" 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

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beneficial earthworm

Beneficial Bugs: Earthworms.

Class: Chilopoda

From the time we are kids, we are told that worms are good for the garden and soil, but we rarely are ever told why. Earthworms can eat their weight in decaying plant matter every day. That thick band you see toward one end of their bodies is the area that holds their reproductive organs. Two worms become impregnated by each other and offspring can live for 10-12 years.

Earthworm castings (excrement) greatly improve the texture and mineral content of the soil. They are high in phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium, all minerals many soils would lack without these soil dwellers.

To encourage worms in your garden, make sure to add plenty of compost to keep them in your garden soil. If they do not have organic matter in the soil to feed on, they will go elsewhere.

 

spider mites on a plant

Natural Insect and Disease Control:

Spider Mites:

About a month ago we published an article on spider mite control using a flour mixture sprayed through a high-pressured sprayer, however, not many people have access to such a sprayer and success with getting the mixture thin enough would be a challenge and a lot of work at best.

Meanwhile, we have tested another control for spider mites that works much better and is easier to apply. Mix neem oil with hot water in a spray bottle about 3 dropperfuls of neem to 2 cups hot water. To this add 1-2 drops of dishwashing liquid. Shake well before each use and spray the mites and their webs with it. You may have to re-apply it several times since the mites move around quite a bit and it's impossible to spray them all. This remedy will keep them in check enough so as to not kill plants, but in order to really get rid of them, you must also remove any dead plants in the all that they may be hiding in.

day lilies

Companion Planting: Daylily.

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.

One little known fact about daylilies is that they are edible. Buds and blossoms can be sautéed in butter, added to squash dishes or tomato dishes. They can also be dipped in batter and deep fried like squash blossoms.

As a companion plant, they are good to plant on a hill to prevent erosion or on a slope that is too steep to mow.

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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 also archive tips and advice from articles to use as a reference. See Clubs under the Hangout Menu.

See our Local Circkles pages under the Main Menu 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.

 

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fall harvest

Best U.S Harvest Festivals.

by Circkles.com.

Tis the time of year when night temperatures are getting cooler, days are starting to get shorter and we look toward the changing color of the leaves as the first signals that autumn is on the way. Farmers and gardeners are busy bringing in the fruits of their labors. Pumpkins, squash, corn, apples and most of the agricultural produce is harvested in August and September, so this makes a perfect time to also find the best harvest festivals.

Harvest festivals got their start by ancient civilizations celebrating and being thankful for the bounty from the earth. Today, they make a great excuse to sample local fresh produce, support local growers and just have fun while being thankful. The following are considered to be some of the best harvest festivals in the U.S.

BAYFIELD APPLE FESTIVAL. Bayfield, WI. When, October 2-4, 2015, 10am-5pm.

 For small town atmosphere with a spirited presence, visit the Bayfield Apple Festival in Bayfield, Wisconsin. The festival features over 60 orchard and food booths offering Bayfield apples and apple-inspired delicacies, and also showcases some of the area’s finest art. Visitors can drive five minutes outside of town to tour 14 local orchards and pick their own apples and pumpkins.

CRANBERRY HARVEST CELEBRATION. Wareham, MA. When, October 10-11, 2015

Cranberry growers from throughout Cape Cod and southeastern Massachusetts gather each year for the Cranberry Harvest Celebration in Wareham. Growers share their crop with the public, and the festival offers everything from juried crafters and cooking demonstrations to musical performances and children’s rides. The best part? Visitors can buy fresh cranberries and freeze them to use while making their Thanksgiving feast.

HARVEST FESTIVAL. Santa Fe, NM. October 3-4, 2015, 10am-4pm.

Help local villagers bring in the fall harvest at Santa Fe’s annual Harvest Festival. Visitors can participate in every aspect of the harvest, from grape stomping and tortilla making, to bread baking and stringing chile ristras. By the end of the festival, you’ll feel like you’re living on the early New Mexican frontier.

HOOD RIVER COUNTY HARVEST FEST.  Hood River, OR. October 16-18, 2015

 Overlooking the Columbia River, the Hood River County Harvest Fest provides visitors with a taste of Hood River Valley bounty. The festival features a wide variety of fresh, local produce, and also includes arts and crafts, wine and beer tastings, and locally prepared food products. Visitors can find everything from Anjou pears and heirloom apples to homemade jams and chocolate covered cherries. All-day music, evening entertainment and a kids’ zone make the festival fun for the whole family.

KEENE PUMPKIN FESTIVAL. Keene, NH. October 17, 2015

 Walk through towers of pumpkins and streets lined with jack-o’-lanterns at the Keene Pumpkin Festival. Held two weekends before Halloween, the festival features pumpkin-themed events including a pumpkin mile run race, jack-o’-lantern carvings and pumpkin bowling. Visit the Food & Craft Court to try pumpkin-inspired foods, and browse over three-dozen artisans’ crafts and paintings.

MAINE HARVEST FESTIVAL. Bangor, ME.  
November 14-15, 2015. 10am-4pm.

Sample the best of Maine’s food and produce at the Maine Harvest Festival in Bangor. The festival includes live cooking demonstrations, wine and beer tastings, and a variety of local vendors. Visitors can purchase holiday gifts and sample local specialties like whoopie pies and smoked Atlantic salmon. Guests can also participate in the Maine Alpaca Association’s “Alpaca 101” seminar, and learn more about the state’s growing alpaca fiber industry.

MOUNTAIN HARVEST FESTIVAL. Paonia, CO. September 24-27, 2015

The annual Mountain Harvest Festival has been celebrating the lifestyle of the North Fork Valley of Western Colorado since 2001. Enjoy 3 sparkling autumn days of music, art, performance, good food and local products. From musical workshops to poetry readings to wine tastings, the festival offers a rich assortment of inspiring events. 

NATIONAL APPLE HARVEST FESTIVAL. Arendtsville, PA. October 3-4 and 10-11, 2015

 History buffs will enjoy the National Apple Harvest Festival, held the first two weekends of October. The festival, which is located in the heart of Pennsylvania Apple country near historic Gettysburg, and is within a two hour drive of Washington DC, Baltimore MD, and Harrisburg PA., features more than 300 arts and crafts vendors, live entertainment, hayrides and apple bobbing contests. Visitors can also enjoy live demonstrations, including Native American dancing, tractor square dancing and chainsaw carvings.

NEBRASKA CITY APPLEJACK FESTIVAL. Nebraska City, NE. September 18-20, 2015

Traditionally held the third weekend of September, the Nebraska City AppleJack Festival celebrates the city’s apple harvest. Visitors can pick their own apples at local orchards, sample apple treats, or stop by the AppleJam Carnival for rides, games, face painting and food. The festival also features a parade with over 30 marching bands, arts and crafts exhibits and a pie-baking contest.

NORTH CAROLINA PECAN HARVEST FESTIVAL. Whiteville, NC. November 7, 2015

For a unique taste of the fall harvest, visit the North Carolina Pecan Harvest Festival in Whiteville. The county is one of the top pecan producers in North Carolina, and celebrates the nut harvest at its annual fall festival. The festival features a pecan parade, 5k run, pecan cooking contest and pecan queen coronation. Visitors can also browse arts and crafts displays, and listen to music from rhythm and blues bands.

SONOMA HARVEST FAIR. Santa Rosa, CA. October 2-4, 2015

Every October, visitors flock to the heart of California wine country to visit the Sonoma Harvest Fair. The festival features three days of wine tasting from more than 150 local wineries, artisanal products and delicious food pairings. Don’t miss the World Championship Grape Stomp, where teams go head-to-head to produce record numbers of juice.

STONE BARNS HARVEST FEST. Pocantico Hills, NY. Saturday, October 3, 2015

 Less than an hour away from New York City is Stone Barns Harvest Fest. The festival, held on Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, features a farmer’s market with local, seasonal fare, hayrides, live music and a square dance. The festival is also a fundraiser for Stone Barns Center, and all proceeds support the Center’s mission of improving American agriculture and nutrition.

SUN VALLEY HARVEST FESTIVAL. Sun Valley, ID. September 18-21, 2015

Otherwise known as “Foodie Heaven,” the Sun Valley Harvest Festival offers the best of Sun Valley food and wine. The festival features demonstrations from celebrated chefs, a marketplace with products from regional farmers, tasting sessions with seasonal, local food. Visitors can also participate in the festival’s “Restaurant Walk,” which showcases local restaurants, wines and regional fare. 

Of course, there are hundreds more local fall and harvest festivals. Do an online search in your area and you will probably find one. Happy Harvesting!

 

china asters

China Aster. Callistephus chinensis.

by Circkles.com

If you are looking for some bright, beautiful, deep colored flowers for fall, China Asters can't be beat. They have the deepest, most vibrant colors of any flower and are easy to grow. The China blend offers daisy-like annual flowers of a stunning variety in candy colors like purple, pink, red and white. They make gorgeous, long-lasting cut flower arrangements too, but the best way to enjoy them is as a tall accent flower in the back of a flower bed.

powder puff astersChina asters grow 24-30 inches tall and should be started in peat or pulp pots to minimize transplant shock when you plant them in the garden. Start them indoors in front of a sunny window about 6-8 weeks before putting them in their permanent garden location. You can also direct seed them 1-2 weeks after your average last frost date.

Callistephus chinensis come is a couple different varieties: the single petal and multi-petal often labeled as "powderpuff asters." Both varieties require full sun and moderate moisture, but that is about it. Then are fairly low maintenance. Getting them started from seed is the only challenging part about growing these beauties. Keep the soil moist until they germinate, with the seeds about 1/8 deep in the soil. Mulching them to keep the soil evenly moist until they sprout works well.

Bumble bees seem to like them, but other than that, they are not bothered by insects or pests; being a member of the aster family, which most plant-eating insects do not like. Save the seeds in the late fall before they are scattered about in winter and you will have a never-ending supply of these sunny little faces for years to come.

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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. 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. 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.

September 2015
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