Monday, September 19, 2011

Winter Gardening

Believe it or not.. it is planting time!!  Time to plant your winter garden.  It appears that the 90 degree days are behind us.  So, it is time to plant your winter garden.  

Winter gardening is a great first step for the novice gardener.  There are many vegetables that grow best in the winter.  The flavor and the quality of dark green, leafy vegetables (such as collards, kale, swiss chard, mixed salad greens, cabbage, and spinach) actually improve after a few frosts.  Broccolli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and garlic are also vegetables that produce best in the winter months.

One of the best things about winter gardening is the ease of maintenance.  There is little to no weeding necessary.  Watering needs are also much less since less water evaporates without the heat of summer.  Pests problems are close to nonexistent.  It is such a pleasure to see yummy veggies growing in your yard when so many other plants are dormant.

All of your dark, green leafy veggies grow well and quickly from seed.  Broccolli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts can also be planted from seed.  But, you may want to plant both seeds and young plants to better ensure a good harvest.  I also stagger the planting of the greens.  I am sowing some seeds now and I will sow again a month from now.  This ensures that I will have a continuous source.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Pictures of our Pyrenees!!


Great Pyrenees Puppies

We have beautiful Great Pyrenees puppies that were born on our North Georgia farm 07/11/2011.  They will be ready to go on 09/05/2011.  They will be current on their shots and wormings unless you request otherwise.  We are now accepting deposits of $100.
Males grow to 110–120 pounds and 27–32 inches, while females reach 80–90 pounds and 25–29 inches. On average, their lifespan is 10 to 12 years.

If you would like to place a deposit or visit the puppies, please contact me at

Friday, July 1, 2011

Summer Recipes

Summer is a great time for entertaining family and friends!!  It is especially fun to incorporate fresh ingredients from our own gardens.  
I also like to ensure that the foods that I provide don't include refined sugars.  My favorite substitutes for refined sugars are Agave Nectar and Xylitol.  
Both of these products are all natural and have low glycemic indexes and work great for baking and cooking.  They are a little sweeter than sugar, so I use less of them.  Xylitol has anti-bacterial benefits, including dental benefits.  It has even been proven to decrease the incidences of ear infections.
Possibly the one of the best benefits of both of these sweetners are that they taste great!!!!  There is absolutely no aftertaste.  I guess the best endorsement that I can give is that my kids and my husband love both of them and willingly use them instead of refined sugar.

I have some of my family and friends' favorite recipes on my website,

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

How to Prevent and Stop Blossom End Rot

It is very discouraging to reach out to pick your fresh squash or tomato and discover that the bottom has begun to rot. Blossom-end rot is a "disease" that affects tomatoes,melons, squashes, peppers, and cucumbers. It starts as a water-soaked spot on the blossom end of the fruit which turns leathery and dark brown. The area will eventually rot. Blossom-end rot is caused by the plant having a calcium imbalance. It can also occur in melons, squashes, peppers, and cucumbers.

There are different factors that can lead to a plant not being able to absorb enough calcium, including soil that is too wet or too dry, too much nitrogen in the soil, root damage, too-high or too-low soil pH, soil high in salts, or soil that is too cold. Prevention of blossom-end rot includes keeping the moisture level constant during the growing season, watering once or twice a week in dry weather, using mulch to lessen evaporation, keeping the soil pH near or at 6.5, and allowing the soil to warm before planting. In our area, the primary cause of this calcium deficiency is the severe moisture swings inherent in the Georgia summer. We are usually very hot and dry and then experience drenching storms. This washes the calcium out of our soil.

Adding a tablespoon of bone meal to the bottom of the hole when planting, can give you a head start in blossom end rot prevention. But usually we are not aware that we have a problem until we go to pick our fruit and discover that it is ruined.

Fortunately, there are affordable products that can really help with blossom-end rot Tomato Rot-Stop, 32 Oz.. Tomato Rot-Stop, 32 Oz. is an all-natural product which will prevent calcium deficiency. It is a spray that comes ready-to-use and is absorbed quickly by the plants.

Enz-RotTM Blossom End Rot Concentrate Spray is another great product that will rescue your fruit yield.

Another product to help your tomatoes is Blossom Set Spray, 8 Oz.. Blossom Set Spray, 8 Oz. can double your tomato harvest and allow for an earlier harvest of up to 3 weeks. It is a natural plant hormone which helps the blossoms set fruit even with poor weather. Blossom Set Spray will help almost every blossom to bear fruit. It produces meatier, bigger tomatoes with less seeds. It is all-natural, and can also increase the fruit set of melons, cucumbers, peppers, eggplants, and strawberries.

Using the links below will get you great savings on these garden saving products!! $20 off $40
Gardener's Supply Company

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Backyard Farm is in the News Again!!

The Backyard Farm will be a feature story in the Sunday addition of the Rockdale Citizen and the Newton Citizen.  Anyone can achieve a more sustainable lifestyle.  The word is spreading!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Organic Pest and Insect Control

Organic insect control is possible. It usually involves a means other than poisoning the insect. One method is to capture the insect. For example, an effective means for dealing with slugs is to bury an open beer in your garden. Slugs will be attracted to the beer and will crawl into the beer and drown.

White flies are common pest in the Southeast. Whitefly Traps will attract and capture whiteflies, fungus gnats, thrips and other pests in gardens, greenhouses and potted plants. Once the card is covered with insects, replace it with another.

Diatomaceous Earth is made from the mineral remains of single-cell aquatic plants. This low cost, effective product is a super-fine dust that kills by abrading and dehydrating crawling insects. It controls slugs, ants, cockroaches, earwigs, fleas, and other crawling insects without the use of chemicals. For dry application of Diatomaceous Earth use a duster and cover the entire plant. You can also use a flour sifter. Apply to both the top and bottom of the leaf. Applies best when there is dew or after a light rain. It is a long lasting, effective powder. Insects can not build up resistance. This is also effective to control parasites on pets and livestock. (Wear a dust mask when applying large amounts of it.)

Of course, there is a concern about its impact on bees. It can kill bees just like any other powder designed to kill insects. If the bees get in it, it will stick to them like pollen and be used in the hive with the pollen and kill the bees that are exposed to it. But, this doesn't mean that we can't use Diatomaceous Earth. Just be careful with it. Only use it when necessary and use a pesticide applicator. Don't use it on plants that are blooming unless you are willing to either cover the plants or keep the bees in. If you provide clean drinking water for the bees that is easy for them to reach, they won't drink the water off the dirt.

Gardener's Supply Company

More Backyard Farms With This New Deal!!

The Backyard Farm is running another deal!!  Only $29 for a backyard consultation at  Novice and seasoned gardeners all over Metro Atlanta have already benefited from their backyard consultation.  They are on their way to a more sustainable life!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Backyard Chickens are Growing in Popularity!!

The Today Show ran a story today about backyard chickens' surge in popularity.

Contact The Backyard Farm today to start your own flock of backyard chickens.
Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Backyard Chicken Housing Solution

I have been in the market for a spacious, 6 foot tall dog kennel because our female Great Pyrenees should be going in heat soon.  The more I shopped the more I became convinced that this would be a big expense.  When I was able to find them on craigslist, they also wanted top dollar.  Finally, I found a great one with 84 sq ft and 6 ft high at for only $250.  The lowest price that I found for a rusted one on craigslist was $160.  With $5 shipping and no sales tax, this is far better that I can get at any local retailer.  I ordered on Saturday and it is promised on Wednesday.  Not bad.

As I began to think of ways that I can use the kennel for more than a couple of weeks a year, I realized that this is a perfect set up for a small chicken flock.  The 6 ft height will minimize your hens flying over it and bothering neighbors and will offer great protection from predators.  The 84 sq feet area offers plenty of room for free ranging.  

I have found that four hens can live quite comfortably in a large dog house.  They will utilize it for laying eggs and shelter during inclement weather.  When the weather is good, they will roost on the top.  I have found good prices on dog houses at Walmart and Big Lots.

The added benefit of using the dog kennel for chicken housing is that in the event that you decide chickens are not for you, you can use the kennel and house for other purposes.  You could even put it around your garden with netting on top to keep critters out.  And as I discussed earlier, you can recoup most of your investment on craigslist.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Blueberries - 4 Pints a Day!

These plants will produce 4 pints day--and they are not hybrids!!  I am getting them!!

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Monday, April 4, 2011

Food Growing on Her Deck!!

Cary Lyn Quinn of Decatur now has a garden on her deck!  After consulting with The Backyard Farm, she has been able to do what she didn't think possible!!  Cary Lyn is very busy with OrganizeAtlanta, a professional organizing business.  So, she doesn't have a lot of time to spend maintaining her garden.  Fortunately, her raised bed is easy to maintain.

Thanks for the help, Brett!


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Why Won't My Garden Grow?

Sometimes it seems you are doing all the right things and your garden just won't produce.  If you have properly placed your plants, amended your soil, watered consistently, and fertilized and are still not seeing an abundant harvest, you need to consider other factors.  Soil testing is available to determine the pH, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium balance of your soil. The nutrient levels in your soil greatly effect plant growth and crop production. 

You can get a good soil testing kit at Gardener's Supply Company.

Garden's Alive also has a good kit. They will analyze the soil and give specific recommendations.$20 FREE off your first order at Gardens Alive!
There is another, often overlooked factor that might be affecting your crop production. This is the absence of bees and other pollinators.  Usually if someone is reporting poor production from their garden, they also report an absence of bees.  Bees are vital.  Without them, fruit and vegetable production will be very limited.  A way to address this is to provide bees with a reason to visit your garden.  Bees are looking for nectar and pollen.  The plants that are often purchased today are hybridized.  This is done to make plants more disease resistant and to alter flower color and size.  The problem is that frequently when a plant has been hybridized the production of nectar and pollen are reduced and often leaved the plant sterile.  At this point, the plant is useless to bees and other pollinators, such as butterflies.  Temperature, humidity and soil moisture can also impact the production of nectar.

A simple way to address this problem is to plant with the idea attracting bees and other pollinators to your garden. 

To attract pollinators, you want to plant different plants that will bloom at different times throughout your growing season.  Seek out indigenous plants, such as aster, blackeyed susans, purple coneflower, to attract native bees.  Many garden plants are good sources of nectar or pollen.  It is good to seek out older, heirloom varieties.  Perennials, such as strawberries (yes, they are perennials and will be more prolific every year) and herbs, such as bee balm, boneset, basil, rosemary, and English lavender attract pollinators.

Here are other tips that will increase your bee and butterfly visits:

    * Don't use pesticides.  When you use pesticides, you kill beneficial bugs as well as pests.  Seek out nontoxic pest solutions.
    * Plant flowers of different colors and shapes.  Bees have different sizes and tongue lengths so they feed on different flowers.  Different flowers will increase the range of bees that you will attract.  The colors blue, purple, violet, white, and yellow are particularly attractive to bees.
    * Grow plants that flower at different times.
    * Grow native plants.  Research shows that bees are four times more attracted to native plants than exotic varieties.
    * Plant where bees visit, such as sunny spots and places sheltered from strong winds.

For more information, visit The Backyard Farm and Heaven on Earth Mini Farm.

The Backyard Farm is on the local news!!

We were on 11 Alive News in Atlanta last night and this morning!!  The Backyard Farm was the featured segment on Valerie Hoff's Ways to Save.  I will post the link when it is online.
Heaven on Earth Mini Farm is getting famous.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

More Raised Bed Gardens and Backyard Chickens

I am thrilled with the response to my mamapedia ad.  How exciting to see more people enjoying backyard farming!  I wonder if they will get only raised bed gardens, or if they will also raise backyard chickens.  I would love to assist some of them in establishing an urban chicken flock.

$29 for One-Hour Gardening Consultation from the Backyard Farm ($60 Value)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

More People Are Moving Towards a More Sustainable Life!

I am getting a great response to the deal on mamapedia!  How exciting that more and more people are embracing the truth that they CAN live a more sustainable life right where they are!!!  Raised bed gardens and backyard chickens really do make a difference!  

If you haven't checked out our mamapedia sweet deal, use the link below:

More People Are Moving Towards a More Sustainable Life!

I am getting a great response to the deal on mamapedia!  How exciting that more and more people are embracing the truth that they CAN live a more sustainable life right where they are!!!  Raised bed gardens and backyard chickens really do make a difference!  

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Backyard Farm makes the news!!

Today I am meeting Valerie Hoff from WXIA at a client's house to film a news segment showing the cost savings associated with backyard farming.  A very exciting day!!  I will follow up with air time and a link to the story.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Natural Pest Control That Works!!!

Mom just called to tell me that she is thrilled with the results that she is getting with the Whitefly Traps that she purchased from Gardener's Supply.  These sticky insect traps will attract and capture whiteflies, fungus gnats, thrips and other pests in gardens, greenhouses and potted plants. These are one of the peskiest gardening problems in the South.  They can destroy your plants.  Mom already has her garden planted and put them in her garden two days ago.  She was amazed at how many whiteflies had already been captured.  Once the card is covered with insects, replace it with a fresh one. 

They are only $6 a box and nine come in a box.  I am ordering mine today.  

Gardener's Supply Company

Monday, March 21, 2011

Flea and Tick Control

It is the time of year to address fleas and ticks. is the best place to get flea and tick control. I have six dogs so I have to shop wisely.

What to Plant? Seed or Young Plant?

It's the middle of March.  Today I am going to the local feed store with my friend, Betsy.  I am asking myself whether I will plant seeds or purchase young plants which are already established.  Of course, starting from seed is very satisfying and is a skill worth developing.  But, some plants are easier to start from seed than others.  Many plants, such as tomatoes, must be started indoors.  If you don't have a greenhouse, this can be messy and takes a lot of space.  For the first time gardener, I would suggest that you do most of your planting with established seedlings.  I have aways found it helpful to conquer one thing at a time.

Gardening can be the most satisfying hobby in the world, resulting in beauty, food, and a keen sense of satisfaction. Plug a seed in some dirt and nature performs a miracle. In the beginning, a gardener can feel overwhelmed by the complexities of gardening manuals, so it’s best to start simply and learn by trial and error.

There are vegetables which even the novice gardener will want to start from seed.  Most root vegetables (potatoes, beets, turnips, parsnips, and carrots) can be started off relatively early outdoors.  I really encourage growing my own root vegetables.  Since they grow in the soil and are the most prone to absorb chemicals from the soil, it is important that they grow organically.  "Seed potatoes" (potatoes which have sprouted) can be found now in local feed stores.  Vegetables like beans, peas and corn grow very easily from seed and come up very easily.  These plants also do not like to be transplanted.  So, you will have greater success if you start from seed.

One of the benefits of living in the South is that we naturally have a longer growing season.  But, anyone who has lived in the South knows that the weather changes as frequently as a teenager's moods.  Today's mid 70s weather might be followed by tomorrow's freeze.  It will be important to protect young plants from the effects of a freeze.  Plants in containers should be moved indoors when the temperature drops.  Plants in beds will have to be covered, being careful that your cover doesn't touch the plant itself.  A milk carton cut in half or a box can work well.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Critical Element in Raised Bed Gardening - Soil

Yesterday I amended the soil in my raised bed garden.  Fortunately, since I started the bed with a good soil mix and have added compost throughout the year, I did not have to go to alot of expense to amend it.

Healthy soil is a critical component of any successful garden.  Soil needs air and water to function, and compaction from foot traffic robs it of both.  Raised beds are a good idea for sites with clay soil or areas with poor drainage.  This makes them ideal for Georgia.

You can purchase great raised beds for about the cost of building them yourself at Gardener's Supply.
Use this link for additional savings Gardener's Supply Company
A rule of thumb is to fill the raised planting bed with sixty percent topsoil, thirty percent of an organic matter such as compost and ten percent Miracle Gro Organic (or a comparable product).   Mix some sand throughout for drainage. It actually requires a lot of soil to fill a raised bed, but it is a worthwhile investment. You will reap the benefits in a more productive garden.  Determine the cubic measurement of your  bed to determine how much you need: width x length x depth.  Those new to raised bed gardening will find it simpler to purchase in bags from a hardware store or feed store.  For a 3x6 raised bed, I would recommend starting with ten 40lb bags of topsoil (about $12) one 48 lb bags of Miracle Gro Organic ($8),  two bags of mushroom compost (about $9), and two bags of peat moss (about $10).  This will make your soil start up costs around $40.  If you are composting already, mix it in as well.  This might seem like alot, but remember that next year you will use the same soil, only needing to amend it with our own compost, some topsoil, peat moss, and mushroom compost to replace lost nutrients.  You would also save by not buying organic soil, but it is my preference when growing my food.  You might also find a savings by buying in bulk.  This might be a good option if you are developing several beds or have neighbors doing the same.

Please don't try to go a cheaper route by filling with dirt from your own yard.  The weeds will show up in your bed and the soil will not produce the same amount or quality of food.  When you realize that you will not be tilling and  weeding, it doesn't seem like such a large investment.  It really does pay off.

For more on Raised Bed Gardening visit The Backyard Farm.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Flea and Tick Control

I am already seeing the return of fleas and ticks. I love 1-800-Petmeds. Use the link below to save up to 25% and get free shipping.

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Invitation to connect on LinkedIn

I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

- Donna

Donna Byers
Backyard Farmer at The Backyard Farm

Confirm that you know Donna
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