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…]
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.
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…]
IPLANNED TO WRITE about how to save on expensive potting soil in big pots, and other container-garden tricks, but I guess the local skunks wanted to be written about instead—those naughty tricksters! No sooner had I potted up spring pansies and violas, than the creatures of the night unpotted them (upturning the empty plastic nursery pots I’d used as a “false bottom” to conserve soil). The score, after two nights of mischief: Skunks 2, Margaret 0. Other key spring tasks here involve recycling at its best, too: I’m making new beds and smothering weeds with cardboard and newspaper, and of course there’s the biggest garden recycle operation of all, how to make compost, and lots of it. (More photos of the 2013 edition of the Pansy War and my temporary solution on the jump.) [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…]