Friday, November 14, 2014

Saving Seeds

Okay Kids, so this time of year is great. "GREAT?" you may say. Zach please explain. The upside is that you get to start you collecting for next year's seeds. If you have a particular type of non-Hybrid plant that you just can't live without and want next year...why not save some seeds from it. This year, I am saving seeds from a couple different types of seeds. I'll be saving my Scarlet Runner Beans, Radishes, Peas, and Marigolds. These are really some easy seeds to harvest for beginners since there are no special techniques as compared to say tomatoes. Here is the Link on how to collect tomato seeds.

 These are pretty self explanatory, because all you have to do is take off the hull around seeds. I think the key thing is to be sure that everything is completely dry.

 So once I have harvested the seed pods, i leave them inside for a couple of days, to insure that they are completely dry. After which I start to hull them. Be sure to store them in ziplock baggies, mark their names, and dates on the bag too.

So once I have harvested the seed pods, i leave them inside for a couple of days, to insure that they are completely dry. After which I start to hull them. Be sure to store them in ziplock baggies, mark their names, and dates on the bag too.

Monday, October 13, 2014


So I was reading The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and I reached a spot in the book where Mary has found the secret garden and decided to grow flowers in it. She has her friend Dickon buy seeds for her. He bought her poppies and Mignonette. He told her they were the sweetest smelling flower in the world. You know what, I want a secret garden, I want Mignonette. Mignonette, also called Reseda has very plain flower spikes. They are often used in flower arrangements or potpourri because of such a sweet fragrance. 

According to Outside Pride
"Growing Minonette from see is not difficult, but the flower seed should be started outdoors as the plants do not transplant well. Prepare a seedbed and place the Mignonette seeds on the surface. Pressing the flower seed into the soil and barely covering. Maintain moisture until determination occurs. Thin the Mignonette seedlings to the strongest plant. 12 inches apart. Young Reseda Odorata plants should be pinched back to encourage a bushier growth habi. Mignonette seeds can be sown over a period of time to create a longer growing season."

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Garden is beginning to wind down for me this year. Cucumbers are done, tomatoes are finishing, squash is going strong, beans are also winding down. But one would think that we are done for the year. Well kids, you would be wrong. Start your fall planting! In the midwest there are two major growing seasons, Spring and end of summer! All of those cold crops that you were growing at the beginning of the year are able to be planted again right now. Actually probably should have started planting a month or so ago. Oh well, don't let your fear of failure stop you from proceeding with what you can do. Get out there and plant that lettuce. But don't stop there, there are lots of things you can plant, Head Lettuce, Cutting Lettuce, Radishes, Beets, Turnips, Carrots, Beans, Peaseven some Cucumbers and Squash. Here are some of my lettuces that are coming up. If you are unsure of what to begin or which plants to plant, then its very easy to determine what to plant. Look at your seed packet, they all have listed the "Days to Maturation" on it. Then count backwards from your First Frost Date. If you have leeway, then you can do it! 

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Hi kids, each year I feel like I grow the same vegetables over and over again, although they may be new variations of them, they are still the same thing. I wanted to mix it up this year and try something a little bit different, Kohlrobi. Now back when I lived on the farm we grew Kohlrobi and it was beautiful. So I wanted to give it a try this year. I found some kohlrabi starts at the local nursery so I picked them up and started to plant them, planting two different crops so that I could stagger out when I would harvest my plants. And boy did they do well. The whole plant is edible from the leaves to the bulbous stem. 

So let's take a look on how to grow them. If you ever grown cabbage, broccoli, or cauliflower then you'll be a pro at with Kohlrobi. It's in the same family as the other brassicas so it enjoys the same type of climate. Start them off early in the years they can get a better start growing and I'm little bit cooler environment. Amend the soil with organic matter and watch them grow. Now with my Kohlrobi that was really all I had to do, but My second crop might have been a little bit harder since I started to get cabbage moth caterpillars on my plants. They only affected the leaves and not the bulbous stem. The chickens loved them though!

If you are seeing wholes in your leaves bug you don't know who is doing the damage, look under the leaves and this is the little buggie that you will find. Now you can spray the plant to kill the bugs, but I just find it easier to pick them off. And the thing is, it's so much easier to just pick them off and do the 'real' organic pest control form.

Now the bed that I have them in now is very good soil with lots of rich humus. Plant them them in the spring about the beginning of May. Now every two weeks plant some succession crops so as to continue your harvest. Now I harvested my first pair in the second week of June and am still harvesting here in the second week of July. 


So when do you harvest this alien looking veggie? When the bulbous stem gets to be around 4 inches in diameter is about when you should harvest. It will still be young and tender. The danger with harvesting later is that you may risk the kohlrabi becoming fibrous inside. Although I many times pick them 5-6 inches wide and they are still delicious!
When it does come time to harvest there are a couple ways. The correct way that I first started doing but then got tired so I switched to the lazy. 

Correct Way:
As indicated here in the picture, the proper way so as not to disturb the soil would be to find the base of the plant and snip it with a pair of snippers.

Incorrect Way:

   To pull the whole plant out of the ground, roots and all (like an onion), and lop off the root-ball of dirt.

Both ways are correct and both ways give you a good result.

Later I will post a recipe for a kohlrabi fitter!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Canna 'Musafolia'

One of the things that I love most about my blog is that I'm able to look back from year-to-year and look at the things that succeeded and maybe some other things that didn't succeed. Well today I wanted to share with you something that I know will be the future addition to my garden next year. It's called Canna 'Musafolia' or banana canna; and as the name suggests it resembles a tropical banana plant.  Now I'm pretty familiar with most cannas but I've never heard of this one before. I plant different cannas every year and they always give me such a show  (that is if the squirrels don't dig them up). Normally the ones I grow are for the flowers and for the unique foliage and Canna 'Musafolia' is no exception. It can grow up to 10 feet tall by Midsummer and even taller in ideal conditions.

In the Great Lakes region where I live (zone 5b), getting the tropical paradise look, that so many love, is an extreme challenge. Because of our cold winters anything tropical die back. But with banana canna it is now possible to have the backyard hammock and Corona sitting by the pool in your "banana tree". 

I learned about this particular Canna when I was catching up on  "A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach", I never heard of it before so I looked it up online and my mind was blown. Although I have yet to figure out where exactly I'll place it in my garden, I know that I will be growing it next year. And hopefully if all goes well (please squirrels give me a break), I'll be posting pictures of my own beautiful 10 foot tall cannas. 

Below are some photos that I pulled from online. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

How 2's: Marigolds

Hey Kids, I've got another How To for you today. I though we would talk about Marigolds. Nothing is as beautiful as a flowing bed of marigolds. They are the flower that gives without giving up. By being drought resistant, disease tolerant, and ever flowering, this plant has become a staple in many gardens. Its common folklore that Marigolds will even keep out unwanted pests when planted around the garden. The flowers are edible and are also used as dyes and teas. So all together its a good flower that you should have in your yard. They are also really easy to start from seed!

By using a heat mat I got my seeds to germinate in 2 days! I am planting Queen Sophia, just because I love the full mum look. But there are so many different looks that are available. You all know how much I love Livingston Seed Co. there seeds are the best quality for the smallest price (no they don't sponsor me). Click HERE to see my blog comparison of seed companies. 

Marigolds are so easy to start from seeds. This tray that I am planting in has 72 cells/plants for $1.29 as compared to the flats at the nurseries that only have 24 cells/plants for $12-$16! Not to mention that in one packet of seeds I was able to plant 2 trays or 144 plants for $1.29. Now that's a bargain!

Monday, June 9, 2014

What is this

So check this out! I am used to seeing grubs when I am digging and planting, normally they are small maybe a half inch. While I was planting some noble giant spinach, I ran across this guy! look how big he is, almost half the size of the plant tag. probably 2.5-3 inches long! If I grew up in the Amazonian Forest, I would think that he was a tasty little meal, fortunately I am not. I found one like him two years ago. I have no idea what he is!!!!!!

I gave him up as a sacrifice the the robins who have some young little birdies in the nest. If you have any idea what he is, please let me know.
Huge Grub that I found in my garden, probably 3" in length. If you know what it is, please let me know.
Update 5/9/14:

I found out what this is. I believe it is a cicada larva! this year I found around 50 of them in the garden! Yuck!

This is only a portion of the grubs that I found. But let me tell you, that the robins really liked me a lot.
The robins were really happy with me. They would wait for me in the garden and when I found a grub I would throw one to them and they were ever so happy!

Fairy Garden DIY: Potted Succulent

Okay kids, I've got another fairy garden DIY for you today. This one is pretty easy (I'm getting all of the easy ones out the way frost before tackling the harder ones). Fairy Garden Succulent Planter, it's way too easy. You know if you have succulents in your yard how quickly they begin to reproduce. I simply found one of the tiniest tiny succulent out in the yard I could. If there are no tiny ones just stip the top off a larger succulent stip the lower leaves and plop it into a container of potting soil. Make sure to keep it constantly moist to encourage rooting of the cutting. 
: thimble (or other small container
: succulent or other small plant 
: potting soil 

1) find your succulent 
2) place it inside of the container
3) water

Go see see my other fairy garden tutorials:

Monday, May 26, 2014

Neem - The organic insecticide

Neem is one of my favorite things to use when it comes to controlling disease and pests. Its Organic, and as you all know when growing your vegetables, why use anything that wasn't organic.

You want to get a 70% Neem Oil Like this one!

As Mike McGrawth, Host of "You Bet Your Garden" says,  "I like [to] use neem oil as the oil form of this plant seed is a very effective anti-fungal. (In another, harder-to-find form, neem acts as an anti-feedant; and if pest insects eat anyway, they die. You go, neem tree seed!) 

Anti-fungal! Do tell you say!

Neem oil can be used to treat a number of garden ailments, including:
  • Insects: Neem oil kills or repels many harmful insects and mites, including aphids, whiteflies, snails, nematodes, mealybugs, cabbage worms, gnats, moths, cockroaches, flies, termites, mosquitoes, and scale. It kills some bugs outright, attacks the larvae of others, and repels plant munchers with its bitter taste.
  • Fungus: Neem oil is also effective in preventing fungal diseases such as black spot, anthracnose, rust, and mildew.
  • Disease: As if that wasn’t enough, neem oil also battles viruses that can harm plants.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Fairy Garden DIY: Picture Frame

Fairy gardens are my favorite things to look at. Last year I did an article on fairy gardens that I saw at the garden centers. They were so fun. I have started to collect my own supplies and I will be doing a series on creating your own Fairy Garden! To start us off nice and easy here is how I made Fairy Garden picture frames that are made from plant tags.

The Great thing of using plant tags is that you never have to worry about the pictures turning bad since they are plastic. We all have these things that we have laying around and end up throwing them away. I don't know about you, but I think they look pretty good.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Garden Plan 2014

Hey Kids, this year is fun, we are redesigning the garden, and it's overdue. It was a large 12x12 garden. Which means that you have to walk through it, which compresses the soil and makes it hard (no oxygen, or water). Last year I wanted to break this big bed up into a couple smaller raised beds and viola we are doing it. I did a lot of research  on designs and found that the ideal width of a bed is 3-4' wide. This will give you plenty of space to reach the middle of the bed from all sides. Here is my board on all of my raised bed designs form Pinterest.

Follow Zachary's board Raised Beds Ideas on Pinterest.

So here is my new design for the garden 2014.

Let me know what you think. I made the bed on the far right only 2 feet because I can only reach it from one side since it rests against the neighbors fence. Otherwise I think it is pretty good looking.

Here is the design from 2010

Friday, May 9, 2014

What's New

Okay Kids, So I talked last spring about what is my favorite place to shop at for such a large variety of vegetables and flowers. Again I went to Baker's Acres and got some NEW Varieties. (Click here for last years new veggies).

Juane Flame, Big Zac, Ananas Noire, Abe Lincoln, Tomande, Lipstick

Ive never seen these varieties at my other nurseries so I had to get them. Notice the 'Big Zac' tomatoes! I got three of those! I mean, they named it after me so I really had to. I am still waiting on the beds to be done with the remodel before I can plant them in the ground. Hoping to have that all done by next week. I am deciding to use the EarthBoxes only for peppers. The tomatoes just get too big and unmanageable in them.

I hope all you kids got some new and different varieties... Try something that you never have...I double dog dare you to! Here are some of the different varieties that Baker's Acres had that I liked.

Black Magic Viola: truly a black flower!
Look at these guys, Grafted tomatoes! I don't know if you have heard about these guys yet, but way cool, also Way expensive! A grafted tomato is a combination of two tomato plants. Normally they are one Hybrid and one Heirloom variety. The rootstock is the hybrid and the scion is the heirloom. This makes the heirloom variety more vigorous and immune to soil born diseases. It does not protect it form air born diseases however. Still pretty cool. I know that you can do it yourself too. Maybe I'll try it next year.
Grafted Tomatoes

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Vegan Dandelion Pesto

Okay Kids, what about those dandelions? They are beautiful...okay take a second look and really look at their beauty. Right you see it now! I was weeding the garden and looking at all of the dandelions that I was throwing away. I am sure that I can do something with all of this "waste". What about Pesto, ever heard about arugala pesto? Here is the low down... I was so surprised at how unbitter this pesto was, really it was so delicious that I just had to make it again... and again! So surprised!

Dandelion Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Makes Makes about 2 cups


  • ¾ cup unsalted hulled (green) pumpkin seeds
  • 4 garlic gloves
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 bunch dandelion greens (about 6 cups, loosely packed)
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ⅛ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Black pepper, to tasted


Place pumpkin seeds in a large skillet and roast over medium heat. Stir consistently until golden brown and you can hear they pop a little. Remove from the pan and allow to cool.
Pulse the garlic and pumpkin seeds together in the bowl of a food processor until very finely chopped.
Add nutritional yeast, dandelion greens, and lemon juice and process continuously until combined. Stop the processor every now and again to scrape down the sides of the bowl. The pesto will be very thick and difficult to process after awhile — that's ok.
With the blade running, slowly pour in the olive oil and process. Add the water a little bit at a time until the pesto is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Here is a tip for you all, when using your Cuisinart, the most difficult thing about the Cuisinart is having to clean that silly lid. So a way I fix that is to wrap the lid is plastic wrap. Then when I am done I just unwrap the lid and viola!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Seeds this Spring - Cucumbers

Hey Kids, last year we had so many cucumbers. They were prolific. More than I knew what to do with them. Pickles were made out of them, relishes, salads. Even though I have never been any good at zucchini, my cucumbers produced more than my zucchini ever did. Unfortunately, with all the wet weather we had last year, the cucumbers got mosaic virus, and mildew. I tried treating them with fungicides like Neem, but it was so wet that I couldn't keep up. We had some really fun varieties last year, check out the list of veggies that I go last year, HERE. This year though I am going to stick with one. It will make it easier for picking, this way they will all look the same and I wont have to guess when they are ripe. 

I picked up Marketmore 76. According Johnny's Seeds, this variety was selected because it is resistant to many diseases such as cucumber mosaic virus, downy mildew and powdery mildew. 

I also wanted to try a process called scarification, which is supposed to reduce germination time by allowing to seed to experience water absorption faster.

Thursday, May 1, 2014


Okay Kids, spring is one of my favorites. I love taking pics of the yard because it only happens once.
Here in Ohio, we have had a strange one. Everything is so Late 3 weeks ago we got SNOW!

And things were just starting to come  up too. look at these baby radishes! Just covered with snow!

My helleborus looks so beautiful with a drop of melting snow on it.

The tulips also took the snow well. but look at the backyard!

Finally I had to go to the nursery and relieve my winter blues! Dills Greenhouse, is a great little nursery that is locally owned and has such genius little ideas, plus Look at all of these summer tropicals!