10 Beginner Tips for a Successful Vegetable Garden

Posted by Katie S on May 16, 2019 11:11:55 AM

10 Beginner Tips For a Successful Vegetable Garden

If you’ve never grown a vegetable garden before or if you’ve only dabbled with the occasional potted veggie plants, fully committing can be an intimidating prospect. So, let me put your mind at ease. Everything will be OK. If you plan a little and set aside a bit of time for regular maintenance, you will succeed in your garden. You’ll probably hit a few speed bumps the first year, but you’ll learn a lot, and you will have the satisfaction of eating your own vegetables.

The three essential factors for a successful vegetable garden are sun, water, and protection, but here are a few other helpful tips for getting started:

1. Like all good things, it starts with a healthy foundation. 

Nutrient-rich soil is key for growing healthy vegetables. If you’re filling empty raised beds, it’s worth buying good planting soil from your local garden shop so you have a weed-free starting point. (Plus, it’s great to make friends and support your local shop – they will have expert tips for growing in your area.) If you are turning an existing bed into a vegetable garden, you may want to work-in a bag or two of soil conditioner. Or, to save money a great way to renew nutrients is by burying your leaves. In the fall, mow over your fallen leaves, then bury them 6-8” down in your bed, or layer them over the top then work them down by doing multiple passes with a tiller before the ground freezes. 

 

2. In the battle against pests, take the high ground and fortify your borders. 

Do you think bunnies are adorable fuzzy neighbors? When you see a deer in the yard do Disney-esque memories start playing in your head to a cheerful tune? Just wait till you start your vegetable garden, you may develop a new perspective on these agile, hungry nemeses. Raised beds/boxes are a great option for beginner and seasoned gardeners – fewer opportunities for weeds, natural protective border (though I still recommend chicken wire above this if you have bunnies or deer), less back pain, and control over possible soil contaminants.

 

3. Know your bugs.

When it comes to vegetables, there are good bugs, and there are bad bugs. For some of the best bugs see tip #7 – because we need BEES. For the bad bugs, enter aphids, AKA “gardeners arch nemesis #1” and slugs, or “Ugs” as my toddler calls them. Unfortunately, both these bugs are common just about everywhere in the U.S. Let’s begin with slugs. The way my mom taught me to deal with these pests is to put a small saucer or tuna can in the garden and fill it with beer. The slugs climb in and drown themselves in a drunken stupor. It might sound crazy, but I swear it works – and it doesn’t need to be the good stuff, you can use your cheap beer. Also see tip #4 for another way to deal with slugs – *hint* it’s snakes. Getting rid of aphids can be fun too. When I moved to Colorado, I learned it’s common practice to buy ladybugs and release them into your garden in late spring and they will take care of the aphids for you. You can order small buckets of these beneficial beetles online or pick them up at your local garden shop, then store them in your fridge until you’re ready to release them (try not to think too hard about a couple thousand bugs escaping in your fridge…they basically don’t move in the cold). Then just before nightfall, water your garden well and sprinkle the ladybugs throughout. With a nice damp environment and local aphids to feast on, the ladybugs will settle in and make your garden their home.

10 Beginner Tips For a Successful Vegetable Garden 

4. Embrace the slithery.

Unless snakes are truly the things your nightmares are made of, there is no downside to good ole garters in your garden. Yes, the beady eyes and slithering startle me every time, but these effective little hunters will decimate many of those problematic bugs listed above. And despite encouraging my husband to pick the little guy in this photo up to show our son, I don’t recommend picking them up in general – they emit a horrendous odor on your hands, and frankly you want them to continue living unbothered in your garden.

 10 Beginner Tips For a Successful Vegetable Garden

5. Mother knows best.

For the Middle and Northern U.S., Mother’s Day marks the time when you are generally safe from snow and frost to plant your garden.

 

6. Set yourself up for success with hardy growers.

For your first go, I highly recommend choosing vegetables that are easier to grow and maybe throw in one of the more difficult ones to play around with while you get your feet wet. These are the ones I suggest before you move on to the more finicky species: tomatoes, zucchini and squash, cucumbers, peas, and potatoes.

 

7. There’s no shame in starting with starts. 

Sure, growing plants from seed is a great feeling of accomplishment, but it also requires more advanced planning and patience than picking up healthy starts from a local shop. If patience and pre-planning aren’t your thing, or if you feel more confident in picking up starts, go for it! This is often the most popular route anyways, especially for tomatoes.

 

8. Expect big things. 

Remember that your little seedlings or starts have months more growing to do. Place your stakes and tomato cages at the same time you plant so as not to damage roots or branches later when the plants are larger. Support heavy branches with Gear Tie Reusable Foam Twist Ties and prune off over abundant growth if needed. Zucchini plants will be enormous and cucumbers and other vine vegetables will take up most of your garden space if you let them, so I recommend placing a trellis for them to grow up rather than out – this also helps keep the slugs off them.

10 Beginner Tips For a Successful Vegetable Garden 

9. Don’t forget the flowers.

A common problem in vegetable gardens is poor pollination – if your plant doesn’t have cross pollination, it won’t fruit. Bees are the answer (wind can help too). One of the best ways to attract them throughout the growing season is by having flowers near your vegetable garden to bring them round. Most flowers will attract bees, but if you want specific suggestions for the best, check out this article by the Honeybee Conservancy: “21 Flowers That Attract Bees”.

 10 Beginner Tips For a Successful Vegetable Garden

10. Herbs for the win. 

I love having a kitchen garden on our back deck where I can easily pick fresh herbs for our meals. Mine is separate from the vegetables, but there are many benefits to planting herbs in with your veggies, a practice called companion planting. For detailed info on companion planting with herbs, check out this article by the Gardening Channel: “Herbs that Pair Perfectly as Growing Partners”. Many herbs help to repel unwanted insects and even rodents, while the flowering ones tend to be great bee-attractors. You don’t want the ones you cook with to flower though (pick off they buds when they start) as it negatively affects the taste. So, if you have the space, plant twice as many as needed and let half go to seed for the bees while keeping the others pruned for eating. If you are looking forward to fresh mint for your mojitos, plant it in a pot – it’s invasive and while it smells delightful, it will take over everything if planted in the garden! And, if you’re not much of a cook, you can plant a cocktail garden instead, because of course that’s a thing now: “Grow a Cocktail Garden”.

Those are my tips for getting your vegetable garden started. I hope you’ve learned something new and are feeling excited and confident about planting. Please feel free to leave your own tips in the comments below for the community.

Topics: outdoors, DIY, Home, gardening

Nite Ize in the Dorms

Posted by Dave Taylor on Sep 10, 2018 10:39:00 AM

After eighteen years of the frequently challenging daily task of parenting, I reached a milestone in my son’s life: He headed off to college. And he's not staying close to home. We live in Boulder, Colorado but he chose Pitzer College in Claremont, California, almost exactly 1,000 miles from home.

I lived in the dorms when I went to college many eons ago, but the increase in technology and electronics coupled with more participatory and attentive parenting has changed the dorm life experience quite a bit. College kids expect nicer housing amenities and parents demand it.

Still, dorm rooms are fundamentally small rooms where two kids who don’t know each other are stuck sharing the space and learning how to get along, even as they both figure out that college thing too.

Fortunately, Nite Ize had some great ideas for making the most out of those small dorm rooms and navigating the college experience. We pulled together a College Dorm Move-In Kit that contained lots of great products to help out with cable organization, bike safety, and recreation. Here’s a photo of my son on his dorm bed with the Kit spread out:

gareth-nite-ize-products

Look closely and you’ll see Gear Ties® in both 6” and 12” lengths, a pack of CordCollars™  a Wraptor™ rotating phone holder for the bike, a pair of Radiant® 125 rechargeable bike lights, an INOVA® XT flashlight and a Flashflight® LED flying disc.

It wasn’t until he started trying to plug in his computer, phone charger, music speakers, voice speaker, lamp and other gadgets that he suddenly realized the great benefit of organizing all his cords. The Gear Ties worked great for that and ensured that he’d never accidentally unplug anything while sitting at the desk doing homework (or surfing the internet while not doing homework as it may be.)

nite-ize-dorm-kit

We decided not to take his bicycle to campus on move-in, but it turns out that his dorm mate is a triathlete and has spare bikes, one of which he generously loaned to my son! The Radiant 125 bike lights are going to work great to keep them safe while biking around campus and the community at night, one on each of their bikes. And since they're rechargeable, there's no batteries to buy.

Of all the Nite Ize products, however, there’s no question that the one he was most excited about was the Flashflight. Being based in California means that the evenings are delightful, the students are outdoor minded, and everyone’s already good at tossing flying discs. With its light-up colors and smooth flight, Gareth’s sure to be the most popular guy on campus in no time with his Flashflight!

Move-in is done. He’s set up in his dorm room, wires organized and flashlight sitting by the bed in case of emergencies. His bike will be well illuminated and his charging cables now sport collars to make them more reliable. He’s even ready for late night outdoor recreation. Now the hard part: classes, studying and working towards his degree. I’m confident he’s going to do great!

 

 

Topics: Commuting, Gear Ties, DIY, Organization

Road Team Tested: Hitting the Road with Gear Ties

Posted by Live Outside & Play Road Team on Sep 5, 2018 10:25:59 AM

Ben and Roxy are more than road warriors. They spend all day, every day traveling the country out of a custom van as part of the Elevation Outdoors Live Outside and Play Road Team. While taking the road less traveled, these two have developed clever ways to keep their rolling home organized, accessible, and ready to handle whatever bumps come their way.

Roxy and her dog Henry

The versatility of Gear Ties® have made these Reusable Rubber Twist Ties™ a vital part of their everyday lives. Colorful Gear Ties can be spotted throughout their van, illustrating numerous ways that Ben, Roxy, and their pup Henry have discovered solutions on the fly. From securing their refrigerator to creating impromptu storage, Ben and Roxy have a variety of ways that these everyday items have proved essential.

Whether you're traveling across the country or going for a short family road trip, check out the Live Outside and Play Road Team's favorite out-of-the-box ways to make long days in the car easier with Gear Ties.  

Click here to discover Ben and Roxy's "SIX OUT-OF-THE-BOX WAYS TO USE A GEAR TIE."

*Nite Ize is a proud sponsor of the Live Outside and Play Road Team.

 

 

Topics: Commuting, Gear Ties, DIY, Organization

Road Team Tested: The Fun Doesn't Stop When the Sun Goes Down

Posted by Live Outside & Play Road Team on Jul 12, 2018 9:54:41 AM

When you live in a van in Colorado and the sun dips below the horizon, you have two options: Get in and enjoy that claustrophobic feeling of being in the same small space for far too many hours, or grab some Nite Ize products and keep the fun going. With the fire ban stretching across the state, it’s easy to get discouraged after sunset in the backcountry. Without a fire to base evening debauchery around, what’s an outdoor enthusiast to do? Luckily, Nite Ize has plenty of products to help keep you entertained. Check out some fun post-sunset products perfect for both humans and furry friends alike.

Fun for Humans

SPOKELIT® LED WHEEL LIGHT – DISC-O SELECT™

 

Nothing says “I’m keeping myself safe, but I’m here to party” quite like the SpokeLit LED Wheel Light from Nite Ize. The SpokeLit is an LED lighting accessory for all occasions. And we mean ALL OCCASIONS. You can select between six colors or leave it on the color changing Disc-O mode to keep you seen and safe with perfect side visibility while riding your bike. Biking home from work? SpokeLit. Biking to the bar on a Saturday night? SpokeLit. Biking across the desert at Burning Man? Definitely SpokeLit. This shock and weather-resistant light is super efficient and has a battery life of 20 hours (roughly the length of one REALLY GOOD party). In all honesty, it just makes riding your bike more fun. We’ve even used ours along with a headlamp while mountain biking at night. We usually select our color based on our mood… Which is almost always Disc-O mode.

FLASHFLIGHT® LED LIGHT-UP FLYING DISC

When we’re backpacking we choose food with a high nutrition-to-weight ratio. When we’re in the van, we choose our toys with a high fun-to-size ratio. The Flashflight LED LightUp Flying Disc always makes the cut. The Flashflight is a LED Light Up flying disc designed by an Ultimate player to perform as beautifully as it looks. Weighing in at 185 grams, the Flashflight is our go-to for fun, whether we’re in the van or spending a night in the backcountry. The Flashflight is not only water-resistant but it floats, too! Nite Ize incorporated fiber optics as well as long-life LED lights into the Flashflight to make sure you can see it from every angle.  Obviously, it’s great at night, but it was designed to fly like a high-quality flying disc and you’ll be reaching for it even during the day.

Fun for Dogs

HUCK ‘N TUCK™ GLOWSTREAK® COLLAPSIBLE THROWER + LED BALL

We often play fetch with our van pooch after dark, and before the Huck ‘N Tuck Glowstreak Collapsible Thrower and LED Ball, we lost count of all of the tennis balls that were lost to the night. With the LED ball, and easy to store thrower, we can tire our puppy out every night after finding camp. The Huck ‘N Tuck thrower extends to two-feet long for long arching throws, and collapses down to 12 inches so it’s easy to store in the van. The motion-activated LED ball comes to life with a bounce against the ground or the first throw, and keeps glowing until it’s stationary for five minutes. You get five more minutes of the LED’s blinking before it turns off. This ensures you can find the ball even when your pup is done running. That strong little LED has 35 hours of glow time so you can play throughout the entire summer. The LED ball is molded, shockproof AND waterproof (and it floats!). This means if you have a pup that likes to swim, you can keep the water games going all night. The ball has ridges so it won’t slip as he makes his way back for another throw. It is also the same size as a tennis ball so it’s compatible with all throwers! Our dog has put this ball to the test, and it’s stood up to his slobber, chewing and his incredible ability to hide the ball from us when we’re done playing.

NITEHOWL® LED SAFETY NECKLACE

We have an adventure dog. He sprints along as we bike down singletrack, secures the perimeter every time we arrive at a new campsite, and scrambles up rock fields as we make our way to summits. This dog knows freedom and yearns to roam like the rest of us. When we arrive at camp, we instantly reach for the NiteHowl LED Safety Necklace. The collar is made up of flexible polymer which you trim down to fit your pup’s neck exactly. It comes in three different colors so you can easily distinguish between other dogs wearing the same collar. The button on the weather-resistant battery pack cycles you through solid lights, flashing and off. We use the flashing mode when walking through crowds at festivals to make sure our pup is seen, and so everyone else knows he’s ready to party. At campsites, we use the solid option so we can always spot him (and he’s still ready to party). Sometimes it’s catching glimpses of him sprinting through the trees around us, or as a glow reminder he’s curled up next to our camp chair snoozing once he’s partied out.

Topics: Adventure, "travel", DIY, Organization

Emergency Preparedness with the Nite Ize INOVA X2

Posted by Dave Taylor on Jul 5, 2018 10:00:00 AM

Whether you’re a renter or homeowner, you’ve already figured out that it’s a smart idea to have some emergency preparedness gear handy in case of bad weather or power outages. A few gallons of water, a first aid kit, some candles and matches and, of course, a good flashlight. Homeland Security recommends that you add a few things too, including a three day supply of food, a whistle to signal for help, a can opener, local map and some way to charge your cellphone as necessary.

inova-x2-1Most of these make no sense to tote around in your car. All cars should have a basic first aid kit, though, and a good flashlight. Problem is, a flashlight left in a vehicle is a classic challenge for most people because you have to remember to check and ensure it still works before the emergency situation arises. There are also lots of vehicular emergencies that can require a bright flashlight too, from dropped keys to a flat tire.

That’s why when I was equipping my daughter’s car with some emergency basics, I opted for the super bright Nite Ize® INOVA® X2 LED flashlight. Powered by two AA batteries, it can put out 280 lumens for almost two hours, plenty enough to flag down a passing vehicle. In its lower illumination mode, it’s still offers plenty of light to check a potential flat or work on the car as needed.

Since I know my daughter won’t check her flashlight on a monthly basis, the INOVA X2 retains its battery charge for a long time. Nite Ize assures me that even untouched for an entire year the flashlight will still work for hours in an emergency situation.

Since I want to instill good habits in my daughter with safety and preparedness, I am going to have her get into the habit of checking her flashlight and first aid kit every three months. This is easily implemented by checking on the first day of each season, which has a secondary advantage of reminding her to add some cold weather additions too.inova-x2-2

If you also drive into snow and other potential bad weather, you too should remember that in addition to a reliable flashlight and first aid kit you should be packing jumper cables, a few flares and an ice scraper, at a minimum. 

There are few things more scary than having car troubles when it’s dark out and you’re far away from assistance. Having a Nite Ize flashlight as the cornerstone of her preparedness kit helps me feel better, knowing she’ll be able to handle most any emergency situation.

 

 

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Quick Facts | Nite Ize INOVA X2 LED Flashlight

Built from aerospace grade aluminum
Crushproof, shockproof and waterproof
Energy efficient LED bulb rated for 36,300 hours
280 lumens on high, 25 lumens on low


Learn More

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Topics: Emergency Preparedness, Visibility and Safety, DIY, Home

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Over the past 30 years, Nite Ize has grown from a cabin-based startup to distributing 500+ products worldwide. We pride ourselves in being fun and functional, trusted and innovative, and obsessively dedicated to making products that are not only guaranteed for life, but guaranteed to improve your life.

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