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Five of the Best Tips from Garden Bloggers

May 15, 2011

Kitchen gardeners are more fortunate today than earlier generations. The Internet has provided a wealth of information and resources that our parents and grandparents could only imagine.


Not only do we have this wonderful Kitchen Gardeners website to help us exchange ideas and learn from other gardeners, but we also can browse an endless number of  edible gardening blogs that offer great ideas every day. Google almost any gardening issue and you’ll get numerous suggestions on how to resolve your problems.


Of course, some edible gardening blogs provide better tips than others. With this in mind, I’ve created a list of five very helpful and interesting articles from the gardening blogosphere. Here’s my list:


1. What to do with sprouting potatoes. One of the most useful tips that I’ve learned from garden bloggers is to “chit” potatoes before planting them. In this article, Barbara Pleasant from GrowBlog encourages kitchen gardeners to put seed potatoes in a dry, sunny room to encourage them to sprout and green-up before planting. By doing this, it deters voles and other critters from eating them once planted. It also makes it easier to plant the eyes face up and may even start your potato plants growing sooner.


2. Salvaged apples, hard cider. Once while visiting a Christmas tree farm in late November, I took a bite from a ripe heirloom apple from an old neglected apple tree. I was amazed at how great the apple tasted. This got me to thinking about all the neglected apple trees there are around town and would it be possible to make cider or vinegar from these free apples. David’s post on Kitchen Gardeners is an interesting article that explores this opportunity.


3. Tips on purchasing truckloads of soil or compost. Even though I’ve been pretty careful over the years, I bought my share of bad loam. Amy Manning’s article on My Suburban Homestead gives us a couple of pointers on how to spot bad soil or compost.


4. Worm harvesting. For those into worm composting or vermiculture, one of the most challenging tasks is to separate the worms from the rich worm compost so you can use it in your garden without losing your worms. Liz at Big Tex Worms shows us several easy ways to do this in her video blog post.


5. Fighting weeds in the vegetable garden. Every gardener must deal with weeds at some point. This comprehensive post by Tee Riddle at Veggie Gardener takes us through several strategies for efficiently reducing weeds in your garden. He covers everything from preparing the soil properly before planting to mulching to container gardening.


As a bonus, I’m going to include one more article from my blog that will appeal to kitchen gardeners who live where the early spring is too cold to grow warm weather vegetables. The article Better tomatoes with Walls-O-Water suggests that you can use Walls-O-Water in combination with a hoop house to transplant tomatoes and other warm weather plants outside when it normally would be too cold. This idea for using a double layer of insulation originally comes from Eliot Coleman’s idea in Four-season Harvest of using row covers inside a hoop house to extend the season for cold weather crops.


You probably have read a blog post that provided a great idea or two. Let the rest of the kitchen gardeners know about this blog article by commenting in the section below.


I also spend a lot of time browsing gardening sites and blogs. Here is the easiest way to harvest worms from a bin that I've found. I'm trying a new method of harvesting redworm castings for fertilizer. I drilled holes through the bottom of a plastic tote box, filled it with new bedding and a food supply, moistened the bedding, then put the new bin into the "Bait O Matic" atop the old bedding. This is certainly not original thinking on my part. Bentley "The Compost Guy" Christie sent a new 70 page Guide to Vermicomposting. See Good reading. Stay narural, David reply Flag as offensive harvesting the castings By: david e kelley on Thu, 12/30/2010 - 3:09pm I harvested redworm castings today from the set up shown in the photo above. This was the easiest retrieval of worm castings I've ever done. Always before I would empty the bed on a hard surface, under bright light, and slowly remove the top of the pile a little at a time as the worms burrowed away from the light. Effective, but time consuming and hard on my back. This time I simply removed the top tote and had about 4-5 gallons of clean castings for Spring fertilizer and to add to my seed starting mix for soil blocks. Just to be sure all of the worms and eggs were in the top bin, I put a cup of worm food on the castings and left it for a week. There were only a few tiny worms that came to the feed, so the experiment was a success. The worlds best fertilizer and all free. Worm castings are quite expensive to purchase. Stay natural, David reply Flag as offensive Am I understanding this correctly? By: Jessica Still on Thu, 12/30/2010 - 4:19pm David, is this right - when you put the bin of new bedding/food on top of the bin of old bedding/food - the worms migrate up through the holes in the top bin to reach the new bedding/food? Then your bottom bin of castings is relatively worm-free? How long does this cycle take - with what approximate volume of bedding & worms? Your harvest sounds bountiful & so valuable! I think worms & microbes are our new farm animals. :-)
Thanks for featuring the post in the newsletter. I saw the newsletter on the Facebook page, but haven't received the email yet. I'll keep a look out for it.
We're using a funky (clunky) open-source module for sending it out and it's only sent out 70% of them so far. Thanks so much for sharing your posts through the KGI site. I hope you'll post something on herbs for next month. Best, Roger
Roger -- I'll look into a post on herbs in June. Thanks for making the suggestion.
I'm featuring it in this month's newsletter. I hope it sends some more gardeners your way.

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