" 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. The best tasting food and most nutritious will always be food you grow yourself. Recent studies are revealing that processed, commercially grown food is unhealthy for many reasons not to mention chemical contamination is high in commercially grown foods.

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.

 

adult robber fly

Beneficial Bugs:

Robber Flies
Order: Diptera. Family: Syrphidae

Some robber flies are chunky and look a bit like bumble bees, but in general, they are slender and look a bit like damsel flies. They eat flies, bees, beetles and grasshoppers by dropping down on them from above. Robber flies are also rarely affected by other insect's natural defenses.

The face of a robber fly looks bearded and like it is hollow between their bulging eyes. Usually 1/5 to 1 1/4 inches in size, they are usually found in meadows across the U.S. The larvae or maggots live in decaying wood or in the soil and feed on beetle larvae.

 

Natural Insect and Disease Control:

Hydrogen Peroxide.

The chemical compound H2O2 is more commonly known in households across America as hydrogen peroxide. It is similar to water -- H20 -- and when applied to the soil, breaks down into water and oxygen. At low strengths, it can provide an effective barrier to many of the pests that traditionally attack gardens. It is also an effective sterilizer for garden tools, plant pots and trays, and other items you wish to reuse in the garden without danger of disease.

Soaking seeds in a mild solution of hydrogen peroxide may prevent animals from digging them up and eating them, and may also keep worms and insects from attacking them. Spraying leaves consistently after rain can discourage pests from eating leaves and fruits, and does not leave a harmful residue on edibles. You can even spray hydrogen peroxide into a hole before planting to protect the roots of the plant. A good solution is 1 ounce of 40 percent strength hydrogen peroxide per gallon of fresh water. This may also work as a preventative for blights, mildews and other diseases.

Root rot is caused by a variety of opportunistic fungi that attack the roots of plants, usually in environments with too much water and too little oxygen around the plant roots. This weakens them and makes them susceptible to attack, whereas increasing oxygen levels and decreasing water can reverse the problem. You can combat root rot, which causes slimy root systems and dropping leaves, by watering plants with hydrogen peroxide rather than water. The substance breaks down into one water molecule and one available oxygen atom, increasing the amount of oxygen around the roots.

 

Companion Planting: Plants that are good for a compost pile.

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.

Certain plants added to a compost pile can assist it to break down quicker or add nutrients to it. Dandelion is high in iron and absorbs two to three times as much of this mineral as any other herb/weed.
Nettles are also high in iron and will help start or speed up the fermentation process of a compost pile. Like comfrey, nettles have a carbon-nitrogen ratio similar to manure.
Salad burnett is rich in magnesium, sheep sorrel is high in phosphorus, chicory, goosegrass and bulbous buttercup are high in potassium. Horsetail, ribwort and bush vetch store cobalt and thistles have trace elements of copper.
So if you know your soil is lacking in some of these nutrients, make a conscious effort to add these plants to your compost pile where they will help.

 

 

 

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moringa tree

Growing Moringa: A Vitamin Powerhouse.

by Redstone Promotional Communications / Circkles.com

Native to the Himalayan foothills, this plant is prized for its very high-protein leaves, its rich concentration of minerals and vitamins and its heavy load of anti-oxidants! A recent addition to today's roster of "Super foods," moringa has been used for centuries in its native land, where the people have long appreciated its many uses; Greek and Roman doctors wrote extensively about this tree! This incredibly valuable tree can be overwintered indoors, or grown as a long-season annual. Leaves, blooms, seeds and immature seedpods called "drumsticks," are edible; seeds are source of a high quality oil. Planted in increasing numbers throughout the tropics where its amazing nutrition, quick growth and ability to thrive even in poor and dry soil are a potent weapon in the war on malnutrition (WARNING: Roots are reputed to be poisonous, do not eat!)

Cultivation requires warm conditions, adequate moisture, excellent drainage and full sun. Sow seeds in prepared soil in spring, no more than an inch deep. Sprouts should appear in 2-3 weeks. May be carefully transplanted outdoors after frost. Blooms within 8 months. Direct sowing is preferred where the frost-free season is long enough. Pinch growing tips for more compact growth. Un-pruned, can reach 30 feet in height. Tolerates only the lightest frost, overwinter plants in frost-free conditions. If kept pruned for compact growth, this tree could possible grow in a greenhouse or as a potted plant that is brought in the house for the winter. We will be experimenting with it this year and will keep you posted on its progress as a greenhouse or potted plant. You can now buy seeds of this incredible tree from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (see link under Seed Suppliers to the left.) In any event, this plant is worth checking out for any grower. See the video below for more extensive information.

what moringo is good forBenefits of Moringa:

Moringa trees in Hawaii produce about 3 g of kernel per dry pod.

Moringa is used for “tired blood” (anemia); arthritis and other joint pain (rheumatism); asthma; cancer; constipation; diabetes; diarrhea; epilepsy; stomach pain; stomach and intestinal ulcers; intestinal spasms; headache; heart problems; high blood pressure; kidney stones; fluid retention; thyroid disorders; and bacterial, fungal, viral, and parasitic infections.

Moringa is also used to reduce swelling, increase sex drive (as an aphrodisiac), prevent pregnancy, boost the immune system, and increase breast milk production. Some people use it as a nutritional supplement or tonic.

Moringa is sometimes applied directly to the skin as a germ-killer or drying agent (astringent). It is also used topically for treating pockets of infection (abscesses), athlete’s foot, dandruff, gum disease (gingivitis), snakebites, warts, and wounds.

Oil from moringa seeds is used in foods, perfume, and hair care products, and as a machine lubricant.

Moringa is an important food source in some parts of the world. Because it can be grown cheaply and easily, and the leaves retain lots of vitamins and minerals when dried, moringa is used in India and Africa in feeding programs to fight malnutrition. The immature green pods (drumsticks) are prepared similarly to green beans, while the seeds are removed from more mature pods and cooked like peas or roasted like nuts. The leaves are cooked and used like spinach, and they are also dried and powdered for use as a condiment.

The seed cake remaining after oil extraction is used as a fertilizer and also to purify well water and to remove salt from seawater.

WARNING: The leaves, fruit, and seeds are safe when eaten as food, however, it’s important to avoid eating the root and its extracts. These parts of the plant may contain a toxic substance that can cause paralysis and death. Moringa has been used safely in doses up to 6 grams daily for up to 3 weeks.

 

 

 

 

building a cold frame

Building a Cold Frame.

by Redstone Promotional Communications / Circkles.com

By now, most avid gardeners have started their seed indoors and already have small shoots coming up. Greenhouse growers may already have their summer crops started. Having a cold frame can lengthen your growing season by at least 2 months depending on your climate. The cold frame above is a pretty elaborate one and very nice-looking; it will last for years. There are less sophisticated cold frames made of plastic that you can buy, however, they do not hold up to heavy snows well or wind, and do not look nearly as nice as this one. We will give you the steps to build one like this, from an old window frame you can pick up at a recycled building supply center or antique store, but you can certainly substitute whatever materials you have at your disposal.

Step 1. This frame is slightly tapered from front to back to allow the most sunshine into the cold frame and so water or snow will not pool on top. So you will have to cut the sides at a taper. This cold frame is approximately 8 inches deep, but since it sits on the ground, you can use the ground as insulation and dig a hole as deep as you like and put the cold frame over the top of the hole. You do not have to taper it if building it without a taper is easier for you.

Step 2. Measure the length of your window or windows to get the length of the boards you will need for the front and back. You can use one 2x4 in the front and 2 2x4s stacked on top of each other for the back or redwood would hold up the best. If using redwood you can get a 2x4 for the front and a 2x10 or 12 for the back or stack two 2x6s. Whatever you choose to use, cut the boards to the length you need to accommodate the window size.

Step 3. Since the sides are tapered, the boards you will use for the sides should be cut shorter than the window is wide. Cut three side boards the width of the window first , then as shown in the photo at the left, drawn a line from corner to the oppostie corner on one of the boards and cut it diagonally. Now you have two diagonal pieces that will serve as the top boards for each side. Now butt the boards up against the width edge of the window on a flat surface and use the window as a guide to measure the length you need these side boards to be. Now cut them to the shorter length needed to accommodate the tapering of the window lid.

Step 4. The frame's side battens (the pieces that act like braces in the inside of the frame) must follow the side taper so that the lid can close, or, simply cut them 1/8 to 1/4 inch shorter so they are recessed slightly from the top and don't get in the way of the window when it's used as a lid. To get the top angles for these battens - if you wish to angle them and mount them flush on top like the diagram above- lay your batten boards on a flat surface and lay your side boards on top of them, flush at the bottom with the tapered board on the top and butted up again the bottom board just like they were already screwed together to make a side. You will be using them as a pattern or stencil. Now trace the angle of the taper onto your batten boards with a pencil. Remember to allow for the thickness of the back batten that fits behind the side batten (see photo below) by keeping it the width of the wood away from the board edge before you draw your line for the top angle.

Step 5. Cut the bevel. Now cut the batten to length so that it's flush with the bottom of the frame. Repeat for a second batten. If the plants you want to grow are taller than what would fit in this frame, you can make your version higher by adding a plank to each side and sizing the battens accordingly.

Step 6. Screw the battens to the side boards and then screw the side boards together to build a box as shown in the photo to the right. Attach the front board with two screws through its ends and into the edge of the short battens.

Step 7. Screw removable-pin hinges into the battens on the inside corners. This lets you remove the assembly screws, take out the pins, and easily break down the frame for storage.

Step 8. Level the ground where you will be placing the frame. Set the frame in place and lift each side to slip pavers beneath it to create a sturdy foundation. The bottom edge of the frame should rest on the center line of the pavers. Re-sand, stain or paint the window as necessary. Set the window in place so that its edges are flush with the frame. Screw two strap hinges to the back edge of the window and the back of the frame, as shown. Cut several pieces of ½-inch dowel at varying lengths. They can be used to prop up the window for ventilation or to keep plants from overheating on sunny days.

Photos courtesy of This Old House.

 

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March 2015
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