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Friday, August 14, 2009

Twig Diffuser

Here is a neat idea to bring a bit of the outdoors indoors. Use Twig Diffusers ($14.99 on sale) in your bathroom, bedroom, living room, etc. They are much more attractive than standard diffusers, and gives your home a more organic, rustic feel.

100% Biodegradable Compost Liners

Gardener's Supply Company is selling Biobag™, which are compost pail liners made out of 100% biodegradable cornstarch. Keeping your compost bin clean is easy now. Just throw the whole bag into the compost. You get 100 bags for $23.95.

Less Lead In Obama Garden

Earlier tests revealed that the Obama Vegetable Garden contained lead levels of 93 parts per million (p.p.m.). According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, lead-concentration in soil is not hazardous until it reaches 400 p.p.m. Nevertheless, President Obama had work done to the garden to further reduce lead-concentration levels.

The soil was amended with lime, green sand, crab meal and compost made by the National Park Service. The pH was also adjusted between 6.5 and 7 because lead is unavailable to plants when the pH level is in that range. The lead-concentration level is now 14 p.p.m, which means the soil is now comparable to soil in places where there are no automobiles!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Urban Beekeeping Growing Popularity.

Urbanites are taking up beekeeping across the world. Why? This is a very rewarding hobby. Not only do you get fresh, delicious honey, but you also are helping out your fellow urban gardeners. Honeybees are beneficial to gardens because they pollinate flowers. There have been some serious losses in the honeybee population in Europe and the United States so urban beekeeping can help stem the mysterious decline of the honeybees.

Before you decide to take up this hobby, I encourage you to look up your state law. Some states, like New York, currently ban beekeeping although that law has not stopped some people from setting up their own rooftop beehives. City Councilman David Yassky of Brooklyn introduced a bill this year that would legalize beekeeping so perhaps this ban will be lifted in the near future. See Full Story.

Omlet, a UK company has developed the Beehaus, a new and improved beehive specially designed for urban apiarists. These beehives will allow beekeepers to harvest up to a whopping 44 pounds of their own honey each year! That's a lot of honey!

On a side note... I saw this Beehive Composter at Gardener's Supply Company, and I had to share it with you. Isn't it adorable? I always thought of ways to hide my composter, but this composter is more like a cute accessory.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Company Designs and Maintains an Organic Garden in Your Own Backyard

Bay Area denizens can pay a weekly fee to have a backyard garden designed and maintained by professionals at MyFarm. Customers can choose between a Personal Installation (just enough food for themselves) and an Owner Member Installation (enough food for MyFarm to sell to other members). Owner members receive a discounted membership.

Full Story

Free Tomato Seeds is giving away your choice of 6 packs of heirloom tomato seeds for free. All packets are a minimum of 6 seeds each. All you have to do is to fill out their form, and mail in a #10 long envelope with two first class stamps.

Here is a list of tomato seeds available:

All tomatoes are OPs. (unless noted otherwise)

Ace 55 ~ Globe-shaped, red fruits up to a half pound, very reliable and tasty, described as low-acid, DET, 75 DTM

Amana Orange ~ Tasty orange beefsteak from Amana, Iowa, pretty, most about a half pound, IND, 90 DTM

Amish Paste ~ Productive cropper makes loads of plum-shaped fruits, most about 8 ounces, IND, 75 DTM

Arkansas Traveler ~ Delicious pink tomatoes about 8 oz., good cropper for hot and humid climates, IND, 85 DTM

Baby Beefsteak ~ Small red fruits shaped like beefsteaks, are much more juicy, about 1 - 2 oz., good cropper, IND, 75 DTM

Banjan Roomii ~ Red beefsteak from Afghanistan, most about a half pound, very nice flavor, IND, 85+ DTM

Beefsteak ~ Meaty red fruits usually over a pound, classic and traditional, it's what Mom grew, IND, 80 DTM

Big Dave's Red Blend ~ A wonderful assortment of red types, lots of different shapes and sizes, all so yum. includes DETs and INDs, 65 - 85+ DTM

Black Cherry ~ Clusters of plum-brown fruits, 1" across, delicious, IND, 65+ DTM

Black Krim ~ Mahogany-brown fruits with green shoulders, have green gel around seeds, delicious, IND, 75+ DTM

Black Prince ~ Dark brick-toned fruits about 2 - 3 ounces each, very productive, quite yum, IND, 72+ DTM

Bonny Best ~ This great classic tomato makes delicious red fruits, about 8 ounces, IND, 72 DTM

Bradley ~ Makes loads of 10 ounce red fruits, fine for fresh eating and nice canning type too, Semi-DET, about 80 DTM

Brandywine Yellow ~ Golden-yellow tomatoes weighing up to a pound, very delicious and pretty too, IND, 80 - 90 DTM

Burbank Red Slicing ~ Hisorical tomato developed by Luther Burbank circa 1915, loads of yum red fruits, DET, 70, DTM

Burpee's Big Boy Hybrid ~ Pretty, bright red beefsteaks usually over a pound, IND, about 78 DTM (These seeds were dear to obtain. We ask your understanding in that we can only share this remarkable hybrid with SASEs that include a donation.)

Campari OP ~ Delicious small red fruits, large vines, excellent cropper, IND, about 80 DTM

Caspian Pink ~ Simply delicious beefsteak, usually 12 ounces or more, IND, 80+ DTM

Celebrity ~ Tasty red fruits weigh up to a half pound each, good cropper, disease resistant, DET, 72 DTM

Cherokee Purple ~ Deep, dark rose-tone beefsteak, known for great flavor, most fruits over a half pound, IND, about 80 DTM

Chico III ~ Plum-shaped paste, red fruits about three ounces, excellent cropper and disease resistant too, DET, 70 DTM

Chocolate Cherry ~ Clusters of maroon-brown fruits, about an inch across, IND 70 DTM

Chudo Rinka ~ Ukrainian tomato sets plenty of yum red clusters, versatile, good fresh or cooked, DET, 75+ DTM

Cold Set ~ Canadian saladette has red fruits up to four ounces, fast and early, DET, about 65 DTM

Coyote ~ Pretty yellow cherry tomato is prolific and delicious, IND, 75 DTM

Delicious ~ Holds world record for size but red fruits usually weigh about a pound, nice for salads and BLTs, IND, 78 DTM

Dr. Carolyn ~ Abundant cherry tomato, nice for snacking, paler form of Galinas, IND, about 75 DTM

Dr. Wyche's Yellow ~ Delicious golden-yellow beefsteaks, most weighing over a half-pound, large plants, IND, 80 DTM

Early Girl ~ Well known variety for short-season gardens, fine tasting red tomatos, most about 4 - 5 ounces, IND, 62+ DTM

Early Kus Ali ~ Clusters of mostly three-inch red fruits are delicious fresh or cooked, reliable cropper is great for sauce, IND, 70+ DTM

Flame ~ BiColor fruits are yellow to gold with pink to red streaks, yum and pretty, can weigh over a pound, IND 85 DTM

Fuzzy Peach ~ Golden-yellow fruits are blushed pink with soft fuzzy skin, about 2 oz, IND, 75+ DTM

Garden Peach ~ Pale-yellow tomato develops rosy tinge as it ripens, has fuzzy skin too, yum curiosity, 3 - 5 ounces, IND, 80 - 90 DTM

German Johnson ~ Virginia heirloom makes large deep pink beefsteaks, yum and pretty, IND, about 80 DTM

Gartenperle ~ Dwarf plants, loads of small red, tangy cherries, novelty for patio containers and baskers, DET, 75+ DTM

Giant Belgium ~ Deep pink fruits can weigh nearly two pounds, meaty tomatoes have excellent flavor, IND, 68+ DTM

Giant Oxheart ~ Large red oxheart, often over a pound, very tasty and sweet, IND, 90 DTM

Goji Faranji ~ Iranian ruffled red beefsteak, about 6 - 8 ounces, a bit tangy and so yum, 85+ DTM

Golden Delcious ~ The name says it all. Golden beefsteaks can weigh up to a pound or more, IND, 80+ DTM

Golden Jubilee ~ Wonderful variety grown for decades, 3" yellow-orange globes, delicious, IND, 70 DTM

Granny Bradley ~ Pink heirloom has fruits about 3" - 4" acrossm fine flavor for slicing or salad, IND, 78+ DTM

Great White ~ Creamy-white beefsteak is both beautiful and delicious, IND, 85 DTM

Green Grape ~ Heavy croppers have yellow-green fruits about 3/4" long, great flavor, DET, about 70 DTM

Green Zebra ~ Pretty, 3 ounce fruits ripen to light green with dark green streaking, very tasty, IND, 78 DTM

Gregory's Altai ~ Delicious red fruits crop early and abundantly, IND, 67 DTM

Heinz 1439 ~ Makes tasty 6 oz. red fruits, excellent cropper, good for sauce and salad too, reliable canner, DET, 80 DTM

Hillbilly ~ Beautiful fruits are yellow-orange with pink to red streaking, can weigh a pound or more, IND, 85 DTM

Homestead ~ Floridian tomato developed for hot southern climates, good cropper, DET, 60 - 70+ DTM

Hong Yuen ~ Clusters of two inch red maters, consistant size for whole canning, yum for salad and sauce too, IND, 75+ DTM

Huang Se Chieh 'Gold' ~ 2 - 3 inch yellow fruits with golden skin, has rosey blush when fully ripe, tastes yum, good for salad or sauce, IND, 80+ DTM

Huang Se Chieh 'Moon Yellow' ~ Same fine taste as Huang Se Chieh 'Gold', has clear skin and very pale yellow fruits, IND, 80+ DTM

Isis Candy ~ Warm yellow cherries are uniquely marbled with a red blush to full streaks, lovely and delicious, IND, 80 DTM

Isis Candy Cross ~ Colorful, has large cherries up to 1.5" across, unusual dirty-orange hue, quite tasty, fruits could differ a bit but all are yum, IND, about 70 DTM

Italian Market Wonder ~ Disease resistant, beautiful red variety has great taste, nice fresh or cooked, IND, 75 DTM

Jeff's Mystery Pink Oxheart ~ Delicious pink hearts, medium to large fruits, IND, about 90 DTM

Juliet Grape ~ Large plants with loads of sweet, oval cherries, great for salad or snacking, IND, about 70 DTM

Large Red Cherry ~ Bigger cherries, about an inch across, sweet with a touch of tang, IND, 75+ DTM

Liz Birt ~ Brandywine-type tomato honors late autism pioneer, IND, 70 - 75 DTM

Luther Burbank's WonderBerries ~ Solanum x burbankii,Historic, garden huckleberry makes small deep blue berries on short plants, best used for pies or jam, DET about 85 DTM

Manitoba ~ Favorite for short seasons, produces loads of good tasting red fruits, 4 - 6 ounces each, DET, about 70 DTM

Marglobe ~ Great flavor from yesteryear, this fine cropper deserves a spot in every garden, red 6 - 7 ounce globes, DET, 75 DTM

Marion ~ Red and round Rutgers-type, good flavor and disease resitance too, weighs about 8 ounces, IND, 75 DTM

Mister Stripey ~ Loads of red fruits with gold stripes, early, lovely in salads, tangy and delicious, IND, about 60 DTM

MoneyMaker ~ Good cropper for hot and humid regions, has quite tasty red fruits, most about 4 ounces, IND, 75+ DTM

Murray Smith ~ Large red fruits developed by Dr. Howard Brown of Cal Poly, named for his friend Professor Murray Smith, IND, about 70 - 80 DTM

New Yorker ~ Great old favorite crops well in short seasons, classic round and red fruits about 4 ounces, DET, 66 DTM

Old German ~ Mennonite tomato has gold and yellow fruits with red and pink streaks, yum and pretty, IND, about 85 DTM

Oxheart ~ Heart-shaped pink tomatoes grow up to a pound, excellent flavor, IND, 80 DTM

Peiping Chieh ~ 2 to 3 inch red fruits, fine sliced or makes yum sauce, good cropper, 75+ DTM

Persey ~ Moldavian red tomato, flavorful, about 2 - 4 ounces each, good cropper, DET, 60 - 70 DTM

Pink Brandywine ~ Deep pink fruits, often over a pound, heirloom, well known for great flavor, IND, 80 - 90 DTM

Plum Lemon ~ Russian variety has yellow, lemon-shaped fruits, delicious and so pretty, nice for salads, IND, 75+ DTM

Ponderosa Pink ~ Old variety, large rosey-pink beefsteaks weigh up to a pound, yumyum, IND, 80 DTM

Ponderosa Red ~ Dark red beefsteaks weigh up to a pound, delicious classic grown and loved for decades, IND, 80 DTM

Powers Heirloom ~ Pale yellow fruits are sweet and fruity, this paste-type is nice for sauce or salad, IND, 75+ DTM

Pruden's Purple ~ Deep pink beefsteaks are quite yummy, sets fruit earlier than similar types, IND, 75+ DTM

Ramapo F1 Hybrid ~ Large plants have red fruits about 8 to 14 oz. each, great flavor, may be the original "Jersey Tomato", IND, 80+ DTM. (These seeds were dear to obtain. We ask your understanding in that we can only share this remarkable hybrid with SASEs that include a donation.)

Red Beef ~ Red beefsteak can weigh a pound or more, good for slicing and salads, very yum, IND, about 80 DTM

Red Brandywine ~ Red-fruited Brandywine strain, weighs 8 - 12 ounces, delicious for salad or slicing, IND, 85 DTM

Red Pear ~ Loads of small, pear-shaped cherries, yummy garden snacker, cute in salads, IND, 78 DTM

Red Thunder ~ Tasty red fruits about 2 - 4 ounces each, IND, reliable cropper, 70 - 80 DTM

Riesenstraube ~ German name means 'bunch of grapes', red cherry tomato with pointed ends, yum, IND, about 80 DTM

Rio Fuego ~ Blocky red paste is known for high sugar content, makes great sauce, excellent for salad too, DET, 75+ DTM

Rhoades Heirloom ~ Large bi-color orange and red fruits, weighing a pound or more, pretty and fine tasting, IND, 70 - 80 DTM

Roma Paste ~ Classic red paste tomato, good fresh or cooked, IND, 75 - 80 DTM

Russian Persimmon ~ Yellowy-Orange fruits about 3" - 4" across, great flavor, good cropper, DET, 70 - 80 DTM

Rutgers ~ Red fruits weigh about 6 ounces, well known reliable cropper, DET, 75 DTM

Saint Pierre ~ Old French variety makes large red fruits about 3" across, reliable and tasty, IND, 78+ DTM

San Marzano ~ Loads of long, meaty red pastes, excellent for canning or sauce, IND, 80 DTM

Sheyenne ~ Red round fruits crop early with abundance, quite tasty, rarely offered in catalogues, DET, 70 DTM

Siberian ~ Extra-early Russian variety produces 2" - 3" red fruits on small plants, nice for fast tomatoes, DET, 57+ DTM

Skorospelska ~ Red tomato from Eastern Europe is excellent for canning or slicing; crops in two waves. NICE! DET, about 70 DTM

Slavianskii Shedevr ~ Russian origin, red fruits about 8 - 12 ounces each, IND, 70 - 80 DTM

Small Red Cherry ~ Classic, red cherries are delicious and plentiful, IND, 75+ DTM

Speckled Siberian ~ Oblate Russian variety produces red fruits with gold-flecked skin, about 2 - 4 ounces each, IND,
70 - 80 DTM

Super Marmande ~ French heirloom has delicious red fruits weighing about 6 - 7 ounces, fine cropper, IND, 70 DTM

Sugar Lump ~ Delicious cherry tomato, exellent cropper, this variety is also known as 'Gardener's Delight', IND, 72+ DTM

SunMaster ~ Beautiful red fruits, excellent cropper for hot summer regions, disease resistance too, DET, 75+ DTM

SuperSteak ~ Grows huge red beefsteaks, most over a pound, good cropper with disease resistance too, IND, about 80 DTM

Super Sioux ~ 4 - 6 oz red globes, said to be reliable for hot gardens, IND, 70 - 80 DTM

Tamina ~ Extra-early, small red fruits are very tasty, excellent choice for short-season gardens, good cropper, IND, 70 DTM

Tennessee Surprise ~ Large golden fruits have blushing bottoms ;-) IND, 78 DTM

The 'Blend' ~ WinterSown's own fun and fascinating mix of assorted sizes, shapes and colors--there is something for everyone! Plenty of seeds, DET to IND, no dwarf-types, most about 70 - 90 DTM

Tigerella ~ Sunset red fruits are streaked with golden yellow, great cropper has loads of lovely salad-size tomatoes, IND, about 80 DTM

Tomatillo, Purple ~ Husk tomato has yum fruits which ripen to purple, harvest when fruits begin to split their husks, can be cooked or eaten fresh, IND, 75+ DTM

Tomatillo, Verde ~ Husk tomato important for Mexican cuisine, harvest when fruits begin to split their husks, excellent for Salsa Verde, IND, 65+ DTM

Tommy Toes ~ Healthy plants make red cherries, about an inch across, excellent cropper too, IND, about 70 DTM

Tondina Maramenno ~ Beautiful red, Italian variety, excellent cropper, clusters of fruits weighing 4 - 6 ounces each, DET, about 60 DTM

Toni's Terrific Tomatoes ~ OP blend of classic slicers and cherries for early to mid-season gardens, includes: Alicante, Better Boy, Bonnie Original, Early Girl, Large Red Cherrie, Sweet Baby Girl, and Sweet 100, IND, about 58 - 75 DTM

Van Wert Ohio ~ Delicious and vigorous heirloom produces many red 4 - 8 ounce fruits, IND, 70 - 80 DTM

Vera Pepper Tomato ~ Novelty cariety of pepper-shaped tomatoes are great for stuffing, yummy filled with tuna or macaroni salad, IND, 75+ DTM

Volvograd ~ Volga region variety has red fruits about 4 - 8 ounce each, DET, 70 - 80 DTM

Wild Card ~ Will be a tomato variety not on this list. It could be a classic old-time favorite, or it could be something rare ;-)

Willamette ~ Medium-sized red, developed by Oregon State University is well suited for cooler climates, DET, 70 - 80 DTM

Yellow Jubilee ~ A yellow form of Golden Jubilee has lemon-yellow orbs, very attractive and tasy, IND, 80 DTM

Yellow Pear ~ Miniature pear-shaped tomatoes on large plants, mild tasting, abundant cropper, favorite of children, IND, 70 - 80 DTM

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Free Herb Seed Packet

Wonders of Beetroot Juice

A study shows that beetroot juice boosts stamina. "A University of Exeter team found nitrate contained in the vegetable leads to a reduction in oxygen uptake - making exercise less tiring."
Full Story

Research also suggests that "drinking 500ml of beetroot juice a day can significantly reduce blood pressure." Full Story

Friday, August 7, 2009

4 Reasons Why You Should Grow Your Own Herb Garden

1. Save Big Bucks
A single bunch of herbs can cost anywhere from $0.99 to $2.99 at major grocery stores in my area. Many recipes call for more than one herb so you can see how the $$$ start adding up. Most of the time you are only using a tablespoon or so of each herb so much of the herb you bought goes to waste. By growing your own herbs, you will save money, cut down on waste, and still be able to create stellar meals.

2. Convenience
Have you ever planned on making a special dish only to find the grocery store does not carry the herbs you need? This used to happen to me more often than I would like. Now I have all the herbs I need at the tips of my fingers. You no longer have to hop from one grocery store to another in search of the right herbs.

3. Quality
By growing your own herbs, you can control what goes into and onto them. I prefer eating organic produce so I do not use pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Also, by growing your own herbs, you are guaranteed the freshest possible cuttings.

4. Eat Healthier
Fresh herbs are a low-calorie diet's best friend! Herbs have a negligible number of calories. You can use herbs to give those low-calorie dishes a punch of taste to make up for all of that fatty, buttery goodness we cut out. Moreover, herbs are a good source of vitamins.

Parkseed Organic Herb Garden Collection

Basil, Cilantro, Dill, Thyme, Chives, Parsley, and Oregano

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Bouquet of Succulent "Roses"

A couple of weekends ago I saved an overgrown, straggling looking rosette succulent. This plant is very easy to take care of and its year round beauty is priceless to have in an apartment garden so I knew I had to find some way to re-use this plant in my landscape. I wish I had taken a photo of this massive succulent before I trimmed it down so you could see the "before" and "after" pictures, but I guess I was just too anxious to get started.

I was really attracted to the huge, rosette blooms and thought they would make a gorgeous bouquet. I chose standard terra cotta pots because I noticed how the terra cotta really complemented the red on the rim of the "petals." I took a sharp knife and carefully took 6" to 8" cuttings from the rosette plant. Each cutting had a single rosette on a 6" to 8" stem. By the time I trimmed down this plant, I had enough cuttings to make two very full bouquets and some extra to work in between the rocks surrounding the pond.

I filled the pots 3/4 the way with regular garden soil. Then I started to insert the stems into the soil (working from the perimeter to the center) to resemble a rose bouquet. I used a small garden spatula to work in some extra soil in between the stems. Then I watered the plants well. I only water the plants again when the top of the soil is dry. If you keep the soil too wet, you can cause the stem to rot.

I have successfully propagated this plant using this method, but if you wish to take the safer route, allow a "scab" to develop over the end of the stem by allowing the cutting to dry out a bit, then dip the cutting in some Rooting Hormone before planting them in the dirt.

Lina Returns

I’m back!  I’m no longer living in an apartment.  I’ve moved into a house with a nice size yard.  I’m excited to work in my new playground!  I still love efficiency and optimizing space so although I have more space to play around with, many of the projects I take on will probably be suitable for an apartment garden.