EVER GROW AN OPEN-POLLINATED or heirloom variety from seed, only to have it not look or taste like the photo on the packet—or even like the “same” variety when you grew it before? Maybe not your fault! Seeds aren’t like widgets; someone has to take care of the living genetics to make sure subsequent generations remain true to type, and even continue to evolve. But who’s doing that critical, demanding work? In a new series, we’ll meet seed farmers who are, and hopefully get you shopping smarter than ever before. Our first expert Q&A is with geneticist and longtime plant breeder Dr. John Navazio—senior scientist with the Organic Seed Alliance—who helps set the scene. I’ve bought a copy of his recent seed book to share with you as well. [read more…]
I often say my approach to gardening is "horticultural how-to and woo-woo," and this is the former part: the tips, tricks and techniques that help make an organic garden grow successfully. From pruning to seed-starting and composting, garden cleanup and prep and more, it's here.
UH-OH. MY HALLOWEEN DECORATIONS (a.k.a. pumpkins) are frozen solid to the front steps, and at the next thaw will become orangey puddles, I suspect. Christmas lights? Similarly a bit behind schedule—and I haven’t even pondered any holiday shopping. But I saw that my crafty gardening friend Gayla Trail had once again outshone me with a roundup of homemade gift ideas, including lavender-laced caramels, herbed salts, bath “tea bags” and more. She visited with me on this week’s radio show to give us the details (including a chance to win one of the fun garden T-shirts she designed). [read more…]
WONDERING HOW—and when—to prune Hydrangea paniculata shrubs whose blooms are browning off now as late fall takes hold? (That’s one sprouting after a light pruning in spring, above.) Or whether you can plant grocery-store-bought garlic and get a crop next year? These are among the recent questions you’ve asked, that I answered on this week’s edition of my public-radio show. [read more…]
‘WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES,’ public-TV host Joe Lamp’l of “Growing a Greener World” said this week when we chatted on my radio show. Oh, isn’t that the truth. Thankfully the misstep Joe revealed—how he fell prey to “killer compost” that contained persistent herbicides—was offset by a look at the most enviable of vegetable-garden designs. How to build the ultimate raised-bed garden (wait until you see Joe’s new layout!) and how to avoid inadvertently bringing in compost or compost ingredients that can do more harm than good. A hint: Animal manures can be tricky business. [read more…]