Posts Tagged "growing tips"

Easy free plant markers for seeds and transplants

Posted on Sep 15, 2014

Easy free plant markers for seeds and transplants

Our community doesn’t offer recycling for any plastics other than 1s and 2s, so we can accumulate quite a few yogurt containers. I like to find new things to do with them…

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Blog vs Garden…Garden Won (& Onion Harvest!)

Posted on Jun 20, 2011

Blog vs Garden…Garden Won (& Onion Harvest!)

Onion Harvest Row

It happens regularly, I drift away from blogging about the garden because I’m OUT in the garden all the time I’m not working!  (Note: gardening, even chain-gang style busting up rocks to plant trees around here never counts as “work” to me. Family and friends have gently let me know this feeling is not universally shared…)

OK, so I’m not really  in the garden “all” the time because it’s so hot mid-day to mid-afternoon that there’s a long retreat time that would be perfect for blogging…but ahhh, what can compete with a summer nap? Not much.

Meanwhile the onions are in.  And I must say, an onion harvest like the one above, makes me feel RICH.

red onion portrait

It took me a long time to figure out that onion love rich soil and never being too dry or too wet. They look tougher than that to me so for years, my onions were pretty small. But get the soil and the watering down and onions really plump up well.

texas super sweet onions

While “too wet” was the theme of May, the raised bed must have saved them because they look pretty good. The pics above are from June 5th.  I planted these quite early — the last of Feb I think — in a heavily mulched bed because I had to plant *something* or go winter crazy! Turns out they seem to like that and I’ll try it again next year.

red onions

I let them cure in the sun for a day since rain was expected the next. Normally you would let them cure a few days in the sun, with the green tops somewhat over the bulbs to protect them from sunburn. I had to hurry, so after their day in the sun, they were moved to a dry & shady open porch to finish curing. Still, because of all that rain in May, I wouldn’t expect these guys to keep as long as usual, so we’ll be using LOTS of onions this summer and fall. If they don’t store well, I will chop them and freeze in typical recipe portions to be easily grabbed when needed for any cooked dish or soup.

—A Larrapin Garden
Posts most wednesdays & weekends —except during garden season and then I just don’t know! But you can subscribe by Email here.  You can also get bonus links and recipes by “liking” our Facebook fan page at Geesh, we’re even on Twitter at  If you have good onion growing tips, please leave a comment and tell me about it!

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Book Review: The Edible Front Yard: The Mow-Less, Grow-More Plan for a Beautiful, Bountiful Garden by Ivette Soler

Posted on May 5, 2011

Book Review: The Edible Front Yard: The Mow-Less, Grow-More Plan for a Beautiful, Bountiful Garden by Ivette Soler

The Edible Front Yard by Ivette Soler

Our first garden book giveaway starts today and it is The Edible Front Yard: The Mow-Less, Grow-More Plan for a Beautiful, Bountiful Garden by Ivette Soler.  (How to win this book is at the end of this post.)

For those who have been snoozing since 2007: Edible is In. Whether it’s food prices, the appalling state of commercial food systems, or some deep instinctive turn toward self-sufficiency skills that we may need soon given the state of the world and the climate, lots of folks are starting to grow their own food. More urban dwellers in particular are venturing into growing edibles and there’s a bunch of new books on the particular challenges of growing food in the city, often in a very small space.

Usually, the next challenge is sunlight. Now why is it that more front yards are in full sun than backyards? Go figure. Since I compulsively assess the garden potential of any neighborhood I happen to be driving through, I can tell you it’s true. Home buyers take note: If you want to garden in your back yard, you are looking for a house with a front door facing North…and no neighbors who love shade trees.  For everyone else, Ivette Soler is going to show you what your front yard could be!

Front yard gardens do face additional challenges beyond the usual soil, critter and plant-based varieties. These may include neighbors, neighborhood associations, and the opinions of your family on having your dinner out there for everyone to see. The usual delight of harvesting your produce may also produce a big blank spot in your yard. What about passing children, dogs, or someone with boundary issues who feels free to harvest when you aren’t home? All this and more is covered quite handily in The Edible Front Yard, published by Timber Press.

Now let me say that many garden books by California authors are not that useful to those of us everywhere else. The plants and garden techniques that work great in the climate-of-paradise-to-most-fruits-and-vegetables are often a no-go if you deal with humidity, abundant/erratic rainfall, particular plant diseases & pests, high/low temp extremes, etc that pretty much the rest of the country faces.  I’m delighted to report that I found many ideas and tips in Soler’s book that are transferrable to most every gardening situation, even my own large, backyard and countryside spread in the Ozark hills.  Actually, the “removing concrete” how-to box rang some bells regarding bed prep on this rocky ground of mine!

I immediately loved the luscious photography and book design. The colors and textures make the book seem nearly edible. Luckily, the content is great too. I was pleased with how many she lists that will also grow in most regions. Soler brought my attention to several plants that I’ve neglected to explore, like passionflower and mints. Passionflowers grow wild in portions of the Ozarks, is beautiful, edible and beneficial to butterflies and I haven’t planted one yet!  This is soon to be remedied. I already fixed the mint shortage at the Fayetteville Farmers Market last weekend…

Soler  is generous with suggested plants and their profiles. I particularly like the ‘how to use’ sections on herbs. Some plants I have for wildlife-gardening reasons but hadn’t really thought of as edible to me—like juniper—were pleasant surprises.  There are also many how-to boxes, handy techniques for hardscaping & hellstrips, advice on dealing with neighbors and neighborhood associations (Really, just show them the pics in this book…), transforming a yard to garden, and maintaining your now productive and edible plot. I think new gardeners will find good advice and more advanced gardeners will find some very clever tips and ideas.

Finally, like Rosalind Creasy and several other edible pioneers, Soler goes a step further in breaking down the myth that edible gardens and beautiful gardens can’t be one and the same.  The photographs are the proof.  Readers of this blog will know I believe if you combine edibles with beauty, add some permaculture ideas, then cross it with generous wildlife & pollinator pantings then you have created one truly LARRAPIN Garden! Soler’s book is going to help more front yards get bountiful. And I like that a lot.

So, wanna win this gorgeous book? First, check out some of the wonderful titles at Timber Press. Then  tell me why you would like to win “The Edible Front Yard” in a comment below or on the Larrapin Garden Facebook Page. (Ok, ok, you can do it via twitter too. Just mention @LarrapinGarden in your tweet so I can find your entry. Follows are great, ‘natch, but not required.)  You can enter once by each method if you want to triple your chances to win this book! I’ll compile the entries then do the and announce the winner in the blog post next Wed, 5/11/11. Winner will have a week to claim the book or I’ll pick another lucky gardener.

P.S. About Larrapin Garden book reviews & giveaways:  I love to read garden books—particularly on edible landscapes, local food, cooking from the garden, permaculture, homesteading, chickens & backyard barnyards and other organic topics. I welcome titles to review. If I love it, I’ll write about it here on the garden blog. Disclaimer for readers: I receive no compensation for any endorsement I give in the posts on this blog, just so ya know if you read it here then I think it’s fab.

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Snow days at Larrapin Garden

Posted on Jan 22, 2011

Snow days at Larrapin Garden
The blue chairs in snow

The blue chairs in snow

We finally got snow last at Larrapin! Thursday morning dawned with a perfect three inches of crunchy powder on the ground. It was *so* cold I didn’t get out to tromp around as much as usual. But dashed out to snap a few snow pics later that afternoon.

Ada in her element

Ada in her element

Ada the farm dog loves, loves snow and appears totally immune to cold. She sprawls in the snow as it it were a fluffly summer yard. In rain, she’ll hide out in the heated workshop where her bed is, but in snow, she’s outside, lounging.

Hibernating Chickens

Hibernating Chickens

Then chickens, on the other hand, have just decided to hunker down till spring. They wouldn’t even come outside (at first) to scratch grain (aka “crack” to the hens…). They finally emerged once the temps came up this weekend.

Xmas tree, acting as fig shield...

Xmas tree, acting as fig shield...

Underneath the old Christmas tree, the cut back stems of the fig are hopefully cozy and protected. They have a blanket of shredded leaves too.

The sleeping garden...

The sleeping garden...

Underneath that winter sky and layer of snow, there’s a green, green springtime just waiting to appear. And the new/recycled garden bench is ready, as the perfect spot to watch.

As deep winter as it looks, it’s not that long till indoor seed -starting time! This worksheet-calendar over at Organic Gardening magazine looks really handy, and lists some of my favorite veggies. You customized the dates using your spring-frost date.

And for an online version, here’s a quick and easy calendar for some basic veggies thanks to Skippy’s Vegetable Garden, one of my favorite garden blogs. You’ll find it here:’s%20planting%20calendar.html


—A Larrapin Garden
Posts most wednesdays & weekends. Don’t miss any—you can subscribe by Email here.  You can also get bonus links and recipes by “liking” our Facebook fan page at Geesh, we’re even on Twitter at Thanks for stopping by—leave a comment as to what is going on in YOUR winter garden beds!

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Edibles that tolerate some shade

Posted on Apr 14, 2010

Today’s post is on edibles that can tolerate some shade. It’s a question that comes up in nearly every garden class I teach: What can I grow to eat if I have shade? There’s a surprising number of traditional veggies and herbs that can tolerate some shade. Notice I said “some.” If you are talking about dense, dark shade, these aren’t going to work either and I refer you to those serious ‘shade gardening’ books… But if you are talking some good morning sun, or dappled shade, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised, so read on….

Meanwhile, I teach my last garden class of the year at the botanical garden tomorrow (Thursday) evening. I’m excited as always to meet new veggie gardeners but also excited to have the rest of the summer to dig in my own garden! The class is “Organic Veggies for Beginners” and has been great fun to teach.

Here at Larrapin, the new veggie spot is slowing happening, one row-bed at a time. We’re planting each bed as we go, so that is fun to see a young garden slowly creep up the slope…Pictures of this slow progess to come. The pictures above: a tribute to the early spring bloomers, now beginning to fade into the green-green stage of spring. Pictured are forsythia, redbud and flowering pear blooms here at Larrapin.

OK, here’s a list I share in class of veggies, herbs and fruit that can tolerate some shade. Some of these I’ve never tried to grow (or might not recognize at the farmers market) but you may love them. Try them out and see what happens! Remember, nearly all will still require a few good hours of at-least morning sun, or most of the day in dappled-shade to produce. But it’s worth a try. I’ve been surprised at how many plants that traditionally need full-sun, that seem happy, even relieved, to get afternoon shade in the brutal mid-summer Arkansas sun!

Vegetables, Herbs and Fruit that tolerate some shade (Information from the lovely book: Designing the New Kitchen Garden: An American Potager Handbook by Jennifer  Bartley at


Arugula, Beets

Burdock, Cabbage, Carrots, Leaf celery, Chicory,

Chinese cabbage, Collards, Mache,

Cresses, Endive, Escarole, Fennel,

Jerusalem artichoke, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks,

Lettuce, Malabar spinach, Mallow, Mizuna, Mustard greens,

Nettles, New zealand spinach, Pak choi,

Perpetual beets, Radishes, Sorrel, Spinach, Swiss Chard,Turnips


Angelica, Anise hyssop, Borage, Chervil, Chives, Ginger,

Goldenseal, Hyssop, Lovage, Lemon balm, Marjoram,

Mints, Parsley, Perilla, Rosemary, Salad burnet,

Savory, Tarragon, thyme


Blueberry, Currant, Elderberry,

Paw paw, Rhubarb, Serviceberry,

Strawberry, Mulberry Trees

Edible Flowers:

Calendula, Johnny jump ups, Nasturtium,

Pansies, Sunflower, violets

Thanks for stopping by Larrapin Garden! If you enjoy this post, please share it with your friends!

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