Magnesium may be key in preventing colon cancer in men - Magnesium sources; green beans, peas, nuts, whole grains


Attracting Good Bugs to Your Garden

by City Girl Gardener on 05/22/17

"The best organic pest control that I know is to have as many and as diverse a population of beneficial insects in your garden as possible. How do we attract a large diverse population of beneficial insects? One of the best ways is to grow plants with small flowers because most parasitic insects and predators have short mouthparts that cannot reach far into flowers for nectar and pollen. There are two categories of flowers that are especially useful in attracting beneficial insects to your garden. These are the parsley and sunflower families of plants." ...............

The Parsley family of plants, "include some vegetables, some herbs and some flowering plants. Included in this family are carrots, parsnip, parsley, celery, celeriac, fennel, dill, cumin, anise, coriander, lovage, chervil, and Queen Anne’s lace".

The sunflower family of plants include " artichoke, lettuce, endive, salsify, chicory, edible chrysanthemum, cardoon, sunflower, dandelion, yarrow, tansy, thistle, aster, marigold, and zinnia".

For more details, see the Urban Harvest advice.


Pruning Tomato Plants

by City Girl Gardener on 05/22/17

Regularly pruning tomato plants will help the plant produce more fruit. Plants need foliage to create energy from photosynthesis, but the growth and development of foliage uses up a lot of the plant’s energy that could be used for fruit production. Removing dead, diseased or just unnecessary leaves and stems from tomato plants increases the fruit.

Harvest your lemons, oranges and grapefruit before the freeze

by City Girl Gardener on 12/08/16

Heads up Zone 9 (includes the greater Houston area), the best way to determine if the ORANGES and LEMONS on your tree are ripe is to simply taste one. In the U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 9 through 11 freezing temperatures can sometimes threaten a citrus crop. Your best defense against this is to pick them before the freeze.

It is Harvest Time! Meyer Lemon Tree In Texas

by City Girl Gardener on 10/18/16

Information below is taken from the aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu_citrus_lemons fact sheet. Our Meyer Lemon tree was planted according to the directions give in this publication and we have had a tremendous amount of success with our tree's production. We are currently growing a Meyer lemon tree in our yard.  It is practically maintenance free.......

Lemons are among the most cold sensitive of all citrus fruit.  Because of cold sensitivity, lemon trees should be limited to the south or southeast side of the house and as near to it as the mature tree size will permit. While overhanging shade trees will provide some cold protection, lemons require full sunlight for optimum growth and production. 

For the most part, lemon trees will be purchased from a nursery rather than grown at home. Generally, the trees will be container grown in a soil-less medium which makes the trees rather difficult to establish without special care. At planting, use a gentle stream of water from the garden hose to wash an inch or so of the medium from all around the root ball, thereby exposing the peripheral roots. Thus, the outer roots are placed in contact with the soil of the planting site and growth commences almost immediately.

Under no circumstances should soil around the proposed planting site be removed to form a shallow basin for watering to do so almost guarantees that the young lemon tree will contract foot rot and die before its fifth year. The soil in the planting site should be at least as high as the surrounding yard, if not higher. In addition, the tree should be set at the same depth or slightly higher than it was in the nursery container to assure that the bud union will remain well above the soil.

Mixing topsoil, compost, peat or other materials with the back fill soil is neither necessary nor desirable in good soils. Set the tree in the hole, back fill about halfway, then water sufficiently to settle the back fill around the lower roots. Finish back filling the hole and then cover the root ball with about in inch of soil to seal the growing medium from direct contact with the air and thereby
prevent rapid drying of the root ball. 

To facilitate watering, bring soil from the garden or elsewhere to construct a watering ring atop the ground around the newly planted tree. The ring should be about two feet across and several inches high and thick. To water, just fill the water ring immediately after planting. After the water soaks in, it may be necessary to add a little soil to any holes formed as the soil settled around the roots.
The watering interval should be every few days for the first couple of weeks, then gradually increase the interval to 7 to 10 days over the next couple of months. The watering ring with gradually melt into the surrounding soil, at which time the young lemon tree can be considered to be established.

All weeds and lawn grass should be completely eliminated inside the watering ring, as the developing lemon tree cannot compete well. A systemic, contact herbicide will work very well, so long as it is not allowed to contact the young tree leaves or green bark.

The best way to protect the young trunk from herbicide damage and, at the same time, to prevent sprouts along the trunk is to crimp an 8inch by 18inch piece of heavy duty aluminum foil around the trunk from the ground to the scaffold limbs. Fold the foil lengthwise, bring the long edges past the trunk on both sides, crimp the two edges together and lightly squeeze the foil around the trunk.

Mulching is not recommended for citrus because it increases the possibility of the tree contracting foot rot, for which there is no cure. If you insist on mulching, keep the mulch at least a foot away from the trunk.

Fertilizer should be withheld until after growth commences. During the first year, a single cupful of ammonium sulfate (2100) split into three or four applications is adequate. Use 2 cups in the second year and three in the third. Just scatter the fertilizer on the ground around the tree and water thoroughly. 

Cold protection measures for lemon trees will be required sooner or later. Soil banks are very effective for young trees? the soil should be put up about Thanksgiving and left in place through February. Exercise care when taking down the soil bank, as the bark underneath will be extremely tender.
Blankets, tarps or similar covers are also very effective and have the advantage of being quickly draped over the young tree. The corners should be stretched outward and tied down. More elaborate protection can be provided by erecting a frame structure of wood or PVC pipe over the plant to facilitate the use of plastic or large tarps during particularly severe cold weather. Supplemental heat
can also be provided under the covers? incandescent heat lamps and Coleman lanterns are useful.

Watering should be slow and thorough? probably every couple of weeks would suffice in any but the very sandy soils. Nutrition should continue at about 1 cup of ammonium sulfate per year of tree age annually in split applications in February, May and September, i.e. a 6yearold tree should receive about 6 cups of 21-0-0 for the year. Adjust the rate for other fertilizers based upon the relative
nitrogen content.

Lawngrass should be kept back about a foot from the canopy of the tree. Other than cold damage, no pruning should be necessary, as the lemon tree will develop its natural shape without pruning. While mulching is not recommended for citrus trees, if you must mulch, keep the mulch at least one foot away from the tree trunk.

Meyer' lemons bear mainly in fall to winter. At full maturity, the fruit will turn yellow on the tree. However, they may be sufficiently juicy to use
before they change color. While true lemons must be cured for a couple of days in order to sustain
commercial marketing, curing should not be necessary for those that will be used directly from the tree.

There are very few lemon tree problems that are life threatening and the home gardener cannot do anything about those anyway. Many of the rest of the insects and diseases that afflict lemon trees can generally be ignored in the home garden, as blemishes to the peel affect only the appearance, and, in some cases, size of the fruit.

It's Time! Fall Planting

by City Girl Gardener on 10/11/16

The Fall/Winter gardening season is all about the leafy greens, root vegetables, and citric fruit in some areas.   Ohhhhhhh, but the leafy greens.  I am a big fan of the taste and benefits of greens; collard, mustard, turnips, chard, kale, cabbage, broccoli, and lettuces.  You can grow them! Most of the greens grow very well from seeds. They generally emerge into tiny plants in 7 to 10 days.  Check the package for emerge and maturity dates in your area.

I prefer to cook my greens by stir frying them with onions and garlic in olive oil. As with most stir fry, the greens need to touch the hot skillet to break down a bit, then I add sea salt and other, preferably organic seasonings such as oregano, thyme, cumin, etc., add a little water, cover and simmer for a few minutes. The cooking process is so short that I never leave the greens during the cooking process until I have lowered the heat to allow them to simmer for about 10 minutes or to taste.

Now, on the other hand, I make and drink greens almost every day by blending a hand full of greens, and other vegetables and a smaller amount of fruits.  I also add Chia or Hemp seeds for their fiber, protein, and Omega-3 fatty acids.   They are usually grown organically, are non-GMO and naturally free of gluten.

Because greens grow so well in the cooler climates in my area and not as well when the weather turns hot in the south, I freeze packets of greens for year round locally (in my backyard) grown greens.

Just sharing my strategies for living healthy!

Natural Remedy Tip - Black Spots on Roses
There are a few home remedies that have met with some success and are worth trying, especially for those that really do prefer organic garden methods. My first option is to ensure that has an adequate supply of nutrients (see below). Another option is a solution made with baking soda: dissolve 1 teaspoon baking soda in a quart of water, add a few drops of liquid soap to the mix to help it cling better to the foliage, spray infected plants thoroughly.
Please provide feedback - CityGirl "Garden Spot"
Feed Those Roses - 
•Mix 4 tbsp. of liquid fish fertilizer, 2 tbsp. of liquid kelp or seaweed and 2 tsp. of dark molasses in a bucket with 2 gallons of water and stir well to mix.
•Pour the liquid rose fertilizer into a plant sprayer.
•Spray the liquid rose fertilizer on the leaves of rose bushes, being sure to spray the undersides as well as the tops.
•Use the liquid rose fertilizer once each week.
Read more: How to Feed Roses Naturally |
Please provide feedback - CityGirl "Garden Spot"
Making Compost 
A compost pile can be started in sun or shade at any time of the year. The City ingredients (my version) include leaves, fresh food scraps (no cooked or prepared food), coffee grinds (including the filter), tea bags, molasses and dirt Mix the ingredients together in a container such as the larger plastic containers sold in variety stores or simply pile the material on the ground and surround with concrete blocks, adding worms helps the process.  Turn the pile at least once a week to month; more often speeds up the process. Keep the pile moist, roughly the moisture of a squeezed-out sponge, to help the living microorganisms thrive and work their magic. Compost is ready to use when the ingredients are no longer identifiable. The color will be dark brown, the texture soft and crumbly. Use compost in all of your gardens for bed preparation and as a high quality mulch around annuals and perennials. 

 More really good information ..

     Important Tips:  
  • Loam is generally considered to be ideal soil because it retains moisture and nutrients but does not stay soggy.
  • Always wash your vegetables as soon as they are harvested (definitely before eating them).  I use a large stainless steel bowl of water and add a tablespoon of vinegar (it gets the bugs and/or fungus you can't see, off).
  • Always wear gloves in the garden.  Bacteria is in the soil.
  • Add the garden to your sprinkler system for consistent watering, or, install a drip watering system which can be purchased in plumbing/irrigation parts of most home and garden centers (need help, let us know) 
Important TipsSeed Planting 
Look for USDA rated seeds. Read and follow directions on the seed package.  If it requires sun, plant in the sun, if it instructs you to plant 12" apart, do so.  In order to continually have a ready supply, space your planting to have a continuing harvest. You generally do not need to plant the entire package in most small gardens so share with a neighbor. 
Building a Raised Garden Bed
Concrete Blocks
  • A 4' x 8' x 1.3'h raised bed made from concrete blocks, stacked, requires 36 blocks, order here from Home Depot for pick-up or delivery.  We recommend delivery.  These materials are extremely heavy.   
  • Search for and locate organic soil in your area. Amend the soil with nutrients such as seaweed and molasses.
  • Level the area to ensure that the blocks connect.  
  • In order to control weeds, layer the bottom of the bed with cardboard.  
  • Also secure a layer of metal screen under the blocks, rodents can often be blocked-out below with metal screens.
Blackstrap Molasses -    is the best sugar for horticultural use because of its trace minerals. Blackstrap is hard to find but is the best molasses because of the sulfur and iron, but any kind will work in your garden. Molasses is a carbon source and feeds the beneficial microbes creating greater natural plant fertility. Molasses also has a nice side benefit, when used with compost tea and orange oil, it kills fire ants and other insect pests. By itself, molasses repels fire ants. 
 - Mix a tablespoon of molasses in a gallon of water and feed your garden.

Blackstrap molasses -
"promote health and vitality of your soil. Molasses provides an effective, available source of carbon energy and carbohydrates to feed and stimulate the growth of beneficial microorganisms so your soil life will flourish to create greater natural soil fertility. Molasses is loved by bacteria and, therefore, can be a catalyst for crop residue breakdown which is carried out by our bacterial friends in the soil." Read More

"Many types of fruits and nuts grow well in home orchards in zone 9. The first key to a successful harvest is to select varieties best suited to the subtropical climate. One of the most important considerations in selecting an appropriate plant is the temperature requirements.
Citrus trees are sub-tropical to tropical in nature and many may suffer severe damage or even death in freezing temperatures. However, several types of citrus are sufficiently cold hardy to survive most winters in our region, particularly, as the tree mature, and especially in warmer areas. Planting citrus trees on the south and southeast sides of the house or in other sheltered locations will provide some protection from northwesterly cold fronts. Aside from knowing how much cold a plant can stand, it is also important to know how much cold it needs. 

Buy your tree from a responsible vendor. Read and follow the directions to grow a bountiful tree that could last generations! Check with your Extension service to determine what and when fruits and vegetable grows in your area.
The City Girl Gardener provides, install and maintain backyard vegetable gardens.

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Do you have garden questions that you can't find an answer.  
  • Wash your tools and gloves after use. Wash them in a bowl with a dash of vinegar.
  • Drink water with cucumber slices, mint and lemon slices. It reduces body fat and refreshes you.
  • Don't trash the white shirt and blouses that get stained working in the garden. Get rid of the yellowing armpit and other spots. How? Mix 1 part water, 1 part baking soda and 1 part hydrogen peroxide in a container. Apply the paste to the yellowed blotches with a soft toothbrush. Let it sit for about 25 minutes before washing as usual. Then, accept that you've become your mother.

Before applying Epsom salt, however, it’s a good idea to have your soil tested to determine whether it’s deficient of magnesium. You should also be aware that many plants, like beans and leafy vegetables, will happily grow and produce in soils with low levels of magnesium. Plants like rose, tomatoes and peppers, on the other hand, require lots of magnesium and, therefore, are more commonly watered with Epsom salt.(CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS) 
Organic Labeling

USDA organic products have strict production and labeling requirements. Organic products must meet the following requirements:

Produced without excluded methods, (e.g., genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, or sewage sludge). Policy on genetically modified organisms (pdf)
Produced using allowed substances. View the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List).
Overseen by a USDA National Organic Program-authorized certifying agent, following all USDA organic regulations.
  • Choose a location.
Keep it simple, a vegetable garden requires 6 to 8 hours of sun.
  • Invest In Tools
A backyard garden generally require a shovel, wheel barrel, hoe, metal rake, hand shovel, rake, pruner, watering can, water system (hose, drip system,
  • Plan which vegetables to Plant.
Select plants for the season. Read the seed package for your zone and season.
  • ​Prepare the soil
Based on your garden plan, test the soil to determine the soil condition. If required, amend.
  • Plant
Dig as directed, add a root starter to help develop strong root systems.

  • Water, feed & wait.

  • Harvest
To get your greens off and running, it's best to plant them as soon as possible in fall. Successive plantings, sown weekly, insure you'll have a crop ready to pick and one coming on at the same time. In the south you can even plant into October. 
Amend the soil with a 1- to 2-inch-thick layer of compost before planting. Loosen the soil, create raised beds, and broadcast seed on the surface. Cover the seeds lightly with soil, sand, or potting soil and keep the bed moist. If the weather is still hot in your area when sowing, cover the bed with a shade cloth or floating row cover to keep the soil cool and preserve the moisture. Many crops, such as spinach, don't germinate well in hot soil. 
Once the seed germinates, fertilize lightly with a soluble product such as fish emulsion. Greens sown in fall grow slower than those in spring because of the shorter days and reduced light levels. They also require less water and fertilizer.