Kenyon hoe needed sharpening

The mighty Kenyon 2-way hoe

The Kenyon hoe is known by other names.  It is also called a scuffle hoe or possibly even a stirrup hoe.  Regardless of the name it is one of the most used tools in our Mittleider garden.  From time to time the edge gets beat up due to normal use and needs fixed.  It is an easy process and only requires a small file.

The edge of our Kenyon 2-way hoe was getting a little beat up and becoming difficult to pull through this very dry heavy clay soil.  Rather than throw it away or paying someone to repair it we elected to do it ourselves.  A quick dressing took us just a minute or two with a file and as a result we got the edge back in good condition and working better.

Using a file to sharpen a Kenyon hoe
Sharpening a Kenyon gardening hoe with a file

To fix the edge of your Kenyon hoe with a file

It is an easy process and a decent file is inexpensive.  If you don’t have one this flat file is just $6.21 and will do the job.  Keep the file at the same angle as the edge of the hoe.  A few passes will remove any burrs and dress that edge back to serviceable condition as a result of your effort.  During normal use you will hit small rocks and other such debris that will slightly damage the cutting edge.

Stanlet mill file
A good file choice for sharpening a Kenyon hoe

Do you want to put your own Kenyon hoe together?

In this YouTube video I show you how I assembled our Kenyon hoe and gave a quick example of it working in the garden.  These are an amazing tool and should probably  be present in every garden.  The Kenyon hoe allows you to remove the same amount of weeds from your garden with far less work than a traditional hoe.


Mittleider garden – grow in your own soil

Grow in your own soil on a budget

We are putting together this video series on how to grow a Mittleider garden cheaply and to grow in your soil.  Most homes already have the tools needed to grow in your own soil.  With a little of your labor you can have your own beds in and ready for the next step before planting.

With these tools you can grow in your soil
With these tools you can grow in your own soil

You don’t have to garden in grow boxes to have a Mittleider garden

There seems to be this misconception that one has to have expensive grow boxes to grow a Mittleider garden.  That is absolutely not true.  You can grow as good of a garden in your own soil for a lot less money.

Grow in your own soil
Using the Mittleider method allows you to grow in your own soil

But you don’t understand, my soil is horrible

Those words are heard a lot when trying to convince someone to stop amending their soil and grow with the Mittleider method. You can grow in your soil.  Because we provide all the nutrients the plant needs on a weekly basis the lack of nutrition in your soil is entirely irrelevant.  With the Mittleider gardening Method the soil is used for the following:

  1. it provides the plant with anchorage and protection for the roots
  2. Holds air and water for the plant
  3. It stores the nutrition we apply to the soil beds
  4. regulates temperature
  5. provides drainage
Grow in your own soil with raised Mittleider beds
Raised Mittlieder beds allow you to grow in your own soil

Get the 7 lessons on growing in your own soil for FREE

Jim Kennard and the Food for Everyone foundation has been gracious enough to offer the first 7 lessons out of the new Mittleider Gardening Course book for FREE !!  Just use my link and download your own copy in a searchable PDF file.

YouTube video series – grow in your own soil

This is an ongoing series on how to grow an inexpensive garden in your own soil.  Be sure to subscribe to see future videos to learn how you too can grow in your soil.


Geothermal Greenhouse in NW Missouri

A look inside a geothermal greenhouse

We know the owners of this geothermal greenhouse located in NW  Missouri and I get to go over and poke my head inside from time.  It seemed like a terrific idea and I was excited to even go watch it going up.

Yesterday we went by while we in the area to peek inside the geothermal greenhouse.  I was amazed with the progress of the plants inside.   These tomatoes, 5 different varieties if I remember correctly, were planted back in the first week of April.  They’re easily 3 times the size of my own tomatoes that are growing outdoors.

Tomatoes growing in a geothermal greenhouse in NW Missouri
Tomatoes growing in a geothermal greenhouse in NW Missouri
tomatoes grown vertically in a geothermal greenhouse
Tomatoes grown vertically using the Mittleider method in a geothermal greenhouse

About this greenhouse

This greenhouse is a Mittleider design as seen in the Mittleider Gardening Course book.

grow spaghetti squash vertically

Grow spaghetti squash vertically

Growing spaghetti squash vertically is easy.  Going vertical reduces the likelihood of tripping on or breaking vines while maximizing the use of space in our gardens.  Here in our NW Missouri Mittleider garden we grow vertically whenever possible.  This system allows us to grow more plants in a smaller space by going vertically.

One of our favorite vegetables has become spaghetti squash over the last year.  The children are very picky eaters and I was amazed when I gave them a sample of spaghetti squash and they asked for more.

This year we are going to grow two crops of the spaghetti squash with the second one being inside the in the garden green house.  The first crop is out in the soil and many of the plants are already over 8 feet tall.  Our best plant went over 17 feet long this year. Here is just one of the many squash growing in our garden.

Grow spaghetti squash vertically in a Mittleider garden
Grow spaghetti squash vertically in a Mittleider garden

Why grow spaghetti squash vertically?

Going vertical with all the crops in our garden has made our garden more productive and has put more food in our pantry and on the table.  Getting the squash off the ground makes it so much easier to control the weeds.  Those days of stepping on vines while trying to pull weeds from under it are long gone.

Having the plants growing vertically makes it easy to access the plants for pruning, spotting insects, inspecting for insect eggs and it makes harvest so much easier.

What string or twine will you need to grow spaghetti squash vertically

We use a baling twine rated at 170 pound test that has UV stabilizers added.  Twine like the Tytan International wont deteriorate out in the sun and will last you several seasons.

Shredding zucchini for freezer storage

Shredding zucchini for freezer storage

Lets face it, zucchini is one of those garden crops that is always abundant.  Your family and neighbors so as to avoid being given yet another couple zucchinis.  Because we have so much we are finally left with taking care of all that zucchini.  Rather than let ours go to waste we have taken to shredding our zucchini, putting two cups into a quart sized bag and then freezing it.

What are the best ways of shredding zucchini?

Initially we used a box shredder we had on hand to shred our days harvest of zucchini.  While it worked and didn’t cost us any money the darn thing was VERY time consuming to use.

Box shredder for shredding zucchini
Box shredder for shredding zucchini

As a result of this guy growing tired of using that thing we talked it over and finally decided to break down and purchase a food processor.  Without a doubt, it is far less work or time consuming to use our little food processor.  Because I’ve seen how much faster and easier the food processor makes this task I’ve absolutely got to recommend it.  Unless you only plan on shredding a few zucchini the process is the only way to go.

In addition, I might add that we decided to go with a low end food processor model and spent around $30 total.  Any food processor you can find capable of shredding will work.

We put two cups of zucchini in each freezer bag

Today we sat down and shredded the zucchini from the garden.  At the end of this little project we had 22 cups of it to put in the freezer for zucchini bread we all love.  To date we now have over 100 cups of shredded zucchini processed.

Our favorite recipe calls for 2 cups of zucchini so we pre-measured into into quart size freezer bags.

Shreddeing zucchini for freezer storage
Shredding zucchini and placing in quart bags for freezing

Here they are ready to go into the freezer.

Why shred and store in quart sized freezer bags

Shredding your zucchini and storing in freezer bags like shown in the above picture really maximizes space in your freezer.  It stacks well with very little waste space.

Most noteworthy, we have discovered that as a result of shredding and putting two cups of it into each baggie that it becomes easier to offload on friends and family.  They’re more willing to take it when it requires no work on their part.

Do you want to maximize the amount of zucchini you get from your garden and make it easier to control insects? Pruning your zucchini will help.

My case against 4 foot wide grow boxes

Why I don’t like a 4 foot grow boxes in a Mittleider garden

I’ll be honest here, I don’t like 4 foot wide grow boxes.  They’re popular and you will see all kinds of articles and videos where they are recommended.  They require too much bending over of the gardener for my liking.  For a Mittleider garden I think they’re generally a mistake.

It is difficult to tend to stuff in it and you can’t reach from one side to the other.  This becomes particularly evident when things are grown vertically.  Reaching towards the middle of the box to prune or harvest from a mature plant is near impossible.  Sure, you can push through and get it done but you risk damaging plants.  you could even knock off nearly ripe vegetables.

The top of these tomatoes in the picture below are a little more than 3 feet apart.  I can only prune and harvest easily by going down each side of my grow box.  Growing these tomatoes in a 4 foot wide grow box would prevent the easy access necessary to properly care for our plants.

grow box in a Mittleider garden
tomatoes grown vertically in an 18 inch wide grow box in a Mittleider garden

Are there good uses for 4 foot grow boxes?

There are indeed.  First, if you’re on a very tight budget yet determined to have a grow box the wide grow boxes will work.  For the cost of two 18 inch wide boxes you can build one 4 foot box.  But if you’re on a budget I’d highly recommend growing in your own soil.

The only time I might recommend a 4 foot wide grow box in a Mittleider garden is for growing potatoes.  We have heavy clay soil here in Missouri.  Our grow box dedicated to growing potatoes allows them to sprawl and makes harvest a breeze.  It is isolated from the rest of the garden and is used only for potatoes.  In this picture below we grew sweet potatoes last year.

4 foot grow boxes filled with sawdust and sand
Sweet potatoes grown in a wide grow box. Grow boxes are a great option for growing all tubers

What size grow box do I prefer?

That’s easy. An 18 inch wide grow box is ideal, particularity for vertical crops in my Mittleider garden.  We built these grow boxes in our in the garden green house.


Remove insect eggs with a lint roller

Remove insect eggs in your garden with a lint roller

For the gardener who wants to limit damage to crops and vegetables you should consider how to remove insect eggs. Preventing the eggs from ever hatching because they’ve been removed from the garden entirely is far more effective than spraying.

This past spring I had someone share with me a tip that makes the task of removing insect eggs in your garden much easier.  He uses an inexpensive lint roller to remove insect eggs. You can buy a travel sized lint roller like the one in the picture below at Walmart for 99 cents.

lint roller used to remove insect eggs in the garden
lint roller used to remove insect eggs in the garden

An alternative to lint rollers

If you don’t want to go buy a lint roller to remove those pesky eggs you might have a roll of sticky tape like duct tape around the home.  Pull of 8 to 10 inches of it and stick itself together in a loop with the adhesive side out.  With one hand hold the tape and apply your other hand on the opposite of the leaf to give you something to press against.  Touch the tape to the eggs and apply light pressure until all the eggs are removed.

These squash bug eggs were removed with a piece of duct tape
remove squash bug eggs with duct tape

When eggs are laid next to large leaf veins

With crops like zucchini where there is a large vein on the backside of the leaf the duct tape actually works better than the lint roller.  When the eggs are laid next to those large veins the round lint roller will roll onto the vein and pass right over several eggs.  In these instances the duct tape works better.  When pruning and removing insect eggs from our squash plants I now use only the duct tape.

use duct tape for squash bug eggs laid next to a large leaf vein
squash bug eggs laid next to a large leaf vein

Watch insect eggs get removed with a lint roller

After trying it I had to get a little video to show just how well it works.  Typically we use the lint roller on cabbage, broccoli, kale and cauliflower.

garden smoothie section

garden smoothie section

This short part of our row is the garden smoothie section. The Swiss chard and kale are both doing well in the garden, I like to call it the smoothie section of the garden.  A couple times a day I go out and clip some of each.  I take it right inside to the little blender to make one of my favorite smoothies.

It is getting ahead of me and is going to need pruning soon.   If I can’t find someone to take what we prune then it will go into the freezer.

garden smoothie section - Swiss chard and kale
garden smoothie section – Swiss chard and kale

Preserving kale and Swiss chard by blanching

When there is an over abundance of of the kale and Swiss chard we bring it inside and give it a good rinse.  After blanching it in our 16 quart stockpot it will get dunked in cold ice water.  Excess water is strained  and then placed in freezer bags.  The kale get used more often during the cold months in stews at our house, but they work well frozen in smoothies too.

Planning a fall smoothie section of the garden

With the fall season approaching it is time plan our fall garden.  Part of that fall garden is going to be grown under mini hoops to extend our season.  A section of that will be dedicated for our garden smoothie section.

In addition to the chard and kale currently growing we will be adding two varieties of beets and another type of kale.

Our quest to be self reliant and grow a healthy garden