6 Things You Can Do To Improve The Efficiency Of Watering Your Garden

Properly watering your garden and ensuring you obtain the most out of every drop should be a top priority for anyone who takes water conservation to heart. Below I have listed out “6 Things You Can Do To Improve The Efficiency Of Watering Your Garden”. These are not new or by any means all inclusive and I would love to hear if you have any water conservation tips or tricks.

If you feel like jumping around, here are the quick links to the six things.

1. Your Watering Schedule

The most beneficial time to water your garden is in the early morning, before the sun begins to warm the soil too much. By watering between 5:00 am – 8:00 am the soil will have the opportunity to soak in more water before being evaporated.

Another good time to water would be directly after a light rainfall. This will soften up the top layer of soil and allow for a more efficient watering by soaking into the soil further and building up a small water reservoir for your plants.

Watering just before nightfall may not give the plants enough time to dry out. As a result they could be more susceptible to disease and/or rot.

2. Mulching and You

Using mulch in the garden helps create a protective layer on the surface of your soil, increasing water retention. Mulch also assists with weed control, by preventing weeds the water that is used is more directly beneficial to the producing crops.

Image by Manfred Richter from Pixabay
Different Types of Mulch

If you are interested in learning about the different types of mulch, Joe Gardener has covered them in depth here.

3. Overwatering

Depending on if your plants are in the ground or in some containers, the watering schedule will be different. Vegetable plants in the ground require around 1″ of water per week to survive. Although most plants will thrive if watered 3 times a week. For your container garden or raised bed garden the amount of water will be more due to the soil drying out faster.

Depending on how fast they dry out it may require from 2″ to 4″ of water a week to prevent it from dying. Having a set watering schedule and using proper watering techniques will improve the chances of keeping your little green friend alive.

Image by jplenio from Pixabay

Using a timed drip/soaker watering method is one of the best ways to consistently water your plants. By setting up a timer and schedule you can keep a much better eye on how much water it takes to keep everything happy.

Overwatering when it occurs causes excess waste and may not be used by the plants at all, also with the potential to cause erosion and runoff to occur.

4. Crop Selection

Studies have shown that short cycle crops are less likely to be affected by drought conditions. If you live in a drought environment or have an average rainfall of less than 1″ every two weeks, it is recommend choosing shorter growing cycle crops and ensuring your plants are in a position to grow during your “wet” season.

Certain long season crops such as potatoes and carrots can be adversely affected if inadequate water is provided, it is not recommended to grow these plants in dry, arid climates.

Your best bet is to grow a mixture of plants, by sowing your garden with a dry and wet season in mind could save half of your plants. Have a section of your garden that is full of drought resistant plants/vegetables, while having another section that may require more water. By doing this you can let the drought plants wither a little while using the extra water on the other garden. In the next section I cover drought management and some different crops that can withstand not having a lot of water.

Some drought resistant plants include Sage, Thyme, Rosemary, Basil, and Lavender. These herbs will do well in a warmer dry environment.

5. Drought Management

There are a few methods of managing water, some of these methods are used in dry/arid climates to conserve when fresh water is not readily available.

Here is the link to the scientific study conducted on the different Methods and Technologies for conserving water.

Methods and Technologies for Conserving Water

Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay
Regulated Deficient Irrigation

This method is where you water one side of the plant (soil/roots), and on the next watering do so to the other side. By alternating watering on each side it gives the plants roots a chance to absorb the moisture and not completely dry out. This method will require you to have adequate water in the producing season of the plants life cycle to ensure a solid fruit production.

Controlled Deficient Irrigation

If a climate has a good early wet season, this method may be used on crops that are harvested in the Early to Mid Summer season. Peaches, Plums, and Cherries fall into this category, as the plant is not producing and more fruit the amount of water applied can be reduced. Care needs to be had to ensure that you don’t stunt the growth of the plant by allowing too much of a drought condition to be present. Improper care can result in a yield loss on the next years crop. This type of environment would benefit greatly from any rainwater collection that occurs.

If you are in the market for irrigation parts, tools, and information check out Growers House for any of your needs as they offer some of the lowest prices around.


6. Rain Barrels

By having a rain barrel you can ensure you have water stored up for any drought conditions that may occur later in the season. If you live in a climate that has an early “wet” season, followed by a dry and hot season, why not collect the rainwater and use it later on to keep your plants flourishing.

There are tons of designs for rain barrels and it doesn’t have to be a giant blue guy sitting on the side of your house. Below are some examples that I found around the internet.

Image by Lena Lindell from Pixabay

Captain Patio’s Article on painting the perfect rain barrel goes into detail on how to get it done.


Check out these rain barrels located on Pinterest.

Watering With Conservation in Mind

I hope you found this article interesting and helpful, by conserving the water that is pulled from the city lines you help relieve some stress on the infrastructure that is trying to hold it all together. Keeping water conservation in mind and the impact it can have on the environment will help improve everything around us. If you have any water conservation tips or tricks I would love to hear about them in the comments section.

If you found the article interesting or helpful please check out the rest of the blog as there may be some hidden gems for you to find in there.

Keep mother nature alive and prospering, your own livelihood depends on it.

I am an affiliate and links located throughout the article will provide me with a commission on any purchases made.

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Myers Greens LLC

Myers Greens is a nursery located in southwest Iowa. With the main goal of providing top quality microgreens and fresh herbs. Follow the blog to keep up to date on what we are growing.

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Heat Stress on your plants and what you can do to prevent it

With warmer weather predicted for most of the summer, it is a great time to get informed on some signs and symptoms of heat stress in your plants. Preventing your plants from overheating will ensure the blossoms stay fresh and leaves don’t wilt. In the realm of cold-weather plants you will be preventing them from bolting.

This tomato plant has gotten a little too much heat.

When protecting your plants from excess heat, there are a few things that can work wonders and keep your garden going in the harshest of conditions. Shade, adequate watering, and water loss prevention are some of the biggest tools in your gardening tool bag.

How the heat can affect different types of plants

When your vegetable plants begin to overheat you will notice the flowers will droop and pretty much fall off. Most of your leaves will be wilting and ready to fall off. Noticing the wilting flowers can help give you time to get your plant in a good growing condition. Failure to act as soon as you notice the symptoms could result in the plant not making it. Most vegetables will not enjoy being above 85° F and will show the signs listed above.


Succulents are conditioned and have evolved to higher temperatures. They have done this by storing excess water in the leaves, which also happens to be their downfall in freezing conditions. If you feel like your succulent is drying out moving it to a shading location and maintaining your normal watering cycle should perk it back up. Overwatering a succulent is very easy and can cause root rot.

Cold-weather crops
Cold-weather crops

Beets, carrots, turnips, radishes, cabbage, collards, kale, spinach, swiss chard, arugula, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, and potatoes are all cool-weather crops. They enjoy being in cold weather and produce a fruit as long as the conditions are optimal. Once the temperatures begin to rise your crops may “bolt”. These plants are best sown in the early spring right after the ground is workable as some of the seeds can germinate in soil as cold as 35° F!

What is bolting?

Bolting is the plant’s natural attempt to produce seeds so it can reproduce.

What can you do

What is happening on these hot days is the water is being evaporated from the ground before the plant has the opportunity to soak it up. Being able to give your plant a little more time to use the water will go a long way. Some methods for combating high heat are listed below. Using a combination of all of them will yield the best results.

Water, Water, and Water

In extreme heat conditions you will have to water your plants everyday or they will dry out. Some vegetables in containers may even require twice a day, as they dry out easier. Watering during these conditions, spare not a single drop. They will be thirsty and the water will dry out before the day is over. For people in a drought condition that have water use restrictions in place, first I recommend having a rain barrel in order to collect as much water as possible to give you a buffer from using city water.

Get a Tree!

Temperatures in the shade can be up to 25 degrees F cooler, and could mean the difference between a great harvest and an okay one. Moving your plants into a cooler section of the yard is a surefire way to help prevent overheating. A natural and free way to do this is to place them under a tree and use the natural shade provided. The tree works great for a container gardener but what about an inground and immovable garden? Shade cloth will be a good option for you.

Shade Cloth

A commercially available resource to you is shade cloth. Providing the same service of a tree without having to 10 years for the shade to show up. The best part about using shade cloth is that you can build it in any shape or height you would like. The only limit is how much room you have to place it down. Most shade tents are built using half-circle piping as the frame with the cloth attached to it.

Beat the Heat

High temperatures can ruin a growing season, as the gardener being prepared for them is part of the hobby. If you want to grow plants it goes further than just planting them in the ground. Caring for the plants and nurturing them to give you the best harvest possible should be your goal. In caring for the plants that we decide to grow we are putting our hopes and intentions out into the world which can bring about some crazy positive change.

If you found the article interesting or helpful in anyway please share it to Facebook or any other social media outlet as it helps me out tremendously.

Keep mother nature alive and prospering, your own livelihood depends on it.

I am an affiliate and links located throughout the article will provide me with a commission on any purchases made.

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Myers Greens is a nursery located in southwest Iowa. With the main goal of providing top quality microgreens and fresh herbs. Follow the blog to keep up to date on what we are growing.

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Wabash Trace Forage Walk – Learning Foraging Skills In Rural Iowa

Plant identification is crucial to anyone looking to forage for their own food or medicine. Knowing what to look for will make the difference between a soothing cup of tea or hospital visit.

In an effort to expand my own knowledge and meet others in the community with like minded ideas, my wife and I went to the Wabash Trace Forage Walk. With the promise of teaching us to identify common plants and helpful weeds we headed out to learn anything we could.

All photos on the trail were provided by Bur Oak Photo.

This post is a less knowledge based and more of the experience we enjoyed while attending this event. There are interview questions our guide was kind enough to answer below. I hope you like it!

Our Guide

Jamie Smidt is a lifelong gardener and herbalist located in South West Iowa. For anyone interested in learning more her she is willing to help anyone located in the region.


Before we get started, Jamie was kind enough to allow me to ask her some questions. She was a wonderful guide, my wife and I learned a tremendous amount from her and have a thirst for more knowledge. Here is what she has to say:

Interview with an Herbalist

How did you get into herbalism and gardening and was there anything that pushed you further into the field?

“My dad is a nurseryman (tree farmer) and vegetable grower, and my mom cans all fall, so I grew up in an atmosphere where plants were and still are my family’s livelihood. Admittedly my teenage self did not always find this exciting.”

“However, when I left home and went to college all I wanted to do was learn and talk about plants. I studied native plants and ecology as well as how agriculture relates to community at the University of Montana in Missoula. I also worked at a large, well-stocked nursery all through school. Fortunately, Missoula has a really nice herb store that at the time was owned by a husband and wife herbalist team. I took several series of classes from them. I have been been lucky to have many plant mentors that I have pressed for information in the last few decades.”

“While I love all things horticulture my favorite aspect is how plants relate to community and human health. Besides an inherent desire to learn about plants I was also driven to expand my herbal knowledge because it is largely a free or inexpensive method of maintaining health. Nourishing plants are easily accessible to most people. They grow in abandoned lots, urban green spaces and even in sidewalk cracks.”

What was the name of the digger tool that you had recommended on the walk and are there any other tools that someone foraging would find very useful?

“My favorite digging tool is called a Hori Hori knife. Specifically, my favorite Hori Hori knife is the A.M. Leonard brand knife. A.M. Leonard refers to it as the classic stainless-steel soil knife. I use it for digging holes and weeding. Also it has a serrated edge which I use it for cutting root balls when I divide perennials.  It is very durable. The orange handle makes it easy to find when you set it down in a pile of weeds. Besides the Hori Hori knife, I would be lost without a pair of Fiskars scissors and my beloved Felco #2 pruners.”

What does being an herbalist mean to you?

“Being an herbalist does not have to be complicated. You don’t have to grow up in the industry, or pursue a degree in the field, although some do. Herbalism is something that our ancestors used for nourishment and survival. A mother putting a plantain poultice on their child’s sting is herbalism. For me being an herbalist means benefiting from the use of plants in any capacity. Sometimes I need to use a tincture to relieve pain or stress, sometimes I simply need to sit against an old tree and take deep breaths. I think my personal journey as an herbalist involves teaching others. I like to share my knowledge.”

Do you have any favorite or 2nd favorite public foraging spots?

“Although it’s not a public spot my favorite place to forage is my yard. I don’t use chemicals and I have an abundance of nutritious “weeds” such as violets, dandelion and clover.  We keep our weeds mowed in and I think it looks really pretty. Our yard stays green all summer, even when we’ve received inadequate moisture. I also take advantage of the abundance of herbs that grow at Waubonsie State Park.  When harvesting on state property I don’t dig anything unless it is considered a nuisance weed like burdock.  And I only harvest non-native species or species that grow back with vigor when cut such as nettle, chickweed or motherwort.”

Do you have any advice or tips that you would give to a person just starting out foraging and using nature more in their household?

“Start out using plants that you are already familiar with. You don’t have to be fancy. Adding a few dandelion leaves to your salad, or picking blackberries is foraging.  Slowly add to your plant knowledge by picking a plant that interests you and learning about it. One of my many plant mentors taught me that learning a few plants well is far more valuable than learning 50 plants only on the surface.”

Heading out

Armed with a guide and our best stompin’ shoes, the 20+ of us that attended set off on the Wabash Trace Nature Trail to see what we could find or get into. Our starting point was the trail head located in Imogene. A quiet little town in the corner of Iowa with a proud Irish heritage, definitely worth the weekend drive if you want to see a slice of heaven.

Wabash Trace Nature Trail

The trail is a converted railroad right-of-way running 63 miles over 72 bridges in South West Iowa.

The Wabash Trace depends entirely on the efforts of the private citizens who built, maintain, and manage the trail.

To join SWINT, volunteer, or schedule group events on the trail, head over to their website at www.wabashtrace.org.

While monetary donations are a great way to give, consider donating time on the trail to enhance and restore nature itself.

What’s this? What’s that? Can I eat it?

The question “What’s this?” was asked quite a few times, each of which was met with an enthusiastic and complete answer that ended with everyone having a better idea of what we just pulled from the ground. One of the most enjoyable aspects about this event was that everyone present had a beginner’s mind. No questions were too off the wall or considered silly in this group. A good time with everyone wanting to learn more.

Yellow Woodsorrel, more information on this delectable plant from Gardening Know How.

On the trail

With Jamie in front of the group, ready to dive off the path and grab something to show us, we all followed along as she talked about the various plants and wildlife right in front of our faces. The main focus of this walk was to identify plants that can fill a medicinal role. As we all walked the path the wildlife that was present scurried about in the shadows. A lone raccoon made an appearance ahead of the group, and immediately turned tail back into the underbrush.


Some of the plants that were covered included common weeds like nettles and dandelions. Nettle tea offers a great variety of potential benefits which include: Health improvements to the urinary tract and can also help reduce the pain and inflammation from osteoarthritis. This same plant has shown exciting potential for the treatment of breast cancer and prostate cancer through the use of the nettle’s polyphenols. All of this from a WEED!


Polyphenols occur naturally, can have antioxidant properties, and are more generally found in fruits, vegetables, cereals, dry legumes, chocolate, and some beverages, oils, and spices. UT SouthWestern Medical Center covers the benefits and foods that are high in polyphenols here.

Describing the benefits of nettle, ways to harvest, and uses for all parts of the plant.

If you want to learn more about nettle tea, www.healthline.com covers the benefits of drinking this awesome little concoction.

A wide variety of the plants covered in this walk are available in your backyard. While foraging can be very beneficial a possible grave danger of it is wrongly identifying a plant. One of the common plants around our region that can be mistaken for a beneficial plant is poison hemlock. Easily distinguishable from a wild carrot by the purple splotching on the stem.

Poison Hemlock

Identifying poison hemlock could save your life. Poison hemlock is a widespread toxic biennial plant in the Carrot Family often found in open sunny areas, fields, vacant lots, and on roadsides. Eating even a small amount of any part of this plant can kill people, livestock, and wildlife.

How to identify

Poison-hemlock stems have reddish or purple spots and streaks, are not hairy, and are hollow. Leaves are bright green, fern-like, finely divided, toothed on edges and have a strong musty odor when crushed. Flowers are tiny, white and arranged in small, umbrella-shaped clusters on ends of branched stems.


Poison hemlock appears exactly like a wild carrot or Queen Anne’s Lace a distinctive difference between them is the purple splotching located throughout the stem.

Symptoms of ingestion

The typical symptoms for humans include dilation of the pupils, dizziness, and trembling followed by slowing of the heartbeat, paralysis of the central nervous system, muscle paralysis, and death due to respiratory failure.

For animals, symptoms include nervous trembling, salivation, lack of coordination, pupil dilation, rapid weak pulse, respiratory paralysis, coma, and sometimes death.

For both people and animals, quick treatment can reverse the harm and typically there aren’t noticeable aftereffects. If you suspect poisoning from this plant, call for help immediately because the toxins are fast-acting – for people, call 911 or poison-control at 1-800-222-1222 or for animals, call your veterinarian.


Always wear gloves and protective clothing if working with poison hemlock as all parts of this plant are toxic. Do not burn plants due to the toxins within plant parts. Also, due to the plants toxicity, do not allow animals to graze live or dead poison hemlock plants.

Digging up small infestations and removing the entire taproot is effective. Mowing is ineffective as plants will re-sprout, sending up new stalks in the same season mowing occurs. Toxins will remain potent in dried plant material.

Never put pulled plants in the compost or leave them where children or livestock might eat them. Removed pulled plants from site, bag and put in the trash. Monitor sites for resprouts and seedlings as seeds will readily germinate on disturbed ground.

On the way back

A little under two hours later, we began heading back. The plants we had identified along the way began to pop out of the surrounding landscape as if they didn’t exist before. Slowing down and “smelling the roses” or in this case the Urtica dioica really does open your eyes to the things going on at your feet.

After the walk was over emails and phone numbers were exchanged in the hopes of having more events like this one. Please, if you are interested in learning more about herbalism, plants, or nature in general let it be known. People want to teach and other people want to help them teach, they just need to know who the students are.

As a gardener and plant enthusiast I really enjoyed this walk and know I will use this knowledge again and again. The ability for us to use and thrive from the land while enriching it is important to our well-being and the well-being of the planet.

Where can I find more events like this one?

This event was coordinated by the Wabash Trace Nature Trail located in Shenandoah and Golden Hills Resource Conservation and Development located in Oakland.

Golden Hills RC&D’s mission is to collaboratively develop and lead community, conservation, and cultural initiatives to improve our quality of life in rural western Iowa.

This event was sponsored by the Fremont County Tourism Committee as part of the ‘Fremont County Outdoor Adventures’ series.

Fremont County Conservation Board

Golden Hills Resource Conservation and Development
Fremont County Conservation Board

If you found the article interesting or helpful in anyway please share it to Facebook or any other social media outlet as it helps me out tremendously.

Keep mother nature alive and prospering, your own livelihood depends on it.

I am an affiliate and links located throughout the article will provide me with a commission on any purchases made. No links in this article are associated with an affiliate account.

More from the blog

Myers Greens LLC

Myers Greens is a nursery located in southwest Iowa. With the main goal of providing top quality microgreens and fresh herbs. Follow the blog to keep up to date on what we are growing.

Who We Are


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Historical Forest Gardens – Human-made improvements that stood the test of time

Indigenous forest gardens that have not been managed for over 150 years are still standing and thriving with life. These gardens have been resistant to the advances of the surrounding conifer forests and continued to provide a vibrant feeding ground for wildlife long after the indigenous people were forced from them in the 1800s.

With the findings located here, Chelsey Armstrong & Team1 have pointed out that the indigenous forests greatly improved the plant and functional trait diversity.

“We find that forest gardens have substantially greater plant and functional trait diversity than periphery forests even more than 150 years after management ceased. Forests managed by Indigenous peoples in the past now provide diverse resources and habitat for animals and other pollinators and are more rich than naturally forested ecosystems.”

1Armstrong, C., J. Miller, A. C. McAlvay, P. M. Ritchie, and D. Lepofsky. 2021. Historical Indigenous Land-Use Explains Plant Functional Trait Diversity. Ecology and Society 26(2):6.

Plant Functional Traits

Plant functional traits are plant core attributes closely related to plant colonization, survival, growth and mortality. These core attributes could significantly affect ecosystem functions and reflect the response of vegetation to environmental change.


The beginnings of these forest gardens date back centuries. The “tribal” knowledge and application of these farming methods if forgotten, would be a great loss to society.

In the mid 18th century the surrounding forest would have been teeming with life and vegetation and would have supported the expansion of the local tribes. By adding to the locally available plant life through propagation, the indigenous population understood the many benefits that were to be had. One way was by adding more fruit bearing bushes, doing so created a more abundant source of food in two ways. One as a nutritious berry for consumption, and two as a added attraction to wildlife it creates an ideal hunting ground.

Photo by Johannes Plenio from Pexels

The recent discovery of non-native fruit bearing trees to this region are what prompted the research team to dive deeper. Upon arriving they noted over 15 species of fruit and nut bearing plants that did not naturally occur there. The evidence points to early propagation of select plants that led to the longevity and survivability of these gardens.

Early Discovery

The explosion of the fur trade drove a lot of business and people to the Pacific Northwest in the early 1800s. Most notably of them to arrive by land, were the explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Lewis and Clark’s expedition and writings were important and still are to this day. Find more information on Lewis and Clark at History.com.

Lewis and Clark’s Expedition Path

Prior to the arrival of Europeans, Native Americans did know epidemic type disease. Therefore they did not have any immunity to the various diseases being brought into their society. Just as a tribe would recover from an outbreak, another would occur. This was happening just as non-Native American colonizers were eying the territory. While in this weakened state the local people had a diminished ability to resist colonization.

Find more on the information on the history of the Pacific Northwest at Washtington.edu. This lesson covers a wide variety of topics on the Native American Tribes in the Pacific Northwest in the 1800s.

What makes a forest garden work?

In a forest there different levels of light and growing conditions based on where you are in the forest. The canopy or the tall trees that stretch far and wide are getting the full sun. The vining plants, which fall into a range between the other two, as they grow in the shade but up to the light. The third layer is the ground plants, these plants are adapted to growing in the shade provided by the canopy.

The right combination of plants can live together in a very symbiotic relationship while benefiting all creatures and humans a-like. Having a wide variety of herbaceous and fruit bearing plants will give bugs and predator’s ample places to hide and hunt.

How big can they be?

The size of a forest garden can range from ~50 sqft. to as big as you can picture a forest. The amount of potential located within this garden is tremendous. Being able to feed your family while feeding and enriching the surrounding lands, no matter the size that’s a huge difference. Plant that garden!

For a smaller size forest garden, it is recommended that you do not plant any larger trees as they will shade the entire area and not leave room for any other plants to grow. It is recommended to plant a dwarf variety or smaller spreading tree to allow everything a chance.

What makes them so resilient?

The resilience of forest gardens comes from the diverse nature of the plant life. If you have filled every role (climber, groundcover, and canopy) in your garden with a specific plant then other plants will have a difficult time getting a foothold. Minor weeds and other plant life may pop up from time to time but given a full forest garden arsenal they shouldn’t stand a chance.

How do they improve the biodiversity around them?

Wildlife is no stranger to a gardener, we have all seen an animal hopping over the fence with our prized radish(or something similar). Through planting a wide variety of plants you are increasing the available food sources not only for yourself but for the wildlife around you. The thought of planting a little extra will go a long ways in this garden as it will be a safe haven for critters and other life. Another added benefit is that with most of the plant roles filled in a specific area noxious weeds cannot grab hold and take over.

How to make your own

Designing and Planning

Planning and Designing a forest garden is going to take a little more thought into the future than a yearly vegetable garden. You have to use your imagination while planning this one out, how big will those trees get? how much room do I have? will this tree grow on a north facing hill?

All of these questions and many more need to be answered before you buy your first seed or tree. Without planning it out your garden may make it to year 2 or 3 before you realize “Oh! That tree is getting really big.”

As you visualize your garden I find it best to draw out your area. You will want to start by planning your bigger plants, aka your trees first.

Throughout this section I am using an example that is 36′ x 20′, 720sqft. Changing the dimensions of this project to 18′ x 20′ would come at the sacrifice of one of the canopy trees.

Downloadable Garden Grid Paper

Canopy Trees

Choosing the right trees for your canopy is just as crucial as picking the right plants for the rest of the garden. The choice of tree is going to need to be a full sun (6-8 hours a day), with a wide canopy opening. Some varieties that work great are walnut, chestnut, apple, and pear trees. Depending on your space the chestnut tree may grow too large and require trimming to ensure a straight growth. This would help ensure the plants at ground level receive enough light.

Mid-level trees and plants

At this level we have lower lying tree which could serve as your canopy if you are rocking a smaller forest garden. Some of the trees in the area of the forest would be mulberry, almond, apricot, and peach. All of those are fruit or nut bearing trees, planting with those harvests in mind can help make a meal go a long way. A few shrubs really shine in this territory as well. Blueberry, rose, hazelnut, and dozens of others will work well in this location.

Choosing your shrubs and fruiting trees is where the gardeners innovation and creativeness can come out. While in this stage you can mold and shape your garden to cater to a wide variety of food needs in the future. If you know you like using blueberries then plant a swathe of blueberry bushes. Or if you aim is to attract pollinators then plant a beautiful flower bush such as roses or a butterfly bush.

We are going to use a combination of curant or gooseberry, silverberries, and cranberries as our windrow and fruiting mid level perimeter. Adding a natural border to your garden such as this can make the whole garden feel larger, as though it is without an end in sight and you really are in the middle of a forest. With a height of around 5′ – 10′ and mostly thick brambles it will provide a great shelter for the ground cover plants.

This combination of shrub and berry plants provides you with a very versatile cooking list. Silverberry branches are thick which makes them great for basket weaving, and the birds love them too!

Herbs and your garden

Now for this section we have added 2 garden beds that should be large enough to hold any of the normal garden variety plants such as tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, or any full sun plants as they are next to the south facing opening.

Another option is to see how the sunlight is laying in your garden once the trees are fully grown. There may be other options for a garden bed that got overlooked. For a vegetable garden full sun is usually the go to. I recommend making sure of whatever you want to grow will survive where its planted.

Ground Cover!

Next up we get the filler. Ample ground cover will prevent weeds and other plants from invading your perfect little garden. Many ground cover plants can be beneficial as well. Clover, strawberries, nasturtiums, and creeping thyme all make great covers. Personally I would a 2 or 3 types to ensure all year coverage. Or segment it to create a pretty effect in a natural looking garden.

Limitless possibilities

The idea behind this example is to get some ideas going in your head. My garden is not perfect and has a lot of rooms for improvement. I am going to love planting my own forest garden in the near future. With added benefit of providing for wildlife, and having my own sanctuary to retreat to, I know planting one would be worth it.

It may take years to establish but the science has proven that your forest garden, if planted properly, will outlive you!

If you found the article interesting or helpful in anyway please share it to Facebook or any other social media outlet as it helps me out tremendously.

Keep mother nature alive and prospering, your own livelihood depends on it.

I am an affiliate and links located throughout the article will provide me with a commission on any purchases made.

More from the blog

Myers Greens LLC

Myers Greens is a nursery located in southwest Iowa. With the main goal of providing top quality microgreens and fresh herbs. Follow the blog to keep up to date on what we are growing.

Who We Are


Follow Us


Starting your own microgreens and tips on growing

Learning to grow your own food is fun, affordable, and rewarding. Microgreens are one of the best ways to be introduced to gardening as it is small scale and the harvest is relatively quick. As most gardeners know, getting that first harvest is very inspiring for the seasons to come and can blossom into a life long passion.

Affiliate links are located throughout this article.

Starting your own microgreens can be as easy or, as difficult as you would like to make it. From hydroponic setups with in-line fertilizers to growing them on a paper towel in your window, microgreens can be grown using a wide variety of methods. In this article we will be closer to the paper towel and soil end of the spectrum.

If you are interested in learning more about hydroponic systems, I recommend watching this video by On The Grow.

Where to start

Being in the internet age almost anything is deliverable in a few days or more. The same can be said about microgreens. If you wanted start growing microgreens by the end of the week place an order today! Growing microgreens is a simple process that can also take time to master.

Ready to harvest broccoli microgreens

You have a few options when choosing the soil and water method. You can purchase all of the pieces individually, this is recommended if you intend on growing consistently and want to save money. However, if you wanted to just try growing microgreens, a kit would come in handy. Kits are covered in a later section of the article.

Build your own kit

It’s similar to Build-a-bear but different. Your first time placing an order it is best to create a list and think out everything you might need. Nothing like going to sow your seeds and come to find out you don’t have something. Trays, soil, water, seeds, and a sunny spot or grow light are the basics anymore than that and you’re just having fun.


The amount of seeds available to you by doing this method are only limited by what you think would make a good microgreen. Choosing what types of microgreens to grow can be so much fun. Most seed distributors will describe the microgreen flavor and texture on their websites. If you are curious about some of the ones we offer at Myers Greens check out our Products page.

1000s of seeds or headaches right there

How many seeds should you buy? I would start with a 1 oz. or 4 oz. pack, unless you are sure you will grow them all. Nothing like buying 4 lbs. of seed and only using 2 trays worth in 6 months. Here are the seeds I recommend starting with when growing microgreens as they are easy to grow and produce a good harvest.

Broccoli Microgreens- 1 Oz ~1000 Seeds – G…

Broccoli Microgreens Seeds. Broccoli microgreens have high sulforaphane content, are da… [More]

Price: $4.63
Seeds: Speckled Pea Sprouting – 1 Lb – Org…

Certified Organic. Non-GMO. Speckled peas are particularly fine for pea shoot (microgre… [More]

Price: $8.18
Black Oil Sunflower: 4 Oz ~6,400 Seeds – S…

Conventional. Whole (Shell On) Non-GMO. Sunflower sprouts and microgreens have a nutty … [More]

Price: $4.71


Starting out, I recommend using two trays. One with drainage holes and one without. The one with holes will hold your soil and seeds. The bottom tray or watering tray is where you will water your microgreens from once they germinate.

Purchasing a sturdy tray that isn’t too large is important. Over time I have noticed that deeper setting trays break more easily and have a lot of excess soil post-harvest. I switched from a 2.5″ deep tray to a 1.5″ and have noticed wonders of improvement in strength of the tray. The shallower tray also allows for more trays to be stacked in a smaller location, saving space as well.

The trays you purchase are going to be an investment that will be used countless times. I highly recommend spending the extra $10 USD on better trays. True Leaf Market Offers a deeper tray available here.

Gorgeous purple radish leaves

To see these trays in action check out our video on sowing purple radish microgreens.

Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire(Sun) needed

Yay! We get to get dirty! The soil mixture you use for your microgreens is vital to their growth. They are only “alive” and growing for 7-21 days and need quite a bit of root structure. Some soil mixes may be too loose and not provide the roots enough to grab onto and establish themselves.

A tried and true soil recipe I use is: 4 parts coco coir and 1 parts vermiculite. I have grown almost all of my microgreens in this mixture with great success. The coco coir is inert and void of the fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides usually found in potting mixes available at hardware stores. They are still a viable option, and work very well.

The shortened life of these plants makes fertilizers not necessary and may damage your harvest crop. The microgreen grows by using what nutrients are available in the cotyledons or first leaves. These leaves release a rapid burst of energy and shoot up to get a good sunspot among its competitors. Without a sturdy foundation the roots would not be able to support this growth.

Lettuce Microgreens

After the blackout period is over and your seedlings have emerged, they will be looking for those sweet golden rays of sun. Or maybe the purple red glow of that grow lamp.

Either way they will require adequate sunlight. These little plants only have so much energy to expend before they have to start pulling from the soil. If they spend it looking for light it my not have the flavor or aroma you are looking for. Also the appearance of stringy microgreens is not very appetizing.

Grower House offers a wide variety of LED grow lights. These are a great option as they are low on the electricity bill and last for a long time.


They drink a lot of water and will require you to water them every 1 – 2 days depending on how dry your environment is.

Microgreens that are lacking in water will begin showing signs by shriveling up and then drying out completely. Once they begin to bend over and dry out, I have found it is best to toss the tray and start over. The sacrifices of all those plants were for the good cause of R&D. o7

Dun Peas on day 2 after the blackout period

Air flow

Having a good air flow across your microgreens has quite a few benefits. Most of which are vital to the healthy growth and edibility of them. Placing an oscillating fan or having air circulation is no secret in the gardening world, but why is it so important for microgreens?

Moving air assists the microgreens is producing sturdy stems as the air pushes past the stem has a sort of resistance training against it. This helps it produce a thicker stalk and won’t fall as easy in transport. The other added benefit is mold prevention. Mold can be very tricky when growing 1000s of seeds in a dark damp tiny space. The air adds to the protection of that by keeping the leaves and emerging microgreens dryer and not giving mold or other bacterial growth a chance.

Pre-packaged Kits

True Leaf Market offers a variety of microgreen kits, which includes the following:

  • Grow Container (4.5 inch diameter, 1.5 inches deep)
  • Humidity Lid
  • Pre-measured Soil Puck (just add water to reconstitute)
  • Mist Sprayer
  • Pre-measured Organic Seed Packet
  • Detailed Instructions

The seed choices available are Radish, Mustard, Salad Mix, Sunflower, Arugula, and Pea Shoots. I have personally grown all of these, except the Arugula with every intention to try them soon. All of these kits are shown below with description, a link to the product page, and the price.

Once your kit arrives, follow the instruction packet and within 7-21 days you will be eating some enjoyable microgreens. I have not heard any complaints about these kits and think they are a great way to try growing your own food.

True Leaf Market Microgreen Kits

Mini Microgreens Growing Kit – Radish – Gr…

These single serve mini microgreens kits are a fun and inexpensive way to start growing… [More]

Price: $6.77
Mini Microgreens Growing Kit – Mustard – G…

These single serve mini microgreens kits are a fun and inexpensive way to start growing… [More]

Price: $6.77
Mini Microgreens Growing Kit – Salad Mix -…

These single serve mini microgreens kits are a fun and inexpensive way to start growing… [More]

Price: $6.77
Mini Microgreens Growing Kit – Sunflower -…

These single serve mini microgreens kits are a fun and inexpensive way to start growing… [More]

Price: $6.77
Mini Microgreens Growing Kit – Arugula – G…

These single serve mini microgreens kits are a fun and inexpensive way to start growing… [More]

Price: $6.77
Mini Microgreens Growing Kit – Pea Shoots …

These single serve mini microgreens kits are a fun and inexpensive way to start growing… [More]

Price: $6.77

Reviews from TLM

Growing your own Food!

Growing microgreens is a great way to be introduced to the process of early plant life. With the rapid growth and excitement being proportional as you watch these hard chargers climb for the light, it makes a great experiment for kids as well. Watching 100s of seeds emerge overnight can be pretty awe inspiring. So if you are growing for eating, science, or just something to do, hopefully you can get started with a leg up.

If you found the article interesting or helpful in anyway please share it to Facebook or any other social media outlet as it helps me out tremendously.

Keep mother nature alive and prospering, your own livelihood depends on it.

I am an affiliate and links located throughout the article will provide me with a commission on any purchases made.

More from the blog

Myers Greens LLC

Myers Greens is a nursery located in southwest Iowa. With the main goal of providing top quality microgreens and fresh herbs. Follow the blog to keep up to date on what we are growing.

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The “Three Sisters” and how you can use them today

The “Three Sisters” or milpa are an agricultural system with origins dating back to Mesoamerica. Native Americans developed this method using mostly corn, beans, and squash. Through a very symbiotic relationship(companion planting) all three of these crops flourish creating a natural biodiversity that can improve soil quality. Using the more advanced farming techniques a surplus of crops was produced, this allowed for a rapid population explosion along the entire Mississippi River, as a result the Mississippian and Mvskoke cultures were born .


The “Three Sisters” or milpa got the name from the way that these three plants live harmoniously together and thrive off of one another, much in the way the Native Americans saw the bond and connection between Sisters.

The Corn or Eldest Sister offers the younger sisters support as they grow and usually do in a family. The pole beans or Giving Sister pulls nitrogen from the air and places it into the soil for the benefit of all. Giving the corn much needed nutrients. The squash fills an important role using its large leaves as ground cover and prickly vines as protection from bugs. The ground cover creates a micro climate in which the plants thrive. The three sisters live together by supporting each other.

A bigger role to fill

The Iroquois started using the Three Sisters method c. 1300 ad. The “Three Sisters” filled a nutritional and spiritual role for the Native Americans. The three vegetables provided a balanced diet while also being a gift from the gods. Always to be grown, eaten, and celebrated together to honor the offering.

One of the steps to crops you see today

The modern day plants you see today are not the same ones used to develop the beginnings of this method, in order to talk about that we need to go back to 11,000 – 4,000 years ago in Mesoamerica. Around 11,000 years ago a sudden climate shift changed current day Mexico from a cold/dry place to a hot/wet environment. This change kick started the domestication of some of the earliest plants, squash being the first to be “gardened” around 10,000 years ago. After squash by about 3,000 years maize was cultivated. The viability for corn to replace foraging wasn’t possible until around 2,600 years ago thanks to the size of the harvest increasing. This is much like beans, the bean size increased very quickly once humans learned to cultivate this crop around 5,000 years ago.

The knowledge of these crop cultivation and farming techniques would continue to travel up north into present day Texas, Mississippi, and New Mexico to various Native American Tribes. Similar farming techniques can be seen throughout most of the tribes with differing climates accounting for the difference in crop selections. An additional two sisters were added in the Southwest regions of the United States to account for the harsh summer sun. Those sisters are Sunflowers and Amaranth. The sunflowers provide shade while the amaranth provides flowers for pollinators and additional climbing posts for the beans.

Construction, Layout, and Planning

A “Three Sisters” garden is not limited to one or two layouts. The three plants can be placed in any fashion while following these rules, the beans need something to climb(the corn). Also the squash needs room to sprawl out(18″-24″ apart). Not accounting for how the plants will look in the future months may spell out disaster.

A method for a three sisters garden is constructing a flat-top mound that is 10″-14″ high by 18″-24″ wide. Plant your corn and beans in the center alternating so each Corn has 1 or 2 bean plants. Your squash will be planted along the outside edge at 24″ wide you would have ~3 squash plants per mound. Here is a layout and picture of this type of garden.

The mound plays a major role in the moist months of the year. By allowing for additional air flow and better drainage it helps prevent root rot or the water logging of your plants.

Basic Three Sisters Layout
Basic Three Sisters Garden Layout

B = Beans C = Corn S = Squash

Other Layouts with the Three Sisters in mind

Keep in mind the spacing required for all of your plants while planning. Proper planning can save you loads of time in the future and give you the chance to reap the fruits or vegetables of your labor.

Things to consider when planning
  • Closely planted plants require a large amount of water in order to survive, if you live in a drier climate I recommend checking for shorter growth time plants as well as spacing your sisters apart more. The Navajo Nation in the Southwest would space plants further apart in order to conserve water during the hot summer months.
  • Ensure you get a climbing bean and not a bushing bean. Using a bushing bean will cause a competition to occur between the squash and beans.
  • Tall corn is a necessity for this same reason. If you use a shorter corn the beans may overtake it and possibly prevent and harvest.

What type of plants do I need

When choosing your varieties ensure that they all have around the same light and water requirements, attempting to plant something that requires very little water next to a water reliant corn stalk may cause issues when either a) your cornstalk dries out or b) the beans or squash get waterlogged. Covering each crop individually will help in the selection process with recommended varieties for each type.


Sweet Corn, Dent Corn, and Popcorn are all good choices.

The corn needs to be a taller growing variety with a stronger stalk to support the added weight of the beanstalks. Sweet Corn, dent corn, and popcorn are all good choices. If you are living in a warmer climate it is recommended that you plant no later than April 15th in order to allow for your corn to pollinate prior to becoming sterile in the hot summer months. If this is not feasible then recommend planting a corn that harvests in around 60 days.

Corn Seeds

Corn Seeds – Stowells Evergreen, Vegetable…

Grow Heirloom Corn – Plant Stowells Evergreen Corn Seeds Here is your chance to grow a … [More]

Price: $7.75
Corn Seeds – Jubilee, Vegetable Seeds, Ede…

Jubilee Corn Perhaps the best variety for freezing and preserving, Jubilee Corn offers … [More]

Price: $10.95
Corn Seeds – Bilicious, Vegetable Seeds, E…

Bilicious is an exemplary bi – colored sweet corn that is renowned for being an excelle… [More]

Price: $9.50


Common pole beans such as Scarlet Runner or Italian Snap should work. The ‘Ohio Pole Bean’ is our favorite.If you’d like to try native varieties, look for Four Corners Gold Beans or Hopi Light Yellow.

Farmers Almanac

You need a pole bean, not a bushing bean. Also when selecting your bean ensure it is not too vigorous of a climber as it will pull your cornstalk down before it is established. The Farmer’s Almanac covers beans pretty well in this article on the Three Sisters.

Searching on True Leaf Market or Eden Brothers for the right type of bean seed can be like picking out a new car. Go look for yourself at the amount of varieties.

You will want a summer (zucchini) or winter (hubbard) squash. On another note pumpkins may appear to fit into this category however, the pumpkins themselves are too heavy for a three sisters garden and would do better in a separate field.
Squash Seeds

Squash (Winter) Seeds – Hubbard Blue, Vege…

Heirloom “Blue Hubbard” Winter Squash SeedsBlue Hubbard is a traditional heirloom winte… [More]

Price: $3.95
Squash (Winter) Seeds – Hubbard Golden, Ve…

Heirloom “Golden Hubbard” Winter Squash SeedsThis one is a stunning sub – variety of th… [More]

Price: $3.95
Squash (Summer) Seeds – Dark Green Zucchin…

Grow Heirloom Zucchini Squash – Plant Dark Green Zucchini Squash SeedsA vegetable garde… [More]

Price: $3.95

How to Plant

Planting your three sisters in the correct order is almost completely necessary. Corn, Beans, Squash that is the order. The time frames are laid out down below. The key things to look out for is the corn needs to be sturdy enough by the time the beans decide to crawl all over it. If your corn isn’t strong enough the stalk will snap. Planting your squash too early can prevent your other plants from getting the sunlight they require. Squash leaves are large and can take over an area fairly quick.

Check with your local extension office for more region specifics on how and when to plant.

All of these plants are best directly sown into your garden as it will help the root structures establish themselves from the get go.

Planting Steps
  1. Plant your corn once the danger of frost has passed, usually it is safe to plant by Mother’s Day. Check your local agricultural extension office for exact dates. If you live in a warmer region it is recommended you plant your corn prior to April 15th, this will allow enough time for the corn to pollinate before becoming sterile in the hot and dry summer months.
  2. After 2-3 weeks have passed or your corn is 6″ or taller then plant your beans. The corn needs to be able to support them as soon as they vine.
  3. After another week and the beans have emerged plant your squash. It is important that squash is last or it can block sunlight from your other plants.

Each of these crops pollinates in a different way. Depending on how many plants are available the corn can self pollinate. If this is the method you are going for it is recommended to have at least 10 – 20 corn plants. Beans are self-pollinators except they will produce with just one plant. Squash uses more natural means of insects and other pollinators to get the job done. One thing you can do to ensure you have a good squash harvest is to plant vibrant flowers around your garden to attract as many pollinators as possible.

Honey Bee – A busy insect with a lot to offer

Honey bees, are what I believe to be a very important insect to the plant and animal kingdoms, definitely including humans. Around 1/3 of the food Americans eat is pollinated by honey bees. Keep reading to dive into almost everything related to honey bees and amaze your friends with a compendium of knowledge at your…

Keep reading
Rewarding and Fun

Growing a “Three Sisters” garden can be fun and fruitful if done right. Proper planning when it comes to location, seed type, and goals can lead to a successful first harvest. While researching for this article I have learned a tremendous amount about the history and origins of these sisters. During one rabbit hole I found myself reading about indigenous tribes in Africa using the same type of methods with different crops. Remembering the past is important, learning from it and using it are life.

I am an affiliate and links located throughout the article will provide me with a commission on any purchases made.

More from the blog

Myers Greens LLC

Myers Greens is a nursery located in southwest Iowa. With the main goal of providing top quality microgreens and fresh herbs. Follow the blog to keep up to date on what we are growing.

Who We Are


Follow Us


Hummingbirds, a lovely fast flying creature with some quirks

A magnificent flyer and beautiful creature, the hummingbird got its name from the humming noise that can be heard as it is flapping its wings. With wings that can beat from 8 to 80 beats per second, while maintaining flight and head control, truly a wonder. The awe from watching a hummingbird fly is like watching an alien species take flight in your backyard.

Featured Image by Brigitte makes custom works from your photos, thanks a lot from Pixabay

A Unique Species

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Excellent fliers

With the ability to fly forwards, backwards, sideways, and any other way you can think of, other birds appear clumsy after watching these wonders. With the flight style more of an insect than a bird the first time seeing one of these may require a second look.

Wide variety of species

With 360 species of hummingbirds in existence today the variety of color and habitats spans most of the western hemisphere. A majority of the population lives near the equatorial belt between 10ºN and 10ºS.

Photo by Frank Cone on Pexels.com

Hummingbirds have the highest metabolic rate of all species with the exception of insects. While flying the hummingbirds heart rate can beat up to 1,260 beats per minute, with a breathing rate of 250 breaths per minute. The oxygen consumption per gram of muscle tissue is 10% higher than that of an elite human athlete. That is a lot!

Through a balanced diet and method called torpor, the hummingbird has figured out the right way to maintain the insanely high rate of energy burnt while surviving. Torpor is similar to an animal going into hibernation state, in hummingbirds this process is used to conserve energy. They will go into this state at night, cutting the energy consumed to 1/15 of normal function by lowering all physiological activities.

Maintaining the right mixture of bugs and nectar is vital to this process. Hummingbirds need a little different mixture of minerals and vitamins than we do as humans. Find out what they eat in the next section.

Hummingbird Diet

Knowing what food hummingbirds enjoy eating will only increase your chances of attracting this beautiful fast winged flyer to your yard. If you are able to attract the food source the animal will come.

Photo by Frank Cone on Pexels.com
Insects, spiders, and larvae

So what do they eat? Of course most people already know nectar, but did you know hummingbirds enjoy munching on larvae, smaller insects and spiders. An adult hummingbird will eat up to two dozen insects a day, possibly more if they are in for a long migration or feeding little ones. Insects provide the bird with fat, salts, and much needed protein that cannot be found in nectar.


While floral nectar is scarce, hummingbirds will use taps drilled by woodpeckers to get sap. The tree sap isn’t as sweet as the regular flower diet however, it will get them by in a “sticky” situation.


Some varieties of hummingbirds have been known to eat on juicy fruits, they may attract the hummingbirds. However, in our neck of the woods you would get more flies than anything.

Photo by Philippe Donn on Pexels.com

How to attract hummingbirds

1. Plant a garden

The best and most ecological friendly way is find native flowering plants high in nectar and plant a large garden, attracting mother nature to your backyard.

Yarrow is a great hummingbird attraction, make sure to get the white variety as only white occurs naturally.

True Leaf Market and Eden Brothers offer a specialized hummingbird seed mix, this is the easiest way to get a jump start on your hummingbird garden. Most seed mix varieties are best planted in the spring after last frost or if planted in the fall will remain dormant through the winter.

True Leaf Market

This mix contains Butterfly Milkweed, Chinese Forget Me Not, Columbine, Snapdragon, Aster, Cosmos, Larkspur, Foxglove , Bird’s Eye, Toadflax, Alyssum, Four O’ Clock-Marvel, Lemon Mint, Maltese Cross, Jasmine, Poppy, Penstemon, Sage, Catchfly, Marigold, Nasturtium, Zinnia, & Treemallow.

80,000 Wildflower Seeds – Hummingbird, Bee…

Grow a beautiful, colorful wildflower garden with our National Hummingbird & Butterfly … [More]

Price: $12.55
Eden Brothers

This mix contains White Yarrow, Amaranthus Green Thumb, Cornflower White, White Dutchess Aster, Cosmos Purity, Shasta Daisy, Zinnia Polar Bear/Zinnia Envy, Bishop Flower

Green with Envy Flower Seed Mix, Green/Whi…

Green with Envy Flower Seed Mix These flowers are friends to butterflies, hummingbirds,… [More]

Price: $16.95
2. Leave the bugs

Let me ask you to step into a situation with me, there you are at a buffet and the chef comes out and takes all the crab legs away. His reasoning, he doesn’t like crab legs. Now same situation except you’re a hummingbird in a backyard buffet watching a human swipe away a perfectly good meal that could feed you and your little ones in the nest.

By not spraying for bugs and leaving spider nests up you attract other natural predators to these things and allow mother nature to take care of it. Hummingbirds use bugs as a large source of protein in their diet and is completely essential. If a hummingbird is well fed when it leaves your yard the chances of it returning are much much higher.

3. Make a perch

Hummingbirds are very territorial animals. Once they have located a good food source they will protect and defend it from other animals. Giving them a pleasant place to perch will not only protect them from any predators that may be out to get them but it will give them a good vantage point to watch over the kingdom of your backyard.

Photo by Erik Karits on Pexels.com

Yes, I know it’s an owl. But it’s a picture of a bird perching….

What flowers do hummingbirds not like?

TheSpruce.com covers a wide variety of information on what to look for and what not to look for in a flower to attract hummingbirds and other pollinators.

Using a Hummingbird Feeder

Only use granulated white sugar & water in your hummingbird feeder.

Why only granulated white sugar?

Granulated white sugar is produced by extracting the molasses from raw sugar. Giving it it’s pure white color. Once the molasses is extracted the sugar contains only around 4 grams of carbs per tablespoon, while containing none of the other minerals and vitamins naturally found in sugar. (aka why it is so bad for us). For the hummingbird this is a benefit as one of the minerals that is stripped is Iron.

Hummingbirds have a low tolerance for iron in their diet. Any excess dietary iron is stored in their liver and can be toxic to the liver cells in larger quantities.

A location in Arizona was feeding hummingbirds a manufactured nectar, this nectar contained too high of an iron content and within three months 25 of the 26 hummingbirds had died due to iron toxicosis. Since then testing has been implemented to ensure commercial products are safe for use. However, the birds do not benefit from any of the coloring or flavoring added to these products. It is simpler and safer to make your own. Using 4 parts water and 1 part granulated white sugar has been the go to recipe for years with the most success in attracting and feeding hummingbirds.

Brown Sugar

Brown sugar is produced through adding molasses to granulated white sugar. Molasses is high in iron concentration and would be too large a source of iron for the hummingbird to process.

Raw/Organic & Turbinado

Usually made with the process of squeezing the juices of raw sugar cane and spinning it in a tumbler. It still contains a high amount of vitamins and minerals, good for us, not so good for the little flapping friend. Avoid putting this one in your feeder.

Honey in your feeder

While there is no scientific evidence to support the claims, it just brings up another point to only use granulated white sugar in your hummingbird feeder. The “word” is that using honey in your feeder can cause a fermentation to occur, allowing the growth of dangerous bacteria. This can then travel into the hummingbirds beak and cause an infection, preventing the bird from being able to eat nectar, in turn ending any chance of survival for the hummingbird. Please only use sugar and water in your feeder.

If you found the article interesting or helpful in anyway please share it to Facebook or any other social media outlet as it helps me out tremendously.

Keep mother nature alive and prospering, your own livelihood depends on it.

I am an affiliate and links located throughout the article will provide me with a commission on any purchases made.

More from the blog

Myers Greens LLC

Myers Greens is a nursery located in southwest Iowa. With the main goal of providing top quality microgreens and fresh herbs. Follow the blog to keep up to date on what we are growing.

Who We Are


Follow Us


Yarrow, a soothing herb with healing properties

Yarrow is drought and pest resistant, as well as a great butterfly attraction, and is excellent for cutting and drying, a one-stop (easy to grow plant) shop. Some herbal healing properties present in Yarrow include anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and has been used to catalyze blood coagulation.

Consult with a licensed physician prior to starting any herbal remedy or supplement.

Featured Photo by Markus Winkler from Pexels

How to grow

Growing yarrow is close to one of the easiest and most fruitful herbs you can spread in your garden. Sow your seeds indoors 6-8 weeks prior to last frost if starting from seed, if you are starting from a cutting, plant in later spring and early summer. Yarrow loves the heat and will do better with warmer temperatures.

Photo by Irina Iriser on Pexels.com

Keep your yarrow in check! Some species are very aggressive growers and will take over every inch or centimeter they can. As a very drought tolerant plant you only need to water them if you receive less than 1 inch of water per week in the hotter summer months.

Cut off any faded or dead-head flowers in the summer months to help encourage a second bloom.

Flowers should be harvested once they are fully open and before they begin to turn brown or yellow.

Dried yarrow leaf and flower

More on harvesting yarrow from Wildfoodsandmedicine.com:

The flower is higher in aromatic oils, whereas the leaves are higher in tannin. Leaves can be harvested any time of year but is most potent in spring and early summer. The root is used for pain including toothaches and is best harvested in fall.


Get your yarrow seeds today!
White Yarrow Seeds, White, Flower Seeds, E…

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Price: $3.95
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Price: $4.50
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Yarrow Seeds – Cerise Queen, Pink, Flower …

Yarrow Seeds – Cerise Queen Deep pink flowers rise above a mat of dark green leaves. Ce… [More]

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How to identify

Yarrow can be identified by the small feathery appearance of the flowers. In Spanish speaking regions yarrow is called plumajillo or “little feather” to further help with the description.

Wild Yarrow typically has white flowers, while cultivated yarrow can have yellow, orange, pink, or red flowers. The flower stalk usually stands 2-3 feet tall with a large cluster of small daisy-like flowers on top.

The stalk itself has hairy / fuzzy leaves that can stick to things. The leaves are larger at the base and spiral up to the top.

Identifying by smell

Practical reliance covers identifying yarrow by smell find the full article here.

Another great way to identify yarrow is by smell.  They have a strong smell that some describe as like chrysanthemums, and others describe as vaguely like cabbage.  There’s actually an old-time dream divination that has you place yarrow under your pillow, saying that you’ll either dream of the one you’re to marry or cabbage. 

Strange way to put it, but either the power of suggestion will work and your mind will conjure up your perfect mate, or it won’t and you’ll just be smelling cabbage all night.  I’ll admit that I tried it once in my teens, and I dreamed neither of cabbage or my true love, so it’s not perfect… 

Queen Anne’s lace, on the other hand, smells distinctly of carrots and you’ll know it if you crush the leaves.

Practical Self Reliance

5 reasons to grow yarrow by Tenth Acre Farm

covered in brief detail below, for the full article click on the link.

  1. Yarrow may accumulate nutrients.
  2. It attracts beneficial insects and pollinators.
  3. Yarrow makes a good ground cover.
  4. It has medicinal uses.
  5. Yarrow is edible and useful in crafts.


Other benefits of growing yarrow

According to the Royal New Zealand Institute of horticulture, yarrow can be used to help prevent soil erosion, with a deep root structure and being drought resistant it can offer nutrients and soil structure during long drought periods. Also as an added benefit it can be added to pastures as most livestock readily graze on it.

Note: It has been said that cow milk flavor may be adversely effected by the animal grazing on this plant.

Medicinal Uses

Consult with a licensed physician prior to starting any herbal remedy or supplement.

Photo by Yan Krukov on Pexels.com

Yarrow has a large list of possible medical uses. With many different forms of application and each treating a different aliment be sure to properly prepare and ingest your Yarrow. For topical applications it has been used to help cauterize wounds and slow bleeding. Yarrow contains two compounds that act as a catalyst for blood clotting and can be applied directly to the wound.

For its historical use in wound healing particularly in the military it was called bloodwort, herba militaris, knight’s milfoil, staunchweed, and, from its use in the US Civil War, soldier’s woundwort.


Yarrow when ingested has been known to help with blood pressure, as a treatment for thrombosis (blood clotting), and even menstrual clotting. All around it appears to help the circulatory system by bringing it back in balance, if used externally it will help prevent bleeding, if ingested it will help things flow more smoothly. With this property it is used in many homemade hemorrhoid creams as well.

Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities have been seen in different species of yarrow, greatly adding to the diversity of this plant.

Native Americans have been known to use a mixture of yarrow and water to treat sunburns and is sometimes used to treat anxiety or stress.

Cooking with Yarrow

Yarrow is an aromatic herb that will add a distinct flavor to any dish. Cooking with it can be tricky but if done right the results will wow and take almost anyone off guard.

The Forager Chef has designed a dish using yarrow called “Penne Aglio Olio with Yarrow” (recipe located on the website), in this article they cover a lot of the difficulties in cooking with this herb and it’s worth the read.

Some of the difficulties in cooking with yarrow ForagerChef.com

Just like other soft herbs, high heat will destroy yarrow’s flavor. You don’t want to really “cook” it. For example, if you wanted to flavor sauteed meat or vegetables with yarrow, add it at the end of cooking just to heat it through for a moment, with the heat turned off like you would chives or parsley. Seasoning something with yarrow and then sauteing will destroy the flavor.

It’s bitter. It’s going to stay bitter, and nothing you do will change that.

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Myers Greens is a nursery located in southwest Iowa. With the main goal of providing top quality microgreens and fresh herbs. Follow the blog to keep up to date on what we are growing.

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Nasturtium, an easy to grow, beautiful, and useful plant

Nasturtiums are a great plant to put in your garden for many reasons. As a great companion plant with a beautiful edible flower, or a full and engulfing wall/fence covering.

Depending on the variety that you choose to grow you, they can be grown in the ground or in a container to be enjoyed wherever you hang it. The color varieties available can make your jaw drop a little, especially with how easy they are to grow.

Featured Photo by Lorace Deen from Pexels

Companion Plant

They make a great companion for nearly any vegetable as they will present a more delicious meal to any aphids who may be wandering in your garden.

They attract instead of repel aphids making for an easy cleanup of entire colonies.

Nasturtiums differ from other plants in the fact that they attract instead of repel aphids. This can be a savior if you are finding your garden beds over run with the lovely little black bugs. While plants like lavender will repel aphids, a nasturtium will attract all the aphids around to a singular point allowing for disposal. I recommend following the disposal method located on http://www.nature-and-garden.com. (Depicted below)

Disposing of aphid colonies on nasturtiums

Once your decoy is in place, visit the growing bed every two or three days. You can spot new aphid colonies on your nasturtium easily. Carefully pick or cut the colonies into a small pail. Do this delicately so aphids don’t fall off and get away.

Your best solution then is to feed them to your chickens, but it’s also good to simply bury them deep under the compost pile or burn them.”

Nature and Garden

The rainbow in your garden bed

Another bonus to Nasturtiums is the wide variety available. Going to Eden Brothers and searching for “Nasturtiums” returned “27 results”. The color ranges are spectacular and the blooms are a beautiful addition to anyone’s garden. I currently have two types growing the Empress of India and a Dwarf Jewel Mix.(Pictured Below)

Empress of India
Dwarf Jewel Mix

Some of my “favorite” ones
Nasturtium Seeds – Moonlight, White/Green,…

Nasturtium Seeds – Moonlight With their beautiful pale, creamy yellow blooms on long vi… [More]

Price: $3.95
Nasturtium Seeds (Dwarf) – Black Velvet, R…

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Nasturtium Seeds – Orange Gleam, Yellow/Re…

Nasturtium Seeds – Orange Gleam A lovely summer hue, the deep orange of Orange Gleam Na… [More]

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Caring For

They are a very easy plant to grow and require little to no attention, with the exception of a dry spell occurring they will strive and bloom.

Nasturtium Seeds

It is recommended to start your nasturtiums in-doors 4-6 weeks prior to the last frost. Or you can directly sow into the ground or the container they are going to grow in. If you want an easy way to remember when that is check out this article. “The Mother’s Day Rule”. Sow your seeds around 1″ below the soil in any seed starting mix. No extra attention is required just perform normal watering and the seed sprout in around 15 days.

Once your seedlings are around 1-2 inches tall, thin them out to one plant per cell/division or container. For in-ground planting thin them to one plant per around 10 inches. The spacing doesn’t have to be perfect as these plants will bush up and spread themselves all over.

After the danger of last frost has passed you can transplant your fresh babies into their new homes. If you are experiencing a drought or notice that your plants are not growing that fast give them water. They will drink it up and grow like made given the only thing they really need to survive.

So remember if your nasturtium is dried out it will not grow.

This plant strives in the struggle and will actually bloom more with less fertile soil. No fertilizers or soil additives are necessary to grow this plant. If your soil is fertile you will notice that your nasturtium will bush up more than flowering. This is due to the plant trying to create more seeds and propagate itself.

An annual that takes care of itself

As an annual, Nasturtiums will only grow for one season. There is a catch, most of the time they will self seed for the next year. The seeds can seen growing on the underside of your plants stems, they look like a fresh version of the seed you planted to grow that one. If you don’t wish to have them popping up next year make sure you clean up any debris left behind after the growing season is over. If a few get through you can easily identify and pluck them in the spring time after the snow has melted.

I am an affiliate and links located throughout the article will provide me with a commission on any purchases made.

More from the blog

Myers Greens LLC

Myers Greens is a nursery located in southwest Iowa. With the main goal of providing top quality microgreens and fresh herbs. Follow the blog to keep up to date on what we are growing.

Who We Are


Follow Us