How to Tell if a Watermelon is Ripe

How to Tell if a Watermelon is Ripe - 4 clues to look for to tell if your garden or store watermelon is red, ripe, and ready to pick.

This post is primarily for those who are wondering if their homegrown watermelon is ripe and ready to pick, but most of the same tips apply for those rooting through the produce bins at the supermarket or scouting out the farmers market.  Watermelons are a little sneakier than muskmelons, which slip right off the vine (i.e. come loose on their own) when ripe.  Uncut watermelons are also less fragrant than muskmelons, because they don’t have that open end where the vine was formerly attached.  You will never find me sniffing watermelons in the grocery store, but you may find me sniffing cantaloupes.  (I do my own stunts. ;-) )

4 Clues to Tell if Your Watermelon is Ripe

Back in my late teens and early 20’s, my jobs at the family catering business included picking out the watermelons and carving the watermelon boats for parties.  I was known as the resident watermelon expert, almost guaranteed to be able to pick out the perfect melon, if there was a perfect melon to be found. [Read more...]

Gummy Zucchini Candy Recipe – Naturally Sweetened

Naturally Sweetened Zucchini Gummy Candy Recipe - Tastes like commercial gummy treats with no artificial flavors, colors or refined sugar.

Overwhelmed by zucchini or summer squash?  Make some zucchini gummy candy!  I saw a recipe online that made them with drink mix and sugar, and coated them with more drink mix – more sugar and artificial color and flavor than I prefer.  So I decided to experiment with a simpler version using fruit juice concentrate.  It worked out great!

Naturally Sweetened Zucchini Gummy Candy Recipe

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Sustainable Methods for Dealing with Drought

Dealing with Drought - 3 organic strategies to make your farm or garden more drought tolerant so you can still produce a crop when rain is scarce. #drought #organicgardening

Given the wild weather that’s been thumping parts of the U.S. and the rest of the world, I wanted to share an article I found recently titled, “Sustainable Methods for Dealing with Drought” by Dr. Phil Wheeler.  While the author is primarily focused on farm scale production, the advice is just as good for the home gardener trying to feed their family.  I’ll include my notes and additional resources in italics. [Read more...]

Introduction to Aquaponics: Growing Fish and Vegetables Together

Introduction to Aquaponics: Growing Fish and Vegetables Together

What if I told you that you could catch fish for dinner right in your own backyard? And if you did, what if I told you that right up until you caught those fish, they were growing the veggies for the rest of your dinner? Would you believe me? You should! This is all within reach using a new style of gardening called Aquaponics.

What is Aquaponics?

Aquaponics is, at its most basic level, the marriage of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (growing plants in water and without soil) together in one integrated system. The fish waste provides organic food for the growing plants and the plants naturally filter the water in which the fish live. The third and fourth critical, yet invisible actors in this symbiotic world are the beneficial bacteria and composting red worms. Think of them as the Conversion Team. The beneficial bacteria exist on every moist surface of an aquaponic system. They convert the ammonia from the fish waste that is toxic to the fish and useless to the plants, first into nitrites and then into nitrates. The nitrates are relatively harmless to the fish and most importantly, they make terrific plant food. At the same time, the worms convert the solid waste and decaying plant matter in your aquaponic system into vermicompost. [Read more...]

Build Your Own Simple Seed Starting Shelves

Build Your Own Simple Seed Starting Shelves with room for up to 576 seedlings under the grow lights. Sturdy, moveable and easy enough for a weekend project

Each year I start several hundred vegetable, herb and flower seedlings.  Almost all of them begin on the simple seed starting shelves my husband built over 15 years ago. I wasn’t blogging then (I started that around five years ago), so I didn’t snap any photos. Heck, I didn’t even have a digital camera back then.  Photos or no photos, these indoor planting shelves have served me well, and are fairly inexpensive to make.

The lights are suspended from chains on hooks, so they can easily be adjusted up or down.  Mounting casters on the bottom makes it a snap to move – even from one house to another.  If you use standard 22″x11″ nursery trays with 72 cells per tray, there’s room for 576 seedlings under the grow lights, plus an extra 288 seedlings on the top shelf, if you have room for it in your greenhouse, sun room or very well lit room.  Cross supports and water proof paint make it sturdy and durable.  I pair it up with a fan on a timer, to help keep the seedlings sturdy, and I also use a timer to turn the grow lights off at night.  Once the seedlings get bigger, they graduate to the greenhouse or cold frame, and then are hardened off (gently exposed to the elements over several days) and planted out into the garden. [Read more...]