Author Archives: Garden Decor

Planning

How To Plan and Plant Your Vertical Garden

Planning your Vertical Garden is different from planning a traditional garden, but shouldn’t be done with any less care.

Step One: Consider the location of your Vertical Garden

Ideally, vegetable plants in your Vertical Garden should get at least six hours of sustained sunlight a day. Pick a spot that will allow for maximum sun while minimizing filtered light through trees. If a large wall on the side of your house gets the best light, that’s a perfect spot to consider. Even well-lit balconies and porches will work. If it’s available, a south-facing location is the best.

A wonderful aspect of vertical gardening is choosing a location. You’re not as limited by space as you would be with a traditional garden. In fact, you’ll probably find that you have an abundance of available space to grow up rather than out. Remember that an area as small as an apartment balcony can serve as an excellent vertical gardening spot. Just a few containers and trellis supports will do the trick.

Step Two: Where’s the Water?

As with any vegetable garden, make sure that wherever you choose to place it is close to a convenient source of water. Ideally, your Vertical Garden can be reached by a garden hose.

Step Three: Soil for your Vertical Garden

Depending on your space, you’ll want to decide whether to plant your vegetables in soil at the base of your growing area or use containers. In either case, use a good gardening soil.  Augment it with rich compost to provide the nutrients your plants will need.

Step Four: Plant Choices

Carefully consider what you’re planning to grow in your Vertical Garden. Naturally vining vegetables are perfect, of course. However, don’t rule out other vegetables and herbs that grow closer to the ground. While vining plants will likely require a trellis or some other form of support, those that don’t vine can be planted in nearly anything that you can hang or mount on a vertical surface.

Step Five: Follow the Plan

Plant seeds just as you would in a traditional gardening. Take care to leave enough space according to the planting instructions. When planting vegetables that will need a support structure, don’t forget to install the supports at the same time you plant. Adding supports after the plants have sprouted can damage the young root systems.

Step Six: Training

As your vining plants sprout and mature, “train” them to grow upward. Simply manually thread the young vines up through the support system. This is an ongoing process and should be part of your regular Vertical Garden upkeep.

Shopping list

All About Vertical Gardening: Shopping List for Creating a Vertical Garden

Your vertical gardening shopping list, at first glance, will be very similar to that of a traditional horizontal garden, but there are some very important things to consider.

First, will you start your plants in the ground – such as in a small plot against your house – or will you use containers? By using containers for your vertical garden, you give yourself the ability to grow in unusual places such as apartment balconies.

Also, you’ll need to consider what sort of support you’ll need for the types of vegetables you intend to plant.

Here’s your Vertical Garden shopping list

  • Containers (if needed) – These can be as utilitarian as plastic storage bins or as decorative as galvanized steel tubs or traditional large planters. Just make sure you have or make holes in the bottom to allow for drainage of excess water.
  • Garden soil
  • Compost (to augment garden soil, if needed)
  • Support structure materials, which can include …
  • Trellis (wooden, bamboo, plastic or fabric, depending on your garden)
  • Wire fencing
  • Stakes
  • Natural twine
  • Tomato cages
  • Garden ties (to help secure vining plants to the support structure)
  • Seeds or seedlings (Where would your vertical garden be without them?)
  • Fertilizer
  • Watering can (if your garden is on an apartment balcony or not near a water source)
  • Insect killer or repellent
  • Fungicide
Vegetables to use

All About Vertical Gardening: Vegetables to Use in Vertical Gardening

Just because you’ve decided to try out vertical gardening doesn’t mean you can’t continue to grow most – if not all – the vegetables you’re used to growing in a traditional garden.

However, those vegetables that will naturally grow vertically by extending vines that attach to a supporting structure are naturally most conducive to vertical gardening. They include:

  • Cucumber
  • Squash
  • Tomato
  • Green beans
  • Peas
  • Lima beans
  • Melons

While all of these plants vine, not all will naturally grow up. Cucumbers and squash, for instance, will take some training on your part. This is as simple as threading new tendrils through your supporting structure to give them the chance to attach.

But suppose you’d like to include non-vining vegetables in your vertical garden? It’s not in any way out of the question, but will require that you rework your thinking on how your new garden is arranged.

What are the changes?

Home stores and garden supply companies have, in recent years, designed a number of products to help with this. They are typically shelf-type planters meant to be placed against an exterior wall, but nearly any container that can be adapted for vertical gardening use can serve as a great planter – old rain gutters, suspended two-liter soda bottles and shipping pallets can all be used. The options are limitless!

The plants that work best in this sort of vertical gardening arrangement are the non-climbing varieties, such as:

  • Peppers
  • Lettuce
  • Radishes
  • Onions
  • Eggplant
  • Potatoes (regular or sweet)
  • Herbs

Just remember that soil depths and planting conditions – particularly for in-ground specialists like potatoes – should conform as closely to horizontal as possible horizontal conditions when planted in a vertical garden.

Planting and harvesting

All About Vertical Gardening: Planting and Harvesting Your Vertical Garden

When it comes to planting and harvesting, there are very few differences between horizontal and vertical gardening.

Before you plant

Whether you’re using a container or a strip of ground, the best place to start is by making sure you have soil conducive to growth. If you’re using containers, start with a good, nutrient-rich gardening soil from the gardening or home supply store.

Planting in the ground first? Start by creating a pit between 6 inches and a foot deep for each spot where you’ll be planting. The depth varies on the root system of the plant, of course. Take the soil you removed and create a half-and-half mix with compost, then refill the pit.

If you haven’t already decided what will go where in your vertical garden, this is good time to do so. Make sure to install all support structures for vining plants at this point. Doing so after you plant can damage the root systems of seedlings or mature plants. Make sure the structure is positioned over where you will plant to give the tendrils and vines the best chance to take hold.

Planting your vertical garden

Now it’s time to plant, following the package directions on your fruits or vegetables of choice. While you’ll ultimately be responsible for making sure the garden gets enough water, it never hurts to plant during a rainy period to ensure adequate moisture. Stick to about four seeds per planting area to avoid overcrowding; then water gently. As the seedlings emerge and get to about 4 inches high, you’ll want to thin them to ensure they don’t crowd each other out.

Check on your plants every day so you can monitor moisture and thread new tendrils or vines upward through your support structure. Some heavier vines might require a little extra help, so don’t be reluctant to use a natural twine or garden ties to secure them to the supports. Water as needed – especially until the plants are fully established – and check for disease growth and pests.

Harvesting

Once your vegetables or fruits have matured, harvest them as you normally would for each individual variety. Do take special care not to yank down your support structures in the process. A simple pair of garden shears will help you cut from the vine – rather than pull – heavy items like melons or squash.

For non-vining plants, there should be very few differences from traditional harvesting. Just take care to avoid significantly disturbing the soil, neighboring plants and the vertical structure itself.

Disease, cucumber plant.

All About Vertical Gardening: Protecting Vertical Gardens from Disease

Since vertical gardens grow up rather than along the ground, the risk of disease is significantly reduced with limited contact with the soil.

However, that doesn’t mean your plants will be disease free in a vertical garden.

As with any type of gardening, the first step to avoiding disease is the quality of the soil. If this is the first season for your vertical garden, make sure you start with soil from an area from which all weeds have been removed and the soil has been vigorously turned and mixed with clean compost. For an existing vertical garden, you’ll still want to weed and augment your soil with compost, but also make sure you have rotated your crops from their planting locations the previous year.

Plants such as squash, cucumber and peas are highly susceptible to disease when planted in the same spot as the previous year.

Two common diseases that affect vertical gardens

  • Anthracnose: This fungus most often affects cucumbers, watermelons and muskmelons, and is most prevalent during warm, humid conditions. To protect your plants, rotate crops annually, leave enough space between plants to let leaves dry out as quickly as possible and promptly remove/destroy affected leaves and fruit to prevent spreading. To help prevent or eliminate anthracnose, use Safer®Brand Garden Fungicide or Safer®Brand 3-in-1 Garden Spray, which acts as a fungicide, insecticide and miticide. Both are OMRI Listed® and compliant for use in organic gardening.
  • Bacterial wilt: This disease is indicated by vines that wilt in the day but recover at night. Try to purchase disease resistant species and watch for cucumber beetles, which spread the disease.
Pests

All About Vertical Gardening: Protecting Vertical Gardens from Pests

One great advantage of having a vertical garden is the limited exposure to soil-dwelling pests. Your vertical garden has less direct contact to the ground, after all. But don’t get lulled into a false sense of security when it comes to pest control – it will still be an issue.

Any insect or other critter that could infest your traditional horizontal garden can still gain access to your vertical garden, particularly if you’re using an in-ground plot for planting. Keep in mind that many notorious garden pests begin to fly at later life stages. They’re happy to leave eggs on your eggplant or helping the kids to gorge on your green beans.

To limit the potential destruction by garden pests, you’ll want to take many of the same measures you would to limit disease – clear yard debris from your planting areas, make sure to rotate crops, and use well-turned soil that’s been fortified with clean compost.

Still, you might find pests worm their way into your vertical garden.

Two vertical garden pests

  • Squash bug: Squash bugs are gray or brown and prefer pumpkins and squash, typically toward the end of the growing season. Rotating crops and cleaning fall debris will help discourage them come planting season. During growing season, check the undersides of leaves for egg masses and destroy any that you find.
  • Cucumber beetle: Usually black or yellow spotted or striped, these critters love your cucumbers. Larvae go after the roots while the adults gnaw on leaves, so your attack should be two-pronged as well. Products such as Safer®Brand 3-in-1 Garden Spray can help discourage both from overtaking your garden in either stage. A floating row cover will help protect from beetles in their flying stage.
CSA-Fresh-Delivered-Vegetables

8 great Bay Area CSA Farms

Love Your Yard would like to recognize eight Community Supported Agriculture organizations  (CSAs) from around California’s Bay Area. They’re known for their hard work and helping to provide their neighboring communities with healthy, self-sustaining, local foods and service.

What’s a CSA? It’s an organization (or farm) that provides you with a bounty of healthy groceries when you sign up with them. You get to decide the right amount of produce you get for your family, the type of food in the bundle and where you’ll pick it up. It’s a great convenience and also makes sure you get local, fresh food from which you can plan your own menu.

1) Sage Mountain Farm

Located within the San Bernardino and Riverside counties, Sage Mountain Farm was a sure pick for us when it came to great Californian CSA. Because cross contamination from conventional farms is a concern for organic food producers, Sage Mountain has located itself away from other farms to maintain their excellent, consistent food quality. All of their produce is family grown using clean, natural well water, and the same organic guidelines apply to their steers, chickens, and pigs, which they raise for food

.Sage Mountain Organic Farm CSA

Sage Mountain Farm owns multiple properties, including Sage Mountain Beef, which provides green-fed pork and beef. They supply Whole Foods Market with fruit, vegetables, beef, pork, and chicken, as well as several local hotels and restaurants.

What can you expect from this CSA?

“Your box will include the freshest, seasonal produce we have. While vegetables are the bulk of what you will receive, we do have some fruits that will be included as well. During the winter you will see more greens, root vegetables such as potatoes, beets and carrots, and onions. During the summer you will see more squash, strawberries, citrus, avocados, tomatoes, etc. As we are at the mercy of Mother Nature, your box will vary from week to week. We have many different membership options to suit every family. First you choose the size of box you would like to receive, small or large. The small box feeds a family of 2-3 and the large box feeds a family of 4-5. Then you choose the frequency you would like to receive your box, weekly or every-other-week (bi-weekly). Lastly, you choose your pick-up or delivery location. We can delivery directly to your home or office if you are located in Temecula or Hemet areas, or you can choose from one of our many pick-up areas around Riverside and San Diego Counties” (http://www.sagemountainfarm.com)

2) Capay Valley Farm Shop

Collaboration plays a significant role when it comes to providing excellent CSA, and the Capay Valley Farm Shop knows this well. They provide the opportunity for institutions and families to buy seasonal, 100% local food directly from 40 small farms within California, and the list of available food is far too large to list. Here are the pick-up locations around the Bay Area for Capay Valley:

Pacific Ace Hardware in Esparto, Bay Grape Wine Shop in Oakland, Calafia Café in Palo Alto, Insight Coffee in Sacramento, and lastly Avedano’s Holly Park Market & Meat Wagon, Cheese Plus, Drewes Bros. Meats, Fatted Calf, and Say Cheese in San Francisco.

Farm To Table ProgramsWhat are the Farmshare Choices for you?

There are currently three share sizes: The Bite, The Peck, and The Bushel.
The Bite is ideal for 1-2 people who cook at home a few times a week, and it includes a mix of five different seasonal fruits and vegetables. This is delivered in a paper bag.
The Peck is similar to The Bite (good for 1-2 people cooking a few times weekly), but it includes a mix of 7 different fruits and vegetables. This is delivered in a reusable box.
The Bushel is suited more for a household of 2-4 people who cook regularly, and it includes a mix of 11 different seasonal fruits and vegetables. This is delivered in a reusable box.
In addition to Farmshares, there are also the following shares: Meatshares which encompass a monthly mix of local, pasture-raised beef, lamb, chicken, pork, and goat; Pantryshares which encompasses local jams, honey, olive oils, balsamic vinegars, nuts and herbs, and eggs.

3) Laguna Farm

Laguna Farm is located in Sebastopol, California, and it is a community shared agriculture program wherein members receive weekly or bi-weekly boxes of produce, as well as access to the Laguna Farm store and vegetable stand. They are worker-owned and operated, and Laguna prides itself on local food sustainability and serving the community. Laguna Farm also refrains from using chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and implements solar power, crop rotation, cover cropping, seed saving, composting, and habitat restoration. They do not use GMO seeds, and are recognized for donating top quality produce to local food banks, schools, non-profits, and families in need.

What can you expect from Laguna CSA? Laguna Farms CSA Delivery

They have just about everything Calafornia can offer! Not only is there a large, seasonal selection of fruits and vegetables, but additionally, they provide fresh juice, dairy, dried goods, delicious baked goods, and bulk produce for canning. Prices vary depending on pick-up or delivery options. Here are some seasonal examples from their website detailing what can be found in their CSA boxes:
Winter: 1/2 Pound Salad Mix, Broccoli, Parsnips, Butternut Squash, Yellow Onions, Satsuma Tangerines, Kale.
Spring: 1/2 Pound Salad Mix, Carrots, Sugar Snap Peas, Spring Onions, Shiitake mushrooms, Spinach, Parsley.
Summer: 1/2 Pound Salad Mix, Radish, Heirloom Tomatoes, Zucchini or Cucumber, Corn, Basil.
Fall: 1/2-Pound Salad Mix, Beets, Sugar Pie Pumpkin, Peppers, Apples, Green Beans, Chard.

4) Katz Farm

Katz Farm is located in the Napa and Suisun Valley region, and specializes in producing a wide variety of locally grown honey, preserves, olive oil, and artisan vinegars. Albert Katz’s enthusiasm for olive oil actually led him to be one of the founding members of the California Olive Oil Council back in 1993, and today, the mature Katz tree groves are CCOF certified organic. In 2011, he received the “Best of the Best” Gold Medal at the Yolo County Fair where there were over 140 other skilled competitors. All Katz products can be purchased directly from their website.

5) Blue House Farm

This 40-acre slice of paradise is located an hour south of San Francisco. Each week they harvest 8-10 items for the CSA, working hard to avoid repetition and keep things interesting. The full season is 30 weeks, from May-December, and everything from in the box is Certified Organic. You can add on treats like organic bouquets, local honey and pastured eggs. The weekly CSA newsletter is full of storage tips, recipes, and beautiful photography from the farm, and their online account management tool makes ordering and scheduling a breeze.

6) Full Belly Farm

Full Belly Farm is home to 350-acres of certified organic farmland located in Capay Valley just north of Sacramento and the Bay area. They have implemented and used organic growing practices since 1985, and presently offer a huge diversity of seasonal year-round, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and herbs. They additionally sell organic wool yarn and sheepskins.

Fully Belly Farm boxes vary with the seasons, but Organic CSA In The Bay Areaas an example, their spring box could contain 1 bunch of carrots, 1 bunch of broccoli, 1 bunch of red kale, 1/2 pound of salad mix, 1 green cabbage, a pound of potatoes, 1 bunch of beets, and 1 bunch of fresh garlic.

Members located in the following areas can have their boxes delivered to them: East Bay, North Bay, San Francisco, South Bay, Sacramento, Davis, Woodland, and Esparto. One Full Belly box can feed a family consisting of 2 to 3 people.

7) Eatwell Farm

Eatwell Farm is 105 acre certified organic farm in Dixon. Nigel & Lorraine Walker and their dedicated crew, work year round to produce boxes of fresh vegetables and fruit that are delivered to members weekly/bi-weekly. To keep boxes affordable, efficient and ecological, they deliver to dropsites around the greater S.F. Bay Area, and up the I-80 corridor to Sacrametnto. Home delivery is now available in SF. What you will find in an Eatwell Farm Share is freshly picked, nutritious, produce grown on the farm, like deep red, juicy, mouth-watering tomatoes, fresh-picked, unforgettable strawberries, or crispy greens. When they need to supplement, they only work with farmers with whom they have a close and personal relationship. Pastured eggs, freshly milled heirloom flours, herb salts, sugars and naturally fermented soft drinks, produced here on the farm, are also available with your share.Eatwell Farm CSA Program

Who are their members and what does membership give you? Members are people who enjoy locally grown food because it is fresh, tasty and healthy. They like knowing where their food comes from and having a relationship with their farmer. Eatwell is more than just a box of great produce, our members truly have an opportunity to be a part of the farm through events, parties and workdays. Eatwell is their farm to enjoy, to meet and make new friends, to learn how their food is grown and to teach their children. Eatwell is about Community, and anyone can become a member.

8) Tara Firma Farms CSA

Tara Firma Farms offers both a share in organic, hormone-free meat, as well as fresh, seasonal vegetables. They value and practice the natural life cycles of agriculture, clear down from the microbial life in their soil to the grasses they feed to their animals. As a result, their livestock are strong and healthy, and their crops are chemical free. In brief, they offer pasture raised pork, grass-fed beef, and pasture raised chickens, hens, and turkeys. The vegetable shares include local, organic, seasonal produce such as onions, kale, chard, collards, spinach, romaine, arugula, tomatoes, carrots, beets, broccoli, celery, potatoes, squash, and more.

Tara Firma Farm - Locad & Organic

Fireside Fun - Cooking S'mores

Fireside Activities For a Spooky Night of Fun

3 Lists of Fireside Activities For a Spooky Night of Fun

It’s hard to beat spending time with friends and family by a warming fire on a fall night! So, why not extend the frightful fun and gather round a crackling fire? If it happens to be Halloween, then that’s even better. No matter, if you bring the kids together, tell them a creepy story or two and listen to the howling wind, it’s guaranteed to be one spooky night!

We’ve collected a few of our favorite sources for “around the fire pit” activities. You’ll find a variety of spooky fire-light stories, laughter inducing games, and delicious campfire treats that you can enjoy right in your backyard. Enjoy!

STORIES
Fireside Chat: How to Tell a Good Ghost Story
Scary Campfire Stories
13 Creepy Stories to Tell After Dark
7 Weird Stories (that may or may not be true) to Tell Your Kids

GAMES
Campfire Games
10 Campfire Games You Have to Play
Fun Campfire Games for Kids

EATS
27 Delicious Recipes To Try On Your Next Camping Trip
Step Up the S’more: 7 Ideas for Campfire Treats
Kids Favorite Campfire Recipes
• And Don’t forget the classic s’more!

Please Use Caution Around Fire!
Every time you light a fire, remember that basic safety precautions can prevent a tragedy. Here are a few tips to help you enjoy your fire pit safely and with peace-of-mind.
Fire Pit Safety

In Need Of A Fire Pit?
Fire Pits are great for bringing the campfire to your backyard! These fire pits are perfect for any style patio and they’re built to last, offering many years of fun Halloween and Fall nights by the fire!
Fire Pits On Sale!
OR Learn more about the different types of fire pits.

 

Caterpillar climbing on lettuce

All About Leafy Greens: Common Leafy Green Insects

The delicate, edible leaves of leafy green vegetables, as one might imagine, are particularly susceptible to damage from insects. Keep an eye out for these common “leafy green insects.” Continue reading

Leafy Green Diseases (800x533)

All About Leafy Greens: Common Leafy Green Diseases

Disease is a particularly important consideration when growing leafy greens because – as their name indicates – the delicate leaves are the part of the vegetable you’ll most likely want to eat.

Keep an eye out for any of these common diseases affecting your leafy green crop. Continue reading