Month: May 2020

How to grow your own food in a modern-day victory garden

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One silver lining of the coronavirus lockdown is that it comes at the start of the growing season. Between now and the fall, folks have the chance to coax food from the soil while also feeding the soul.

This year, a vegetable garden may also provide one thing we seem to be lacking at the moment: control over our lives. It includes the satisfaction of raising nutritious and delicious food, exercising outdoors while socially distancing, relieving pressure on the nation’s food supply system, passing essential knowledge on to your children and growing extra to share with others. At the very least, it’s a constructive distraction in a confined environment.

You can think of it as a Doomsday Garden; I prefer to regard the spring 2020 plot as the Stick It to the Virus Garden.


Gardening Projects Kids Will Love

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Upcycled Sandbox Garden

Put that old sandbox to good use by repurposing it into a fun, kid-friendly garden chock-full of healthy fruits and vegetables they’ll love.

Seed Bombs

Bring life and color to bare areas of your yard with these DIY seed bombs made from scrap paper.

Pizza Garden

Plant a pizza-shaped garden with tomatoes, bell peppers, onions and other favorite toppings occupying each “slice.”


Take an Online Gardening Class and Learn How to Create Your Most Beautiful Backyard Ever

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The coronavirus pandemic, and the broad quarantine guidelines that were put in place to help curb the spread of COVID-19, mean that Americans are spending more time at home than ever before. Staying home doesn’t have to be boring, though; in fact, we think this is the perfect time to exercise your green thumb. After all, if you’re going to log more hours in your own backyard, don’t you want it to be beautiful? Whether you’re new to gardening or consider yourself a total pro, there’s always an opportunity to pick up a few new skills. Now, the New York Botanical Garden is offering online classes—up to seven each day of the week—on a variety of different green topics, Apartment Therapy reports, so you can brush up on your gardening skills from the comfort of your own home.

If you’re interested in signing up, do so soon. One of the most popular classes—Botanical Watercolor for Beginners and Beyond—already has a waitlist for its May 4th session. “Enjoy painting botanical watercolors in a relaxed atmosphere. This class is designed for both inexperienced students and those who wish to improve their skills,” the course’s description on the NYBG website reads.



The benefits of container gardening and why it’s an adequate substitute for conventional gardening

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Photos: Lance Ellis |

Most times when we think of gardening, we envision a nicely laid out plot of straight rows of beans, corn, and other garden veggies. Often, we don’t consider other opportunities to produce great crops away from the garden and in unconventional methods.

One of these ways is through container gardening. Not everyone has the acreage or square footage in the yard, such as people who live in apartments, to plant a garden. Others may not have the time or energy required to manage and maintain a garden plot. Container gardening can offer the benefits of fresh produce and the satisfaction of growing your own crops without the extra responsibilities of a conventional garden.

One of the added benefits of container gardening is being able to protect your crops from damaging frosts at the beginning or end of the season by bringing the entire plant and container inside a garage or other shelter.

Containerized gardens are also easier to cover with protective fabric or another covering to save them from frost damage.


The Latest Mushroom Cultivation Technique is in “Yesterday’s News”

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Here’s a really quick, easy, and simple hack for growing mushrooms at home with just a few easily obtainable items. I learned this technique from a couple members of the Georgia Mushroom Growers Club at the Radical Mycology Convergence in New York last September.

The ingredient list is short and consists of “Yesterday’s News” Kitty Litter (unused and unsoiled of course), Guinea Pig food, distilled water, plastic bags, and some mushroom spawn of varieties such as oyster or shiitake. Sterile conditions are not necessary for success and there is no heating or pasteurization required.

One of the Easiest Ways You’ll Ever Find to Grow Mushrooms at Home

mushroom spawn runThis process is very simple! You place four cups of “Yesterday’s News” Kitty Litter in a clean container and add four cups of distilled or de-chlorinated water. Let sit until all of the water is absorbed by the kitty litter, then mix in one-third cup of Guinea Pig Food and three-fourths cup of mushroom spawn. This mixture is then packed tightly into a plastic bag. Those long slender sleeve type bags work perfectly for this task.

Tamp the media down to compress it and remove as much air as possible, then twist and tie a knot so that you are left with a solid tube of inoculated mushroom growing substrate. Cut four one inch slits in the sides of the bag to allow the spawn to breathe and place the bag in a dark, cool spot.

The Spawn Run and Colonization of Your Mushroom Bags

mushrooms buddingThen it’s just a matter of time as you wait for the mushroom mycelium to spread throughout the kitty litter substrate. Once everything is fully colonized you will notice the light colored mycelium is visible throughout the mixture of kitty litter and mushroom spawn. As is typical with mushroom spawn, it has to run through and fully consume the nutrients in the growing substrate before fruiting.

You will eventually get budding and see tiny clusters of mushrooms start to pop out in various parts of the bag where they are receiving air from the tiny perforations that were made in the plastic bag. At this point the bag should be in an area where it can receive light, but avoid placing it in direct sunlight or where it could over heat or dry out. A slightly humid location is also good but not critical for success.

Fruiting and Harvesting the Mushrooms in a Matter of Days

At this fruiting stage the mushrooms will grow rapidly and should be ready to mushroom harvestharvest within a few days. You can lightly mist the bags with a spray bottle of non-chlorinated water to help the mushroom form but don’t overdo it. Harvest the mushrooms as soon as they reach full size and before they begin to release any spores.

I haven’t tried this yet, but you should be able to let the bags rest for a couple weeks then soak them in water over night to coax a second fruiting out of them. I have some other ideas that I plan to experiment with to keep the spawn going and I will share them if it is successful. Even if this is only a one or two harvest application it will still be worth the effort. The spent bags of mycelium can be composted, broken up and used as a soil amendment, or be fed to earthworms if you have a worm bin.

So if you’ve wanted to try your hand at cultivating mushrooms this is a great way to start the journey. It’s also pretty satisfying as you can go from start to finish in a month or so with just a handful of ingredients and no special equipment!

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