Spring is officially around the corner! Although the weather may not have begun warming significantly where you live, there’s no reason you can’t start your growing season a little early. After visiting my local nurseries for the past month now and repeatedly being told that no new herb or vegetable plants had come in yet, I decided to invest in a few simple tools and start planting some seeds indoors. Whether you’ve got the itch to grow right now, or you’re interested in getting a jump start on your gardening, there are a few things you can do today to start growing something good and make sure that it thrives well into the warm season.Read More
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Most people who garden believe that the growing season ends when the weather begins to turn cold and morning dew turns to frost. This is absolutely not true, though. A few places (USDA zones 0-2) have extremely short growing seasons that make it very difficult to grow vegetables outdoors without using specialized techniques and growing plants that are uniquely adapted to grow in that climate. However most people, even those who live in places where it reliably snows every winter (like Ontario, Canada), can continue to grow fresh herbs, vegetables, and even some flowers all year round.Read More
If you have been gardening for a while, you’ve probably realized that making mistakes is a big part of the process of learning. Even the most experienced gardeners make errors of judgment that can lead to a failing or otherwise unsuccessful harvest. Some problems are inevitable when it comes to growing your own food: weather changes can ruin a harvest in a single day, so if you are not prepared (or available) to act fast in case of unexpected frost, heat wave, extended periods of rain or humidity, or sudden insect infestation, all of your hard work can be ruined very quickly…
Whether you’re a neophyte, a seasoned grower, or a business owner looking to make a profit from your harvest (or just earn a little extra cash on the side from your farm), you may be making some of these common mistakes that growers make, all of which affect the health, productivity, and viability of your garden in a major way.Read More
Companion planting is a small-scale method of intercropping, which refers to the practice of planting one kind of plant next to another or others that help it thrive. It is often associated with small-scale organic gardening (the type of gardening I have exclusively done for the past 18 years) or other biodynamic planting methods, and it is a favorite technique of farmers seeking to produce more yield in less space.
Although popular literature touts the benefits of intercropping over monocropping, there is a lot of debate, and consequently, confusion over which plants go well together, and whether some of the reported benefits of companion planting are consistent or coincidental. This is partly a debate between using scientific methods (usually in controlled, laboratory stings) and using personal experience to determine how to companion plant. There are benefits to both methods, though admittedly, I prefer to rely mostly on experience (my own and that of successful gardeners I know) with a smattering of science to help me understand why certain combinations have seemed to work well in my own garden, while others don’t seem to have much effect one way or another.Read More
Whether you have already begun your container gardening adventure or are just getting started, you’ve probably realized that container gardening presents many advantages over traditional in-ground gardening. Aside from being a great way to grow some of your own food in small spaces, as a container gardener you can exert more control over a number of variables that can sabotage an in-ground garden, like weather, pests, and soil quality. I covered these and other matters in last month’s post on container gardening. This post addresses some of the practical matters involved in not only starting your container garden, but helping it to thrive. Here are 8 things you should be doing to keep your container garden healthy, happy, and productive well into the fall season.Read More
Spring is here! For some of us, spring is finally here. Although the crazy weather patterns we’ve been experiencing in the mid-Atlantic region where I live have left many of us anxious to go out and dig around in the dirt, others may only be thinking about making this the year they grow some of their own food (or the year they grow more of their own food). If you’re ready to stop thinking about it and start doing but are challenged for space (maybe you live in an apartment of condo, or maybe you have a tiny yard, or your yard doubles as your dog’s bathroom), this post is for you. Maybe you have a healthy growing operation in place already but are starting to suffer from back problems because of all the bending involved in maintaining your garden. If so, this post is for you, too. Or maybe you’re just interested in trying something new or adding new elements to your garden. This post is for you, too.Read More
Growing some of your own food has numerous, scientifically proven physical, emotional, and mental health benefits. To anyone who has committed to a healthy lifestyle, it’s no surprise that eating a mostly plant-based diet is better for your health and can help you avoid some common pitfalls of aging, such as developing chronic inflammation and its associated illnesses. In the United States, food gardening is at its highest levels in the past decade, with the largest growth in participation among young households.
In my book, Go Green without Going Broke, I have written in detail about some of the benefits of growing your own food, and offered advice about how to do so, even if you’ve never grown anything before. Depending on the growing zone you live in, or the equipment at your disposal, you may have already started preparing your vegetable and herb garden by sowing seeds or transplanting seedlings. Today’s post focuses on a few key strategies that I have found to be very effective for reaping an abundant harvest that starts in spring and continues throughout the fall season, producing fresh food for you to enjoy for many months to come.Read More