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Transplant for Take Out

Transplanting

When we were just a collection of pots, soil and seeds, we were very excited to begin the gardening portion of our journey and you were just as excited as we were. Since then we have faced and seen many challenges from environmental to nutritional to disease to predatory. It has been non-stop for our new garden. Needless to say, as we learn together, we have learned a lot since February. Some plants are growing tall and flourishing. Other seeds never sprouted and some have begun to bear vegetables.

As we begin to get the many challenges we face under control, we can begin to see our garden taking flight. The Organic Journey has truly been one of great patience and observation. Some of the greatest challenges have been just understanding nature. Understanding nature better has helped us with identifying why a plant is in trouble as well as when and if a plant is in trouble.  This alone, we have found, is half the battle. The other half is finding an effective and Organic Remedy as well as being persistent until the issue is resolved.

Through that journey we have seen some plants flounder and others come back stronger than Rocky after being knocked down. This is always an amazing experience. We promised a few kitchen plants to some of our early enthusiasts and hope to deliver on those promises. Some of the kitchen plants that we almost gave up on have come back and just may go to their new homes after all. We re-potted Oregano and placed a few Soil Blocks in pots.

Included in this article you can see the process of transplanting a plant, Oregano, from one, smaller pot, to a larger pot. A good way to know if your plant is ready for a new pot is to check the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot, in the case of our clay pots, and if the roots are peaking out you know they are in search of more resources. Larger pots can encourage plant growth by giving your plant more resources to feed off of. You may also find that you are okay with the size of your plant and maintain the pot size you have despite what the roots are telling you. These images are a great learning tool for those who have kitchen or container gardener and will not be planting outdoors or in the ground. Note: we added soil to the larger pot first. Remember you container plants / potted plants need food. So, remember to fertilize your pot soil so that your plants continue to get the nutrients it needs.

Have you started your own urban garden? How is it going? Drop us a line and give us an update anytime. We know the process can be one of patience, so we will check back with you. What is the best part about having a garden? Do you have a small space outside where you can grow one plant? Have you considered growing an edible flower? As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep growing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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Infectious Disease

Swiss Chard with Disease

In keeping good plant health, one must consider the nutrients the plant receives as well as the predators and disease the plants may experience. In our garden we have to address all of these. With lack of proper nutrition comes disease and with disease comes predators. The health of the plant must also be considered. Has it experienced shock? Was it over watered or under watered? Was it properly drained? Did it receive too much sun or not enough sun?

Many factors can contribute to the overall health of a plant. As we discovered it is not just enough to plant a seed, provide some light and water. Starting with one plant and getting to know the needs and overall challenges that come with that one plant is a good way to begin if you are just starting out. The Organic Journey is a patient one that takes an understanding of the cycle of nature. Just as we may resolve one pest or disease issue, here comes another. The cycle of the nature process may not be over yet and may give rise to another issue or predator.

Recently our Swiss Chard sprout, planted in one of our Soil Blocks, became sick and dropped its leaves. We are not sure what caused it yet. However, the mini garage as we call it, is indeed a garage that we think likes moisture too much. We believe that it was some type of yellow mold. When we removed the plant and went to select the next round of transplants we saw signs of the yellow mold all around where Swiss Chard had been in the clay tray with the other seedlings. Removing the disease plant allowed us to see how the disease was attempting to spread.

Because we were able to identify the mold, we could quickly address the disease and remove it by washing the Soil Blocks with a bleach and water solution. The good thing about these Soil Blocks, more specially Soil Pellets, is that they had a medium holding the soil together. We were able to easily remove the mold from the outside. It looked as if this medium kept the soil from getting infected.

We have found that the best way to address an issue whether its weeds or a predator is to:

  • Identify the issue
    • When you see a plant in trouble, ask why and investigate
    • Document the issue and enlist or consult other gardening experts
    • Conduct research regarding the issue
  •  Resolve the issue before it gets started
    • Research and Identify Organic Remedies
  • Follow through for 2 – 4 weeks after the issue has seemed to be resolved to ensure the issue has been resolved. This may vary depending on the issue you are addressing.
  • Reevaluate
    • Was the issue resolved
    • Did the plant survive
    • Did another disease or pest come in after you resolved that issue
    • What did you learn

What have been some of the challenges that you have faced in your garden? We will face them together; tell us all about it. Did you know that plants could get disease? What did you think are the best ways to address disease when identified? What can observing disease in plants teach you about the nature of disease? What can disease in plants teach us about disease in our bodies? As always you are the best part of what we do. Stay healthy!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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Air Flow

Oregano

As we shared with all of you, we moved some diseased plants and plants that never sprouted outside near our back porch to segregate them from the other healthier plants. So far this coupled with the fresh air we have been allowing to circulate in the garage (aka mini green house) has seemed to help. Not to mention the fresh air the struggling plants get now that they are outside near the back porch. Plants need a flow of fresh air also. This is how some plants pollinate. It is also contributes to plant health and discourages disease. Since we have moved the struggling plants about 4 of the plants have made surprising come backs. 

It is so interesting to continue to watch a plant and to continue to nourish it. Just when you think the plant is done and you are ready to give up on it, it makes a surprising come back. We were recently asked about our Oregano plant by someone, you guessed it, who loves Oregano. Oregano was one of those plants that was really struggling. It sprouted and looked just fine. But, its leaves were very small and the sprouts were no taller than an eighth of an inch. Since we have been clearing the transplants out of the garage. Moving the diseased and struggling plants completely out of the garage and increased the air flow in the garage, plants like Oregano have seen positive results. 

The Three Benefits of Air Flow

  • it is how some plants pollinate
  • promotes plant health
  • discourages disease
Swiss Chard, Cilantro, Dill & Eggplant

We are really focusing on plant health and the health conditions of the environment we put our plants in. For those plants that struggle and experience disease we remove the plants from the healthy plants environment quick and isolate them. We are also trying to create an environment in which the plants can thrive such as discouraging predators that feed off struggling plants. And bringing in all sorts of plants and plant products (such as Neem Oil) that plant predators just do not like. We want to give our plants a fighting chance since in many ways we are also learning. So far, the biggest lesson is to nip any issues or trouble in the bud. When you first see a plant in trouble immediately identify and address the issue. It could take weeks if not months for an Organic Remedy to take effect. You may also have to try some other things that work better for you. In the mean time your plants may struggle or not survive.

What lessons have you learned? What are some of your favorite plants that you would like to know about? Ok, maybe we should have said food instead of plant. What is the difference between Organic Remedies and Chemical Pesticides? What difference does it make to you which one is used on your foods? Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep growing.

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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How is the Garden?

Transplants

We always get the question: how is the garden doing? Well we are happy to report that while some pest issues still remain: namely the ants and flies, the pests have either disappeared (vole) are been reduced. The ants remain our most persistent and clandestine pest. As with most things worth doing persistence is key when it comes to addressing these pests. Check back in with us to see how things are going.

100% Pure & Organic Neem Oil

Which brings us to Neem Oil, an Organic and Natural pesticide, fungicide and miticide. Because the Neem Oil Solution we found had 1% Neem oil and 99% of unknown ingredients, we decided to make our own solution. One it is cheaper and Two we will know what is in the product. We were able to source 100% pure unrefined organic Neem Oil from a small women business owner and at about the same cost as the (excluding shipping) the Neem Oil Solution we initially purchased. Because we will be mixing it with water (and possible a detergent to enhance application), the bang for our buck will increase even further. So, thus far we are pretty pleased with this find and purchase. It should help us significantly with our pest problem and is inline with our Organic pursuits and sourcing of Organic Remedies.

We are still using the remainder of the initial Neem Oil Solution we purchased and still need to try out our new Neem Oil. Stay tuned for how this works out including the mixing ratio and whether or not we decided to add detergent as well as the comparative benefits of the Neem Oil Solution we purchased and the one we will be making ourselves.

Transplants

Now that our pest problems have begun to come under control, we have started putting our transplants out in the garden. Yesterday we put out 6 – 7 plants and thus far we are happy to report they are all doing just fine. We also hope to be sending some kitchen plants home from our “nursery” from those who have requested plants. Right now these potential kitchen or patio/porch plants are out near MiMi’s flower on the lawn table taking full advantage of the sun which has been sweltering for some of our plants. Our Marketmore Cucumber plantling just did not make it through the transplant process as the sun was just too much for it.

Green Beans

We are happy to report that the Green Bean plant sported its beautiful purple flowers, which is a sign of pollination, and soon after sprouted 2 green bean pods, thus far! We can not help but lick our lips and wait for the others to sprout. They should be good in a salad or as a side dish.

What are your questions about the garden? What are your questions about gardening? If you could start your own garden, would it be in or outdoors? What would you grow and why? What keeps you from getting started? Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep growing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

Green Beans
Green Bean Pods
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

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Compost & Coffee Grounds

In are article yesterday we discussed composting: how to compost and what the benefits are of composting. This reminded one of our readers of the benefits of one of her favorite drinks, coffee, to composting. Click here to view her comment. Consequently, we decided to talk a little more about this nitrogen rich resource. So we sought out gardeningknowhow.com for a little more clarification on the topic.

As we discuss urban environments, coffee is an ideal source for compositing and fertilizing for the gardener in more urban settings. Unlike other sources of composting materials coffee grounds produce fewer concerns for disease and can be added to a compost mix or added directly to the soil as a fertilizer. While you are composting your coffee grounds you can also add your coffee filters to your compost pile or mix.

When adding coffee grounds to your compost mix remember that they are considered green compost and will thus need a brown compost material added to it in the proper ratio (2:1. 2 parts green to one part brown). If you add ground coffee to soil as a fertilizer, it will not directly add nitrogen to soil however it will:

  • add organic material to the soil
    • improves drainage
    • improve water retention
    • improve aeration in the soil
  • help microorganisms beneficial to plant growth thrive
  • attract earthworms

Unwashed coffee grounds can

  • lower the pH (or raise the acid level) of soil, which is good for acid loving plants

Fresh coffee grounds are acidic while used coffee grounds are neutral. If you rinse your used coffee grounds, they will have a near neutral pH of 6.5 and will not affect the acid levels of the soil. To use coffee grounds as fertilizer, work the coffee grounds into the soil around your plants. Leftover diluted coffee works well like this also.

There are several other uses for used coffee grounds in gardening:

  • keeping slugs and snails away from plants
  • some people also claim that coffee grounds act as a cat repellent and will keep cats from using your garden as a litter box
  •  worm food if you do vermicomposting with a worm bin

What do you have around the house that you can use in your composting? Remember if you only have plants around the house, you can also do this: use your old coffee grounds. Separating organic endeavors from environmental endeavors is difficult because they both pay homage to nature and are essentially the flip side of the same coin. How can re-purposing items you typically throw away help you save money? What can that do for the environment? How can composting even on a small scale improve the quality of your food and health? What is the one food you eat the most of? How can growing that one food change your health and diet? Share your comments with the community by positing them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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MiMi’s Flower

MiMi’s Cynoglossum Amabile (Chinese Forget Me Not) flowers have finally bloomed. These short and thick sprouts are sure to grow into a beautiful addition around the house. For only a dollar this is a great way to introduce your children to gardening. The growing medium discourages over watering because it is a little lose, runny and slow to absorb. Similar growing mediums are available for growing other seeds / plants. These blocks are sold individually from kits and come in blocks of different sizes. They also come in packs with a tray. These packs also have growing medium sold in different sizes.

Kits are great because they take some of the guess work out of beginning to grow plants that many newbies face. The Soil Blocks and Growing Mediums offer the gardener a way to save in many forms. If you would like to learn more about Soil Blocks read our article titled “Soil Blocks” dated May 4, 2020. So far, we favor well drained clay pots. Many kits will not come with a clay pot but you can find one at your local garden center for a little more than $1 depending on the size you want. Metal pots can be lined and if you are remaining true to the Organic Journey you probably do not want to use plastic pots.

Among the Cynoglossum Amabile flowers we also found our Korean Radishes sprouting all over the place now that, fingers crossed, our vole problem is under control and we do not have underground munching going on. Our Pumpkin, Sugar Baby Watermelon and Beans (Green, Pinto & Lentil) are all doing very well. The plants have been getting plenty of water from Mother Nature over the last several days and are slotted to get a lot more over the next several days. We love and we think the plants do too. As soon as the rain lets up and we get a few sunny and calm days, we will set some plants out for transplanting and hopefully get the rest of the plants out into the garden. We halted transplanting until we could figure out our pest problem and then came the rain. So, hopefully we will get back on track in about a week.

We have a few squash and melon lovers out there, we are sure they are happy to see them sprouting and doing well. What pest problems have you encountered? How can you use these Organic Pest Remedies around the house as well as in the garden? What do you think the benefits would be? Do you think it would help save money and improve your health? Share your comments with the community by positing them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep growing.

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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Neem Oil

When our Cabbage & Brussel Sprouts leaves were being eaten up, we went in search for an Organic Remedy. Most organic gardeners and farmers will tell you the best remedy is plant health. Those plants that come under attack are typically not in good health. Although the vole might be putting them under stress. We found that the plants coming under attack were perfectly healthy plants but young and tender. Some of them were going through the transplant process and experiencing some stress and shock. All things we think the plants could bounce back from without problem. So, we have decided to give our plantings a little Organic help to promote growth and health while we get our garden off the ground.

Our search produced a recommendation to use Neem Oil. We found a product that left us with a little more questions than answers because it did not fully disclose all of its ingredients. We discovered that Neem Oil is often mixed with dish detergent and water. The emulsifier in the dish detergent helps break down the oil and give it a little structure. Naturally the oil will loosen up if heated but that is not a good application method for your plants. Once the detergent, water and neem oil mixture is made it must be used otherwise it will break down and become unusable. Well we want to know what we are putting on our food so, we found 100% cold pressed neem oil. We will add our own water. If you decided to use detergent, we recommend Castile soap, which is a natural (and can be organic) soap with no chemicals. You can find this soap at your local store or order it online. We found our Neem Oil online for about $5 per 8 ounces plus shipping. We decided to buy in bulk so we got 32 ounces for that price (per 8 ounces).

Although we think it is still to early to tell, the results thus far have been very positive. We have seen a noticeable difference in the amount of flies. They have decreased in number and have become more clandestine. Just because they get clandestine does not mean they are gone. Remember to keep up your Organic Remedy Regimen for at least 2 – 4 weeks. It is recommended to keep treating plants 2 weeks after desired results are achieved. Click here to learn more about Neem Oil from the Smiling Gardener. We did not buy our Neem Oil from this supplier, but found them to have a great deal of knowledge regarding Neem Oil as it relates to gardening and farming.

This Organic Remedy should allow our plants time to get over any shock or stress. We also dug new ground and are always learning what works best. So, there are a lot of factors to consider. We wanted a product whose ingredients we knew. Also, we are always looking for a good deal. We don’t mind mixing up our own Neem Oil solution in order to get these things. We believe you should know what is on and in your food. So, we decided to go with a small business owner supplier who provided unfiltered and cold pressed Neem Oil.

We have high hopes for our garden once these seedlings have an opportunity to flourish. They are on average very healthy and strong. The introduction of Soil Blocks and other methods that discourage disease have significantly improved our sowing success, it is on track to be 100% of seeds sown sprout into healthy plants. The transplanting process has been improved. And we are in the process of helping them catch root quicker. Discouraging voles and other mole like animals should also keep the plants from being uprooted once successfully transplanted. What we believe is a vole could have also been preventing our plantings from developing healthy root systems as well as taking root sooner and completing the transplant process. We will be observing if these pest remedies shorten the transplant process.

We believe the Neem Oil will help keep pests at bay and give these plants a chance to recover from any stress or shock. When reading packages they often make EPA, USDA and other certifications. Do you know what these standards are and are these standards acceptable to you? Do you think manufacturers should release all ingredients despite their desire to protect trade secrets? How can you help influence EPA & USDA standards that are more transparent and acceptable to your own personal standards? Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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Barbra’s Garden

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Ok, we caught a few of you holding back on us. We thought Barbra had one little pepper plant at home. Come to find out she has her own mini garden inside her kitchen. First and foremost we want to wish Barbra a Happy Birthday and thank her for all her hospitality. She is an amazing cook who loves fresh foods. When eating at Barbra’s there is always more than enough. We got a couple of photos of Barbra’s kitchen garden and will be looking forward to a little more information on what she is growing up in the kitchen. Her daughter, a new mom, also fried up a couple of crabs like only a Virginian can. She made the best fried crabs I every had. Maybe we will get an official recipe and share it with you.

It seems once you get one plant the others follow behind shortly. We know of a few others who are beginning their own gardens and involving their children in the process. We will have updates for you soon! Are yoooou holding anything back. What is growing in your kitchen or yard? As you begin your gardening journey we invite you to take the journey with us. Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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Flower of Hope

With all that has been going on in the garden with pests, we have felt a little behind schedule with the sowing season. Not to mention, we have been feeling very frustrated. Nonetheless, we have remained calm and we know the best thing overall when growing anything is to work with rather than against nature. Least the very thing you are trying to grow is also adversity effected. This morning we just were not sure what we would find. It seems to be one day after another that a plant is attacked and eaten by either ants, vole or flies. The plants are not even big enough to harvest yet and the flies are snacking away. We got the Mole Max and some other Organic Remedies that we are trying. The Mole Max should have charged one more day. We could not wait for results so we went a day early and it seems to be operating fine.

Although it is still very early, we saw fewer flies today due to the Neem Oil. We also saw fewer attacks on plants. But what we believe is a vole, seems to be attacking less. We can not see it so we have not been able to identify it. We had our eye out for the culprit and then eventually went to our local gardening center for help. We were at our wits end and coming up on the close of the sowing season for our Zone. Like my father stated “its some type of mole or golfer”. He is a hunter and very attuned to animals and their signs. Hunters are great at spooring. A vole is mole or golfer like and remains pretty unseen. So far, things seem to be moving in the right direction. Although the ants are still out in high numbers. We will be persisting with our Organic Remedy Regimen, knowing that pests are pretty persistent. It was good to see that Green Bean thus far has survived and is blossoming rather than seeing another plant fatality after watching it grow for weeks. Once the plants bare their flowers pollination should take place and the fruit of the plant should not be far behind.

Stay tuned for updates on how the other plants are progressing and how things are going with our Organic Remedies to pests. In order for this garden to get off the ground. We must get our pests problem under control soon. The season is going on and it is time for these plantings to grow up into full fledge plants. Which flowers are your favorite flowers? Do they come from a fruit or vegetable plant? What did you learn today? Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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What’s Sprouting?

Since April sprung, we have been sowing some seeds directly in the ground. We started out in doors in the mini greenhouse, so it is pretty exciting to see the plants grow directly from the ground and not in a pot. We are learning a lot about spacing when it comes to sowing seeds and may have a few crowing issues. Crowing can discourage growth. One plant will typically dominate and grow while the other plants will not survive and have enough resources to grow in a crowded environment. Yet, we sow on and observe learning from our experiences.

So far we have identified Carrot, Chamomile & Dill have sprouted from being sown directly in the ground. Roots like Carrots, Radish and Beets will be very interesting for us to grow, observe and harvest since they are underground and a little more difficult to observe. Herbs can grow quit large when not hindered by pots and other containers. So, we are hoping to see the herbs in a whole different light now that we have them outside in the ground with plenty of space for their roots. There are a lot of plants that just did not do well in our garage, which we also refer to as our mini greenhouse. The garage presented many challenges such as being, what we believe, mold loving. The mini greenhouse also had a lack of good air flow and limited sun light. The Soil Blocks allowed us to sow a lot more seedlings with a lot less space once they were out of their pots. We attempted to rid the plants of any mold in their environment by cleaning the pots individually with a bleach and water solution. However, we think some unseen mold still remained leaving disease lingering among the plants. So we moved all the old seedlings out and brought in the Soil Blocks along with some fresh air. We think it is helping. But, as with anything we need to give it time to see results. I can see from the newly sown or re sown sprouts that the sprouts themselves are a lot bigger, healthier and stronger looking.

How can you help your seedlings grow in their tender state when you cannot see them yet? How can you identify when your plants is beginning to get in trouble? What ways can you nip disease and pest problems in the bud assuring a fruitful harvest? Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.