September 24, 2010

Seed swaps: One of the most potentially vibrant, versatile and engaging websites for buying, selling and swapping seeds... says TreeHugger

Seed swaps made easier – do you think you will use it?

I can’t tell you how happy I was seeing that e-mail in my inbox. It’s not so easy to spot new, great ideas, so if you have one let the world know about it and send e-mails, blog or make video. SeedLiving new website for buying, selling and swapping open pollinated seeds and live plants.  

Anna-Monique wrote in the e-mail: 

“Users may choose to sell or swap within their own regions. The fees for using the site are pay-what-you-can. If users would prefer to give their seeds away for free but have the postage paid, they may put them on SeedLiving’s Trading Table. We are also looking for bloggers to contribute gardening news & tips for their growing area.
At some point in the future, we hope everyone with access to the internet will be able to make a living or supplement their income from open pollinated, untreated seeds and live plants, while, at the same time, promoting and enhancing biodiversity on our planet.”

What do you think about it?

September 15, 2010

Fresh food not fast food - says Patti Lynn

"FRESH educates viewers about the burgeoning food movement emerging as an alternative to today's industrial food system. The film also is intended to be viewed in a manner that brings people together for discussion and collective action -- and that's where you come in.

You can spur your own community to action by hosting a FRESH movie screening. Click here for more details.

In homes, libraries, and schools across the country, viewers of the film will be asked to take action with our Value [the] Meal Campaign by signing the petition to Retire Ronald McDonald. Retiring Ronald, the single most recognized junk food icon, is a critical first step in preventing the next generation from continuing to experience the staggering human toll of diet-related disease."

September 12, 2010

How to Extend Your Gardening Season to Enjoy Fall Vegetables

As any gardener knows spring and summer are an important time for producing crops. Most at home crop growers plant their crop in early to mid spring and expect bountiful vegetables in the summer. Among those most will admit that they plant their vegetables in the spring and once they arrive for harvesting forget about the garden entirely. The problem is many people are unaware that there are crops that actually taste better when harvested in the fall and ones that thrive better in the weeks of early frost and cold. Nevertheless, you could be missing out on some of the tastiest vegetables you have ever grown. So, by maintaining your garden through the summer and fall and making the right choices in plants you can enjoy succulent vegetables well into fall and winter.

In terms of fall and winter vegetables there are many that are easy to grow at home. Some of the most common are leeks, pumpkins, certain types of lettuce, butternut squash, turnips, broccoli and spinach. Most of these can be planted in mid-summer once you start harvesting your other vegetables. Early in the summer you should think about what to plant for arrival in the fall. Leeks are one crop that actually survive the frost and thrive in cold weather. The problem is they should actually be planted early on in the year but harvested in the cold months such as late October or November. This means you would have to maintain this crop throughout the spring and summer months as well. They can be planted outside as soon as the soil is dry enough. Butternut squash is another that will keep well with frost and can be harvested in the cold. They are actually sweeter when picked in the cooler temperatures. Just be sure to harvest them before the ground gets frozen solid.

Regarding the maintenance of these crops throughout the summer and into the colder months one of the best things you can do is to actually plant them indoors, or within a potting or garden shed to let them become seedlings. Place them in the ground once they are a couple inches tall and can withstand the elements. In order to avoid drying out during the summer months it is best to cover your crops in straw or even hay. This will help retain moisture in the soil as much as possible. Once the frost arrives you should keep a close eye on your plants. Some of the plants survive well in frost just as long as the ground doesn’t get frozen solid. Depending on the plant some of them may prefer to be covered with cold frames or tents to avoid the cold shock. You can use an old window frame on legs with a transparent sheet or simply drape transparent sheets over your plants. Make sure it is transparent enough to allow sunlight as this will create a greenhouse effect and keep temperatures warmer underneath.

It may be clear now that vegetables from a home garden can be enjoyed throughout the year. Nevertheless, the only way to achieve this is to maintain your garden throughout the late summer and fall months and carefully choose plants that survive well into the colder months of the fall and winter. As mentioned before plants such as leeks and butternut squash are at their best when harvested in the colder months. Butternut squash is an easy plant to care for in the fall time and only requires harvesting once the frost starts to arrive. Leeks on the other hand can withstand much of the cold of fall and winter but require much longer growing times than other vegetables. Yet, with careful decision making and maintenance of plants in late summer and fall you can almost certainly enjoy these vegetables fresh from your garden even when it’s cold outside.

This is a guest post by Robin Hay - an editor/writer working on behalf of tiger sheds. Over the last 12 months he has written numberous articles relating to gardening matters which aim to educate newcomers to the garden environment. View more at  Tiger Sheds

September 10, 2010

Caring for Geese

Picture courtesy of theseanster93

Keeping Geese on Grass
When initially caring for geese, after a couple of weeks the goslings can be provided access to an outside area but please be careful that they do not get overly cold. As foxes maybe around the use of a fox proof fence should be implemented but, if you do not have access to this equipment, ensure that the geese are kept inside at night as to protect them from the danger. If there are any trees, vegetables or plants around the area that you will be keeping the geese you will need to protect these as the geese will likely eat them! Using a fence which is around three foot high should suffice.

Feeding Geese
Initially, the goslings should be started on a good starter ration and moved onto a grower ration at around the three week point. As a way to aid digestion, the geese should be provided with access to flint grit. The finishing ration for the geese should last between three and seven weeks and during this time the geese’s access to grass should be restricted. The final period coincides with the part of year in which grass loses its nutritional value and this acts as a filler and will reduce the amount of weight that the geese gain.

Checking and Caring for Geese
You should take the opportunity to check your geese at least once a day. During this time, it is recommended that their water drinkers are checked to ensure that they have plenty and that the water is clean. The geese should also be littered once a day.

When working around geese, it is recommended that you give them plenty of room to ensure that they feel safe and comfortable going about their own business. It is recommended that attention is paid to any geese which move away at a significantly slower pace than the other geese as this could indicate that they are ill and need treatment. If any geese do indeed move slower than the others, they should be monitored over the next few days.

Any objects which the geese may eat or sustain an injury from should be removed from their living area.

Controlling Vermin
Vermin may be attracted to the area in which there are geese as they are attracted to food. Vermin can be a particular problem when keeping geese as food can be spilt and if vermin are then around they can spread disease, cause damage and occasionally even attack. To prevent vermin, measures to avoid them such as cleaning up spilt food, keeping food in a vermin proof container and blocking up holes around the area that geese are living in is highly recommended.

This is a guest post by Martin Gulliver goose breeder with over 20 years experience in breeding geese.

September 5, 2010

Water hyacinth beautiful, invasive and toxin-eater

My grass carps loved water hyacints - after I brought new plants, they were tearing them apart in less than 5 minutes. I've tried twice and then I got rid of grass carps in the pond - which from the beginning was wrong idea. If you are a beginner gardener, as I used to be, maybe nobody will warn you 'don't let grass carp to your sweet garden pond'. Feel warned now. And don't let them in.

Water hyacinth are a lovely floating perennial aquatic plant native to tropical and sub-tropical South America. In colder climate zones it is annual, as winters are to harsh for them to survive.

This is one of the fastest growing plants known - they double their population in two weeks! also ther seeds are known to be viable up to thirty years.
So if your winter are mild watch out - and check if water hyacinth is not invasive in your region.

If it's safe to let it to your pond, do it - maybe it will send you these lovely blooms?

This lovely blooming plant has a high capacity for uptaking of heavy metals, including Cd, Cr, Co, Ni, Pb, Hg and cyanides, which it suitable for the biocleaning of industrial wastewater.

Further recommended reading Backyard Water Gardens: How to Build, Plant & Maintain Ponds, Streams & Fountains