Monday, July 8, 2013

Idea Book for Gardeners Giveaway!

This giveaway is now closed.  Go here to see who won.

I get a lot of email requests to endorse different products, write reviews and host giveaways.  Everything from bow ties (yes, indeed) to scrap-booking software to homeschool curriculum.  While I would love to help everyone, I politely turn down almost all of these requests.  Often, the items in question don't have anything to do with what I write about here but even when they do, I hesitate to promote things that I don't already love and/or that would make you, my dear readers, feel like you must buy something.

All this said, when I was contacted by Herrick Kimball about his book, The Planet Whizbang Idea Book for Gardeners, I was intrigued.  First of all, I've used the word 'whizbang' more than a time or two in my lifetime but have rarely heard anyone else use it.  Secondly, his book appeared to be right up our alley.

"An eclectic selection of inspiring project plans, useful tips, and how-to advice for people who enjoy growing their own food."


This isn't a beginner's gardening book that tells you how to plant each vegetable.  This is a book for folks who are already fairly established in garden routines and might be ready to try different approaches and techniques to improve yields while reducing labor. In addition to Kimball's own tried and true techniques, he includes some adaptations of old-timey methods, simplifying them into easy instructions.

When it came in the mail, it literally took me a few days to really get my hands on it because Jamey confiscated it immediately.  And devoured it.  It no longer looks like a new book.  It looks like a used book because it's been being used!

The chapters that have gotten the most attention from us so far are listed below:

~ No More Tomato Cages

~ Bush-Planting Raspberries

~ How to Grow Strawberries of the Largest and Finest Quality

~ How to Make and Use Solar Pyramids

In fact, while some of Kimball's ideas will have to wait until next year, we've already implemented his suggestion of how to support tomato plants (we've abandoned our tried and true method of the Florida Weave for the year to give one of the methods he suggests a try).

Other things I must mention are that he has illustrated the book himself and the drawings are excellent- both in quality and the way they show so clearly in images what he's explaining.  Also, all throughout the book are tucked helpful and fascinating quotes from all generations of gardeners and almanacs. Two of our favorites are...

"Odd as I am sure it will appear to some, I can think of no better form of personal involvement in the cure of the environment than that of gardening.  A person who is growing a garden, if he is growing it organically, is improving a piece of the world.  He is producing something to eat, which makes him somewhat independent of the grocery business, but he is also enlarging, for himself, the meaning of food and the pleasure of eating." 
- Wendell Berry

"The first supermarket supposedly appeared on the American landscape in 1946.  That is not very long ago.  Until then, where was all the food?  Dear folks, the food was in homes, gardens, local fields, and forests.  It was near kitchens, near tables, near bedsides.  It was in the pantry, the cellar, the backyard."
- Joel Salatin

All this to say, both his book and his website, The Deliberate Agrarian, are worth checking out.  And, Kimball has generously offered a copy of his book to one lucky reader!  Thank you, Kimball!

To Enter:

Leave a comment below letting me know what one gardening issue/problem you wished you had an answer for.  I can't promise the answer will be in Kimball's book, but maybe another reader will reply to your comment with a suggestion.

In your comment, please leave me your first name, nickname or initials so I can identify you if you win.  Only one entry per household.  I will randomly draw and announce a winner on Friday afternoon.  The winner will need to email me their mailing address which I will pass on to Kimball who will then mail you your book!

In the meantime, go here to find out more about the book, including a full list of the chapter titles.

P.S.  We were gifted a copy of this book to review however we liked.  As you can tell, we liked.  :-)
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102 comments:

  1. Keeping the squash vine borers from destoying my yearly squash harvest is my biggest problem! TGMessick

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  2. I would love to know how to keep slugs out of my garden. I have tried the beer in a dish and even bought some bug b gone stuff from a store to try out. Hope this book can help me out.

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  3. I'm running into the problem that my zucchini plants (7 of them) have only been producing male flowers for the last month. Have yet to see a single female flower this year. Anybody know what might be going on?

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  4. Finding varieties and cultivars that work for my hot, humid, bug-infested zone (8b-9a) and yet are improved enough to be productive is a big challenge for me! --Ivy Mae

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  5. I would love to kno how to have healthy tomatoes EVERY year...tips for all the pests and disease. (Aurelie)

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  6. I am on a mission right now to keep Charlie from Creeping ALL over my yard and into my house!! LOL That stuff takes over!!
    I just love gardening and I'd love to read this book. And thanks to my friend Angie for this link!
    :)

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  7. SLUGS! We are in need of an organic solution, if possible. I am hand picking and they are multiplying! Do any of you fine folks know a thing or two about diatomaceous earth?

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  8. Our soil is sandy, which makes it harder to grow certain plants. I would appreciate learning how to enrich it so that we can have lush raspberry bushes. Thanks! Terri

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  9. I would love to know more about caring for tomatoes.

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  10. I would love to be able to grow melons (any kind) that get larger than fist-sized. The small melons are cute, but really not worth the time, effort and garden space to grow them!

    Oh - and eryanv - I don't know what to tell you re fixing the problem, but I had the same thing happen a couple of years ago. Very frustrating!!

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  11. Squash problems seem to be popular! I too would love to know how to get rid of those pesky squash bugs. I would also love to win this book. I follow his blog & would love to see the ideas in his book. Glad to hear you enjoyed it & found it useful! Penny G

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  12. I really really wish I could figure out powdery mildew. It is the curse of my garden.

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  13. Rabbits- how do you keep rabbits from eating everything down to stalks? I know they are cute little animals but.... I want to have vegetables and flowers.

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  14. I would love to know how concerned I have to be about different kinds of squash cross pollinating.

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  15. I second the squash issues...I have powdery mildew and bugs.

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  16. I have tiny ants among my strawberries. How can I safely get rid of them? I would love to win this book! I too follow his blog and would love to get a copy. My name is Molly B.

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  17. I'm with the first commenter...whatever gets to my squash and pumpkin vines really gets on my nerves! We are almost never successful with any variety we plant.

    What a delightful giveaway. Thanks for hosting, Jane!

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  18. This year we are getting blooms on our tomato plants but no tomatoes. Wondering if it is because of not enough bees?

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  19. Getting better harvests from my poor soil, and maximizing the sun for power and growing.

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  20. I want to hear about how he grows his tomatoes without cages! Mine are taking over this year.

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  21. I would love to know how to get more tomatoes from my tomato plants. My plants are huge and healthy but really have very little fruit.

    -Hollie F. in Nebraska

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    Replies
    1. Don't know if its true, but I read that if the plant is lush but little fruit...trim the plant back. It maybe putting too much energy and nutrients into growing and maintaining to be able to produce fruit. Hope that helps.

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    2. You might have too much nitrogen and not enough Potassium, nitrogen promotes leaf growth and potassium promotes flowering/fruiting. If you compost with a lot of yard trimmings that may be the source of it.

      "If soil is low in K, what can you do? Commercial fertilizer such as KCl (potassium chloride, muriate of
      potash) is an easy choice in conventional farming but is not acceptable in organic farming, where alternative
      K sources must be used (Table 15-7).

      Potassium magnesium sulfate and polyhalite are potassium minerals found in natural deposits. Sul-Po-Mag®
      is a commercial formulation consisting of the double salt of potassium and magnesium sulfates (22%
      K2O, 11% Mg, 22% S). Polyhalite is a double salt of calcium and potassium sulfates. Both K sources are very
      soluble, similar to KCl. In terms of plant response, these materials are as good as or even better than KCl or
      gypsum." From http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/pnm15.pdf

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  22. Green beans!!! Love them, want to can bunches of them. Can't seem to grow them well. If I get decent germination, a disease gets them :-( Barb in Ohio

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  23. How to get a bigger pumpkin harvest! I love growing my own baking pumpkins (Long Island Cheese is my favorite!), but regardless of how many vines I have I usually only end up with 4 pumpkins at the end of the season. Hmmmm... From Megan H.J. in Colorado.

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  24. I would love to know how tell what is wrong with my pepper plants. They are puny and sickly looking. The leaves are turning yellow. Is it because I have them too close to cabbage plants? I tried to do companion planting.
    Trudy in Minnesota

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  25. I second the comments on peaky rabbits and squash bugs. Those are my biggest issues!

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  26. A big problem for us since we have moved to South Carolina is growing any kind of squash or melon. We have tried numerous methods but the cutworms always destroy the plants.

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  27. Squash bugs, squash bugs, and more squash bugs!!! I cannot seem to grow pumpkins or yellow squash without them overtaking and killing my crop! Help! Faith G. in Spotsy, VA

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  28. I want to know all about tomatoes! I can grow beautiful tomato plants. But very few actual, healthy tomatoes. Becky

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  29. Avoiding blossom end rot on our tomatoes!

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  30. I thought I knew enough to at least grow a few things. Wrong! Last year I harvested a couple of cucumbers, this year nothing. This book sounds too good to be true.....just what I need.

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  31. I agree with Tara...I need to learn how to avoid blossom end rot on our tomatoes. Thanks for the chance to win the book, it looks great.

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  32. How to prevent disease in Zucchini plants. Kim M

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  33. Karen in FloridaJuly 8, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    Again, squash bugs!!!!! Grrrrr, they get me every year. I can wait to plant for a fall harvest when the bugs aren't so bad, but I sure would like to enjoy some summer squash while it's still summer.

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  34. My gardening problem is bugs eating everything.

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  35. I'm in agreement with the stink bugs that attack the zucchini! Also, ways to keep crabgrass out of my garden, my flower bed, my potted plants---I could get rid of the Sahara by just sending some crabgrass out there!

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  36. Get thy mildew off thy squash leaves! jennomenno (thanks!!!)

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  37. Is it me or my soil?

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  38. Something is eating the leaves of the dill plants. I haven't seen caterpillars so could it be a rabbit?

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  39. I'd like to know how to easily grow cabbage and broccoli without having the plants eaten alive. The cabbage worms are fierce. I know I can cover, but that seems to be such a pain. Thanks - Tammy

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  40. I love some new ideas on holding up my tomato plants even though this years plants will be a bust.
    F.R. Ferndale

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  41. I'm looking for more information on caring for tomatoes and peppers. Excited about this book!!

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  42. Same here! I would love a remedy I could make at home to get rid of those nasty worms!

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  43. pest and weed control

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  44. Bugs, weeds, and birds eating the fruit and vegetables. Wish we could get them before they did.
    Help :(

    Thanks
    Janet

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  45. How does one get ride of ants in the garden? I have a colony in a raised bed and can't get out. They seem to affect the seeds that I planted in that same area. (Monica)

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  46. We have a lot of shade around our home but we would love to grow a few fresh vegetables. Any ideas what plants would grow best with less sun or on the patio? Thank you. Sandra B H

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  47. Ugh...the stinkin weeds! I live in hot, humid, Florida and they grow like crazy....almost overnight. I have tried everything. Thanks! Paula

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  48. I have a hard time keeping bunnies out of my vegetable garden! bjn1957{at}gmail{dot}com

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  49. I wish I had a better organic way to get rid of pests. I hate using pesticides!

    Lanie

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  50. The weeds are over taking our garden, any ideas of what to try?
    jlking566@embarqmail.com
    Leslie

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  51. One word- BINDWEED!! Sounds like a very interesting book! I'm always eager to try new solutions as well as the tried and true!

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  52. Nothenrysfarm
    Cabbage moth/larva...need ways to stop them without sevin dust!

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  53. My squash plants never grow more than 1 squash (even with 6 or 7 plants!) and I'd love to know how to make them produce more (even 1 each!)
    You can call me Melanie F in Hamilton

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  54. I want to know how to amend my sandy soil so that I can get green beans to grow properly!
    Sharon P in Hebron, IN

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  55. Your mention of strawberry plants caught my eye. I planted several plants 2 years ago and I haven't gotten very many strawberries yet, and what I do get are pretty small. So tips on getting big, beautiful berries would be great.
    You can call me Mets Mitch.

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  56. It sounds like a great read! I'd love to learn how to have no more tomato cages! Vicki

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  57. Solar pyramids !
    I live on the edge of Zone 2 & Zone 3 so I frequently have to deal with late frosts in June, and early killing frosts in the Fall. Oh, if I could extend my growing season just a teensy bit :)

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  58. Would love to know what project ideas in that book that I could try here in Bulgaria..but I wonder if this giveaway is open internationally? Annie

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  59. I desperately need help with the tomato cage issue! Also the worms or bore that are destroying my squash are very discouraging to this novice gardener. Thanks for your website, I love it! Lori

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  60. Hello Jane (& everyone else),

    Thanks very much for your favorable comments about my new book, and for doing a give-away of it here at your blog. I'm kind of amazed at all the response.

    The gardening issue/problems that are being mentioned here amount to something of a focus group discussion that I find fascinating, especially as I am hoping to come out with a Volume 2 Idea Book for Gardeners three or four years from now.

    I'll admit that I don't have answers for all the garden problems mentioned by everyone here, but there are answers in the book to some of the problems.

    My "philosophy" of gardening is that if you can get your plants off to a good start in good soil, and keep the weeds under control, then you will have success, or more success than failure. So, for example, when it comes to plants like the squashes, zucchini and melons, if you start them in a simple, inexpensive cloche, like my tire sidewall cloches, and keep them protected until they grow to fill the cloche, then remove the cover, they will be strong and healthy and bugs will not be a big problem. That has been my experience. The same goes for cabbages.

    And then there is the simple bit of advice given in the Leavitt's Almanac of 1892 (page 2 of the book): "Squashes planted late are not so likely to be infested by insects." I've found that to be true too.

    One part of the book that I'm really excited about is the Introduction to Soil Remineralization. As an organic gardener I've always depended on compost to supply fertility to my crops but this year I have remineralized my garden according to a $20 soil test and $45 soil Rx. I bought the prescribed minerals to "treat" my whole 4,000 sf garden, and, as discussed in the book, I am in the process of evaluating the results. My sandy soil is well-drained but it does not hold onto fertility. With the proper ratio of minerals, and amendments that help retain fertility (all organic-approved), the garden should thrive, and the food harvested will have a higher nutrient content. Better yet, insects and disease do not attack healthy plants. It's too soon to fully evaluate the results, but my soil is definitely a different texture (nicer to work) and I'm inclined to think my crops are growing better than usual.

    I'd like to point out that there is much more to my Idea Book than just a book. There is also a "hidden" Resources web site where readers can go and see a lot of pictures and get more ideas for successful gardening. Directions for finding the web site are on the last page of the book, and I hope every reader will check that out. I'll be adding information there in the weeks and months ahead. It is a work in progress.

    In the final analysis, I'm not a gardening expert—I don't have all the answers and my garden is NEVER a weed-free, total success. I am, instead, a gardening enthusiast. Despite the ever-present challenges, confounding mysteries, and continual setbacks, I have a lot of successes, and experience times of great gardening satisfaction. Also, as a Christian, I love the idea of gardening being an act of faith and co-creation with God. After all, God planted the first garden and he put man in it to tend and keep it. The act of gardening gives fresh meaning to "Thy hand hath provided."

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  61. Oh, what a cool book and giveaway. Pick me, pick me!! :)

    My pepper plants are puny, too, and they need to be be bigger at this point of the year. We live in Western Montana, with only about 100 growing days (if we're lucky) between killing frosts. Hopefully we'll have a greenhouse next year, but those pathetic little peppers are just making me sad. I'm going to put some rabbit manure around them and see if it helps...

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  62. Squash bugs!

    Monique

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  63. Yes, powdery mildew on my squash/melon leaves and ants in the strawberries. I moved my strawberries, making a nice new location and the ants followed! Debbie R. in Canada

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  64. Oh, how I hate ants! Without using nasty chemicals, I don't know how to rid them from my garden. They love to shepherd huge herds of aphids all over my veggies. :( Not okay.
    Ashley D. in Canada

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  65. This year I planted my zucchini seeds four times and either the birds or rabbits dug them up. I wound up buying zucchini starts. So disappointing as these are so easy to grow! Thanks for the chance!

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  66. The grape plants were bought without knowing how to grow and train them. Time for research...the book looks great! Monica L.

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  67. cucumbers- they get bitter as the summer heats up (it is 1oo degrees today)
    tomatoes- I also use the florida weave but was on vacation when they should have been "strung", and they are sprawling on the ground.
    strawberries- we used to have huge crops of berries, but the last several years my plants begin to die mid-summer.

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  68. my question is about garlic:
    I plant the garlic in the fall
    it seems to grow well, scapes appear in mid-July,
    yet at harvest time the bulbs are still quite small
    they just never seem to get big
    I live in the Rocky Mtns - and other gardeners are growing
    large bulbs - I can't figure out what I am doing wrong
    average soil depth is 12"
    they are spaced 6" apart
    watered every 2 days or when soil dries
    helppppppp please

    Thanks Lisa

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    Replies
    1. Garlic doesn't do well with weed competition. Are you keeping the weeds in check? Do you remove the scape? Do you apply any organic nitrogen fertilizer when you plant? Blood meal, feathermeal or soybean meal are all natural sources of slow-release nitrogen. The nitrogen makes a difference for me. Watered every two days sounds like too much water to me. I mulch garlic and never water, but I live in upstate NY. I think I would ask the other garlic growers around you what they are doing. :-)

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  69. how to improve on growing the smaller fruits... berries. they seem to be an important addition to the garden/diet.
    denise

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  70. Black spot on the new rose bush. I've never grown a rose bush before.

    Tiffani

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  71. Weeds! Always weeds. We have tried many different techniques and it always comes back to tedious hand weeding.

    Cyndi

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  72. Jane does he have any suggestion in there on 4 legged pest control?

    Hickery Holler Farm

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    Replies
    1. No Sorry. But there's an idea for me to research for Volume 2. I've not had a lot of problems with 4-legged critters in my garden because, I think, it is so close to my house and I have a dog. That said, the beagle we currently have is not the garden guard dog that the previous mutt was. We were told (by a man who knows such things) that "Annie" (now deceased) was a cur dog. She was the best dog we ever had. But I digress. :-)

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  73. I have tried two years in a row to grow broccoli- both times I get very small heads on the broccoli before it bolts- any ideas?

    Beth from Boise ID

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  74. My biggest garden problem right now is poor soil quality. I have no top soil, only hard clay. I added some compost last year, but my plants this year are pale green and small. Not expecting much from the garden this season.

    Mike from Indiana

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  75. This is the second summer of my raised garden bed garden. I put new compost soil in the garden this year and have noticed blossom end rot on a bunch of my tomatoes. Not sure if there is much I can do about it this year, but what should I do to amend the soil for next year?

    Heather from Poquoson, VA

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  76. Is there a way, other than dousing the cucumbers and zucchini with water and then hand picking off the "SQUASH BUGS", to take care of these bugs. Evidently squash bugs hate water or being wet, because when we do this, they all climb up out of the stalk base. Then we usually pick them all off and apply diatomaceous earth. Is there an easier way?? Thanks, Jeff

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  77. I would love to know a way to keep stink bugs off of my tomatoes without using harmful pesticides. KSonnier

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  78. I actually have two. Why won't my tomatoes produce and how can I get rid of worms in my corn!

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  79. Persistent weeds! Especially grasses...crab grass, quackgrass and the like. Any good amount of rain and they shoot up a foot tall overnight. I cannot keep up with them. I need a good organic solution, short of covering my entire 2500 sq ft garden with cardboard. And solarizing has not worked for me. :P

    Thanks for the giveaway. The book sounds very interesting!

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  80. Corn Stalks! They are quite hard to compost and semi-durable...there must be something I could be using them for?

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  81. I would like a solution to the weeds which I can never keep up with in my garden every year! Our summers are so short here in Michigan that I have decided I want to spend most the summers enjoying our daughter while she grows up rather than spending all day, every day out pulling weeds. There has to be a an easier way to keep the weeds down and let the veggies grow!

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  82. Weeds... Oh, I can never even begin keep up with those. I'd also love to see what he has to say about soil remineralization.
    Lynn from MN

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  83. Have never been able to grow green pepper plants...something always eats them, or they get white powdery gunk on the leaves. And I would LOVE to learn alternatives to tomato cages, thanks!

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  84. We need a better solution for caging tomatoes. Nothing has seemed to work all that well for us, thankfully the fruit grows fine. Also, how is one to successfully eliminate squash bugs? What a nasty little bug. -ER

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  85. I would love to win this book! My husband and I follow his blog already and love him!!!
    Thistles! The other weeds we have a pretty good handle on but we've been gardening here 9 years and the thistles never lessen. They come back the same every year!

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  86. Jane, I enjoy your blog, very informative. I'd love to hear Mr. Kimball's tips and tricks here uses in his composting. Thank you.

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  87. I wish I knew how to keep cats out of my freshing dug garden! Jason in Indiana

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  88. I'd love to know how to get rid of those horrid squash bugs, and how to grow strawberries successfully. Thanks!
    Amanda S. from TN.

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  89. I am intrigued to hear about the absence of tomatoe cages, because I love my cages currently. Tara

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  90. I'd love to know more about composting for a healthier garden. Our neighbours just throw everything in a pile within view from our yard and I hate seeing the mess!
    lesandsara [at] gmail [dot] com.

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  91. Our yard is being overtaken by poison ivy. We have carefully tried to dig it up and dispose of it, but the birds eat the berries and re-invent the plants over and over again. Weeding is getting to be a nightmare as it seems the ivy is hiding everywhere. Any surefire cure to this "itchy" problem? Herbielady

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  92. I would like to know more about creative ways to use livestock. Such as using your pigs to turn soil, ducks to get bugs in the green house and so on.

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  93. I'd like to know how grow watermelons properly, mine just die or i get just leaves.

    Jacob @ heimdall

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  94. I live in the Northeast and would like to learn how to extend my growing season - either with cold frames or hoop houses.

    Lisa H.
    trueveggie

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  95. we are planning a large garden to put in next year but cant agree on raised beds or straight in the dirt. Which method is best???
    stacey

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  96. I would love to know how to get my everbearing raspberries to stop throwing out so many suckers at the expense of crop yields. I want raspberries, not more plants that don't yield. Help!

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  97. We have such a problem with grasshoppers. Last year they ate every one of my tomato and pepper plants. I'd love a natural way to get rid of them.

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  98. My problems this year and every year is WEEDS and Colorado Potato Beetle. I am looking for a solution that does not include chemicals. Debbie C. From WI

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Just a friendly reminder, if you know me personally please try to refrain from using my name. There are those who may try to locate me, break into my pantry and steal my pickled beets. Thanks:-).

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