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…]
Curious about organic gardening, without chemicals? I don't use chemical herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, or synthetic fertilizers. Some of the basics of that environmentally safer practice -- including composting and mulching and natural pest control -- are in this archive.
ALGAE—especially tenacious filamentous string algaes or blanket weed—can quickly turn a water garden into a battleground. I have been enjoying, and managing, two in-ground, rubber-lined garden pools for more than 20 years, and you know what? It’s not that hard, despite the sometimes-tenacious, gooey green stuff. And most important: There is no other feature of the garden that brings more joy—or sustains more wildlife, from birds to dragonflies, salamanders to frogs–than a pool or pond. My essential spring water-garden care tips: [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…]
A FRIEND I BUY seed potatoes with and I were scratching our heads as we filled out the order form, blanking on the line where it said “preferred ship date.” How early do we want them to arrive, we asked ourselves as we do every year. Time for a review of that and other questions about when and how to plant, hill and harvest potatoes. (That’s a row in my raised beds here, seen in late spring one recent year.) [read more…]
I HAVE ISSUES with mulch–and what is, and is not, qualified to be used as this most important of all garden “tools.” Yes, I am fussy on this score, very fussy–as doodler Andre Jordan knows. Want to know just how fussy? My popular Mulch FAQ Page will answer that (and all your mulching questions, from which material to how deep to apply it and much, much more). Can we all make this the year we give up the plastic-bagged junk in favor of a pre-composted, locally produced product that actually helps build healthy soil, and supports soil life? Imagine that! (And imagine a landscape without a dyed orangey-reddish blight upon it.)