Project Self Sustainability

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Salad Greens in a Bag June 21, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — maggsworld @ 8:30 pm

Salad Greens

1. Lay the bag flat and poke drainage holes all over one side. Flip it over, smooth the bag into an even layer, and use a sharp knife or scissors to cut out a rectangle about two thirds the size of the top of the bag.

2. Plant lettuce, spinach, radish, or other seeds in the exposed soil mix, following their packets’ instructions. Water and feed as for potatoes.

3. Harvest just the outside leaves of the plants to extend your yield; as the plants keep growing, you can keep harvesting. Or tuck in a seed or two when you do remove a whole plant so you’ll reap another round of greens. You can start growing greens (and radishes, too) in very early spring, as soon as the nights don’t drop much below freezing. Greens appreciate some shade in the heat of summer, so during the hottest months you may want to move your salad bag to a spot that becomes shady in the afternoon.

Whatever you choose to grow, at the end of the season, dump the bag of used soil into a raised bed or more permanent container or spread it in a corner of your yard that needs it.


Potatoes in a Bag

Filed under: Uncategorized — maggsworld @ 8:28 pm


1. Buy a bag of organic potting soil, cut a few drainage holes in the bottom of it, and then stand the bag where you want to grow your crop. (Put it in a watertight tray if you don’t want to stain the surface beneath.) Potatoes are very hardy, so it’s safe to keep the bag outside as long as the nighttime temperature doesn’t drop much below freezing.

2. Cut open the top of the bag. Tuck two small potatoes about 4 inches deep into the potting mix. If you live near a garden center, you may be able to buy “seed” potatoes; if not, or if you are looking for variety, try using a couple of small organic potatoes from your supermarket (potatoes that are already sprouting are ideal). Water to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Feed with a liquid organic fertilizer every few weeks.

3. When flowers start to pop up on your potato plants, you can pull out a few “new” potatoes by rooting gently around in the soil with your fingers. Or harvest the whole lot anytime, before the plants start to turn yellow. Harvesting is easy: Just tip over the bag onto a sheet of plastic and pick out the fruits of your labor (no digging required). If you have space, you may want to start a new bag every few weeks from very early spring through early summer, to extend your harvest. If thinking “potato” doesn’t make your mouth water, chances are you’ve never tasted the difference between store-bought and fresh-from-the-garden potatoes.


Small Spaces? No Problems.

Filed under: Uncategorized — maggsworld @ 8:25 pm


In only a few weeks this quick-and-easy container salad garden will start serving up fresh goodies.  Add cherry tomatoes and there are your salads.

pot is about 12 inches tall and 12 inches across at the top


  • somewhere outside
  • > 8 hours of daily sun
  • Check out another easy container veggie garden that also works in this size container.

Cherry Tomatoes:

  • bucket or 12′ diameter x 12″deep pot or Dollar Store upside down planter made from recycled shopping bags.
  • 1 plant will bear a steady crop of bite-size fruits
  • 1 cherry tomato plant (find an organic variety at a farmer’s market or nursery).
  • 1 tomato cage. 1 20 quart bag organic potting mix.  Some organic plant feed

Cherry Tomatoes

  • grow just one plant, and it will bear a steady crop of bite-size fruits.

  • 1 cherry tomato plant (find an organic variety at a farmer’s market or nursery)
    1 tomato cage, the largest size your retailer carries.  (a tomato cage is just what you guess: wire mesh you place around your tomato plant to support it as it grows. Depending on the variety, cherry tomatoes can grow as tall as 10 feet. Just avoid any that look as though they’re covered in plastic. That’s usually vinyl, a toxic plastic that can expose your plants to lead and other undesirable substances.)
    1 20-quart bag of organic potting mix.


The how-to:
1. Drill ¼- to ½-inch holes every few inches around the bottom edge, plus another few in the center bottom so excess water can drain. If you’ve bought a planter with drainage holes already, you can skip this step.

2. Pick a location. For best fruiting, you need a location where the plant will get at least 8 hours of direct sun each day (the roots can be in the shade). You can skip the tomato cage—and save a little cash—if you have a spot close to a balcony or railing, which you can use to support the tomato vines.

3. If you do go with a cage, insert the pointy end into the planter, and then fill the planter with potting mix.

4. Water until the potting mix is evenly moist. Top it off with a little more potting mix, adding enough so it comes to about ½ inch below the rim of the planter and making sure the soil surface is level.

5. Dig a small hole in the center of the planting mix. Carefully remove your tomato plant from its original pot (unless the pot is designed to dissolve), and slide it into the hole, planting it deep enough so only the top four to six leaves show once you cover it back up with potting mix.

6. Water every two or three days to keep the soil evenly moist (in hot, dry weather you may need to water every day). Once a week, feed your plant organic fertilizer according to the label directions.

7. As the plant grows, the branches will start to poke through the holes in your tomato cage. Push them back inside so the plant doesn’t droop.

Time to Pick!
Most cherry tomato plants will start flowering in about a month. You’ll see flowers appear that are followed by tiny green fruits. After a few weeks, those turn into full-blown cherry tomatoes you can harvest. A really ripe cherry tomato will come off its stem very easily and is well worth waiting an extra day for, so hold off on picking them. Pluck individual ripe fruits every day for best results. With luck, your plant will continue to produce right up until frost. If the weather turns unseasonably cool or an early frost threatens, tuck an old sheet over and around the plant to extend your harvest season.

You’ll need:
1 packet lettuce seeds (or 1 six-pack seedlings from a nursery)
1 pound onion “sets” (or 1 packet onion seeds)
1 packet cucumber seeds (or one seedling from a nursery)
1 64-quart bag organic potting mix
1 bottle liquid organic plant food

The how-to:
1. Poke ¼- to ½-inch holes every few inches around the bottom edges of the pan so excess water can drain. (If you put the holes in the flat bottom and then put the planter on a flat surface, it may not drain as well.)

2. Put your planter where you want it and then fill it with potting mix. Trust me, it is easier to carry the potting mix in its bag than in the planter.

3. Water until the potting mix is evenly moist. Top it off with a little more potting mix, adding enough so it comes to about ½ inch below the rim of the planter and making sure the soil surface is level.

4. Plant two cucumber seeds (or the cucumber seedling) in the center. Poke two shallow holes an inch or so apart with your finger, drop a seed into each, and cover. (If both sprout you’ll snip off the smaller seedling after a few weeks, leaving just one plant.)

5. Plant your lettuce in two horizontal rows about 3 inches away from each of the pan’s shorter ends. Use your finger to draw each row and then sprinkle a couple of seeds near each end and in the middle, or plant a seedling in each location. Press lettuce seeds firmly into the potting mix with the ball of your finger, but don’t cover them, as lettuce often germinates better if it has light shining on it. Water carefully around the lettuce seeds until the seedlings appear and send down roots, so as not to wash the tiny seeds away.

6. Plant your onions along the two remaining sides. Plant six to 12 of your onion sets, or about 12 to 24 seeds (that should keep you well supplied with green onions on a weekly basis) 1 inch from the edge of your container, about 4 to 6 inches apart. Make sure the pointed end of each set is up and completely buried. Repeat this step once a week, placing the new sets or seeds at least an inch away from onions that are already growing.

7. Water every two or three days to keep the soil evenly moist (in hot, dry weather you may need to water every day). Once a week, feed organic fertilizer according to the label directions.

Time to pick!

• In about three weeks you can gently pull out or snip off extra lettuce seedlings, leaving the most productive plant in each spot, and eat up the “thinnings” in a salad. A week or two later, you can start harvesting your full-grown lettuce leaves. Gently bend them down and away from the plant so the leaves separate from the stem, leaving the center of the plant and the roots intact. By harvesting only the outer leaves, your six plants will continue to feed you for many weeks, or even all summer and late into the fall. If the center of the lettuce plants start to grow tall, that means they’re preparing to flower, and the leaves will get bitter. Plant more lettuce seeds right away to replace those plants, and cut the old plants off at the surface of the soil.

• Onions will be ready to harvest in as little as three weeks, a bit longer if grown from seeds. They’re ready to eat when they are as big as you want them. Leave them longer and the bottoms will start to thicken into bulbs. If you continue to plant more sets (or seeds) every week, you will have green onions to harvest all spring, summer, and autumn.


FAQ’s June 15, 2012

  • Stagger your planting.   Do not plant all your tomatoes today.  You aren’t going to need hundreds in a few weeks – are you?  So assess what you might need and the family might use, and plant some this week and a week later a similar amount – and so on.  Thinking about what vegetables you eat and cook with weekly might be a good starting point!!
  • Fresh vegetables from your garden can contain up to 45% more nutrients than the “fresh” stuff fromy our supermarket.
  • If you have a yard and can plant a kitchen garden – asparagus, tomatoes, fennel, parsley and rocket are easy to grow as are sage, silverbeet, spinach, potato, pumpkin, basil, rosemary, dill, corn, zucchini, cucumber and radish.
  • Companion plant: this is planting certain things next to each other, and it is usually a natural pest control: basil is a companion for tomatoes and beans; rosemary also near beans and swiss chard; chives near carrots.  Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Companion Planting Chart might help.
  • Use organic pesticide.  I have brewed my own, often.  A simple one is to steep 2 or 3 cloves of garlic in hot water for several hours, strain and spray on leaves.    The safest commercial deterent I have found is Yates Nature’s Way Dipel.  With this it is an organic bacteria.  You can spray, pick, wash and eat vegetables immediately.

If you don’t have a garden and just a balcony, like me, plant in pots in a sunny spot.

  • containers should be at least40cm deep
  • broccoli, celery, leeks beetroot and strawberries are pottable although I would give pumpkins a miss!
  • 23cm soil for herbs and leafy vegetables
  • 30cm for most vegetables
  • at least 40cm for potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers
  • Potatoes grow well in a bag with drainage holes ona  balcony as long as they get sun.
  • Mint and parsley are good indoor plants as they will grow in the shade.

Project grow My Own

I aim to:

  • become self sustaining for fresh vegetables from now on
  • utilise “recyclables” (things I would otherwise turf out) instead of purchasing more.  I have instituted a “one in, one out” policy on my life, and within our lives.  As a starting point and a yardstick to where I choose to go from hereonin.  This means all those cracked cups and teapots and cruddy pans, don’t get turfed; they are repurposed instead to growing our fresh fruit and vegetables, moving forward.
  • plan carefully; this included allocating space, calendarising a planting schedule ( so crops ripen sequentially thereby eliminating the need to deal with hundreds of one vege or fruit.)
  • companion plant
  • use the best compost possible
  • use a natural fertiliser
  • do a little towards this goal every single day
  • document every step of the way

Companion Planting Guide

Companion Planting Guide

[open this frame in new window for printing]

Plant Companions Function Foes
Apple Nasturtium Climbs
tree and repels codling moth.
Asparagus Tomatoes,
Parsley, Basil
Balm Tomatoes Improves
growth and flavour – attracts bees
Tomatoes helps
repel flies and mosquitoes
Beans Potatoes
Carrots, Cucumber, cauliflower, summer savoury, most other vegetables
and herbs.
Garlic Gladiolus
Beetroot Onions,
Lettuce, Cabbage, Silver beet, Kohlrabi
leaves encourage compost fermentation.
squash and strawberries
tomato worm, improves growth and flavour and in the strawberry patch will
increase the yield.
(Cabbage, Cauliflower, Broccoli
plants, sage, dill, camomile,beets, peppermint, rosemary, Beans, Celery,
Onions, Potatoes, dwarf zinnias.
attracts a wasp to control cabbage moth. Zinnias attract lady bugs to
protect plants.
Peas, Beans
breakdown heavy soils.
Carrots Lettuce,
Peas, Leeks, Chives, Onions, Cucumbers, Beans, tomatoes, wormwood, sage,
in flower and being stored with apples
fleas, ants and rodents.
Cauliflower Celery
& Celeriac
Leeks, Tomatoes, Dwarf Beans, Brassica’s
& Celeriac
Leeks, Tomatoes, Dwarf Beans
and onions
flies and mosquitoes and gives strength to any plant growing nearby.
Carrots grown
beneath apple trees will help to prevent apple scab; beneath roses will
keep away aphids and blackspot. Deters aphids on lettuce and peas. Spray
will deter downy and powdery mildew on gooseberries and cucumbers.
Citrus Bracken
Fern grape vines
stink beetles
Comfrey Avocados
and most fruit trees
edging, compost activator, medicinal, foliage spray, nutrient miner, essential
to all gardens.
Cucumbers Beans,
corn, peas, radish, sunflowers
aromatic herbs
Dill Brassica’s Dill
attracts predator wasp for cabbage moth.
general insecticide, the leaves encourage compost fermentation, the flowers
and berries make lovely wine!
Fennel. (not
F. vulgare or F.officionale) repels flies, fleas and ants
plants dislike it
most vegetables.
secretions kill nematodes in the soil. Will repel white fly amongst tomatoes.
garlic, chives, tansy, southernwood and horseradish
Garlic. Roses,
keep aphids away from roses and raspberries, repels cabbage butterfly
and beans
Geranium Strong
aroma – deters insects and encourages bees
Grapes Hyssop,
tansy and sage
cabbage white moth keeping Brassica’s free from infestation.
Leek Onion,
celery, carrot
Lettuce tall
flowers, carrots, radish, onion family
offer light shade for lettuce
Marigolds Tomatoes,
most vegetables
couch, nematodes and eel worm
Melon Radish
white cabbage moth, deters ants and fleas (especially spearmint), will
deter clothes moths.
cabbages, zucchini cucurbits, fruit trees
a mustard oil, which many insects find attractive and will seek out, particularly
the cabbage white moth. The flowers repel aphids and the cucumber beetle.
The climbing variety grown up apple trees will repel codling moth.
Nettle Beneficial
anywhere, increases aroma and pungency of other herbs
and garlic
summer savoury, tomatoes, lettuce, strawberries, camomile
Parsley Tomato,
asparagus, roses
rose beetle, improves tomato and asparagus.
Peas Carrots,
turnips, corn, beans, radishes, cucumbers, most vegetables and herbs
garlic gladiolas, potatoes
Potato Beans,
cabbage, marigold, horseradish (plant at corners of patch) eggplant, sweet
attracts beneficial wasps and acts as a living ground cover
squash, cucumber, sunflower, tomato, raspberry
Pumpkin Corn Potato
repel bugs if grown around the vegetable garden.
Radish Peas,
nasturtium, lettuce, cucumbers, spinach
attracts leaf minor away from spinach
Raspberry Most
tomatoes, potato
beans, carrots, sage
cabbage moth, bean beetles and carrot fly
Roses Garlic,
chives, parsley, mignonette lettuce.
(Rutus, not Peganum)
cats and dogs off garden beds if planted round the borders.
cabbage and carrots
cabbage moth and carrot fly
Spinach Strawberries
Squash Nasturtium
Strawberries Bush
bean, spinach, borage, lettuce
Sunflower Cucumbers Potato
Peas, Beans, cucumbers, pumpkin, squash
acts as a trellis for beans and beans attract predators of corn pests.
trees, roses and raspberries
moths, flies and ants. Plant beneath peach trees to repel harmful flying
insects. Tansy leaves assist compost fermentation.
Thyme Here
and there in the garden
cabbages, improves growth and flavour of vegetables, general insect repellent.
Tomatoes Asparagus,
Parsley, Chives, onion, Broccoli, Sweet Basil, marigold, carrots, parsley.
potato, fennel, cabbage
Turnip Peas,
nasturtium, lettuce, cucumbers
(Artemesia, not Ambrosia)
it can inhibit the growth of plants near it, wormwood does repel moths,
flies and fleas and keeps animals off the garden.
Yarrow Near
aromatic herbs and vegetables
along borders and paths. Enhances essential oil production and flavour

Grow Your Own – Just Thoughts

As I am working to nourish myself, and wandering supermarkets and checking out the costs of herbs, fruit and vegetables, it has become apparent to me that attempting to “grow your own” makes increasing sense.

How many of our children know where fruit and vegetables come from? Even if we are renting, and have limited space or poor soil, there are small things we can do, and indeed should do. There is something satisfying about growing, and nurturing. Feeding ones family satisfies some basic elemental need in one, too.  At least it does in me.

So growing your own will tick both the cost and quality boxes.


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