I HAVE ALWAYS CAGED my tomatoes, but many experts agree that staking–and regularly pruning and tying the staked plants as they grow–is the most space-efficient and also most hygienic tactic of all, helping manage the potential for disease while yielding plenty of fruit. With tomato-transplant time just ahead here, I’ve been studying up with experts like Tom Stearns (that’s his High Mowing Organic Seeds tomato trial field, above) on how to stake and prune tomatoes, and other tips for producing a healthy, bountiful crop. [read more…]
Planting a vegetable garden, or growing herbs, fruits and berries? One of my great pleasures is growing a portion of my own food. I eat the harvest fresh in season, of course, and freeze or can or otherwise store things for the winter, bringing the color and flavor of the summer garden to the offseason table.
APPLES TREES—the fruit everyone thinks they want in their backyards—aren’t easy to grow East of the Rockies, as those who have tried probably noticed when they produced blemished fruit (or required multiple pest-defeating tactics on a strict schedule). And if you’re keeping track, apples aren’t native. Fruit expert Lee Reich offers up two unusual but delicious American native fruit-tree beauties that require little more than to be planted. In print or the latest public-radio podcast, how to grow pawpaws (top photo) and persimmons to perfection. [read more…]
FOR 25 YEARS I have grown my vegetables in raised beds, but the kind that you need to purchase lumber and bolts and use a saw and hammer to construct, then fill entirely with soil and compost. Lately I’ve been looking longingly at photos of a centuries-old, sustainable way of making raised garden beds called hugelkultur, or hill culture. “It’s like sheet mulching or lasagna gardening,” says Dave Whitinger of All Things Plants, who regularly lectures on the subject, but in hugelkultur, “wood is the first level of your sheet-mulched bed.” In print or my latest public-radio show and podcast, hugelkultur 101 with Dave (whose robust hugelkultur onion bed that is up top). [read more…]
I DON’T THINK I HAVE EVER planted a theme garden—you know, a Children’s Garden, for instance, or White Garden or Shakespeare Garden, the kinds of demonstration plots you might see at a botanical institution. But the joy of a winterlong supply of homemade vegetable soup from my 2012 harvest has perhaps changed that. I suppose am at least informally growing a Soup Garden this year—all but one or two ingredients are sown, with thought of soup-making in mind. [read more…]
NO GREENHOUSE, a tiny house, and various other obstacles notwithstanding, I’m madly coaxing along one crop after another of seedlings over here. Want a little tour of how to start seed indoors (well, at least Margaret’s improvised method, that includes some outdoor steps, too)? [read more…]