Luster Leaf Rapitest Soil Test Kit

Knowing the state of your garden soil is handy, but if your garden is for personal family use only, you probably don’t feel justified in ordering a professional lab analysis. Fortunately, inexpensive test kits are available online. This kit by Luster Leaf seems to do a fair job. It tests: pH. Nitrogen. Phosphorus. Potassium. As…

Family Garden Journal Introductory Price Ends January 2017

The new compact edition of The Family Garden Journal, published by Homestead on the Range, is currently available for $19.99 at Amazon.  This offer will end at the beginning of the new year! This beautiful paperback journal can help you or a loved one develop a green thumb while creating a keepsake: Start by planning…

Get Ready for December 2016

Christmas will be here before you know it! Prepare tasty treats and heartfelt gifts from your own homegrown offerings, and snuggle up on the couch for a little storytelling. Retell the story of Sod Corn Jones. Read Scripture passages about the meaning of Christmas. Make a sweet potato beetle. Encourage your child to start an…

Walnut Toxicity

To protect themselves from competition, black walnut trees exude a toxin called juglone.  Gardens planted near black walnut trees or roostocks frequently fail to thrive due to this toxin.  Many plants can be affected, but tomatoes and potatoes show the greatest susceptibility. Juglone enters the soil from the roots, bark, leaves, and nut hulls of…

Top 10 Books for Beginning Farmers

Just getting started? Whether you are still in the early planning stage or are trying to overcome your first obstacle, one of the best things you can do is to read extensively. Many others have walked the path before you. Why not smooth your own learning curve and take advantage of their experience? While there…

Verticillium Wilt

Verticillium wilt is caused by six different species of fungus, all of the genus Verticillium.  These six fungi can attack most of the plants and trees that gardeners like to grow, including vegetables, fruits, and ornamental plants. Verticillium fungi spend the winter in plant debris lying on the ground.  Cool, wet weather triggers it to…

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is caused by one of the most common and widely distributed fungi that plague gardens.  The disease can attack a wide range of plants, as it is caused by several species of the order Erysiphales.  A sampling of commonly affected plants includes: Cucumbers. Pumpkins. Squash. Melons. Grapes. Phlox. Peonies. Lilacs. Bluegrass. Fescue. The…

Pierce’s Disease

Pierce’s disease (PD) is a bacterial disease of grapes named for Newton Pierce, who described the disease in 1892.  The bacterium species is Xylella fastidiosa. A grape plant is infected when insects, particularly sharpshooter leafhoppers, carrying bacteria bite the plant.  Bacteria then take up residence in the vascular tissue of the grape and reproduce, forming…

Brix: How Do We Measure It?

Now we have a definition of brix: the weight of dissolved sugar expressed as a percentage of the weight of the entire solution.  The next question is how we measure brix.   The Refractometer As its name suggests, a refractometer operates on the principle of refraction.  When a beam of light passes through a liquid…

Phytophthora Blight

Phytophthora blight, also known as late blight, is a fungal disease caused by several species of the genus Phytophthora.  Affected plants include: Cucumbers. Squash. Pumpkins. Cantaloupe. Watermelons. Tomatoes. Eggplants. Peppers. Potatoes. Beans. The fungi involved flourish in wet, moderately warm weather.  They spend the winter in infected tubers and plant matter.  The disease is spread…