Curbly Video: How to Make Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

by Chris Gardner

How to Naturally Dye Easter Eggs Using Fruits and Vegetables


This Easter season, head to the produce aisle and dye your eggs with nature.

 
 
Materials

 

 

  • Free-range eggs
  • Alum powder (available at the supermarket in the spice aisle)
  • White Vinegar
  • Vegetables and spices, see step one
  • Cooktop
  • Saucepan
  • Measuring spoons
  • Wooden spoon and slotted spoon
  • Vegetable oil, wax, electrical tape, leaves, stickers, etc (optional)
     
Step

Choose which colors you’d...

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10 Different Ways To Preserve Fruits and Vegetables For The Winter

by Faith Provencher
10 Different Ways To Preserve Fruits and Vegetables For The Winter
Photo: Foodie Factor

I don't know about you, but one of the things I hate about winter (and there are many) is the lack of fresh vegetables from the garden or local farm stand. There's nothing like a fresh tomato picked that very day. But today we have some tips for preserving that delicious bounty of produce that we will soon lack. These ideas will help you to eat healthier throughout the long run, and they'll also help you to waste less food in the short term. Read on for tons of great ideas!   

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How To: Make a Raised Bed Boulevard Garden Using the Square Foot Method

by Alicia Lacy

How to make a raised-bed boulevard garden

Last month we told you all about our raised bed garden plans, and today we're back with all the juicy details. In a nutshell, this was a huge project in terms of the research and planning, and the easiest when it came time to actually do it. It was a great lesson in "preparation is everything". We're so grateful to Duluth Trading Co. for giving us a motivational kick in the pants to get this project done.

 

Before we get down to it, let's revisit our plans, shall we?

Raised Bed Garden Plans

We set out to create a set of raised garden beds to create a small-scale vegetable garden. Originally, we planned to place it in our sloped backyard. But, after monitoring the sunlight for a few days (this part of the yard gets about 4 hours of direct sunlight) and talking to neighbors who had experimented with growing veggies under part shade, we decided to relocate the garden to our sun-filled front boulevard, where we believe it'll have the best chance at success.

We intended to follow these plans from Sunset to DIY our garden beds, but then experienced a spring with monsoon-like weather, followed by some travel that derailed our DIY dreams. In the end, we bought this kit of cedar garden beds and the entire construction process took less than 30 minutes. If you're pinched for time or not very handy, this kit is a great option. We ended up purchasing 4 sets to create three beds (2 - 24" tall beds and 1 - 10" tall bed for the strawberry patch). However, if you have time and a small number of tools, DIYing your garden beds is a simple project that will save you money.

Easy Raised Garden Bed Kit

Lining Raised Bed Garden Boxes

 

Square Foot Gardening Method

When it came time to look into the best method for growing our veggies, I spent hours reading, pinning, and visiting a local nursery to get tips. The square foot gardening method came up over and over again.

I have a friend who did square foot gardening last year in her raised garden beds, and she reported that it was an extremely successful method; she felt there was flexibility with the soil mixture, which was like music to my inexperienced gardener's ears.

According to the square foot method, your soil mixture should contain 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 blended compost. To figure out how much soil mixture we needed we calculated the total cubic footage of our beds (60 cubic feet in all, not counting the strawberry patch), and then divided by three.

Square Foot Gardening Soil Mix

The only tricky part we ran into here was that the compost we ordered came in 40 lb. bags, which we figured to be about one square foot. We also learned that vermiculite is expensive and decided to go a little light on it, and a little heavier on the compost blend. This is something the square foot gardening people caution you against, but something that my friend did and she ended up with a bumper crop. So, we're crossing our fingers. Here's what we ended up ordering:

 

  • 6 - 2-cu. ft. bags of vermiculite - 12 cubic feet total
  • 6 - 3-cu. ft. bags of peat moss - 18 cubic feet total
  • 20 - 40 lb. bags of compost - about 20 cubic feet

Our method for mixing this soil was to mix a bag of vermiculite, a bag of peat moss, and 2 -3 bags of compost at a time. This takes time and grit, but seemed to be the best way to ensure the soil was well mixed. 

Mixing Soil - Square Foot Gardening

Once the soil was mixed, we bracketed 1-inch PVC piping to the four corners of each bed, and made a tent with 1/2-inch PVC pipes. We attached bird netting to the pipes to deter squirrels and other foraging animals. 

PVC Piping in Raised Garden Beds

 

Planting

When it came time to plant, the square foot gardening philosophy was extremely helpful. We gridded our beds by sight (16 squares per bed) and followed their planting rules based on the produce we were growing. For example, for tomato plants we planted one plant per square foot. For carrots, we planted 16 per square. 

Square Foot Garden Planting

The vegetables we planted included: tomatoes, carrots, arugula, sugar snap peas, asparagus, a variety of peppers, lettuce, and herbs. We also created a small strawberry patch in the lowest bed and wrapped it in wire garden fencing. We began most of our produce from plants, and grew only the carrots and lettuce from seed.

 

Garden Gear

Gardening is certainly an exercise in patience. Not only does it take time to plan and plant a vegetable garden, it takes some sweat and if you're me, tears. Having good gear helps (e.g. gloves, boots, tools), but wearing comfortable, weather-friendly clothes helps a lot too. 

For this project, we were lucky enough to work with Duluth Trading Co., a company that makes outdoor-friendly attire of the highest quality. Little features like shirts with built-in air vents and pants with a rise that keeps your bum to yourself made us comfortable, protected from the sun, and feeling a little bit fancy in the garden. Here are our "his-and-her" uniforms:

Duluth Trading Co. Gardening Clothing

Duluth Trading Co. Gardening Attire

Obviously, garden uniforms aren't required to make your garden grow, but we both really liked feeling comfortable and protected in our garb.
 


Our Harvest

We're clearly in the very beginning phase of what we hope is a vegetable garden-palooza. Once everything is established, we'll update this post to let you know how our garden grew. 

Tell us all about your summer vegetable and fruit garden plans! What's your favorite thing to grow? Do you have any tips when in comes to planning or planting? Please share your tips in the comments below.

 

 

This post was sponsored by Duluth Trading Company (and they gave us some cool gear to try out while we gardened). However, all opinions are ours alone.

 

 

 

 

 

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5 DIY Techniques for Creating Productive Vegetable Gardening Beds

by Matt Allison

 DIY Veggie Bed Techniques

When planning out your vegetable beds you’re presented with a plethora of options, my hope is that over the course of this post I’ll be able to unpack a few of them, helping you find a solution that best suits both your needs and budget.

 

Double Digging

1. Double Digging - If you have an established garden with good soil, you may want to start with trench beds, commonly referred to as “double digging” beds. Essentially you’ll be digging into your preexisting soil aerating it, then fortifying it with compost, bone and bloodmeal. The advantage of this kind of bed is that, if well planned, it should last you 5-7 years with an annual top dressing and periodic organic fertilizing, provided you observe seasonal crop rotations, which are needed to allow the soil to replenish itself natural. See more at Vegetable Gardener

Raised Bed

2. Raised Beds  generally fall into two categories, boxed beds and unboxed lasagna style beds and mounds, but both work on similar ‘no till’ principles.

Instead of digging into your soil, you build on top of it. This is advantageous when you have poor soil, or you may not have soil as you might be adding these beds to paved or asphalted areas. The benefits are that you’ll use less, but quality soil, and being raised it can help keep pests at bay, and also makes it a little easier on the knees and back when working in them.

If you’re going to build your own borders or wooden boxed beds, it’s important to note you want to use untreated timber. Woods like cedar are great because they’re naturally pest and rot resistant and will last many years, softer woods like birch and pine will rot over time, but being natural can easily and safely be recomposed.

Most herbs and vegetables only need about 7” of soil to grow in, this includes salad greens, brassicas, tomatoes and edible flowers like marigolds and pansy, which makes these beds cost effective. Learn more: At Home At Home

Lasagna Bed

3. Making Lasagna Beds - A lasagna or sheet bed, works similarly to a raised bed, laying down sheets of newspaper and in between layers filling it with stray, grass cutting and compost. Find at how its done at Little House In The Suburbs.

Keyhole Garden

4. How To Make A Keyhole Garden Another popular option is the keyhole garden, a common method of gardening in Africa, when beds are constructed from stone and in spiral shapes, allowing you to easily move amongst the beds, maximizing space. Get the tutorial at ByzantineFlowers

Potatoe Tire Garden

5. Root Vegetable Towers Lastly for deeper root crops you have use old tires, stacked on top of each other. This is one of my favorite methods for growing potatoes. Start by placing a single tire on top of a sheet of thick cardboard and fill it with potting soil, add a few seed potatoes and once they sprout and the stems grow above the top of the tire, add a 2nd one, filling it up with soil as the plants begin to grow. I normally stop at around 3-4 tires, then allow the shoots to die off and you’ll end up with tired filled with potatoes, which is kept dark and dry, will last you months. See more at Finny Knits

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How To: Make Natural Dyes from Common Food Items!

by Capree K

How To: Make Natural Dyes from Common Food Items!

I learned a long time ago how to dye fabric using fruits and vegetables (thanks to my mom and her degree in "3D textiles": she would dye all her own materials and make sculptures from resin-saturated fabrics... I know, right!?).  Alas, the wisdom she bestowed upon me escaped my "vault of knowledge" along with a great many other things over the years.  Fortunately, the Internet exists.  And extra fortunately, someone decided to show us all how it's done!  Ready to start putting those groceries to new use?  

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10 Ways to Get Your Garden Ready for Spring Planting!

by DIY Maven

10 Ways to Get Your Garden Ready for Spring Planting!

Plant doctors David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth have shared with us 10 things we should consider BEFORE we nestle one seed or seedling into our gardens. Following their suggestions can help prevent pests and diseases. Use all ten, and we'll be harvesting heavy come fall!And if you'd like to become a plant doctor too, check out David and Kathryn's book What's Wrong With My Plant (And How Do I Fix It?).

1. Sanitize. If you didn’t get around to cleaning up old left-over garden debris last autumn, do it now. Pay special attention to any dead plant material from diseased or infested plants and get it out of your garden. Fungal spores, insect eggs, and bacteria lurking on old infected dead leaves lying on the ground can quickly infect your new plants and ruin your produce all summer long.

2. Right plant, right place. Be sure and read the instructions on the seed pack or the vegetable start plant label and put your plants in the best location to meet those requirements. If your plants have the right amount of light and water, the correct temperature, and the proper soil they won’t be under stress. And stress, as we all know, predisposes our plants (as well as ourselves) to attack by pests and diseases.

3. Light and air flow. Most vegetable and fruit plants want full sun and free air movement. Plants that do not get enough sunlight will be weak and spindly, and won’t be able to produce very much food for you. Free air movement helps foliage dry quickly and helps to avoid diseases and pests so don’t crowd your plants, give them space.

4. Genetic resistance. If you have a choice, choose cultivars that are genetically resistant to diseases and pests. Less disease and fewer pests means less work for you and more produce. Sounds like a win-win situation! Most all of these disease resistant cultivars have been developed through traditional plant breeding techniques.

5. Manage water. Set up your garden so that your watering practices deliver water to the root system, not to the leaves. Keeping the leaves dry goes a long way to avoiding diseases. In general, keep your plants evenly moist for best results. Allowing your plants to get extremely dry and then flooding them to get them extremely wet results in uneven growth, deformed foliage, and reduced yields. Also try to group plants according to their watering needs.

6. Proper temperature. Some vegetables like tomatoes and sweet corn, and fruits like melons are warm season crops. These are plants that flourish in hot humid weather. Other plants like cabbage, lettuce, and spinach are cool season plants that flourish in cool temperatures. If you put warm season plants in the ground in early spring while soil and air temperatures are still quite cool, they will not grow well and may be stunted. Conversely, cool season plants planted in mid-summer may simply flower and set seed while still very tiny.

7. Build soil. Creating healthy, biologically active soil is the best way to build healthy plants. Incorporating dead plant material (not diseased!) into the soil feeds micro-organisms that break it down into simple nutrients that will ultimately feed your plants. Feeding the soil results in a complex ecosystem filled with fungi, bacteria, insects, worms, and other critters that help to out-compete the ones that want to damage your plants. Compost and organic fertilizers incorporated into the soil are excellent sources of dead plant material with which to feed your soil. Mulch placed on top of the soil around your plants will also eventually break down and feed the soil.

8. Polycultures. A polyculture is where you put lots of different plants into the same location. Corn, beans, and squash, for example, is a traditional polyculture developed by the Pueblo Indians of the Southwest centuries ago. The corn, beans, and squash are all planted together in the same bed. You can mix vegetables and fruits into your flower beds and vice versa. The important benefit you get is that it makes your plants harder for pestiferous insects to find. It also makes it difficult for fungal and bacterial disease to jump from plant to plant.

9. Rotation. Don’t put a plant in the same location where you grew it last year. Move your plants around from year to year to make them moving targets. It helps to avoid the build-up of soil-borne pests and diseases. There are lots of crop rotation systems and schemes, you can choose one of these or just create your own system, one that works for you. Many people find that a three-year rotation system works well.

10. Beneficial organisms. There are lots and lots of insects and other critters that are willing and able to eat the insect pests that want to eat your produce before you do. Many are predators, like lady bugs and lacewings, and some are parasites that lay their eggs inside other insects. And then there are beneficial nematodes that attack and kill insects that live in the soil. Many birds are also insectivorous and can help to get rid of insect pests for you, and so can frogs, toads, and spiders. If you manage your garden to protect these beneficial critters, they will help you manage the pests.

 

 

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10 Tips for Starting a Simple Garden.

by Chris Gardner

Briana Feola of Brainstorm Print & Design. is a full time artist with a huge passion for gardening. She's assembled ten great tips for Indie Fixx on getting started with your own food production garden.

green3.jpg

1) START SMALL

2) START PLANTS INSIDE

3) COMPOST!

4) OBTAIN APPROPRIATE SUPPLIES

5) PICK SEEDS AND PLANTS NATIVE TO YOUR AREA
6) GET PROPER FENCING TO KEEP CRITTERS OUT

7) GET THE SOIL READY

8) DON’T PLANT TOO SOON

9) DON’T FORGET TO...

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Ginormous Vegetables

by DIY Maven

Ginormous Vegetables

In some parts of the world, they grow 'em big. I mean REALLY big. Take, for instance, Lebanese farmer Khalil Semhat grew an astounding 24.9 pound sweet potato, which, frankly, looks very little like a sweet potato at that size.

We hear about gigantic pumpkins every Halloween, but they're usually not as big as this monster grown in Rhode Island, which clocked in at a hefty 1689 pounds.

 

Lloyd Bright hit the jackpot with this 268 pound watermelon.

John Evans, who lives 40 miles north of Anchorage, Alaska, was able to nurse a cabbage to a very remarkable 76 pounds.

Mr. Evans doesn't only know how to grow big cabbages. He also grew a 18.985 pound carrot,

a 31.15 pound cauliflower, 

and a 35 pound broccoli.

To see the other ridiculously large garden produce, visit oddee.com.

 

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Recycle Your Onions Into an Endless Supply of Scallions.

by Chris Gardner

Recycle Your Onions Into an Endless Supply of Scallions.

I've been doing this ever since I've had a patch of dirt in which to grow 'em. Next time you grab a bunch of scallions/green onions at the supermarket, hold onto the root ends.

Then, simply plant them about one inch into the dirt (in the garden or a pot). Water well, and wait for the greens to return. The more you snip them, they faster they'll grow.

You can also do this with whole garlic bulbs and use the green sprouts in pastas...

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How To Start Seedlings in Egg Cartons.

by Chris Gardner

Paper egg cups make the perfect container for starting seeds and growing transplants.

How To Start Seedlings in Egg Cartons.

Simply cut off the top half/the lid of the cartons, and fill each cup with potting soil. Place them on a sheet pan filled with water, and the set the pan in the sunshine or under grow lights. When the seedlings are ready for the garden, just cut the cartons into indiividual cups, and place the whole things in the soil. The cartons will dissolve, just like...

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How Does Your Garden Grow: Seeds and Transplants.

by Chris Gardner

Read Part I: Assessing Your Soil.

Part II. Seeds and Transplants.

How Does Your Garden Grow: Seeds and Transplants.

If you planned on starting your own transplants from seeds, you’re a bit behind for this year. However, the schedule below details the best dates for starting transplants; use it in subsequent years, or to determine whether you should purchase seedlings or try it from scratch.

Early March: onions, cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, morning glory, cypress vine...

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How To Plant a Winter Garden.

by Chris Gardner

Super-cool gardening magazine Mother Earth Living maintains, "With a few seed packets and a little planning, you can enjoy fresh salads, cooking greens and other garden treats year-round." They offer a series of tips for planting and growing hearty greens, lettuces, and root vegetables.

How To Plant a Winter Garden.
  • Plant in mid-August to mid-September. (Right now!)
  • Use leaves to keep soil warm.
  • Keep out bugs and critters.
  • All sorts of nutrional benefits. 

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