" What is a weed?
A plant whose virtues have never been discovered."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Garden Circkles:

Sustainable, eco-friendly and organic gardening tips and techniques.

See our Local Circkles pages for Farmer's Markets in your state. (Sorry, you must be a Circkles member.)

See our Green Circkles Page for homesteading suppliers, tips and information on living a more sustain-able lifestyle at home.
Find more gardening articles
in our Archives by using the Google Custom Search above.

Organic Non-GMO Seed Suppliers:

High Mowing Organic Seeds has just announced they plan to be the first non-gmo project certified vegetable seed supplier in the U.S. highmowingseeds.com

Heirloom Seed Suppliers: We have ordered from these suppliers and find them to be very reputable, reasonably priced and honest.

Baker Creek carries one of the largest selections of seeds from the 19th century, including many Asian and European varieties. The company has become a tool to promote and preserve our agricultural and culinary heritage. Gardeners can request a free 212-page color catalog or order online.

Seed Savers Exchange's collections contain heirloom and open-pollinated (OP) varieties. Heirlooms are OPs with a long history of being cultivated and saved within a family or group. They have evolved by natural or human selection over time.

Annie's Heirloom Seeds: Heirloom seeds produce vegetable varieties that have been around for 50 years or more. These are the vegetables your grandmother grew. These are the vegetables that were around before the huge agri-businesses that create most of the "food" on store shelves today.


Beneficial Bugs:

Braconid Wasp
Order: Hymenoptera. Family: Braconidae

Average Size: Very, very tiny. Only about 1/10 th to 1/2 th of an inch in size.

Resembling flying ants, these "good guys" are usually too small to be noticed. You may see their eggs on a host before you ever spot an adult braconid wasp.

They lay their eggs on other insects and the larvae feed on them as a host. They will parasitize such insects as tomato hornworms, armyworms, cabbage worms, codling moths, gypsy moths and caterpillars of many kinds.

When adults, they feed on nectar from small blossoms such as sweet alyssum and crocuses, so keeping these flowers around will help keep these beneficial pals around as well.

Photo: A tomato hornworm infested with braconid wasp eggs.


Natural Insect and Disease Control:

Powdery Mildew and other Types of Mildew:

Quite common in greenhouses, humid climates and you may notice it more in the fall when the air is cool and damp. Powdery mildew spores live in the soil and the mildew itself is caused by too much humidity. It rarely ever kills a plant, but it can stunt it and kill emerging blossoms and fruit.

Garlic Spray: Will kill many types of mildew. Crush 3-4 large cloves of garlic into a jar. Fill with 2 cups boiling water and let sit for 24 hours. Strain out garlic and put into a spray bottle. Keep refrigerated.

Do not overhead water. Over head watering will just make the mildew thrive. If possible, try to increase air circulation around the affected plants and water near the roots only.


Companion Planting:

Plants that assist each other to grow well, repel insects or even other plants when grown next to each other can be a sustainable and eco-friendly way to improve and protect your garden against unwanted pests and disease.

Castor Bean.

Experiments show that castor beans will repel moles if planted around a garden. They are also a good mosquito repellent. Be careful when using this plant however as all parts of it are extremely poisonous to livestock and humans. Just 2-3 seeds ingested by a child can cause death.

Castor bean plants can get quite tall, up to 8 feet, and there are many varieties. Some have a beautiful fall foliage.

If using it to repel moles, plant them every 5-6 feet around the perimeter of the garden.


No more searching the web for hours looking for recipes that have not even been tested only to find they don't work. Pop our CD into your laptop, or download the efile onto any electronic device and head for the kitchen!

Make your own ingredients and healthy recipes without pre-packaged and processed ingredients.


Garden Circkles Back Issues:

You can find these articles and more by searching by topic using the Google Search at the top of this page or go to our Garden Circkles Back Issues Page.

Jan/Feb 2013 - Heirloom Seed Suppliers, Natural Pest Control etc.

March 2013 - Ready, Set, Sprout, Beneficial Insects etc.

April 2013 - Companion Planting, Apple Scab, etc.

May 2013 - Grow Your Own Bug Potions, Mosaic Garden Art, etc.

June 2013 - Foodscaping, Grape Arbors as Decor.

July 2013 - Better Tomatoes, Chinampas, Leaf Curl, Nasturtium.

August 2013 - Does Anybody Can Anymore?, (With canning recipes), Beneficial Insects etc.

September 2013 - Plants Can Tell Us Secrets, Apple Harvest Recipes.

October 2013 - Ollas, Ollas, Ollas; Urban Farming Family, Basil as a Companion and more.

November 2013 - Tilapia Farming and Backyard Aquaponics, Greenhouse Designs: Frame Materials Compared.
(Part one of Two.)

December 2013 - Making a Greenhouse Self Sufficient (Part two of two), Growing Winter Greens etc.


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If You Could Only Grow One Container Plant, Grow Kale.

By Redstone Promotional Communications / Circkles.com

The photo above is of a massive kale plant that I've been growing in my greenhouse for two years now and it shows no signs of quitting yet. It's about 3 1/2 feet tall and 1 1/2 feet wide. Rather than cutting the whole plant, I just pick the leaves off as I need them and it just continues to grow more and more leaves. This makes it extremely productive, since you can get fresh kale readily any time you want and it just keeps producing as long as it doesn't get killed by a hard frost.

If you have a very sunny window, you could plant this prolific little gem in a pot and keep it in the house all winter where it will give you a non-stop supply of nutritious greens to add to smoothies, salads or to make kale chips like the recipe below. Not to mention, steamed kale is also very yummy. In the summer, set it outside. Kale is very cold and heat tolerant as well as drought tolerant. Cabbage worms will not bother it if they have something else handy that they prefer to eat such as cabbage, broccoli or kohlrabi leaves. Kale does not seem to be one of their first choices to chew up.
So...if you live in a small apartment with a balcony or large window or patio, and you can only have a few potted plants, kale would offer you the best nutrient value and production per plant.



Kale Chips Recipe:

6-8 large kale leaves
2 Tbsp olive oil or grapeseed oil
salt and pepper to taste

Use fresh kale leaves, place them on a cookie sheet and brush them with the oil on one side. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Go light on the salt since they tend to get very salty very easily.

Bake in the oven at 325º for about 10-12 minutes just until crispy. You don't want them browned or too dry. Dip in a mustard sauce or eat plain as a healthy snack alternative. You can also crush them up and sprinkle them on top of baked potatoes, salads or pasta for added nutrients.

Variations: Sprinkle with shredded cheese before baking, chipotle powder or a little minced garlic for some different flavor variations.



Now What? What to Do When Gardening is Over.

by Redstone Promotional Communications / Circkles.com

After the pumpkins are done, that's usually the signal that the garden season is done and diehard gardeners either feel a relief because now they get a much-needed a break, or they feel at a loss as to what to do with themselves after they spent all their time tending plants.

First of all, take about a month off and recuperate. The Taoists believe there is an optimal time to do everything so that it will result in the most benefit with the least amount of work. In other words, they believe in working smart not hard. A gardener has to work with the seasons, which is also something Taoist believe is optimal. Therefore, after all your hard work is done and the harvest is in, timing would suggest a nice, long relaxation period is in order.

If you live in a climate that will allow it, fall and early winter is the best time to remove dead plants and debris from your garden beds so any over-wintering bugs and eggs will not hatch in it next spring. Composting dead decaying plant material also helps get rid of diseases. Rake it all up and throw it onto the compost pile where the winter snow and rains will help it turn into some useful and very beneficial compost for next spring. Weed whack down old, dry grass, rake up leaves, , pull up spent plants, anything dead and no longer of use can be thrown on the pile to turn into gardener's gold: the more the better because as most gardeners know, you can never have enough compost.

If you greenhouse, that is an yearly garden chore, but even then, about January and February you can take a break from it. If you take this down time to do your mental garden preparations for next year, it will make your job much easier come spring. Plan what plants you want to grow and where so when it comes time to order seed, you know exactly what you need. If you plan to use companion planting, drawing up a diagram of what plants will go where will save you a lot of time when planting comes around because you'll have your garden already mapped out.
If you live in the South or other warm climate, of course you would be starting your cool weather crops about now: cabbage family plants, radishes, kale, root crops, greens, possibly potatoes etc.

Work some mature compost and manure into your growing beds and let it sit over the winter to break down and be more usable for plants the coming spring. Then, you can do it when the weather is cooler and it will be all ready for planting when the time is right. I prefer to do most of the heaviest, strenuous garden work when the weather is cool, so I prep my garden in the fall for the following spring as much as possible, that way all I have to do is a light tilling and I'm ready to go.

Start some potted plants to keep indoors for the winter. Such as herbs you can use to cook with. Just make sure they are in front of a sunny window so they are not spindly and they produce well. Most herbs like lots of sun.

You can also take advantage of the process Mother Nature has started for you and dry some plants to store for winter. Tie up and dry some herbs, lavender sachets for your closets to make your clothes smell nice, or make some potpourri or dried arrangements. These are all good ways to bring a little of your garden in for the winter and still enjoy your hard work.

Don't forget to pull up any irrigation hoses and garden hoses and store them for the winter so they don't freeze and crack. If you haven't insulated your greenhouse, now would be a good time for that as well. Mend any fences, fix any equipment, build any necessary retaining walls, trellises, or raised beds: anything that can be done in advance you will greatly appreciate when spring arrives and your focus should be on planting. Fall doesn't have to mean the end of gardening for the year, it simply means your tasks have changed and it's time to get ready for the next cycle.



Autumn Gardens for Bees.

It's difficult to find plants that flower in the fall, and even more difficult to find those that the honeybee can use to get their stores built up before all the nectar is gone for the season.

Some Autumn plants that offer bees food are as follows:

Borage will bloom all the way up to a hard frost with a steady supply of blossoms bees love.

Oregano, thyme and radishes will blossom fairly late in the season and bees love the tiny flowers they provide. Let a few radishes bolt and go to seed. You can use the seed for planting next year.

Asters are a popular fall flower in garden centers and attract bees.

Sages and lavenders will often bloom late and up to frost.

Raspberry and blackberries: The blossoms of these berries are a favorite bee food.

Some weeds you can let go for the bees are thistle, wild mints, dandelions, mullein and alfalfa.

Buckwheat is a bee's favorite food when it blossoms and ideally you want to plant it late in the growing season anyway. See last month's Garden Circkles article on growing buckwheat.

© 2014 Redstone Promotional Communications / Circkles.com. All rights reserved to articles and images.






September, 2014