Archive | Organic Produce

What if?

What if?

What if?

What if you could take a plastic bottle and turn it into an locally-grown organic carrot?

Hint:  We are excited to introduce a new and easy way of gardening to you.  A way that anyone, anywhere, and of any age can get involved and finally start raising their own fresh organic produce garden.

Check back here Monday, August 19th for the full scoop.  With your help, we hope that we can finally can make produce gardening a reality those that thought it was just too difficult or labor intensive.

Stay tuned and keep gardening!

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Exciting news

We have some exciting news … but we can’t share it with you just yet.

Make sure to check back here over the next couple of weeks.  All I can say is that it’s been a long journey for TogetherFarm but we’re almost there and that we cannot wait to share our next milestone in our efforts to promote backyard gardening.

With your help and continued support over the coming weeks, we hope to really get the word out and show people how easy it is to raise their own fresh, homegrown produce.

Stay tuned and keep gardening!

Your friends at

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Three Easy Ways to Get Rid of Fruit Flies

 

single fruit fly

single fruit fly

 

As more late-summer and fall fruit becomes available, we thought we’d repost this short article on three easy ways to get rid of fruit flies before they become an infestation.

What are fruit flies?

You know what we’re talking about.  Your garden’s bounty left you with an abundance of fruits and vegetables that you can barely keep up with.  Suddenly, you notice small clouds of flies haunting your produce.  Gross!

Fruit flies are the tiny little bugs that land on fruit and are nearly impossible to catch or kill once airborne.  Some people call them gnats; others call them drain flies.  No matter what you call them they are annoying and can be embarrassing once they take hold in your kitchen and start multiplying.

Why are they so hard to swat and kill?

Know your enemy!  I have a new respect for these pests after looking into why they are so difficult to kill on a surface or while airborne. Michael Dickinson, the Esther M. and Abe M. Zarem Professor of Bioengineering at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), states that:

“… long before the fly leaps, its tiny brain calculates the location of the impending threat, comes up with an escape plan, and places its legs in an optimal position to hop out of the way in the opposite direction. All of this action takes place within about 100 milliseconds after the fly first spots the swatter.”

More science behind the enemy can be found in this fascinating article here: http://phys.org/news139142949.html#jCp

There are three easy ways to get rid of fruit flies:

#1 Get rid of the source of food

Garbage Collector

Garbage Collector

So fruit flies, despite their name, do not eat fruit.  What they are going after is the yeast that grows on rotting fruit; the same yeast that produces alcohol.  So if you remove this feast from your kitchen (the tomatoes you were going to get around to eating; the peaches and apricots that ripened faster than you imagined) you’ll eventually get rid of the flies as they die out or go look for food elsewhere.

Again, the flies are attracted to yeast, so you’ll need to keep a pretty clean kitchen, including removing food waste in your sink’s drain trap, cleaning surfaces with a disinfectant, and making sure any indoor composter or trash can is kept empty and free of temptations.

#2  Cover up!

Magic Mesh Magnetic Screen Door

Magic Mesh Magnetic Screen Door

Mid-summer.  Warm weather.  A lazy afternoon.  It’s only natural to open all the windows and doors to let breeze come through the house.  Or maybe you have kids or animals that are constantly going in and out and leaving doors open.

As you do, you are leaving a path for the pesty flies to enter the house.  These flies are only a couple to a few millimeters in size so you won’t see them coming.  Making sure all windows and doors have screens is a great way to reduce the number of bugs coming into your house.  It won’t keep them all out since some (including fruit flies) can crawl through the screen but it will slow them down.  It also works well for regular sized flies, too.

The best way to keep fruit away from fruit flies is to put it in a sealed container or in the fridge. Refrigerators work well for already-ripened fruit as the cooler temperatures slows down senescence (the ripening of the fruit).

#3  Make a fruit fly trap (DIY)

Fruit Fly Trap

Fruit Fly Trap

You don’t need toxic chemicals around the house to get rid of fruit flies.  Surprisingly, these little guys that are so difficult to swat on a counter or hit in mid-air are so driven by their appetite for yeast that they are relatively easy to capture.  Over the course of a couple of days I managed to capture all of the offending flies in a jar.  The process is relatively easy and completely DIY.  You’ll need:

  • A jar
  • A sheet of binder paper
  • A piece of tape
  • A couple of ounces of apple vinegar and/or really ripe fruit

Once you have your materials, simply:

  1. Make a cone out of the paper and tape it so that it stays in shape.
  2. Put your bait (the vinegar or fruit) into the jar.
  3. Put the cone into the jar a few inches above the bait.

The flies will enter the cone, go through the hole at the bottom but will be unable to find their way back out.  If problems are really bad, make a few of these and position them around the house where the highest concentration of fruit flies exist.  One benefit is that if you are so inclined,  you can take your prisoners  outside and release them instead of killing them.  If this is your plan, use fruit and leave the vinegar out.

You can find more great tips here:  http://www.wikihow.com/Get-Rid-of-Fruit-Flies

Kickstarter Campaign for TogetherFarm Blocks

Kickstarter Campaign for TogetherFarm Blocks!

If you are excited about growing your own produce at home, you should check out our Kickstarter Campaign, where we are raising funds to bring our very first product, TogetherFarm Blocks™, to you.  If you have a small space you can use these to quickly build a custom garden box without tools or carpentry experience.  Check them out!

 

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How to grow and prune grape vines

How to grow and prune grape vinesGrape vines are quite easy to grow. The basic elements you will need to successfully grow grape vines are sunshine, a good trellis to support the vines, mulch, and some pruning shears. Here are the steps for how to grow and prune grape vines so that you get years of fruit as a result.

1. Choose your grape

There are numerous grape vines to choose from. Some are good for wines while others are good for eating fresh. Still others have seeds and some varieties don’t. Obviously there are green grapes and red grapes and black grapes too. So, to choose your grape vine, decide what you want to use the grapes for. I choose two varieties that are good for eating fresh and that have no seeds. One type is a green grape and the other is a red grape.

2. Plant your grape

Now that you have selected your grape variety, you will need to choose a location to plant the grape vine. The base of the vine doesn’t necessarily need to be in a sunny place as long as the vines can grow to a location that has sun. My vines are planted in a shady spot along the fence between me and my neighbor’s property. Over the past couple of years, the vines have grown along the fence and the majority of them are now in a full sun location. When you select the location to plant your grape vine, dig a hole twice the diameter of the  pot size that the grape came in. Dig the hole twice as deep as well. Now, amend the soil by adding in some compost and organic fertilizer (composted chicken manure and some blood meal and bone meal works great). Then, plant the grape making sure that the vines will be able to reach the trellis. My grapes are close to a chain link fence and I used the fence as a trellis for the vines. I loosely tied the vines at various points to the fence and then let the vines grow along the top of the fence.

3. Mulch your grape

Once you have planted the grape vine, be sure to add lots of mulch around the base of the plant. I usually try to have about 4 inches deep of mulch around my grapes. This helps to retain moisture and keeps the roots from drying out. Over time, the mulch also breaks down helping to provide some nutrients for the grape vine.

4. Prune your grape

Now, the waiting game starts. Grapes take a few years to get established. Don’t expect to start eating grapes off of the grape vines for at least 2 or maybe 3 years. My grapes are currently in their 3rd year and I finally have a really good crop that set on. Each year, you can prune the grapes by cutting off the little runners and training the vines to go the direction you want them to. My second year of growing grapes, I had a few bundles of grapes set on but they ended up shriveling and falling off. I asked a gardener friend of mine what happened (he is about 75 years old and has been gardening for decades and has lots of delicious grapes every year). He gave me a secret trick that he uses. He prunes the vine 2 nodules past where the grapes are setting. So, this means that wherever you see a bundle of grapes forming, you will want to prune the vine beyond where the grapes are setting by count two nodules past the bundle of grapes (essentially, two leaves past the bundle of grapes). Then, cut the vine off at that point. What this does, he told me, is to allow all of the energy of the grape vine to go into producing the fruit rather than growing the vine itself. I tried this trick this year and it has worked amazingly! I have the best crop of grapes setting on and I’m excited for them to get ripe.

That’s it. Let us know if you have any tips or tricks for growing or pruning grapes that would benefit the TogetherFarm community.

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