Tuesday, February 28, 2012

7 Location Ideas for Apartment and Urban Gardens

When you live in an apartment your space is limited.

That’s especially true when it comes to your garden.

We barely have room for furniture. Forget about tomatoes.

This is why it’s important to consider all options when deciding where to start your apartment vegetable garden.


The 7 areas are:


Fire Escape

Hand Rails



Window Sills

Front or Back Yard

Along Side the Building

You can find out more at the Urban Organic Gardner

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What You Can Compost at Home

Common greens you have at home that can be composted:

  • Fruit and veggie scraps. Avoid onions and citrus. Yes, they can be composted, but for your indoor compost bin it’s best to stay away.

  • Coffee grounds and tea bags

  • Grass clippings. Only if the grass hasn’t been treated with chemical fertilizers.

  • Plain cooked rice or pasta

  • Stale crackers, bread, cereal or pretzels

  • Old herbs and spices

  • Egg shells. Not really a green, but they can be composted

Common browns you have at home that can be composted:

  • Cardboard including boxes and toilet paper rolls

  • Dryer lint

  • Dried leaves

  • Shredded black and white newspaper

  • Hair from your brush. Make sure there is no gel or hairspray in it

  • Shredded bills and documents

Source: Urban Organic Gardner

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Growing Basil Indoors

Some herb gardeners think that growing basil indoors is not easy. Well, whether you are an experienced gardener or a new one, you can successfully grow basil by following these steps. Many dishes can be cooked with basil and if you have one at home, you will have a fresh supply of this herb variety. For gardeners with limited yard space, there is a solution - growing basil indoors.

Step 1- Prepare the needed supplies. You will need pots and containers of various sizes, soil, gardening tools, and seeds of basil, gloves, and fertilizer (optional). If you have gardening tools, then there is no more need to purchase them. Soil is readily available at home but if it is not well drained, you should buy commercial soil instead together with the seeds and fertilizer. Get the supplies you need to growing basil indoors from the local garden center or the nursery. Most of the supplies are reasonably priced and if you get the gardening kits, you can save a lot of money.

Step 2 - Learn everything you can about planting basil. As you purchase the supplies from the local nursery or center, you can ask the people there about growing basil. Use the net to find additional info about growing basil indoors. If you are knowledgeable enough, it will be very easy to grow the herb indoors.

Step 3 - Growing the herbs inside the house is similar to the outdoors but the difference is the location. You will also use container and pots so the planting area is limited. You have to ensure that you provide the required soil, water, and sunlight. The soil was already discussed earlier and in growing basil indoors, you should not provide too much water. Too much water can rot the roots of the plant. You also need to check if the pots have enough holes at the bottom. Here is a tip - water the plant with just the right amount of water everyday so long as to keep the soil moist.

Step 4 - Check the pH level. The ideal pH for basil is from 6.5 - 7.5. Growing basil indoors require you to conduct pH tests every month to make sure that the pH level is just right. Tester kits can also be obtained from garden centers. As long as you are growing basil, you may need to check the pH every month.

Step 5 - When harvesting the basil leaves, get only single leaves. Leave off paired ones. You can have several basil plants and growing basil indoors will be able to provide you with a year long supply of fresh basil leaves. You can use basil for cooking certain dishes and it can be used for medicinal purposes as well. If you plan to use basil for cooking, use organic fertilizer only.

Follow these steps and you will surely grow healthy basil at home. You do not have to be an expert gardener because with the appropriate knowledge, you can harvest basil at any time of the year. You can begin growing basil indoors once you secured the supplies.

Tim is an experienced herb gardener and loves to grow herbs. To learn more about growing basil indoors as well as other great herb gardening, planting, growing and using techniques check out his dedicated herb growing and care website http://www.herbgardeningplace.com

Thursday, February 16, 2012

How To Make Beer - Extract Brewing Steps

So, your tired of the mass produced swill that you have been drinking. Your ready to make a change and you want to make your "perfect" glass of suds. Well, grab a beer, sit back and for the next few Thursdays, learn how to brew your own beer.

Now, in the old days, making your own beer was a long process and still is for the all-grain brewer. But, thanks to modern technology, you don't have to spend hours making beer. There are 3 basic methods in making beer. You can be an extract brewer and this will also include those who use a kit, a partial masher, or an all grain brewer. If you are a beginner, then you might want to make quite a few extract batches before move up. It will cut down on your frustration factor big time.

Extract Brewing Steps

  • Fill your brewpot about 2/3 full of clean water and set on the stove. I usually use bottled water since it doesn't have chlorine.
  • Turn burner to medium-high
  • Some people at this stage warm up their extract while waiting for the water in the brewpot to boil. I don't
  • As the water begins to boil in the brewpot, open your extract and slowly stir it in with a long handled spoon. Don't dump it in and hurry up and stir it. It might clump if you do it that way and scorch on the bottom. I've done it and it is a real pain to clean up.
  • At this point, I take some of the warm wort out and put in the empty extract can. Swirl it around to get as much extract as you can and pour it in the wort. I usually do this several times to each can. Makes for easier cleaning later on
  • Top off the brewpot to about 2 - 3 inches from the top. Bring the wort to a boil (you might need to turn up the burner) DO NOT, put a lid on the brewpot because it will boil over a create one heck of a mess.
  • Boil the wort for the time of the recipe. During this stage you will be adding hops and for the last 15 - 20 minutes adding Irish moss. The Irish moss helps to clarify the beer by pulling the solid material out.
  • After boiling, you must chill the wort. There are several different ways. I pour cold water into my primary fermenter and then pour the wort into it. Other people fill the sink with cold water or ice and chill down the brewpot.
  • After the wort has chilled below 100 degrees, take a hydrometer reading. Use the chart that comes with the hydrometer to figure out how much more you need to add to your reading. For a reading around 100 degrees, add .007 to your reading.
  • Add the yeast. I usually add my yeast around "blood temperature" (98 degrees), while others will only pitch around 70 degrees.
  • I open ferment for the first 12 hours. I tie a clean grain bag around the top of the fermenter and allow it to "breath". After 12 hours, I put the lid on along with the airlock and allow it to continue fermenting for about a week. If you are not into the open fermentation (most people will tell you that it will become contaminated and bad), then put the lid on and allow the beer to ferment.
  • Keep your fermenter in a cool place during the week and keep it out of direct sunlight.
  • After a week, take another hydrometer reading and either transfer to a secondary fermenter or begin bottling. Your hydrometer reading should be 65 - 75% below your original reading before fermentation. ie. Original reading 1.050 After a week it should be between 1.012 to 1.017.
      That should get you started. Try making a couple of small batches to get the feel of how things should work. Best of all, just have fun.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Herb Gardening Essentials - Gardener Guide

By: Matthew Hick

Herbs are a greatly popular result of gardening - just as popular as flowers, shrubs, trees, fruits and vegetables. Herbs are used to spice up or add a nice spark of flavor to all types of food dishes. They are used for medicinal purposes as well as for their pretty flowers. These are just a few reasons why herbs are so popular among gardeners all over the world.

Have you ever reached for a spice when cooking only to realize you were out of it? Wouldn't it be nice to just go over to your plant and clip off what you need, instead of running to the store or doing without? You can have fresh basil, thyme, sage, chives, dill, rosemary or tarragon right at your fingertips from your very own herb garden.

Herbs can be annuals, biennials or perennials. Annuals will flower one season and then die. Biennials will live two seasons, flower one and then die. Perennials will die in winter but return to blossom each season. If you do choose perennials, make sure you plant them in a place they can be kept year after year.

Herb gardens need little space. You can plant them by seeds or plant clippings. Seeds should be planted in shallow boxes in late winter and can then be transplanted outdoors in spring. Soil is a determining factor of whether your herb garden will thrive or falter. Herbs will not grow in wet soil. So it is important you provide adequate drainage. If you do not have good drainage you can correct this by adding compost and sand to your soil, or digging out 15-18 inches of dirt and adding crushed stone under it to assist in this process.

Herbs also do not need much fertilizer. The more fertile the soil, the less foliage will occur and the resulting herb will have little flavor. There are also very few diseases and insects which will attack herbal plants.

Harvesting herbs should take place in the morning and only after the plant has enough foliage to maintain growth. When picked, they should be washed immediately in cold water. They can be used fresh or dried for winter use.

To dry herbs, after washing, hang until drops of water evaporate. Tie the stems together and place in a bag with the stems at the bag's opening. Close the bag with a rubber band and hang from a line in a cool, dry, dark place. Basements are too damp, so the attic is a better choice. After two to three weeks, remove herbs from the bag and crumble the leaves. Place in a shallow pan and put in an oven on the warm setting. When the crumbled leaves are crispy, store in glass jars or an airtight container in a cool place. They will be ready for you whenever you need them.

There are almost sixty different varieties of herbs to choose from when deciding on what herb to plant. Each variety comes with its own unique flavor. Cooking with herbs livens up bland foods naturally. Add some gusto to your life and use some of the herbs from your very own garden, next time you are preparing a meal.

About the Author

More Herb Gardening Articles at http://www.eGardening-Today.com. Learn how to operate a Successful Adsense Website Network at http://eWebCreator.com. Matthew Hick has been designing profitable Niche Adsense Websites for over 5 years.
(ArticlesBase SC #88658)

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/ - Herb Gardening Essentials - Gardener Guide

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Getting Your Vegetable Garden Ready for Spring

Submitted by: Stephanie

Whether you suffer through harsh, cold winters or enjoy relatively mild ones, we are coming up on the time when you need to get ready to plant your seeds for your vegetable garden.

If you need another compost bin this time of year is great to add them, if only because there's not much actual gardening work to do. Build one or buy one, just make sure you can easily add, remove and turn the material.

Clean up your tools. Sharpen blades if they need it. Clean off old dirt and wipe with an oiled cloth to help prevent rusting.

At this time you can also start planning your next garden. You can figure out what you want to grow and how you're going to lay that garden out. Planning ahead can help you make the most of your garden. Getting things started at the right time for each type of plant will help your garden succeed.

If you want an early start, get some planters and sun lamps and start your seeds indoors. If you get sufficient sunlight, placing the boxes in windows can help you get that early start too.

This is a great time for looking back at how your garden did last year and your goals for this year. For example, my garden last year failed miserably due to a combination of poor soil, a neighboring shade tree that had been shading my garden being cut to pieces and an unusually hot summer.

Over the winter we've been preparing quick compost for the soil. This is just throwing fresh kitchen scraps into the blender with some water, then pouring it into the garden. It's our first step in improving the soil naturally. More will be done as planting time approaches.

Obviously, factors that are out of your control you can't do anything about. Heat waves cannot be avoided and neighbors can be unpredictable (you should have seen that poor tree when they were done 'pruning' it!). Some years insects are more problematic than others.

In those cases you need to have plans for how to handle it. Keep an eye on what the sun is doing to your plants during a heat wave and ensure they have enough water. Know what pest control steps you are willing to take.

Planning and preparing to plant your garden before you can actually start planting gives you a lot of advantages when it's time to really work your garden. It gets some of the chores out of the way and leaves you prepared for a great start to your vegetable garden.

About Author: Stephanie Foster runs http://www.gardenmedley.com/ to keep track of how her own garden grows and to give gardening advice. Visit her site to learn more about vegetable gardening.

Article Source: ArticlesAlley.com