture

•reduces rainwater runoff

•reduces soil compaction

•lessens soil temperature fluctuations

•improves soil tithe

•makes the landscape more attractive

•reduces maintenance

•reduces weed growth

•insulates soil to keep plants cooler in summer and warmer in winter

•improves soil aeration, structure, and drainage over time

•improves soil fertility

•inhibits certain plant diseases

•reduces damage from trimmers and lawn mowers

All of these qualities not only improve the health of your garden and landscape, but subsequently improve its overall beauty as well. There are many types of mulches to choose from. One type, pine straw (sometimes referred to as pine needles), outperforms other mulches in many ways.

The Healing Garden
The Celts were famed for their herb craft, Myths tell that Airmid,
the Irish goddess of medicinal plants, cared for the grave of her
brother Miach, and on this all the herbs of the world grew. As she
cut each herb, it described its healing properties. Healers in
former times would grow their own herbs, and every convent and
monastry had its medicinal garden. These were characterised by
fragrant herbs. Flowers and fruit tress, and because the herbs were
grown, cut and dried by the healer, they were endowed with his or
her special essence.
Ordinary people also had their herb patches, where they grew the
ingrediants for home-made lotions and potions. Even in the
industrial age, when large numbers of people moved to towns for
work, a small patch of back yard and later an allotment would often
be cultivated. You do not need acres of land - or, indeed, and land
at all - to become a spiritual herbalist. A windowbox or the balcony
of a flat can provide adequate space to grow a selection of healing
herbs. And a green place, whether indoors or outdoors, naturally
attracts health and healing to the home and family. Sitting among
your fragrant herbs or healing flowers for a short time each day
does seem to trigger the immune system, making you less susceptible
to illnesses and helping your body to fight infections and viruses.
All this benefit without actually ingesting any of your healing
The following herbs and flowers are particulary suitable for a
healing garden. Healing flowers and herbs include basil, bergamot,
chamomile,clary sage, dill,fennel,geranium,hyacinth,jasmine,
lavender,lemon verbena,lily of the valley, marigold,meadowsweet,
melissa(lemon balm),parsley,passionflower,peppermint,rose, rosemary,
sage,st.Johns wort,thyme,and violet.
Healing trees include:
almond,apple,bay, cherry,juniper,lemon,olive,pear,pine and orange
and in warmer climes:
acacia,apricot,coconut,fig and peach.
The size of the tree is irrelevant; your tiny tub olive will become
a focus of healing as well as a bringer of peace to the home.

Top Ten Houseplants for Cleaner Air
Adapted from Your Naturally Healthy Home, by Alan Berman.


No listing of the Top Five Cleaners would be complete without mentioning houseplants, our often-overlooked helpers in ridding the air of pollutants and toxins, counteracting outgassing and contributing to balanced internal humidity.

Find out which houseplants are our most effective allies in keeping your household air clean and pure.


Simple Solution:

It is suggested that one plant should be allowed for approximately 10 square yards of floor space, assuming average ceiling heights of 8 to 9 feet. This means that you need two or three plants to contribute to good air quality in the average domestic living room of about 20 to 25 square yards.

Research has shown that these 10 plants are the most effective all-around in counteracting offgassed chemicals and contributing to balanced internal humidity.

* Areca palm
* Reed palm
* Dwarf date palm
* Boston fern
* Janet Craig dracaena
* English ivy
* Australian sword fern
* Peace Lily
* Rubber plant
* Weeping fig

Although many plants like light, they do not all have to be placed near windows. Many indoor plants originated in the dense shade of tropical forests and have a high rate of photosynthesis. These are ideal for the home and can be placed in darker corners. When positioning plants, try to strike a balance between light and ventilation because the effect of plants on indoor air pollution appears to be reduced if they are set in a draft.

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From: USA

RE:Vegetable and Fruit Gardening
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:38 AM)

Using Botanical Pesticides in Your Organic Garden
Insect and disease killers that come from plant extracts are called botanical pesticides or botanicals. Although derived from natural sources, botanicals are not necessarily safer or less toxic to non-pest insects, humans, and animals than synthetically derived pesticides. In fact, most botanicals are broad-spectrum insecticides, which kill both good and bad bugs indiscriminately. Some botanicals cause allergic reactions in people, others are highly toxic to fish and animals, and some may even cause cancer. All pesticides — including botanicals — should be used only as a last resort after thoroughly reading the label on the package. The pesticides in this section are listed from least to most toxic to humans.
  • Hot pepper wax and powder: The chemical capsaicin causes the heat in hot peppers and it's the active ingredient in these useful botanical products. In low doses, such as found in ready-to-use sprays and dusts, hot pepper wax repels most common insect pests from vegetables and ornamental plants. It doesn't cause the fruit or vegetables to become spicy hot, but instead stays on the surface of the plant where it remains effective for up to three weeks. Stronger commercial formulations kill insects as well as repel them. Hot pepper wax is even reportedly effective in repelling rabbits and tree squirrels.
  • Neem: This pesticide is made from the seeds of the tropical neem tree, Azadirachta indica, and it comes in two forms — azadirachtin solution and neem oil. Unlike the other botanical insecticides in this section, neem does not poison insects outright. Instead, when insects eat the active ingredient, it interrupts their ability to develop and grow to their next life stage or lay eggs. It also deters insects from feeding and is effective against aphids, thrips, fungus gnats, caterpillars, beetles, leafminers, and others. Amazingly, plants can absorb neem so that any insects that feed on them may be killed or deterred from feeding.
    It breaks down in the presence of sun and soil within a week or so. To discourage insects from eating your plants, spray neem before you see a large infestation. The product Safer BioNeem contains azadirachtin solution.
    Neem oil, the other seed extract, also works against some plant leaf diseases, such as black spot on roses, powdery mildew, and rust diseases. Mix the syrupy solution with a soapy emulsifier to help it spread and stick to the plants. The neem oil products called Rose Defense and Fruit & Vegetable Defense (from Green Light) control insects, mites, and leaf diseases.
  • Pyrethrins: These insecticidal compounds occur naturally in the flowers of some species of chrysanthemum plants. The toxins penetrate the insects' nervous system, quickly causing paralysis. In high enough doses or in combination with other pesticides, the insects die. Powerful synthetic compounds that imitate the natural chrysanthemum compounds are called pyrethroids. Pyrethroids are not approved for use in organic farms and gardens. Also avoid any pyrethrins that list "piperonyl butoxoid" on the label. This additive is not approved for organic use.
    Although relatively harmless to humans, pyrethrins are very highly toxic to fish and bees and moderately toxic to birds. It kills both beneficial and pest insects. To keep bees safe, spray pyrethrins in the evening after bees have returned to their hives for the night and avoid spraying blooming plants. The compound breaks down rapidly when exposed to sun and air and becomes less effective if stored for longer than one year. Many commercial products contain pyrethrins.
  • Ryania: This pesticide comes from the tropical Ryania speciosa plant. Although it controls fruit and codling moths, corn earworm, European corn borer, and citrus thrips, it is also moderately toxic to humans, fish, and birds. It is very toxic to dogs. Seek other botanical pesticides before considering ryania.
  • Sabadilla: Made from the seeds of a tropical plant, sabadilla is a powerful broad-spectrum insect killer. It's especially useful for controlling thrips, aphids, flea beetles, and tarnished plant bugs, but it also kills bees and other beneficial insects, and some people have severe allergic reactions to the chemical. Use it only as a last resort.

A Child's Garden

"The plants that are closest to you are those from your childhood; 
Those are the ones you truly love..." 
V.S. Naipul 


Gardening transcends the boundaries of gender, race, age, and social status. Working in a garden soothes the anxiety of daily life and for children, helps them develop an appreciation and anticipation of the natural world from something as simple as a planted seed breaking through the ground. Herb gardens stimulate not only the five senses but also the imagination and curiosity of children and adults. From the first leaf popping through the soil to the development of a fragrant smell or interesting texture, herb plants unfailingly tend to attract interest and speculation. Whether used in medicines or foods, as decorations or symbols, herbs and garden plants play an important part in the folklore and history of every culture. Herbs and plants awesome abilities to survive and adapt in adverse circumstances teach and encourage hope in tomorrow. Their mysterious and marvelous powers to heal the mind and body fascinate us and affirm human's connection to the natural world.

Every plant has a special story to tell. Today there is much focus on teaching our children the importance of cultural diversity, improving and building understanding through shared experiences common to all cultures and families. Every plant has a place of origin, a past, present and hopefully, a future. Working together toward a common goal on projects, such as planning and planting gardens with plants used by different cultures, gives everyone a chance to share recipes and plant histories. It is a fun and comfortable way of bringing people of all ages and backgrounds together on the same level. Everyone has a favorite traditional family food using herbs or spices. Adults become young again when they share memories of a homeland or a childhood experience. Children listen and learn that everyone has a family and a cultural heritage. More importantly, they have a growing knowledge and understanding of the persons working in the soil beside them. 

Children learn many things when they garden and play outdoors. Perhaps most notably are the things they learn about their relationships to the earth. A garden is a place that encourages and invites children to discover for themselves the magic, wonder, and unexpected surprises that Mother Nature will reveal to anyone who wants to take a closer look. We, as adults, all have that special body of knowledge that we learned on our own as children about the outdoor world. How a wild strawberry tastes, the smell of wet soil in the spring, or what happens to an apple after it falls to the ground. We, as adults, have the awesome responsibility of providing opportunities, companionship, and guidance to encourage and stimulate children down a path of self-discovery. 

A Chinese proverb spells it out well:




The garden does and will talk back, sharing successes and failures to those who love to garden. Failure is part of the gardening experience. How children learn to respond to failures will decide the success of their gardens and gardening experience. 

Patient and tolerant, herbs are very adaptable to various growing conditions. Children differ in their interests, personalities and aptitudes. Herb gardens can be just as unique and individual as the child or group planning and planting a garden. Schoolyard gardens can be integrated into school curriculum to be used as living laboratories. Gardens and outdoor spaces can teach the most important lesson of science--- the ability to observe. It is much easier to instill a fundamental part of science into children using a garden, rather than a dull classroom lecture. Actually experiencing the lessons with a hands on approach could transform a child's knowledge. In a computer class they can record rain fall and chart plant growth rates. Students can explore the effects of plants on civilizations in social studies. Actually bringing plants mentioned in children's literature into the classroom can bring stories/histories alive. Tasting Peter Rabbit's chamomile tea, holding Othelia's bouquet help make the language of flowers real in Beatrix Potter's stories and William Shakespeare's tales of life and love real. 

There are many fine reasons for wanting to introduce children to gardening. We need to realize, as adults, that a child must have a child's reasons for wanting to grow a garden. No matter how we plot and plan and reason why and how children should practice gardening, the most important thing is to inspire children for their own personal enjoyment and growth. We are cultivating more than gardens, we are cultivating a sensitivity and appreciation for the environment, an important step toward becoming responsible and joyful stewards of the earth.

Relaxation Garden
Popular seeds to grow your own colorful and fragrant herbs for
relaxing teas and bath blends.

The flower tops make a calming tea that helps ease pain and promote
restful sleep. Steep the dried flower tops for 1/2 hour in boiling

The seeds are soothing for the digestive system, calms the liver and
helps you manage anger. Make a tea or chew the seeds.

A tea or bath with the whole plant builds confidence in your ability
to attract health and well-being.

A tea made with the flowers and leaves relaxes the mind and body
when it feels stressed by the environment. Traditionally know to
ease drug and alcohol withdrawl symptoms.

Pleasant mint that soothes upset stomach and headaches.Add the dried
leaves to flavor tea and rice dishes.

The root makes a calming tea that works as a central nervous system
relaxant that helps you fall asleep. When you need to relax, just by
walking in the garden you can feel renewed with the hyptonic
fragrance of the fresh flowers growing.

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RE:Vegetable and Fruit Gardening
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:39 AM)

The Pentacle Garden
(excerpt from: Wicca Garden by Gerina Dunwich)
Choose a level spot in a sunny location for your pentagram herb garden. Drive a stake into the ground where you wish the center of the garden to be. Tie one end of a string to the stake, and the other end to a bottle filled with sand (Use a string four feet long if you are making a pentagram garden with a diameter of eight feet; three feet of string for one with a diameter of six feet, and so forth).
With string taut, turn the bottle upside down, allowing the sand to slowly pour out as you walk clockwise in a complete circle. The sand will mark the outer circle of the pentagram, which you can then cover with bricks, stones, seashells, etc.
Remove the stake, string and bottle, and then prepare the soil within the circle.
Using the edge of a board as a guide, lay down five straight lines of bricks or stones inside the circle to form a symbol of the five pointed star.
Once the pentagram outline is complete, you can then begin planting herbs in the garden. Too add even more intrest to it, plant different species of herbs in each section  of the pentagram and put a small sundial, birdbath, goddess statue or other garden decoration the center. If the pentagram is outlined with bricks, use paint of chalk to decorate them with magickal and astrological symbols.

Backyard Vegetables:
Tips for Planning and Planting
Getting Started

Location, location. For bumper harvests, grow vegetables in a sunny, well-drained area. Fall is the best time to break new ground and enrich soil for spring planting. Organic amendments—such as compost, manure, and peat moss—have time to blend in over winter. With a spade or tiller, turn the earth to a depth of 8 to 10 inches before the ground freezes. The loose soil will dry more quickly in spring.

If you are starting from scratch in the spring, follow the same procedure. Simply wait until the soil has dried out. To test whether soil is ready to work, squeeze some in your hand, then poke at the clump. If the clump breaks up easily into small crumbs, the soil is dry enough to till.

Plant cool-season crops—peas, lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, radish, carrot, onion, and chard—as soon as the soil thaws and dries to a crumbly texture. Wait until after frost danger is past to plant warm-season tomatoes, beans, corn, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, melons, peppers, and eggplants.

Starting off right.
You can start most vegetables from seeds sown directly in the garden. To get a jump on the growing season, purchase transplants, or start your own indoors in late winter on a sunny window sill or under grow-lights. Follow instructions on individual seed packets for specific planting recommendations. To keep your garden moist and weed-free, mulch around plants with a few inches of organic material, such as straw or cocoa bean hulls. During dry spells, water deeply once each week. Eliminate insect pests as they appear, using insecticidal soap or other natural controls.

Extending the harvest.
 With good planning and care, you can reap fresh garden produce from spring through fall. If summer crops finish early, replant the gaps with second sowings of lettuces and peas. Started in late August, salad ingredients will flourish during the cooler days of autumn. When hard frost threatens, you can keep fall crops growing by covering rows with an insulative garden fabric, such as Reemay. Chilly weather enhances the flavor, color, and crunch of many leafy vegetables, particularly kale and radicchio.

Planting And Care Of Shrubs  

In general, trees and shrubs are planted and cared for in  
the same way, the difference between them being chiefly one  
of height. One definition of the difference, however, is  
that while a tree has only one trunk, a shrub has several  
stems or trunks.  

Not so long ago the number of reliable shrubs was quite  
limited, but today the many new hybrids have lengthened the  
list and the gardener's choice is almost endless. No matter  
the region, it is now possible to plant shrubs that will  
satisfy color needs, bloom at various seasons, cover bare  
spots where grass won't grow, or grow in such profusion and  
depth that screening purposes are served.  

Shrubs are valuable to the gardener because they bridge the  
gap between trees and flowers. As do trees, they serve as  
boundary markers, soften the lines of buildings, act as a  
decorative background for flower beds and hide unsightly  

Like flowers, they add character and shape to the garden,  
blooming forth with colorful blossoms and attracting birds  
with their berries. One big item in their favor is that  
they mature rapidly, yet remain as hardy and long-lived as  
Planting of shrubs is tittle different from planting of  
trees. Early spring is the most favorable time since it  
gives the plant a long spell of good growing weather to get  
reestablished. In the milder sections of the country,  
however, transplanting may be done through the winter months.  
In New England, evergreens may be planted in September and  
May, and deciduous shrubs in October and May.  

Dry roots are the chief cause of planting failures, and  
steps should be taken to prevent this-i.e., balling and  
burlapping, and heeling in. After receiving shrubs from a  
nursery, water as soon as possible; shade them from sunshine  
at first, mulch the ground around them, and prune back  

The older the plant you get, the more severely it will have  
to be cut back, so that in the long run, you come out just  
as well buying the less expensive, smaller shrubs. Forsythia  
and azalea may be moved while in flower, but most plants  
should not. 
Watering in the fall, before the ground freezes, is import-  
ant for box, azalea, rhododendron, mountain laurel and  
broadleaf evergreens, whose leaves lose moisture in winter.  

Pruning of shrubs helps to keep them young and vigorous.  
Rather than cutting all branches off to an even length,  
prune out the older branches, even though they may be sound.  
With lilacs, for example, use a keyhole saw, and cut as  
close to the ground as possible, cutting out the oldest  

Some shrubs need pruning every year, especially those which  
have dead branches as a result of winterkill. (These include  
some deutzias, hydrangeas, buddleia, spireas and privets.)  
Other shrubs such as rhododendron, azaleas, magnolia and  
buddleia should have the flower heads pruned off after  

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RE:Vegetable and Fruit Gardening
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:40 AM)

Variegated Foliage Can Set Your Garden Apart  

Color ... it's what we all want in a garden, right? But in  
spite of the amazing array of flower colors, an aspect that  
we don't always plan for is the color of foliage. Japanese  
gardens take the concept of designing a garden with only  
foliage to extremes, beautiful extremes. Their meditative  
gardens have only shades and tones of green. This gives the  
garden a refined air that lends itself to contemplation and  

Green foliage actually comes in all shades -- from the kelly  
green of asters and woodland tobacco -- to the chartreuse of  
sweet potato vine and golden moneywort; from the blue-green  
of English ivy and baptisia to the gray-green of yarrow.  
Each makes a different statement, and combinations of shades  
of green with varying textures make beautiful statements.  

White, the most versatile color of all, blends other colors  
and lightens the garden while tying together garden areas,  
softening strong colors, and leading the gaze from one area  
to another. Variegated foliage is a natural white element to  
do this with, and brightly variegated foliage often gives  
the appearance of a floral display. Picture a green and  
white caladium; it almost looks like flowers in the shade!  

Variegated foliage brightens and lightens a shady area.  
Variegated plants are generally used as focal points, so  
keep this in mind when designing your garden. Mixing a lot  
of different plants with variegated leaves creates a jumble  
that isn't soothing. A foundation planting of all variegated  
plants would be confusing to the eye, and frankly, have just  
too much energy to enjoy.  

Keep in mind that plants with white variegation do quite  
well in shade, although they will be slower growing than in  
sun. Plants with yellow variegation do best in sun as they  
tend to fade in shade.  

There is also an amazing range of plants with red and purple  
foliage, very much in demand by gardeners. Red foliage tends  
to make an area recede, and gives a rich subtlety to the  
garden. It is spectacular in contrast to bright green or  
silvery foliage.

Plant a Bath Garden and Make These Herbal Bath Formulas
Adapted from Herbal Remedy Gardens, by Dorie Byers.

Simple Solution
Many of us are flipping through seed catalogs at this time of year. Consider planning and planting a garden full of herbs appropriate to use in your bath! A bonus is that you can pick the herbs you would like to use for a cleansing, fragrant soak after gardening chores!

The container bath garden uses various-sized containers arranged in a way that is pleasing to the eye and accommodates the space you have available. The staggered container plantings of different widths and heights lend interest. The two largest containers must be 18 inches in diameter or larger.

Container Garden Plants
* 2 or 3 lavender (whichever amount your container can hold)
* 1 prostrate rosemary
* 3 sweet marjoram
* 1 peppermint or mint or your choice
* 5 German chamomile
* 1 lemon balm
* 3 calendula
* 1 thyme

A birdbath makes an interesting visual centerpiece for this garden that enhances its theme. A fountain or classical statuary could also be placed in the center. Divide each planting with a layer of plastic or newspaper, then cover that layer with mulch, decorative stone, or brick. Other ideas include an old bathtub planted with herbs, or herbs planted along a path leading to a small pool and/or fountain.

Don't be cavalier about planting the mint in this garden. If not kept in check, it will take over and choke out the other plants. To slow this invasive tendency, plant the mint in a large container sunk into the ground. It will still want to grow over the edge of the sunken container, but it can be controlled more easily.

Plot Garden Plants
* 7 lavender
* 2 peppermint or other mint
* 12 Geranium chamomile
* 2 lemon balm
* 3 thyme
* 12 calendula
* 1 or 2 rosemary
* 7 sweet marjoram


Grow a Pleasure Garden
By Cait Johnson, author of Earth, Water, Fire, and Air (SkyLight Paths, 2003).

It’s fun to apply a garden metaphor to our lives now that Spring is nearly here. If you would like to cultivate a life with more meaningful pleasure in it, a life connected to nature and to your own deep self, check out this fun, easy game. You don't need an actual plot of earth to grow real pleasure for yourself and your life.

Take some time when you won’t be interrupted and bring a pad and pencil with you to a quiet place. Now, without thinking too hard, just writing down whatever occurs to you first, answer this question:

What are 30 things that you truly enjoy doing? This could be anything from stroking your cat to chatting with a close friend, or from taking a walk in the woods at sunset to doing a crossword puzzle, making love with your partner to painting a picture. Write them all down.

Now, draw a circle on another sheet of paper and divide it with an X into 4 quadrants. Label each quadrant with one of these elements:

1 - Earth--physical/sensual
2 - Water--emotional/feeling
3 - Fire--spiritual
4 - Air--intellectual/thinking and communicating

Now look at your list of 30 pleasure-making activities. In which quadrant does each one belong? Write each of your 30 activities in the quadrant (or quadrants) that makes the most deep sense to you. For instance, cooking a delicious meal would probably be earth, sharing stories with a close friend might be water, doing a crossword puzzle, air. Some activities may bridge two or more elements: taking a walk in the woods is both earth and fire for me, for example, so see which activities of yours belong in more than one section of your circle.

Nobody ever said the sections of our life-garden need to be balanced, but do you notice that one or more of yours is heavier or lighter than the others? What pleasures could you add to your scanty quadrants? Imagine some things you could do to bring more life and pleasure to the parts of your garden that may be neglected, and write them down. Commit to tasting at least one pleasure every day. And enjoy the process of keeping your Pleasure Garden well-tended!

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RE:Vegetable and Fruit Gardening
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:41 AM)

Planning a Wildlife Garden
Follow these tips for welcoming birds and butterflies to your yard.
 Source: Better Homes & Gardens


When you welcome birds and butterflies to your yard, you add colors, movements, and sounds that make your garden seem more alive and vibrant. The following tips from the National Audubon Society will help you create a habitat that allows wildlife to flourish.

  • Plant for food sources. Birds are attracted to seeds, berries, fruits, and nectar. Migrating birds such as tanagers, robins, orioles, and Cedar Waxwings may stop for several days to feast before they continue on their long flights. Butterflies -- essential pollinators in the garden -- need flowers that have nectar, such as those in the Aster family.
  • Offer a variety of plants for nesting and protection from predators. Bushy shrubs, canopy trees, and groundcovers will provide the nooks and crannies birds and other wildlife need to nest and find good. Such plants also provide protection from sun, wind, and rain.
  • A water source is essential. The single most important thing you can do to attract birds is to provide a source of dripping water. Keep it low to the ground, but make sure it's protected from cats.
  • Create a dust bath. Birds use dust baths to clean themselves and get rid of parasites. Try building a small area (about 3 feet square) bordered with attractive rocks or bricks. Fill with loose soil (a mix of sand, ash, and loam). The bath will attract native sparrows, thrashers, and other ground-dwelling birds.
  • Provide nesting materials. Fill a loosely woven net bag with clean dryer lint or scraps of yarn or string. Make sure the holes in the bag are large enough for birds to pull out bits for their nests. Orioles, robins, and chickadees will be most appreciative.
  • Offer supplemental food. If you live in a cold climate, offer a supplemental food source, such as seeds, suet, and fruit, during the winter months for woodpepckeers, bluebirds, and other species.
  • Plan for windbreaks for shelter. If your climate is windy, provide shelter in your wildlife-friendly garden. Plant tall, deciduous trees at the edge of the property, with progressively smaller trees and shrubs as you near the house.
  • Provide perches. Although butterflies are attracted to tubular, nectar-bearing flowers, they also need flat flowers where they can rest. A good variety of flowers, shrubs, and trees will provide plenty of resting sites. Birds need exposed perching places; dead twigs and small snags are the most beneficial. Thin bamboo poles stuck into the ground will attract resting dragonflies.
  • Plant groundcovers and create slopes. Birds such as sparrows, thrashers, and thrushes find their food among fallen leaves and groundcovers, where they search for insects. Rosemary, Lantana, and creeping juniper are good choices. Creating artificial slopes in the garden provide more nooks and crannies for birds to forage.
  • Provide a variety of plants. Birds and butterflies are attracted to colorful, flowering plants that provide food and camouflage. It's important to select plants that produce seeds and fruit in various seasons of the year.

Designing A Pentagram Garden


Oh, my. What to plant, what to plant!?!?!? So many green growing things, so little time and space! We won't actually be putting anything in the ground until next issue, but let's get started laying out an imaginary garden. This is a very pagan garden, as you will see. I have chosen 13 herbs, and we will walk through how you might choose to lay them out.

There are some pretty fascinating mathematics behind this well-loved geometric shape we call a pentacle. You can immerse yourself in discovering those (it's fun, but it can make you crazy!), you can "eyeball" it, or you can use any other layout that pleases you. This particular garden would need to be at least 8 foot square, a size that will allow for one fairly compact herb in each point, and one larger, more spreading type of herb for the arcs between the points. We get 13 herbs by planting each point, each arc, the central pentagon, and pairing up the north and south corners of the square enclosing the circle of our pentacle.

    Points: (compact)

  1. Basil
  2. Sage
  3. Lavender
  4. Lemon Balm (often called simply Balm)
  5. Lemon Verbena

    Arcs: (spreading)

  6. Tansy
  7. Yarrow
  8. Pennyroyal
  9. Thyme
  10. Catnip


  11. Rosemary (Rosemary makes a lovely centerpiece for the garden, and it tends to weather our mostly mild Virginia winters fairly well, so barring mishaps, you can expect it to be there for years.)


  12. Mugwort (can grow 5 or 6 feet tall, so I put this in the north so that the shade it makes will fall away from the garden)


  13. Peppermint (this one is a real spreader - good to keep at the edge of the garden to help to contain it)

With these herbs growing in your garden, your herbal arsenal will soon serve you nicely in many ways, both magickal and medicinal. Some (and I repeat, SOME - a little research will reveal lots more!) are listed below:

  • Antiseptic - Lavender, Thyme
  • Bites, insect - Basil, Lemon Balm, Sage
  • Bruises - Pennyroyal, Rosemary, Tansy, Thyme
  • Colds, flu, fevers - Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage
  • Coughs - Basil, Peppermint, Rosemary, Thyme
  • Happiness - Catnip, Lemon Balm, Lavender, Thyme
  • Headache - Basil, Pennyroyal, Rosemary.
  • Migraine headache - Lavender, Peppermint, Lemon Balm
  • Insomnia - Catnip, Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena
  • Memory - Rosemary, Sage
  • Menstrual cramps, PMS - Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena, Peppermint, Yarrow
  • Mouth and teeth problems - Lemon Balm, Rosemary, Thyme, Yarrow
  • Skin problems - Pennyroyal, Peppermint, Rosemary, Tansy, Thyme
  • Sore throats - Lemon Balm infusion mixed with honey and vinegar, Sage
  • Stomach - Basil, Sage
  • Sunburn - Tansy
  • To attract bees - Lemon Balm (also called Bee Balm), Thyme
  • To repel moths - Lavender
  • To repel fleas, flies, wood ticks, gnats and mosquitoes - Pennyroyal
  • To stop bleeding - Yarrow

  • Resources:

  • Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs - Scott Cunningham
  • The Herb Book - John Lust
  • Herbs & Things - Jeanne Rose
  • Back to Eden - Jethro Kloss
  • Magical Aromatherapy - Scott Cunningham
  • Magical Herbalism - Scott Cunningham
  • The Way of Herbs - Michael Tierra
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    RE:Vegetable and Fruit Gardening
    (Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:42 AM)

    Design with Herbs

    Create an herb garden that's a feast for the eyes.

    Question: My herbs grow well enough, but they are not particularly pretty. How can I redesign my garden so it looks as good as it tastes and smells?

    Answer: Most herbs earn their places based on usefulness rather than looks, but this does not mean that an herb garden can’t be beautiful. Borrow a few ideas from flower garden design to create an herb garden that pleases all of your senses.

    First, let’s consider a few practical points. Culinary herbs, in particular, need to be accessible because you shouldn’t have to tiptoe among other plants each time you want a few snips of basil or parsley. Edges are always the easiest places to reach, so the more edges you have, the better. This is one of the reasons why long, border-type gardens are so popular. Circular gardens are fun, too, with edges inside the circle as well as along its rim.

    The precise shape doesn’t matter, but in the interest of neatness, all edges should be well defined. This can be done with plants, brick, stone, wood or low panels of hand-made wattle (slender green sticks woven between upright posts).

    In a border viewed from one side, short or mound-forming plants should go in the front, with taller ones in the rear, so the plants are stacked into layers according to height. If the bed is more than 4 feet deep, include steppingstones inside the bed so you’ll be able to move around freely between your plants. In a round, square or rectangular garden, place the tallest plants in the center.

    Most herbs are compact little plants, so it can be challenging to give an herb garden a strong vertical accent, which is important. If the garden is seen from one side, a few panels of picket fence along the back will do the trick, or you can structure the back with evergreen shrubs. In a non-linear garden, you can get vertical drama by installing a trellis planted with a climbing rose or a vigorous vine, such as passionflower, in the center. In very small gardens, a stone pedestal topped with a gazing ball, sundial or statue draws the eye upward. The goal is to get some kind of vertical action going, which creates more visual excitement than a knee-high sea of plants.

    The next task is to create order, which is easily done by repeating one plant in a predictable, rhythmic pattern. Parsley is invaluable for this job, but any herb that grows remarkably well for you can be used to create unity in the garden. Simply repeat the plant at regular intervals so it becomes the garden’s “beat.” The important thing is to repeat the plant at predictable points within the design, such as at corners of a square or in the middle of matching sections of a circle.

    Now think about color and contrast. Most herbs are either green or gray-green, and few herbs produce brightly colored flowers. Jazz things up by adding color plants like red basil, scarlet-stemmed chard or orange nasturtiums. Be bold because the sunny exposures herbs prefer are no place for extra pastels, which disappear in bright light. To sharpen the contrast, place plants with red leaves or bright flowers next to frosty gray foliage; for example, place red basil alongside helichrysum. Rich red petunias or geraniums do wonders for clumps of lavender.

    You can put texture to work to great advantage, too. For example, plants with grassy foliage, such as chives, garlic and lemongrass, have a very different texture from leafy lemon balm, which in turn is quite unlike salad burnet in both texture and hue. To make the most of these texture changes without creating a mess, grow like plants together in clumps or drifts, so that one texture gets a fair turn saying “look at me” before the eye moves on to the next subject. Keeping like plants together also simplifies pruning, dividing and other maintenance chores.

    We’re almost done, but we still need a few showy plants that will work as focal points — pretty curiosities such as variegated horseradish or tricolored sage. Look for plants that keep their good looks for a long season because these are your spotlight dancers. In a pinch, a warren of cute concrete bunnies will do.

    Play with your design ideas on paper, which is easier than doing it in the dirt.

    It’s also wise to keep your design as simple as possible because highly structured planting plans, for example knot gardens, limit the types of plants that can be used, and demand constant upkeep. Above all, remember that your design is a plan, and like all good plans, it should include a bit of flexibility. Herb gardens change constantly, so they are always a work in progress.

    Gardening By the Zodiac

    Fruitful Signs:
    Cancer – best for planting all leafy crops bearing fruit above ground. Prune to encourage growth in Cancer.
    Scorpio – Second only to Cancer. A Scorpion Moon promises good germination and quick growth. In Scorpio, prune for bud development.
    Pisces – Planting in the last of the Watery Triad is especially effective for root growth.
    Taurus – The best time to plant root crops
    Capricorn – promotes the growth of rhizomes, bulbs, roots, tubers, and stalks. Prune now to strengthen branches.
    Libra – Libra may be the least beneficial of the Fruitful Signs, but is excellent for planting flowers and vines.

    Barren Signs:
    Leo – Foremost of the barren signs. Leo is the best time to effectively destroy weeds and pests. Cultivate and till the soil.
    Gemini – gather herbs and roots. Reap when the Moon is in the sign of Air or Fire to assure best storage.
    Virgo – Plow, cultivate, and control weeds and pests when the moon is in Virgo.
    Sagittarius – plant and cultivate the soil or harvest under the Archer Moon. Prune now to discourage growth
    Aquarius – perfect for ground cultivation, reaping crops, gathering roots and herbs. It is a good time to destroy weeds and pests.
    Aries – Cultivate, weed, and prune to lessen growth. Gather herbs and roots for storage.


    Save bottoms of cardboard egg cartons. When you have two or three, set them in a baking dish with about an inch of sand on the bottom. Wedge them in nice and tight but don't lose their shape. Fill with good potting soil and place in a sunny window. Get a variety of lettuce, parsley, basil, and other leafy green plant seeds. put three or four seeds in each cup and sprinkle with water to moisten. Cover with a piece of plastic and leave alone until you see the first two leaves. You can take the plastic off, but be sure to keep the plants moist but not soggy. In about 4 to 6 weeks, you will have large enough plants to clip leaves off of to use on a daily(ish) basis.

    When you want to transplant them, do so, cardboard cup and all, into larger pots, three or four plants per pot. If you are using clay pots, be sure to soak them in water first because clay absorbs LOTS of water. Use good potting soil with lots of organic matter. When safe from frosts, let them get used to being outside. If it's very hot or cold or windy, put them outside for a little while each day for the first few days. Actually, even if you don't harden them, the only things that will really kill them is to let them dry out or freeze

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    RE:Vegetable and Fruit Gardening
    (Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:43 AM)

    Crash Course In A Witchs Garden
    by: Lady of the Earth
    When considering our Health, we cannot separate it from our Environment. The Earth's Health Influences and Reflects our own. As Witch's, we are responsible for caring for our environment because we understand this "Interconnectedness ". The Garden is an excellent place to begin a Ripple Effect of Healing by tending it in a sustainable manner. This Healing can be seen by the increase of vitamins in the foods we've grown organically. Subtle Healing Effects will gradually become evident as gaps in life cycles are filled. All forms of Wildlife and Insects will return to the Garden and Renew the Essential Balance, Eliminating the need for Pesticides, Herbicides, and Chemical Fertilizers. The garden will also Renew your Balance and Life Force.

    Tending the garden will Tone your body, Clarify your mind, and Energize your Spirit. Other side effects of your Healthy Garden will become apparent in all aspects of your life. Healing Formulas, Spell Components, and any other Creations that incorporate plants grown in this Magickal manner will all have enormously Magnified Energy.

    To understand this method, go to an Undisturbed area like a woodland plot, Secluded area of a park, or under a large, healthy shrub. Notice that when you're under a canopy of foliage the atmosphere is different. It smells Fresh,
    Moist, and Soothing. Touch the soil. Generally, it will be Soft and Spongy, with layers of newly accumulated debris, and below that, Humus rich soil in many stages of decomposition. The soil here contains Microorganisms whose Sacred Names include: Fungi, Protozoa, Yeast, Worms, and Insects. These life forms are known collectively as "Edaphon". Life flows through everything here and you may begin to feel more Balanced. This feeling is the Essence of a Witch's method of gardening. There's more to this than the standard gardening techniques, read on...


    Good Soil consists of: 93% Mineral and 7% Bio-Organic substances. The Bio-Organic parts include: 85% Humus, 10% Roots, and 5% Edaphon. The Edaphon consists of: 40% Fungi/Algae, 40% Bacteria/Actinomyce te, 12% Earthworms, 5% Macro Fauna, and 3% Micro/Mesofauna.

    After a year of Organic Treatment, Earthworms, or "Tiny Tillers", should flourish. Chemical Fertilizers Kill Earthworms and other soil life that release Carbonic Acid (Plant Roots do too). This Acid Converts Minerals in the soil to a form that plants can assimilate.

    Soil Nutrients are to plants what Proteins, Fats, Carbohydrates, Vitamins, and Minerals are to people. Air, All Gasses, including Carbon Dioxide or CO2, Water, Earth and Fire (Sun) are essential to the plant world. Synthetic forms of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium (N, P, and K respectively) in chemical fertilizers are stated on packages like 15-30-15 or 10-5-5. These Salt Based Fertilizers will readily wash out of the soil and into our water systems. Undines Look Out!

    We must Regularly Replace Non-Organic Forms of these Nutrients because of this constant leeching. Salts Accumulate in the upper soil surfaces and "Burn" tender roots and soil life. Potted plants will show evidence of this build up with powdery white deposits on the soil surface or a ring on the pot. Most plants cannot tolerate this much salt in any form. This is a good reason to try Not to use Salt in outdoor rituals for circle casting or purification. Instead, use a truly sacred replacement such as Compost or Soil for the Earth Element. I've used soil from my birthplace, as well as soil from a fellow Witch's Garden to help link with them when being together in person isn't possible.


    Synthetic Fertilizers cause plant cells to grow too quickly, developing thin cell walls. The spaces between each cell are larger too, causing the entire plant to be more susceptible to insects and disease. These plant predators hunt
    for the easiest path to lunch, and the thin cell walls and gaps between them are an open invitation. By invading your crops, these pesky predators are fulfilling an essential duty, that of restoring balance and eliminating problems.

    So, you ask, how can I Nourish my Garden, Self and Planet? The following represents a basic outline of techniques to get you started:


    Composting will unlock the Nutrients from the components you put in the compost pile. Begin by making a four foot diameter place in your garden in part sun. Next, layer 4-6 inches of Carbon materials, "Browns," with 1-2 inches of Nitrogen material, "Greens." Mystickal formulas of Carbon to Nitrogen Ratios can be found in many superb garden grimoires. However, you will find that Intuition, Observation, and Experimentation provide the best results. The following describes the basic compost cauldron components and guidelines for their use.

    DO USE

    "Greens" are sources of Nitrogen, a plant Nutrient that helps Heat up a compost pile by Activating the Micro Life in it. Sources Include: Fresh Green Weeds, Kitchen Scraps, Manure, Cottonseed Meal, and Blood Meal. "Browns" are Carbon materials like Straw, Hay, last year's Garden Debris, Crop Residue, Chopped Leaves, and Sticks under a half inch in diameter.


    Oil, Wax, Meat (small, clean bones are OK), Colored Newspaper, Weeds that have Set Seed, Diseased or Pest Infested Plants, and Pet Wastes or Litters. (which can carry diseases, among other problems)


    Invoke the powers of the microbial soil life with a half inch layer of garden soil sprinkled over each "Green" layer. When the pile reaches about 4 feet high, water it well to the consistency of a wrung out sponge, and let it rot! It will slowly turn into fertilizer that feeds your plants and your soil without interrupting the Symbiotic Relationship between the two. When it is done, it will be Brown and Crumbly. This process can take from 2 weeks to 6 months. If you're in a hurry, you can speed things up by turning it every week. To turn a pile, remove the top and outside layers and put them on the ground beside the pile. Then continue with the next layers until you've tuned it upside down while fluffing it to let it breathe. If the pile smells bad, or if flies are taking an interest in it, then turn the pile, incorporate more "Browns," make sure it's not soggy (cover it in the rain), and cover the top of the heap with an inch of soil or hay to eliminate the problem and disapproving looks from neighbors. Finished compost is used as a fertilizer and mulch around and under plants.

    Diseased Plants and Weeds with Seeds require Hot compost, one that reaches 140-165 degrees. This technique is best left for more experienced practitioners who are more adept at its mysteries. Use these plant materials as Erosion Control far from the garden, burn them, or if necessary, dispose of them in the regular garbage. Meanwhile, train yourself in hot compost Magick through Reading, Intuition, and Experience.

    Nearly all Organic forms of Nitrogen, like those used in making compost, contain varying amounts of Phosphorus, Potassium, and Trace Minerals. Composting ingredients that contain high percentages of these nutrients will improve your end fertilizer. Trace Minerals can be derived from plants with literally rock breaking, carrot-like tap roots that explore 25 feet or more down into the Earth. These plants include Dandelions, Alfalfa, Comfrey, and Plantain. Harvest
    their Leaves as a "Green" and let the roots put forth new leaves for the next compost pile. The older the plant, the better the fertilizer, as the roots have probed even deeper into the Earth.

    Phosphorus and Potassium are present in most Crop Residues and Manure, but you may need to Supplement your soil or compost with additional sources. Your local extension service can provide information on soil tests that help determine what amendments will improve your soil's nutrient levels. These tests can be costly, but if problems arise they will guide you in restoring soil balance. Greens and Rock Phosphate (NOT Superphosphate that damages earthworms and other soil life), crushed Granite and Glacier Rock are all good sources. You can apply them directly to the garden bed according to package directions, or to the compost pile with a handful between each layer. The amendments come in various packages and if you can't find them locally.

    Compost has Nitrogen in it, but additional sources may also be desired. The same Manure used in compost can be applied directly to the soil. Do this several weeks before planting to give the manure time to mellow. Cover Crops are grown exclusively to Feed the Soil with Nitrogen and other nutrients. When mature, they are tilled under, and the soil life transforms them into fertilizer. Life is provided for by Death. Every cover crop has different amounts and types of Nutrients. Wheat, Oats, Calendula, Buckwheat, and Legumes are all common cover crops. Legumes are most often used because they are a group of plants such as Clover, Beans, and Peas that "Fix" Nitrogen. They have a Symbiotic Relationship with a type of soil life known as Nematodes.

    These beneficial Nematodes take Nitrogen from the Air and "Fix" it to the Legume's Roots. They look like tiny white potatoes clinging to the root system. They release Nitrogen to the plant, helping it thrive. When the crop of legumes is tilled into the soil, it becomes a time release fertilizer as plants and nematodes break down again.

    The following tips will also help to create your Bewitching Garden. These methods can be used in any garden, in sun or shade, and can be started any time of the year with Spring and Summer being ideal.


    "Raised Beds" save water, compost and amendments that are only used where the plants grow and not in paths. Crops can be grown closer together which saves space. You do not need to use the "Space Between Rows" recommendation from seed packets, since rows are not used. Only the "Space Between Plants" recommendation is needed. This provides a Canopy of Foliage that traps CO2 and Soil Moisture like a suspended mulch. The leaves shade the soil to further reduce weeding and watering chores.

    Make beds wide enough to reach across comfortably, 4 ft. is standard, in order to save work from bending and straining. Raised beds drain well to allow plants to develop healthy root systems, and they solve rot problems in packed clay soil. They also warm faster in the spring for earlier planting and remain unpacked from foot traffic that would otherwise choke oxygen from roots and spread disease. If you use concrete blocks or railroad ties, your bed supports can provide a convenient resting spot. Make paths wide enough so that you can walk side by side with friend or partner without breaking off plants.


    Weeding and Water requirements are kept to a minimum by mulching. Use Compost, Straw, Hay, Woodchips, Color-Free Newspaper, or special Mulch Papers. All of these sources will slowly decompose, conditioning the soil and slowly feeding plants. Mulch will also save your plants when you are low on compost.


    The Garden is a Sacred Space and Rain is its Consecrated Cleansing. It should have Solitude during this Purifying time. Mud on shoes or wet skin and tools, can spread diseases normally not as easily transported without moisture. If you wish to accompany the garden in this cleansing, do so quietly and meditatively. If you have urgent work to do, limit your areas of activity and avoid touching plants.

    Your Garden's first year of withdrawal from chemical dependency may be severe, because the soil life is insufficient to transform its components into nutrients. However, after the first year, it will flourish and the trouble is worth it. While at first resisting the temptation to reach for a quick fix fertilizer is difficult, be persistent while the balance is being restored. Talk to and love your friends through it, touching them, especially the ones in the tobacco family. Members of this family have fuzzy feelers on their stems and leaves and touching them causes thickened cell structure and sturdier, disease resistant plants.

    Plants grown with these methods will Glow with a Mystickal Aura and they will Release their Intoxicating Fragrances to greet you on your daily visits. The Garden will Soothe and Quiet people, perhaps because of an Elusive Awareness
    that something Powerful and Sacred is happening or because of its Visual Beauty.

    Planting by the Phases of the Moon, Sabbat's, or under Specific Planetary Influences will also Amplify the Garden's Energy. This kind of information can be found in most Almanacs. Planting in Special Patterns, Celtic Knots, Circles, Pentacles, or any Imaginative Magickal Design that you've created will also Enhance and Focus Energy.

    Source: Frugal Life News

    We all know that vinegar has a hundred uses in the home, but it can be used in the garden also.

    Kill Grass and Weeds
    Use full strength in any area where you do not want anything to grow. Be careful not to put it on a slope that will cause it to run down into an area that you want things to grow in. This stuff really works, so use it carefully. You can apply it with a spray bottle.

    Dirty Planter and Pots
    Planters and pots begin to look old and crummy with the salt buildup from watering. Soak the stains in full strength vinegar. You can use a sponge to soak and then to rub off.

    Ant Repellent
    Full strength vinegar will keep ants from going into the house if you spray around doorways or any opening you know exists. You'll have to reapply at least two times a week, so leave the bottle right inside the door to remind you.

    Freshen Your Cut Flowers
    Vinegar helps flowers to last longer in the vase. Add about 1 T. to 2 cups of water and also add 1 a pinch of sugar

    (Message edited by Autumn_Heather On 02/13/2009 02:10 AM)
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    RE:Vegetable and Fruit Gardening
    (Date Posted:02/13/2009 01:45 AM)

    There was once a wide belief that cutting or burning ferns brought rain, and in some districts this also applied to heather. Other rain-bringing methods included sprinkling water on stones whilst reciting a charm, or tossing a little flour into a spring and stirring with a hazel-rod. In mediaeval times images of the saints were often dipped into water during a drought.
    Children's charms to drive away rain are still common today, the most famous being 'Rain, rain, go away, come again another day'. A variant on this charm offers to bribe the rain to go:
    'Rain, rain, go away
    Come again tomorrow day
    When I brew and when I bake
    I'll give you a little cake'.
    Rainwater was believed to have healing properties when it fell on particular days, especially Ascension day, or rain that fell at any time during the month of June. The water must be collected after falling directly from the sky; rain which ran off leaves or off the roof was useless. A Welsh belief was that babies bathed in rainwater talked earlier than others, and that money washed in rainwater would never be stolen.
    Rain Weather Lore: Rain which falls from a fairly clear sky is likely to continue falling in short bursts for some time.
    If it rains in the very early morning, the weather may clear up by the afternoon - 'Rain before seven, shine by eleven'
    In many traditions and cultures stars are thought to be the souls of either unborn souls, or those who had passed away. In some cultures a shooting star foretells a birth, and is said to be the soul racing to animate the newborn baby, while in other places the shooting star foretells a death, or a soul released from purgatory. In some Native American traditions the Milky Way was considered a soul-road, where souls travelled on their journey after death, and that the brightest stars were campfires by which they rested on their travels.
    It is unlucky to point at a star, or to try to count them. However, making a wish on the first star of evening will ensure its fulfilment, espeically if the wisher repeats the old rhyme:
    'Star light, star bright
    First star I see tonight
    Wish I may, wish I might
    Have the wish I wish tonight'.
    A wish made while a shooting star is seen in the sky will be granted if it is made very quickly; an old French cure for pimples was to pass a cloth over them while a shooting star fell.
    Star Weather Lore:
    If the stars look larger and brighter than usual, and very flickery, rain or a storm may be on the way.
    If faint stars have disappeared and cannot be seen at all, the wind is about to rise.

    Birdscaping Your Garden
    Adapted from Birdscaping Your Garden, by George Adams.
    How do you turn your yard into an inviting sanctuary where birds
    will come to nest, raise their families and seek shelter for the
    The way to start is to look at your yard from a bird’s
    eye view. Find a vantage point where you can see the whole front
    yard or backyard at once (try the back steps or an upstairs window).

    Then ask yourself these questions … (your answers will help you plan
    your birdscape).
    * Are there places for birds to hide? Songbirds need protective cover from potential enemies like cats, snakes and hawks.
    * Are there places for birds to nest? Birds will be drawn to your yard during the breeding season if you have inviting places for them to next, such as trees, shrubs, hedges, brambles and even vines.
    * Are there sheltered areas where birds can protect themselves from the elements? Evergreens, shrubs planted against walls and other sheltered areas will give birds a place out of the cold, wind and rain.
    * Is there food and water? Bird feeders and birdbaths are great helps to overwintering birds (in fact, a heated birdbath is often critical to winter survival).
    But during the rest of the year, it’s important to provide natural food sources — flower nectar, grass seedheads, fruits, berries and a diversity of plants to attract insects, since many songbirds are insectivores. You can landscape for winter by choosing plants that keep their berries or seeds well into the coldest months. You’ll find that the extra color and texture these plants provide really perk up your landscape, too!
    A small pond, pool or puddle will attract thirsty birds and an interesting assortment of wildlife, including frogs, toads and dragonflies.

    8 Steps To A New Garden From Scratch
    Source:  Better Homes & Gardens
    Step 1:  Mark It Out~
    Make your new garden the best it can be.  Give it a fun shape with flowing curves or use it to echo the lines of your house.  Get it just right by laying out a hose to outline your bed.  Once you have it right, mark the edges with a line of sand or flour.
    Step 2:  Get Rid of the Grass~
    If you have grass growing in your new garden spot, dig it up with a spad or sod cutter.  Or, if you have time to wait, mow that area as low as you can, then cover it with a several-sheet-thick layer of newspaper and several inches of soil or compost.  Wait a couple of months for the grass to die.
    Step 3:  Dig It Up~
    Now comes the digging.  Dig up or till your new garden, removing rocks, roots or other debris.  If you have poor soil, now's also a great time to incorporate organic matter, such as compost.  Just dig it in while you work the ground.
    Step 4:  Edge Your New Bed~
    Keep the lawn from crawling into your garden with a good edge.  A trench about 8 inches deep and a couple of inches wide will stop even the worst invaders from crossing. Alternatively, sink an edging material around the perimeter of your garden.
    Step 5:  Site Your Plants~
    Though it takes a little extra time, placing all your plants before you put them in the ground can make a world of difference.  This allows you to get the spacing just right and make your plants really look good next to each other.
    Step 6:  Get Planting~
    When you know all of your plants are in exactly the right spots, plant them in the ground.  It's helpful to loosen or tease the plants' roots before you put them in the ground, especially if they are rootbound.
    Step 7:  Spread Mulch~
    Other than amending the soil, the best thing you can do to deep your new garden healthy and low-maintenance is to spread mulch. A 2-inch-deep layer of shredded wood or other material will do wonders for stopping weeds and helping your soil conserve moisture during times of drought.
    Step 8:  Water It In~
    Once your bed is planted and mulched, give your plants a good soaking.  Hint:  If you mulch is dry, it may absorb some water before your plants can.  Soak dry mulch well to make sure your plants get enough moisture.

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    RE:Vegetable and Fruit Gardening
    (Date Posted:02/13/2009 02:11 AM)

    Spring Cleaning for the Garden

    1. Late spring is ideal for planting and dividing perennials. By now you should have a good idea of what survived the winter and needs dividing, or transplanting if you're planning on redesigning the garden.
    2. Check the soil using a soil tester to see if you need to adjust the pH or add nutrients. If you don't have a soil tester, your county extension agent's office will usually perform this service for free. Call to find out what you need to do and when you need to do it.
    3. Prune flowering shrubs when they have finished blooming. Fruit trees should be pruned when they are still dormant (before flowering)
    so if you're in a northern climate you still might have time. Otherwise wait until fall.
    4. Turn the compost pile. Now that it's warm again, those organisms will be swinging into action turning those leaves, grass clippings,
    and kitchen waste into rich organic soil.
    5. Weed control. It's a fact of life that the weeds in the garden grow faster than the flowers and vegetables you plant. Not really, but it sure seems like it, so that's why it's important to stay on top of the weeding. It's a lot easier to pull a few weeds every day or squirt them with a natural weed killer as you stroll by the garden beds than to pull a lot of weeds once a month.

    ~ Heleigh Bostwick, Making Gardens Greener

    The Fall Garden

    If you are in a cold climate with frost you'll need to store your non-hardy bulbs as we mentioned last week in the article link. There are many ways gardeners store bulbs until they can be planted  out in the spring. The main things they need are to be dry, cool and dark. One easy method is to wrap each bulb, tuber or rhizome in newspaper and then store them in a cardboard box. Shoe boxes work great for this. Label the box, place the bulbs inside, packing loosely and put the lid back on. Store them in a dark closet or area in the basement where it remains cool.

    Last winter some of my shrubs received horrible damage from chewing rabbits, where the years before they didn't. If you are in doubt wrap the young trees and the bottom of the shrubs with hardware cloth, chicken wire etc. this fall before the snow sets in.

    Deer can also cause damage, and if you want to protect a tree or shrubs you will need to surround the trees and shrubs with a sturdy cage or wire fence--chicken wire won't be tough enough. Those bucks are very strong, and they can easily damage a small shrub or tree with their antlers.

    If you are in Zone 5 and lower be cautious planting new perennials now. They should be planted and mulched heavily no later than 6 weeks before the hard frosts start.

    Lastly, take a look at your landscape and gardens. Make notes of what you liked, didn't like, what did well, and what failed or didn't do as well as you liked. Consider if you want to add a new bed in the spring and start getting it ready now instead
    of waiting. The head start makes a big difference.

    Fall Cleaning in the Garden

    Before the onset of cold weather, or at least cooler for most of us, you need clean your garden and landscape.  It's better to do this now during the cool, refreshing days of fall, then wait for spring.

    Look over all your trees and shrubs carefully and prune out the dead or diseased branches. They are easier to see while the healthy ones are green and flourishing. Be sure to give all of your trees and shrubs a good, deep watering before the first heavy frost. If you notice any bag worms in the trees, pick them out and discard too.

    Remove any diseased or insect-infested plants from your garden is very, very important. Take a Saturday or another day you have to spare and make a project of it on a cool  day.  Either burn or discard of these plants and other debris. Cleaning carefully will give your plants a fresh start in the spring. Rake up leaves as well. It's also a great time to pick out any broken stakes, garden art, bricks, cracked pots,
    nursery tags etc.  If it doesn't belong, get rid of it. You will appreciate this in the spring when you don't have to wade through soggy plant stems and muddy flower beds.

    Here are Southwestern garden tips from The University of Arizona: Plant spring flowering bulbs. Varieties that are best adapted for the Southwest include; amaryllis, narcissus, gladiolus, iris, freesia, buttercup (ranunculus), Lilium spp. (Easter, Formosan lily), Hymenocallis spp. (spider  lily), and Zephyranthes spp. (rain lilies). With proper care these bulbous plants will produce beautiful flowers year after year.

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    RE:Vegetable and Fruit Gardening
    (Date Posted:02/13/2009 02:12 AM)


    I've always gotten a lot of email questions on roses, but peony questions rank a close second. I gathered together the tips I shared last year, and the link at the bottom are
    even more tips plus more detailed growing information.

    I can't imagine not growing peonies. They are, to me, the kind and beautiful great grandmother of the flower world. Much like roses, they will last years and years in your landscape and will thrive will a little pampering. Regular watering during the spring and summer is important. You can also carefully work in potash (the ash leftover after burning wood) and compost into the soil around bushes in the spring. This is really the best fertilizer to use on your peonies.

    When your peonies bloom, never cut more than 25 percent of the flowers from a plant to bring inside, and cut the stems rather short so you leave as much foliage as possible. Once the flowers left on the plant dry up, they will normally fall off and you can clean up afterwards. It's very important to leave the peony foliage alone until the fall when frost turns it brown. You can plant annuals in front of it such as salvia, dusty miller, snapdragons or petunias. Iris, lily, phlox or poppies are nice companions.

    One more note-- ants on your peonies are neither a good or bad thing. They are attracted to the nectar in the buds, andwon't hurt the flowers or the plant.

    If anyone likes to dry flowers just cut some peonies and put a rubber band around the stems and turn upside down and hang to dry.  They dry so nicely and look just like a rose.  They look so nice in any dry flower arrangement. I try to dry just a couple of all my flower to see what dries the nicest. You would be surprised to see what all you really can dry. ~Linda

    I live in Southern California, and was wondering if they have made any peony varieties that would do well with our mild conditions.  In the winter, where we live, it does get below freezing occasionally. I would say maybe 10 to 15 days of 25 to 32 degrees overnight, but I don't think that is enough for the regular peonies to survive.  ~Bobbi

    Peonies generally don't do well in Southern California and other warm areas. They need about 400 hours of 40 degreeF. temperatures or colder. The reason it's stated in hours is because some days may be warmer during the middle of the day but cold enough part of the time. It doesn't have to freeze. Try planting them on the north side of a structure where they will get less direct sun and cooler temperatures. Tree peonies are different than the herbaceous peonies and some people in warm climates have had better luck with these. You can trim off their leaves in November-
    don't nick the stems. This may fool the plant into thinking it dropped all of it's leaves. Don't water or use fertilizer at all during this period. If all goes well you could see blooms in March or April. It's really important to talk with local garden centers or community garden clubs to see what other gardeners in your area are doing..


    Iris Growing Tips  

    * Plant them in a sunny spot in late summer. The plants need well-drained soil and at least six hours of sunlight per day. A full day of sun is even better to keep the rhizomes dry.   (The rhizomes are the fleshy rootlike structures at the base  
    of the plant.)  

    * Prepare their beds. Doris recommends a low-nitrogen fertilizer and a soil pH slightly less than 7, which is neutral. She applies a granular fertilizer twice a year --  
    in early spring and just after bloom when the rhizomes are forming the next year's flowers. Water only if it is extremely dry or after transplanting.  

    * Give them room to breathe. Bearded iris require good air circulation. Plant them a minimum of 16 to 18 inches apart (less space for dwarf irises and more for taller varieties).  

    * Do not mulch. Mulching retains moisture, and too much moisture will cause soft rot of the rhizomes.  

    * Break off seedpods that form after the blooms have faded.  This prevents seedlings from choking the surrounding soil. Seed formation also saps energy needed by the rhizomes, roots, and leaves.  

    * Prune back the foliage in the fall. This will reduce the chances of overwintering pests and diseases.  

    * Make dividing a habit. Divide clumps of bearded iris every three to four years in the late summer.  
    Source:  GardenGuides

    A Garden Space Blessing Spell

    Seven of Pentacles
    1 Cup of Water

    Stand in the center of your garden space while holding the Seven of Pentacles in both hands. Visualize the garden as planted, growing, thriving, and the fruits of your labor coming to fruition. Then enchant the space by saying something like:
    By Elements of earth below
    And Sun above and water flow
    And wind that dances through the trees
    Card of harvest, plant your seeds
    I place this space now in your care
    To tend all that I shall plant there
    And make all flourish fruitfully
    As I will so mote it be

    Bury the card where you stand, and pour the cup of water on top

    Organic vs. Chemical fertilizers

    Organic fertilizers are made from plant products such as cottonseed meal or from animal products such as poultry manure or fish emulsion and must break down before the plants can take them up.  Chemical fertilizers are made from products such as ammonium nitrate which is a more intense feeding which breaks down almost immediately.  Because they are so strong, they can sometimes over feed which can cause burning of the leaves or other detrimental effects.  Once the fertilizers break down they are virtually indistinguishable to the plants.  The process of taking up nutrients is a chemical reaction and all of the fertilizers become chemicals as they are absorbed.  The main difference is in how they are broken down. 

    Spray on types such as Miracle Gro feed through the leaves of the plant.  This is a very quick way to feed which was designed for greenhouse commercial growers to feed every time they watered rather than feeding through the roots.  We feel that this encourages too much leaf growth and weakens the plant's root system since it roots are hardly needed.  Long term, it can also build up salt in the soil from the ammonium nitrate which prevents the natural taking up of nutrients. 

    We always prefer to use worm castings as the worm's digestive system is a perfect vehicle for the nutrients to break down.  They do the work for the plants and excrete the perfect chemical makeup for roots to absorb.  Nature is so dynamic that way, it makes its own machines!  Castings also actually work within the soil to release other nutrients already there and make them available to plants too.

    Recipe for a complete organic fertilizer

    I've been using this recipe, which to the best of my knowledge was created by Steve Solomon (founder of Territorial Seed Company), for six years now with good results. One word of caution: Instead of buying the components in small boxes, buy bulk bags (40-50 lbs.) at a farm supply or feed store. As long as you keep them dry, they will last for many years.

    All measurements are in terms of volume, not weight.

    • 4 parts seed meal
    • 1 part dolomite lime
    • ½ part bone meal -or- 1 part soft rock phosphate
    • ½ part kelp meal


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    RE:Vegetable and Fruit Gardening
    (Date Posted:02/13/2009 02:13 AM)

    Soil For Vegetables

    The ideal garden soil is deep, loose, fertile, well-drained (internally as well as on the surface), has plenty of organic matter, and is free of weeds and diseases. Such soils are difficult to find, but with proper preparation and management, less-than-ideal soils can be productive.

    Water moves quickly through an internally well-drained soil and never completely shuts off air movement. Drainage is important because roots cannot develop, live, and function without a constant supply of oxygen. Clay soils dry slowly after a rain because the spaces in them are small and water moves through them slowly. Sandy soils, on the other hand, have many spaces and dry out quickly.

    Clay and sandy soils can be partially changed to substitute for a rich loam by adding organic matter. Increasing the organic matter content of a clay soil improves the tilth, makes it easier to work, and improves the internal drainage. Adding organic matter to a sandy soil increases its water-holding capacity and improves its fertility.

    The garden soil affects the way vegetable plants grow and look. When soils are cold, wet, crusty, or cloddy, seedlings are slow to emerge and some may not survive. Root rot diseases may take a heavy toll on seedlings, especially beans. Other soil-related plant symptoms are short plants, slow growth, poor color, and shallow and malformed roots. Soil symptoms of poor structure are crusts, hard soil layers below the surface, standing water, and erosion.

    Increase the soil’s organic matter content by adding manure, composted leaves, sawdust, bark, or peat moss; or by turning under plant residues like sweet corn stalks after harvest, and green manure crops (soybeans, rye, southern pea plants, and others). Plant residues should be free of diseases if they are to be added to the garden soil. Cover crops, such as clovers and vetch, planted in the fall prevent soil erosion and leaching of plant nutrients. They also provide organic matter and nitrogen when turned under in spring.

    Manures vary in their content of fertilizing nutrients. The amount of straw, age, exposure to the elements, and degree of composting change their composition. Be careful not to over-fertilize when applying chicken litter to garden soil. Use no more than 200 pounds per 1,000 square feet of garden space. Animal manure is lower in nutrient content than poultry manure and can be applied at the rate of 250 to 300 pounds per 1,000 square feet.

    Overuse of manures can add so much salt to the soil that plant growth is harmed. Most organic materials release some nutrients quickly and the rest over a period of time. Even though adding organic matter improves soil fertility, manures and plant residues are not balanced fertilizers, and soils require additional fertilizer. Test soil annually to be sure.

    Discover How Coffee Grounds Can Perk Up Your Garden
    By Simone Abt

    Canadian gardeners are discovering that coffee grounds offer a valuable source of nutrition for gardens.

    Coffee grounds can be used in several ways. Grounds can be applied along with other materials as a side dressing for vegetables, roses, and other plants. They also make an excellent addition to the compost. Grounds can also help with worm bins. Worms fed with coffee grounds will flourish.

    Gardeners can use grounds from their home coffee brewing machines, or they can stop by Starbucks to pick up a bag of complimentary coffee grounds. Starbucks offers spent grounds to customers year-round for use in gardens and compost bins.

    "Coffee grounds can be a valuable source of nutrition for the garden," says Ben Packard, director of Environmental Affairs for Starbucks. "Reusing coffee grounds in the garden year-round is a great way to avoid disposing of this rich resource from our stores."

    According to The Composting Council of Canada, composting not only helps to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills, it produces a valuable soil amendment that can improve the texture and fertility of the soil.

    Compost is the single most important ingredient for soil quality and productivity.

    Some gardeners even use the grounds to help ward off slugs and snails. The grounds can be used to mulch plants that slugs love to feast on, such as hostas, ligularias and lilies.

    Coffee grounds can be applied directly to a garden's acid loving plants such as azaleas, roses or hydrangeas. While coffee grounds may be acidic, adding leaves and dried grass can reduce this acidity. Your local gardening expert can help you decide what is best for your garden

    Potting Soil Recipes

    Home-Style Potting Soil
    1 part finished compost
    1 part loose garden or commercial potting soil
    1 part sharp sand, perlite, or vermiculite - or a mixture of all 3

    Thalassa Cruso's Potting Soil
    1 part commercial potting soil or leaf mold
    1 part sphagnum or peat moss
    1 part perlite or sharp sand

    Rich Potting Soil
    1 part leaf mold
    2 parts loose garden or commercial potting soil
    1 part compost or rotted, sifted manure

    Amended Potting Soil
    4 parts loose garden or commercial potting soil
    2 parts sphagnum or peat moss
    2 parts leaf mold or compost
    2 parts vermiculite
    6 teaspoons dolomitic limestone (the limestone helps to neutralize the acids in the leaf mold and peat moss)

    52 Weekend Garden Projects 1992 by Nancy Bubel Rodale Press. Emmaus, Pennsylvania

    Soil Preparation by Blooming Bulb:
    When your soil begins to dry up in spring, grab your spade and get going:
    It's time to prepare your garden for planting. Most gardeners know they should put good effort into soil prep, because it's the single most important thing one can do to grow a good garden.
    The goal is to improve soil structure so that the soil is deep, loose, and well-drained. In friable soil such as this, plants can send roots into regions where the nutrients and moisture they need are located.
    Nutrients move more easily as water percolates between soil particles; and in addition, oxygen is available for the roots to use.
    The overall effect is healthier, stronger plants that resist diseases and insects.
    Whether you have clay or sandy soil, the best way to improve soil structure is to add organic matter such as compost, manure, completely decomposed sawdust or straw, shredded bark, or rotten leaves.
    Don't use fresh sawdust or straw because it uses up nitrogen, a major plant nutrient, while it is decomposing. The organic matter is fed upon by beneficial soil bacteria that then release nutrients into the soil and make them available for plant use. It¹so all part of the food chain, and it's pretty remarkable when you think about it.

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    RE:Vegetable and Fruit Gardening
    (Date Posted:02/13/2009 02:14 AM)

    Some Things NOT to Do

    Don’t cut iris leaves after the flowers fade. Leaves carry on photosynthesis and develop nourishment for next year’s growth. Cut off brown tips and remove the flowering stalk down to the rhizome.

    If you’re growing plants outdoors in containers, don’t use a soilless potting mix. Be sure that it contains at least half soil. Or make your own blend for window boxes and patio containers by mixing one part compost, one part garden soil, and one part builder’s sand.

    When shopping at a nursery, don’t buy a tree or shrub with a damaged root ball. Inspect it carefully to make sure that it is uniform, not crushed, and a good size. For every inch of the trunk, the ball should be seven to eight inches in diameter.

    Unless you’re working your way through knee-high grass, don’t remove those grass clippings from the lawn. Leave them where they fall to filter down to the soil, decompose, and recycle nutrients into the roots.

    Watermelon Time

    Watermelons are well named: They are 92 percent water. A 2-cup serving contains only 90 calories and is fat-free as well. Watermelon also is a good source of vitamins A and C.

    If you grow your own watermelons this summer or buy them at the store, you’ll face the daunting task of determining their ripeness. We’ve heard all sorts of advice, including the fact that a ripe melon, when thumped, will feel more like a human head than a human chest

    Garden Soil Blessings
    (while working it)

    Bless this Earth
    That I prepare
    To nurture my herbs and plants
    With loving care
    Protect them from all bugs and mite
    And all other worldly strife
    Let no animal eat it's leaves
    For some they come from poison seeds
    Harm to none
    Including mine and me
    This is my will
    So mote it be!

    © (Lady Sayuri)

    Garden Faeries

    Create a garden that is conductive to all life.
    Put up birdhouses, birdbaths and bird feeders, bat houses and hummingbird feeders.
    Plant flowers and plants that are attractive to bees and butterflies.
    Faeries are attracted to any place where there are butterflies.
    Put nuts out for the squirrels.
    Whatever you do to bring life to your garden will bring
    faeries as well. Here is a short list of plants that attract beautiful
    butterflies and faeries to your garden:
    Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)
    Aster novi-belgii (New York aster)
    Chrysanthemum maximum (Shasta daisy)
    Coreopsis grandiflora/certicillata (coreopsis)
    Lavendula denata (French lavender)
    Rosemarinus officinalis (rosemary)
    Thymus (thyme)
    Buddleia alternifolia (fountain butterfly bush)
    Buddleia davidii (orange-eye butterfly bush, summer lilac)
    Potenilla fruitiosa (shrubby cinquefoil)
    Petunia hybrida (common garden petunia)
    Verbena (verbenas, vervains)
    Scabiosa caucasica (pincushion flowers)
    Cosmos bipinnatus (cosmos)
    Zinnia elegans (common zinnia)
    Install a small fountain or waterfall or put in a fish pond.
    You might want to include statues of faeries. Anything that reflects light or is colorful and moving particularly attracts the gnomes and elves. Both faeries and water sprites like the splashy sound and sight of a fountain.
    Leave an area of your garden a bit wild and not too cultivated. It need not be a large space, but having one area that is dedicated to the faeries will make
    them feel very welcome. Ask faeries and elves to come to your garden.

    "Where Intention goes, energy flows." Whatever you place your conscious awareness on, you will pull into your life.

    AS you put your attention on faeries and gnomes and the elemental realm,
    they will respond by being drawn into your garden.

    Know When to Plant What: Find Your Average Last Spring Frost Date
    sowing seeds
    It's important to plant your garden seeds at the right time, and the key is knowing when your area will see its last spring frost. Some garden plants taste even better after a little frost, but you'll sure be sorry if you put your warm season crops in the ground too soon.

    Some crops thrive in cool weather, while others only grow well when it’s warmer. So how do you know when to plant what? The key factor that should guide your decisions is your average last spring frost date. Most cool season crops, like cabbage, broccoli, lettuce and many others, can tolerate a light frost and will grow best when sown a couple weeks before your last spring frost. Some, like peas and spinach, are so cold-hardy they can even be planted “as soon as the ground can be worked,” as many seed packets say. But warm season crops like squash, cucumber, and basil will be killed by frost if your seeds come up too soon. Ditto for warm season transplants such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplants — if you don’t wait until danger of frost has passed before you set them out, a late frost will kill them.

    Thus on seed packets you often see “Plant after all danger of frost has passed.” So, how do you find the average last spring frost date for your area? There are U.S. maps that show last frost dates, but it's hard to find your exact local dates on them. Your best bet is the National Climatic Data Center. Choose your state and then locate the city nearest you, and it will show your average last spring (and first fall) frost dates, based upon weather data collected by the National Climatic Data Center from 1971 through 2000 from that location. You can choose between a 50/50 probability of frost after the given date, or you can play it safe and choose the 90 percent date, which means there’s only a 10 percent chance of a frost after that date. The Freeze/Frost Occurrence Data charts also provide average dates for 36 degrees Fahrenheit, 32 degrees and 28 degrees; for most crops gardeners should use the 32 degree dates.

    Here’s a summary of which crops to plant early, and which ones not to plant until after your last spring frost date:

    Very early spring (as soon as the ground can be worked)

    • Onions
    • peas
    • spinach

    Early spring

    • lettuce
    • beets
    • carrots
    • radishes
    • dill
    • cilantro
    • cabbage
    • broccoli
    • celery
    • kale
    • potatoes

    After last frost date

    • beans
    • corn
    • melons
    • cucumbers
    • squash
    • tomatoes
    • peppers
    • pumpkins
    • eggplant
    • basil

    Make A Coffee Can Herb Garden

    by Katelyn Thomas

    If you drink a lot of coffee, you probably have quite a few metal coffee cans on hand. With just a little effort, you can make a useful and pretty handmade gift for your friends and family.  

    First, wash out your can and peel off any labels. Next, apply a coat of metal primer to your can. Let the primer dry thoroughly.  Then, apply a coat of bright acrylic paint to the can. 

    Once your can is painted, you can decorate it. I like to apply crackle medium and then add a top coat of color. This effect is beautiful if you paint a deep blue undercoat and a rich red overcoat on your can. 

    You may want to rubberstamp bugs or garden tools onto the can instead. To do this, use stamps that are flexible so that you can stamp onto the curved surface of the can. You can apply a light coat of acrylic paint to the stamp and then press the stamp onto the can, carefully rolling the stamp so that the whole image is stamped onto the can. If you mess up, don't worry. You can wipe the stamped image off the can and start over. 

    Another great decorative technique for decorating cans is decoupage. Use empty seed packets with pretty artwork or cut pictures from magazines and decoupage them to the can in an attractive pattern. 

    Once your can is decorated, apply a coat of sealer to the finished product. If you will use the can outside, you may want to let this coat dry and apply a second coat of sealer. 

    Now, you are ready to prepare your can for planting. Turn the can upside down. Use a 3 inch nail and a hammer to poke drainage holes in the bottom of the can. Turn your can over and fill it to just an inch below the rim with good potting soil. 

    Next it is time for you to decide which herbs you will be planting in your can. Chives, basil, oregano, thyme and parsley all are great choices. Of course, you can also put a lovely scented geranium in the can, instead. 

    As a finishing touch, add a tag with information about caring for the herb and a few great recipes. It is easy to attach the tag with a simple florist pick. 

    Finally, consider other ideas for your coffee can. For instance, instead of adding potting soil and an herb, add a garden trowel, gardening gloves, a packet of seeds, a box of tea and a package of tea biscuits for do it yourselfers

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    RE:Vegetable and Fruit Gardening
    (Date Posted:02/13/2009 02:15 AM)

    A Sunwheel Herb Garden
    The Nine Sacred Herbs of Wisdom

    "Then took Woden Nine Magic Twigs and then smote the serpent that he in nine dispersed. Now these nine herbs have power against nine magic outcasts against nine venoms and against nine flying things against the loathed things that over land rove."

    Yes, this is the stuff of legends, but based on very real herbs and medicinal practices of the Anglo-Saxons and their contemporaries. These plants are still in use today, and most are common in Midgard. It is my intent to cover the practical basics of growing and using these nine sacred herbs, which are: Mugwort ,Waybroad (Plantain), Atterlothe (unknown), Maythen (Chamomile), Wergulu (Nettle), Crabapple ,Chervil , and Fennel .

    These are just nine of the herbs of our ancestors: common plants found growing wild, discovered to have beneficial properties to mankind. Or, perhaps Woden discovered them himself and gave them to man, as he did the runes. No matter, it is honorable work to grow, harvest, and use them for the benefit and pleasure of the folk.

    Designing the Garden
    Whether or not you have decided on a site for your garden, survey your possibilities well. This project does require a reasonably-sized, sunny piece of land, at least 8 X 8 feet. Although if you live in an apartment, you can grow these herbs in containers on a sunny patio or balcony (but you may have to bonsai the crab apple tree!).

    We know the Sunwheel as a holy symbol, which represents the daily passage of Sunna across the sky, the wheel of her chariot, and as a hallowing sign of the Vanir. How appropriate for a sacred garden dedicated to our Faith, our Gods, and the Earth, whether you call her Frigg, Jord or Erce! The Sunwheel also naturally accommodates nine herbs (or, eight and one tree) by its design. It also converts well, and can be used for a very small garden of only one or two plants of each herb, up to as large as you have the will and land to make!

    Working the Earth
    When you have chosen your site, don’t forget to approach the local landwights and offer them something for their good favor. Chances are they will be glad and excited about your undertaking. But you are planting a tree, which is a pretty big change to the landscape! Not to mention that Crabapple trees can grow very large, and you may need to transplant it again before it reaches its full height. Keep this in mind when choosing your spot.

    If preparing this garden in early spring, you may want to incorporate it into a “Charming of the Plow” ritual (see Field Blessing by Winifred Hodge, this issue). Due to these herbs being connected with Woden in herblore, this project would be an ideal site, garden, or harrow dedicated to the Allfather. It may be desirable to perform the actual dedication ceremony at the breaking of ground.

    Getting Started
    First prepare the circle of earth where your Sunwheel will be. You may need to till up grass and weeds, and clear the topsoil of any large rock particles. Check your soil type - it will need to be fairly good, and you can correct poor soil by adding the appropriate conditioners and fertilizers. Even if you have average garden soil, add compost for nutrients and tilth.

    Once your soil is ready, the Sunwheel can be formed with just about any common garden marker, including bricks, railroad ties, rock, or even out of the soil itself. However, for magical purposes it is recommended to use local cut rock or hand-gathered stones or wood. It is possible to create the form based on the number nine. Simply use sequences of three or nine when placing the markers, or make sure the total number of pieces used is divisible by nine. For example, make each spoke of the Sunwheel and each quadrant of the Sunwheel rim out of three rocks, or nine.

    Begin planting your herbs after the last frost, which usually falls in March or April, depending on your region. The garden needs to receive full sun, which is at least four to five hours of direct sunlight daily.

    The Herbs
    Crabapple - There the Apple accomplished it against poison that she (the loathsome serpent) would never dwell in the Middle Garth.

    Crabapple is a tree, of course, and not really an herb. However, the modern definition of an herb is any plant with common use, be it culinary, medicinal, household, or magical. As the only tree, the Crabapple should obviously be planted in the center of the Sunwheel.

    Order the tree from a nursery, at about one year of age. There are many different varieties, just be sure you get one that produces fruit. Check its hardiness in your area. Most nurseries and mail order companies have a zone chart which will identify how well your tree will do in your area. If you are not sure, go to a local nursery and ask. Most people don’t grow Crabapples for fruit anymore, but they may have Crabapples in stock, or can order them for you.

    Soak the roots of the tree in water with fish emulsion fertilizer, available at most garden or home supply warehouses. Mix the fertilizer as recommended, usually one teaspoon fish emulsion per gallon water for transplants. (Do this for all transplanted plants.) Dig a hole in the center of the Sunwheel about one foot in diameter, and the same in depth. Place the roots in the hole at a depth which will just cover the roots, but do not encroach up the trunk very high. Just barely cover the “root ball” at the base of the trunk, from which the roots start to extend. Cover the roots with soil, pack down lightly, and water well. Crabapple will sap the ground of nutrients, so you will need to fertilize the garden regularly.

    You will likely need to prune the tree, especially if it has been shipped. Cut off any broken branches or bows with pruning shears. Additionally, you will need to yearly prune the branches back in late summer, and for instructions I will refer you to Tree Planting Day, by Charles Spratling (this issue) and Rodale’s Organic Garden Answers for Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs, which has a very good section on pruning bearing trees.

    Unfortunately, there is not much support in herblore for the common, lowly Crabapple. It is not touted medicinally, nor for its fruit, which is nearly too bitter for the palate. However, it is of note that there is archaeological evidence for the consumption of Crabapples in Early England, and compensation for a Crabapple tree in Anglo-Saxon times was 30 pence. Crabapples make a fine jam, and have been used to flavor mead. For mead, or more technically melomel, peel and seed the Crabapples and then boil in water to a mush. Add plenty of sugar to taste, and cinnamon if you like, and then steep in the honey wort.

    Fennel - Chervil and Fennel, two very mighty ones. They were created by the wise one-eyed Lord, holy in Asgard as he hung on the tree; He set and sent them to the nine worlds, to the wretched and the fortunate, as a help to all.

    Common Fennel, Foeniculum Vulgare, is a hardy perennial in temperate regions, but may be grown as an annual where winters are harsh. It is sown readily from seed, and can also be purchased as a young plant from most nurseries. To grow from seed, sow directly in the garden 15 inches apart, or sow early indoors inflats, and transplant after the last frost. Fennel will grow almost anywhere, but prefers a well-drained, alkaline soil. Depending on your soil type, you may wish to add bonemeal, lime or ash in the area you will be planting it.

    Fennel grows very large, up to six feet, and needs to be planted towards the center of the garden, behind the smaller plants, and may overshadow the Crabapple the first year or two. If you are cultivating a smaller garden, one or two plants is all you will need.

    Fennel’s small, yellow flowers will be seen in June and July, and will set seed in late summer. Unless you wish it to re-seed voluntarily, collect the seed heads at maturity, when they harden and turn brown. In the fall cut it back to the ground, and it should send out new shoots in the following spring. Or you can dig up the root, which can been eaten as a vegetable, and sow new seed the following year.

    Fennel has a strong, licorice-like scent, and can be used medicinally and in cooking. Fennel seed, bruised and boiled in water, and then added to syrup and soda water will relieve flatulence in infants. The herbalist Nicholas Culpeper relates a common use of it, its seed or leaves boiled in barley water and then drunk by nursing mothers to increase their milk and its quality for the infant. In Lacnunga, Fennel is used in charms against all manner of ill-meaning wights, from elves to sorcerers, and even against insanity. An infusion of the leaves or crushed seeds will ease flatulence and increase appetite in adults, and should be drunk three times a day.

    Chervil - There are two plants commonly known as Chervil: Sweet Chervil, or Sweet Cicely (Myrrhis odorata) and French Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium). The first is native to the British Isles, and likely to be the chervil of the Anglo-Saxons, and therefore will be the herb discussed here. French Chervil’s use is primarily culinary, but is an adequate substitute for Myrrhis odorata in your garden, as these herbs are often mistaken for one another. Additionally, if you live in an arid region, French Chervil may prove the hardier herb.

    Sweet Cicely is found in mountainous regions, and prefers a rocky, well-drained soil. A hardy perennial, it is best cultivated from root or plant, but can be grown from seed. It can reach two to three feet in height, and should be planted towards the center of the Sunwheel, not quite one foot apart. Its aromatic foliage is similar to Anise or Lovage, and its small white flowers attract bees.

    The entire plant is edible. John Gerard, garden keeper to Queen Elizabeth, reports its leaves and roots were commonly eaten in salads in his day, and it is said that Chervil comforts the heart and increases a lust for life. Culpeper states that Chervil provokes menstruation, which may be why this herb is considered a valuable tonic for adolescent girls. Chervil tea is also an effective relief for bronchitis and sinusitis, being a useful tonic for the mucous membranes. Along with Fennel, Chervil was created by the wise Lord, a phrase to which I like to add one-eyed.

    Mugwort - Remember, Mugwort, what you made known, what you arranged. You were called Una, the oldest of herbs, you have power against three and against thirty, you have power against poison and against infection, you have power against the loathsome serpent encircling the Middle Garth.

    I think Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is the herb best known to Heathens, due to its aid in the second sight and Seidh working. The dried herb is often burned as recels, and has an odor very similar to Cannabis. Mugwort is not intoxicating, however, but does act as a nervine, and is helpful against depression and tension.

    Mugwort is grown from seed, and can be purchased as a young plant at most herbal nurseries. Seeds can be sown directly in the garden, about one foot apart, or sown in flats early indoors and transplanted. It grows up to three feet in height, more in an ideal growing environment. It thrives in ordinary, well-drained garden soil, and is related to Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium). In common to that plant, Mugwort can be used dried as an insect repellent, but is not as strong as Wormwood, lacking its volatile oil. Mugwort will re-seed readily, and should be cut to the ground in late autumn. The plant is a hardy perennial, and will come back in the Spring in most areas.

    Mugwort also stimulates the digestive system, and will help aid a normal menstrual flow. It can be taken as a tea of the dried or fresh leaves, or in aperitifs or tincture (alcohol extraction). To prepare a tincture, bruise and soak fresh leaves in grain alcohol, preferably vodka, for two weeks, agitating daily. Strain the mixture, and store tincture in a closed, glass jar or bottle in a dark, cool location. When properly stored, the tincture should keep indefinitely.

    Atterlothe - Put to flight now, Venom-loather, the greater poisons, though you are the lesser, you the mightier, conquer the lesser poisons, until he is cured of both.

    Unfortunately, the identity of this herb is not certain. Storms suggests *****’s Spur Grass, a name which reminds me of *****eburr, or common Agrimony. However Agrimony is known in Lacnunga as Garclife and Egrimonie. But Atterlothe is translated to mean venom loather. I think it is a fair assumption that, lacking the absolute identity of this herb, we may make an appropriate substitution based on its magical function and meaning.

    Eleanour Sinclair Rohde in The Old English Herbals states that the Saxons attributed the source of all ill to the Great Worm, or the World Serpent. She uses examples of Saxon literature, including the Nine Herb Charm, to support this. Additionally, the Leech Book of Bald, a later medicinal text, is mentioned as ascribing even minor ailments to the presence of a worm. While I think this is a gross simplification, it is noteworthy to consider the World Serpent as the enemy of Midgard, and therefore mankind, and the potential spiritual source for disease.

    In keeping with this, I propose Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) as an appropriate substitute for Atterlothe. Although Wormwood was known to the Anglo-Saxons as Wermod, its strong benefit to the body, and its anthelmintic properties, make it ideal in place of Atterlothe. Wormwood was the original main ingredient in Absinthe, which proved deadly for the habitual drinker. But the euphoria and madness associated with it certainly brings Woden to mind, and again reassures its place in this garden. Wormwood also is used as a nervine to soothe a nervous temperament, just the thing to calm a berserker down!

    Wormwood can be grown from seed, but viability of the seed (chance that it will germinate) is fairly low. It can be purchased as a seedling from most herb nurseries, or propagated by root division. It is a hardy perennial, grows two to three feet high, and prefers a well-drained, sunny position.

    Wormwood should be used carefully in medicine, despite its general benefit to man. An infusion (tea) of the leaves taken three times a day will stimulate the digestive system, treat indigestion, and help the body deal with fever and infections. This historical use is confirmed in Lacnunga in charms against Typhoid and Chicken Pox. The powdered herb may be taken in capsule to expel worms, and is particularly effective against roundworms and pinworms. For pets, vary the dosage accordingly, starting with 1/8 teaspoon of the dried herb, and increase as needed.

    Chamomile - Remember Chamomile, what you made known, what you accomplished at Alorford, that never a man should lose his life from infection, after Chamomile was prepared for his food.

    Chamomile, like Balder who is associated with it, is probably the best-loved herb. Its small, white flowers and sweet-apple scent endear it to anyone who comes in contact with it. It is pristine and pure, as well as useful in the medicine chest.

    There are several varieties of Chamomile, German (Matricaria recutita), Roman (Anthemis nobilis), and Dyer’s Chamomile (Anthemis tinctoria). For tea, German Chamomile is the best choice, and it is this variety to be discussed here. However, Roman Chamomile is a perennial, unlike German, and may be a better choice to grow in the Southwestern States, as it will tolerate an arid climate. Its flowers may also be used for tea, but it will produce less of them. Obviously, Dyer’s Chamomile is what you want if you wish to produce a beautiful yellow dye.

    German Chamomile is an annual, grown readily from seed, and can grow up to a foot in height. Place this herb towards the rim of the Sunwheel, in front of the taller herbs. The seed can be scattered in the garden after the last frost, or again grown in flats indoors and transplanted. It will do fine in ordinary garden soil, and needs regular watering.

    Chamomile has long been known as a sedative, and is one of the few, true alterative nervines. This means it regulates the nervous system - sedative in the case of anxiety or insomnia, and stimulant in case of depression or malaise. The tea relieves flatulence and gastritis, and used externally, Chamomile will speed wound healing and reduce swelling.

    Gather the flowers in the summer, and dry by spreading them thinly on a screen or cookie sheet in a warm, dry area where they will not be disturbed. Store in air-tight containers. Be sure to leave a few flower heads on the plants, so that you can gather the very tiny seed in late autumn for planting the next spring.

    Plantain - And you, Plaintain, mother of herbs, open from the east, mighty inside. Over you chariots creaked, over you queens rode, over you brides cried out, over you bulls snorted. You withstood all of them, you dashed against them. May you likewise withstand poison and infection, and the loathsome serpent encircling the Middle Garth.

    Common Plantain (Plantago major) is a perennial, growing as a weed in most of the northern hemisphere. It can be cultivated by seed or rhizome, and is so proliferous it is best not to let it re-seed voluntarily. If it is not native to your region, it can be difficult to find. I was lucky to meet a lady in Oregon who was kind enough to send me some seeds from her weeds , but a few herb nurseries are starting to offer it.

    Plantain grows very low to the ground, with large, broad leaves. It will survive anywhere, but needs regular rain or watering to thrive. Sow the seed directly in the garden, towards the rim of the Sunwheel, in front of the taller herbs. You can sow the seed in flats indoors and then transplant, but it really is a waste of energy. Harvest the whole, fresh leaves for use. When dried, Plantain loses much of its properties in its juice. The seeds have little benefit, with the exception of their use as a substitute for Linseed.

    Gerard exclaims the juice of Plantain dropped in the eyes will cool inflammation, and Culpeper states that eating a little bit of the root will cure a headache instantly. Plantain is a useful astringent, and when taken as a tea it will aid against diarrhea. Plantain will also staunch external bleeding when applied in a salve, or simply bruised and applied to a minor wound. For a simple Plantain salve, crush the leaves and mix well with lard, and apply. An interesting parallel, both the Anglo-Saxons and the Native Americans valued Plantain against a snake bite, applied externally.

    Nettle - This is the herb that is called Wergulu. A seal sent it across the sea-ridge, a vexation to poison, a help to others. It stands against pain, it dashes against poison, it has power against three and against thirty, against the hand of a fiend and against mighty devices, against the spell of mean creatures.

    Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) was brought to the British Isles by the Roman Legions, who would rub their arms with the leaves to keep their blood flowing in the cold, damp weather. Nettle strengthens and supports the entire body, and can even be cooked and eaten as a pot herb, like mustard greens or spinach. Itis another common weed, reaches up to three feet in height, and is a hardy perennial. It can be grown by seed, and may be difficult to find in nurseries.

    To grow Nettles, sow the seed directly in place in the garden, about one foot apart. Like Plantain, it will grow anywhere, but prefers regular watering and ordinary garden soil. Nettle will take over the garden if you let it, so be sure to collect the flower heads before they set seed. The plant will readily return in the spring from its creeping roots. Also, keep the roots under control by regularly digging around the area where they are planted. Or, sink garden bed bordering underground around the area to prevent the unwanted spread of its roots.

    To gather fresh Nettle leaves, wear gardening gloves! If you are stung by its stinging hairs, rub the area with Rosemary, Mint or Sage leaves for relief. Collect the leaves when the flowers are blooming. Nettle is used for everything from the stimulation of hair growth to eczema, and may be used as an astringent externally for nose bleeds. Additionally, there are recipes for Nettle Beer and Nettle Pudding.

    For Nettle Beer, in a large pot add 2 gallons of cold water, 5 cups of washed, young Nettle leaves, 2 cups each of Dandelion leaves and Horehound or Meadowsweet flowers, and 2 ounces of bruised ginger root. Boil gently for 40 minutes, then strain and stir in 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar. When cooled to lukewarm temperature, toast a slice of bread and spread with one cube of fresh yeast. Float the bread yeast side up on the top of the mixture, cover and allow to ferment for 24 hours. At the end of this time, open and remove the residue from the top of the beer. Add 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar. Bottle as you would an ale.

    Watercress Stune is the name of this herb, it grew on a stone, it stands up against poison, it dashes against pain. Unyielding it is called, it drives out the hostile one, it casts out poison, it has the power against infection. This is the herb that fought against the world serpent.

    Although Lacnunga refers to Lamb’s Cress (lombescyrse) as one of the Nine Sacred Herbs, which Storms differentiates from Watercress (eacerse or wyllecerse) as Cardamine, Gerard assures us that Watercress, or Nasturtium officinale, is also referred to as Cardamine. Although there may be a minor difference in varieties, it is safe to assume that these plants are very similar if not one and the same. Considering that Gerard’s Herbal was published in 1597 C.E., one thousand years from the estimated date of Lacnunga (587 C.E.), this name may have been commonly attributed to a different herb during that time. However, Gerard’s one thousand year gap is certainly preferable to Storm’s fourteen hundred year gap.

    Watercress is a perennial but is typically grown as an annual, prefers a moist habitat, and naturally occurs near springs, creeks and rivers. It is cultivated by seed, sown directly in the garden or in flats indoors, and then transplanted after the last frost. Watercress is a small, creeping plant, so place near the rim of the Sunwheel, in front of taller plants. Gather the seeds in the fall for replanting in the spring, or allow to re-seed itself. Water it daily in summer.

    Watercress is commonly eaten in salads and soups, and is the primary ingredient in that favorite English Tea-time snack, Watercress sandwiches. Although not in common use medicinally, Grieve reports its use against tuberculosis during her time. Culpeper advises the bruised leaves to be placed directly on the skin tocombat freckles, pimples and other skin ailments. Watercress is an excellent diuretic, rivaled only by the Dandelion.

    Other Herbs of Note
    Houseleek Also known as Thor’s Beard, Houseleek (Sempervivum tectorum) planted in a pot and placed on the roof will protect a house from lightning. This plant is known as Hens and Chicks in the United States.

    Cowslip or Primrose (Primula vulgaris) is associated with Freya, and it is said to open the door to her hall or mound. A wash of Cowslip water will improve the complexion.

    Woodruft A sprig of Sweet Woodruff (Asperula odorata) steeped in Rhine Wine for a few hours is all it takes to make May Wine, a common beverage at Walpurgis.

    Flax (Linum usitatissimum) is the plant that gives us linen and linseed oil, and has been used since ancient times. The fiber is traditionally spun and woven for clothing. Flax is under the dominion of Holda, possibly another name for Frigg, who taught us the art of growing Flax, of spinning, and of weaving it.

    Angelica (Angelica archangelica) was said to be revealed by the Archangel Michael as a cure for the plague. More interestingly, Grieve recounts the remnant of an old Lithuanian Pagan custom of the peasants marching into towns carrying Angelica flower stems and offering them for sale. Angelica is associated with Heimdall, used in warding, and the stems are still commonly boiled in sugar-water for a confection.

    Periwinkle (Vinca minor), the “Joy of the Ground”, was used against witchcraft and sorcery in Medieval times, and therefore is of excellent protection against ill-meaning wights of all kinds (including people). The contradiction, and perhaps explanation, is that it was also called Sorcerer’s Violet. What better to fight sorcery with than sorcery?

    Alternatives to Pesticides and Chemicals  

    * When used incorrectly, pesticides can pollute water. They  
    also kill beneficial as well as harmful insects. Natural  
    alternatives prevent both of these events from occurring and  
    save you money.  

    * Consider using natural alternatives for chemical pesti-  
    cides: Non-detergent insecticidal soaps, garlic, hot pepper  
    sprays, 1 teaspoon of liquid soap in a gallon of water, used  
    dishwater, or forceful stream of water to dislodge insects.  

    * Also consider using plants that naturally repel insects.  
    These plants have their own chemical defense systems, and  
    when planted among flowers and vegetables, they help keep  
    unwanted insects away. The table below contains a partial  
    list of nature's alternatives

    Harvesting Gourds  
    Let your gourds ripen on the vines as long as possible. Wait until the stem turns brown, but harvest before frost. The fruit bruises easily, so handle it carefully. Cut the stems 2-3 inches above the fruit with a sharp knife, and dry off any moisture.  

    Most gourds will need some indoor drying time before they are ready to use. Wipe them down with a weak bleach solution and lay them out in a well-ventilated area to dry. Gourds are completely dry when the seeds rattle around inside.

    Small gourds will dry in less than a month, and large ones can take up to six months. If mold appears during the drying process, scrape it off with a knife. Thin-shelled gourds dry best when hung in a mesh bag.  

    Once the gourds are completely dry, remove the thin outer shells with steel wool. Now they're ready to decorate. Use a wax or varnish for protection.

    Source:  Garden Guides

    Soil Mix for Containers

    1 part peat moss
    1 part rich garden soil or potting soil
    1 part sand

    With a trowel, mix the ingredients in a bucket or wheelbarrow until well blended.

    Use for outdoor potted vegetables or flowers

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