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How is the Garden?

As you already know, one of the number one questions we get is: how is the garden? This question helped to encourage this site. The answer is a lot of good things are happening in the garden. While we still are keeping our eye out for slugs, snails and flies, for the most part they seem to be under control. But, Mother Nature is always full of surprises. So we will be keeping our eyes peeled. We have seen a few snails here and there. They are tricky because you do not always know what is in the shell. We currently have been treating the garden with the Organic Pest remedy: Oatmeal. Stay tuned for updates on if this Organic Remedy for snails is effective.

The Vole seems to have been taken care of. We have seen no more signs of eaten leaves although there are still a few flies around. The ants however seem to be our most difficult pest. We have been doing a regimen of ground black pepper and water solution, fertilizer for the plants health, marigold flowers (which ants dislike) and Neem Oil, all which should help. Some help more than others. Overall our Organic Remedies have worked although the verdict is still out on the ants, snails and slugs.

Our Roma Tomatoes, San Marzano Tomatoes, Squash, Pumpkin, Sugar Baby Water Melon and Green Bean Plants are all doing very well. They have developed root systems and have begun multiplying their leaves and growing tall. We believe a Vole was causing a lot of havoc in the garden. Now that we have addressed that problem the garden seems to be taking off. Two of our bean plants have been leaning over. Their stalks are very tall, lean and can normally bear the weight of its fruit (beans) thus far. However, we identified two bean plants that needed some additional support so; we staked them with a few wooden paint stirrers that we got from the paint section for free. We will still have to keep our eyes open for flies, snails and slugs so they do not eat the leaves and the harvest. We thus continue to treat the plants with Neem Oil (an Organic Pest Remedy).

Have you started a garden? Do you have house plants? Send us pictures and leave us a comment telling us all about it. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep growing. 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.

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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Saving Time in the Garden

Garden Sprayer

We do not have many big tools in our garden tool box but, we have a few key tools that have begun to save us a ton of time. The sprayer pictured above is holds a gallon. It pumps the air out of the container and you hold the lever down for a continuous spray powered by air pressure. The more pressure the more liquid sprayed. There are sieves to filter the liquid so, what you put in the container must be fairly liquid. For things that are less liquid like our ground pepper and water mix we use the water can. We can more than cover our garden space with 2 passes of the water can. The holes in the water can are larger and should be able to hold most mixtures you apply to your garden.

Besides watering the garden, we also fertilize on a regular basis. We have also been applying different mixtures to the soil and plants to discourage pests. You will find that your Organic Remedies are less processed than chemical remedies and, thus may require a water can or sprayer that can hold a less refined liquid.  Thus far the water can, oscillating sprinkler and sprayer are all we need to apply what we need to the garden as well as save time. The most expensive item was the water can because we opted for metal over plastic. There is always something to do in the garden so, anytime we can automate or save time in a manner that makes financial sense for our size garden we do so.

Did you know that you can use wooden paint stirrers to stake smaller plants? Do you know how to stake a plant? Read our article “Stake Holder” dated May 9, 2020 to learn more about staking. Curious as to how you can save time in your garden? Just Ask! Did you know that you can get globes that water your house plants as needed? All you do is fill the globe. Want to know more? Just Ask. 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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Organic Remedy for Slugs

Organic Remedy for Slugs

Velmer shared with us the rich benefits of used coffee grounds. She scored some major points with this natural resource. Coffee grounds can be used in compost (the filters as well). They can also be used as soil fertilizer. And they can be used as an Organic Remedy for slugs. Our cabbages and Brussels Sprouts have had a time with flies to slugs to snails. We were searching for the correct Organic Remedy to remove these ‘pests’ from our garden as they do not promote plant health and growth. In fact they eat faster than we do! We could barely keep up with how fast nature was moving.

Just when we thought one pest was gone, we discover that we are dealing with a few pests. Some of the pests are in different growth stages. So we had to lay down an Organic Remedy for flies, slugs and snails all at once. The great thing about many of the Organic Remedies (coffee grounds a case in point) that we have been using is that they serve multiple purposes. As the coffee grounds deter the slugs and as they are worked into the soil, they will also fertilize the soil. Typically you would till the coffee grounds into the soil for proper fertilization. Nonetheless, it should have some positive effects.

While our Cabbage & Brussels Sprouts plants may not ever recover, we believe that getting rid of the pests is an overall good idea for the garden. We want to put a big welcome sign out for those insects and animals that do promote the goals of our garden, such as lady bugs, butterflies, bees and birds. What else are used coffee grounds good for? Can you use any of these Organic Remedies around the house? Did you know that vinegar and water can be mixed and used as a Windex? Did you know that eliminating or reducing the use of chemicals in your home can improve your health? Did you know there are organic cleansers for the home on the market? 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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Savings

Nature is an interesting thing. Just when you think you have a pest under control, you do not and just when you think a plant is done, it comes back. During this journey the days have been rare when I have felt ahead of the curve when it comes to pests. Some of the seemingly easiest things to do are not Organic. The Organic Remedy can be that of great patience as it will often work in conjunction with nature and on her time table not ours. If all things are effective, our known pest issues should soon come under control. Things definitely seem to be getting better and not worse although time will tell. We still have a ways to go with the snails and ants in the garden.

The good news is that we believe the Vole was the root of the problem as it was eating our vegetables from underneath the ground. We will be keeping our eyes peeled and hoping things come under control. There are a few things that have truly been time savers for us affording us an opportunity to give our attention to other things in the garden and they both surround watering and pest control applications.

First we purchased a water can, which is designed to mimic the application of water in a manner similar to nature (rain fall). My can is super fast and can cover a large amount of space in a short time. I placed both my fertilizer (promote plant health) and ground black pepper (ant deterrent) in my water can and was able to apply it within minutes. The second solution was an oscillating water sprinkler. By the time we put our salad on the plate for dinner the garden had been watered. We came out to check the sprinkler and had to turn it off because it had spread so much water so fast it was beginning to pool.

These two items saved me so much time I had time to transplant a couple of plants into new pots; clean some previously emptied pots and clean up around the garden. Anytime you can save time around the garden through automation or quick applications for example do so. What are some things you do to save time? What are some new ways you can save time? What is the cost savings or expense to these methods? Does it make sense overall? 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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Slug to Snail in 60 Seconds

Garden Snails

When you read Eliot Coleman’s books one of the things he will tell you is that, some of the best farmers are great observers of nature. What we have observed is while nature may take its time to produce a tomato, a slug can turn into a snail within a matter of a day. Either these slugs are very good at hiding or they are very fast at transformation. So, why should the gardener be concerned about such observations and nature?

The Slug was first larva. Most gardeners will tell you that some insects and animals are there to help the processes you need to occur in the garden to produce healthy fruit bearing trees while others are not helpful. Normally they are described as either good or bad bugs as some plants are described as plants and others as weeds. Some things will help you along the way and others things will not. Nonetheless, within it all is the overall balance of nature, which we are still observing. Observing implies that we do not all there is to know about nature.

As we identify those things that are helpful to our Organic Garden Pursuits and those that are not, we can begin to enhance the garden experience by managing these things. First we have to identify those things that are helpful and those things that are not. Then we can decide how to properly address them. An Organic Remedy for larva is different than that of a slug and even a snail. This is not always the case but often there are some differences.

Time is of the essence when you are dealing with those things that are not helpful to your garden. I have found that in the case of the snail things moved very quickly. One day I had larva the next I had slugs and the next I had snails and some at the same time. Just as I was researching one Organic Remedy, my pest had transformed into something else. Yesterday I found that I had to conduct research for the pest and address the pest within the hour albeit it was a snail at this point. I mistook larva for an insect caught in a spider web and while I was still identifying my pest half the crop was being eaten up.

The good news is as one becomes more experienced and quicker to respond the better these issues can be addressed. How do you know when a plant is in trouble? How do you try to get at the root of the problem? How do you identify what the problem is? How can you solve a problem if you do not know what the problem is? 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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Professor Plant

Benefits of House Plant

Learning something is perhaps one of the most humbling things you can do. Learning from a child can also be humbling. However, if you allow the learning experience to happen to you and you embrace it, you will learn something new. Depending on what you learn, learning can be profound. I learn something new every day in the garden. One of the things that struck me is how caring for and observing the plants has improved how I care for myself health wise. These little plants and seedling have taught me a lot. God is awesome in that his lessons, principles, parables and teachings are often transferable to other areas of our lives. Observing nature is no different. Having and caring for plants is observing nature.

I did expect to eat the plants and receive health benefits from that process. However, the other thing I noticed is that I have begun to recover from illness sooner than I had previously. I had a sneeze and mucus associated with the sneeze that just would not go away. In this current Corona client, as we know, being healthy is the new normal. One thing we have learned from Corona statistics is that those who already had underlining health concerned were hit the hardest. This showed up in nursing homes amongst the elderly and in African American communities.

I never took any medications to improve my sneeze. However, what I did do was take some natural (food) remedies know to boost the immune system, such as vitamin C, honey and ginger. I drank apple juice fortified with vitamin C and made a honey, ginger and turmeric tea. All of which I am sure contributed to my improved health. I also found that for some reason I was always cleaning my eyes. And suddenly the skin around my eyes was less agitated and moist. I stopped rubbing my eyes and the skin around my eyes became more soft and supple like the rest of my skin and the soreness in my throat begin to alleviate.

That I did not expect. What I did expect was to learn more about gardening and becoming a better gardener. What you can read in our May 31, 2020 article “Infectious Disease” is how we have been identifying plant disease and addressing it quickly. We do not have all the answers yet but we will keep close observation and let you know what we learn. What we do learn from WebMD is that house plants have the following benefits:

  • Allergy Relief
  • Lifts your Mood
  • Adds Moisture to the Air
  • Purifies the Air
  • Improves Digestion (Mint and other foods as well as herbs)
  • Relaxing (such as the Lavender & Chamomile MiMi and Mom have)
  • Good for First Aid (Aloe)
  • Produces Oxygen through photosynthesis
  • Relieves Stress
  • Faster Healing
  • Better Mental & Emotional Health

Click WebMD to read this article and learn more about the benefits of house plants. For those who choose to keep their gardens indoors or to have kitchen gardens, having your plants around maybe more beneficial than you knew. Do you have any house plants? Why do you have them? What do you like about having them around? What observations have you made? 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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Bugging

Good Garden Bugs

Being on an Organic Journey there are many organizations that you come to like such as the USDA Organic Certification Program. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is one of them. Our government does not do everything right but the EPA is definitely a move in the right direction. We have found them to be a great resource of information. They have compiled a book to help us identify garden bugs, so we know which ones are good and which ones are ‘not helpful’ and how we can address these pests in an Organic manner. Click EPA to get this booklet.

Our transplanted Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts (learn more about effective ways to transplant by reading our May 2, 2020 article “True to Transplanting”) from the garden center, that came to us as small plants, have faced one pest after the other. Just when we got rid of one here came another. They ate both plants before we even had a chance to say harvest. Now we have found that what we believed to have been spider webs was actually larva, big lesson, and they hatched and became what we believe to be slugs. We are pretty certain since we have snails on the garage door and found some on the plants. First, the best thing to do is to remove the larva before they hatch. Just when we reduced the number of ants then came the flies. They were munching on the plants and we did not know. Then came the snails who laid their eggs and now we have slugs.

Plant shock threw these plants into one predator issue to another. The good news is that the EPA has an Organic Remedy to these bugs. We will be employing some of these remedies and will let you know what we discover. The Mole Max (uses sound) has thus far proven to be very useful in resolving our Vole issue. We believe, we never saw it, that a Vole was eating our plants from underneath the ground. This also caused a lot of stress and probably root problems for our plants. Our plants have been through a lot. Nonetheless, the Organic Remedies are plentiful and we believe one is bound to work. FYI: Lady Bugs are Good Bugs.

What are some other tools you can use to help identify the issue(s) your plants are having when they get in trouble? What are some other organizations that provide helpful information for Organic Consuming? What is important to you as an Organic Consumer? 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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MiMi’s Inspiration

African Marigold

MiMi and mom gifted us a Cynoglossum Amabile (Chines Forget Me Not) growing kit. Soon after I picked up another kit of Echinacea from the same location. They like a good deal just like we do so it was perfect and the Echinacea has begun to sprout from the kit I got. I did use a different pot then what was provided by the kit. On May 26, 2020 we posted the article “Crowded”  including a video showing how to use growing kits (specifically how to activate the growing medium). Click the article name “Crowded” to view the article. 

After which, MiMi and Mom got a kit for themselves and decided to grow Lavender & Chamomile. Two of our favorite flowers. Both can be used to make teas and both look very beautiful. Lavender is one of those amazing flowers that can be used for almost anything such as making oil scents, perfumes and you can cook with it. So, we though that was pretty cool and hope MiMi is having an awesome learning experience like us. So, we felt inspired to check out this store too since they (MiMi & Mom) are so good at finding deals. And we did. They had a variety of several kits there.

We did not pick up a kit. However, we did pick up some unexpected good advice. We were telling the staff all about the problem that we were having with ants and how we were really looking for an Organic Remedy to the issue. And it just so happen that a few of his family members were really into gardening also. He told me that ants hate Marigold and a few other plants and herbs. We were considering putting up a boarder around the garden. After doing a little research on the matter we discovered that he was 100% correct about the Marigold and ants. Needless to say we got several packs of Marigold Mission Giant Yellow (there are several varieties of marigold) to plant around the boarder of the garden. We also got one full fledge plant: an African Marigold. Some of its flowers are still blooming. Other flowers on the plant have already bloomed as you can see. Naturally the plants are more. So, we got a plant (it looks like four plants in one pot) to get us started and several seeds to keep us going. The seeds will take a week or two to sprout and over 2 months to bloom. We will soon separate the plants out into separate pots to spread the ‘remedy’ around.

As with all our ant Organic Remedies we are being persistent and trying to give them time to work. Because we have serval remedies at work if one does not work than we hope the other will. In the interest of time we are trying multiple avenues. So far the ants seems to be checking the Marigold out and she is standing firm. We will be making observations regarding all our remedies. We are learning too MiMi. Stay tuned to see how things go. 

Where are some interesting places you have found help or information? Have you ever considered using a plant as a pesticide? What other Organic Remedies do you know of that you can share with the community? Did you know ants also hate coffee grounds? Did you know that coffee grounds are good for compost and as a fertilizer? Read more about coffee grounds in our May 24, 2020 article “Compost & Coffee Grounds”. 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