Tag Archive for weeds

How to Mulch your Garden for Free

How to Mulch your Garden for Free

What do you do with all of that leftover material you have in your yard in the fall? There are so many ways to use it. Why not turn it into mulch? PLEASE don’t throw yard waste in the trash to go to the landfill. It’s full of vital nutrients that can improve your yard and garden.

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What to do in the Garden in July!

What to Do in the Garden in July

July is HOT in Oklahoma! I guess bugs like it HOT! At Little Sprouts, we are working tirelessly to keep up with the bug infestations. Squash vine borers, squash bugs, cabbage looper worms, aphids, ants, and anything else you can think of are eating our stuff like a hungry band of gobbling gobblers. We are also fighting rabbits and raccoons who swoop in at night and eat stuff that’s almost ready to pick-annoying!

We do not use chemicals on our garden at Little Sprouts so we have to come up with creative ways to manage our pests. We are hand picking large bugs and tossing them in a bucket of soapy water. We are wrapping our hands in duct tape and removing scads of squash bug eggs and nymphs, and we are taking dead vines and plants out of the garden at a frantic pace.

The heat of summer has swooped in and is burning up a lot of our plants, so we are watering whenever we can. We water early in the morning to prevent the addition of more fungus in the garden. We had over 27 inches of rain in the garden in May and June, so we have a lot of tomato blight and other funguses. We are working on removing as much of that as we can as well. After all of that rain fell, the temperatures soared and burned up all the moisture there was available, so now we are super dry. Also, due to the heat, we need to make sure everything is mulched well so it will retain as much moisture as possible and repel as much heat as possible from the roots of our plants. To see how much water we make sure our plants get, click here.  

Weeding is in full swing. Grass and other weeds are popping up everywhere. We are picking it as fast as we can. We also use boiling cooking water to keep the grass from coming in on the edges of the garden. The boiling water kills the grass instantly and helps us keep it under control. If you want to read some more ways of dealing with weeds naturally, click here.  gardening with kids, onions We are harvesting lots of tomatoes, green beans, a little okra and a few squashes here and there. This weekend I even found two cucumbers, FINALLY! The rabbits kept nibbling off all of our seedlings, so we planted cucumbers 5 times, and finally had to buy some bigger seedlings at the farmer’s market. kids picking tomatoes in the garden Each year presents unique challenges in the garden. Gardeners have to keep adapting and learning right along with the changing conditions. Some years are super hot, some are not. Some years have more bugs, some have fewer. We have to keep a watchful eye on our gardens to get the maximum output from them. It’s fun and rewarding, and of course, you get yummy food! We have to work in short stints at this time of year because even first thing after breakfast, its getting super hot and muggy in the garden. We go out as early as we can and we don’t work out for long. We try to do as much as we can in short stints so no one passes out from the heat. July is time to start thinking about a fall garden.

Here in Oklahoma it’s far too hot for seeds to germinate outside, so now is the time to start planting seedlings inside and letting them get a little growth on them while the heat of the summer finishes up. Our wish list of plants includes cauliflower, cabbage, cilantro, kale, kohlrabi, peas, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, lettuce, arugula, and some decorative kale. We hope to get some of each of those started in the next few weeks and get them ready to put out when weather permits. planting seedlings for the fall garden I don’t know about you, but I’m really looking forward to cooler temperatures. I am very sensitive to the heat, so I have to be super careful not to get overheated. I love when the weather starts cooling down and it’s easier to enjoy the garden. August is right around the corner. We have the hottest month to look forward to. Here’s to looking forward to winter again! I used to hate summer, but now I can’t say that because it grows so much goodness for us. It sure is a battle in my mind though. I’m dreaming of snow! funny tomatoDon’t forget to pin for later!

What to Do in the Garden in July


What to do in the Garden in June

June Garden Chores, Little Sprouts Learning

June is heating up the garden for sure. I have to make sure to get any chores done early in the day so we don’t get too hot. Everything is growing and the chores are bustling right along. It’s so much fun to see the fruits of our labor.

Most of the seeds and plants are planted by June. There are a few things you can still plant such as beans, okra and melons. You could even plant pepper and tomato plants now. At Little Sprouts we do some succession planting so we will continue to have things to harvest as the plants such as bush beans get done producing. We usually try to plant beans and squashes every three weeks or so. This gives us a continuous harvest.

Most of the garden work right now is weeding. Everything has been built and filled and planted. Now we just have to keep the Johnson and Bermuda grass from taking over the beds and walkways. We try to pick weeds every day. I try to pick a few weeds in the morning when I have the kids out in the gardens and on the weekends we try to spend a couple of early morning hours picking them. The garden is never totally weed free, but we try to keep up with the bulk of it so our plants will have water, sunlight, and nutrients enough for themselves. Click here to see ways we keep weeds from becoming too overwhelming.

Another thing that’s important to remember in June is water. This year in Oklahoma, we’ve had a crazy wet May and June, but usually we need to water weekly. The garden needs an inch of water per week, so if you’re not seeing any rain, you need to water. Click here to see how we measure our water needs.

June is the time in Oklahoma when the bugs come out in full force. Keep an eye each day on predators that may be invading your garden. Look for signs of damage and hand pick anything that you can see eating your harvests. Squash bugs are appearing, so daily we need to be turning over every squash leaf and looking underneath for eggs. Squash bug eggs are a copper color and are laid in clusters on the undersides of leaves. If you see some, get rid of them.

Squash bug damage

Squash bug damage

bug damage in the garden

garden pest damage

bug damage on dill

bug chew holes

Chew holes in plants

We also hand pick squash bugs and harlequin beetles from our plants and throw them in a bucket of soapy water to kill them. We look for cabbage looper worms and tomato horn worms and do the same with them as well. It’s also time to think about slugs, grasshoppers, and other pests. We sprinkle a bit of diatomaceous earth around to help reduce the populations of slugs. Click here to see how. Since we don’t use sprays in our garden, we have to be vigilant about getting rid of the bag bugs that are crawling around out there. We hope that nature will lend us a helping hand by sending frogs, birds, lizards, spiders, and ladybugs that will eat as many of our bad bugs as they can find.

squash bug

squash bug 2

Squash bug

squash bug eggs

Squash bug eggs

It’s also a good idea to check often for signs of disease and decide what you want to do to treat it. June brought us a LOT of rain, so we already have some tomato fungus forming. I will need to take all of the effected leaves off and dispose of them to keep this from spreading.

tomato fungus

June is full of harvesting. There is plenty to pick in the garden including green beans, peas, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, kale, kohlrabi, tomatoes, potatoes, garlic, and herbs. At the beginning of June we were still harvesting asparagus, but it’s pretty much done producing now.

June is hot for working in the garden but with the glut of delightful produce, it’s one of the most exciting times. So far this month we have harvested over 82 pounds of tasty goodness and are looking forward to harvesting more. We love our garden!

Weeds, Weeds, Weeds! 6 Ways to Handle them Naturally

6 ways to control weeds naturally!

Are weeds taking over your garden and yard? The definition of a weed is anything that is growing where you don’t want it. There are all kinds of weeds taking over a ton of places I don’t want them in our garden. We have tried everything we can think of to cut down on weeding, but it seems like weeds are overtaking every area of the yard. We are fighting Johnson grass, wild blackberry vines, and thousands of strands of BERMUDA GRASS!

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This is my blessing, my view as I sit quietly in the garden. What do you see?
I can hear birds chirping, and crickets cricketing, and the neighbors down the street neighboring. A light cool breeze tickles by me. I see all kinds of nature doing its job in this garden. I know there are different life cycles underground and above working tirelessly to create life. Today while doing some garden chores I discovered a swarm of cute little lady bugs scurrying in a playful party. I also saw spiders and beetles and bugs of all kinds. And BEES, lots of buzzy fat bees bumbling around to pollinate our produce and mind their own business. I used to be so scared of bees, but I’ve worked right alongside them in this garden with no bother from them. I see nutrients growing to nourish my babies and make their taste buds dance.
As I looked at the corn I thought about the times we’ve picked corn and ate the whole harvest in one lunch. I smile when I think about the two kids that ate most of it. And I thought about the advice from a little farmer I play with to not pick the corn until the thingy on the top falls completely off and wondered if he was right and I’m crazy or if he really doesn’t know.
I thought about the kid’s excitement when we picked our first Brussel sprout plant last week because it was so big and pretty and then I remembered tasting the sprouts after I cooked them and thinking it was amazing that we grew that ourselves.
Then I saw that plastic gorilla laying there and thought about the one who doesn’t get into the garden chores as much as the others. He loves those animals and spends his time in the garden pretending that gorilla is in a jungle.
I wonder if any birds will ever make nests in those bird houses and I think my hummingbird feeder needs to be filled. And the sunflowers, I’m amazed at their majesty as their heads droop over from the sheer mass of the seeds bursting forth from their centers. I wonder if we’ll eat them or feed them to the birds. I wonder if the kids will like them.
I think about all the weeds we’ve relentlessly picked and wonder how that wild blackberry could still be sneaking up the side of my windmill. It seems like we’ve picked so many weeds there couldn’t possibly be any left, but unfortunately there are many. I think about the value of the vegetables in this garden not only monetarily but for our health and I am in awe of God’s goodness.
I’m amazed that we are blessed with this magnificent garden. Sometimes It’s hard to believe it is real. How real it is indeed…

What do you see in your garden?

Stink! How Did THAT Happen?

Stink is something we have said in our garden more times than you could shake a stick at. What have we tried in our garden at Little Sprouts that has failed? A LOT! We are learning the key to gardening success is never give up and keep trying.

Many seeds we planted did not germinate. Why? I have no idea. When planting seeds in trays in the house, we had things fail to grow and things that germinated with ease. We also had many things germinate and die. There are multiple reasons why this can happen. Even outside we had many seeds fail. We were so excited about our monarch way station kit, but truthfully, we got a couple of zinnias and one other plant I haven’t identified and that’s it. There were some vines growing in it that I thought were part of the kit, but they turned out to be birdhouse gourds. They must have come from rogue seeds from the gourds we grew last year.

Let’s talk about our epic failure with squash. We planted a bed of summer squash, one full of pumpkins, and one with butternuts. Guess what? For the second year in a row, they are all DEAD. Squash vine borers-the bane of my existence. In the future, we will probably not even try to grow squash. We are going to give it another shot this summer, but if they get them again, we are done. Over it! Borers look like a wasp. They bore a hole in the stem of the squash, lay their eggs and fly away. The eggs hatch and the larvae inside the stem eat it from the inside out. And the plant immediately dies. We got a handful of squash, more than last year, but still disappointing from more than a dozen plants. I noticed today that our watermelons were looking like the dead squash and I wondered if the borers got them too.

What about broccoli? We grew broccoli, but most of the heads were the size of a thumb. Why did we not get huge crowns like you see in the grocery store? I really don’t know. We only had two cauliflowers produce and they were big, but what happened to all the rest? I don’t know. If we wanted to eat a lot of broccoli and cauliflower, too bad!

Oh my goodness, the weeds! What kind of supernatural weedy weed faces made all these weeds get in our gravel between our beds? We spent a lot of time and money planning for little weeding between the beds only for the weedy mc weedersons to ignore all of our efforts. Johnson grass and wild blackberry vines are creeping their way up everywhere. What’s the deal with that? And the brand new planting medium in the expansion is full of crab grass and Bermuda. In our original backyard garden, we never had grass like that, so it must have come with the medium which is a total drag. We have been relentless about picking weeds, but we are just not keeping up with the demands of the gardens. They look a fright.

The carrots we planted in the one bed that has clay dirt in it were a big mistake. They are growing in there, but if you try to pull one, off pops the top and you have to dig the carrot out with a jack hammer. I’ll remember next time to only have the kids plant carrots in sandier soil.

Last year was our first time to plant garlic and it grew beautifully. This year we grew it again and it didn’t turn out quite as well. I bought some giant cloves at the farmer’s market that were already separated. I shared some with a friend and neither of us got a great harvest from them. I did some reading and found out I had the kids plant them a little too deeply and you should not separate your cloves until you are about to plant them. Hindsight is 20/20 right? Also, some of the cloves just made one giant round bulb with no separate cloves. I asked my friends from Peace of the Prairie Organic Farm who have a stand at the farmer’s market and they said we should have snapped off the scapes and the cloves would have formed. The other garlic we’ve grown was soft neck garlic and it didn’t make scapes, so I didn’t know we were supposed to do that. Another lesson learned.

Many mistakes have been made in the Learning Garden, but guess what? It’s a LEARNING GARDEN and we are here to learn in it. It’s still absolutely breathtaking and putting out vegetables as fast as we can figure out what to do with them, so it’s a blessing anyway. And every time we make a big mistake, we learn a lesson that we won’t forget. It’s the best way to learn. When you make mistakes, remember to focus on all the things you’ve done right and you’ll be okay. Enjoying the process is what matters.