Posted in Uncategorized

Day 2: Beneficial Bugs

Let beneficial bugs do your dirty work! Not all insects are pests. Eliminate and control garden pests with knowing their natural biological enemies! Attracting beneficial bugs play an important role in our eco-system, especially in the garden.

Lady Bugs

The amazing ladybug kills and fights off some of the largest pests in our garden! This includes most of our piercing/sucking pests such as: Stink bugs, aphids, whiteflies and mites. It may not happen as fast as we would like, but over time they will eliminate more than the bare eye can see.

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Did you know ladybug larvae could eat up to 40 aphids an hour?

Attracted by:

  • Fennel
  • Dill
  • Alyssum
  • Coriander
  • Tansy
  • Calendula

Praying Mantis

This green giant is an ambush predator who has a huge appetite for pests in your garden! Adults will grow up to 5 inches! They lie quietly in prayer position while eyeing their food. Their forearms move at lightning speed snatching up large insects like grasshoppers, beetles, roaches, moths and mosquitos.

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The best way to attract Praying Mantises is by planting shrubbery around your yard. Females choose shrubbery and larger ground cover to protect their egg cases away from predators like birds before it is to time hatch.

Attracted by:

  • Fennel
  • Spearmint
  • Caraway
  • Shrubbery

Earthworms

Boosting your earthworm reproduction rate is easier than ever! Their feeding works to decompose organic material and recycle nutrients all while creating a substantial foundation for your plants.

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The best way to attract earthworms in your garden is to give them a nutrient rich environment by adding compost to your soil! Add in natural products right from your kitchen by composting each season. 

Braconid Wasps

Hornworm caterpillars are the worst pests to have in your garden! They will devour an entire tomato crop right when you say, “I’ll harvest that tomorrow!” Nothing excites a gardener more than finding this green giant covered in white eggs laid by a braconid wasp. LEAVE him alone; the larvae will take care of him for you! Eventually, the caterpillar will die off the branch it is stuck to.

Braconid illustrationHorn worm illustration

Attracted by:

  • Fern-Leaf Yarrow
  • Lemon Balm
  • Parsley
  • Shrubbery

Ground Beetles

The busy ground beetle has a big appetite for almost anything that he can catch. Being very limited to the soil, they will forage for bugs like earworms, slugs and Colorado potato beetles. To attract a diversity of beetles in your garden, plant a number of different species and trees that provide protection and more food for them to eat!

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Attracted by:

  • Clover
  • Amaranthus
  • Evening Primrose

Green Lacewings

The larvae of a green lacewing are about ½ an inch long that bear delicate wings hence their name, “Lace” wings. They can eat up to 200 aphids and other prey each week! They are not picky eaters and will eat a wide range of pests that include: Mites, whiteflies, thrips, aphids, caterpillars, and leafhoppers.

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Attracted by:

  • Dill
  • Angelica
  • Coriander
  • Golden Marguerite

 Stay connected with me on Day 3 of Bug week!

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X, Carly

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Posted in Lifestyle

Day 1: Garden Pests

CRITTERS

Not all pests are insects! There is a way to tell whether the cause of your problem has 4 feet or 100 feet! It is a dead giveaway by looking thoroughly at the leaves.

Deer: These guys have tiny bottom teeth but none on top! They will leave behind jagged edges on stems and leaves! As a result, they tear off plant parts rather than nibble on them!

Preventative measures: OBF installs wire fencing around every single garden that is about 6 ½ Ft high! It doesn’t have to be fancy just keep them out anyway how before they destroy your garden!

Rabbits: Our furry enemies have very sharp teeth causing damage close to the ground. They will leave behind a trail of leaf clippings while clearing out your crop. For example, the tops of your beet greens will be robbed of their hair completely!

Preventative measures: Booby-trap your enemies without killing them! They are part of our environment but not in our gardens! OBF uses Havahart Easy Traps to lure rabbits in with apples, carrots, brussel sprouts or carrots!

Groundhogs: They love to swim underground! Check your soil and lawn for volcano shaped swellings, this should give it away. They will create passageways that allow other rodents to claim your produce!

Preventative measures: We dig our fences underground with chicken wire, about 8 inches to prevent this from happening during the season! The animal’s instinct is to dig directly next to the fence, hitting the chicken wire we lay underneath. They are not smart enough to move away from the fence and dig a wider hole!

LEAFY PESTS

There are many leafy culprits and even more ways to get rid of them! Their signatures are holes or jagged edges in the leaves. These little guys leave behind immense damage if left untreated or unnoticed.

As I mentioned in, 10 Reasons To Keep A Garden Journal, having a plan is vital in a successful garden season. Depending on the magnitude of the situation, handpicking these critters off and putting them in a bucket of soapy water is preferred but spraying them with organic insecticide is fine too!

OBF uses an organic insecticide called, Captain Jacks Dead Bug concentrate & Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT). They are both bacterium’s approved for organic gardens. It is safe for people and other beneficial bugs as well! If they become out of your control, spray vigorously 2-3 times throughout the week only in the infested areas meanwhile hand picking as many as you can!

***Spray Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) on the brassica vegetable plants and Dead Bug on leafy vegetable plants as needed!***

If you plan on growing leafy vegetables such as cucumbers, squash, collard greens, kale, lettuce and so on, you want to look out for the following…

  • Leaf miner
  • Caterpillars
  • Aphids
  • Thrips
  • Cutworms
  • Whitefly
  • Armyworms
  • Cabbage Looper
  • Beetles
  • Earworms and hornworms
  • Spotted Cucumber Beetle
  • Spider mites
  • Stem borers
  • Snails and slugs

 

PEIRCING/SUCKING PESTS

After awhile, you may start to notice plants will turn a yellowish color with sappy dots on the surface. You may also see sunken holes that are brown within the leaves. Plants that are actively infested will be stunted and eventually die if left untreated.

They use special sucking mouthparts that damage plants by removing and ingesting plant cells and juices. The inner cells of leaves, called mesophyll includes the food-producing cell (photosynthesis) that lies between the upper and lower layer of the leaves.

These pests inject toxic materials and disease into the plants directly while they feed. As they move from plant to plant some will transmit disease ultimately killing the crop!

Preventative methods: You can use a number of soapy sprays (organic, of course) or powders.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Large sucking pests like Stink bugs will leave shiny eggs underneath the leaves. Be sure to remove all eggs by tearing them off.

***Spray Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) on the brassica vegetable plants and Dead Bug on leafy vegetables plants as needed!***

Make sure to look for these common sucking pests…

  • Aphids
  • Whitefly
  • Leafhoppers
  • Scale
  • Thrips
  • Mealybugs
  • Spider mites
  • Lace bugs
  • Stink Bugs

SOIL-DWELLING PESTS

These pests like to hide! They are hard to detect as they hide under the soil or plant remains. Most larvae pass the winter in soil or under garden waste. When the weather gets warmer, larvae awaken and start feeding on our plants, remaining hidden during the day!

Preventative measures: It is very important to clean and till your soil before planting in the fall in order to catch these little ones! Remove all waste in the spring time that larvae might feed on, giving you a chance to hand pick them out before it’s time to plant!

Make sure to look out for these common soil-dwelling pests…

  • White grub
  • Weevil larva
  • Japanese beetle
  • Earwig
  • Wireworm
  • Cutworms
  • Cabbage maggots

 

X, Carly

Posted in Uncategorized

Bug Week

Welcome to bug week!

This week I will cover garden pests, beneficial insects, bees and butterflies!

Stay connected with my “bug week” blogs over the course of the next few days to learn more about what every gardener should know during the season!

As we know, the best part about being a gardener is the immense beauty a garden brings to our backyard during the peak of summer. Lets face it; even the healthiest gardens will encounter bugs eating away at our timely investment. A huge part about a successful garden occurs with knowing the difference between pests and beneficial insects.

Sometimes, we have to control and mitigate any unwarranted parts of our business; it’s part of the job! I encourage you to prepare for those garden pests prior to the season. Luckily, there are ways to keep out unwanted pests using nontoxic methods!

Here are a few pointers I found important before I dive into bug week! Don’t be afraid, we’ve got you covered on the ins and outs of what’s in your garden.

What are garden pests?

  • Any insect or animal inhibiting your garden creating a negative impact. Pests are grouped together according the way they damage plants.

What are beneficial insects?

  • Any of a number of species of insects that perform valued services like pollination and pest control.

So, what’s a Jersey gardener to do about the upcoming season?

  • Research and read my blog on the difference between pests and beneficial bugs!
  • Gather a natural pest control plan.
  • Scout your garden for any problems early on and during the season.
  • Become familiar with organic/natural insecticides —  DIY remedies and over the counter products.

Where do pests attack?

  • Roots, stems, leaves, flowers, soil & your beautiful produce (the worst!)

What should you know about integrated pest management?

  • Read the label thoroughly and follow directions!
  • ALWAYS buy products that have an OMRI (Organic Material Review Institute) seal on it meaning it is organically approved!
  • Never use toxic pesticides
  • Choose pest control that is as specific to the pest as possible
  • Only spray as needed
  • Use safe insecticides like Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) among many other products. This is OBF’s go to spray for leafy pests!
  • Only apply sprays when the sun is low in the sky. You don’t want your plants to sunburn!
  • Spray plants generously and in direct contact with the pests, not from above!
  • Do not drown your plant in sprays. Give the plant a day or two to react to your integrated method.

What plants repel pests?

  • Maximize your garden with natural pest control using plants that repel pests and attract beneficial bugs
  • All and any herbs
  • Ornamental Flowers
  • Carnivorous Plants

The first topic I will discuss is harmful pests within our gardens and how to control them! Stay connected with me during #Bugweek

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X, Carly

 

Posted in Lifestyle

10 Reasons To Keep A Garden Journal

“ The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies.”  – Gertrude Jekyll 

iGJ2
Author: Rebecca Truscott-Elves

A rule of thumb: The more you invest into a garden the more you will be rewarded.

I find myself searching for new learning curves and ways that will actually make me enjoy diving into a book. It is pointless to buy a dull notebook that doesn’t intrigue you to write or sketch your ideas in the garden.

I recently picked up the Illustrated Gardening Journal that comes from a London based publishing company called Cicada Books. This book is simply the foundation of my ideas and stories that I will bring to life during the garden season. I may sound very optimistic but it all seems so possible with this book. A sketch is often the purest form an idea.

Every season, I emerge myself into a notebook that’s just right for me. Most of the time, I’m not even looking for it.

Anything colorful, recycled and authentic is my go to when it comes to preparing for the new season.

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Physically writing in a journal will improve your gardening skills, almost like studying season after season. Recording when and where you left off is key to improving your work. When it is time reflect back on past seasons, you will be prepared. This will help minimize your mistakes and maximize your successes.

The accomplishments and disappointments of your past create a storyline that develops into a timeline of events. Being observant and recording everything you see and do in a day will help you tremendously in the long run.

Trying to remember what you did a few days back or even a year ago in your garden is very difficult!

Now that I’m mentioning it, where did 2017 go anyway? #Spring2018

Time flies and having a journal will make it easier on your memory. You’ll never miss a beat!

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Unfortunately, nature is not always going to be fair with you. But, what if you were prepared for those frustrating turn of events?

Wouldn’t you feel so much better if you were ready for these misgivings and able to be in control before they happen?

The lessons you will learn become an experience. Gardeners will always learn something new each season. That is the best part of our hobby!

Here are my 10 thoughts on what should be inside your garden journal…

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  1. Make a list of what you would like in the garden – Take some time to research your produce, after all your going to be eating it so you might as well enjoy what you invest your time into.
  2. List any specific information on how/where to grow your produce if you’re a beginner. It’s okay to mess up, that’s what your Journal should help you with in the seasons to come.
  3. Sketch a rough design of what you imagine your garden to look like! Check out our Pinterest page to spark some ideas!

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  4. Date EVERYTHING! Jot down important notes that INCLUDE dates to keep track of expected harvest dates, how much you were able to harvest, specific pest damage, weather patterns, last succession seeding and so on!
  5. Take NOTES! From personal experience, taking notes on your harvest and how much you were able to harvest will serve as valuable information for the next season. If you find your family eating a ton of lettuce but can’t look at another zucchini till next year, you will be able to adjust this in the next season.

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  6. Write down your GOALS! Any time you have an idea, write it down and come back to it later. These might include, natural pest control ideas, garden expansion projects, recipes, DIY projects and so on.
  7. Research Pest and Disease Problems that may occur in your garden. There are many organic methods to get rid of pests and disease. Google is your best friend. Did you know garlic spray is a natural repellent to get rid of insects or pests?
  8. During the full season, list some specifics regarding your produce – Is it a hit or miss for your liking? Did it yield enough produce? How much real estate did it take up in your garden? Would you plant it again?

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  9. Make some notes on the wildlife that comes to visit your garden or even take a photo and paste it into your journal! Gardening brings many beneficial bugs, birds, bees, butterflies and more to the whole experience of gardening.
  10. Capture pictures – each season your garden will be unique and different than the last. Taking photos over time is a fun way to accumulate your progress as a gardener!

 

OBF Gardens

Have fun creating your garden journal!

X, Carly

Posted in Lifestyle

7 Easy Steps to Prepare Your Organic Garden

It’s time to wake your garden up! #Tired

Wakeupgarden

A few early preparations for the spring gardening season will bring numerous benefits to your garden all year long!

It has been a long winter and I am itching to get back into the swing of things! Reconnecting with the earth is rejuvenating for you and your garden, especially in the early spring season.

Taking steps to prepare your garden will reap a successful harvest. Lets get to work!

Here are my 7 simple tasks to get you started…

  1. Clean Out: About a month before planting, clean up your garden area, wherever it may be, from leaves, debris and weeds. Go ahead and fix any broken gates, fences or existing beds to get ahead of the game.

cleanup

2.  Tools: Always clean your tools before you start digging in the garden! We don’Toolst want any contaminates leaking into the soil that can accidentally spread fungus or bacteria.

3. Seedlings: Connect with your community or grow your own! Start growing seedlings now. Organize a list of fruits, veggies and flowers that work best for you. We suggest making space indoors for small LED lights to get your seedlings started. At OBF, we use organic starting soil and later transfer the gerSeedlingsminated seedlings into organic potting soil. If you do not have the means to grow your own, buying organic seedlings from local gardening centers or Oasis Backyard Farms will work as well! Call or email us for more details!

TBA: We will be selling OBF seedlings at Bayonet Farm in Holmdel for Earth Day on April 29th AND at our Farm’s Grand Opening on May 5th !!!

Keepcalm

4. The Last Frost:  May is one of the long awaited months of the year in the Northeast. The warmer weather makes the soil perfect for sowing seeds. Warm soil will allow for fast germination and a healthy growing environment for the plants. Weather permitting of course, OBF plants on Mother’s Day or after May 13th.

5. Soil Testing: Remember to test your soil early spring or late fall. That way, it will give you enough time to add amendments before the growing season begins.

Our company, Oasis Backyard Farms relies on Rutgers University’s soil testing lab to get accurate results for our client’s gardens and on our farm!

How To Link: How To Have Your Soil Tested

  1. Working The Soil: Digging in the soil too early is a common mistake. When the soil is still saturated with melting snow or spring rain, it can be easily compacted by digging apart large clumps, which will only make it harder to break it up later due to lack of oxygen. Plant roots will grow best when there are air pockets between the soil particles.Workingthesoil
  • Pick up a handful of soil in your hand. Squeeze the soil together so that it forms a ball. If the ball of soil can be broken with your fingers, it is dry enough to dig!
  1. Compost: Composting is the process of giving nutrients back to your soil using organic materials. Oasis Backyard farms recreates this process using two main ingredients: organic green material & brown material including air and oxygen to break them down. SCompost-Circle-of-Lifeeason after season, we use this process that is naturally high in nutrients to grow our produce. With the right ingredients and the right environment, your compost system will create a product that is extremely valuable. Lay 3-5 inches of compost on top of the soil after you have broken it up.

FACT: According to the Composting Council, if everyone in the United States composted all of their food waste, the impact would be equivalent to removing 7.8 million cars from the road!

LINK: How to Start Composting

Compost3Green Material

  • Grass clippings
  • Fruits & Vegetable scraps
  • Egg shells
  • Decayed plant matter
  • Organic Coffee Grounds
  • Fresh Manure
  • Seaweed

Brown Material

  • Dry Leaves
  • Saw Dust
  • Straw & Hay
  • Woods Chippings
  • Twigs

It’s time to prepare your garden for the upcoming growing season! Are you ready?

Call or email Oasis Backyard Farms with any question, we are here to help!

Carly@oasisbackyardfarms.com

(732) 294-8703

#Letsgrowsomething

X, Carly

Posted in Growing Vertically

Growing Vertical

Lets grow vertical!

Are you interested in becoming a gardener but can’t seem to shake the obstacles we normally face while growing: weeding, digging, bending, pests, contaminated soil and so on. 

My goal is to provide EVERYONE with a solution to grow no matter how small the area may be. With the right resources and your personal garden guru here to help, you’ll be growing in no time! 

Luckily, we live in a day and age where growing fresh fruits and vegetables is easier than ever.

Tower Garden is the perfect solution if you are looking for something that will really give you a bang for your buck!

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Don’t let a confined area with little space for gardening discourage you from growing fruits and vegetables all year long, inside and out!

The Tower Garden uses Aeroponics: the process of growing plants in an air environment without using soil. It allows you to grow inside using LED lights or outside using natural sunlight! 

Quick Tutorial:

  1. Vertical Technology: How it works: Outside
  2.  How to use LED lights on a tower garden: Inside

 

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A Tower Garden makes it convenient to produce better tasting, better looking, even better smelling fruits and vegetables that have immense nutritional value. It offers you a cleaner and more efficient way to grow fresh food.

Compared to traditional growing methods you can grow up to 30% more, 3x faster, with 98% less water with your standard Tower Garden!!!

Be creative and find something that will work for you and your family’s healthy lifestyle. Growing vertically is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of producing fresh fruits and vegetables without taking up any space. Don’t forget to get your children involved in growing what makes them happy!

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Interested in growing with your very own Tower Garden?

Heres how to get started…

  1. Click Tower Garden Website to get started on growing vertically
  2. Read through the website and become familiar with your specific wants & needs
  3. Scroll to the top right corner of the Discover page and click Contact me
  4. Fill out the desired form and await a response from our OBF team
  5. Lets grow Vertical!

Lets Grow Something!

X, Carly 

Posted in Uncategorized

Growing With Children: Mind, Body & Soul

 

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My fondest memory as a child is playing in the garden, of course. As I grew up, I could not ignore how lucky I was to have a space of my own to grow right in my backyard. 

Creating an opportunity for children to grow is a goal OBF and I have in common. Gardening does not require a large plot of land or immense sunlight. Don’t let gardening scare you! Even if you don’t feel the urge to garden, try to encourage your little ones to grow. There is an abundance of DIY projects out there to get you started! Check out our Pinterest page to spark an idea.

Gardening with children is a perfect way to build early management, motor and control skills while they move around, carry tools, plant tiny seeds and gain knowledge. Their balance will strengthen and their muscles will grow. Early exposure benefits a child’s mind, body and soul.

Mind

It has been scientifically proven that getting your hands dirty in the garden can improve children’s mental and physical health.

Children’s natural curiosity sparks them to ask questions like: Why are bees good for plants? What do these bugs do? How does the plant “drink” water? Why do plants need sunlight to live?

As their interest grows, you will soon be sharing all the knowledge you have with them and discuss greater intellectual concepts like, composition, photosynthesis, and time management. How awesome is that?

Gardening can control their impulses, develop strong immune systems and get them outside, away from those computer screens. The natural stimulation of being outside is enough for children to connect with the world they are so curious about.

Body

Children are often more willing to try a new food if they have been involved in the process of growing it. Gardening will become a project for the kids; they will feel a sense of accomplishment from beginning to end. 

Their efforts in the garden will yield huge results and in turn boost their self-esteem and interest in the garden. The farm to table experience will build a connection between them and the meal on their plate.

It sure beats a trip to the grocery store and we all know how that story goes. “Jack, Jack? Jack where are you?!” The garden is a safe bet, I can assure you!

The great news is this part of gardening is a no brainer. Fruits and vegetables are vitally important to sustain a healthy diet but those supermarket “fresh” foods are not being consumed for a significant amount of time following harvest. Luckily, your gardens same-day harvest of fresh produce will be at its highest nutrient level. As long as fresh produce undergo minimal storage and are handled properly (C/F), they are superior to processed produce in terms of vitamins and nutrients.

Soul

Nature has been held in higher regard for centuries. It is therapeutic and helps our bodies heal naturally, sometimes without even realizing it. Horticulture therapy is now being offered! How great is this world?

American Horticulture Therapy Association guides individuals in rehabilitation through the process of gardening. Garden rehabilitation stimulates consciousness and control from the worries you may have.

There is no need for medicine when soil is a natural antidepressant. It has a similar effect on the brain and mirrors the neurons that drugs like Prozac provide. The chemicals found within our soil actually make us happy! Who knew, right?

Click for more information on How Dirt Makes You Happy!

We encourage children to become involved in our growing process throughout the OBF season. It is so important for them to see where our food comes from. Teaching your children how to garden gives them a sense of accomplishment that in turn creates a sustainable and healthy lifestyle from beginning to end. 

If you need help growing or have any questions, feel free to give us a call and say hi!!!

(732) 294-8703 _ Carly@oasisbackyardfarms.com

Happy Friday! #letsgrowsomething

X, Carly