Farming with Cianna

Farming with Cianna

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Gardening 101 (From Dummies)

Welcome to the first official non-introduction post here at Farming With Cianna!

Dan and I are looking forward to giving you a few gardening tips that we have learned this Summer with our own garden.
Instead of "Gardening for Dummies", we have decided to name it "Gardening from Dummies", given that we are first year "farmers"!

This has been our first year having a garden WITHOUT mom's help. We did everything completely on our own, including starting the plants from seeds (with few exceptions).
We have a wide variety of plants in our garden; all were started in late March (I wish we would have started them earlier).

We have the following plants:
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Jack-o-Lantern Pumpkins
  • Jack-be-Little Pumpkins
  • Cucumbers
  • Snap Peas
  • Lima Beans
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini
  • Hungarian Wax Peppers
  • Green Peppers
  • Onions
  •  Radishes
  • Beets
  • Cabbage
  • A Variety of Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Celery
  • Stevia
  • Citronella
  • Wild Mint
  • Spearmint
  • Sunflowers
  • A Variety of Marigolds
  • White Daisies

So far, we have gotten many radishes (most of which were fed the animals), a TON of mint, a few strawberries (even though they weren't supposed to bloom this year), a gallon of the hot peppers, we have about 100 onions almost big enough, and we've gotten around 2 gallons of lettuce (a lot has been fed to the animals). Our Sunflowers are doing great, along with the Marigolds (we're growing them for chicken food).

Our Watermelons, Pumpkins, and Cucumbers are finally starting to grow up the trellises and even have little starts on them...

And our Tomatoes are getting huge! (The picture definitely doesn't do them justice.)
We have around 50 small green tomatoes at the moment!
We can't wait to make our own spaghetti sauce!

 So what are some things we did that got us to this point? Well there are plenty of great tips for us to share with you!

  1. Replant foods that can be replanted!
How many times have you gone out and bought a pack of celery or heads of lettuce this Summer?
We've only bought them once because we replanted the bottoms!

The steps for this is as easy as cut the bottom off the celery or romaine lettuce, plant in dirt, and water!
It only take two-five days to start regrowing itself after planted!

Both the celery and romaine lettuce grow back quickly, and fully. The lettuce head don't grow back to look like the originally did, but it produced the same tasting lettuce.

This is a great way to save money and grow more!

     2.   Try growing in containers or raised boxes!

We don't have raised boxes this year, but everyone that we know who does have them, loves them. (Hopefully next year we will get to build a couple.)
Since we don't have the gardening boxes, we planted certain plants in containers and pots.
Of course they all were started in plastic boxes like these (right), but many plants get too big to grow up in them.
We have some lettuce, celery, onions, stevia, citronella, and some flowers planted in pots. Everything that we have planted in the pots has sprouted and grown really quick.
We have them our on our deck, so it's hard to forget to water them since we see them every time we walk out.
You don't have to worry about weeds taking over and you can place them anywhere that gets sun. (they can be right at your fingertips like ours!)

     3.   Fertilize, Fertilize, Fertilize!
Though not everyone fertilizes their gardens, I have had a great outcome from using organic fertilizer.
We use a mix of chicken and goat manure, and the duck's pool water! People use all different kinds of things to boost their gardens, all of which work great, such as:
  • Animal poop (chicken, duck, goat, cow, etc...)
  • Wood ashes
  • Compost (decomposed fruits, vegies, eggshells, coffee grounds, etc...)
  • Blood meal and other animal products
  • and finally, my favorite of all...EPSOM SALTS!!!
I just recently started sprinkling Epsom salts on my garden after reading a great article about its' benefits. (
After sprinkling a tiny bit on each plant and watering to let the soil absorb the nutrients, my garden thrived tremendously!
My one zucchini plant wasn't looking too hot. It's leaves were yellowish and it wasn't growing. After putting the Epsom salts on it, this is what happened:

I still can't believe how much it has improved since last week.
Epsom salts are one of the easiest ways to fertilize. Instead of shoveling manure, turning a heavy barrel of compost, or even carrying the bag of store-bought fertilizer, all you have to do is buy the small container of salts, and sprinkle about a tablespoon on each plant every two weeks. No hassle, no pain - just gain!
This is one of the smartest things I have done this year and it's probably about my #1 tip for you today. Try it!
     4.  Keep your garden weed and pest free!
I don't know about you, but I like to keep my garden completely organic and chemical free. This gets pretty hard to do when you have weeds taking over and pesky animals trying to steal food.
I was scrolling through Pintrest one day and stumbled upon a great gardening tip that I have used ever since. 
Homemade weed killer!
 Of course it's not 100% chemical free, but it is the best one that I have come upon.
You mix vinegar, dish liquid, salt, and water in a spray bottle and spray the weeds in full sun.
The mix should kill the weeds by the next day and then you can easily remove them.
Note that it may not kill the larger stuff (I've learned the hard way), but it should kill all the smaller weeds in your garden.
There are different variations of the recipe to try listed in this website:
They are all great!
I highly recommend this safe alternative.

It's always devastating walking out to see a half eaten garden (it's happened to me more than once this year.. All but one time because of my own rabbit who can escape without a trace.)
A fence would be helpful, but it's a big hassle, so I've found a way to keep bugs and animals, like rabbits, from eating up your plants. Again, organic ways are the safest ways!
Cayenne pepper scares away most predators because of it's spicy smell. No animal wants to eat hot stuff!
It's completely organic and works for deer, rabbits, and other animals that happen to be sniffin' around.  
Likewise, chili pepper and pure black pepper work the same way.
Garlic powder and onion powder have seemed to work for me when dealing with bugs.
I usually mix garlic powder, chili powder, and cayenne pepper when I sprinkle my plants.

To make a spray for your plants, blend 10 cloves of garlic and a tablespoon of cayenne pepper with one quart of water. After letting it sit for at least 24 hours, strain the mixture through cheesecloth and add a cup of cooking oil. When ready to use, add 1/2 cup of water to the concentrated mixture.

These are just a few safe ways to keep the pests out of your garden.
A big thanks to people on Pintrest for helping me find these awesome alternatives!

  5.   Save your seeds!
I know not everyone enjoys starting their plants from seeds, but it is a cheaper route to take when planting a garden.
I have already began saving seeds from this year, just to get a head start.
I collect the seeds from any fruit or vegie that I can do so.
So far, I have green pepper, hot pepper, marigold, and sunflower seeds dried and ready to be planted.
 I then let them dry out on a paper towel. I use plastic ziplock baggies to store my seeds in so that I can easily label them. You can use whatever you please. 

I started my seeds in late March, which was not early enough compared to everyone else's plant sizes. We stored them in a vehicle that wasn't being used to provide a "greenhouse". They got plenty of heat and light being outdoors, so we made sure to keep them well watered.
Hopefully, we can make a greenhouse for this coming year.

I recommend starting all your seeds, even though some packages say not to start them before the enter the ground.  All of ours did well.
Doing this will save you money for years to come!
Hopefully we gave you some helpful tips for gardening. I plan to do a follow up post on the garden soon.
Thanks so much for reading!

Update me on your garden and tips you have for me below, in the comments!

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