" 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.

About Garden Circkles:

Gardening is great exercise, relaxing and very therapeutic, that's why we encourage people to get your hands in the dirt, walk barefoot in the grass and grow things.
We created Garden Circkles to help people do that in a healthy, sustainable way, and to stay in touch with gardening even if they live in the city and for those times they cannot garden year 'round.

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.

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:

Aphid Midges
Order: Diptera. Family: Cedidomyiidae

Adults look like giant mosquitoes with long legs and thin bodies but are only 1/10" in size. A member of the fly family, this is one of the most versatile insects and is useful indoors for houseplants and in greenhouses, as well as outdoors in gardens and orchards.

Aphid midges are more willing to stay in your garden than ladybugs. The adults like honeydew, pollen and nectar, so providing flowers and plants such as dill, mustard, thyme and herbs will keep them around. They are happiest in gardens where there is protection from the wind and where they have areas of soil that is undisturbed to pupate in the soil.

The larvae look like tiny bright orange maggots and feed on more than 60 species of aphids.

 

Companion Planting: Clover

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.

Planting clover around grapes will add nitrogen to the soil which grapes need a lot of. Clover does not grow with henbane or any member of the buttercup family because they secrete a substance through their roots that inhibits the growth of nitrogen bacteria and poisons the soil for clover.

Clover can also be used as a companion plant for orchards to increase nitrogen in the soil.

 

 

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The Lazy Wife Comes Back to Life.

In 1885, W. Atlee Burpee's introduced the Lazy Wife Bean, a completely stringless variety that had been grown by Mennonite immigrants in Bucks County PA for generations, "We presume it derives its name, which seems discourteous, from its immense productiveness making it easy to gather..." Brought to America by German immigrants, these beans were so named because they were the first beans to not require de-stringing! However, Burpee quit carrying this bean variety years ago due to crop failures and this wonderful bean was almost completely lost were it not for Derek Fell, a former Burpee catalog manager who had been saving seed from the original strain for over 5o years.

" My stock seed came from a Burpee farmer / customer named Bill Byrd of Carversville, PA who had saved seed from his Lazy Wife plantings every since Burpee dropped it from their catalog. After Bill passed away, his widow gave me all of Bill's stock seed." said Derek.

Derek describes the Lazy Wife Bean as, "the world's best flavored bean not only for it's rich flavor, but it's plumpness, texture and tenderness."

Very prolific and sets its beans in clusters that are easy to pick, a "lazy" trait that makes them great. The Lazy Housewife is rather a late season pole bean but it is well worth the wait. Picked young, the bean pods are of a delicate texture and brittle, making for a swell snap. The flavor is consistently fine both from early to late season. Many persons have testified that they never ate a bean quite so good in distinct rich flavor. It also makes a great dry or "winter" bean. The Amish used to make "leather britches" out of late beans by stringing them and letting them dry over the mantle of the fireplace where they kept all winter long.

In 2010, Seed Saver's Exchange (See link to left of page under Heirloom Seed Suppliers) received seeds of this authentic Lazy Wife Bean from Derek. The Lazy Housewife Pole Bean is completely stringless, can be used as a shell bean as well, and has a superb flavor. Plants bear continuously until frost. One of the oldest documented beans and very productive, it is recently making a comeback with heirloom seed suppliers. Burpee's description of the bean in their catalog when they carried it was, "the pods are entirely stringless, green, extra fine in flavor, exceedingly rich and buttery when cooked. The seeds are round and polished white in color. Pole habit 80-100 days snap or shell. Late maturing vines bear heavily and continuously until frost.

Beans need well-drained soil and at least 6 - 8 hours of full sun. When all danger of frost is past, and the ground is thoroughly warm, plant beans 1.5" deep, every 3 - 4", firming soil over seeds. Water weekly in dry weather. Planting every 3 weeks until midsummer assures a continuous supply of beans.

The Lazy Wife Bean definitely sounds like one worth trying out. We plan on giving these little gems a try in our greenhouse starting in February. We'll let you know how they do.

 

 

Cool Garden Gadgets:

by Redstone Promotional Communications / Circkles.com

Recycled Glass, Recycled Tin, Powder Coated Iron Metal Hummingbird Feeder.

Measurements: Feeder: 8" H x 5" dia.; Stake: 24" H.;
Hanger: 13" L.

 Of course we love anything made from recycled stuff. Instead of tossing misprinted guava juice tins, artisans have trimmed and transformed the pliable metal into delicate daisy petals that feature, rather than downplay, the tin's exuberant medley of prints in primary colors. At the center of the bloom, curious hummingbirds will discover the flower's nectar reserve, contained in a recycled glass well. Suspend the powder-coated steel spiral hanger or find an open space to stake the feeder in view. Handmade in Mexico and can be purchased from Uncommon Goods. for $34.00.

 

 

 

 

Aquafarm.

Made from Electrical Components, Polypropylene, ABS Thermoplastic, BPA And Phthalate-Free Acrylic. Measurements 12" L x 8" W x 12" H

This would make a great hobby kit for a gift. Heard of aquaponics? We've done a few articles on it. Well this is a mini version of the same principle.
The double-decker combination of garden and fish bowl creates a symbiotic ecosystem. In the top tray, basil, mint, spinach, baby greens, and other edible or decorative plants thrive as nutrient-rich water is circulated past their roots. That process purifies the water, which is then sent back to the 3-gallon tank below, creating a happy, healthy habitat for a betta fish. 

The Aquafarm makes an intriguing visual centerpiece for your own environment, whether that's on a side table or countertop, in an office, classroom or kitchen. Made in Union City, California. The Aquafarm comes with everything needed to get started including organic seeds, a chemical free dechlorinator, and a sampling packet of fish food. Also available from Uncommon Goods for $60,00.

 

 

 

 

Terra Cotta Plant Nanny.

Or as we like to call them, a modern olla. We did an article about 2 years ago on how to make your own ollas, but this handy little gadget does it for you and you can re-purpose glass or plastic bottles as well.

Terracotta spike watering devices are an ingenious and attractive way to provide moisture directly to plant roots. Simply fill a wine bottle (or similar bottle) with water. Place the Plant Nanny over the top of the bottle, then tip the bottle and cone upside down and place in the soil near a plant. Water will seep slowly into the soil through the porous terracotta and the small holes in the base.

Great for watering potted plants while you are gone, and outdoor plants you tend to forget about. There was a very attractive design for the same thing called an Aqua Cone, but they are no longer available for some reason. These are the next best thing and cheaper. You can get a set of 4 for $19.99 from amazon.com.

 

 

 

Pitchfork Table.

Granted, this one you would probably have to make yourself because you won't find it in any catalog or website, however Plow and Hearth has a smaller version of this on their website for $80.00.

To make it from truly recycled parts would be better of course. It would be super easy to make once you have the table top constructed or found, and you would have the added benefit of sticking it in the ground pretty much anywhere. If you can find the type of pitchfork that comes apart in the handle, this is a super easy, one afternoon type, project. Take the pitchfork handle apart and fasten each side with the tabletop in between with heavy bolts. You may need to pre-drill if any part of the handle is metal or wood that splinters.

You can sometimes find old round table tops at antique stores or lawn and garden stores.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natural Insect and Disease Control:

Grasshoppers.

Field mice, rodents and squirrels eat grasshoppers and dig in the dirt for their eggs. Birds eat large numbers of grasshoppers. Pretty much any bird except the strict seed-eaters like doves and pigeons will eat grasshoppers and their eggs. This is a good motivation to have free-range chickens, for they will eat many grasshoppers.

But if you find yourself suddenly having an infestation of grasshoppers, the best way to stop them from chewing up your plants is to cover the plants with mesh row covers or other porous cloth or wire mesh so they cannot reach the plants.
You can also try a few molasses traps where grasshoppers are the worst. Mix one part molasses in ten parts of water and fill buckets with about an inch of this mixture, place them around tall plants that the grasshoppers can climb and then climb into the trap and drown. Place them around the garden or plants you wish to protect to catch the hoppers.

A more sophisticated hopper trap: Take a plastic liter pop bottle and cut the top spout off with about the top 2-3 inches of the bottle so you have a funnel. Place the funnel, inverted, into the hole you just made at the top of the bottle so it makes a trap grasshopper crawl into the funnel end and cannot figure out how to get out. Place a little molasses, water mixture mentioned above in the bottom of the bottle trap to attract them and place the traps on their sides around plants. Hoppers enter the trap but not many can figure out how to get back out. Incidentally, this bottle trap will work for several insects with the right kind of bait, such as flies, mosquitoes and hornets. Plus, it's a great way to re-purpose all those plastic liter pop bottles that end up in landfills and the oceans.

 

© 2015 Redstone Promotional Communications / Circkles.com. All rights reserved to articles and images.

 

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January, 2015
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