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Kale is the perfect plant for any beginner gardener. It grows well in nearly any kind of soil, has few problems associated with it and will give you a quick tasty harvest.

It comes in a wide range of textures and colors. Several shades of green, to deep pink, red or even white. The leaves are usually crinkly but there are smoother-leafed varieties and some that are very tightly ruffled. Some kale varieties are strictly ornamental and have bitter leaves.

Kale is one of the most nutritious plants you can grow in the garden, and is packed with vitamins. You will get nearly an entire day’s worth of vitamin C in a serving, and more than a day’s supply of vitamins K and A. Add in manganese, calcium, potassium and fiber and you have yourself a plant worth eating.

How To grow Kale From Seed In A Garden:

You can sow kale seeds as early as a few weeks before the last frost. It actually thrives off the cool temperatures and will avoid a bitter taste when grown in such conditions. To sow kale seeds, plant seeds in loose soil about ½ an inch deep and an inch apart. The place you choose to plant your seeds should have full to moderate sun.

If you wish, you can begin kale seeds indoors as long as the temperature stays under 75 degrees. To plant indoors, simply plant the kale seeds in peat pots that can be planted directly in the ground when it is time to transplant. Plant a 1/2 inch deep, just as you would if planting outdoors.


Soil Needed To Grow Kale:

The kind of soil in which you plant your kale will also have a bearing on your success.
Kale grows best in moist, well-drained and loamy soil which is average in terms of fertility.
Kale doesn’t thrive in nitrogen rich soil. It grows best in soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.8.
You can add wood ash to your soil if it is too acidic.
Both sandy and clay-rich soils will have a negative impact on the flavor of your kale.

Growing Kale in Containers

Are you wondering if you can grow kale in a pot? The answer is yes! If you don’t have enough space for a traditional garden, you can grow kale a pot or another garden container. The pot should have a minimum of six square inches of space for the kale plant to grow in. Plant your seeds or start a seedling in the center of the pot, follow the growing instructions above. Growing kale in a container may allow you to extend its growing season by moving the pot to a shaded area once it becomes hot outside.

Harvest and Storage

Kale is usually harvested all through the growing season, so you can start picking off a few leaves once they reach 3 to 4 inches long (much sooner than the actual maturity date). Larger leaves can still be used but are better for cooking than eating raw.

Never pick all the leaves, or the ones right in the center or you will kill the plant. Only harvest the outer leaves. Twist off gently, or snip with garden scissors.

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Garlic has to be the easiest thing to grow. You can plant it in pots, in the ground, in empty milk jugs. Really, any container will do. Regular water and fertilizer are all it needs. Today I am going to show you how easy it is to Grow Garlic in a Container.

October is the best time to plant garlic pretty much everywhere in the United States, but you don’t need a garden to grow garlic. The bulbs grow well when planted in wide, deep containers that are set in a nice sunny spot.

Choosing a Garlic Variety
There are tons of garlic varieties to choose from and they are divided into two basic categories: hardneck types, which have a hard central stock with a single layer of cloves around it, and softneck types, which have swirling layers of cloves and no defined neck. I prefer hardneck varieties because they produce a flower bud called ascape in late spring. Scapes have a delicious mild garlicky flavor and taste amazing inpesto. In theory, you could plant garlic purchased from the grocery store, but it is often treated to prevent it from sprouting. For the best results and a more interesting array of varieties, buy garlic that was grown locally at a farmer’s market or purchase bulbs at a nursery.

Choosing Containers
Garlic has fairly shallow roots, but it is important to make sure they have plenty of room to stretch out in the soil. Choose a pot that is at least 18 inches deep and 12 inches wide. Half barrels and wooden crates work well, but you certainly do not need to buy a container for your garlic. The large black plastic containers that trees come in are a great choice, as are contractor buckets. Whatever container you use, make sure that it has drainage holes in the bottom. Place the container in a spot that gets at least 6 hours of bright, direct sunlight each day.

Use Good Potting Soil
Garlic is prone to fungal root diseases, so it is important that the soil you plant the cloves in drains well. Don’t be tempted to put regular garden soil in the containers. It is too heavy and tends to get soggy over the winter. Instead use a high quality soil-less potting mix. These mixes typically contain a blend of coconut fiber or peat and compost, plus vermiculite or pearlite to help keep it light. I use a brand called Black Gold. Get the potting mix as damp as a wrung out sponge before placing it in the container. Fill the container to within about 2 inches of the rim.

Planting the Garlic
Break the garlic heads apart, being careful to keep the papery wrapper around each clove intact. Only plant the largest cloves (you can use the smaller ones to cook with).
Plant the garlic 2 inches in from the rim of the container, spacing the bulbs 5 inches apart in all directions. Use a piece of bamboo to make planting holes that are 3 inches deep. Plant one clove per hole, with the flat side down and the pointy end up. Backfill the hole with soil, making sure that the tip of the clove is about 1 inch below the surface. The garlic may sprout and then die back over the winter, but don’t worry. It will re-sprout again in the spring.

Caring for the Garlic Over the Winter
In very cold areas, you can place straw over the surface of the soil during periods where temperatures stay below freezing for an extended period of time. However, be prepared to remove it when temperatures rise, as the straw tends to stay damp and it will rot the garlic cloves. Skip using straw if you have wet, mild winters. In dry climates, don’t let the soil completely dry out. Keep it about as damp as a wrung out sponge.

Caring for the Garlic in Spring
In spring be sure to remove straw (if using it) as soon as temperatures rise above freezing. When the garlic begins to grow, fertilize it every 3 weeks with a dilute liquid organic fertilizer. Keep the soil consistently moist. Cut the scapes off just after they emerge to encourage the bulbs to grow larger. The bulbs will be ready for harvest in early summer when the bottom 1/3 of the leaves have yellowed.



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You can use tires for SO many things in your gardens. I especially like the idea of painting them and then making a fun artistic display for your garden. What a great idea!


Take old silverware and use it to make markers for your garden. You can write the names of plants on them, or paint them, or even imprint them onto the silverware!


Garden pallets are often recycled, and there are seriously SOOO many things you can use them for. You can make garden furniture, herb containers, and so much more. Take the pallet apart and make a great garden path.


Take old rain boots and use them as little flower holders to decorate your yard and garden. The more colors, sizes, and shapes of the boots, the better!


You can use tin or aluminum cans to make some great herb holders for your garden. You can hang them on the wall, put them on a ledge, or just leave them on the ground.


Ladders are great for garden projects, especially if they’re old and rustic looking. A common garden project is to stack pots and planters on it for decorative purposes.


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Take basil clippings with 4-inch stems and put them in a glass of water. Put the glass in a spot with direct sunlight and keep them there until the roots have sprout out to about 2 inches. You can then take them and put them in pots to grow your full basil plant.


With a full ginger root, simply plant it in the soil. While the process is pretty easy, it does take quite a bit of time. It will take a few months for the bulb to actually sprout, and you’ll only be able to harvest a full bulb in about 8 to 10 months.


In order to grow cilantro, you’ll need to put the stems in water. This will allow roots to sprout, making it possible to regrow cilantro. When the roots are long enough, take the cilantro out of the water and plant it. In a few months, you’ll have a full cilantro plant.


Take the mint stem that you have and put it in water. You’ll want to change the water every week or so, making sure it stays clean. When strong roots appear, transplant the mint to a pot (if you put it in a garden, just be careful. Mint spreads really fast).


Like most of the other herbs, lemon balm can be regrown too. You just use the cuttings, let the roots grow back, and when they’re long enough, plant the new lemon balm plant in the soil!


When regrowing fennel, first decide which type you want. The best part about fennel is that it’s a perennial, so as long as you take care of it and keep it in the ground, it will regrow every year.


Take rosemary cuttings (2 to 3 inches), peel off the leaves at the bottom, scrape off the exterior of the stem if you want, and then put the cutting in water. Let it grow its roots out and then transplant to a pot!


The shoots of a sprouting garlic bulb are too bitter to eat or cook with, but you can use them to regrow garlic! Just take the bulb, put it in a bowl of water, and watch the garlic grow!


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These bi-colored flowers, called Daylily Frans Hals, are beautiful. They would make a great addition to your garden in the summer with their fun, sun-like color.

Coral Bells Citronelle is a great plant to add to a small garden. It’s leaves are shaped so uniquely and it changes colors slightly in the sun versus in the shade.
Dianthus Purple Picotee has such pretty white and purple blooms. The best part about this plant in your garden is that it will keep your yard smelling wonderful all summer long.
Lungwort Raspberry Splash not only has a fun name but it also has fun, spotted leaves! This plant is great for a small garden in a shady area.
Keep your small garden simple by adding French Thyme. This is great for cooking!
To add some nice texture to your garden, add Sedum Angelina. It’s needle-like foliage will add some fun to your garden. It is also drought tolerant!
Check out the shape of this Veronica Purpleicious. It’s tall and skinny in appearance, making this perfect for small gardens.
Chocolate Shogun Astilbe is a one of kind! It’s dark leaves make a great contrast against the pink spike blooms that will come out in the late summer.
Blue Butterfly is a compact Larkspur which will work great for a small garden. It only grows to 14″ tall so it won’t overcrowd your small garden space.
Heavenly Pink Fang is heavenly indeed! The golden, yellow ruffles on the edge of each petal make it stand apart. The best part is, it will flower all summer long.

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Baking soda has so many uses around the house and offers a safe and inexpensive way to clean your kitchen and bathroom. But what about the garden? Here are the best ways to use baking soda in the garden to keep it healthy and pest-free.

1. Use Baking Soda To Test the PH Level of the Soil

Wet your soil with some distilled water and sprinkle a handful baking soda over the damp part. If the soil begins to bubble, you have acidic soil with a PH level that is probably lower than 5.

2. Homemade Plant Fungicide

Mix 4 Tbsp with 1 gallon of water to get a homemade fungicide that is cheaper and has much fewer chemicals and toxins than other fungicides.

3. Get Rid of Slugs

If you want to kill slugs quickly, just sprinkle a little baking soda on them! The baking soda will cause them to dry out and die.

4. Sweeten Tomatoes

Would you like your tomatoes to taste even sweeter? Just sprinkle a small amount of baking soda on the soil around your tomato plants (don’t get it on the plant). The baking soda absorbs into the soil and lowers the acidity levels.

5. Make Cut Flowers Last Longer

If you have cut flowers and you want to extend its life, just dip the flowers into a mixture of baking soda and water.

6. Smelly Compost

Pour baking soda in your compost bin to eliminate odor.

7. Battle Ants

Take a small amount of powdered sugar and mix it with an equal amount of baking soda. Then place small amounts in areas where ants are seen. The powdered sugar will attract ants and the baking soda will kill them when they eat it.

8. Keep Rabbits Out of the Garden

Sprinkle baking soda around your vegetable garden to keep bunnies from nibbling on your plants.


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Most people prefer to use fresh herbs in their cooking but sometimes a herb cannot be grown all year round and so storing herbs is necessary. Sometimes there may be an abundance of a herb crop within a short period of time that means there is excess supply so again storage is necessary.

Herbs tend to retain more of their flavour when they are stored ‘whole’. The stored herbs can then be broken / ground up with a pestle and mortar before use to release their flavours and aromas. This is especially true of herb seeds such as Coriander seed which should be stored in their whole form and then ground up for use in cooking.

Herbs can be stored and preserved in a number of ways.

Freezing herbs


A relatively new method of storing herbs is freezing them. Many prefer this to drying herbs as more flavour can be preserved by freezing. To freeze your herbs you can adopt one of two methods. Firstly for leafy herbs such as Basil, Parsley, Dill or Chives you can simply rinse and then place straight into freezer bags or other suitable storage in the freezer. Some herbs may require blanching in boiling water for a minute before cooling the herbs in very cold water before transferring to the freezer.

An alternative method of freezing herbs that is becoming increasingley popular is to chop / cut the herbs into small pieces and place in the cells of ice cube trays. Top up the cells with clean cold water and then place in the freezer as you would normal ice cubes. When you want to use the herbs in cooking simply pop out a herb-cube and drop it into your sauce.

Drying Herbs


Drying herbs is the traditional method of preserving and storing herbs that has been used all over the world for centuries. The herbs should be dry and brittle, leave should crumble easily.

To retain as much flavour and fragrance as possible dryed herbs should be stored in airtight containers in a cool, dark place.


You can dry herbs by a number of different methods but each method will require the herbs to be prepared prior to drying. To prepare your herbs for drying you should

  • remove any soil still attached to the stems
  • rinse the herbs in cold water to remove any insects or dirt.
  • Remove any flowering stems along with their flowers
  • Gently pat off any excess water with a paper towel

The herbs are now ready for drying.

Air drying herbs

Tye the stems in bunches and then hang the bunches upside down. Because the bunches are upside down the herb oils that provide a lot of the herbs flavour and fragrance will travel down the stems and into the leaves. After about two weeks of hanging the leaves should be dry and brittle to the touch. Firmly run your fingers along the stems and the leaves should fall off easily. Collect the leaves and place in your airtight storage container.

Dehydrator machine

You can use a dehydrator to dry your herbs. Simply place the herbs on one of your dehydrators trays and follow the machines instructions. You can turn the stems over to help achieve an even drying process. Dehydrators use electric heat to gently dry the produce but they don’t ‘cook’ the produce unlike the microwave method outlined below. Dehydrators are useful for drying all sorts of produce, not just herbs.


This is a quick fix if you can’t air dry your herbs but is recommended only if there is no other option as you are actually cooking the herbs. You can dry herbs in the microwave by placing them between two layers of kitchen towel in the microwave and then microwaving on a LOW setting for around 3 minutes. You can turn check the drying progress and turn the towel over after 2 minutes.


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Mint is a herbaceous perennial which dies back in late Autumn but burst back into life in Spring. The vigorous nature of Mint makes it a relatively easy plant to grow. However it is also a very invasive plant that will spread through the plot if left to its own devices.

Mint sends out lateral root runners under the soil that enable it to surface in another part of your plot and at the same time compete with your other plants for water, nutrients and light.

In this article we examine how to grow Mint successfully without letting it dominate your garden.


The ability to encroach into the space of other herbs and plants in the garden is normally overcome by either growing Mint in containers or by taking measures to prevent the spread of the roots.


Mint will thrive in a sunny position but will also tolerate some shade.


Growing more than one type of Mint

Although Mint will co-exist with other varieties of Mint it is widely believed that the qualities of the flavour and scent of the plants are reduced when doing so. Therefore if you want to have different varieties in a large container then plant the varieties in small sub containers and place these containers in the larger container.

Soil type

Mint likes a rich, soil that is fairly free draining although it does not like the soil to dry out.


When growing Mint in containers – cnce the root system has filled the pot or container then the plant can be lifted out of the pot and then divided into 3 or 4 plants and then each plant re-potted in the center of a new pot with additional compost to backfill the container.

Do this in spring and these plants will soon put on vigorous growth in their new container. This will help keep your plant healthy and enable it to expand its root system even though it is in a restricted space.

If you find your Mint plants have put on so much growth that you can’t use it all then you can either preserve it (see below) for use over winter or at the very least make sure to keep cutting the growing tips back. This encourages bushy growth rather than having a long straggly plant.

Mint does not like to dry out so make sure to water regularly, especially if in terracotta pots which lose a lot of water through thepot walls. You can line your terracotta pots with old compost bags to help retain moisture.


Before winter you can cut the stems back to a couple of inches above the soil. This will give you a bumper crop of Mint that you can preserve by either:

  • Chopping into pieces small enough to put in ice cubes trays, top up with water and freeze. You can then add the required number of ice cubes to drinks (fantastic with Apple juice) or for adding to Gravies / mint sauce etc.
  • Tying around the bottom of the stems to create bunches of Mint that can be hung in a ventilated dry space to air dry them.


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Blackberries are usually big plants and unsuitable for pots, but the thornless varieties are less vigorous and can be successfully grown in a large container.

How to plant blackberries:

Before you start planting, choose a site that has full sun. The soil should be rich and drains well. When planting, place bushes 6 feet apart. If planting in rows, plant each row at least 8 feet apart. Crowding is never a good idea when planting any type of berry bush.

Dig the hole about 8 inches deep, add the plant, and gently cover it with soil. There is no need to fertilize at this time, just do a generous initial watering.

How to grow blackberries in containers:

grow blackberries

Growing blackberries in containers is possible, but you need to use a sizable container. Only plant one bush per container, and make sure you can dig a good 12-18 inches deep and the width of the pot is at least 18 inches. Also, be sure there is proper drainage.

How to care for blackberries:

You want to be sure you keep weeds at bay. You can do this by picking weeds when you see them as well as covering the area around the bushes with mulch. Water your blackberry bushes with at least 1 inch of water per week, and always check to make sure the soil is moist. Prune away any branches or greenery that appears to be dead or diseased.

General tips for producing a good crop:

Light netting can be used to protect the bush from animals that may want to nibble on it. When you see shoots come out of the bush, go ahead and remove them. This will help the bush focus its energy elsewhere.

If your blackberry bush can use a boost, you can fertilize 3-4 weeks after planting. A basic garden fertilizer will do. Just follow package directions.

When and how to harvest blackberries:

Blackberries are ready to pick when they are a deep bluish black, full, and fall easily from the branch. Pick often and when you do, leave the green top intact as much as possible. Don’t be concerned if you don’t see blackberries the first year you plant, as they may take several years to appear.

How to divide blackberries:

Blackberries have shallow roots that love to spread out. Be sure you always plant the bushes several feet from each other. Should you find yourself needing to divide the plants, pull up the plant gently so to not disturb the root structure. Remove as much of the root as possible and transplant according to the planting directions above.

Once you harvest your blackberries, you can eat them fresh, freeze them, or even can them. They are great for jellies, jams, pies, and so much more. So give these tips a try, and in no time, you too can be enjoying fresh blackberries.


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Growing Basil is relatively easy as long as the growing environments has suitable light and temperature levels.

Basil is grown for its fragrant tasty leaves that can be added raw to salads, sandwiches or used in cooked dishessuch as the ever popular pasta with tomato and basil sauce.



If growing Basil in pots then ensure that adequate drainage is allowed from the base of the pot (line with coarse gravel if necessary).

If growing outside then ensure the soil is well dug over and weed free before sowing.
Before sowing ensure that the compost or soil is moist (water generously the day before sowing).



It is vital that Basil is not exposed to the last spring frosts so if sowing outside be patient and sow in late March. Sow at any time if the plant is always to be kept indoors. If sowing inside and planting outside late then you can sow in late February.

Sow the seed thinly and if growing in pots sow enough for a few plants in each pot. Cover the seeds with 1/2 cm of compost and firm gently.

Basil seeds should germinate in about a week and once the seedlings have developed 2 pairs of true leaves then you can thin out the weakest seedlings in each pot, leaving each pots strongest.




Basil should be grown in a position that receives a good amount of sunlight – around 6-8 hours a day. Basil can be grown indoors on a sunny windowsill or outdoors in containers or soil. If growing outside try and position the Basil in a sheltered spot that avoids cold winds.



Soil type


Basil likes a fertile soil that has been welll dug to allow good soil air circulation. Introducing well rotted organic compost or manure into the soil a month or so before sowing will help this.

If growing in pots then a general purpose compost is a suitable soil solution.




If growing indoors in pots using compost then weeds shouldn’t be a problem. If growing outdoors then you can add an organic mulch around the Basil plants to help aid soil moisture retention and prevent weed establishment.

If growing Basil in containers or indoor pots then add a small amount of fertiliser every month or so.
Water every week (more often if growing in outdoor containers or indoors).
When watering your Basil make sure to water at the base of the plant avoiding showering the leaves and stems.

Be sure to pinch out any flowers that appear. This will help preserve the plants flavour and also channel the plants energies into more leaf growth.




Basil is a pick and come again crop. It is best to pick a few leaves off a number of plants than picking all the leaves off one plant. Harvest the top most leaves first. Basil will grow all year round indoors but outdoor plants should be dug up and brought indoors before the first fall frosts if you want to extend the plants growing season into the winter.

Once harvested Basil can be frozen for later use.

Basil can be used in fresh or dried form. To dry Basil cut the stems at soil level and dry them in a dehydrator or hang bunches of stems up to air dry in a warm room, this should take about a week. Once the leaves are dried you can remove them from the stems and then store them in a dry airtight container for up to 12 months.




The most popular variety of Basil is Sweet Basil and this is the variety most often used in cooking. Other varieties include Purple Basil (purple leaves) and Lemon Basil (a mild lemon flavour). There is also Greek Basil which has much smaller leaves as shown below.