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

Garden Circkles:

Sustainable, organic gardening and homesteading tips and techniques.

NOTE** Don't forget our annual Thanksgiving Special Recipe Edition is now available for 2015. Go to our Recipe Club under the "Community" Tab in our Main Menu.

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

We also cover small farming and homesteading articles in this section.

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diatamaceous earth

Natural Insect and Disease Control:

Diatomaceous Earth.

Effective against many crawling insects like slugs, this remedy can be found at most garden centers. It is made from gound skeletons of fosssilized one-celled creatures called diatoms, which lived in oceans. Their shells were made of microscopic silica needles that puncture the bodies of certain insects when they crawl over them. These shells are deposited, sometimes thousands of feet deep, on the floor of ancient seas.

Diatamaceous earth is safe for people, animals, fish, and earthworms who have a different structure from most insects. Their outside mucus protects them from soil treated with diatamaceous earth.

As a dusting poweder, diatamaceous earth will control moths, tomato hornworms, earwigs, slugs, snails, nematodes, weevils, all species of flies, corn worm, mites, thrips and even adult mosquitoes.


Natural insect control for eggplant

Companion Planting: Eggplant.

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.

Sometimes there is an advantage to leaving a few weeds around plants. Redroot pigweed is pretty common in most areas of the U.S. It makes eggplant more resistant to insect attack.

Sprinkling cayenne pepper on wet eggplant leaves will repel caterpillars. If grown among green beans, eggplant will be protected from Colorado potato beetles which like eggplant even more than potato plants.


Organic, Non-GMO and Heirloom Seed Suppliers:

We have ordered from these suppliers and find them to be very reputable, reasonably priced and honest

High Mowing Seeds. High Mowing Organic Seeds has just announced they plan to be the first non-gmo project certified vegetable seed supplier in the U.S. We have ordered from them and are very happy with their service and they seem to have fresh seed that has no problem germinating and a good variety of vegetable and grain seeds.

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.

Seeds Now. Grow Organic with Our Unique Collection of 100% Pure Raw Un-Treated Garden Seeds

Use Us:

We've archived all of our articles, tips and recipes for our readers to access for future reference any time they want. It beats remembering all this stuff.

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.
You can also take advantage of our many clubs where we archive tips and advice from articles to use as a reference guide. See Clubs under the Community Menu.

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


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flower candles gift idea

Holiday Gifts From the Garden.

by Circkles.com.

Every holiday season we do an article on gifts you can give that come from the gardener within. We also do a Christmas Gifts for the Gardener guide in December.

If you are a canner, jelly maker, or preserver of your garden harvests, then you probably have some wonderful edible gifts to give as gifts and you've already done the hard part. But we try to come up with a few garden gifts you may not have already thought of.

floral tea as giftsHow About Dried Flowers?

Gardeners rarely think to save those precious petals before they fade for the season. Before fall, press rose petals and pretty much any other flower petal in books to use in special craft projects for Christmas gifts, or just dry the flowers and keep them in a jar until you can use them for homemade potpourris, herbal sachets, or dried flower centerpieces. You can make interested floral arrangements in jars that look great as a centerpiece for the holidays. Or how about using dried flowers in homemade beeswax candles? Beautiful and lasting.

Floral Teas?

Did you know, that dried grape leaves make an excellent green tea. So do dried raspberry leaves. Add some dried flowers to them for color and you have a very unique, homemade and homegrown gift that will stun your recipients.

Or...How About a Very Unique Flower Jelly? We have a rare recipe below.

Calendula Jelly Recipe:

Makes 3 pints of lemonade-colored jelly

calendula or marigold jelly3 cups of flower petals (snip the petals a scissors right where the green part begins, toss out the green, using the petals only).

Pour boiling water over them, enough to cover them in whatever size bowl you are using and allow to steep and cool for a couple of hours.

Strain well and add enough water to make 4 cups of liquid.

Mix 1 box of low-sugar pectin with 1/2 cup of honey in a small bowl.

Whisk the sugar-pectin mix into the liquid, along with 3T lemon juice, and bring to a hard boil in a large pot.

Whisk in 2 cups more of honey. Return to a hard boil. Boil for one minute. Should be thick enough to slow drip from a spoon.

Poor into sterilized jars and process in a pressure canner according to directions.

Calendula can often blossom right up to a hard frost, so if you plan in advance, you can save some for this holiday gift idea.

See our Recipe Club - Edible Flowers post - for other edible flowers you can use to make jelly with.


pressed flower bookmarksDried Flower or herb Placemats? Or Personalized Bookmarks?

Put your pressed flowers or herbs, or both, between two pieces of laminate cut to the size of table placemats. You can use a piece of fabric or decorative paper as a backdrop for the flowers.

Laminate them and they make a very beautiful, conversational, personal gift to give anyone. This works great for autumn leaves as well. You can sew or glue fringe or another piece of fabric around the edges to hide the edge of the laminate sheets. This is a great project for kids.

pressed flower placemats



raised beds in commercial greenhouse

It's a Good Time to Reinvigorate That Greenhouse.

by Circkles.com

If you have a greenhouse, gardening doesn't stop just because it's winter. However, you can't expect to grow plants in a greenhouse all year, nonstop,p either because your soils will become depleted rather quickly. This is also taking into consideration that you use raised beds in your greenhouse instead of pots to grow in. If your greenhouse plants are looking a little yellow, or have blotchy leaves, weak stems etc, your soils are shot. Depleted soils mean your plants are not producing as much as they could be. Given that greenhouse growers like to get as much produce as they can per square foot, you don't want to hamper that with poorly nourished soils.

We take the down time between our winter greenhouse crops and our summer greenhouse crops to rejuvenate our greenhouse soils. This involves working in lots and lots of compost mostly. You can also grow cover crops for green manure one season then till it under with a small tiller or work it into the soil somehow to add valuable and much needed nitrogen to your greenhouse soils which are usually severely lacking in nitrogen. This works well, but it involves giving up a season of growing plants you can eat, which most greenhouse growers don't like to do unless you could use a few months break from gardening to reinvigorate yourself as well .Buckwheat plants make a good green manure crop for this because they mature incredibly fast. It only takes them about 2 months to reach full maturity, just make sure to work them into the soil before they go to seed or you will have buckwheat growing in your greenhouse.

rejuvenating raised beds in greenhouseAn alternative to growing a green manure crop directly in your greenhouse is to grow it outside, cut it and throw the plants into your greenhouse beds to work into the soil. We like to take our spent pea plants, once we are done harvesting the peas, and use them for green manure. In this way, they serve a dual purpose and peas tend to be done producing by mid summer to early fall anyway, which is perfect timing for using them to boost winter beds in a greenhouse.

If your beds are too full of old, depleted dirt to add anymore to them, remove about 50% of the dirt then top it off with compost. When you water, the compost tea will leach into the bottom soil anyway, so there is really no need to remove all the dirt from your beds every year. Use the old dirt as fill somewhere outside or put it in the bottom of potted plants topped with compost that acts the same way as the leaching effect in your beds. If nothing else, just dump your old, depleted dirt in a pile and mix it with your compost pile to give it new life. If you are like most gardeners, you can never have enough soil or compost.



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November 2015
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