What's the secret to a bountiful vegetable garden? Healthy soil. Good soil, combined with ample sunshine and consistent moisture will produce a garden that’s easy to maintain and very productive.
Out at the farm we give the soil a leg up with Jobe's Organics Fertilizer. Their products contain three essential microorganisms - bacteria, mycorrhizal fungi and a unique species of Archaea. Archaea sets Jobe's apart from other microbial fertilizers because it is so aggressive, quickly breaking down material into nutrients for plants. Our tests of Jobe's resulted in better looking plants, with increased resistance to weather extremes.
Do you want to try Jobe's Organics out in your own garden? Leave a comment below for a chance to win an 8 pound bag of their Heirloom Tomato and Vegetable Food.
I'll pick a winner on March 6th at 9:30 a.m. CST.
Congratulations to Jim Allen! He's the randomly selected winner of the giveaway. Get ready for a a bountiful vegetable garden this summer Jim!
Walk into any garden center or flip through a garden supply catalog and you are bound to see an overwhelming number of garden tools. From hedge shears to hukari knives there is a tool for every task. When it comes to vegetable gardening there are seven essential tools you want to have on hand - a trowel, sharp shooter, garden fork, watering wand, hand pruners, staking materials, and twine.
Trowel - A trowel makes actions like digging, mixing and planting easier on you because it’s basically used as an extension of your hand.
Sharp Shooter - To create deeper, more precise holes, you’ll need a sharp shooter. This is a specific type of shovel with a long, narrow blade. It provides you with more leverage than a trowel and more control than a large garden shovel.
Garden Fork - Another great tool for working with the soil is a garden fork. Its primary function is to loosen or turn over soil, but it can also be used to rake out weeds or large rocks.
Watering Wand - Once your plants are in place, you will really appreciate the value of a watering wand. This tool allows you to be more precise in the amount of water applied to a particular area, which means more consistent watering with less waste. It also prevents some of the achy muscles associated with bending and stretching to water those hard-to-reach areas.
Hand Pruners - There’s nothing better than a great pair of pruners to manage the size and shape of individual plants. This is especially true when it comes to the lanky varieties that can easily over grow their bed companions. They are also handy for harvesting fruits and veggies with tough stems like tomatoes and peppers.
Staking and Twine - The last two things that every gardener needs to have on hand are staking materials and twine. These two work together to keep your vegetable garden in order. First, they provide an area for climbing plants to grow. And secondly, they create an aesthetic design element as a focal point in the garden.
Having the right tool for the job simplifies things and will ultimately give you more time to enjoy your garden.
You don't need a lot of space to grow vegetables and herbs. In fact, in a 4 x 4 raised bed you can grow enough food to feed a family of four. You can supplement your groceries with edibles grown in containers, hanging baskets, pallet gardens and window boxes.
Need inspiration? Check out these photos.
One of the showiest blooms in a Southern garden makes its appearance in late February when everything else is still asleep. It’s the Camellia japonica, cousin to the autumn flowering Camellia sasanqua. While sasanquas tend to be delicate, Camellia japonica is a bold, fleshy flower that screams, "Look at me!"
With their dark, evergreen leaves Camellias make beautiful hedges and the blooms create a seasonal focal point.
Congratulations to Anita Spence! She's the randomly selected winner of the Self-watering Greenhouse. Check your email Anita for confirmation!
When it comes to sowing seeds I love English peas, sweet peas, hyacinth bean vine, gourds, yard long green beans and of course, sunflowers.
What's your favorite plant to grow from seeds? Tell me for a chance to win a Jiffy self-watering seedling greenhouse. This handy seed starting tray comes with starter pellets, a no-mess self-watering mat and a lid to keep in moisture.
Enter your response in the comments section below and I'll pick a random winner on Wednesday February 6, 2013 at 10:30 a.m. CST. Click here for the official rules.
For more information on raising chickens read my column in this month's AY magazine.
If there is one thing that people know about me, it's that I love chickens! Buff Orpingtons, Silver Laced Wyandottes, Black New Jersey Giants, I couldn't pick a favorite if I tried. It's important to have safe and stable housing for our feathered friends and there are so many alternatives to the standard chicken coop. Let's take a look.
Here is a custom chicken coop that I built. The design of the coop makes it a pleasure to look at while providing a great home for my friends.
You never know when your environment may change; here is a mobile chicken coop I have at the Garden Home Retreat that can go just about anywhere because it is built on a trailer.
Here is one of my favorite chicken coops, the Chicken Tractor. It weeds and fertilizes your garden at the same time while providing great housing for your chickens.
I saw this coop at my friend Jerusalem's (JollyGoodeGal.com) house. Her husband made it from old doors and windows.
I hope these chicken coops inspire some great ideas for your own homes and gardens! For more information on unique chicken coops, visit my website at www.pallensmith.com.
You don't have to live on a farm to have farm chic style. Take a look at these ideas for adding a little of the pastoral to your interior décor.
Rain chains are a fun alternative to down spouts. In addition to the tradition copper you can find them made with stones, glass, and many other whimsical materials.
I love this Paul Michael Company side table made from a petrified wood. If you have a tree trunk you’d like to transform into a table allow it to dry for a month, remove the bark, and then coat in polyurethane.
One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. This “work of art” is made with old garden tools I had in my shed or found at flea markets. See more wall hanging ideas in this video.
Not enough farm chic for you? Join me on my Facebook page for Farm Chic Friday . Each week we give away prizes and share ideas for bringing a little Southern charm into the home and garden.
See how to customize fresh evergreen wreaths for the holidays. Read my column in this month's AY Magazine. Click here.
I've always found the holiday season to be a magical time of year, and nothing says it better than fresh greenery adorning your home. After years of making individual pieces by hand for my friends, I started designing fresh greenery holiday décor, and now you can have these pieces in your own home. This year, my Holiday Collection is made from beautiful Noble Fir, the finest and most fragrant pieces handcrafted by my friends at Berry Family of Nurseries . I've created several designs that I'm sure you'll love because beautiful styles and wonderful aromas of my Holiday Collection are the perfect way to enjoy the holiday season. The best part is that there's a little something to bring the holidays to every style and every space.
You can purchase the Colonial, Chocolate & Spice, Williamsburg, Lodge, and Classic Collections online at HomeDepot.com and the Rustic Collection at Frontgate.com. The Collection is also available at independent garden centers across the country, select Sam's Club stores, and Reasor's in northeast Oklahoma.
I was delighted to receive a copy of Julia Rothman's book Farm Anatomy, The Curious Parts & Pieces of Country Life from Storey Publishing. You may be familiar with Julia's illustrations, wall papers, notecards and pattern designs. She has been featured on the blog Design Sponge (DesignSponge.com) and in magazines such as O At Home, ReadyMade, and Domino.
This book is right up my alley. Not only does the subject matter interest me, but it's a visual treat. Whether she's discussing plants to use for natural dye or how to plow a field, Julia relies on illustrations with just a bit of text to convey the information. This makes otherwise complicated topics pretty darn easy to understand. Makes me wonder why other books aren't written this way.
Of course, the clincher for me is the spread on heritage turkey breeds. How can I not love a book that includes heritage turkey breeds?
So how about a copy of Farm Anatomy for your library? Post a comment about what you would raise on a farm for a chance to win Farm Anatomy. I'll pick a winner Monday December 12, 2011.*
Check out more of Julia's illustrations online at
http://juliarothman.com/ & read her book blog at http://www.book-by-its-cover.com/
I've always loved the gift giving tradition of the holidays. We have a large family so we tend to stick to simple and thoughtful pieces, and one of my favorite gifts to give is coffee table books. They are elegant and cost-effective and with so many quality ones to choose from, you can really personalize this gift to the recipient. I've recently discovered two books written by dear friends that I can't wait to wrap up and place beneath the tree, Empress of the Garden by G. Michael Shoup and Natural Companions, The Garden Lover's Guide to Plant Combinations by Ken Druse.
Empress of the Garden
Text and Photographs by G. Michael Shoup
200 pages with color photographs
$39, available for purchase online or at the Antique Rose Emporium
Empress of the Garden tells the story of antique roses and is bold in every sense of the word. Behind its square cover lies an immense library of stunning photos and descriptions of the ancient roses that Shoup has spent the last 25 years breeding and researching. He identifies these roses under a variety of types of women like Drama Queens, Captive Spirits, Tenacious Tomboys and Big Hearted Homebodies and his brief but detailed description of each breed includes adjectives about each of their personalities. With his intimate knowledge of the history and lineage of these old garden roses, Shoup seems to have a personal relationship with each of them. Whether you're looking for the perfect rose for your garden or simply looking to be inspired, this is a coffee table book deserving of the many fine adjectives that its author assigns to his roses.
Natural Companions: The Garden Lover's Guide to Plant Companions
By Ken Druse, Botanical Photographs by Ellen Hoverkamp
250 pages with color photographs
$40, available for online purchase Amazon or Abram's Books
Natural Companions is equally stunning, and where Empress focuses solely on roses, Natural Companions explores the entire plant kingdom. Garden writer Druse shares his immense horticulture knowledge to show recipes for the perfect plant pairing for every yard and experience level. His simple, streamlined style presents different ways to plan your garden to have diverse species that complement one another and bloom at the same time. From color to fragrance to type of plant, there is a how-to for every gardener. And even the blackest thumb can be inspired by the full-page images of gardens across America. This coffee table book is sure to capture the eye of gardeners and designers alike.