Solving the Aphid Problem in Your Home Vegetable Garden

If I have to describe an aphid by any other name, that name would be, annoying. They are the most common issue in all home vegetable gardens because they thrive in a variety of climates, reproduce quickly, and can do massive amounts of damage. Failure to tackle your aphid issue head on could result in a less than an adequate harvest or no harvest at all.

Aphids attack just about every plant that you have. In fact, after I did some research for this article I could not find a single plant grown in a home vegetable garden that an aphid did not call lunch.

They come in a wide range of colors and sizes, most notably white and pear shaped. They reproduce asexually and because they do so, the rate of reproduction is tremendous. The home vegetable garden is the perfect location for aphids to thrive because there are plenty of leaves and soft stemmed plants to “chew” on, which is perfect for them.

Aphids will remain in an area of a single plant until either the plant is no longer providing adequate food or the aphid population increases to where they are overcrowded. They will then form wings, fly away and start the process all over again at the nearest plant. This process will continue until either all the plants are gone or you deal with the situation at hand.

There are some great solutions you can use and when applied in conjunction with one another, your aphid problem will clear up that much quicker.

For starters do not be afraid to use some yellow sticky traps. Sure you might get a few other insects you weren’t counting on, but they do a great job attracting aphids. You can pick up a three pack of yellow sticky traps at your local home center for less than two dollars.

Next use some neem oil soap. It is harmless to humans, pets and your vegetation. It does a nice job in prevention. A garlic or hot pepper spray will work just as well as neem oil soap but must be reapplied after heavy watering and your fruits and vegetables should be rinsed thoroughly.

The best solution is also the easiest and safest. Ladybugs! They eat aphids and they eat their bodyweight in a single day. Ladybugs can be purchased for about fifteen dollars for about 1000 of them from a local garden center or online. As long as there are aphids, the ladybugs will stay until the aphids are gone. You can also grow some fennel which attracts ladybugs, but that will take a bit longer than simply buying “ready to go” ladybugs.

If you have aphids you need to solve that problem head on. Use some of the ideas that I have talked about and you are sure to be well on your way to an aphid free home vegetable garden.

About the Author
Michael C. Podlesny is the administrator for the largest Vegetable Gardening page on Facebook.

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Make a Home Vegetable Garden Part of Your New Year’s Resolutions

The start of a new year always spurs thoughts of hope, dreams to be achieved and desires to be fulfilled. Whether it is being successful at those new resolutions you just set for yourself or just trying to make the New Year a little better than the previous year for your family, there are items on your to-do list that you need to tackle every day. Here is one resolution to add to your list if you have not done so already, home vegetable gardening.

It does not matter if you are new to the hobby or have been growing your own food for decades, set some time aside to plan out a successful vegetable garden this year. Set up your list and make another resolution which I will talk about at in a moment.

Maybe I am a bit biased because I love vegetable gardening and growing my own fruits, vegetables and herbs at home, but I cannot think of too many other tasks that have such a wonderful return where you truly get to eat the fruits of your labor. I like woodworking also, but I wouldn’t eat that new gazebo I just built.

The best part…You get to decide what to grow, when to grow it, how to grow it and how much of it you want to grow…In other words, a sense of freedom like no other.

First and foremost when you are planning out the New Year’s home vegetable garden, start with writing a list of the vegetables, fruits and herbs you want to grow. Do not think about the size available to grow it in right now, this step is to simply put on paper your garden “wants” so to speak.

Now that you have your list, organize the list arranging them in the order of the fruits, vegetables and herbs you know you and your family will most likely eat to items you would like to grow if time and space allow. With your new organized list in hand, mark next to each item how much of each you would like to grow. For me, as for my wife and kids, I love tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini. I mark down the number of plants I believe I would need to grow in order to have more than enough for everybody.

With your list and quantities complete, mark out what you actually can grow based on the size of the land you have available. Don’t forget about container gardening that can increase your growing space and potential yields.

Obviously this is just a quick starter for your New Year’s home vegetable garden resolution but it will get you going in the right direction.

As for the second home vegetable gardening resolution I mentioned earlier…put down on your to-do list to complete by the end of the year one new item in gardening you have never tried before. For example, maybe you want to start collecting rain water, or have a compost pile, or grow a row of veggies for your church or local food shelter. You get the idea.

So as we embark on a New Year with uncertainty before us, we can make the future whatever we want it to be. Make vegetable gardening part of that future; put some fresh food on the table. You won’t be disappointed.

About the Author
Mike Podlesny is a contributing writer for Mike the Gardener Enterprises, LLC who operates the largest Vegetable Gardening page on Facebook and the widely popular Seeds of the Month Club.

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When to Plant a Home Herb Garden

If you love the flavor that adding fresh herbs to your cooking gives, but you hate to spend a lot of money in the grocery store to constantly purchase them, then you may have just figured out when to plant a home herb garden. Once you have come to the conclusion that you will be better off doing it yourself than relying on the store to have just what you need, you are ready to make the move to growing the herbs yourself.

When to plant your herb garden will depend on where you live. If you live in an area with mild winters, you may plant most herbs in the fall or the spring. However, if you live in a colder climate and experience hard frosts, you will need to be aware of the exact requirements of the herb(s) you are planting. While indoor herb gardens can be planted virtually all year round in containers or via hydroponics, the best time to start an outdoor garden in the northern hemisphere is in the spring time and after the last threat of frost.

However if you’re starting with seeds you can get a jump on the season by starting your seeds indoors under grow lights or in windowsills that will allow 4-6 hours of daily sun, usually at a south and/or west facing window, and then transplant them to the garden (or if you prefer, larger containers) when the weather warms up. Look for compact seeds as they will grow best in indoor containers and check seed packets for individual planting depths. For best results from this method use the same kind of containers and potting mix that you’d use for other indoor seedlings, keeping the soil mix moist until the seeds germinate. Set lights between 3 to 6 inches above the plants, and water thoroughly whenever the soil gets dry to the touch, but not too wet as that can result in root rot. Always keep your plants away from temperature extremes like the kitchen stove or a fireplace. For best results before transplanting outdoors, help the plants adjust by putting the seedlings outside briefly each day while progressively increasing the time for a week or more.

Of course the first step is to figure out what herbs you want to plant and where, keeping in mind that most herbs require lots of sunshine and moderate wind protection. Luckily, this type of garden doesn’t take up a lot of space. You can use an existing vegetable garden or a raised garden or even grow the herbs in separate containers if your yard has minimal space. Once that’s determined and understanding that the time of year can make a big difference to the growth of any plant, you’ll want to know when to plant your home herb garden.

Once the plants have enough foliage to sustain growth, you can start harvesting your herbs continually. The more you harvest the more growth the plant will produce. Pinch off flower buds to keep the plants growing.

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Three Easy Home Vegetable Gardening Tips to Follow

I like to keep my home vegetable gardening as simple as possible. Sure on occasion I will venture out into something new and little more advanced, but my entire gardening process surrounds some basic tips that I am going to share with you in a moment.

My gardening philosophy stems from the teachings of my dad. My dad is a very simple person and that translated the same into his garden. So when I watched him all of those years I saw that he kept things simple and easy to handle. My tips that I am going to share with you are really his tips, and for many of you out there they may already be your tips.

Tip #1
Grow what you like to eat. many times new vegetable gardeners will go crazy when buying seeds or plants. Most of the time buying things they or their family do not even consume. My brother is notorious for this. Instead, think about what you and your family actually consumes, and grow those fruits, vegetables and herbs. You will save on a lot of space and time on items that would simply just rot.

Keep the size of your garden reasonable. For many the size of your garden will be dictated by the amount of land you actually have. However there are a number of people who lots of land and want to grow huge gardens, bordering on the size of a small farm. What they fail to take into account is that the larger the garden the more work it will equate to. So try to keep your garden the size of what you can handle. Too large and you may become overwhelmed and lose interest.

Tip #3
Keep your garden within sight. What I mean here is your garden should be within view from the inside of your house. I find, as do others I have talked to (whew, glad I am not alone here), that you are more likely to keep up with your vegetable garden if you can keep it in plain sight. It allows you to keep an eye on what is growing well, what is not, the weeds that need to be taken care of and so on. You will find that once you have home vegetable gardening down, your maintenance will be very minimal (or at least should be).

Sure these three tips won’t make you a commercial farmer capable of feeding the planet, but they will make your home vegetable gardening experiences more fun and enjoyable, and more importantly keep you motivated to grow every season.

About the Author
Mike Podlesny is the owner of Mike the Gardener Enterprises, LLC, the exclusive home of the Seeds of the Month Club, which has appeared on NBC, ABC and MSN Money as a great way for consumers to save money.

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What Are Some All Around Good Fertilizers to Use in My Home Vegetable Garden?

If you are unable to get a soil test done, it’s like guessing or finding the hidden elements in your soil – a daunting task at the best of times.

Some common and very good organic fertilizers are contained within our own homes.

The first one of these organic fertilizers that is very good and essential to any soil is compost. Use your yard refuse or vegetable peelings – anything that doesn’t contain human or animal (dog or cat) waste is good for your soil. Not only does compost fertilize your growing plants, but it provides a layer of soil which will help you in the long run.

Another organic fertilizer that is extremely good is the liquid from your steeping compost. Don’t get me wrong on this point – I’m not saying to go out and buy a composter. Use an old container and purchase some powder to aid your composting efforts. This powder is inexpensive and odourless. This composting powder can be purchased at any gardening center wherever you live.

If you have access to manure that is aged at least 1 year, this is an ideal fertilizer. You may have a few weeds to pull, but the manure provides long-lasting fertilization for your soil.

I tend to use fish food as a substitute for fish and seaweed matter. When I make my rows, I put a bit of water in the rows and sprinkle a bit of fish food in the row before planting my seeds. This will never burn your plants and provide beneficial nutrients to your soil for the growing season.

If you have plenty of earthworms in your soil, believe it or not, the castings and cocoons provide plenty of nutrients to your soil. If you don’t have any earthworms, or not enough of them, purchase some earthworm cocoons and spread them around your home vegetable garden. Earthworms aerate the soil and provide so many beneficial nutrients to your soil that, to me, earthworms are an essential part of home vegetable gardening.

Another option is limestone (ground fine) sprinkled on the soil, worked in. This limestone speeds germination and gets the crops off to a fast start.

In our rush-rush world of today, most gardeners tend to rely on Miracle-Gro to ensure the continual growth of the plants in their vegetable gardens. I usually purchase the Miracle-Gro Liquafeed 12-4-8 (meaning nitrogen 12, phosphorus 4, and potassium 8). This is a good combination for any garden. However, I usually start my gardening season with a load of aged manure and the Miracle-Gro ensures continued growth of all my plants.

Let’s face it, the time and money involved in home vegetable garden can add up quite fast, so we all want some success at this endeavor. To me, if I am to have a home vegetable garden that I can be proud of, I’m willing to pay a bit to ensure my own success – it hasn’t failed me yet!

How much are you willing to invest (money and time) in your home vegetable garden?

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The blog posts are ongoing and a great source of information. What you thought was impossible is not really impossible!

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