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Bumblebee Devoured by Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis
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5 Ways to Extend your Growing Season

Gardening is a great hobby – it gets you outside, keeps you active, and there’s the great reward of fresh veggies! Of course, towards the end of summer, and as we drift into the fall, we know the fateful ending of the gardening season with the coming of football & frost.

However, you are still able to grow a wide variety of things through the fall. Some crops are frost-tolerant – spinach, kale, and garlic will even be more flavorful through colder weather or after a frost! But, if you are deep into Autumn & fear a hard frost, or even a freeze, you may want to take some precautions to protect your plants – or you can drastically extend your growing season with some of the following options.

  • Frost Blankets are a great option in the beginning or end of the season to provide protection from frost. Heavyweight frost cloth offers 10° of protection, so your plants should be safe down to almost 20°! Be sure to secure the blankets to something, or hold them in place with stone or bricks so that they don’t blow away.

    Image result for frost blanket
    Credit: pineislandfeed.com
  • Low Tunnels are basically mini-greenhouses that range from 4-8 feet wide & could be 100s of feet long. These tunnels can be covered with greenhouse poly (plastic), frost blanket, or even shade cloth in the summer. Low tunnels help you get a jump-start on the season & can help to extend your growing seasons as well. If you go this route, it’s also smart to run some irrigation through the tunnels to keep everything as low-maintenance as possible.

    Image result for frost blanket
    Credit: reformationacres.com
  • Coldframes can be a more-advanced unit like this one pictured below with an arm that automatically raises to vent, to something as simple as an old window nailed onto a makeshift frame – as long as it keeps the frost off & keeps the plants above freezing, you’re good!

    Image result for coldframe
    Credit: gardenersedge.com
  • Hoophouses – A lot of people group coldframes, hoophouses, & greenhouses into the same category, but there are some distinct differences. In the grower world, coldframes would usually reference an overwintering house – or a spot where trees are stored over the winter to keep them from breaking their dormancy too early. Hoophouses are greenhouses that do not have any climate controls – they are passively heated by the sun & passively cooled by roll-up sides, doors, and other ventilation.

    Image result for hoophouse
    Credit: nrcs.usda.gov
  • Greenhouses, on the other hand, are climate-controlled grow-houses. There is heat provided from the greenhouse plastic or covering, or there is cooling by fans, evaporative cooling, control of humidity, irrigation, fertilizer – most every variable can be controlled & that’s the point – to really dial in on the growing recipe that the growers knows will yield big results.

    Image result for greenhouse
    Credit: ggs-greenhouse.com

Not everyone has the money for a greenhouse or hoophouse, but the other alternatives listed above will help you cheat death-by-frost for a few weeks at least.

There’s only a few months out of the year that we can garden successfully, so why not extend that time a little further & extend the cycle of fresh vegetables in your kitchen?

Hope this offers some beginning tips – please let me know if you have any further questions & I’ll be happy to help!

Also, check out the Gardening 4 Gains YouTube Channel here! Feel free to leave suggestions for future videos & blogs below!

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Gardening 4 Green Industry News, Trends, & Updates V.2

Welcome to the second edition of the Gardening 4 Gains weekly newsletter – keeping you up-to-speed with the latest News, Trends, & Updates from the Green Industry to keep you informed & help make you a better gardener!

Please enjoy & subscribe for weekly newsletters below! 👇👍

Source: Uncovering Mother Nature’s Dirty Secrets to Improve Harvests

Source: Secrets of the Second Brain

Source: Why don’t children eat their veggies?

Future Farm, Volunteers of America to build Vertical Farm

Study Shows Organic Ag is Better for the Climate

Common Greenhouse Maintenance Problems

LEDs For Vertical Farming: Buying Guide for Lights

Avocado Beer Made in Mexico

Agriculture is Australia’s Fastest Growing Sector

US: Emergency disaster aid, continuation of government funding approved

 4 Scientific Reasons Why Kids Should Be Outdoors

5 Easy Tips to Improve your Nature Photography

Ohio Wine Industry has huge Impact on State Economy:

Crop diversification helps ensure Westland Orchids and Westland Produce stay profitable:

 

Here’s to a great start to a productive day!

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Take Time to Make Time

Running out of time

And make time to be there!

In this world, everybody wants every thing.

Right now.

ASAP.

Yesterday.

Give yourself at least an hour every day to just.. Be.

Put your phone down & step away from your computer.

Do you remember what it was like before the world was so toxically interconnected? Do you remember reading labels of food, shampoo, or maybe even books on topics you were interested in?

People have FOMO from social media, but while the focus lies there, they are missing out on Real Life – you know, the stuff that happens when you look up from your anxiety-inducing, glorified tracking device.

We all want to manage our time; make the most of this short & limited time we have on this Earth right? There is so much we can do all the time! I HAVE to check my Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, WordPress, etc. right? Stay up to speed on my emails?

It all comes down to time – and managing time.

Most of us are terrible at this task for a few different reasons:

  • Lack of focus
  • Lack of understanding your value
  • The insane obsession our culture has with multi-tasking & quantity of output versus quality of that output

Time is valuable but placing value on time can be a dangerous thing. Don’t place such a high value on your time that nothing is worth your time; you’re managing your time but in those moments you must make the most of what you’re spending your time on – you didn’t go to a baseball game to scroll on your phone.

Placing value on your time also makes your interactions transactional – not relational; functional, not pragmatic.

As with anything with value, its value depreciates over… yep, Time.

What I’m trying to get at is the fact that we need to STOP IN THE MOMENT.

Stop to listen to what people are saying to you; hear their words & read their faces.

Stop talking to advance yourself to a sale; ask questions & listen.

Really listen when people talk to you – THERE IS A REASON THEY ARE TALKING TO YOU!

In my experiences in life, people are attracted to certain people because they trust them; they can unload some of their fears & anxieties on them – and this is a huge honor! Everybody is walking around with a million thoughts flooding the brain, so we can’t solely think of moving towards the sale or towards our ultimate goal in talking with someone.

Sometimes the most important connections made in business are made because of things completely unrelated to business.

Structuring your day & managing your time is an important task that has to be done. But as you’re going through your day, don’t lose sight of what is truly important in life; make the most of your minutes by diving in & being highly engaged with people.

Be something we need more of – a real, genuine, & caring person.

 

 

 

 

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Gardening 4 Green Industry News, Trends & Updates

Plant growing

Stay in the know with a weekly newsletter highlighting news, trends & updates from the Green Industry including:

  • Agricultural articles & news
  • Horticulture – the art & science of growing plants
  • Greenhouse growing best practices
  • Gardening tips & information
  • Growing trends across the nation & the world

 

Check out the first Gardening 4 Gains newsletter here!

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Gardening 4 Green Industry News, Trends & Updates v.1

Plant growing

Welcome to the first edition of the Gardening 4 Gains weekly newsletter – keeping you up-to-speed with the latest News, Trends, & Updates from the Green Industry to keep you informed & help make you a better gardener!

Please enjoy & subscribe for weekly newsletters below! 👇👍

 

Researchers Extract Cancer-fighting Properties from Ontario-grown Onions

onionscancer
Source: HortiDaily

Source: Researchers Extract Cancer-fighting Properties from Ontario-grown Onions

 

 

John Deere spent $300 million on Blue River Technology – a company that uses AI to kill weeds

deere.jpg
Source: Quartz Media

Source: John Deere spent $300 million on Blue River Technology, a company that murders weeds with artificial intelligence — Quartz

 

 

The Psychology of Gardening | Psychology Today

IMG_20170909_171158_654

Source: The Psychology of Gardening | Psychology Today

 

 

Celery Was the Avocado Toast of the Victorian Era

Stored in fancy vases, and served in the Titanic’s first-class cabin. There were days when celery was not just boring crudité, but a luxury.

Source: Celery Was the Avocado Toast of the Victorian Era | TASTE

 

 

Does Cooking Boost Nutrients in Tomatoes and Spinach? – The New York Times

 

 

Germany:What is Going on with the Tomatoes? – HortiDaily

Source: Germany: What is going on with the tomatoes?

 

 

Dig for victory - victory garden poster
Victory is just beneath our feet

Sign up to receive weekly newsletters keeping you up-to-speed with the latest news, trends, & updates from the Green Industry!

 

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My Garden’s Diverse Ecosystem

This year my garden has been full of Birds, Bumblebees, Praying Mantises, Spiders & more – and that’s a good thing!

With every garden, the main concern is to grow food & you must protect it from pests, insects, and disease. In order to do this, it would normally require some sort of pesticide or insecticide – these are not always bad. In the modern world, everyone thinks that a pesticide or a “chemical” is a dangerous, cancerous thing – but in order to grow food, you have to make some decisions. Do I want to eat the literal fruits of your labors, or do you want to leave it to bugs?

Early in the growing process I used a few products to help control pests: Neem Oil, Hot Pepper Wax, and Diatomaceous Earth. All of these products are OMRI-listed & certified organic, but I took care to not spray the garden with Neem Oil or Diatomaceous Earth when flowers started emerging & pollinators began doing their work. Although Neem is safe to spray – as long as it isn’t directly on the bees – I didn’t really want to take the chance when I started noticing the intricate food web unfolding before my eyes.

Looking closely at some of my tomatoes, I began to see the start of whitefly, and also of mites, but then they would disappear after a couple days. This was due to 2 factors. The first one is the huge amount of birds that I have visiting the garden. For whatever reason, I hate birds in my garden – I thought they were just there to pick some flowers, eat my raspberries, and dig up my earthworms. A closer look revealed that they were also cleaning up the bugs from the tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers.

The amount of pollinators in my garden has also really been astounding. I’m not a big fan of bees, but the role they play in the garden makes them a priceless asset. This year I began to really pay attention to them because of the huge push to “Save the Bees”, what is going on with them anyways, why are they dying?

(Check out this video I got of a Praying Mantis Attacking a Bumblebee!

There have been at least 6-8 different types of bees, hornets, yellow jackets, and wasps buzzing around the backyard – drunk off pollen, indulging themselves in the buffet on Boone Street. The bees may be pollinating, but the others guys (wasps, yellow jackets) have been spotted crawling along the soil or leaves of the plants – why? When you really look, you see they’re cleaning up the whitefly & the mites.

And that is the beauty of a healthy-functioning garden ecosystem – there is a true food web that is being naturally sustained!

Praying Mantis
Praying Mantises are beneficial insects & love cleaning up pests from the garden.
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My Late-Summer Salad Garden

Raspberries & Lettuce

My late-summer garden will be dedicated to salad. Right now I am still tending 45 tomato plants, 50 pepper plants, and 6 raspberry bushes that are lost in the tomato jungle.

Earlier in the season I had radishes, lettuce, garlic, onions, basil, cilantro, and dill but after I harvested them, I just stuck to tomatoes. I’m really not sure why I planted so many. My initial thought was that it would be a hit at the local farmer’s market – but I haven’t been to one yet. That may have to happen soon because I have no counter space left due to the Tomato Takeover!

Besides that, Kyla makes the best pico, spaghetti sauce, and chili from the ingredients we’ve grown this year. It’s true what they say – nothing compares to homemade tomato sauce with homegrown ingredients!

So to supplement the tomatoes, jalapeños, habaneros, onions, and garlic, I’ll be growing herbs like Basil & Cilantro to make our salsas & sauces even more authentic. Also throwing in some greens to increase our vegetable consumption to more than just tomatoes!

Keep in mind that this is a garden to be harvested in the Fall – you want to pick vegetables that are cold-hardy & that will be harvested before the frost (check out my cold-hardy vegetable list here!)

  • Basil
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Cilantro
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Onions
  • Radish
  • Rainbow Chard
  • Spinach
  • Turnips

I know what you’re thinking – Beets? Rainbow Chard? Turnips? Why?

Honestly don’t think I’ve ever had Beets or Rainbow Chard – so trying them fresh is one factor. Rainbow Chard is one of the most colorful things you can grow in the garden, I just hope that we like it! I think we’ll like the Beets, but I’m just growing those to live up to my girlfriend calling me Dwight Schrute! (from the TV show The Office).

Turnips, on the other hand, are the unsung champion vegetable of the garden. Someone I work with said it best, a turnip is what happens when a radish & a potato have a baby. That is really the perfect description for the taste, texture & everything. So how do you  use it? We like to chop them up in beef stew, use it in chili, or in a stir fry – basically the same way you would use a potato.

Please comment if you have any other Turnip, Beet, or Rainbow Chard recipes or recommendations!

A small section of the garden has been cleared of wild tomatoes & cucumbers and is ready for the sowing of the salad. We have a ton of rain on the way this week so that should help get everything saturated & germinated for another round of garden bliss!

Hope this helps keep your garden growing into, and well beyond, the fall!

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What to Plant at the End of August

Cucumber pollination

It’s the end of August here in Ohio – the nights are cooling off, tomatoes & peppers continue to produce fruit to no end, but you still have the itch to keep planting.

Luckily, there is still a ton of stuff you can plant!

Being in zone 5, our last frost date is approximately mid-October – that means we’ve got about 2 months to get growing! With ~60 days, you won’t have enough time for corn, potatoes, or tomatoes, but there are a few options.

Cold-weather crops

  • Arugula (rocket)
  • Beets
  • Collards
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery (mild winter climates)
  • Chard
  • Coriander (Cilantro)
  • Fennel
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lettuce
  • Mizuna
  • Mustard greens
  • Onions (bulbing)
  • Onions (bunching–standard onions harvested before they form bulbs).
  • Pak choi (Bok choy)
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Spinach

Below is a little more detailed cool-weather crop breakdown I got from Bonnie Plants:

Cool-weather crops are broken into 2 categories – Hardy & Semi-Hardy.

Hardy – can tolerate hard frost of 25-28°F. Collards, Kale, & Spinach can handle low 20s and teens in some cases! The beautiful thing about cool weather crops is that they are more flavorful when grown under these circumstances – you know this first-hand if you’ve ever had Spinach in the garden when temps hit 90-100! Image result for tongue out emoji

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Collards*
  • English peas
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leeks
  • Mustard greens
  • Parsley
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Turnip

Semi-hardy – can tolerate 29-32°F

  • Beets
  • Carrot
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Endive
  • Irish potatoes
  • Lettuce and gourmet salad greens
  • Radicchio
  • Rutabaga
  • Salsify
  • Swiss chard*

*Tastes better in winter, but will grow well through summer.

Grown in 60 days

Arugula 30-40 days to harvest
Basil 35-45 days to harvest
Beet 50-65 days to harvest
Cabbage 50-65 days to harvest
Carrots
55-75 days to harvest
Cilantro 60-75 days to harvest
Collards 55-60 days to harvest
Cucumbers
55-65 days to harvest
Garlic 90-110 in ground all winter
Kale 45-60 days to harvest
Kohlrabi 55-65 days to harvest
Lettuce 45-60 days to harvest
Leek 85-105 in ground all winter
Mustard 30-50 days to harvest
Green bunching onion 55-60 days to harvest
Snap Peas 55-60 days to harvest
Radish 25-40 days to harvest
Spinach 37-50 days to harvest
Swiss Chard 50-60 days to harvest
Turnip 45-60 days to harvest

Planting a garden at the end of the summer is something I enjoy for 2 reasons:

  1. Watching a whole new growing process from seed-to-salad or seed-to-sandwich is my favorite process in the world. It is so amazing that 1 tiny seed can turn into a meal, or part of a meal. Growth isn’t limited to spring if you know what to plant & when to plant it.
  2. A whole new batch of fresh veggies! I didn’t grow much other than Tomatoes, Jalapeños, and Habaneros this year so it’ll be nice to get fresh Spinach, Lettuce, Radishes & other salad-friendly veggies back in rotation.

First Fall Frost

As is noted above, most of these crops are somewhat frost-tolerant – some vegetables will even be more flavorful after the frost! But, if you are deep into October & fear a hard frost, or even a freeze, you may want to take some precautions if you want to extend your growing season even further.

Please let me know if you have any questions about starting your garden & I’ll be happy to help!

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Limiting Language & Thoughts

Why does the weekend fly by?

Why do you let it?

How you talk to yourself is limiting you. “I can’t do that.” “I can’t understand that, did you see how long the contract was?”

How you think about activities is limiting you.

Exhibit A: I hate Mondays.

What are you waiting for?

What are you afraid of?

Why?

Whether you dream of starting your own business or taking your career to the next level, we all have obstacles standing in our way to achieve our goals – and most of them reside between your ears.

That’s right – it’s your fault you aren’t where you want to be!

Who else can you blame?

As soon as you do place the blame outside of yourself, that is where it will reside forever. What an easy solution!

Your job isn’t to find the barriers, it is to find a way around, over, or through.

What’s your path today?

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3 Reasons Your Tomatoes Won’t Ripen

It’s the end of July, you planted your tomatoes over 2 months ago & the seed packet said you’d be able to harvest fruit in 60 days – why aren’t your tomatoes ripening & turning red?

There could be a few different factors playing a role in the ripening. But why do tomatoes turn red anyways?

  1. Temperature – This is the biggest factor in your tomatoes ripening. Here in Ohio, we typically don’t plant until around Mother’s Day. 60 days later we are expecting tomatoes; during the hottest time of the year. For the last week it has been over 90 degrees. The chemicals that make tomatoes red – lycopene & carotene – are only produced when the temperature is 50-85°F. If you’re outside of this range, the ripening process is on hold until you get some relief from the heat!
  2. Size/Variety – Size does matter when it comes to tomatoes ripening! I have already harvested some cherry tomatoes from rogue plants that grew from last year, but those Beefsteak tomatoes have got a ways to go! Patience, young grasshopper.20170723_180037
  3. Maturity Level – A little different from the previous point and maybe this seems a little common sense. Maturity is more than just the time a tomato spends on the vine. Again, the ripening process comes down to natural chemicals. When a tomato reaches maturity, it begins producing ethylene which then reacts with the tomatoes to cause them to turn red. You can use this knowledge to save any tomatoes that may have accidentally gotten knocked off the vine – put tomatoes in a paper bag & if they’re mature enough, they should produce ethylene and ripen over a few days.20170723_175729

Tomatoes are a tough crop to grow, but with a little patience & cooperation from Mother Nature, you can have salsa all summer! If you have any questions on How to Grow Tomatoes – check my guide here!

 

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Garlic Guide: Growing, Harvesting & Storing

It is the end of July here in Ohio. Normally it’s scorching hot & we’re dancing between 90-100 degrees at this time of the year, but this summer’s been a little cooler & a lot wetter. Since it’s getting to be July-August area, the garlic that you planted this past spring should be ready to harvest! But how do you know when the time is right to harvest your garlic? Here’s a simple guide below, plus you can check out my latest YouTube video that will give you a visual how-to guide for harvesting & storing Garlic.

Hardneck vs. Softneck

There are 2 different types of Garlic – each one has its own benefits, but the type you plant will depend on what your goals are. Below is more detailed info.

Hardneck varieties are more winter-hardy are characterized by a long, flowering stem (called a scape) growing from the middle. The scape will produce a pod that contains bulbils, which are smaller versions of garlic gloves & can be planted in the same way. Hardneck varieties form a single layer of cloves.

Softneck varieties have a stem that is softer & it is much less winter-hardy. When you see garlic braided – it is a softneck variety. This type does not have a scape that reproduces bulbils & that may be the reason that softneck can have bulbs yielding anywhere from 8-30 cloves per bulb! Compare that with hardneck varieties that typically yield 4-12 cloves per bulb – but the scape could contain hundred of bulbils!

(What is a bulbil?) A bulbil is basically a garlic seed that forms in the scape of hardneck types. They are much smaller & may take up to 3-4 years before you get a full-sized bulb!

Planting

  • Prepare beds that are 3-4′ wide, till in compost/manure and make sure beds are accessible from both sides (2 foot reach from each side).
  • Break cloves apart – the first year I grew garlic, I planted a whole bulb and didn’t realize I could have ended up with 20 bigger bulbs instead of the weird harvest I got!
  • Space cloves 4-6″ depending on the variety & how much space you want to give your plants. Closer planting may mean less weeds, but could also mean less room for your plants to grow.

Growing

Garlic really doesn’t require too much care.

  • Make sure you don’t over-water. This can lead to root rot and/or fungal issues. Water every 3-5 days.
  • Pull weeds weekly to keep the nutrients flowing to the good guys.

Pest Control

Garlic is a natural insect repellent! The smell keeps a lot a pests out of the garden ranging from bugs to deer. I like to plant Garlic & Basil with my Tomatoes to help keep everyone pest free as naturally as possible!

Harvesting

When the tops of your garlic plants begin to get yellowed, or start dying, that is the time to harvest.

  • Gently dig up with shovel, spading fork, or trowel.
  • Brush off dirt/mud.
  • Keep wrappers on bulbs in-tact.

Storing

  • Hang in cool, airy place to dry & cure for 2-3 weeks.
  • You can braid softneck varieties to save space.
  • Flavors will intensify after curing.

Growing garlic is fairly easy – the hardest part is bending over to plant & weed, but there’s not too much maintenance in-between! Garlic can store for up to 6 months, so if you planted a lot, you’ve still got time. And if you really have too much, hit up your local farmer’s market & you’ll sell out in no time.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to drop me a line AND please feel free to check out my most recent YouTube video on “How to Harvest & Store Garlic”.