VZ 190: The Creative Vegetable Gardener’s “Smart Start Garden Planner”

Vegetarian zen podcast episode 190 - the creative vegetable gardener's smart start garden planner http://www.vegetarianzen.com

  Spring will be here before we know it, so it’s time to start planning this year’s gardens. With that in mind, on this episode of the Vegetarian Zen podcast, we welcome back Megan Cain, otherwise known as the Creative Vegetable Gardener. Megan first visited with us on episode 113, way back in August of […]

VZ 155: Your Guide to Community Supported Agriculture Programs (CSAs)

vegetarian zen podcast episode 155 - your guide to community supported agriculture programs (CSAs) http://www.vegetarianzen.com

  In this episode of the Vegetarian Zen podcast we learn a little about Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA. We’ll hear from some of our Peas & Carrots members about their experiences with them as well!   Thanks for tuning in to this episode of the Vegetarian Zen Podcast! If you find value in our […]

The Flavorful Life Garden Club

The Creative Vegetable Gardener
March 8, 2016
Megan Cain, our friend and a former guest on the Vegetarian Zen podcast (VZ 113: Interview with Megan Cain, AKA The Creative Vegetable Gardener), has developed a terrific program for helping gardeners of all skill levels plan, plant, and maintain a successful, flourishing garden season after season.
Flavorful Life Garden Club - The Creative Vegetable Gardener http://www.vegetarianzen.com
Megan’s program is called The Flavorful Life Garden Club and it is jam-packed with helpful tips, resources, challenges, live Q&A calls, recipes, and more.  Two membership options are available (by the Season or a yearly subscription).  Don’t worry…if it’s past January you can still join!! 
If you’re looking for gardening instruction, inspiration, motivation, and community support, then The Flavorful Life Garden Club may be perfect for you!!

Cooking July: Tasty Ways to Use July Vegetables and Fruits

Cooking July: Tasty Ways to Use July Vegetables and Fruits http://www.vegetarianzen.com

What’s in season at any given time of year depends on where you live.  In the United States alone, there are six growing regions (South, Southwest, Midwest, Upper Midwest, Pacific Northwest, and Northeast), each with distinct climates, soils, and threats from pests and disease.  Then there are all of the non-US places where foods can […]

VZ 113: Interview with Megan Cain, AKA The Creative Vegetable Gardener

Vegetarian Zen podcast episode 113 - Interview with Megan Cain, the Creative Vegetable Gardener http://www.vegetarianzen.com

  On this episode of the Vegetarian Zen podcast, we interview Megan Cain of The Creative Vegetable Gardener. She has been featured in Apartment Therapy, The Organic Gardner Podcast, the Art of Non-Conformity blog, and the PBS’s Victory Garden Edible Feast. Megan is an urban gardener and garden educator, and is the author of two books: […]

VZ 110: Using Foodscaping to Maximize the Deliciousness of Your Yard

Vegetarian Zen podcast episode 110 - Using Foodscaping to Maximize the deliciousness of your yard http://www.vegetarianzen.com

  In this episode of the Vegetarian Zen podcast we discuss compelling reasons to transform your yard into an edible paradise using foodscaping. Thanks for tuning in to this episode of the Vegetarian Zen Podcast! If you find value in our podcast and listen on iTunes, please consider leaving us a rating and review. Please […]

VZ 099: Simple Gardening Tips – Lessons Learned in Our Garden

Vegetarian Zen Podcast Episode 099 - Simple Gardening Tips from Our Garden http://www.vegetarianzen.com

In this episode of the Vegetarian Zen podcast, we talk about our garden…we’re getting adventurous this year and adding more than just herbs! We discuss our natural growing and pest control methods, plus our successes and some challenges we’ve encountered.  Listen for some simple gardening tips we’ve learned from growing our own herbs and vegetables. […]

VZ 096: Growing the Future with Heirloom Seeds and Plants

Vegetarian Zen Podcast Episode 096 - Growing the Future with Heirloom Seeds & Plants http://www.vegetarianzen.com

In this episode of the Vegetarian Zen podcast we’ll be continuing with our spring gardening theme and talking about heirloom plants and seeds. The word “heirloom” means a treasured possession that has remained in a family for generations.  In today’s episode you’ll learn why seeds need to be treasured and preserved more than any family […]

Quick Tip Tuesday: DIY Non-Toxic Insecticidal Soap Spray

Last year I bought a lovely little butterfly weed plant.  It’s been sitting in a pot on our back patio.  Not too much growth, and occasionally it will put forth a few blooms.

butterfly weed  http://www.vegetarianzen.com

This year, to my delight, it has started sprouting lots of new leaf growth at the base.  Yay!  Unfortunately, it also started attracting a TON of orange aphids.  At first I panicked, but after a little research and a lot of plant and aphid observation, I realized that they really weren’t doing any harm.  And all was well.

orange aphids   http://www.vegetarianzen.com

Until…I started to notice brown, curling, sickly-looking leaves.  A peek underneath revealed that these guys had joined the party:

whiteflies & brown aphids  http://www.vegetarianzen.com

Whiteflies and brown aphids.  And they don’t know how to play nice.

I try to keep my gardening as organic and chemical-free as possible, so I didn’t want to use a commercial, chemical-laden pesticide.  Insecticidal soaps (also called horticultural soaps) are a nice, chemical-free alternative to strong pesticide products.  These soaps are generally effective on soft-bodied insects including aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, thrips, and whiteflies.

While there are commercially-made insecticidal soaps available, it can also be made at home…with some cautions:

  • Use a natural, gentle, unscented soap, such as Dr. Bronner’s castille soap. Avoid using dish detergents or hand soaps.
  • Use filtered water (I use water from my Brita pitcher).  Using hard water can reduce the efficacy of the mixture.

For any insecticidal soaps, commercial or DIY, always observe the following precautions:

  • Always test the spray on a few leaves first.  Spray thoroughly, wait at least an hour, then check for signs of wilting or browned edges.
  • Spray the plant well with water several hours after applying the soap mixture to remove any residue.  Using a strong spray of water will also remove the dead pests.
  • Spray and rinse plants early in the morning, before the sun hits them full-strength.  Strong sun hitting soap-sprayed leaves can result in burning.
  • Avoid using on beans, peas, cucumbers, gardenias, ferns, succulents, ivy, tomatoes, azaleas, lantana, and waxy-leaf plants.

And one SuperCaution: if you are trying to encourage butterflies to visit your garden, please always check milkweeds (butterfly weed is a milkweed) and other plants that butterflies utilize for food and egg-laying before spraying with insecticidal soap.  It will harm caterpillars and butterfly larvae!!

DIY Insecticidal Soap Ingredients  http://www.vegetarianzen.com

To make insecticidal soap spray:

  • 1 quart filtered water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons pure, unscented soap
  • 3-4 drops orange essential oil (optional, but adds insect repelling properties due to the phytochemical limonene which is found in citrus fruits)

Combine all ingredients in a quart jar or other large container.  Pour into a spray bottle for use (store extra in a tightly-closed glass jar).  Be sure to clearly mark both the sprayer and storage jar.

To use: Spray infested leaves thoroughly, being sure to wet the undersides well.  Allow to sit for a couple of hours before spraying the plant well with fresh water.  Repeat whenever you see pests return.

Question: Do you have any tips for natural, chemical-free garden pest control? Share them in the comments section below! You can leave a comment by clicking here.

VZ 094: Composting 101

Vegetarian Zen Podcast Episode 094 - Composting 101 http://www.vegetarianzen.com

Spring is finally here, and it’s time to get those gardens in shape for a new growing season. In this episode of the Vegetarian Zen Podcast we’ll be talking about composting: what it is, what you can compost and what you can’t, the different methods of composting, and how to use your composted materials. Thanks […]