Friday, June 6, 2014
Even though the technique of seed saving might be relatively new to most people, the truth is that seed saving is an old tradition just like gardening. Some gardeners consider seeds obtained from their most favorite plants as treasures that are worth saving for years. Nowadays, seedlings and seeds are quite inexpensive, and you might be left asking yourself while you still need to save seeds after all. However, as you shall soon realize, seed saving comes with a plethora of benefits that you should take full advantage of.
Why save seeds?
To start with, seed saving gives you an opportunity of being able to keep on hanging on your most favorite seed variety. In addition, it will also help keep money in your wallet since you don’t have to keep buying a new stock of seeds every season. While seeds are of course not expensive as such, buying them regularly might end up costing you a lot of money in the long run. If there is a plant that you really love, you will be able to grow it again and again from your original seeds which you have saved.
Such could probably be a champion pumpkin, a deliciously tasting tomato or the blue Campanula. This will save you from surprises of knowing that your local seed company has discontinued your most favorite seed in their efforts of paving way for a new variety. In the unlikely event that this happens, your saved seeds will give you a guarantee that you will continue planting and harvesting your most favorite seeds.
Which seeds can you save?
Not all seeds can actually be saved and it is essential that you know what can be saved and what can’t. Self pollinated plants, the so called open pollinated plants or Heirloom are the only plant varieties which truly grow from seeds. This means that their seedlings are usually exactly the same like their parents and such seeds are worth saving. When it comes to hybridized seeds, these ones tend to grow into a large variety of plants that depict characteristics of either of the parents or both of them at times. Most of the plants being sold today are actually hybrids. Hybridizing helps in creating plants that have desirable traits and this can really give the seed company some job security.
For hybrids, seed saving isn't really an option as such unless if you are a researcher and are interested in discovering something new. In addition, wind or insect pollinated plants might be cross pollinated with other plants when growing and this means that saved seeds might not grow true. If you really need to save seeds of such plants, you will need to do it a little carefully to ensure that you get the best results. Self pollinated plants like tomatoes, lettuce, beans, endive, chicory and peas are the easiest types of plants to save. Seeds of most heirloom flowers can also be saved such as cleome, hollyhock, foxgloves, sweet pea, zinnia and nasturtium.
How to time and save seeds
When you want to save seeds, always pick plants, vegetables, flowers and fruits of the best quality only. Make sure that you look for plants with seeds that are disease resistance, those with a great flavor, enhanced productivity and vigor. Keep in mind the fact that the plants that you sow next year will be as good as the current year’s seeds. Harvest seeds for saving once the seed pods are dried completely for plants like lettuce, beans, broccoli and flowers. Always keep checking the pods and harvest the seeds after they have started turning brown. In most cases, seed pods send to open and then disperse all by their own without needing any intervention.
If you are saving seeds of vegetables, do after the vegetable has ripened fully in case of eggplant, squash, tomatoes and peppers. Such vegetables will already be past their acceptable edible stage and the seeds will be ready. In most vegetables, you just need to scoop the seeds out and then dry them for saving. As far as saving potato seeds is concerned, a wet method of processing is required.
How to store saved seeds
Saved seeds must be stored in the best environment possible to ensure that they remain in the best condition possible. To start with, ensure that the seeds you intend to save are dry completely otherwise it will just mold or rot in storage. Make sure that you remove chaff from the seeds and remove as much of it as possible. Store the seeds in a clean paper envelope that is well labeled with the year and seed variety. The envelopes containing the seeds need to be saving in air tight containers like a canning jar. Store them in a place that is dry and cool. Don’t store them for too long and ensure you use them the next year.
Saving seeds can become one of your best hobbies sooner than later particularly if you do it on a couple of times. Adopting the practice of growing plants that come from saved seeds will assure you plants that are adapted uniquely to your garden and your seeds will even become much more valuable after time. Remember that the quality of seeds you save will be reflected in the quality of plants that you will be seeing in your garden next year. It is thus important that you select only the best quality seeds for saving.
If you plan to collect seeds this year for saving, make sure that you start with the varieties and species of seeds, which offer you the best chance possible of success. When saving seeds, make sure that you use open pollinated or heirloom varieties, and you will be assured of the best results when you plant the seeds in your garden. Most plants will grow true upon planting saved seeds and plants like beans, tomatoes and chicory will assure you a great yielding success from your saved seeds.
Sunday, June 1, 2014
Providing food, nesting materials, nesting boxes and a seemingly natural habitat with adequate water supply are all crucial when it comes to attracting bees to your backyard. This will give you a much nicer view of these beautiful birds and if you do it properly, you will make the life of these birds incredibly easier. Seeing your backyard full of many different types of beautiful birds is something which your entire family will enjoy seeing. A recent study showed that about 80 percent of birds in US live in private hands. Here are some few things that you will need to do in order to attract a large number of birds to your backyard.
Install a bird feeder
The first and most important thing in attracting birds to your backyard is by installing a bird feeder. You must select the right feeders and identify foods that appeal to your birds greatly so that you can attract more of the birds. Good maintenance of the feeders is also essential as this will help ensure that the birds continue living at your backyard for long without flying away. Your feeders must also include appealing food items like eggshells, mealworms and fruits. These kinds of foods provide your birds with extra nourishment.
Provide running water
As birds are migrating, they will hear the sweet sound of cool running water in your pond or birdbath and they will be attracted to them. Birds need plenty of water not just to drink but also for taking a quick dip as well. Most of these migrants which visit birdbaths fitted with running water get to eat the insects and such include warblers, flycatchers, vireos, thrashers and thrushes. During the hot summer season, birds are more likely to spend most of their time in a pool of water and this is a great way to have them in your backyard for long.
The best time to clean the bird houses is in the early fall where you will also be able to make all the necessary repairs that you want to bird houses as you prepare for hosting species, which roost during winter and fall. Old nests are well known for their ability of attracting parasites and insects and you should have them removed just before the winter residents have moved in. In most places, chickadees, winter wrens, bluebirds and nuthatches are known for taking up residence at night in the bird houses as a way of keeping safe and warm.
Put up nest boxes
Some birds like chickadees and woodpeckers tend to excavate cavities in trunks of trees for roosting and nesting. Many other bird species like bluebirds, wrens and some owls and ducks tend to nest in cavities made by other birds. Putting up nest boxes will attract birds in your yard as you will be providing them with a perfect place where they can raise their young ones. Shop for nest boxes with the best features and place them in an appropriate place where the birds are not exposed to predators.
Evergreens make the perfect cover for birds, particularly during winter and in the fall. When you plant evergreens near birdbaths and feeders, they will really help a lot in attracting migrants by providing them with a natural cover. This is very important as it increases their safety factor particularly after those deciduous birds have lost their leaves and can no longer provide the birds with the kind of protection they need. As such, make a point of ensuring that your backyard is full of evergreens and birds will certainly be a great friend to you.
Make sure that you save some twigs and branches and then pile them at a corner of your yard at a place where they are going to be less intrusive. This will help in creating cover for birds. A majority of birds usually prefer ground habits like tree sparrows, white throated sparrows and the dark eyed juncos at they will make use of the brush piles for night roosting and ensure that they stay safe from the predators.
Provide insect feeders with foods
Not all birds that come to your backyard eat seeds. There are those that feed on fruits and insects and will only visit your backyard if you are able to provide them with the kind of food they need. Birds such as cedar waxwings, northern mockingbirds, American robins and even woodpeckers will mostly feed on jelly, berries and apples from containers. Others like robins, bluebirds, some woodpeckers and mocking birds tend to eat live mealworms. You can buy such food from your local pet supply store and serve it to the birds in tray feeders.
Have more feeders
Make sure that your backyard is full of feeders, particularly during autumn when more birds are expected. Besides increasing the number of feeders, make sure that you have different kinds of them as well. As temperatures continue to drop, the birds will start to eat more and more food so that they can boost their body temperature. To ensure that you attract a large number of birds to your backyard, ensure that you provide them with a large variety of suet feeders and seeds. Some birds like northern cardinals tend to prefer tray feeders while other birds like sparrows prefer feeding near or on the ground.
Remember that while attracting birds to your backyard is full of many rewards, you should also be ready with responsibilities that come with it too. Ranging from a lot of starlings to many woodpecker holes at your house, it is essential that you learn how to deal with such problems. Furthermore, keep in mind the fact that how you landscape your backyard plays a very crucial role on whether you will be able to attract or scare away birds. You will need to deal with weeds and insects in the best way in order to make your backyard a haven for many different types of birds.
Considering that the numbers of honey bees have been declining sharply in the recent past, it is something that you do something unique to ensure that they notice your organic garden. This is because if you just wait for them to naturally find their way into your farm, you might have to wait for ages to no avail. Fortunately, it is really not so hard to honey attract bees to your organic garden and some few tricks will really do. You just need to make your garden bee friendly and you will see a large swam of them flocking at your garden. This will go a long way in helping restore the hard hit populations of honeybee and will also ensure that your garden has hefty, healthy bee pollinated crops now and then.
Attracting bees is something that every gardener should consider doing as there are more advantages that come with it. This will considerably help prevent complete disappearance of honey bees. Your organic garden should have a conducive environment, which encourages the bees to visit your organic garden and make them feel at home always. To do so, there are a number of few things that you will need to provide in your garden so that you can attract the bees.
Provide reliable water
One of the things that bees need in reliable and abundant supply is water, particularly during the honey season. Honey bees make use of water for cooling their hives as well as diluting the honey which they use for feeding to their larvae. In fact, scientists have realized that during those extremely hot days, bees tend to spend most of their time ferrying water to their hives instead of foraging nectar and foreign. As such, honey bees will naturally be attracted to an organic garden that has a reliable and abundant water supply throughout.
In this regard, make sure that your garden has a shallow water pond and the bees will be landing there to collect water. Grow lilies or place rocks in the deeper waters so that your bees can have a safe water drinking platform. By so doing, honey bees will easily flock into your land and carry along the sweet honey along with them.
Plant ornamental plants
Perhaps the most important things you can do in your efforts of attracting honey bees to your garden is by planting ornamental plants. Such plants can easily direct honey bees into your garden. However, you will need to keep in mind the fact that not every flower will do and you will need to plant the right kinds of ornamental plants. As far as attracting honey bee to your garden is concerned, you will certainly need plant lures, which are capable of producing a large amount of nectar and pollen. Honey bees are known to identify desirable flowers in the garden by shape, smell and color. So, you will need to do your homework very well to identify the best plants to grow in your garden.
One of the most interesting things you should know is that bees are only capable of clearly perceiving just four colors, i.e. yellow, blue, ultra- violet and blue green. Yellow is arguably the color you will find in most pollen and it is a top favorite for honey bees. You will thus need to ensure that you have numerous ornamental plants in your farm with yellow pollen and this will act as a green light for the bees. You also need to remember that no matter the color of the pollen, if a blossom isn’t capable of providing nectar or pollen in large amounts, bees are going to ignore it totally. Interestingly, most of the modern plant ornamentals like hybrid roses are no longer capable of producing sufficient amount of nectar and pollen. In this regard, consider planting the heirloom or old- fashioned varieties and you will see bees streaming into your garden.
Once you have succeeded in attracting bees to your organic garden, you will need to do your level best to ensure that you provide your bees with adequate protection by eliminating any kind of danger or threat from them. The main danger that honey bees can be exposed to be use of chemicals like pesticides in the garden. You will thus need to remain totally organic and completely spray free in your garden. Use of simple home remedies when controlling pests in your organic garden can really go a long way in saving the bees.
You will need to know which plants are capable of attracting bees in the best way and plant plenty of them in your garden. Remember that honey bees usually emerge just at the right time so that they can gather nectar and pollen from certain crops. The bees will only forage for just a couple of few weeks and it is thus very important that you ensure your garden has different types of flowers blooming all summer long.
Many herbs and vegetables are capable of attracting honeybees and it is essential that you plant them in plenty in your farm. This is also the same case with most of the easy to grow perennial and annual flowers, trees and flowering shrubs. Once you have found natural bee magnets, make sure that you grow them in plenty. This will help ensure that bees come to your organic garden to stay and bless you with honey.
Coyotes are a common canine species that exist in most places today. They tend to travel and live in large groups that are known as bands, routs or packs even though they mainly hunt in pairs. Recent times have seen coyotes adapt to life in urban areas and are able to thrive well in such places. The activities off humans have been driving them to relatively more nocturnal behavior even though you might still observe them during daylight hours. There are times when they will even mate with your domestic dogs thus resulting in hybrids known as coy dogs, which can pose a great threat to your lives, especially chicken.
Coyotes are generally opportunistic and tenacious predators, which can easily wreak great havoc on your chicken if you are not careful. They not only hunt because they feel hungry but will do so if an opportunity presents itself. Chicken buffets that are laid out in the convenience and easy access area attracts not just lone coyote killers but also a pack of coyotes that can invade your poultry farm mercilessly. They usually attack and kill chickens, mainly by going for jugular areas. Once they have killed the chicken, they will then drag it away from its coop and will it elsewhere.
A coyote that is in serious hunger and really needs food won’t hesitate to even stay and hunt in your poultry farm. If you are not careful, you might be surprised to find that coyotes have already taken and consumed your entire flock of chicken. Be keen to check regularly if there are signs of coyote tracks and struggle around your coop so that you can be sure that your chicken are being harmed by coyotes. To protect your chicken from attacks by coyotes, here are some few things that you will need to do in order to enhance the safety of your chicken.
1-To start with, make sure that you train your chicken to always return to the coop in the evening. Be sure to check and head count your chicken to be sure that they are all in before you close it up for the night.
2-Next, make sure that you raise your chicken coop by building it off the ground at least by a food. This will also help in discouraging skunks, rats and snakes among other rodents from creating a residence between the coop and stealing your eggs and even chicks. Ensure that the floor of your hen house is tight and that any holes are completely patched to ensure that rats and snakes don’t get through.
3-Make sure that you build your coop in an enclosed and secure poultry run in order to discourage coyotes, dogs and bobcats among other cats that can access your flock and wreck havoc on them. You can do so by using poultry wire, electric netting, welded wire mesh and other fencing materials that can sufficiently block all the small openings. This will go a long way in ensuring that predators like coyotes stay off your chicken coop. The enclosure needs to be built appropriately tall and if possible make sure that you add a covering net to ensure that varmints do not vault the fence.
4-Use welded wire fencing to cover the chicken coop or even game bird netting or chicken wire. If possible, install random crisscrossing wires and this will help ensure that coyotes don’t make a buffet or dinner out of your chicken. Make sure that your chickens are properly shut in your coop at night and you won’t have to worry about coyote attacks. However, remember that hungry coyotes can be quite cagey and might grab their meal just after dark before you close up your coop. So, ensure that you close your chicken coop immediately when you have checked and confirmed that all chicken are in.
5-When enclosing chicken coops, consider doing so with small wire mesh fencing materials to ensure that coyotes cannot get away through. Coyotes are well known for their ability of reaching via large meshed chicken wore and they end up killing the chickens which they are able to snag. If you have built your chicken coop with mesh fully, ensure that you pick and use the right kind of wire that offers your chicken complete protection.
6-Coyotes are very notorious for even digging up beneath the surface fencing. Where this is the case, you can manage to mitigate the problem by burying galvanized hardware cloth and other welded wire around the perimeter of your coop. This will help discourage coyotes from digging up your chicken coop and perhaps reaching your chicken.
7-Make sure that you install a night light and if possible, motion sensor activated, which will flood your chicken coop with light, particularly at night after darkness sets in. There are some good predator deterrent lights that you can even buy at your local store and this will help a lot in keeping coyotes away from your coop.
8-Have chicken friendly dogs that can guard your chicken at night. However, be sure that the dogs are not tempted to squawk your chickens or run after them. They will be able to protect your chicken at night when coyote shows up at least before you arrive to save your chicken.
9-Always be prepared to be able to take the swiftest action possible once you discover predation of your chicken by coyotes. There are many measures that you can take to limit the access of coyotes to your chicken coop.
As always, prevention is always better than cure and the best way to keep away coyotes from your chicken coop is by ensuring that your chicken coop is coyote proof. Ensure your coop is less attractive to coyotes as much as possible by eliminating garbage and dog food from your coop. These can attract coyotes and bring them closer to your chicken
If you thought that farm fresh products are just meant for people living out there in the country, then you are absolutely wrong. Vegetable gardening has become a common hobby for most urban dwellers today. One of the newest tends today is that of raising chickens in the city for fresh eggs. It is now been referred by many as the ‘city chicken movement’ and it seems to be gaining a lot of ground in many cities across the globe. Rearing chicken assures you of home grown, healthy meat and eggs, pest control, companionship and nitrogen rich fertilizer.
Check your local city laws
Roosters are considered to be noisy and for this reason, there might be laws about raising them in the city since they can be a nuisance. There are other cities where the number of possible chickens that one can rear is limited and you will need to be well conversant with this as well. Some cities have a very strong farming culture in which case no licenses or laws exist about it.
Do your research about the number of chickens to raise and breed
To be successful as you raise chickens in the city for eggs, you will need to do your homework very well. Most importantly, you will need to know about which breed of chicken can do great in your city depending on the prevailing conditions and other factors. You might want to consider the egg laying prowess of the chicken since you will need to raise only chickens that have a great potential of raising more eggs. Some breeds of chickens are friendly layers such as Barred Plymouth Rocks and Rhode Island Reds and these ones are a great choice to start with.
The internet is a hub of tons and tons of info on the best egg laying chickens that you can raise in the city. So, just surf online for these breeds and you will be thrilled to find that there are so many of them to choose from. Now, after you have made up your mind on the best breed of chickens to rear, you will also need to consider the number of chickens that you can comfortably raise on your available space. Be keen not to bring more chicken than your available space can accommodate as this will mean less productivity.
Build a good chicken coop
A chicken coop is a place where chickens usually spend the night and lay eggs. Also, this is where they will be sheltering during times of bad weather, and you will need to ensure that you build a good chicken house. Use strong materials when building the coop. Coops are essentially of many different types, and it is not hard to build one. The Internet has so many great designs that you can refer to when building a coop and it shouldn’t really take you a lot of time to complete.
Provide sufficient room for roaming
For your chicken to be in an environment where they are able to lay more eggs, you will need to ensure that you provide ample room where they can roam about freely. If your yard is safely fenced, allow your chicken to wander freely during the day. Chicken usually don’t go too far from their coop, but if they do, you will want to ensure that they are within a safe distance. Using chicken wire is not always a great idea as such since predators like dogs and coyotes can tore them up. You might want to spend some money to buy good fencing materials just to be sure that your chickens are safe and shielded from possible threats.
Buy food well in advance
Before you bring the chickens into the coop in the city, make sure that you have purchased food for them. If you can’t find a local feed store nearby, you can order some from the Internet. If you are bringing large chicken breeds, buy some pelleted poultry feeds. Feeding your chicken on the right food is essential as this will directly determine the health of the eggs laid by your eggs. Make sure that you feed your chicken with adequate amount of food and provide them with adequate water at all times.
Keep the environment absolutely clean
Your coop needs to be in the cleanest state possible. Make sure that you schedule at least one day to clean the coop thoroughly after a week or two. The perches also need to be wiped and the feeders scrubbed down of any dirt they might have. The nest boxes need to be cleaned thoroughly as well. Ensuring that your chickens are living in a clean environment help minimize the risk of attack by diseases and parasites. Furthermore, your neighbors will also not complain of dirty chicken in the neighborhood.
Always watch your chicken
Make sure that you check the water and feed eon a daily basis and regularly observe your chicken. Watch out for any behavior and habit changes just to be sure that everything is going on alright. If you notice any signs of disease, call a vet immediately to check on them so that you can continue enjoying increased egg production.
Hens in the Garden, Eggs in the Kitchen
Homesteading Handbook vol. 1: The Beginner’s Guide to Becoming Self-Sustainable (Homesteading Handbooks) (Volume 1)
Raising Chickens For Eggs: The Ultimate Guide On How To Raise Chickens For Eggs & Raising Healthy Chickens For Long-Term Profit (Egg Business, Backyard Chickens, Build Chicken Coop, Raising Chickens)
How to Raise Chickens for Eggs: An Essential Guide for Choosing the Best Breeds, Raising and Caring for Your Chickens, and Getting Them to Lay Eggs
Raising Chickens: Increase Your Homesteading Self-Sufficiency by Raising Chickens for Eggs (How to Raise Chickens)
Melons are a favorite type of sweet fruit for many when the growing season comes knocking. Most people love these juicy treats as they are great fruits to eat and are full of essential nutrients and vitamins. Melons come in many different varieties, all of which are incredibly delicious. What you will need to consider though is that these variations require nearly the same planting and growing conditions. Ranging from watermelons to muskmelon, honeydew and cantaloupe, growing melons is always easy and exciting thing to do. Just like other plants in the gourd family, melons grow from vines.
To ensure that your melons grow fast and in a healthy manner, they are best planted in relatively warm temperatures where there is full sun. The soil also needs to be watered generously and all the necessary nutrients in the soil should be availed. When you provide your melons with the right and most appropriate growing conditions and apply some few tips, you will realize that the entire task of growing melons is incredibly easy and you are bound to reap some sweet rewards in the long run. Here are some few tips that will get you started right away on how to grow melons.
- Study the climate
Since it is much easier to grow melons in warmer climates, it is essential that you consider the coolness of the ground before you decide to do the planting. Melons grow well in dry soil and as such, you might have to wait until all the wet soil has completely dried before you plant your melons. Doing so will help ensure that your melons are able to germinate properly and fast.
- Seeds or starter melon plants? Make a decision
Melons can either be grown either from starter melon plants or from seeds. You will thus need to make up your mind on exactly how you intend to grow your melons. After making up your mind, you will need to buy the starter plants or the seeds which you will grow. You can order this from your local garden store or from a nearby nursery. You will also need to choose a perfect spot where you intend to grow the melons. It is essential that the place you choose should be able to receive full sunlight during the entire day for your melons to germinate properly.
- Soil preparation
Soil preparation is key when growing melons and it is essential that you do it in the best way possible. The soil needs
to be prepared well by using a shovel to break it up and then mulch, compost and fertilizer is added to provide an ideal condition for the growth of your melons. Melon plants or seeds should be planted in dirt hills on the ground. Put between 3 and 5 melon seeds in a hole about 2.5 cm deep and they should be apart by about 5.08 cm. If you are planting starter plants, the spacing should be about 5.08 cm as well.
Watering is very essential for your melons to grow properly. Before you plant, make sure that the area is adequately saturated with water and after planting; water your melons after every 2 days. During summer, more watering is required to ensure that the soil doesn’t get completely dry, which could really frustrate the growth of your melons.
- Other growing tips
It is of paramount importance that you fertilize your plants after every 3 weeks or so throughout their growth season. This will certainly assure you of the best outcome in the long run. Make sure that you also actively check your melons for diseases and pests throughout their season of growth. Such will be characterized by holes in leaves or color patches on plants, which might require that you address the issues. It is advisable that you treat diseases and pests on your melons with natural methods rather than using chemicals. Ensuring that your melon plants are always healthy throughout the growing season is essential and this will help them remain disease free and help ensure that they don’t attract pests. Harvest your fully grown melons on early fall and enjoy their sweetness with your family.