A Harvest for Halloween

10-27-2016 -- 3


We’re all familiar with October as being the month for Halloween. All month long, stores are awash in costumes, decorations, and candy. According to CNBC, Halloween captures 2.6% of total holiday spending. It ranks as the seventh in terms of holiday spending, behind Father’s Day and Easter. Some go so far as to claim that Halloween spending is even greater and that it actually ranks right behind Christmas in terms of dollars spent.

You’ll probably have to spend money on costumes and candy. But you don’t have to spend a lot on decorations. You can get much of that right from your own garden.

Pumpkins – probably the most obvious. But even here, you can be creative. Try growing one of the “warty” cultivars such as Warty Goblin or Knuckle Head. Carving one of these can give you a jack o’lantern that is extra scary.

Warty Goblin Pumpkin

Cornstalks – a traditional Halloween decoration. But once again, there is room here for creativity. Grow a variety such as Glass Gem, which has colorful translucent kernels, or Black Aztec, an heirloom variety with black, gray-black, or bluish-black kernels. Many of these cultivars can do triple duty – pick some of the ears in the milk stages and use them as sweet corn; arrange them around your house and yard as decorations; and when Halloween is over, grind the kernels to make corn flour or use them intact for popping corn.

Gourds – gourds make excellent Halloween decorations by virtue of the variety of colorful fruits they produce. You can also use them for Thanksgiving decorations. And when it comes time to scrub off all that Halloween makeup, a sponge made from the Luffa gourd will do that very well.



Miscellaneous – there are some non-edible plants that have a certain scare factor that makes them perfect for Halloween decorations. How about growing a Devil’s Tooth – a white fungus that secretes a blood-red juice from its tissues? Ghost Plant, Doll’s Eyes, and Black Bat Flower can add a touch of the macabre to your Halloween decorating.

So when it comes to Halloween decorations, don’t buy them. Grow them!


Blogs That Will Ace Your Winter Gardening Skills

Flower from Melissa Ann's From Scratch Blog

Allow me to introduce my first guest blogger. Melissa Ann is one of the editors of From Scratch Mag (https://www.fromscratchmag.com), your go-to place to learn more about beekeeping, poultry farming, gardening. In her post, Melissa informs us of the best blogs for winter gardening. After you read the post, please feel free to share your comments about it. And be sure to check out the blogs she recommends, and be especially sure to check out From Scratch Mag

Gardening is not for the fainthearted. You must get your hands dirty before expecting a
bumper harvest. And now with winter setting it, gardeners should pay close attention to
weather fluctuations that will likely affect crop yield. You should also note that there are crops that will not survive the frost. Thus, gardeners must choose the right plants heading into winter.

Moreover, because plants rely on light to synthesize food, another winter gardening hack you should take into consideration is the lighting. Because sunlight is often inadequate during this season, a supplementary lighting source, therefore, becomes necessary. You can choose to use readily available LED bulbs for your indoor grow garden or improvise one. The most important thing is that it should emit ideal light wavelengths for your crops.

In this post, we help you find the best blogs for winter gardeners. We understand that planting crops during this season is not going to be a walk in the park. Thus, sharing the knowledge of experts is the best way to go. On this premise, we sampled the best blogs to follow and watch your skills soar to greater heights. Take a look:

1. Green Talk
Apart from life on the balcony, green-talk.com is another website that will ace your winter gardening skills. It emphasizes eco-gardening tips that will turn your gardening into a beautiful place. If you are thinking about organic gardening or how to make great compost manure heading into winter, Green Talk is the right blog for you. The owner of green-talk.com is a consultant on sustainability and whose penchant for organic farming comes with valuable tips and practices.

2. A Way to Garden
With more than 25 years of experience in gardening, the author of awaytogarden.com provides readers will handy tips on crop selection for every season, including winter. Margaret Roach named this blog after a bestselling book she published in 1998. It is also noteworthy that being a member of The Garden Writers Association of America, A way
to Garden is a blog that you find worthwhile every month, year and season.

3. The Happy Homesteader
Homesteading practices include gardening but that’s not the catch here. The question is, how do we ensure sustainable food production during winter? Well, with a top gardening blog like the Happy Homesteader (https://www.thehappyhomesteader.ca/blog) everything becomes a breeze. Whether you are looking to set up a garden for the first time or you want to ensure self-reliance even when the weather doesn’t favor it, this blog is the ideal place to be. Learn about setting up an orchard, winter mulching practices and more.

4. Down to Earth
Down-to-earth.co.uk is a very popular gardening blog. It is a product of gardening enthusiasm. The owners of this blog, Felicity and Alan once had a popular show. With more than 50 years in the gardening world, their knowledge is worth everything you want to learn. On this blog, you can ask as many questions as possible, including those that involve winter farming. Moreover, with vast knowledge in horticulture, Alan and Felicity are household names in flower and fruit gardening.

5. Vertical Veg
The owner of verticalveg.org.uk is a container gardening maverick. Mark Smith will walk you through the dos and don’ts of gardening, including how to ensure a bumper harvest during winter. Life in central London wouldn’t be easy to circumvent if it were not for Mark’s love for growing veggies, flowers and fruits the way he does. Thus, if you are thinking about going full throttle into container gardening in an urban setting with limited space, Vertical Veg is the blog to follow. You can always contact Mark and learn more. Soon enough, you will be having fun growing food at your doorstep even during winter.

6. Fromscratchmag.com
Everyone wants the best from their efforts. If you love gardening, then head over to fromscratchmag.com and learn more. The blog covers many topics on sustainable homesteading life such as attracting bees to your farm, winter gardening tips, DIY farming projects and more. Fromscratchmag features regular updates, taking into consideration, new trends and practices in the gardening world.

7. Growing Family
Another blog to follow if you are looking forward to planting crops this winter is growingfamily.co.uk. It features tips, ideas, and practices on how to get your family involved in gardening. The author of this blog, Catherine Hughes, opines that turning a small space into flourishing gardening teeming with life will ensure a continuous supply of fresh farm products into your home. Whether you choose to grow crops indoors or outdoors, nothing beats home-grown food.

8. The Enduring Gardener
https://blog.theenduringgardener.com/ is a blog through which the owner, Stephanie Donaldson, shares her love for home-grown food. Formerly an editor of Country Living Magazine and a freelance journalist, Stephanie’s blogs cover wide-ranging topics. Through this blog, you will learn about choosing the right plants for different seasons, winter included.

Final Words
With the right tips, gardening shouldn’t be a difficult ordeal. The web provides today’s gardeners with plenty of information that includes blogs and websites to help you get started. This post should help you set up a flourishing farm going forward into winter.

About the author
Melissa Ann Photo
Melissa Ann is a homesteading enthusiast, a published writer, and director at fromscratchmag.com. Her experience in areas such as brand management, graphic design, and photography are valuable additions to our writing team. When she is not writing or publishing anything, Melissa is out gardening in her small farm or cooking. She is also an herbalist, an experience she uses to spread the word about sustainable living

Pay Attention and Think!


When I was a graduate student at Purdue University, my major professor, Dr. Robert Elkin, was constantly emphasizing two important points about how I conducted my work. “Pay attention to what you’re doing,” he would say, “and think about what’s going on.” For me, that meant measuring out animal feed carefully, making sure that I put the correct treated feed into the correct trough, knowing how many test tubes I needed for a particular assay and why, etc.

For you the gardener, Dr. Elkin’s advice also holds true. When you garden, do you know how much fertilizer to add based on the size of your garden? Do you even know the size of your garden? Do you know what you’re planting and why you are planting it? Have you read the directions on the seed packet or the plant tag and do you know how deep to plant the seed or plant, how far apart to space them, and whether the plant requires full sun or part shade?

I’ve said this on many occasions, both in this newsletter and in my classes, but it bears repeating. Gardening is a fun hobby, but partaking in it does not give you a license to let your brain fall asleep. You still have to exercise thought as well as sweat. If you want a successful garden with high yields of sweet, crunchy, and mouthwatering fruits and vegetables, you have to do a little homework. You must think about the previous years’ gardens (better yet, keep a log), and determine what worked and what didn’t so you can repeat the former and learn from (and not repeat) the latter. If using power tools, you must be careful and pay attention so you don’t damage your garden or yourself. You must know what plants (and what cultivars of those plants) work best in your garden. If you aren’t doing all of the aforementioned, then all your toil and sweat will be for naught.

The bible says that faith without works is dead. May I offer a similar directive for gardening? Sweat without thought yields a harvest of nothing.