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…]
My vegetable garden is one of my favorite spots. As a vegetarian for more than 30 years, I grow (and eat!) a lot of vegetables. Tips and techniques for how to grow vegetables organically, vegetable seed varieties I recommend (both heirloom and some hybrids), timing of spring and succession plantings and much 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…]
DEAR GAYLA: Well, this is just perfect. You are publicly blaming me for the fact that you are about to be overrun by giant Nicotiana in your smaller garden, and I am in turn holding you to task for the fact that I am suddenly obsessed with growing dwarf tomatoes in pots in my bigger one. (At least we’re keeping all our finger-pointing in one botanical family: the seductive Solanaceae.) Seriously, though: Thanks for the unusual tomato seeds you sent, and the advice on how to grow them. Thanks to you, I’m starting tomato seed today. [read more…]
WHAT DO YOU WANT in a ‘Butternut’ squash (besides sweet flesh)? I wanted ones that really lasted, to keep me in “fresh” orange meat all winter long, and I got my wish, after buying seed from a catalog that said they’d been selecting their seed strain for just that quality. It really pays to read the details—to look for little specifics like this that make a big difference between one ‘Butternut’ and another (or any open-pollinated vegetable or flower variety you might be growing). My squash adventure. [read more…]