Using Vegetable Grow Bags in the Garden

Hey pioneers. Welcome to episode number 311 on today’s episode, we’re going to be talking about the advantage to using grow bags. Now, even if you are an in-ground Gardner or you have raised beds or use other containers, you’re definitely going to want to stay tuned for this episode because grope bags offer some unique benefits that you’re not going to find with really other, any container type growing medium and our goal. I’m sure if you’ve listened to the podcast for any amount of time, you are familiar with this, but our role is to grow as much food as possible on our homestead. And that often I should say almost always is going to mean using different types of growing mediums and grow bags are something that you definitely want to consider. Even

If you have more space and do in-ground gardening, like we do. Today’s guest, you are probably very familiar with, he has been on before, and that is Kevin spear too, who is an urban gardener. He’s the founder of epic gardening. So there’s the effort gardening podcast. He’s got a really large YouTube channel and Instagram, and he has a gardening education company and it’s their mission to teach over 10 million people how to grow their own food, no matter where they live. Can you see why we get along so well? And he started gardening in a condo in 2011, where he was just setting up a hydroponic systems and growing herbs and veggies. And since then, he’s expanded into pretty much every type of gardening imaginable. And he even lived off of his own food for a month in June of 2019. Now I know if you’re more doing large scale home setting, or if you have livestock and already been growing the big garden, then you’re like, oh, we, you know, we do that.

But if you are living in an area in an urban environment, that’s actually a lot more difficult to do. So it was a really cool experiment. He documented the whole thing. And I really enjoyed watching him go through that and seeing what that was like for all of the different links that we are talking about today and resources, there will be a full blog post that you can go and check that [email protected] forward slash 3 1, 1 or 311. Right? But just the number. So mosquitoes.com/ 3 1 1, because this is episode number 311. If you’ve not met Kevin, yet you are going to enjoy him. And all of his gardening contact it. Really his enthusiasm for gardening is really, really fun to watch. So without further ado, we are going to get straight to today’s episode. Welcome back to the pioneering today, podcast, Kevin Berry, excited to have you today.

Kevin Berry

Hey, thanks. Great.

Yeah. So one of the things that I have found so fascinating in watching your garden and your journey evolve with producing food, and that is one is I don’t think that we could probably be further apart in our growing Sones, uh, but also to see how much you have been able to grow in a relatively small space. Now I know you just upgraded. I, I get that sounds like a funny word to say, but you’ve moved to a spot recently that does have some more yard space, so you’ve been able to increase. Um, but in comparison to our acreage on the homestead, you have been able to produce a lot of food in a pretty small growing space overall.

Kevin Berry

Yeah. Yeah. I have. I mean, I, I forgot how much acreage you’re working with. Most, I suspect it’s probably still much more than my upgrade, but, uh, yeah, it’s been a fun challenge to try to kind of expand because for me, I mean, I basically had, I dunno, 15 by 30 feet up until sometime last year and now I’ve got a third of an acre.

Yeah, we have, well, we have 15 acres, quite a bit of that as pasture for livestock, but yeah, I mean, so a third of an acre is a great yard space. And, but even that you have really, because I’ve been following, I follow you on Instagram and see your different YouTube videos and stuff. And so you’ve really utilized it well, and what’s fun to see is you use a lot of different, you’re kind of, I feel this in common. I like to test in the garden and you, and I noticed that you do that too. You don’t pick just one growing medium or one way to grow specific things. You do a lot of testing and trying different things out. And I really love that because I like to do that too. And one of the things that you use that I have not used yet though, is B-roll backs.

Kevin Berry

Yeah. I’m huge on using the grow bags, those big on them, especially at the old space, because just the ability to kind of move them around and slot them into different spots. But they become my preferred container if I’m growing in a container,

Okay, now I love this. So with container gardening, I’ve done container gardening and like half whiskey barrels and five gallon buckets. And they didn’t even sound like basal and much smaller pots, et cetera. Um, but for container gardening, why is the grow bag now your favorite?

Kevin Berry

So the main reason, the principle reason is just the way that the material works compared to, I don’t know, a plastic pot for sure. A terracotta a little bit less. So it’s still still working terracotta. And the, the thing you’re working with rollbacks is it’s a quite a porous material. And so when you’ve got your soil in there, and let’s say you’ve got a tomato in there by the time that tomato roots actually expand out and hit the edge of, let’s say a plastic pot, they’re going to wrap around pots, it’s broke down, right? We all know what that is when you’re growing in a container and it’s an announcement, wait for the plants to grow. And it’s just not optimal. The plant doesn’t want to grow that way. If you were to have it in soil, you’d have a much more natural looking roof structure with grow bags.

Kevin Berry

It’s not like it cures that problem completely, but it does help quite a bit because what you have happened is you have the root tips ended up hitting the edge of the pod, just like they would have any pot, but there’s not a ton of water at the edge. There there’s a lot of oxygen air. So it actually dries out and kills the root tip, which sounds bad. But what ends up happening is that effectively prunes that root tip and stops it from wrapping around and the plants going to stimulate and grow a little bit more root structure out in the center of the roots. So you get a much more fibrous and well distributed root structure, which ends up meaning you have a healthier plant.

Okay. I find that very fascinating because actually back in the day, because we deal with blight here so bad in the Pacific Northwest, just so much moisture coming down with tomatoes, even in the summer months, I never had much success with tomatoes. And so I tried growing them in plastic five gallon buckets so that I could put them underneath the overhang of our house in different areas. So they wouldn’t get as much rain. So this was before we settled on growing them in the high tunnel. But I honestly, I never had success with growing tomatoes in five gallon buckets. And my suspicion is, is because of exactly what you’re talking about, especially with tomatoes, having such an expansive root system, or they like to, in order to perform well, it probably just reached the edge of the bucket and then it just, it became root bound. And I never got a very large tomato harvest at all off of those tomatoes.

Kevin Berry

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that could, that could definitely be a factor. I just know for me, when I was going to small spaces, I wanted to have something that I could hold up. If I didn’t need to use it, I could move it around. I was growing potatoes in them. I think we’ve talked about potatoes here on the podcast before, uh, both big fans and, you know, with potatoes, you don’t really need them in the sun until they start crowding out so I could pop them around. And I just wanted to contain it. I didn’t have to worry about the only real downside to containers as I saw, which was the way that roots will typically grow and sort of choke themselves out.

Okay. So with the grow bags, having that more poorest material, and then we get the benefit of the root pruning, as you have told us, because they’re hitting the air. But one of the things that you said, which kind of caught my attention when you’re talking and the reason for that is because I’ve been having to water. Cause we’re actually warm here right now. And I do still have some things. I do have certain things in containers, which means when we get warm, I’m having to water my container plants. Whereas the stuff that’s in ground, I’m not having to water yet. So with the grow bags, how is the watering situation with them? Because it is porous. Does the soil dry out faster?

Kevin Berry

Yeah, for sure it does. Um, so the way that I’ve at that as like that’s a small trade off to make that air printing benefit, but there’s a lot of stuff you can do to mitigate that. So the first thing I tend to do is I don’t really growing smaller bags. Like I don’t even grow in a five gallon bag. I go seven gallons or more. Sometimes you can just modulator your, your soil makes a little bit like maybe add a little more coconut corn or something like that to hold more water. I think something that a lot of people don’t do, Melissa, which I’m unsure, why is we mulch maybe on our in ground plan teams or our raised beds. We don’t hold our containers, silviculture containers. That helps quite a bit. And then you can, you can set it up on your vacation. You can throw a saucer at the bottom and fill that up with water as sort of like a nice little buffer. There’s a lot of things you can do to mitigate the fact that typically in grow bags, if it’s porous around all sides, it’s almost like the whole thing is the bomb. Right. And so the whole thing is the top. And so yeah, water is going to fall out of that. That makes a little bit faster.

Okay. And you’re right. I don’t know what the mulching think. That’s very interesting that you bring that point up because typically we don’t mulch the containers, but you’re right. At least for that top surface level, it’s going to help. And now I have a question for the GrubHub. So I know you said, sorry, I’m kind of squirreling here cause I’m jumping, but in larger containers, cause you’re saying you’re doing the larger grow bags. So for me, I’d like my half whiskey bottle containers, which is what I have my perennials for the most part planted in, but I don’t, you know, they’re pretty old, so obviously I’m not emptying the soil out. And so I keep the same soil in, but then I pop dress that soil with compost. Um, and then sometimes we’ll put straw or just whatever medium I have mulching on top of those. Um, or pine needles, different things like that. Cause we have a lot of evergreen trees here, but with the grow bags, can you grow perennials in them? And would you just leave the same soil in there and then just amend and add to it for a few seasons or with, because I’ve just not used the grow bags in that manner, but I’m intrigued using them with perennials. But I was kind of curious as we’re talking about soil, how do you handle that with them?

Kevin Berry

Yeah. So I have, I guess I’m growing perennials in a non-technical sense. So like I’ve got, uh, peppers that I go over wizard and so, you know, they can be perennial eyes and all I’ve really done with the peppers at least. And I think this would probably apply to most other brand deals you might grow like maybe artichokes or something along those lines is I will typically just amend that soil for the length of the growth. Sometimes that will, with one of my peppers, I had a black over pepper that I uh overwintered and so I’ve grown it down to about a third of its original size and then it goes dormant during the winter time. So you can move it around and do what you want. And so I ended up sizing up the bag and shoring that up with a little bit more mixed.

Kevin Berry

And so that was a way to, you know, hopefully have it grow a little bit larger next year, but also give a little bit of accurate efficient without having to completely redo everything. So that may be what I do. I think if I was growing up in a grow bag, I would just opt for a larger size bag in general. Do you have a little bit more to work with? And it’s not as you know, it’s just not as finicky with the drying out and with maybe running out of nutrients too soon, all that kind of stuff.

Melissa

Okay. Very good. And gosh, we, you said that growing peppers is a pretty old I’m like, yup. I was completely right when I said we couldn’t have further growing zones apart. So I am, that is so intriguing to me. So with the peppers as a perennial, how many seasons or years, or how long is it’s typical growth span? Like how long could you keep the same one going and producing?

Kevin Berry

I don’t know the actual answer. I know that I have gone at least three years. I know people who’ve gone five, six, so, so you, you certainly can do it for quite some time. I mean, they’re going to start getting pretty large and thick and Woody and I’m not quite sure on how the production goes, but I think for me, like one thing I did this year, Melissa, with my new space, right. I have a lot more space. Is I planted 43 peppers. I don’t think it’s all different varieties. I think I have about 35 different varieties and I’ve grown none, almost none of those varieties before. So I wanted to do this year is say, okay, they’re in the ground. They could have been in grow bags. That part doesn’t really matter for this, this point. I’m going to see how they all do.

Kevin Berry

I’m going to see which ones I like, which ones didn’t have disease or pest or anything like that. And then I’ll just, overwinter the ones that I like. So that next year I have those a little bit earlier and they’re just more established. And then I can have almost like a multi-year cycle of rotating peppers around the garden. But I think that to me, that just seems like a really smart move because then you don’t have to wait forever for the pepper to germinate and size up if you know you like it from last year.

Yeah. No, I think that’s a great idea. And it’s what you could obviously seed safe from them though. That’s kind of not what you’re talking about, but that really is a, is a principle of seed saving as well is picking the plants that obviously you like, but that have those characteristics they’re diseased free. They are prolific, they are producing large, really good fruits and then pruning out and getting rid of the other words. So over time, your garden is evolving into a stronger, more robust plant life without you having to do as much work, which I really love that. I love that aspect about seed saving, but you could do it just like you said, with the peppers and the perennials too. So I’m finding that amazing. You know, what’s funny is so I can’t, overwinter warm weather plants here, but I actually with broccoli, this is the first year that I’ve experienced this and I’m planning on trying more of it this following year for kind of the same reasons you’re talking about.

But I had planted some broccoli starts in the fall actually in the summer, but they weren’t of size. Once we hit the cold weather and the daylight hours got really short, so it never produced a head. So I have notes that, uh, now this summer I need to plant them a little bit earlier, but what was fascinating is I left one of the broccoli plants in, even after it didn’t produce a head and the other ones I had taken out to put in spring crops, it is right now, it’s actually producing a lovely broccoli head for me, even though I technically planted that broccoli sprout at the end of last July. And at the time of this recording, it’s at the beginning of June. So I’m like, oh, so I’m almost thinking of like stagger planting some of those broccoli, um, so that I get some in the fall, but then I have some that will produce those heads come spring time.

Kevin Berry

That’s really interesting. I know every time we talk, it’s like I have my warm weather joys and you have some of your older product-wise, it’s so interesting because we’re so opposite that that’s something I never would’ve thought of. I mean, I struggle honestly, just to grow any heading brass successfully in the first place, mean my timing has to be perfect because if I, if I miss time in the cabbage, moms are just going to eat everything no matter what I do. And so I have to kind of a tiny against where they’re able to grow or where they’re, where they’re, you know, really large in population otherwise I’m totally done for

It. Yeah. It is very fascinating just with the differences in the weather, like what you experienced as a gardener. But I also think it’s really cool because even though yours is with warm weather and mine is with cold weather, we are able to do some of very similar like testing and stuff doing, but it’s just knowing your climate and working within it. So I think that’s, it’s actually really fascinating. Um, but back to grow back, sorry, I knew I was gonna go off on a rabbit trail there. Um, but with the grow bags, so you had mentioned quite a bit about moving them. And I know with a lot of the larger containers that I work with once those babies are filled with soil, some of them are kind of impossible to move, but as we were just talking about like knowing your microphones and your microclimates and how you would take the pepper plant and you know, over winter, it, uh, you know, kind of moving it to a more sheltered location, et cetera, um, are with the grow bags. Do you have advice as far as size or, you know, moving them and picking them and how well move, like any tips on when you do go to move them that you should be aware of?

Kevin Berry

Yeah, well, like I said, I think I would, I would size my bags up typically. So I would start at around seven gallons for almost anything I would want to grow. And I, I mean, I have an a hundred young girl bag, actually. That’s pretty hard to move. Like you said, the a hundred gallon ones, these big, big ones typically will come with handles that one actually has four handles, even then. It’s hard to move if it’s full of water. So then you have to think about, okay, well maybe I’ll get some help and I’ll move it when it’s, when it’s drier and then I’ll water it in when I get it to its final resting place. So I would offer back to with handles for sure. Um, you can get reinforced bags from a couple different companies. Another thing that I’ve done is I’ve moved them with like a hand truck or I’ve built like little dollies, especially when I’m growing, you know, a fruit tree and I grow back or something like that.

Kevin Berry

Those you’re starting at 15 gallons, 20 twenty-five gallons. It’s going to be difficult to move no matter what. And you kind of don’t want to mess around with, you know, cracking the soil and damaging the roots of the tree and all that. So I’ve just put a lot of those on these little dollies that you can build out a caster wheels at a, any sort of big box store. And just some one by three or a two by four lumber or whatever you’ve got lying around. I know lumber is kind of expensive right now, but that’s what I’ve been doing. Um, and as, as far as placement itself, like you said, I mean, you want to think about what you’re, what you’re planting and what conditions it likes just as if it was in your normal garden. And the cool part about the growing is you can kind of adopt them around your landscape. So, you know, for me, I’ve got some stuff in the backyard that really only wants like half sun, especially as we move into summer, maybe like some lingering greens or some lingering spring crops, like BP’s or something like that. And so for those, I can just kind of slot them under this little tree and just pop them there. And whenever I’m done, I’ll just, I’ll just move them, refresh that, plant something else, put it out in the sun, grow a summer crop.

Okay. So the versatility there is really awesome. Um, but I wanted to bop back. I just realized that we got talking about, about bolts. We got the soil and we had mentioned ways to help by adding some stuff into the soil in order to increase the amount of water because they can dry out. But when, I mean, usually people I always recommend anyways, is that you don’t just take garden soil or soil that’s in the ground and pop it in a container because of metric pressure and other issues that you actually have a true like container potting soil formula. I’m assuming that’s the case for grow bags, but is there anything additional that you need to be aware of when, when you’re putting soil into a grow bag versus just any other type of container?

Kevin Berry

I like to skew a little higher, like I mentioned on some sort of water retaining element. Okay. So these days I do, I just have breaks of coconut four in my garden shed. And when I’m making your grow bag makes, I might even take her mix from a bat and then I just might mix it a little bit more coconut core before I actually fill up the bag. It seems to help, you know, it just, it really does seem to help a little bit. Um, there, there are some other things that you can do or they don’t really have anything to do with the soil though. So like, you know, just putting a drip spike in there has been really nice. My personal need this place, Melissa, all I really had was grow bags. So I created like a five-by-five grow back gardens and twenty-five different grow bags.

Kevin Berry

And then ran irrigation down that pulled out and I used what’s called an adjustable 360 degree spike. So the spike will help it stick in the actual bag. Cause you got to pull it from your main line into the bag. And then the adjustable was nice because of course different size bags, different plants, right. Different water requirements. And so you can turn the top of that spike and it’ll put out a little water a little more and then a lot of water. So I kind of created this little custom irrigation system for not that much money, but as far as soil. Yeah. I mean the only thing I would really say is mashed to the plant that you’re trying to grow. And then maybe you bump up with some coconut or whatever else that you’d like to use the ultra water.

Melissa

Okay. Now, where do you, do you have like a special source that you get the, your coconut core from? Or just grab it like in a garden supply center? Area’s going to have that or

Kevin Berry

Yeah. I mean these days, I think they shared, do you see it at your local nurseries a lot or no,

You know, honestly I’ve never looked at look to purchase it individually. Cause I do do so much in ground gardening, honestly. Um, and so when I’m putting in like a new container and a lot of my containers have had, it’s been like bagged potting soil mixes that I’ve bought from years back and I’ve just continued to add compost and it was stuff to it. Um, I really haven’t searched, which is why I’m asking. Cause I’m like, if somebody asks you to be like, oh, I don’t know, I’m not actually look. So I thought I just would ask you why I had you here. So you’re

Kevin Berry

Right. You’re right. So I mean the whole thing about coconut cores, you can’t find it locally because you can compress it. It’s a lot more economical to buy ship than almost any other thing. Because even if something that keep us, there’s other reasons you may not want to use the Moss, but if you’re using Piedmontese and over online, you have to order like a big bale with coconut where you can get these little breaks. I actually have them on my store, but you can get them from Amazon or wherever. It doesn’t really matter. As long as the quality of it is good and yeah, it rehydrates really nicely. And then, you know, you can have fresh in your shed or in your garage and rehydrated, it should be good for quite a few backs.

Okay, awesome. Um, now one of the things about the grow bags, cause when I was reading through your book and, and looking at the grow bags and thinking about implementing them and using them perhaps in our homestead, because I do have so much in ground garden space, but what really caught my eye is with perennials and especially perennials, that can be somewhat invasive. Um, like I was even thinking like a lot of in the earth Bailey like mint and that, and cause there’s some different varieties of mint that I would like to bring on that I don’t actually currently grow, but I’m like I have no more space in my perennial beds and I’m not going to plant it in with my annual beds. Cause I know it will just take over the entire area. So I was very intrigued by the thought of using grow bags for the perennials. And for me it’s more the containment aspect of them, um, honestly than anything else. So I know you said that you’re using them like with your peppers and stuff. Um, but any other words of wisdom with using them with the perennials? I think you said you had some of your fruit trees in them too.

Kevin Berry

Yes. Some fruit trees. What else do I have? I mean, I guess anything that [inaudible] technically you could over winter, so eggplants actually are good candidate. Um, you could do tomatoes if you really stretched it and protected it, but I know like that’s not really the spirit of your question. You’re kind of talking to more of a classic perennial. Yeah. I don’t do a ton of it. I think you could certainly, I would maybe look at artichokes. I have those in grounds. Um, much like most people grow them, but a friend of mine grew, I don’t know, maybe 20, 25 artichokes in 10 or 15 gallon roll bags. And he had those for two years. Those were completely fine. Um, another cool idea might be a perennial pollinator style plant. Right. Um, or maybe you can do herbs, something like that. I’m not super caught up on like maybe ornamental style perennials that you might, you might have her for many, many years, but you really, I mean, if you can grow in a container, you can grow into grow bag. So there’s a way to make it happen.

Melissa

Okay. Now it is porous material. And so speaking about this specifically to perennials, especially really long-lived perennials, what’s the life cycle of a bag? Like how long is it going to last, especially if it has dirt in it, you know, 24 months or 24 months out of the year. Yeah. Melissa can do math 12 months is what I was going for. Sometimes it feels like we packed 24 months to a year here. But um, anyways, but, but kind of what is the longevity or what’s the life cycle or the life span I should say of a grow bag typically.

Kevin Berry

So I’ve got all the bags I I’ve ever purchased still. Uh, that’s going on like maybe three or four years now. Now that’s of course a pocket lasts much longer than that. A plastic pot might last longer. Then again, it might start breaking down in UV if you’re dealing with terracottas I’m probably breaking 10% of my terracottas just from living. I don’t, I don’t know how it happens. It just happens. But with grow bags, I would say, as long as you take care of them, well you’re probably get at least five years out of them. It really depends on again, the quality there’s ones that are reinforced there’s ones that are made with different types of materials. Um, so I would say somewhere in the five-year range, especially if you take care of them. Okay.

Yeah. Terracotta like terracotta is beautiful, but I have to be honest living where we live, if they get moisture in them and then freeze, especially if we had like an early freeze or a late freeze that you’re not expecting, they just break and crack and then I’m a klutz, I guess. And I end up breaking and cracking them even without the freezing factor. So I don’t, I will use terracotta indoors, but I don’t, I don’t use it outside, honestly. Um, so when you were saying was like, yes, terracotta is gorgeous, but I have issues with it too. So, um, so when you were saying the different, um, like reinforced gopher reinforced grow bags, look for ones with handles, reinforced handles, especially if you think you’re going to want to be moving them, but you mentioned different materials. So if you are looking for a grow bag to use many, many seasons, but also especially with the perennial in a more long-lived perennial, um, is there a certain material that you really should be looking?

Kevin Berry

Yeah, it’s, it’s interesting because there’ll be called like a fabric pot, but it’s not made typically out of a traditional fabric. So it might be a recycled plastic. It might be more, a more sturdy type of plastic or it might be sort of like a selfish type of material. So I’d say to go with something that feels more along the lines of the belts, you’re probably going to get a little less mileage out of it. Then again, those do tend to be less expensive. So if budgets are concerned and maybe that’s the one you go with, I would say, if you’re going for perennials, you probably want to go with the more rigid ones. I know gardener supply company has these ones called reinforced grow bags. So those are a little bit easier to stand up on their own. So those spot ones can be a little floppy, but also they have this sort of exterior shell still has the air printing benefits, but it just stands out to the elements a lot more.

Kevin Berry

So those can be good. Um, you can’t really go wrong. In my opinion, with ones from smart pots, they’re really the original creator of the grow bag itself. So they popularized it. They’re made in the USA a really good company that I would trust. There’s a new one that I’ve been testing out to be determined on, on how much I like it, but it isn’t different material. It’s more of a harder plastic mesh type of thing. And that’s where brain science grow bags, interesting company name, I’m growing potatoes. And then this year we’ll see how that goes. I have a feeling they’re a little more porous. You can actually see through it. So it’s really like a true screen or mash, you know, like a woven fabric. I have a feeling that will hold up for quite some time because the actual fibers are much thicker, but I’m not sure yet because again, it’s my first season growing in them. That’s just my, my gut feeling on that.

Oh, that’s good. Um, I ha oh, it was the potatoes. I knew it’d come back to me just a second there. Um, one with the last one that you mentioned, as long as the potatoes went to the outside, but with our potatoes, we don’t really want them to get light. I should say the tubers once they begin to produce it, the potatoes themselves, uh, we don’t want that part ticket light until we’re ready to pull them out of the dirt and they get them cured for long-term storage, if that’s what we’re doing. Um, but growing potatoes in grow bags, I’ve actually had quite a few members in my academy who were limited on space, or weren’t able to go down deep into the ground to do trenches or in wanting to grow potatoes, uh, and wanted to use, uh, grow bags to do that. And I have not grown potatoes in grow bags. I’ve only done in ground, but I also wanted to ask about sweet potatoes. I can’t grow sweet potatoes here. We’re just too, too cold. So have you grown sweet potatoes in the grow bags or just regular potatoes?

Kevin Berry

To be honest with you, Melissa, I also haven’t grown sweet potatoes yet. I’ve grown them on and mentally like on accident I think, but I’ve never like structurally tried to approach growing sweet potatoes even in my climate. Not that they don’t do well here, I can for sure. Rather than, but they do even better like in the south and texts and stuff like that, like long Hanuman season. But yeah, I haven’t grown. I would say if you’re going to grow sweet potatoes, just knowing what I know about how they grow, I might go with a wide scout grow bag. That’s pretty sizable, like maybe 25 gallons. You can get sort of a short stout, one growth habit of a sweet potato compared to a potato. That’s the only thing that I would stand in a lot. I know a lot of people will grow them in those blind girls like you were mentioning.

Melissa

Okay, great. That’s a great tip. Now, as far as grow bags. So with, with regular potatoes, um, what size grow bag are you using and how many potato plants are you able to grow in that specific size?

Kevin Berry

Yeah, that’s a good question. So I would say my general rule would be every five gallons worth of grow bag. You can add one more seat potato. Okay. So, you know, if I’m, if I do grow in five gallons, which I probably have a couple, honestly just left over that I have, I just put one in and that’s totally fine because I’ll get anywhere from eight to 12 potatoes for one, usually when I’m growing depends on the variety. Then if I’ve got a 10 or 15, I’ll do two or three and just space them out as evenly as I possibly can. That’s my general rule of thumb. You’ll get, I mean, you could, you could crowd them more than that, but you’ll end up just getting more smaller potatoes rather than the last larger potatoes. That’s what I’ve seen.

Yeah. I mean, that’s true. Even in ground if people got them too close together. Yeah. And I’m with you. Like, I mean, I like harvesting them when they’re small for like the new potatoes, like, you know, little baby roasters or whatnot, but then I leave the other ones to get bigger if I don’t have them crowded. So yeah. I’m with you on that one. One of the things that with growing them in the grow bags that I think is kind of cool though, is I’m assuming like harvest is probably pretty easy. Cause you would just pull the top off when they’re done. And then as you’re going in there, you could even kind of roll that bag down so to speak as you’re getting to, after you’ve pulled the top level of potatoes out and then you just keep going deeper. Is that

Kevin Berry

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I, I go even more simple than that. I can even go group Foursquare. I mean, if I’m harvesting out the potato and it’s obviously underground, I’ll just dump the entire bag outings where we wheelbarrow and I’ll just kind of hunt for it. And by the time I hunted for it, I kind of mix that soil up. That’s a great point for me to add a little more Biotote or whatever fertilizer I want to use the Raymond spoils sprinkled some Holocaust or something and I just fill the bags up and plant them with something else. So it’s kind of a nice way to rejuvenate while you harvest. Uh, for me it raises more fun to go out and go hunting for them, for me.

Yeah, no, I really liked that. I’m a huge proponent of doing multiple crops per out the seasons. And so that’s a great way. Just like you said, you’re adding a little bit to the soil and then boom, you’re growing something right back in that same spot, which I think is, is the best way to garden because then you have obviously more food coming in. Um, and you’re able to get a lot more in per year, uh, with the same amount of grow space, even if it isn’t a grow bag, um, you know, really whatever growing medium you’ve chose raised, but you can do it with any, any in-ground raised by container grow bag, et cetera. So I think that’s what I love hearing about what you’re sharing is because a lot of these principles apply to no matter what growing medium you have or what style of growing you’re doing. And I think a lot of times people think that, and of course there’s best tips like we’re going through right now with the grow bags to make them more effective for you and to perform better. But most of the stuff that we’re talking about really should be done, no matter if it is a raised bed, a different type of container, you know, or even in ground.

Kevin Berry

Yeah. I mean, I think with the first book I wrote, it was kind of trying to teach him how to be a gardener, not necessarily teaching how to garden practically, right? Like how to grow tomatoes specifically, but more like how plants grow thus, you then have the knowledge to kind of learn how to grow whatever you want. And I guess it was kind of the same with the grow bag book. It was like, look, it’s of course it’s about grow bags and how to maximize your use of them and squeeze as much harvest and, and yield out as possible. But you know, if you read it with a curious mind, you’re going to pick up a lot of tips on how to garden in general, especially in containers. So yeah, I totally agree.

Melissa

Yeah. Awesome. So I think the only other question that I tend to get a lot from people and especially as they’re just getting into gardening, um, but a lot of times people are worried about, or have a misconception that you can’t really grow root crops in containers very effectively. Uh, so do you want to touch on that in regards to grow bags a little bit?

Kevin Berry

Sure. Yeah. I mean, I would say we certainly can grow potatoes. Let me just talk about not a true requirement tuber, but if you’re going to grow, I mean, radishes, turnips, those are all easy because most of those don’t even really get that deep. If you’re going to grow something like, I mean, even beets, those are, those are simple. Uh, carrots would maybe be the most challenging one. I actually, parents of all root crops are the ones I struggled with the most have the most issues with, uh, I would say generally trend towards direct sowing, every single one of those, especially the carrots I’ve transplanted everything just to see if I can not really worth it, especially in the grow bag. Um, so if you’re going to grow the carrots, for example, direct. So, um, I would personally mulch right over the top of the planting just to keep it moist because that’s been my biggest problem with carrots, all these other root crops, beets, uh, radishes, turnips, things like that. The seed is large enough to kind of weather the storm if it dries out a little bit, whatever, not a big deal, but I with carrots, yeah, I would certainly a nice, fine mix, you know, maybe like a loamy Sandy type of mix and then make sure you germinate appropriately, make sure you’ve been, and really it’s no different at that point than been growing in the grounding. My experience. I don’t know what you think.

Yeah, no, I’m with you. I, uh, we have grown, I haven’t grown carrots in a container, but I’ve done garlic. I’ve done. Yeah. A lot of them. And it’s really just making sure that you have picked a container that’s deep enough soil depth for the root crop, because if you’re picking a shallow versus deep container, uh, like you said, that may behoove you more for a sweet potato, but if you’re trying to grow a carrot, that’s gonna, you know, all of it’s going down Tepe and you have this little short thing, then you’re going to get really short stunted carrots. So I think it’s just knowing the crop that you’re planting its best requirements in order for it to grow to its best ability and then providing that. And so a large deep, or even not necessarily large, but a deep container for those root crops. Um, we’ve had a lot of success actually. In fact, that was how I grew garlic for a number of years.

Kevin Berry

Oh yeah. Oh, what kind of container were you using for the garlic?

Uh, but it hasn’t actually just, we had some left over Cedar planks from actually got him used from a friend we were building, it was back when my kids were really little and he built them like this little Playhouse and we just had some Ondine lumber leftover. And so he just smacked together some containers and they were like, I think here, I think there were two feet deep. Um, and yeah, I grew actually I grew garlic and um, tomatoes together. And then because the tomatoes would just really starting to be hit their max height when it was time for me to pull out the garlic, uh, the way that they grew here. And so I did that for a couple of years before we expanded and, and put in the garden, you know, structure that we have now. Wow.

Kevin Berry

That’s amazing. Yeah. I’ve been having a lot of fun this year with, with garlic. I think I’ll finally have like a pretty legitimate Arvest compared to some of my other times I just had such a hard time with it, um, due to all sorts of different things. So it’s, it’s cool to hear that you did it and also did it in containers, but yeah, I mean, I think what you said is correct. If you are going to grow carrots and really all you have is like a short grow bag, you still can grow me. You can grow like a Parisian style, like ball style carrot, which basically grow grows as deep and in the same shape as a radish. Right. So there’s still ways to make it work. But I think your general point yeah. Grab a deep container for a deep rooted plant, obviously.

Yeah. Well, I am excited to bring on some grow bags and to use them here. I just, haven’t, it’s a medium, I just haven’t grown much with, but I think that they really offer a lot. And especially as you said, we talked about earlier is that air pruning factor. I’m really fascinated by that. So I’m kind of excited to test it out on some different plants, but there’s actually a lot more, um, you know, nuances and things with the grow bags that, that you share in the book. So we’ll definitely link to your book guys, um, because it’s, there’s just a lot of great knowledge in there of grow bags that are the way that you’re going to want to grow. Um, I was fascinated with lots of, lots of good stuff in there and as well as planting charts like that, the plant and it’s specific to which size and the different grow bags, like how you could put different plants in there. So if that is you’re like, all I can do is growing in containers because I do have, you know, a small area that I’m growing in. Um, you can really maximize and you did a great job laying that out in the book. I thought that was really well done. But is there any parting things about grow bags or people kind of following your journey that you would like to share?

Kevin Berry

Sure. The book’s pretty simple. It’s just called a grow bag and gardening is difficult if you want to go buy it on Amazon though, because when you type in pro X come up. So if you just have my name Kevin, and I’m sure that’ll be in the podcast and you’ll find it there. Um, what else in the book? There’s, there’s a lot actually on different types of plans. I do have some interesting plant guides, like kind of a lemon grass, raspberries, blackberries themed bags, like a bag for bringing in pollinators it’s mobile. Right? So you can move it to areas that might need a little pollination boost and put something that attracts a lot of pollinators with like lavender or something, and then put that next year you’re squash or something like that. And you sort of migrated pollinators right. To a specific area. So there’s a lot of different, little interesting twists that you can use, but yeah, I mean, yeah, besides the book, everything’s just a gardening. If you want to plug into what I’m doing, just call it a gardening or epic homesteading on YouTube. Also have that channel now. So yeah, that’s it.

Okay, awesome. Yeah, you guys definitely need to follow we’ll follow all the places, but honestly, the epic gardening on Instagram is one of my favorite. Uh, you do great little, uh, like kind of little short videos, but they’re like jam packed with really good gardening info and inspiration as well. So it’s, I have to say actually, and I’m not being paid to say this. I promise it’s probably one of my favorite gardening channels. Um, of all the ones that I follow that I, that I actually keep following and get I’ll uh, I’ll wire you money tomorrow. I appreciate that. Yeah, no, really good work there. So thank you so much for coming on Kevin. And yet we will have links to everything that Kevin mentioned to, uh, in the show notes. So thank you.

Kevin Berry

Thanks. Always great to be on the show.

Well, I hope that you enjoyed that episode as a much as I did. And for those of you who are members

Of the pioneering today academy, we are having a guest video lesson on grow bags in depth tutorial from Kevin in our gardening course, which is part of the pioneering today academy membership. So be on the lookout for that. And if you’re not a pioneering today, academy member go and check that out at Melissa [inaudible] dot com forward slash PTA for pioneering today academy, right? Let’s get our sports slash P T a and you will find out lots of information, all about the membership and a member. Thank you guys so much for joining me today. I can’t wait to be back here with you next week. Blessings and Mason jars for now, my friend.

How to Grow the Best Vegetable Garden

Are you looking for ways to cut back on your waistline and benefit the world at the same time? Why not start up a high-quality vegetable garden? Doing so can cut back on your food container use—a huge benefit, as an average container travels at least 75% of the way to the moon and back during its travel across the ocean, and eating home-grown vegetables decreases the number of containers used.

Health Benefits of A Vegetable Garden


As you grow older, high-quality food is more important than ever. For instance, at least 80% of American seniors have one chronic disease. Cut back on these problems by growing vegetables that are rich in vitamins and minerals.

For example, broccoli and spinach can provide you with protein to regrow muscles and avoid injury. Carrots and other similar foods help with skin health and vision strength. Try to stream your vegetables when eating them and cook only when fully ripe to get the best results for your health.

Let There Be Light


The vegetables that you plant will need a pretty steady supply of UV light to stay strong. This is because plants use UV rays and other elements of the sun to produce food to grow. Without a strong sun position for your growth, you may end up with vegetables that aren’t as strong as you may want.

Don’t forget to balance your sunlight needs with a garden that has a manageable area for you to walk. Or try square foot gardening. Typically, you’ll want a garden positioned far from trees or buildings that could cast shadows. But they should also be close to flowers to ensure bees pollinate them.

Rich Soil is Key


Your soil must be kept in excellent condition if you want to grow vegetables rich in vitamins and taste. Without healthy soil, your plants will grow poorly and slowly and have minimal nutrients. Make sure to fertilize before you plant to give your soil this boost of health.

Just as importantly, you need to make sure you rotate where you plant to avoid draining the soil of nutrients. It would help if you could choose different places throughout your yard every year or so, trying to focus your nutrient drain so that your yard remains solid and consistent.

Water and Weed


Read up on how much water your vegetables need every day and make sure to give them an amount that makes sense. Avoid over-watering because you can waterlog the roots and kill the plants. Most of the time, they’ll need just enough so that the surface of the dirt is damp but not pooling.

When weeding, make sure to be on the lookout for poison ivy and other similar plants. These weeds can be found in every state except Hawaii and Alaska. And they typically trigger allergic reactions (rashes) in about 85% of the population, meaning you’re very likely to be affected.

Plant the Right Crops


Many homeowners make the mistake of planting items they think look cute or appealing without thinking about practical use. For example, it’s no use in planting and picking onions if your family won’t eat them.

So try to focus on vegetables that you know your family will like, such as high-quality tomatoes, beans, cauliflower, and more. Ensure that you fully understand the different ways you can prepare and cook these vegetables, such as integrating them as a side or as a main course.

Get Your Garden Looking Great


When you take these simple steps, you create the kind of vegetables that your family will love. And you’ll save money and help the environment at the same time. What more could you ask for with such a simple hobby? So go out there and plant some vegetables, and get picking.

Image credit: via StoryBlocks

This Easy Vegetable Beef Soup Is Perfect Fall Comfort Food

Forget season. Here at Simplemost, we are all about soup season, and we can’t wait to break out our soup pots and start making every yummy soup recipe we can find.

Our new favorite? This recipe for Grandma’s Vegetable Beef Soup from AllRecipes. What we love about this particular vegetable beef soup recipe is that feels so homey and nurturing, like a hug in soup-form. If you’re cooking for someone who works outside, throw it in their thermos and it’ll pick them right up.

Best of all, it’s inexpensive and easy to put together. All you need is ground beef, tomato juice and the veggies of your choice. Think potatoes, green beans, corn, carrots and peas for a classic bowl of vegetable beef soup. This gently seasoned recipe features only salt, pepper and a pinch of ground ginger, but you can also use a bay leaf while you simmer your soup for even more flavor.

A Meat-Free Option

If vegetable beef soup is a little old hat for you — or you don’t eat meat — you can’t get much more healthy and nourishing than Cookie and Kate’s Quinoa Vegetable Soup recipe. When you are feeling a cold coming on or you just need something comforting and classic, this recipe will fill you up without weighing you down.

veggie soup recipe
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Made with quinoa, chickpeas, kale, and seasonal veggies like butternut squash, zucchini and yellow squash, this is a basic veggie soup recipe that will see you through fall and winter. Use your favorite veggies, swap out the veggie broth for chicken broth, reach for black beans instead of chickpeas: You can sub and supplement with ease once you get the basic recipe down.

One For The Vegans

Or try this recipe for Cozy At Home Spicy Any-Veggie Soup from Oh She Glows. Yes, this is one for all you picky-eaters out there. With this recipe, you can modify your soup to include whatever veggies you like and EXCLUDE all the ones you hate.

This soup is vegan and gluten-free, made with red lentils, coconut milk, coconut oil and apple cider vinegar. You can use sweet potatoes, squash, green beans, corn, cauliflower, peas and/or asparagus. The heat from this soup comes from two heaping teaspoons of red pepper flakes, but you can reduce it if that seems too spicy for you.

You can make this veggie soup recipe on the stovetop or in your Instant Pot. Find the recipe here.

veggie soup recipe
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Bold Vegetable Soup

If it’s bold flavor and spice you’re seeking, check out this recipe for Harira, which is a spiced Moroccan vegetable soup with chickpeas, cilantro and lemon. It comes from chef Joan Nathan and no one will be able to accuse this veggie soup of being routine! Made with turmeric, cumin, harissa, cilantro and lemons, this soup is creamy, spicy and rich: Perfect for sipping after a day at the pumpkin patch or for a portable lunch at the office.

A Soup Kids Will Love

Looking for a veggie soup recipe that will please the kids as well as the adults?

We like this recipe for Alphabet Vegetable Soup from Healthy Happy Mama. Made with sweet potato, cauliflower, peas, corn and alphabet-shaped pasta, this is a veggie soup recipe that you can feel good about serving your little ones.

veggie soup recipe
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Invite them to help with the chopping or stirring, and let them pick out their favorite veggies to add to the soup. After all, the more autonomy they feel over the recipe process, the more likely they will be to enjoy this healthy soup and ask for seconds!

Vegetable Spring Rolls with Cashew Dipping Sauce (Vegan!)

You will absolutely love my take on these Vegetable Spring Rolls. They are paired with a creamy cashew dipping sauce and packed with a hearty lentil and rice filling, making it an easy fuss-free appetizer or meal for hot summer nights.

Whenever summer is in full swing, these vegetable spring rolls always make an appearance. You might know them as summer rolls but no matter what the name, these rolls are packed with healthy goodness that doesn’t take long to put together, especially if you’ve got leftover ingredients in the fridge. They’re delicious at room temperature or slightly chilled, making them perfect for a hot summer evening.

These are not authentic like the rolls you might find at your local Vietnamese restaurant, but my take on them, packing them with ingredients that are always on hand for me.

Why This Recipe Works

These vegetable spring rolls are perfect for all occasions. They are so pretty and no one ever turns down a roll. Pair it up with my Tofu Pudding with Sweet Potato for the best weeknight dinner! More reasons these rolls work are:

Key Ingredients

Cashew sauce — I made a homemade cashew sauce with just a few simple ingredients: cashew butter, coconut milk, tamari, coconut sugar, lime juice, and sriracha. These are usually ingredients found in my kitchen and you probably have them as well! See down below for substitutions.

Rice paper — The packages of rice paper can usually be found in the international aisle at a grocery store. If you cannot find it, it’s also available online! They’re naturally gluten-free!

Lentils — To make these vegetable spring rolls more hearty and filling, I use lentils. We always have a bowl or two kicking it in the fridge at the end of the week and these rolls are a great way to use them up. Along with the mashed sweet potato and brown rice, they are the protein base for this meal.

Beets — To liven up the rolls and add a pop of colour, we mix red beets with golden beets! They’re also a source of fibre, folate, manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C.

How to Make This Recipe

If your brown rice is not cooked, do so before starting the vegetable spring rolls recipe.

Step 1: Combine the ingredients for the cashew sauce. Then combine half of the cashew sauce with the brown rice, lentils, and sweet potato.

Step 2: Fill a large bowl with warm water. Submerge the rice paper into the water for 2 seconds and transfer to a clean board or counter with the smooth side of the paper facing down. To the damp rice paper, add a pinch each of the shredded veggies, herbs and cashews. Top with a generous 1/3 cup or so of the rice and lentil mixture.

Step 3: Fold the left and right edges of the rice paper inwards, then starting at the bottom, roll it up to cover all of the filling. Serve hand held with the remaining cashew sauce.

Expert Tips

If you do not require this to be gluten-free, you can swap the tamari for soy sauce. The coconut sugar can also be swapped for honey.

Make sure the rice paper has been fully submerged and is soaked through. It is not very malleable when dry as well as being not edible. I suggest using a large shallow plate to ensure the whole sheet can be soaked.

Don’t have all of the fresh herbs listed? Feel free to mix it up by using whatever you have at home or replace it with lettuce if you have no herbs. It will change the flavour profile of the vegetable spring rolls a bit.

Recipe FAQs

What else can I add to this?

You are welcomed to add whatever ingredients you’d like! Think of it as a salad in a roll form. Try adding bell peppers, carrots, cabbage, avocado, rice noodles, green onions, and more!

You are welcomed to add whatever ingredients you’d like! Think of it as a salad in a roll form. Try adding bell peppers, carrots, cabbage, avocado, rice noodles, green onions, and more!

What other proteins can I add to this?

Pan fried crispy tofu goes so well with these vegetable spring rolls! If you don’t have to keep this vegetable, shredded chicken breasts and steamed shrimp pairs wonderfully as well.

Pan fried crispy tofu goes so well with these vegetable spring rolls! If you don’t have to keep this vegetable, shredded chicken breasts and steamed shrimp pairs wonderfully as well.

Can I make these ahead of time?

I suggest you enjoy these the day of making them. The rice paper will firm up overnight in the fridge and change the texture. Luckily they don’t take long to put together and you can cook/slice up the components beforehand and then pull them out of the fridge to roll them up for dinner. The sauce can also be made ahead of time.

I suggest you enjoy these the day of making them. The rice paper will firm up overnight in the fridge and change the texture. Luckily they don’t take long to put together and you can cook/slice up the components beforehand and then pull them out of the fridge to roll them up for dinner. The sauce can also be made ahead of time.

Can I change the cashew butter?

You can swap the cashew butter for almond butter or peanut butter if you’d like! Use what you have on hand.

You can swap the cashew butter for almond butter or peanut butter if you’d like! Use what you have on hand.

More Recipes You Might Like

What are your favourite hot night dinners? Leave me a comment below with your favourite combinations!

Vegetable Spring Rolls with Cashew Dipping Sauce (Vegan!)

You will absolutely love my take on these Vegetable Spring Rolls. They are paired with a creamy cashew dipping sauce and packed with a hearty lentil and rice filling, making it an easy fuss-free appetizer or meal for hot summer nights
5 from 2 votes

Cashew Sauce

Rolls

Mix together the cashew sauce ingredients and set aside.
Cook the brown rice according to package directions and allow to cool. Mix in the lentils and sweet potato as well as half of the cashew sauce. Season with a pinch each of salt and pepper, to taste.
Fill a large bowl with warm water. Submerge the rice paper into the water for 2 seconds and transfer to a clean board or counter with the smooth side of the paper facing down.
Towards the bottom quarter of the roll add a pinch each of the shredded veggies, herbs and cashews. Top with a generous 1/3 cup or so of the rice and lentil mixture. Fold the left and right edges of the rice paper inwards, then starting at the bottom, roll it up to cover all of the filling. Serve hand held with the remaining cashew sauce.
Calories: 192kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 176mg | Potassium: 235mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 3441IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @AbbeysKitchen or tag #abbeyskitchen!

Abbey Sharp is a Registered Dietitian (RD), regulated by the Ontario College of Dietitians. She is a mom, YouTuberBlogger, award winning cookbook authormedia coach specializing in food and nutrition influencers, and a frequent contributor to national publications like Healthline and on national broadcast TV shows.

12 Best Vegetable Supplements For Adults On National Eat Your Vegetables Day 2022 – khannaonhealthblog

Start living healthy by taking these vegetable vitamin supplements on National Eat Your Vegetables Day. Photo: ulleo/ Pixabay

20 Things You Should Never Do in the Vegetable Garden – DIY & Crafts

As a new gardener, you might be nervous about all the things you should and should not do to maintain a healthy, productive growing space.

Whether you have a green thumb or not, vegetable gardening requires a fine combination of talent, knowledge, and experience that is difficult to acquire – at least at first. Your best bet is to avoid making the most common gardening mistakes.

Things You Should Never Do in the Vegetable Garden

Not sure what those mistakes might be? Below you will find some of the top things people make mistakes doing in their vegetable gardens.  Along with these, I am going to give you some great ideas to help bolster your success and increase your garden harvests.

You may also want to check out these great tips for urban garden success, as well as ways to start indoor seedlings to get your garden off on the right foot this year.  Anyone can have a thriving vegetable garden, with the right tips and steps!

1. Watering Every Day

While your garden needs water – and plenty of it! – a common vegetable gardening mistake is assuming that your garden needs to be watered every single day.

Don’t fall into this trap. Not only will your garden become dependent and needy, with your plants forming shallow roots that don’t do well in times of drought, but overwatering can also cause your plants to suffer in other ways. They might rot or fail to set fruit at all.

Instead, water just one day a week, but do so deeply, providing an inch or two of water if this hasn’t been provided via natural rainfall. Not only will your garden be healthier, but it will be more drought-tolerant, too.

I love using irrigation systems, even in small gardens.  Things like a timed drip watering system can help you stay consistent without overwatering your seeds or seedlings. 

2. Ignoring Shady Spaces

Plenty of people neglect certain corners of their gardens, assuming that they can’t grow in various sections because they are too shaded. That’s not the case! You can easily grow a garden in a shady section of your garden as long as you choose the right plants.

A few shade-loving crops for you to consider? Kale, broccoli, and lettuce. All of these vegetables thrive in cooler, shadier conditions, and will help fill in those bare spots of your garden with ease.  This definitely goes right into the tips for having a larger garden harvest easily.  There are a surprisingly large number of misconceptions about gardening. 

3. Overfertilizing

Your garden vegetables need lots of nutrients in order to grow strong and healthy, but you should never use fertilizer unless you’re sure your garden actually has a nutrient deficiency that needs to be addressed. In fact, adding more nutrients is not a guarantee that your crops will grow better, as plants only absorb nutrients when they need them. Some fertilizers take several months to work into the soil and excessively fertilizing with certain nutrients can often lead to deficiencies in others.

Therefore, you should only fertilize when you’re positive that your soil is deficient. Conduct a soil test before adding anything to the soil.  Once you decide what your garden needs, consider using some of these organic fertilizer options

4. Using Synthetic Fertilizer

Not all fertilizers are built alike. In fact, you should avoid using synthetic fertilizers because they contain chemicals that are harmful to plants. Rather than using chemicals, mix up your own compost for a healthier, more holistic garden. Natural fertilizers like compost not only add nutrients but also build up the soil rather than depleting it, too.

You may also be interested in this list of great ideas for DIY compost bins as a great place to begin.  It’s so much more fun to add your own hand-built bin to your garden!

5. Loading Up on Pesticides

Using pesticides is a no-no in the vegetable garden for several reasons. Not only can pesticides put your plants at risk by killing beneficial bugs that your garden needs for good health, but they can also kill pollinators.

Instead, adopt more garden-friendly methods such as companion planting. You can also use more natural pesticides, like vinegar and diatomaceous earth, to keep pesky pests at bay.

6. Planting in Bare Soil

This one might confuse you at first glance – aren’t you supposed to plant in the soil?

Yes, you are – but not without amending it first! In fact, it’s important that you take the time to amend your soil with organic matter before planting so that your soil is healthy, fertile, and ready for new crops. Use a bit of compost a few months before you plant. This will get all kinds of beneficial microbes going and it will also help improve your yields.

Don’t know what amending soil is?  Check out these tips for amending your garden soil to get started!

7. Planting All Seeds At the Same Depth

Another common mistake that rookie vegetable gardeners make is planting all of their seeds at the same depth. Normally, you can figure out how deep your seeds need to be planted by looking at the seeds themselves – the size of the seeds should give an indication of how deep they need to go. The smaller the seed, the more shallowly it should be sown.

Planting your seeds too shallow can cause them to dry out before they sprout. Plant too deep, and they might not get the sunlight, water, or nutrients they need to sprout. If you aren’t sure how deep to plant, just check the seed packet for guidelines.

8. Crowding Your Plants

transplanting seedlings to garden from a disposable cup
When sowing your seeds or transplanting seedlings, it’s vital that you consider the spacing between them.  

Plant them too close together, and they’ll compete for water, sunlight, and nutrients. It can be tempting to plant seedlings in tight rows, particularly when they are small and haven’t yet reached their mature size.

Try to be patient and think of the plant’s mature size, though – remember that although not all of your transplants will survive (and all of your seeds won’t necessarily germinate), you need to keep in mind that your plants are going to get much bigger.

Make sure to check out these reasons why your seeds don’t germinate if you are struggling to get started with your garden.

9. Going Big

They say go big or go home, and in the vegetable garden, that can sometimes be true. However, if you’re new to gardening, you should avoid starting out with a goliath plot. It will become very easy for you to be overwhelmed by all the chores of weeding, watering, and managing diseases and pests.

Instead, start out small and just plant a more restricted, manageable area. Choose plants that are easy to grow like lettuce, tomatoes, and green beans. As you gain more experience, you can venture on to more challenging vegetables like broccoli or kohlrabi!  And if you are tempted to plant too many things, check out something like the Garden Tower that lets you plant multiple plants in one container. 

10. Planting Too Early or Too Late

Planting too early or too late can spell disaster for your garden. It’s more common for gardeners to start their plants too early, however. And who could blame you? By the time spring rolls around, you’re likely chomping at the bit to get back in the garden.

However, it’s vital that you wait until the weather has warmed up. If you live where temperatures could still drop below freezing, you should avoid setting out fragile crops like cucumbers, melons, and tomatoes. Make sure these stay protected until the nighttime temperatures consistently hover at around 55 degrees – no exception! Unless you’re growing in a greenhouse, that is.

11. Ignoring Weeds

Some vegetable gardeners take a “see no evil, hear no evil” approach when it comes to weeds in the garden. Don’t let weeds get the upper hand!

Weeds will easily choke out your crops and compete with them both for nutrients and moisture. Unfortunately, some kinds of weed seeds can remain dormant in the soil for decades, producing hundreds of thousands of seeds per plant.

That’s why it’s so important for you to eliminate weeds as soon as you see them. You might assume that allowing one weed to remain where it is and to set seed is not the end of the world – however, you’ll find yourself combatting this problem and making up for your mistake for years.

Use mulch to get the upper hand on weeds when you plant. Fight the urge to use chemical herbicides in your food garden and instead, use a sharp how to cut weeds that do eventually emerge.

12. Failing to Provide Adequate Support

Make sure you take the time to support top-heavy plants in the garden. There are several kidneys of crops, including pole beans and tomatoes, that will topple over if they aren’t staked or trellised as they get larger. Tomatoes grow well in cages designed specifically for them, while pole beans should be grown on a trellis.

Whatever your preferences might be, just make sure you give your plants the support they need in a vegetable garden. Otherwise, air won’t be able to circulate and your plants won’t be healthy and productive.  I love making my own supports, and there are tons of DIY plant cage ideas on this list to start with!

13. Composting the Wrong Things

So you started a compost pile – that’s awesome! In fact, adding compost to your soil is one of the best ways to increase organic matter and improve the productivity of your garden plot.

However, you can’t add just any old ingredients to your compost bin. Adding these ingredients can not only fail to improve your compost, but it can harm it by adding pathogens and attracting pests:

If you decide to create your own compost, make sure you check out this full list of items you can and cannot compost

14. Thinking You Can Grow Any Old Plants

That’s not to say that we don’t have faith in you and your gardening skills – we do! However, it’s important that you consider your climate zone when you are planting your garden. Too many people start a vegetable garden that ignores the conditions of their local climate. You can’t grow tropical plants in zone three, so don’t try.  Trying will end up with you just going to be disappointed and you’ll spend way more time, energy, and money trying to fit the plants into your garden than you really should.

Don’t forget the unique conditions that might affect your specific garden, either. When planning your garden, it’s not just your USDA growing zone that you need to consider. You also need to pay attention to your microclimate, which is affected by things like wind, sunlight, shade, and topography.

Of course, you shouldn’t neglect your soil composition, either – this, too, can play a major role in which plants you can successfully grow.

15. Planting the Wrong Cultivars

Pay close attention to the specific planting requirements of the cultivars of plants you have chosen to grow – believe it or not, a tomato is not just a tomato. Each plant cultivar has its own unique requirements and its own unique taste, too. Make sure you are growing crops that you know how to grow and more importantly, those which you will enjoy eating.

Speaking of tomatoes, make sure you check out this list of mistakes people make when planting tomatoes.  Tons of tips here to make sure your tomato harvest is amazing!

16. Endless Digging and Tilling

Did you know that some of the healthiest, most productive gardens have been grown in soil that was never tilled? In fact, over tilling is one of the biggest disservices you can do to your garden, as it harms fragile soil life and makes the soil more compacted in the long run.

Instead, implement a no-till gardening system by using mulch and sheet composting to grow a healthy, productive space. It’s less work for you and better for the soil, too.

17. Spending a Fortune

There are plenty of ways to grow a vegetable garden that don’t require you to shell out hundreds of dollars – you just need to get creative. Rather than spending thousands of dollars on your new garden, look for free materials like soil, seeds, and planting containers. Repurpose what you have and start small so that you can keep your budget under control.

I love that you can make upcycled seed starter kits with so many different items you already have on hand in your home.  It truly doesn’t have to take much money to create a garden that thrives.

18. Not Thinning Seedlings

It can be incredibly heartbreaking to kill seedlings that you just planted. However, you might have to – it’s not cruelty, it’s kindness! When sowing fragile seeds like carrots or lettuce, you may have to go back in later and remove some of the seedlings that emerge. This will enable the stronger seedlings to form deeper roots without being crowded by the other seedlings.

Take comfort, though – depending on what you’re thinning, you may be able to use your thinnings in salads.

19. Leaving the Soil Bare

Even if you don’t plan on growing anything in a certain section of your garden, you should never leave the soil bare. This can leave it susceptible to erosion from the wind or rain, washing away valuable nutrients that you might want your plants to be able to use later on. Instead, plant a cover crop or use an organic mulch in the downtime.

20. Walking Anywhere You Want

One final mistake that people make in their vegetable gardens? Going wherever they want! When you plan your garden, make sure you factor in walkways and other spaces so that you stand on and compact your growing area as little as possible. That way, you will be sure that your soil doesn’t become compacted and can continue to do its job effectively.

There you have it! 20 things you should never do in the vegetable garden – and what you should be doing instead. Armed with this knowledge, you have everything you need to grow a productive plot this year. Now get growing!

Gardening secrets: Spicy plants in the vegetable garden

Gardening secrets: Spicy plants in the vegetable garden

Variety is the spice of life, but spice is the basis for variety in our daily meals. You can only grow so many different vegetables and raise so many different kinds of animals on your homestead. So, if you want to keep your meals interesting even when your ingredient list is limited by what you can grow or raise, mastering the art of ‘spicing things up’ is essential.

Why just grow herbs when you can also grow spices? Of the cooking duo, it seems that only herbs are frequently homegrown when really, it is easy to grow spices too. Have the best of both these culinary delights by growing garden spices ready for your secret recipes.

Imagine your meals without your favorite spices, I sure can’t. Aside from adding flavor to our meals, spices have been proven to give health benefits too. Although there seems to be a thin line between herbs and spices and often considered as being one and the same, herbs and spices are different. For one, most spices are grown in warm and temperate climate in the world. That is where the worries of growing them are coming from. So we have listed the garden spices you can easily grow at home.

Gardening tips and secrets: 8 types of vegetables and herbs that you can easily grow on your windowsill

Easy to Grow Spices

There are quite a few easy to grow spices you can add to your garden. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Coriander

Coriander is the seed from the cilantro plant. If you live in warm areas where cilantro bolts easily, you can likely grow great coriander. All you need to do is let your plants bolt, and keep them growing until the seed heads form, and dry.

The seeds are easy to shake from the seed head into a bowl or paper bag to use in cooking later. Plus, if you grow those plants around your cabbage, they are reputed to help deter cabbage moths.

Garlic

Garlic is a great storage vegetable and can be used in bulb form for most of the year. However, when dehydrated and powdered or minced, it becomes a powerful spice for hearty dishes.

Hardneck garlic, often grown for the scapes, doesn’t store as long as softneck varieties. They also tend to be more spicy and savory than hardneck kinds. These traits make softneck garlic a perfect candidate for dehydrating and making into spice. Also, any garlic heads with the damaged skins can store longer when dried.

Fast-growing aromatic and medicinal herbs

Paprika

Paprika is a magical spice. It doesn’t have a significant amount of flavor on its own. But, when paired with tomatoes or meat, it makes them explode with flavor. It also adds beautiful color to sauces.

Paprika also seems to hold smoky flavor better than just about any other spice. Whenever I want to add a touch of smoke-flavor to a dish, I reach for my smoked paprika.

Paprika is grown from mildly flavored peppers that are dried and powdered. These peppers can also be eaten fresh, though they don’t have as much flavor as other fresh-eating peppers. Paprika style peppers also have particularly papery skins that make them excellent for drying.

Create a permaculture garden – How to make an easy-care and productive ecosystem

Cumin

Cumin is an earthy, pungent spice that brings out the flavor of pork and other meats and beans. It only grows well in locations with long, hot summers. However, you can start seeds indoors four weeks early to get a jump on the season.

This plant is in the parsley family and makes beautiful umbel flowers that attract all sorts of beneficial insects.

Ginger

Ginger is a rhizome that grows well in warm, humid climates. Below USDA planting zone 8, you’ll need to grow it indoors or in a greenhouse.

Even for those who don’t have gardens, since it only requires shallow soil for planting and constant moisture, it’s easy to cultivate on any size homestead. Fresh ginger is a must for kombucha makers. For anyone who makes curries or desserts, though, dried and powdered ginger is an essential spice.

Turmeric

Turmeric is also a rhizome grown in similar conditions to ginger. No curry would be complete without it. But I also use it in many of my meat stocks for added flavor, body, and health benefits. The rhizomes you harvest are small and dry well. They also grind up a bit easier than ginger.

Cayenne

Like paprika, cayenne peppers are grown, harvested, and dried for use as ground cayenne pepper. A half teaspoon is usually enough to make knock-out chili!

Be careful when processing though. Wear gloves and grind in well-ventilated areas. Do not – I repeat – do not touch any part of your body when handling dried cayenne (particularly not your eyes). Trust me, I had a friend in the hospital with eye damage for making this mistake!

Lemongrass

Your Asian cuisine would not be complete without this grass spice. This plant has a bulb-like base like that of the spring onion’s which grow and spreads the same way. The bulb or base is what’s usually used for cooking. This is one grass your garden must have–and it’s known to have mosquito-repellent properties.

Turnip: The purple diamond of our nutrition – how to grow it in your pot or garden

Saffron

You may think just because this flowering bulb holds the most expensive spice in the world , that growing this must be hard. You only have to plant this in a well-draining soil, in an area that is warm and sunny. Plant them deep and do not prune those grass-like leaves as it encourages flower growth. Be a proud grower of this one a-list spice.

Dill

Fresh dill is amazing in sauces and salads. For pickling though, I prefer dill seeds. The vinegar breaks down the seed shells and draws out the potent inner flavor. Ground dill seeds are essential to any homemade Ranch dressing recipe too (in my opinion).

Thankfully, dill is super easy to grow. Just let your dill flower and seed out in hot weather. The seeds shake right off the flower heads when dried and ready for harvest.

Note: To avoid off tastes, don’t grow near wild dog fennel or cultivated seed fennel. It cross-pollinates and spoils the seeds.

Fennel

Fennel seeds are a key ingredient in Italian sausage, many Indian-style dishes, and many baking recipes. The seeds also make a great post-dinner digestive and breath freshener.

Seed fennel is perennial and extremely easy to grow. Bulb fennel is used more like a root vegetable, but can also be grown for seeds. Generally, fennel doesn’t work well as a companion for most herbs and vegetables, so give it a dedicated space on the outskirts of your garden.

Caraway

Caraway seeds, can be easily grown in cool weather areas. They also taste great in pickles and used sparingly in meat dishes. They are similar in appearance to cumin, but with a completely different flavor.

Caraway umbel flowers also make great beneficial insect attractors in your herb garden.

The post Gardening secrets: Spicy plants in the vegetable garden first appeared on My desired home.

The unstaffed vegetable stand in Japan where you pick your produce yourself

Mr Sato teaches us how to make a purchase at this unusual roadside stall.

When you visit a big city like Tokyo, it’s natural to think that the country is overcrowded with people. But take a 90-minute train ride out of the city and you’ll be surrounded by nature, wide open spaces, and roadside vegetable stalls.

While these unstaffed stalls usually have produce displayed on shelves inside the stall, with a money box on the side where you deposit money for the goods, which are usually priced at around 100 yen (US$0.75) each, one stall recently made news in Japan for its unusual selling style.

The way vegetables are sold at this “stand” is described on the board right beside the site (pictured above), which reads: “Vegetable Sales. Harvest Experience Style. All Self-Serve”.

As soon as our reporter Mr Sato heard about it, he knew this was something he had to experience for himself, so he hopped on a train at Tokyo Station, which took him to Sakura City in the neighbouring prefecture of Chiba, where the stand is located, in around 90 minutes.

▼ There’s no official address for the stand, so here’s the exact location on Google Maps.

▼ Ah, the serenity.

After enquiring with locals, Mr Sato found that the person who runs the stand actually has several vegetable plots with the same “pluck-it-yourself” sales system. The plots that Mr Sato first visited had sold out of vegetables, as the ground was completely bare, but he eventually got lucky with this one, which had a variety of goods still available.

▼ “How to Buy Vegetables”

According to the “how-to” sign, the first step to making a purchase here is to harvest the vegetables on your own. The next step is to tally up the cost of what you’ve harvested, using the prices on the placards at each garden bed, and then finally, you pop your money in the money box. The D.I.Y. system is reiterated in the very last sentence on the sign above, which reads “From harvest to payment, please do it yourself.”

Salad Radishes – 10 for 100 yen

Spring Onions – 30 yen each

Zucchini – 50 yen each

Summer Daikon – 30 yen each

Eggplants – 20 yen each

Potatoes – priced by size, ranging from 20 yen for a small one through to 50 yen each for super big varieties.

Snap Peas – 5 yen each

Japanese bracken ferns – 5 yen each

Mr Sato felt like a kid at a candy store — only this candy store was an open-air one filled with healthy vegetables. However, Mr Sato is a city slicker who can barely pluck a vegetable from a store shelf let alone one from the ground, so he looked around for help and a cheerful farmer made her way over to him.

This farmer turned out to be Ms Kokubo, the caretaker of the field, and she was happy to give Mr Sato an education in the best way to pick vegetables. The first thing she did was answer Mr Sato’s question about why there was so much black cloth on the ground, and she told him it was used to suppress weeds, cutting their labour to a tenth of what it would otherwise be. When labour is reduced, prices are reduced, which is why they can sell their produce at dirt-cheap prices.

Thank you, high-performance weed prevention sheet.

He also asked her why they started up this unusual method of selling vegetables, and she said they had initially planned to use the vegetable plots as a place to sell the weed prevention sheets, which Ms Kokubo has obtained a patent for, by showing them in use. However, a number of people ended up asking them if they could buy some vegetables, but seeing as it was impossible for a farmer to stay in the fields all day waiting for customers, they decided to let the customers help themselves.

▼ That’s not to say they won’t help visitors when they are at the site, just as Ms Kokubo did with Mr Sato as she proceeded to help him pick his first bag of potatoes.

Pulling potatoes from the earth was a lot more exciting than buying them at the supermarket, and it didn’t take long before Mr Sato had harvested around 20 of them.

Then it was time to head over to the daikon section, where he was instructed to pull the vegetable from the root, rather than its bushy green leaves.

▼ Ta daaa! Turns out there’s a farmer inside our Mr Sato, after all.

Mr Sato couldn’t hide his grin at the simple pleasure this harvest experience was bringing him. Sensing his joy, Ms Kokubo took him to another patch inside the greenhouse, where they found there were no zucchinis ready to harvest, but she pulled out a lettuce and handed it to him instead.

He was then guided to the snap peas, where he snipped off around 20 of them, which would cost him just 100 yen.

By the end of his visit, Mr Sato had a bounty of fresh veggies to take back home with him. He’d harvested 16 medium-sized potatoes (and six that were tiny), two radishes, and 20 snap peas. Plus, Ms Kokubo had given him a lettuce and some edible chrysanthemums for free, as they weren’t technically for sale.

▼ Aw, look how happy he is!

The total amount of Mr Sato’s vegetable haul came to 640 yen. Seeing as he didn’t have any small coins on him, he decided to pop 700 yen in the money box and let them keep the change.

All the vegetables he went home with were much cheaper and fresher than anything he could ever hope to purchase in downtown Tokyo. And it wasn’t just the freshness and prices that made these great — it was the memories that came with them.

So when he pulled out those potatoes and brushed the dirt off them to make a stew in his kitchen, he was reminded of the soil from which they came, giving him an intimate connection to each one of them.

This connection to the raw ingredients made Mr Sato treat them with more care than shop-bought items, and when it came time for him to sit down and eat that stew, it was the best-tasting stew he’d ever eaten.

▼ Mr Sato’s day out at the veggie stand, condensed into 15 seconds.

The D.I.Y. veggie stand is a fantastic way to help people of all ages reconnect with their food and it’s also a great spot to escape for a day-trip out of Tokyo. Mr Sato is now hoping more of these stalls will pop at even more locations around the country, along with these D.I.Y. onsen stands, because that’s really the way to healthy living!

Images: SoraNews24 
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Vihiga farmers receive traditional vegetable seeds – Business Daily

Vihiga farmers receive traditional vegetable seeds

Vihiga governor Wilber Ottichilo. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The push to entrench agribusiness in the land-scarce Vihiga County has been scaled up following the latest move by the county government to distribute an additional 15,000 packets of traditional vegetable seeds to farmers.

Governor Wilber Ottichilo handed the seeds to 600 more farmers to start growing the nutritious vegetables on their small land parcels in a major plan aimed at boosting yields and returns.

The push now brings to at least 3,600 farmers benefiting from the program.

Governor Ottichilo is encouraging farmers to embrace agribusiness, saying the venture will lead to improved agricultural production in the county.

The targeted vegetables are the nutritious cow peas – locally known as likuvi, black night shade (lisutsa), slender leaf (mito), spider plant (tsisaga), jute mallow (mutere) and amaranth (tsimboga) that are fast growing.

The county boss said the additional 600 farmers are drawn from all the 25 wards in the county.

While addressing farmers who turned up at the county headquarters in Mbale town to receive the seeds, Dr Ottichilo said his administration is aiming at improving agricultural production in the county.

This, he said, is key to enhancing food security and growing the economy of the county.

“When I took over office, farmers used to harvest eight sacks of vegetables per acre but as we speak, the number has improved to 15 sacks per acre,” said Dr Ottichilo.

“My target is to make Vihiga the leading county in Kenya when it comes to production of indigenous vegetables.”

The county’s residents have been relying on the neighbouring Nandi County for fresh produce of traditional vegetables, a move that could soon come to an end following the ongoing campaign.

Dr. Ottichilo said that the venture is part of the Sh300 million that was received from the World Bank to boost agricultural activities that also include irrigation farming, dairy farming and poultry keeping.

Construction work has begun at the Sh40 million Wemilabi-Central Bunyore irrigation scheme to ensure uninterrupted cultivation of the African leafy vegetables throughout the year.

When commissioned, the irrigation scheme is expected to put over 1,000 acres of land under irrigation farming by October this year by reducing reliance on rain-fed agriculture.

Dr Ottichilo said his administration considers the irrigation scheme as one of its flagship projects that is being undertaken by the agriculture department and will be used for the cultivation of green fresh produce.

ALSO READ: Vihiga eyes mining, quarrying levies to plug Sh700m budget gap

At the moment, the local administration is in the process of constructing a market for African leafy vegetables produced at Esibuye at a cost of Sh89 million.

Last year, some 3,000 farmers were supplied with 3,299.1kg of seeds for the African leafy vegetables for planting.

At the time, the Agriculture department in the county estimated that the seeds for African leafy vegetables that were procured from the Kenya Seed Company would be planted on a land area covering 1,493 acres.

Woolworths supermarket to roll out Tiliter AI scales in the fruit and vegetable aisle of all Woolies stores nationally | 7NEWS

Woolworths has announced a major change to its fresh fruit and vegetable section, coming to all stores across Australia.

The supermarket giant, in partnership with Tiliter, is introducing new Artificially Intelligent (AI) Scales in the produce aisle.

The company said the new scales will help customers manage their budgets by offering a quick and convenient reading of the product weight of fruit and vegetables.

For more Woolworths related news and videos check out Woolworths >>

Shoppers simply have to place their loose produce on the Tiliter AI Scale which will display the weight of the product on the screen – instead of waiting until they’re at the checkout for an accurate reading.

The new scales will replace the analogue convenience scales that are currently in the fruit and vegetable department to offer customers a modern, digital alternative.

Woolies says the AI scales have also been placed in store at a lower height to ensure customers with special needs, particularly those in a wheelchair, can have clear access.

The new technology is currently being tried and tested across a handful of stores nationwide.

The scales are expected to be progressively rolled out across the entire network of more than 1,000 Woolworths supermarkets.

“We’re excited to continue our partnership with Tiliter through the implementation of new, digital scales,” Woolworths’ Head of Business Solutions – Customer, Retail and Emerging Concepts Sailesh Shankar said.

“These scales will help provide a better in-store shopping experience for our customers through both accessibility and convenience.

“We’ll listen closely to customer and team member feedback on the project over the coming months.”

This trial comes on the back of the partnership between Tiliter and Woolworths, first formed during the roll-out of Woolworths’ Scan & Go program in 2020.

“The rollout of Tiliter AI Scales across Woolworths nationwide is making the future of retail a reality,” Tiliter’s CEO, Marcel Herz, said:

“With this partnership, a growing number of Australian shoppers now have the opportunity to use innovative AI technology in an everyday setting, as naturally and seamlessly as they would their smartphones.

“With this type of technology capable of expanding across e-commerce, this is only the beginning.”

Up to six scales will be located in the fruit and vegetable department of Woolworths’ stores and will be lined up with the front of each fresh produce aisle.

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