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Gardening is not only a perfect leisure activity, but it is also going to bring you a lot closer to nature.


You can indulge yourself in turning your garden into a masterpiece, which will speak your heart and mind. Ornamental plants will enhance the beauty of the garden with their vibrant flowers and foliage.


Your garden can also be used for planting various fruits, vegetables, and herbs which will bring a variety to your everyday meals.


Those of you who want to embrace the passion for gardening, you do need to have a good set of tools. We will have full reviews on each of the different gardening tools in detail. Here is a quick guide to a few of the tools that you will require.

Organic Vegetable Gardens: What to Grow?

One of the biggest challenges in veggie gardening for CountryLife4Me.com readers is trying to decide what to grow. There are so many factors to consider. Recently, I received a question from a reader about what grows well in Orlando, FL. Seems one of her main challenges is hateful bugs, particularly aphids. Sound familiar?


When I am planning my vegetable garden, I take into consideration several factors.

  • Zone (or average temperatures)

  • Sun condition needed

  • Variety best suited to my region

  • Ease of growing

  • Soil condition needed

  • Pests and disease problems in my area

  • My general patience with care versus my level of desire to grow


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Each of these variables affects the likely success of the plant. And, what might be challenging here (read: winter squash and tomatoes) won't be in warmer climates. Not that those challenges will stop me from growing tomatoes, but that I will keep in mind they will require extra care...and extra care = extra time and energy.



Understanding your local pest and disease problems is great to do BEFORE you chose your plants. There are some plant varieties that have resistance to certain diseases. And, if I know that slugs are a big problem (which they are), I start the lettuce out with organic slug control methods.


I don't wait to see a problem, because with slugs, prevention is way better than trying to save the lettuce patch. Sometimes there are things I choose not to grow because I just don't want to deal with the battle.

When you plant something in its ideal conditions, it will be a happy plant. If you plant it with too little light, water, etc, you will spend the rest of your time trying to care for it. Don't turn a low maintenance plant into a pain in the rear!


Each year, I am an enthusiastic over-orderer of seeds...and I start out the season with fervor and excitement. Sometime around August I am hot and irritated, but by September, I am happy to be in the garden again. When you plant your vegetable garden this year, try to set realistic goals for your achievements. In the long run, it will make the process much more enjoyable!

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Container Gardening Ideas

You know from previous posts that I am someone who loves to use unusual containers for my patio garden. It's not that I don't have plenty of traditional garden pots, I do.


But I LOVE to scour the thrift shops in search of vessels for my veggies.


Obviously, there are green benefits to reusing and recycling materials to create planters. But it is also a great way to push your creative limits and to create lists and lists of container gardening ideas.


Roaming the isles of the second-hand store is much more thought provoking than staring at endless rows of multi-colored plastic pots. Not to mention, it saves a TON of money.


Here's my container gardening haul. Doesn't look like much now, but just wait!


Yesterday, I raided the local GoodWill for anything and everything that could be pressed into use. I have a good-sized, raised deck and a brick patio area that I'd like to put into use this year. I found all kinds of goodies...but I did draw the line at disassembling a printer for container use. I just wasn't sure I could do it without hurting myself.


Here are a few of the things I did buy:

  • 5 gallon bucket with handle and spout

  • Bright blue beach pail

  • Metal filing box

  • Decorative red, plastic coated metal hand basket

  • 2 children's step stools

  • A wooden trash can

  • A polka-dotted waterproof bag (going to grow potatoes in a bag again)

  • A bunch of other junk


I completely filled my cart with goodies and my total cost was about $22. I mean, where else would you get all of those containers for that price? Nowhere, man, nowhere. Plus, I had a couple of lovely ladies ask me what I was going to do with all of those containers. When I told them I was going to use them for gardening, they were so excited! We ended up having quite a lovely chat.


This weekend, I will sort and clean my finds and see where and how I might start pressing them into use. I'm thinking of painting some of them...and I have some creative display ideas, too! Stay tuned to see how I will make this all happen, without making my yard look like the isles of the GoodWill.


Also, if you'd like to read one of the best how-to container garden books, check out Rosemarie Nichols McGee's Bountiful Container*. It's been a bestseller for years and is a great reference book. Plus, Rosemarie is a great person with a great name. :) (* Please consider supporting my work by using this affiliate link for your purchases. Thank you!)


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Potatoes, Friend or Foe?

This is not the first year I have grown my own potatoes.


But it is the first year I grew such a large variety of them.


I mean, I don't even know how many varieties, I grew.


Here are some:

  • Red potatoes

  • Potatoes

  • Yukon Gold

  • Russian banana fingerlings

  • Rose fingerlings

  • Russet


I know there were more, but the names are lost to the winds of the garden.

I waited and watched, took pictures of the beautiful (and fragrant!) flowers, watered, fertilized and gave them love.


I harvested some as new potatoes. Roasted them in the oven and mashed some...I harvested the rest as mature potatoes and did the same. I even froze some of the mashers so I would have them this winter.


And here's what I know now...I am not so sure I like all kinds of potatoes, as I thought I did. Yes, I know that is shocking...to me, too. But I grew to dread harvesting and preparing my potatoes. Here's why...some of them were so (fill in the blank with hard fleshed, watery, dry) that I had many potato failures over the course of the summer.




I mean, how can that be? We are talking about potatoes here, people. This is not brain surgery. The only consistent result was that I had inconsistent results.


Now, it is easy to say that I should have paid more attention to what I was planting and should have thought about the preparation in relation to that. But, hey, it just never occurred to me that I would have this much of a challenge with preparation.


Next year, I suppose I will have to be more careful with my selections and recipes. Who knew that a tuber I have loved so much would cause me to call our whole history together in to question?


Summer Garden Slacker


I hate to admit it, primarily because I feel guilty, but I am a late July/early August garden slacker. Yes, I reluctantly water, neglect weeding, forgo posting to my gardening blog...in short, a total Garden Slacker.


There is something about the middle of summer that just calls to me to take a break. I am harvesting the things I grew in spring, eating yummy veggies and being thankful that the craziness of spring is over. When I lived in Oklahoma, I avoided the garden (except watering) from mid July to the end of August. The daily temperature was regularly over 100, way to hot to be outside. But in Portland, I really have no excuse, particularly this summer when we have reached the 90's maybe twice...Twice?? Today it will max out at 70 degrees.


Yes, I could spend time outside today, but I won't. I will be working away on other tasks and projects and enjoying the last few days of my mom's visit. Oh, and the X Files movie, I have to see that! Ooooohhhh, and I haven't canned all of those raspberries we harvested in the last month, then there's pickling, and, and, and...


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Maybe it is the temporal nature of summer that calls to me towards the end of July...already the days are getting shorter...much shorter, in fact. At the end of June, we had light until 10:00 or so...now by 8:30, it is starting to get dark. A reminder that the dark, rainy days of winter are only a couple of months away. If we are lucky, maybe an Indian Summer reprieve in October....but the endless, sunny days of our Portland summer are on the way out.


I love the kicked-back, flip flop, shorts and sunscreen days of summer...the tomatoes, the green beans, the sweet corn and Walla Walla onions...spending quality time with fresh veggies is a delight. Biting into a luscious blackberry, wiping the juice of the watermelon off of your chin...tactile memories that are inextricably linked to summer.


So, maybe it is ok to relax a bit this time of the year...maybe other garden writers will understand if my blog is a bit sparse...maybe the family will understand if we have a few less fall veggies. Maybe, just maybe, I can relax into this experience and savor my favorite time of year. After all, I will have all winter to blog and dream about this year's,