" 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.

Find more gardening articles and topics in our Archives by using the Google Custom Search above.

See our Local Circkles pages for Farmer's Markets in your state.

See our Green Circkles Page for homesteading suppliers, tips and information on living a more sustainable lifestyle at home.

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:

Trichogramma Wasp
Order: Hymenoptera. Family: Trichogrammatidae

Changing color from yellow to orange to dark brown with bright red eyes, these wasps are parasitoids of the eggs of othr insects, destroying the eggs of fruitworms, hornworms, loopers, cabbage worms and other insects before they destroy your crops.

The parasitized eggs often turn black and the adults will feed on insect eggs, nectar and pollen. Four or Five of these tiny wasps will fit on the head of a pin, so seeing them with the naked eye may not be possible. To keep this almost microscopic predetor close to your garden, provide a variety of plants such as Queen Anne's Lace, caraway, fennel, tansy and herbs.

There are many different strains of this wasp depending on climate. You can purchase them from a retailer to benefit your garden, just make sure you get the variety that suits your climate best.

 

Natural Insect and Disease Control:

Tulip Fire (botrytis blight).

A common disease in areas that get a great deal of rain in the spring. Spotting and collapse of the stems, leaves and flowers is usually accompanied by brownish gray mold. This fungus will stay in the soil and infect next year's flowers as well.
Once plants are infected, they should be pulled and burned. Do not plant tulips in the same spot year after year. Dig up the bulbs of healthy plants in the fall (or get new bulbs) and keep them in a cool, dry place over the winter. In the spring, start a new tulip patch each year.

 

Companion Planting: Chives

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

Chromatography has been used to explain why some plants like or dislike being planted with other plants. It is possible to make a specific chromatographic test to find out why, or if at all, a plant is helping or hindering its neighbors. Chromatography has also been used to prove that plants do significantly better with compost than without.

Chives are good companion plants for carrots and will improve their growth and flavor. Chives are also beneficial if planted around the base of fruit trees in an orchard to deter mice and to prevent apple scab.
Make a tea of chives to spray on cucumbers, apples and gooseberry against powdery mildew.

 

 

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.

 

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Can You Walipini?

By Redstone Promotional Communications / Circkles.com

Walipini, an Aymara Indian word for a "place of warmth", these structures are built into the ground to utilize the earth's heat retention and cooling effects to maintain a temperature of 55 degrees F/13 C in the winter. Building these structures sunk deep enough into the ground benefits from this and helps keep these structures both cool in the summer and warmer in the winter. The theory is they have additional benefits in that they require less building materials than a greenhouse and maintain a lower physical profile making them easier to service and repair since the roof begins at about ground level.
Of course, there are precautions to take in waterproofing, drainage and ventilating the walipini, while aligning it properly to the sun -- which the manual covers in detail.

The Walipini, in simplest terms, is a rectangular hole in the ground 6 ‛ to 8’ deep covered by plastic sheeting. Locating the growing area 6’- 8’ underground and capturing and storing daytime solar radiation are the most important principles in building a successful Walipini. The longest area of the rectangle faces the winter sun -- to the north in the Southern Hemisphere and to the south in the Northern Hemisphere. A thick wall of rammed earth at the back of the building and a much lower wall at the front provide the needed angle for the plastic sheet roof. This roof seals the hole, provides an insulating airspace between the two layers of plastic (a sheet on the top and another on the bottom of the roof/poles) and allows the sun's rays to penetrate creating a warm, stable environment for plant growth.

However, we see several disadvantages to this greenhouse design. The biggest one being, that unless you have an end loader or tractor with a bucket, digging out a hole that size will take forever and completely ruin your back. But say you hire someone or have access to machinery to dig the hole for you, what do you do to keep a heavy snow load off of the roof? Some of these walipinis use nothing more than plastic for the roof, that is how they keep the construction costs so low, but that will never do in a climate that gets snow. So then you are looking at having to build a solid roof structure, slanted for drainage, and this raises the cost quite a bit.

Say you do all of the above and have your greenhouse-covered hole in the ground, you have to provide it with very good drainage both inside and outside or your walls will collapse during any heavy rain or snow. Water penetration of the walls and/or floor of the Walipini is destructive. If water seeps through the walls, they will collapse. If water comes up through the floor, it will adversely affect plant growth and promote plant disease. Dig the Walipini in an area where its bottom is at least 5’ above the water table. When all of the above ground walls are bermed, a layer of water-proof clay, such as bentonite, or plastic sheeting, should be buried approximately 6” to 1’ under the berm surface. It should be slanted so that the water drains away from the Walipini to the drainage ditches. In some cases where the soil has a low permeability rate, the clay or plastic may not be necessary. Be sure to dig a shallow drainage ditch around the perimeter of the Walipini which leads run off water well away from the structure.

Now….cost and labor-wise, are we really saving much money over a more conventional greenhouse design? Not really…when comparing costs, a walipini is not the way to go just to save money. The only real advantage to one is that when done correctly, you can conceivably grow in it year 'round without having to heat it at all. This would be the biggest benefit to building one.

But……if you have your heart set on a walipini, the Benson Institute has come up with a complete set of plans you can download here for the correct way to build one. Complete plans:

Our thoughts: If you plan to greenhouse grow for a lifetime, live in a windy area, can afford the labor costs to dig the hole and support it properly, yeah, a walipini would be awesome. The key is, it has to be done right and with the idea in mind that it will be permanent or it will cost you a great deal to fill that hole back up if you ever decide you don't want to use it anymore.

These photos show several design ideas, but there are almost limitless possibilities for design ideas with this. The hole structure is basically the same concept for them all, but the roof structure can be very creative or just a simple sheet of plastic. Consider your climate, how you want it to look in your landscape and how well your idea will hold up over a very, very long time.

 

 

 

Ways to Stretch Your Fall Harvest to the Holidays.

by Redstone Promotional Communications / Circkles.com

To a grower, what could be more cool than putting your harvest out on the Thanksgiving or Christmas table to showcase your hard work? Um....nothing. You also may want to keep these holiday ideas in mind for next year come harvest and planting time. Plan in advance to enjoy the fruits of your labor for the coming holidays.

Pumpkin Puree: We picked a couple pumpkins from our pumpkin patch in the fall and made them into frozen pumpkin puree so that we could use it over the holidays to makes scrumptious pumpkin desserts like the pumpkin brownies recipe that was listed in our 2014 Thanksgiving Recipe Ediition. Pumpkin puree will last in the freezer for up to 3 months before it starts to get freezer burn. We also use this puree throughout the winter in all kinds of recipes such as for pumpkin pancakes or breads to add more nutritional value and fiber.

Remember: Don't throw away those nutritious pumpkin and squash seeds. Make a tasty and healthy snack by roasting them.

Spiced Apple Rings:We harvest the apples from our orchard about the end of September and keep them in a root cellar where they will keep for up to 3 months with the right amount of humidity. We canned a few of the ones that got hail damage and made spiced apple rings out of them which our Thanksgiving guest thought were a very special treat. We also give them as Christmas gifts that are very unique.

You can also make Refrigerator Pickled Beets from beets you pull in the fall. They will last long enough to make a good side dish for Thanksgiving once pickled. Beets have a natural enzyme that helps with digestion, and these pickled beets will really help to settle that large, filing holiday meal. The same holds true for Refrigerator Pickles which will last up to three months after you make them, so they will just make it in time for holidays if you have some cucumbers you picked in say September.

Southern Style Creamed Corn: We shuck some of our corn from the fall harvest and either freeze it or can it. Southern Style Cream Corn is a treat for holiday side dishes and even better when made from homegrown corn. This recipe was also featured in our Thanksgiving Recipe Edition which you can access until January 1st. Later these recipes will be added to our Recipe Club where they will be archived so you will always have access to them. So don't worry if you missed our Holiday Special Editions.

Squash Bread: Adding squash to this bread makes it very moist and you can use any winter squash. This is also a great way to use leftover cooked squash which does not taste good reheated.

Of course, there are always your canned goods if you preserve any of your garden edibles. Jams and jellies can be used to make such things as biscuits topped with a jelly glaze, jelly-filled sandwich cookies or to glaze meats with. A great treat in the dead of winter is Rhubarb and our recipe for rhubarb sticky muffins is a wonderful use of this over-abundant garden guest when it is not available .We have a page just for rhubarb recipes on our Recipe Club including the one for these super-easy sticky muffins. Although you may get sick of rhubarb in the spring, it makes a welcome burst of spring in the winter and canning it is so easy.

 

 

Growing Turmeric.

This powerhouse herb is gaining popularity and rightly so. Studies have shown it can reduce tumors, prevent and even reverse some cancers, is a powerful antioxidant and antiinflammatory and can work wonders for colic or other gassy stomach problems. Growing it can be a bit tricky however.

Turmeric is a tropical plant that does not like temperatures below 60º, that means, for most of us, it has to be grown in a pot as a houseplant. Not a big deal, but it does require the right type of soil and adequate humidity to do well. Tumeric is related to ginger, and the same conditions that are best for growing ginger root are also best for turmeric. Use a soil that is a sandy loam and drains well while not drying out quicker than in a week. Turmeric and ginger root do not do well in soils that are heavy with too much compost, so go very light on the compost or don't use it at all. This turmeric plant (see photo) is growing in a straight humus-rich soil that is about 10% sand throughout for good drainage but contains 90% of a good, well-broken down soil to maintain moisture.

If you can get fairly fresh rhizomes from your local health food store, try to pick one with a bud that looks like it is about to sprout. Plant it just below the soil surface with the bud up. Keep moist but not soggy in a soil that drains well, give it plenty of sun and warmth and don't be discouraged if it seems to take a long time to sprout. Once it does sprout, just barely let it dry out between waterings and make sure it has a humidity level of about 50-70% to thrive. It will grow in lower humidity, but not as well.

In about 8 months, the top of the plant may start to turn yellow. This is an indication the root is ready to harvest. You can dig up the entire rhizome and save some of it to start more plants with, or try to just dig up what you want to use and leave part of the rhizome in the soil to start a new plant.

Turmeric has a flavor similar to mustard when dry, and an almost flowery mustard flavor when fresh that many people do not care for. However, like so many herbs, the medicinal qualities only exist in the fresh herb or root. We like to grate the fresh root and put it in smoothies, salads, soups or on egg dishes. It can be good with certain meats as well, such as chicken or beef. Recent studies have suggested that turmeric's medicinal qualities are difficult for the body to absorb and that if you eat it with fresh ground black pepper, it is better absorbed by the body.

 

 

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December, 2014