How I Created A Self-Sustaining Garden

May 24, 2018

BLOG

the

Recently, I attended a conference where Jean-Martin Fortier and Joel Salatin spoke. It was a great experience meeting people interested in the same things as me. Of course, the main topic of the convention was growing plants and animals to sell at a market (market gardening/farming), but almost everyone there was an avid gardener as well. As I visited with other gardeners and farmers throughout my state, I became aware that I had something different in my garden.

While almost everyone around me was struggling with weeds (sometimes having to weed as much as 3 times a week!) my garden stayed weed-free for weeks at a time. I never water my garden (except for once or twice in the summer drought), and my plants always seem to grow twice as tall as their estimated height. I used to put it off, making excuses such as “I guess my soil is good,” or, “I’ve just been lucky,” when really, it was a combination of right practices and plant placement.

Last weekend was just the icing on the cake when the large group of people at the convention were amazed at my garden and wondered “what kind of magic” I had up my sleeve. This made me seriously think – why was my garden performing so well?

My Garden 5-24-18

After a little thought, I jotted down a list. After reading over my list, I realized that my garden was centered around nature, not around a set standard that I held it to. Calling it ‘self-sustaining,’ ‘permaculturesque’ (here I go making up words…), or just simply ‘naturalistic,’ would describe it best in a nutshell.

Today I will share some of those key practices that contributed to my garden’s success.

1. Let the leaves fall.

Once the first frosts arrive, browning all of the foliage and causing the plants to go dormant, I rarely remove the stems and leaves from my garden. Instead, I let them stand all winter, decaying in my garden and providing habitat for overwintering wildlife. Once spring arrives, I remove all woody stems and other slow-decaying items, but leave small stems, leaves, old flowerheads, and last fall’s mulch to decay and build up the soil. This creates a rich layer of soil and debris that harbors beneficial microbes and fungi, while retaining water and cooling the soil.

2. Ignore spacing recommendations.

When most people visit my garden, they are stunned at how closely spaced everything is. “You will get more pests and diseases that way,” a university extension agent once told me, but my research has proven otherwise. As long as you have a healthy soil structure high in beneficial fungi, microbes, and organic matter (achieved by mulching and no-till practices), close spacing has the opposite result.

The plants will be taller, water will be lost more slowly, and wildlife will be more present than in a conventionally planted garden. One way I determine how closely to space plants is to observe how large they get with no close neighbors, and then plant them in the garden in a space slightly smaller than their maximum size.

3. Let plants achieve their natural shape.

I know, sometimes plants get leggy or their flowers are too tall to “properly” enjoy, but a garden is not the place for perfection. I’ve noticed that when plants are allowed to reach their full stature without interruption, they tend to become more vigorous every year, almost as if it’s challenging itself to beat least year’s stats. Natural processes work best with as little human interference as possible.

4. Don’t supplement with any type of fertilizer (even natural!).

Fertilizer encourages beautiful, lush growth, right? What many people don’t know is that by using any type of added fertilizer, they are creating more work for themselves. In order to support the extra large leaves and flowers that fertilizer produces, plants demand more water and a sustained level of nutrients to perform well.

As soon as the fertilizer wears off, the plant can’t support the large amount of foliage and flower it had produced and starts having nutrient deficiencies. The only way to prevent this, of course, is by adding more fertilizer and watering more regularly, and no one wants that, right? Especially if the plants would have been more than happy anyway.

5. Mulch every fall.

I’ve already mentioned this, but I mulch once a year, usually in November (although that time varies depending on where you live). By using leaves and needles from nearby trees, the fungi and microbes in the soil are already adapted to break down the particular type of leaves that you add. This means quicker decomposition, and richer soil.

6. Encourage Fungi.

This is one of the most important practices I do. Without fungi, my garden would not be the same. Leaves would decompose slower, diseases would be more prevalent, and nutrient absorption would be more uneven. If you omit fungicides and follow the other points on this list (assuming you’re an organic gardener), fungi should naturally make their appearance.

7. Water only when absolutely necessary.

By watering only when your plants start to wilt, you encourage a strong and durable root system. This in turn, allows plants to search farther and deeper for nutrients, creating a more stable garden ecosystem.

8. Have variation in plant selection.

The more of one species you plant, the more likely that plant is to get a disease or pest. By planting in smaller groups, you discourage pests and allow even the most delicate plants to perform to their best ability.

9. Keep an open mind.

Since everyone has a different climate and unique challenges, there should be no standardized way of gardening that applies to the entire world. If a plant performs well in a certain spot, even if it was accidentally planted there, maybe you’ve discovered its ideal growing conditions.

10. Natives are always an asset.

Since a native plant is fully acclimated to your climate, they will almost always thrive. They even create some of the best ornamental and wildlife friendly additions to your garden. Try some and see! They will quickly become long-standing favorites.

 

Was this post helpful? Let me know your thoughts down below!

Join the Movement to Bring Back Gardening

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to reinvent the world of gardening!

!

!


Get Access

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

How I Created A Self-Sustaining Garden

May 24, 2018

Recently, I attended a conference where Jean-Martin Fortier and Joel Salatin spoke. It was a great experience meeting people interested in the same things as me. Of course, the main topic of the convention was growing plants and animals to sell at a market (market gardening/farming), but almost everyone there was an avid gardener as well. As I visited with other gardeners and farmers throughout my state, I became aware that I had something different in my garden.

While almost everyone around me was struggling with weeds (sometimes having to weed as much as 3 times a week!) my garden stayed weed-free for weeks at a time. I never water my garden (except for once or twice in the summer drought), and my plants always seem to grow twice as tall as their estimated height. I used to put it off, making excuses such as “I guess my soil is good,” or, “I’ve just been lucky,” when really, it was a combination of right practices and plant placement.

Last weekend was just the icing on the cake when the large group of people at the convention were amazed at my garden and wondered “what kind of magic” I had up my sleeve. This made me seriously think – why was my garden performing so well?

My Garden 5-24-18

After a little thought, I jotted down a list. After reading over my list, I realized that my garden was centered around nature, not around a set standard that I held it to. Calling it ‘self-sustaining,’ ‘permaculturesque’ (here I go making up words…), or just simply ‘naturalistic,’ would describe it best in a nutshell.

Today I will share some of those key practices that contributed to my garden’s success.

1. Let the leaves fall.

Once the first frosts arrive, browning all of the foliage and causing the plants to go dormant, I rarely remove the stems and leaves from my garden. Instead, I let them stand all winter, decaying in my garden and providing habitat for overwintering wildlife. Once spring arrives, I remove all woody stems and other slow-decaying items, but leave small stems, leaves, old flowerheads, and last fall’s mulch to decay and build up the soil. This creates a rich layer of soil and debris that harbors beneficial microbes and fungi, while retaining water and cooling the soil.

2. Ignore spacing recommendations.

When most people visit my garden, they are stunned at how closely spaced everything is. “You will get more pests and diseases that way,” a university extension agent once told me, but my research has proven otherwise. As long as you have a healthy soil structure high in beneficial fungi, microbes, and organic matter (achieved by mulching and no-till practices), close spacing has the opposite result.

The plants will be taller, water will be lost more slowly, and wildlife will be more present than in a conventionally planted garden. One way I determine how closely to space plants is to observe how large they get with no close neighbors, and then plant them in the garden in a space slightly smaller than their maximum size.

3. Let plants achieve their natural shape.

I know, sometimes plants get leggy or their flowers are too tall to “properly” enjoy, but a garden is not the place for perfection. I’ve noticed that when plants are allowed to reach their full stature without interruption, they tend to become more vigorous every year, almost as if it’s challenging itself to beat least year’s stats. Natural processes work best with as little human interference as possible.

4. Don’t supplement with any type of fertilizer (even natural!).

Fertilizer encourages beautiful, lush growth, right? What many people don’t know is that by using any type of added fertilizer, they are creating more work for themselves. In order to support the extra large leaves and flowers that fertilizer produces, plants demand more water and a sustained level of nutrients to perform well.

As soon as the fertilizer wears off, the plant can’t support the large amount of foliage and flower it had produced and starts having nutrient deficiencies. The only way to prevent this, of course, is by adding more fertilizer and watering more regularly, and no one wants that, right? Especially if the plants would have been more than happy anyway.

5. Mulch every fall.

I’ve already mentioned this, but I mulch once a year, usually in November (although that time varies depending on where you live). By using leaves and needles from nearby trees, the fungi and microbes in the soil are already adapted to break down the particular type of leaves that you add. This means quicker decomposition, and richer soil.

6. Encourage Fungi.

This is one of the most important practices I do. Without fungi, my garden would not be the same. Leaves would decompose slower, diseases would be more prevalent, and nutrient absorption would be more uneven. If you omit fungicides and follow the other points on this list (assuming you’re an organic gardener), fungi should naturally make their appearance.

7. Water only when absolutely necessary.

By watering only when your plants start to wilt, you encourage a strong and durable root system. This in turn, allows plants to search farther and deeper for nutrients, creating a more stable garden ecosystem.

8. Have variation in plant selection.

The more of one species you plant, the more likely that plant is to get a disease or pest. By planting in smaller groups, you discourage pests and allow even the most delicate plants to perform to their best ability.

9. Keep an open mind.

Since everyone has a different climate and unique challenges, there should be no standardized way of gardening that applies to the entire world. If a plant performs well in a certain spot, even if it was accidentally planted there, maybe you’ve discovered its ideal growing conditions.

10. Natives are always an asset.

Since a native plant is fully acclimated to your climate, they will almost always thrive. They even create some of the best ornamental and wildlife friendly additions to your garden. Try some and see! They will quickly become long-standing favorites.

 

Was this post helpful? Let me know your thoughts down below!

Join the Movement to Bring Back Gardening

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to reinvent the world of gardening!

!

!


Get Access

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

How I Created A Self-Sustaining Garden

May 24, 2018

Recently, I attended a conference where Jean-Martin Fortier and Joel Salatin spoke. It was a great experience meeting people interested in the same things as me. Of course, the main topic of the convention was growing plants and animals to sell at a market (market gardening/farming), but almost everyone there was an avid gardener as well. As I visited with other gardeners and farmers throughout my state, I became aware that I had something different in my garden.

While almost everyone around me was struggling with weeds (sometimes having to weed as much as 3 times a week!) my garden stayed weed-free for weeks at a time. I never water my garden (except for once or twice in the summer drought), and my plants always seem to grow twice as tall as their estimated height. I used to put it off, making excuses such as “I guess my soil is good,” or, “I’ve just been lucky,” when really, it was a combination of right practices and plant placement.

Last weekend was just the icing on the cake when the large group of people at the convention were amazed at my garden and wondered “what kind of magic” I had up my sleeve. This made me seriously think – why was my garden performing so well?

My Garden 5-24-18

After a little thought, I jotted down a list. After reading over my list, I realized that my garden was centered around nature, not around a set standard that I held it to. Calling it ‘self-sustaining,’ ‘permaculturesque’ (here I go making up words…), or just simply ‘naturalistic,’ would describe it best in a nutshell.

Today I will share some of those key practices that contributed to my garden’s success.

1. Let the leaves fall.

Once the first frosts arrive, browning all of the foliage and causing the plants to go dormant, I rarely remove the stems and leaves from my garden. Instead, I let them stand all winter, decaying in my garden and providing habitat for overwintering wildlife. Once spring arrives, I remove all woody stems and other slow-decaying items, but leave small stems, leaves, old flowerheads, and last fall’s mulch to decay and build up the soil. This creates a rich layer of soil and debris that harbors beneficial microbes and fungi, while retaining water and cooling the soil.

2. Ignore spacing recommendations.

When most people visit my garden, they are stunned at how closely spaced everything is. “You will get more pests and diseases that way,” a university extension agent once told me, but my research has proven otherwise. As long as you have a healthy soil structure high in beneficial fungi, microbes, and organic matter (achieved by mulching and no-till practices), close spacing has the opposite result.

The plants will be taller, water will be lost more slowly, and wildlife will be more present than in a conventionally planted garden. One way I determine how closely to space plants is to observe how large they get with no close neighbors, and then plant them in the garden in a space slightly smaller than their maximum size.

3. Let plants achieve their natural shape.

I know, sometimes plants get leggy or their flowers are too tall to “properly” enjoy, but a garden is not the place for perfection. I’ve noticed that when plants are allowed to reach their full stature without interruption, they tend to become more vigorous every year, almost as if it’s challenging itself to beat least year’s stats. Natural processes work best with as little human interference as possible.

4. Don’t supplement with any type of fertilizer (even natural!).

Fertilizer encourages beautiful, lush growth, right? What many people don’t know is that by using any type of added fertilizer, they are creating more work for themselves. In order to support the extra large leaves and flowers that fertilizer produces, plants demand more water and a sustained level of nutrients to perform well.

As soon as the fertilizer wears off, the plant can’t support the large amount of foliage and flower it had produced and starts having nutrient deficiencies. The only way to prevent this, of course, is by adding more fertilizer and watering more regularly, and no one wants that, right? Especially if the plants would have been more than happy anyway.

5. Mulch every fall.

I’ve already mentioned this, but I mulch once a year, usually in November (although that time varies depending on where you live). By using leaves and needles from nearby trees, the fungi and microbes in the soil are already adapted to break down the particular type of leaves that you add. This means quicker decomposition, and richer soil.

6. Encourage Fungi.

This is one of the most important practices I do. Without fungi, my garden would not be the same. Leaves would decompose slower, diseases would be more prevalent, and nutrient absorption would be more uneven. If you omit fungicides and follow the other points on this list (assuming you’re an organic gardener), fungi should naturally make their appearance.

7. Water only when absolutely necessary.

By watering only when your plants start to wilt, you encourage a strong and durable root system. This in turn, allows plants to search farther and deeper for nutrients, creating a more stable garden ecosystem.

8. Have variation in plant selection.

The more of one species you plant, the more likely that plant is to get a disease or pest. By planting in smaller groups, you discourage pests and allow even the most delicate plants to perform to their best ability.

9. Keep an open mind.

Since everyone has a different climate and unique challenges, there should be no standardized way of gardening that applies to the entire world. If a plant performs well in a certain spot, even if it was accidentally planted there, maybe you’ve discovered its ideal growing conditions.

10. Natives are always an asset.

Since a native plant is fully acclimated to your climate, they will almost always thrive. They even create some of the best ornamental and wildlife friendly additions to your garden. Try some and see! They will quickly become long-standing favorites.

 

Was this post helpful? Let me know your thoughts down below!

Join the Movement to Bring Back Gardening

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to reinvent the world of gardening!

!

!


Get Access

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

More Posts...

Five Tips For Scouting Out Plants On A Budget

May 4, 2018

BLOG

the

Imagine a candy store filled with all of your favorite candies, but only having the money to buy one. How would you go about choosing the right one? What if you wanted multiple types or couldn’t decide? Ahh, the frustration! This is the same sort of dilemma that many budget-conscious gardeners run into on their search for plants to fill up their garden. How would someone go about finding their favorite plants on a budget? This question has multiple answers, but I’ve taken the five main tips for acquiring plants on a budget and listed them below.

1: Have a Set Budget Before Visiting a Nursery or Garden Center

If I were to visit my local nursery with the intent to browse around, see what they have, and then leave, it would be easy for me to overspend – especially if I see an new or uncommon plant.

That being said, garden centers are not bad places. They provide a continuous supply of beautiful, healthy plants that are great if you have the money to buy them. I check out my local garden center about once a month to see what they have, and I almost always end up purchasing something.

One way of ensuring that you don’t overspend is to bring cash. If you only have $20 with you, there is no possible way of buying $25 worth of plants.

2: Trade With Friends

Since most gardeners are generous with their plants, it never hurts to ask someone if they have a plant you want. Many gardeners (although we hate to admit it!) end up weeding out hundreds of unwanted plants a year, whether that be from overly ambitious spreaders or a mass of self-sown seedlings.

I’ve collected several of my favorite garden plants from friends who were rethinking an old garden, downsizing, or just throwing out extra plants!

Don’t be afraid to offer a trade to a fellow gardener. I always have too much Phlox (various species), so when I saw an eye-catching bearded iris cultivar in a friend’s garden, I offered a start of some phlox (which they didn’t have) for a nice healthy iris division. Don’t be afraid, just ask! It’s surprising how far that will get you.

 

Everything you see in this photo was acquired through trading.
Everything you see in this photo was acquired through trading.

3: Attend Plant Sales

This may seem counterintuitive to the idea of saving money, but you can almost always find some steals at local plant sales. I’ve found extremely rare arums and bulbs on sale for $2 a plant…all because someone was dividing their stock! If you’re interested in learning more about how to approach a plant sale, check out this post I wrote on shopping a plant sale.

4: Buy Plants That Are Easy To Propagate

This does not mean planting invasives  that will cover ground at lightning speed. It may seem like a smart idea in the now, but a few years in, you will realize that was a BIG MISTAKE (like the bamboo I’m currently battling). Instead, focus on plants that are easy to root from cuttings or grow from seed.

Planting some quick spreaders is fine, just be mindful of where you place them, and be prepared to routinely dig out the unwanted pieces.

5: Grow Plants From Seed

If you are really interested in gardening on a budget and have the time and space to do so, start some seed! Just a single seed packet of a given annual contains enough seed to equal $200 worth of starts from the nursery, and that’s a conservative estimate.

The selection is also much greater if you order seed versus purchasing plant starts.

The only thing to keep in mind when starting seed is the time commitment. If you’re busy, like me, you may run off and forget about the seeds you planted for a few days at a time. By the time you remember them, they’re all dead from lack of water. If you can devote the time, then growing plants from seed is a tremendous money saver!

 

Anything you’d like to add about finding plants on a budget? Let’s hear it!

Five Tips For Scouting Out Plants On A Budget

May 4, 2018

Imagine a candy store filled with all of your favorite candies, but only having the money to buy one. How would you go about choosing the right one? What if you wanted multiple types or couldn’t decide? Ahh, the frustration! This is the same sort of dilemma that many budget-conscious gardeners run into on their search for plants to fill up their garden. How would someone go about finding their favorite plants on a budget? This question has multiple answers, but I’ve taken the five main tips for acquiring plants on a budget and listed them below.

1: Have a Set Budget Before Visiting a Nursery or Garden Center

If I were to visit my local nursery with the intent to browse around, see what they have, and then leave, it would be easy for me to overspend – especially if I see an new or uncommon plant.

That being said, garden centers are not bad places. They provide a continuous supply of beautiful, healthy plants that are great if you have the money to buy them. I check out my local garden center about once a month to see what they have, and I almost always end up purchasing something.

One way of ensuring that you don’t overspend is to bring cash. If you only have $20 with you, there is no possible way of buying $25 worth of plants.

2: Trade With Friends

Since most gardeners are generous with their plants, it never hurts to ask someone if they have a plant you want. Many gardeners (although we hate to admit it!) end up weeding out hundreds of unwanted plants a year, whether that be from overly ambitious spreaders or a mass of self-sown seedlings.

I’ve collected several of my favorite garden plants from friends who were rethinking an old garden, downsizing, or just throwing out extra plants!

Don’t be afraid to offer a trade to a fellow gardener. I always have too much Phlox (various species), so when I saw an eye-catching bearded iris cultivar in a friend’s garden, I offered a start of some phlox (which they didn’t have) for a nice healthy iris division. Don’t be afraid, just ask! It’s surprising how far that will get you.

 

Everything you see in this photo was acquired through trading.
Everything you see in this photo was acquired through trading.

3: Attend Plant Sales

This may seem counterintuitive to the idea of saving money, but you can almost always find some steals at local plant sales. I’ve found extremely rare arums and bulbs on sale for $2 a plant…all because someone was dividing their stock! If you’re interested in learning more about how to approach a plant sale, check out this post I wrote on shopping a plant sale.

4: Buy Plants That Are Easy To Propagate

This does not mean planting invasives  that will cover ground at lightning speed. It may seem like a smart idea in the now, but a few years in, you will realize that was a BIG MISTAKE (like the bamboo I’m currently battling). Instead, focus on plants that are easy to root from cuttings or grow from seed.

Planting some quick spreaders is fine, just be mindful of where you place them, and be prepared to routinely dig out the unwanted pieces.

5: Grow Plants From Seed

If you are really interested in gardening on a budget and have the time and space to do so, start some seed! Just a single seed packet of a given annual contains enough seed to equal $200 worth of starts from the nursery, and that’s a conservative estimate.

The selection is also much greater if you order seed versus purchasing plant starts.

The only thing to keep in mind when starting seed is the time commitment. If you’re busy, like me, you may run off and forget about the seeds you planted for a few days at a time. By the time you remember them, they’re all dead from lack of water. If you can devote the time, then growing plants from seed is a tremendous money saver!

 

Anything you’d like to add about finding plants on a budget? Let’s hear it!

Five Tips For Scouting Out Plants On A Budget

May 4, 2018

Imagine a candy store filled with all of your favorite candies, but only having the money to buy one. How would you go about choosing the right one? What if you wanted multiple types or couldn’t decide? Ahh, the frustration! This is the same sort of dilemma that many budget-conscious gardeners run into on their search for plants to fill up their garden. How would someone go about finding their favorite plants on a budget? This question has multiple answers, but I’ve taken the five main tips for acquiring plants on a budget and listed them below.

1: Have a Set Budget Before Visiting a Nursery or Garden Center

If I were to visit my local nursery with the intent to browse around, see what they have, and then leave, it would be easy for me to overspend – especially if I see an new or uncommon plant.

That being said, garden centers are not bad places. They provide a continuous supply of beautiful, healthy plants that are great if you have the money to buy them. I check out my local garden center about once a month to see what they have, and I almost always end up purchasing something.

One way of ensuring that you don’t overspend is to bring cash. If you only have $20 with you, there is no possible way of buying $25 worth of plants.

2: Trade With Friends

Since most gardeners are generous with their plants, it never hurts to ask someone if they have a plant you want. Many gardeners (although we hate to admit it!) end up weeding out hundreds of unwanted plants a year, whether that be from overly ambitious spreaders or a mass of self-sown seedlings.

I’ve collected several of my favorite garden plants from friends who were rethinking an old garden, downsizing, or just throwing out extra plants!

Don’t be afraid to offer a trade to a fellow gardener. I always have too much Phlox (various species), so when I saw an eye-catching bearded iris cultivar in a friend’s garden, I offered a start of some phlox (which they didn’t have) for a nice healthy iris division. Don’t be afraid, just ask! It’s surprising how far that will get you.

 

Everything you see in this photo was acquired through trading.
Everything you see in this photo was acquired through trading.

3: Attend Plant Sales

This may seem counterintuitive to the idea of saving money, but you can almost always find some steals at local plant sales. I’ve found extremely rare arums and bulbs on sale for $2 a plant…all because someone was dividing their stock! If you’re interested in learning more about how to approach a plant sale, check out this post I wrote on shopping a plant sale.

4: Buy Plants That Are Easy To Propagate

This does not mean planting invasives  that will cover ground at lightning speed. It may seem like a smart idea in the now, but a few years in, you will realize that was a BIG MISTAKE (like the bamboo I’m currently battling). Instead, focus on plants that are easy to root from cuttings or grow from seed.

Planting some quick spreaders is fine, just be mindful of where you place them, and be prepared to routinely dig out the unwanted pieces.

5: Grow Plants From Seed

If you are really interested in gardening on a budget and have the time and space to do so, start some seed! Just a single seed packet of a given annual contains enough seed to equal $200 worth of starts from the nursery, and that’s a conservative estimate.

The selection is also much greater if you order seed versus purchasing plant starts.

The only thing to keep in mind when starting seed is the time commitment. If you’re busy, like me, you may run off and forget about the seeds you planted for a few days at a time. By the time you remember them, they’re all dead from lack of water. If you can devote the time, then growing plants from seed is a tremendous money saver!

 

Anything you’d like to add about finding plants on a budget? Let’s hear it!

More Posts...

Is Time An Issue? Take The Ten Minute Challenge With Me!

Apr 27, 2018

BLOG

the

Whew!

Life has been busy.

Between school, keeping up my garden, writing posts, working a part-time job, taking photos, editing the photos… you get the idea.

Since I’ve been so short on time, I took a brief stroll through my garden today to see what was happening. Can you believe that in just a couple of days my whole mid-spring garden has come to life?? There were flowers EVERYWHERE – but a closer look also revealed the same imperfections: weeds, landscape fabric showing through in the paths, erosion problems, mole and gopher excavations that caused the erosion, etc.

 

This got me to thinking: I need to spend some quality time getting my garden back in order.

The Cottage Garden Spring 2018

After a few hours’ worth of work, it looked great! The beds were weeded, paths were mulched, holes filled, and I even planted some ‘Purity’ Cosmos to fill in a bare spot in the back of the Cottage Garden. This just shows that a couple of hours can go a long way!

 

I think that is one of the most common misconceptions about gardening: it takes too much time. That is simply not the case. It can take a good deal of time if you have to care for a huge garden, but it doesn’t have to.

 

People also confuse the time spent working in the garden with the time spent waiting.

 

The time spent working in my garden, for instance (now that it is established), varies from one to seven hours a week. That is all the time I need to sow seed, do a quick pass over the beds looking for weeds, and water anything that is thirsty. Any time after that is extra time I spend enjoying my hobby. It’s not necessary, but it’s worth it to me.

 

The time spent waiting is the time it takes for my plants to mature and flourish. This can be anywhere from a month to a few years depending on what kind of plant we’re talking about and what the growing conditions are like. This doesn’t require you to be there except to help direct the plant’s growth as needed.

Part of my mission (as I’ve repeated many times on this site) is to encourage young and budding gardeners to dig in and get dirty.

I feel that many people are afraid to become a gardener because of the “huge time commitment” involved.

Don’t be afraid.

I didn’t start off gardening for hours a week.

It came over time, and if I can do it, so can you!

Alright, Here’s the Challenge:

Start off by making a commitment, say, 10 minutes a day for six days this week.

If you follow through with it, you’ll have spent a whole hour in nature!

Here are some simple tasks you could spend your time on:

  • Weeding an existing bed
  • Digging a new bed
  • Planting flowers or vegetables in containers
  • Raking leaves
  • Dreaming about your future garden (yes, this is important!)
  • Planting herbs in your garden
  • Sowing seeds

And the list goes on.

Give it a try! You’ll find it liberating to reconnect with nature and become more interested as time goes on.

Seriously!

You can count me in. I’ll even post about it on Instagram each day for accountability. 🙂

Will you take the 10 Minute Challenge with me?

P.S. – Don’t forget to share this post and invite others to take on the challenge!

Is Time An Issue? Take The Ten Minute Challenge With Me!

Apr 27, 2018

Whew!

Life has been busy.

Between school, keeping up my garden, writing posts, working a part-time job, taking photos, editing the photos… you get the idea.

Since I’ve been so short on time, I took a brief stroll through my garden today to see what was happening. Can you believe that in just a couple of days my whole mid-spring garden has come to life?? There were flowers EVERYWHERE – but a closer look also revealed the same imperfections: weeds, landscape fabric showing through in the paths, erosion problems, mole and gopher excavations that caused the erosion, etc.

 

This got me to thinking: I need to spend some quality time getting my garden back in order.

The Cottage Garden Spring 2018

After a few hours’ worth of work, it looked great! The beds were weeded, paths were mulched, holes filled, and I even planted some ‘Purity’ Cosmos to fill in a bare spot in the back of the Cottage Garden. This just shows that a couple of hours can go a long way!

 

I think that is one of the most common misconceptions about gardening: it takes too much time. That is simply not the case. It can take a good deal of time if you have to care for a huge garden, but it doesn’t have to.

 

People also confuse the time spent working in the garden with the time spent waiting.

 

The time spent working in my garden, for instance (now that it is established), varies from one to seven hours a week. That is all the time I need to sow seed, do a quick pass over the beds looking for weeds, and water anything that is thirsty. Any time after that is extra time I spend enjoying my hobby. It’s not necessary, but it’s worth it to me.

 

The time spent waiting is the time it takes for my plants to mature and flourish. This can be anywhere from a month to a few years depending on what kind of plant we’re talking about and what the growing conditions are like. This doesn’t require you to be there except to help direct the plant’s growth as needed.

Part of my mission (as I’ve repeated many times on this site) is to encourage young and budding gardeners to dig in and get dirty.

I feel that many people are afraid to become a gardener because of the “huge time commitment” involved.

Don’t be afraid.

I didn’t start off gardening for hours a week.

It came over time, and if I can do it, so can you!

Alright, Here’s the Challenge:

Start off by making a commitment, say, 10 minutes a day for six days this week.

If you follow through with it, you’ll have spent a whole hour in nature!

Here are some simple tasks you could spend your time on:

  • Weeding an existing bed
  • Digging a new bed
  • Planting flowers or vegetables in containers
  • Raking leaves
  • Dreaming about your future garden (yes, this is important!)
  • Planting herbs in your garden
  • Sowing seeds

And the list goes on.

Give it a try! You’ll find it liberating to reconnect with nature and become more interested as time goes on.

Seriously!

You can count me in. I’ll even post about it on Instagram each day for accountability. 🙂

Will you take the 10 Minute Challenge with me?

P.S. – Don’t forget to share this post and invite others to take on the challenge!

Is Time An Issue? Take The Ten Minute Challenge With Me!

Apr 27, 2018

Whew!

Life has been busy.

Between school, keeping up my garden, writing posts, working a part-time job, taking photos, editing the photos… you get the idea.

Since I’ve been so short on time, I took a brief stroll through my garden today to see what was happening. Can you believe that in just a couple of days my whole mid-spring garden has come to life?? There were flowers EVERYWHERE – but a closer look also revealed the same imperfections: weeds, landscape fabric showing through in the paths, erosion problems, mole and gopher excavations that caused the erosion, etc.

 

This got me to thinking: I need to spend some quality time getting my garden back in order.

The Cottage Garden Spring 2018

After a few hours’ worth of work, it looked great! The beds were weeded, paths were mulched, holes filled, and I even planted some ‘Purity’ Cosmos to fill in a bare spot in the back of the Cottage Garden. This just shows that a couple of hours can go a long way!

 

I think that is one of the most common misconceptions about gardening: it takes too much time. That is simply not the case. It can take a good deal of time if you have to care for a huge garden, but it doesn’t have to.

 

People also confuse the time spent working in the garden with the time spent waiting.

 

The time spent working in my garden, for instance (now that it is established), varies from one to seven hours a week. That is all the time I need to sow seed, do a quick pass over the beds looking for weeds, and water anything that is thirsty. Any time after that is extra time I spend enjoying my hobby. It’s not necessary, but it’s worth it to me.

 

The time spent waiting is the time it takes for my plants to mature and flourish. This can be anywhere from a month to a few years depending on what kind of plant we’re talking about and what the growing conditions are like. This doesn’t require you to be there except to help direct the plant’s growth as needed.

Part of my mission (as I’ve repeated many times on this site) is to encourage young and budding gardeners to dig in and get dirty.

I feel that many people are afraid to become a gardener because of the “huge time commitment” involved.

Don’t be afraid.

I didn’t start off gardening for hours a week.

It came over time, and if I can do it, so can you!

Alright, Here’s the Challenge:

Start off by making a commitment, say, 10 minutes a day for six days this week.

If you follow through with it, you’ll have spent a whole hour in nature!

Here are some simple tasks you could spend your time on:

  • Weeding an existing bed
  • Digging a new bed
  • Planting flowers or vegetables in containers
  • Raking leaves
  • Dreaming about your future garden (yes, this is important!)
  • Planting herbs in your garden
  • Sowing seeds

And the list goes on.

Give it a try! You’ll find it liberating to reconnect with nature and become more interested as time goes on.

Seriously!

You can count me in. I’ll even post about it on Instagram each day for accountability. 🙂

Will you take the 10 Minute Challenge with me?

P.S. – Don’t forget to share this post and invite others to take on the challenge!

More Posts...

Five Underutilized Native Plants For Your Garden

Apr 22, 2018

BLOG

the

Happy Earth Day everyone!

To celebrate the beautiful world we live in, I visited my local nature preserve and and gathered some pictures of five cool native plants that are underutilized in the garden setting. I will keep the writing brief – this will be a mostly visual post. Here we go!

 

4326076736_IMG_7526

Cinnamon Ferns thrive in any garden given some shade and moist soil. In their native habitat, they can reach over four feet tall, usually topping out at two to three feet in a typical garden setting.

4326076736_IMG_7312

I discovered a patch of Carolina allspice (Calycanthus floridus) growing along the woodland edge by a trailhead. This shrub makes beautiful, somewhat fragrant flowers in mid-spring. The rest of the year it has round green leaves that change to a soft golden yellow in autumn. It would make a great addition to an informal shrub border, woodland edge, or shade garden.

4326076736_IMG_7361

False Indigos (Pictured: Baptisia alba var. macrophylla) make a great native alternative to the more finicky lupines. If you’re interested, check out the amazing selection of cultivars available through Plant Delights Nursery.

4326076736_IMG_7608
4326076736_IMG_7591
4326076736_IMG_7585
4326076736_IMG_7595

To me, no garden is complete without the addition of Louisiana Irises. You might be surprised to know that most varieties are hardy to zone 5, meaning they can be grown in almost three quarters of the US. They also boast the greatest selection of colors out of any Iris group – almost every known color but pure black.

4326076736_IMG_7688

True Spider Lilies (Hymenocallis sp.) are only marginally hardy (USDA zones 7-10), but deserve an honorable mention. Even if you’re out of their native range, consider growing them in pots and overwintering them under cover – they will reward you with a show unlike any other bulb I know of.

Well, there you have it! Five underutilized and deserving natives that you can grow in your garden today.

 

There is an ever-increasing need to preserve our native plants from destruction – one of the best options being cultivation in our gardens. If you’re new to growing natives or are hesitant because of their wild reputation (pun intended 😉 ), give them a try!

 

What about you? What are your favorite natives to grow in the garden? Let’s hear it in the comments below! 

 

Five Underutilized Native Plants For Your Garden

Apr 22, 2018

Happy Earth Day everyone!

To celebrate the beautiful world we live in, I visited my local nature preserve and and gathered some pictures of five cool native plants that are underutilized in the garden setting. I will keep the writing brief – this will be a mostly visual post. Here we go!

 

4326076736_IMG_7526

Cinnamon Ferns thrive in any garden given some shade and moist soil. In their native habitat, they can reach over four feet tall, usually topping out at two to three feet in a typical garden setting.

4326076736_IMG_7312

I discovered a patch of Carolina allspice (Calycanthus floridus) growing along the woodland edge by a trailhead. This shrub makes beautiful, somewhat fragrant flowers in mid-spring. The rest of the year it has round green leaves that change to a soft golden yellow in autumn. It would make a great addition to an informal shrub border, woodland edge, or shade garden.

4326076736_IMG_7361

False Indigos (Pictured: Baptisia alba var. macrophylla) make a great native alternative to the more finicky lupines. If you’re interested, check out the amazing selection of cultivars available through Plant Delights Nursery.

4326076736_IMG_7608
4326076736_IMG_7591
4326076736_IMG_7585
4326076736_IMG_7595

To me, no garden is complete without the addition of Louisiana Irises. You might be surprised to know that most varieties are hardy to zone 5, meaning they can be grown in almost three quarters of the US. They also boast the greatest selection of colors out of any Iris group – almost every known color but pure black.

4326076736_IMG_7688

True Spider Lilies (Hymenocallis sp.) are only marginally hardy (USDA zones 7-10), but deserve an honorable mention. Even if you’re out of their native range, consider growing them in pots and overwintering them under cover – they will reward you with a show unlike any other bulb I know of.

Well, there you have it! Five underutilized and deserving natives that you can grow in your garden today.

 

There is an ever-increasing need to preserve our native plants from destruction – one of the best options being cultivation in our gardens. If you’re new to growing natives or are hesitant because of their wild reputation (pun intended 😉 ), give them a try!

 

What about you? What are your favorite natives to grow in the garden? Let’s hear it in the comments below! 

 

Five Underutilized Native Plants For Your Garden

Apr 22, 2018

Happy Earth Day everyone!

To celebrate the beautiful world we live in, I visited my local nature preserve and and gathered some pictures of five cool native plants that are underutilized in the garden setting. I will keep the writing brief – this will be a mostly visual post. Here we go!

 

4326076736_IMG_7526

Cinnamon Ferns thrive in any garden given some shade and moist soil. In their native habitat, they can reach over four feet tall, usually topping out at two to three feet in a typical garden setting.

4326076736_IMG_7312

I discovered a patch of Carolina allspice (Calycanthus floridus) growing along the woodland edge by a trailhead. This shrub makes beautiful, somewhat fragrant flowers in mid-spring. The rest of the year it has round green leaves that change to a soft golden yellow in autumn. It would make a great addition to an informal shrub border, woodland edge, or shade garden.

4326076736_IMG_7361

False Indigos (Pictured: Baptisia alba var. macrophylla) make a great native alternative to the more finicky lupines. If you’re interested, check out the amazing selection of cultivars available through Plant Delights Nursery.

4326076736_IMG_7608
4326076736_IMG_7591
4326076736_IMG_7585
4326076736_IMG_7595

To me, no garden is complete without the addition of Louisiana Irises. You might be surprised to know that most varieties are hardy to zone 5, meaning they can be grown in almost three quarters of the US. They also boast the greatest selection of colors out of any Iris group – almost every known color but pure black.

4326076736_IMG_7688

True Spider Lilies (Hymenocallis sp.) are only marginally hardy (USDA zones 7-10), but deserve an honorable mention. Even if you’re out of their native range, consider growing them in pots and overwintering them under cover – they will reward you with a show unlike any other bulb I know of.

Well, there you have it! Five underutilized and deserving natives that you can grow in your garden today.

 

There is an ever-increasing need to preserve our native plants from destruction – one of the best options being cultivation in our gardens. If you’re new to growing natives or are hesitant because of their wild reputation (pun intended 😉 ), give them a try!

 

What about you? What are your favorite natives to grow in the garden? Let’s hear it in the comments below! 

 

More Posts...

Battling Invasive Bamboos

Mar 4, 2018

BLOG

the

Lately I’ve been having some plant issues.

Major issues.

The giant bamboo in my backyard (some of which exceeds 50 feet tall) is galloping into the neighboring woods at an astonishing 20 feet per year. Wherever it grows, it creates a monoculture. My neighbor planted it in the 80’s as a novelty way of distinguishing the property line and providing some privacy. Now, about 35 years and two acres later…well, you get the idea.

Bamboo allows little to no light to penetrate the canopy.
Bamboo allows little to no light to penetrate the canopy.

One mistake on researching the right species to plant has cost our neighbors (and us) countless hours chopping, digging, and burning the culms (stems), which sound like fireworks when they burn due to the hollow stems. Every time we burn, there’s at least one neighbor who comes down to inquire what the “gunshots” are from. Since I’m an entirely organic gardener, I’ve never used herbicides as a remedy for the nuisance bamboo. I have, however, been considering using herbicides sparingly if spraying will ultimately cause less damage to the environment than allowing a destructive plant to destroy the ecosystem. I’m still deciding on the best course of action.

Bamboo surrounding a pine in my backyard.
Bamboo surrounding a pine in my backyard.
Bamboo creates a monoculture wherever it grows.
Bamboo creates a monoculture wherever it grows.
A closer look reveals a network of surface roots.
A closer look reveals a network of surface roots.
Here's some perspective: the trees are well over 100 feet tall.
Here’s some perspective: the trees are well over 100 feet tall.

Bamboos where introduced in the late 19th century as a horticultural novelty. People liked the unusual, tropical look they provided and their ability to form large clumps in a relatively brief period of time. Unfortunately, some species spread faster than people thought, and soon, became naturalized throughout the United States.

The offending species are mostly from the genus Phyllostachys and Sasa. Phyllostachys are the bamboos that most people think of, with large culms in a rainbow of colors. The giant timber bamboo that I am currently battling is Phyllostachys bambusoides.

This species can be well behaved if you have thick, clay soils heavy in nutrients and moisture. If your soil is sandy and poor, like mine, they will spread like wildfire in their endless search for the prime growing conditions.

Sasa is a genus of smaller, scrubbier bamboos that are usually less than 10 feet tall. I’ve seen entire woodland floors swamped with Sasa palmata, displacing the native ferns and sedges and eventually killing the trees they surround. Bamboos in the genus Sasa are endless wanderers. No matter what your soil conditions are like, they will always march forward, and are nearly impossible to eradicate.

Here’s the million-dollar question: “If they are as tough as you say, how do I ever eradicate them?”

 

I've made a sizable dent in the bamboo forest (with help from my neighbor's tractor!).
I’ve made a sizable dent in the bamboo forest (with help from my neighbor’s tractor!).

Although I’m by no means an expert on managing invasive species, I have experimented with various methods on my own stand of bamboo and have found only two viable options. The first effective (and organic) way of controlling them is by hard manual labor – cutting the stalks down to ground-level and continually weedeating and removing any new shoots that emerge. This method works if you have the time to do a twice-weekly cut of any emerging shoots. Eventually, the roots will become starved and die off.

This method might be effective if you have the time, patience, and grit to overcome a tough infestation of bamboo, but what if you’re like me and don’t have the time? Well, at that point you’re about out of luck. Using an herbicide might be the only effective solution to permanently eradicate it. Like I’ve said before, if using an herbicide will be the least harmful way (better than leaving it) of removing a stubborn bamboo, it might be worth it to choose the lesser of two evils.

I want to end by saying that not all bamboos are bad. Many are amazing assets to the landscape, providing interesting colors, forms, and textures to the garden. Just make sure and do the research before you plant!

Does anyone else struggle with bamboo issues? I’d love to chat in the comments below about eradicating bamboos, or better-behaved cultivars to grow.

P.S. If getting rid of an invasive bamboo is not an option, you may as well utilize the resources it provides! Bamboo leaf litter decomposes into some of the richest soil around – use it to mulch your garden. The stems make excellent (environmentally friendly) stakes for the garden, not to mention most bamboos have edible young shoots. As you can see, even though some species may be invasive, they could also be turned into an asset!

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


!


!


Submit

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Battling Invasive Bamboos

Mar 4, 2018

Lately I’ve been having some plant issues.

Major issues.

The giant bamboo in my backyard (some of which exceeds 50 feet tall) is galloping into the neighboring woods at an astonishing 20 feet per year. Wherever it grows, it creates a monoculture. My neighbor planted it in the 80’s as a novelty way of distinguishing the property line and providing some privacy. Now, about 35 years and two acres later…well, you get the idea.

Bamboo allows little to no light to penetrate the canopy.
Bamboo allows little to no light to penetrate the canopy.

One mistake on researching the right species to plant has cost our neighbors (and us) countless hours chopping, digging, and burning the culms (stems), which sound like fireworks when they burn due to the hollow stems. Every time we burn, there’s at least one neighbor who comes down to inquire what the “gunshots” are from. Since I’m an entirely organic gardener, I’ve never used herbicides as a remedy for the nuisance bamboo. I have, however, been considering using herbicides sparingly if spraying will ultimately cause less damage to the environment than allowing a destructive plant to destroy the ecosystem. I’m still deciding on the best course of action.

Bamboo surrounding a pine in my backyard.
Bamboo surrounding a pine in my backyard.
Bamboo creates a monoculture wherever it grows.
Bamboo creates a monoculture wherever it grows.
A closer look reveals a network of surface roots.
A closer look reveals a network of surface roots.
Here's some perspective: the trees are well over 100 feet tall.
Here’s some perspective: the trees are well over 100 feet tall.

Bamboos where introduced in the late 19th century as a horticultural novelty. People liked the unusual, tropical look they provided and their ability to form large clumps in a relatively brief period of time. Unfortunately, some species spread faster than people thought, and soon, became naturalized throughout the United States.

The offending species are mostly from the genus Phyllostachys and Sasa. Phyllostachys are the bamboos that most people think of, with large culms in a rainbow of colors. The giant timber bamboo that I am currently battling is Phyllostachys bambusoides.

This species can be well behaved if you have thick, clay soils heavy in nutrients and moisture. If your soil is sandy and poor, like mine, they will spread like wildfire in their endless search for the prime growing conditions.

Sasa is a genus of smaller, scrubbier bamboos that are usually less than 10 feet tall. I’ve seen entire woodland floors swamped with Sasa palmata, displacing the native ferns and sedges and eventually killing the trees they surround. Bamboos in the genus Sasa are endless wanderers. No matter what your soil conditions are like, they will always march forward, and are nearly impossible to eradicate.

Here’s the million-dollar question: “If they are as tough as you say, how do I ever eradicate them?”

 

I've made a sizable dent in the bamboo forest (with help from my neighbor's tractor!).
I’ve made a sizable dent in the bamboo forest (with help from my neighbor’s tractor!).

Although I’m by no means an expert on managing invasive species, I have experimented with various methods on my own stand of bamboo and have found only two viable options. The first effective (and organic) way of controlling them is by hard manual labor – cutting the stalks down to ground-level and continually weedeating and removing any new shoots that emerge. This method works if you have the time to do a twice-weekly cut of any emerging shoots. Eventually, the roots will become starved and die off.

This method might be effective if you have the time, patience, and grit to overcome a tough infestation of bamboo, but what if you’re like me and don’t have the time? Well, at that point you’re about out of luck. Using an herbicide might be the only effective solution to permanently eradicate it. Like I’ve said before, if using an herbicide will be the least harmful way (better than leaving it) of removing a stubborn bamboo, it might be worth it to choose the lesser of two evils.

I want to end by saying that not all bamboos are bad. Many are amazing assets to the landscape, providing interesting colors, forms, and textures to the garden. Just make sure and do the research before you plant!

Does anyone else struggle with bamboo issues? I’d love to chat in the comments below about eradicating bamboos, or better-behaved cultivars to grow.

P.S. If getting rid of an invasive bamboo is not an option, you may as well utilize the resources it provides! Bamboo leaf litter decomposes into some of the richest soil around – use it to mulch your garden. The stems make excellent (environmentally friendly) stakes for the garden, not to mention most bamboos have edible young shoots. As you can see, even though some species may be invasive, they could also be turned into an asset!

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


!


!


Submit

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Battling Invasive Bamboos

Mar 4, 2018

Lately I’ve been having some plant issues.

Major issues.

The giant bamboo in my backyard (some of which exceeds 50 feet tall) is galloping into the neighboring woods at an astonishing 20 feet per year. Wherever it grows, it creates a monoculture. My neighbor planted it in the 80’s as a novelty way of distinguishing the property line and providing some privacy. Now, about 35 years and two acres later…well, you get the idea.

Bamboo allows little to no light to penetrate the canopy.
Bamboo allows little to no light to penetrate the canopy.

One mistake on researching the right species to plant has cost our neighbors (and us) countless hours chopping, digging, and burning the culms (stems), which sound like fireworks when they burn due to the hollow stems. Every time we burn, there’s at least one neighbor who comes down to inquire what the “gunshots” are from. Since I’m an entirely organic gardener, I’ve never used herbicides as a remedy for the nuisance bamboo. I have, however, been considering using herbicides sparingly if spraying will ultimately cause less damage to the environment than allowing a destructive plant to destroy the ecosystem. I’m still deciding on the best course of action.

Bamboo surrounding a pine in my backyard.
Bamboo surrounding a pine in my backyard.
Bamboo creates a monoculture wherever it grows.
Bamboo creates a monoculture wherever it grows.
A closer look reveals a network of surface roots.
A closer look reveals a network of surface roots.
Here's some perspective: the trees are well over 100 feet tall.
Here’s some perspective: the trees are well over 100 feet tall.

Bamboos where introduced in the late 19th century as a horticultural novelty. People liked the unusual, tropical look they provided and their ability to form large clumps in a relatively brief period of time. Unfortunately, some species spread faster than people thought, and soon, became naturalized throughout the United States.

The offending species are mostly from the genus Phyllostachys and Sasa. Phyllostachys are the bamboos that most people think of, with large culms in a rainbow of colors. The giant timber bamboo that I am currently battling is Phyllostachys bambusoides.

This species can be well behaved if you have thick, clay soils heavy in nutrients and moisture. If your soil is sandy and poor, like mine, they will spread like wildfire in their endless search for the prime growing conditions.

Sasa is a genus of smaller, scrubbier bamboos that are usually less than 10 feet tall. I’ve seen entire woodland floors swamped with Sasa palmata, displacing the native ferns and sedges and eventually killing the trees they surround. Bamboos in the genus Sasa are endless wanderers. No matter what your soil conditions are like, they will always march forward, and are nearly impossible to eradicate.

Here’s the million-dollar question: “If they are as tough as you say, how do I ever eradicate them?”

 

I've made a sizable dent in the bamboo forest (with help from my neighbor's tractor!).
I’ve made a sizable dent in the bamboo forest (with help from my neighbor’s tractor!).

Although I’m by no means an expert on managing invasive species, I have experimented with various methods on my own stand of bamboo and have found only two viable options. The first effective (and organic) way of controlling them is by hard manual labor – cutting the stalks down to ground-level and continually weedeating and removing any new shoots that emerge. This method works if you have the time to do a twice-weekly cut of any emerging shoots. Eventually, the roots will become starved and die off.

This method might be effective if you have the time, patience, and grit to overcome a tough infestation of bamboo, but what if you’re like me and don’t have the time? Well, at that point you’re about out of luck. Using an herbicide might be the only effective solution to permanently eradicate it. Like I’ve said before, if using an herbicide will be the least harmful way (better than leaving it) of removing a stubborn bamboo, it might be worth it to choose the lesser of two evils.

I want to end by saying that not all bamboos are bad. Many are amazing assets to the landscape, providing interesting colors, forms, and textures to the garden. Just make sure and do the research before you plant!

Does anyone else struggle with bamboo issues? I’d love to chat in the comments below about eradicating bamboos, or better-behaved cultivars to grow.

P.S. If getting rid of an invasive bamboo is not an option, you may as well utilize the resources it provides! Bamboo leaf litter decomposes into some of the richest soil around – use it to mulch your garden. The stems make excellent (environmentally friendly) stakes for the garden, not to mention most bamboos have edible young shoots. As you can see, even though some species may be invasive, they could also be turned into an asset!

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


!


!


Submit

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

More Posts...

Ordering Seed For Spring Planting + My Favorite Seed Companies

Feb 24, 2018

BLOG

the

 

 

It’s that time of year again!

The time when I am glued to my comfortable leather chair in the library room paging through the three foot tall stack of seed catalogs and deciding which seeds I should plant this year.

Well, that was a bit of an exaggeration, but I do have a sizable pile of seed catalogs to look through.

The decision can be daunting – reading all of the colorful descriptions and deciding on just one variety of each kind of vegetable or flower – but it can be done!

This year it is particularly important that I choose wisely, since I will most likely have a garden tour in June (still undecided on that).

I thought that since I am already so intent on pushing through with the rest of my seed orders, I may as well write a post explaining my process.

Here goes nothing!

It all started in late 2017, when I received the seed catalogs that I had requested from various seed companies (my five favorites are listed below). If you don’t feel like receiving catalogs, you can always just search their online store (most good seed companies have websites to accompany their catalogs). I prefer to order the catalog, since some seed companies provide pictures with every plant description. This helps me organize all of my thoughts and see all of my options on one page, versus scrolling though the options on the website. I can also highlight the varieties I like and come back later to narrow down the selections to the one or two that I will end up purchasing.

Once the first catalogs started to arrive, I immediately set to work browsing and using the pictures as a guide to what each flower and vegetable variety will look like.

From there it is mostly a matter of personal preference. Below are a few questions that could help you decide what is best for your garden:

What colors appeal to me?

Are there particular vegetables that I never eat and, therefore, should not waste money on?

Do I have the space for it?

What is my soil like (an important, but often overlooked question when ordering seeds)?

What will its purpose be?

Do I have a designated spot in mind?

There are an endless amount of questions like these I could ask to help me narrow down my selections to only the most necessary and/or interesting.

Once I select the right varieties (and hopefully don’t go too far over my original budget), all I have to do is order them via the website. Most catalogs still have mail-in order forms, but who wants to fill one of those out, pay to send it in, wait several days, and then have to wait an equally long time to get the seeds back?

I know I don’t.

 

My 5 Favorite Seed Companies:

Here are my five favorite seed companies that I order from on a regular basis:

Baker Creek Seeds– Great source of heirloom and non-GMO seeds. Huge selection!

Chiltern Seeds– This UK-based seed company ships worldwide. They carry many varieties that are hard to find in the US and provide large quantities of seed per packet.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds– Good company for organic, modern vegetable varieties. Has an impressive selection of cut flower seed!

Prairie Moon Nursery– Fantastic source of native wildflower and grass seed. From my experience, the germination rates have always been above 90%.

Seed Savers Exchange– Another great source of heirloom, open-pollinated seed. They sustain one of the largest seed banks in the US – over 25,000 varieties and counting!

Ordering Seed For Spring Planting + My Favorite Seed Companies

Feb 24, 2018

 

 

It’s that time of year again!

The time when I am glued to my comfortable leather chair in the library room paging through the three foot tall stack of seed catalogs and deciding which seeds I should plant this year.

Well, that was a bit of an exaggeration, but I do have a sizable pile of seed catalogs to look through.

The decision can be daunting – reading all of the colorful descriptions and deciding on just one variety of each kind of vegetable or flower – but it can be done!

This year it is particularly important that I choose wisely, since I will most likely have a garden tour in June (still undecided on that).

I thought that since I am already so intent on pushing through with the rest of my seed orders, I may as well write a post explaining my process.

Here goes nothing!

It all started in late 2017, when I received the seed catalogs that I had requested from various seed companies (my five favorites are listed below). If you don’t feel like receiving catalogs, you can always just search their online store (most good seed companies have websites to accompany their catalogs). I prefer to order the catalog, since some seed companies provide pictures with every plant description. This helps me organize all of my thoughts and see all of my options on one page, versus scrolling though the options on the website. I can also highlight the varieties I like and come back later to narrow down the selections to the one or two that I will end up purchasing.

Once the first catalogs started to arrive, I immediately set to work browsing and using the pictures as a guide to what each flower and vegetable variety will look like.

From there it is mostly a matter of personal preference. Below are a few questions that could help you decide what is best for your garden:

What colors appeal to me?

Are there particular vegetables that I never eat and, therefore, should not waste money on?

Do I have the space for it?

What is my soil like (an important, but often overlooked question when ordering seeds)?

What will its purpose be?

Do I have a designated spot in mind?

There are an endless amount of questions like these I could ask to help me narrow down my selections to only the most necessary and/or interesting.

Once I select the right varieties (and hopefully don’t go too far over my original budget), all I have to do is order them via the website. Most catalogs still have mail-in order forms, but who wants to fill one of those out, pay to send it in, wait several days, and then have to wait an equally long time to get the seeds back?

I know I don’t.

 

My 5 Favorite Seed Companies:

Here are my five favorite seed companies that I order from on a regular basis:

Baker Creek Seeds– Great source of heirloom and non-GMO seeds. Huge selection!

Chiltern Seeds– This UK-based seed company ships worldwide. They carry many varieties that are hard to find in the US and provide large quantities of seed per packet.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds– Good company for organic, modern vegetable varieties. Has an impressive selection of cut flower seed!

Prairie Moon Nursery– Fantastic source of native wildflower and grass seed. From my experience, the germination rates have always been above 90%.

Seed Savers Exchange– Another great source of heirloom, open-pollinated seed. They sustain one of the largest seed banks in the US – over 25,000 varieties and counting!

Ordering Seed For Spring Planting + My Favorite Seed Companies

Feb 24, 2018

 

 

It’s that time of year again!

The time when I am glued to my comfortable leather chair in the library room paging through the three foot tall stack of seed catalogs and deciding which seeds I should plant this year.

Well, that was a bit of an exaggeration, but I do have a sizable pile of seed catalogs to look through.

The decision can be daunting – reading all of the colorful descriptions and deciding on just one variety of each kind of vegetable or flower – but it can be done!

This year it is particularly important that I choose wisely, since I will most likely have a garden tour in June (still undecided on that).

I thought that since I am already so intent on pushing through with the rest of my seed orders, I may as well write a post explaining my process.

Here goes nothing!

It all started in late 2017, when I received the seed catalogs that I had requested from various seed companies (my five favorites are listed below). If you don’t feel like receiving catalogs, you can always just search their online store (most good seed companies have websites to accompany their catalogs). I prefer to order the catalog, since some seed companies provide pictures with every plant description. This helps me organize all of my thoughts and see all of my options on one page, versus scrolling though the options on the website. I can also highlight the varieties I like and come back later to narrow down the selections to the one or two that I will end up purchasing.

Once the first catalogs started to arrive, I immediately set to work browsing and using the pictures as a guide to what each flower and vegetable variety will look like.

From there it is mostly a matter of personal preference. Below are a few questions that could help you decide what is best for your garden:

What colors appeal to me?

Are there particular vegetables that I never eat and, therefore, should not waste money on?

Do I have the space for it?

What is my soil like (an important, but often overlooked question when ordering seeds)?

What will its purpose be?

Do I have a designated spot in mind?

There are an endless amount of questions like these I could ask to help me narrow down my selections to only the most necessary and/or interesting.

Once I select the right varieties (and hopefully don’t go too far over my original budget), all I have to do is order them via the website. Most catalogs still have mail-in order forms, but who wants to fill one of those out, pay to send it in, wait several days, and then have to wait an equally long time to get the seeds back?

I know I don’t.

 

My 5 Favorite Seed Companies:

Here are my five favorite seed companies that I order from on a regular basis:

Baker Creek Seeds– Great source of heirloom and non-GMO seeds. Huge selection!

Chiltern Seeds– This UK-based seed company ships worldwide. They carry many varieties that are hard to find in the US and provide large quantities of seed per packet.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds– Good company for organic, modern vegetable varieties. Has an impressive selection of cut flower seed!

Prairie Moon Nursery– Fantastic source of native wildflower and grass seed. From my experience, the germination rates have always been above 90%.

Seed Savers Exchange– Another great source of heirloom, open-pollinated seed. They sustain one of the largest seed banks in the US – over 25,000 varieties and counting!

More Posts...

Cultivating Life // What Drives You To Garden?

Nov 10, 2017

BLOG

the

Cultivating Life // What Drives You To Garden?

Me cutting some Sulphur Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus) and Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia 'Torch') in my cut-flower patch. The white "blob" in the background is my hoophouse.
Me cutting some Sulphur Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus) and Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia ‘Torch’) in my cut-flower patch. The white “blob” in the background is my hoophouse.

I was visiting with a friend the other day when they asked me a challenging question. Why do you garden? My first response, of course, was “out of instinct.” After all, growing plants comes naturally to me.

 

But that got me to thinking, “Why do I really garden?”

 

After thinking it over, I determined that several things compel me to garden. The first is stress. I am naturally a high energy person with a huge to-do list each week. Gardening, even if it is only on the weekends, provides a stress-free no pressure environment that gives me a chance to take a deep breath and relax.

 

The second reason is creativity. When I garden, I am allowed to fully express my personal style as I see fit. There are no limits. I like to think of the garden as my personal canvas. I get to play around with different colors, textures, and shapes to create something truly special to me.

Volunteer Zinnias in my cut-flower patch along with a blackberry from the neighboring trellis.
Volunteer Zinnias in my cut-flower patch along with a blackberry from the neighboring trellis.
Another angle on the Sulphur Cosmos in my cut-flower patch.
Another angle on the Sulphur Cosmos in my cut-flower patch.

 

Gardening is also a very intentional process.

 

To plant a seed and watch it sprout and grow its first true leaves is very fulfilling. Once it reaches the right size, I get to decide where I want it in the grand scheme of things and plant wherever I want it to stay for the year. Sometimes, things don’t always go as planned, but from my experience, it is nice to have a surprise. For instance: a flower self-sows in a place where you never would have planted it,  but the surrounding plants match it perfectly.

 

I also love the fact that gardens are living things. I know that may seem obvious, but a garden, unlike any other living thing that you can grow or keep, (a) does not require as much time, energy, and money to maintain as a pet (I on average spend $200 a year on my garden and an hour or two a week once it was established), and (b) is constantly evolving and changing with the seasons.

 

Some would prefer a garden to remain constant throughout the seasons. They like the look of evergreens that stay the same year-round. I respect that opinion, but personally prefer to witness everything from the early spring ephemerals to the brilliant fall color of deciduous trees and shrubs. My garden always keeps me on my toes as to what will happen next, kind of like a well-written book.

The Cottage Garden this fall.
The Cottage Garden this fall.

Lastly, for me, gardening is the gateway to the natural world. While I am out in my garden, I get to see wildlife such as birds, lizards, deer browsing at the edge of the wood line, and the huge assortment of butterflies that call my garden home each summer. When I’m learning about what growing conditions certain plants like, I get acquainted with the various soil types and the minerals and organic matter that influence the composition and PH of my soil.

 

I know I’ve said this before, but for me, gardening is not just a hobby. It is a lifestyle. It has influenced my life in every aspect, teaching me patience and happiness as I continue living life.

 

Now that you’ve read what inspires me to garden, I’m curious, what is your reason for gardening? 

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


!


!


Submit

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Cultivating Life // What Drives You To Garden?

Nov 10, 2017

Cultivating Life // What Drives You To Garden?

Me cutting some Sulphur Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus) and Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia 'Torch') in my cut-flower patch. The white "blob" in the background is my hoophouse.
Me cutting some Sulphur Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus) and Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia ‘Torch’) in my cut-flower patch. The white “blob” in the background is my hoophouse.

I was visiting with a friend the other day when they asked me a challenging question. Why do you garden? My first response, of course, was “out of instinct.” After all, growing plants comes naturally to me.

 

But that got me to thinking, “Why do I really garden?”

 

After thinking it over, I determined that several things compel me to garden. The first is stress. I am naturally a high energy person with a huge to-do list each week. Gardening, even if it is only on the weekends, provides a stress-free no pressure environment that gives me a chance to take a deep breath and relax.

 

The second reason is creativity. When I garden, I am allowed to fully express my personal style as I see fit. There are no limits. I like to think of the garden as my personal canvas. I get to play around with different colors, textures, and shapes to create something truly special to me.

Volunteer Zinnias in my cut-flower patch along with a blackberry from the neighboring trellis.
Volunteer Zinnias in my cut-flower patch along with a blackberry from the neighboring trellis.
Another angle on the Sulphur Cosmos in my cut-flower patch.
Another angle on the Sulphur Cosmos in my cut-flower patch.

 

Gardening is also a very intentional process.

 

To plant a seed and watch it sprout and grow its first true leaves is very fulfilling. Once it reaches the right size, I get to decide where I want it in the grand scheme of things and plant wherever I want it to stay for the year. Sometimes, things don’t always go as planned, but from my experience, it is nice to have a surprise. For instance: a flower self-sows in a place where you never would have planted it,  but the surrounding plants match it perfectly.

 

I also love the fact that gardens are living things. I know that may seem obvious, but a garden, unlike any other living thing that you can grow or keep, (a) does not require as much time, energy, and money to maintain as a pet (I on average spend $200 a year on my garden and an hour or two a week once it was established), and (b) is constantly evolving and changing with the seasons.

 

Some would prefer a garden to remain constant throughout the seasons. They like the look of evergreens that stay the same year-round. I respect that opinion, but personally prefer to witness everything from the early spring ephemerals to the brilliant fall color of deciduous trees and shrubs. My garden always keeps me on my toes as to what will happen next, kind of like a well-written book.

The Cottage Garden this fall.
The Cottage Garden this fall.

Lastly, for me, gardening is the gateway to the natural world. While I am out in my garden, I get to see wildlife such as birds, lizards, deer browsing at the edge of the wood line, and the huge assortment of butterflies that call my garden home each summer. When I’m learning about what growing conditions certain plants like, I get acquainted with the various soil types and the minerals and organic matter that influence the composition and PH of my soil.

 

I know I’ve said this before, but for me, gardening is not just a hobby. It is a lifestyle. It has influenced my life in every aspect, teaching me patience and happiness as I continue living life.

 

Now that you’ve read what inspires me to garden, I’m curious, what is your reason for gardening? 

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


!


!


Submit

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Cultivating Life // What Drives You To Garden?

Nov 10, 2017

Cultivating Life // What Drives You To Garden?

Me cutting some Sulphur Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus) and Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia 'Torch') in my cut-flower patch. The white "blob" in the background is my hoophouse.
Me cutting some Sulphur Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus) and Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia ‘Torch’) in my cut-flower patch. The white “blob” in the background is my hoophouse.

I was visiting with a friend the other day when they asked me a challenging question. Why do you garden? My first response, of course, was “out of instinct.” After all, growing plants comes naturally to me.

 

But that got me to thinking, “Why do I really garden?”

 

After thinking it over, I determined that several things compel me to garden. The first is stress. I am naturally a high energy person with a huge to-do list each week. Gardening, even if it is only on the weekends, provides a stress-free no pressure environment that gives me a chance to take a deep breath and relax.

 

The second reason is creativity. When I garden, I am allowed to fully express my personal style as I see fit. There are no limits. I like to think of the garden as my personal canvas. I get to play around with different colors, textures, and shapes to create something truly special to me.

Volunteer Zinnias in my cut-flower patch along with a blackberry from the neighboring trellis.
Volunteer Zinnias in my cut-flower patch along with a blackberry from the neighboring trellis.
Another angle on the Sulphur Cosmos in my cut-flower patch.
Another angle on the Sulphur Cosmos in my cut-flower patch.

 

Gardening is also a very intentional process.

 

To plant a seed and watch it sprout and grow its first true leaves is very fulfilling. Once it reaches the right size, I get to decide where I want it in the grand scheme of things and plant wherever I want it to stay for the year. Sometimes, things don’t always go as planned, but from my experience, it is nice to have a surprise. For instance: a flower self-sows in a place where you never would have planted it,  but the surrounding plants match it perfectly.

 

I also love the fact that gardens are living things. I know that may seem obvious, but a garden, unlike any other living thing that you can grow or keep, (a) does not require as much time, energy, and money to maintain as a pet (I on average spend $200 a year on my garden and an hour or two a week once it was established), and (b) is constantly evolving and changing with the seasons.

 

Some would prefer a garden to remain constant throughout the seasons. They like the look of evergreens that stay the same year-round. I respect that opinion, but personally prefer to witness everything from the early spring ephemerals to the brilliant fall color of deciduous trees and shrubs. My garden always keeps me on my toes as to what will happen next, kind of like a well-written book.

The Cottage Garden this fall.
The Cottage Garden this fall.

Lastly, for me, gardening is the gateway to the natural world. While I am out in my garden, I get to see wildlife such as birds, lizards, deer browsing at the edge of the wood line, and the huge assortment of butterflies that call my garden home each summer. When I’m learning about what growing conditions certain plants like, I get acquainted with the various soil types and the minerals and organic matter that influence the composition and PH of my soil.

 

I know I’ve said this before, but for me, gardening is not just a hobby. It is a lifestyle. It has influenced my life in every aspect, teaching me patience and happiness as I continue living life.

 

Now that you’ve read what inspires me to garden, I’m curious, what is your reason for gardening? 

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


!


!


Submit

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

More Posts...

My Permaculture Plot: First Thoughts

Oct 16, 2017

BLOG

the

For the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about edible gardening. When I initially started my vegetable garden as a first attempt to produce food, I was all in.

I started out practicing an organic, no-till vegetable gardening. It was a new, lower maintenance style of edible gardening for me to try. Sounds great, right?

In early summer, I went backpacking in New Mexico. By the time I arrived back from my 85 mile hike (my idea of summer fun 🙂 ), the garden was in ruins.

 

TOTAL ruins.

 

My African Horned Melon
My African Horned Melon

The beds overflowed with bindweed and purple nutsedge. All of my plants died except the heirloom sugarcane and my trustworthy African Horned Melon. Needless to say, the garden was failing.

I was about to give up on the idea of ever having a successful vegetable garden, when I had a great idea. Why not create a permaculture plot?

Permaculture is an agricultural system that integrates human activity with natural surroundings so as to create highly efficient self-sustaining ecosystems.

When I first heard about permaculture, I was talking with a friend who just happened to mention it offhand while talking about edible gardening techniques. Of course, being curious by nature, I had to learn more. I researched the topic and ended up taking a course on permaculture design.

My curiosity ended up getting the better of me. “I wonder if I could cultivate a successful permaculture plot in my yard? How will the weeds react to this natural approach to edible gardening?”

I have to know.

 

There is no one using permaculture techniques in my area, so this will be something unique. In the coming few weeks, I plan to start designing my garden for planting this next spring. Expect some follow-up posts monitoring the progress of my new garden.

Last thing: If you have a permaculture plot and are willing to share information, contact me! There are not many permaculture enthusiasts in my area. One of my goals with The Garden Scout is to cultivate a sense of community. I’d absolutely love to hear about your personal experiences in the world of plants! Also, if you’re interested in learning more about this style of gardening, head over to Permies.com, a website specializing in permaculture and has forums dedicated to this unique style of gardening.

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


!


!


Submit

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

My Permaculture Plot: First Thoughts

Oct 16, 2017

For the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about edible gardening. When I initially started my vegetable garden as a first attempt to produce food, I was all in.

I started out practicing an organic, no-till vegetable gardening. It was a new, lower maintenance style of edible gardening for me to try. Sounds great, right?

In early summer, I went backpacking in New Mexico. By the time I arrived back from my 85 mile hike (my idea of summer fun 🙂 ), the garden was in ruins.

 

TOTAL ruins.

 

My African Horned Melon
My African Horned Melon

The beds overflowed with bindweed and purple nutsedge. All of my plants died except the heirloom sugarcane and my trustworthy African Horned Melon. Needless to say, the garden was failing.

I was about to give up on the idea of ever having a successful vegetable garden, when I had a great idea. Why not create a permaculture plot?

Permaculture is an agricultural system that integrates human activity with natural surroundings so as to create highly efficient self-sustaining ecosystems.

When I first heard about permaculture, I was talking with a friend who just happened to mention it offhand while talking about edible gardening techniques. Of course, being curious by nature, I had to learn more. I researched the topic and ended up taking a course on permaculture design.

My curiosity ended up getting the better of me. “I wonder if I could cultivate a successful permaculture plot in my yard? How will the weeds react to this natural approach to edible gardening?”

I have to know.

 

There is no one using permaculture techniques in my area, so this will be something unique. In the coming few weeks, I plan to start designing my garden for planting this next spring. Expect some follow-up posts monitoring the progress of my new garden.

Last thing: If you have a permaculture plot and are willing to share information, contact me! There are not many permaculture enthusiasts in my area. One of my goals with The Garden Scout is to cultivate a sense of community. I’d absolutely love to hear about your personal experiences in the world of plants! Also, if you’re interested in learning more about this style of gardening, head over to Permies.com, a website specializing in permaculture and has forums dedicated to this unique style of gardening.

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


!


!


Submit

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

My Permaculture Plot: First Thoughts

Oct 16, 2017

For the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about edible gardening. When I initially started my vegetable garden as a first attempt to produce food, I was all in.

I started out practicing an organic, no-till vegetable gardening. It was a new, lower maintenance style of edible gardening for me to try. Sounds great, right?

In early summer, I went backpacking in New Mexico. By the time I arrived back from my 85 mile hike (my idea of summer fun 🙂 ), the garden was in ruins.

 

TOTAL ruins.

 

My African Horned Melon
My African Horned Melon

The beds overflowed with bindweed and purple nutsedge. All of my plants died except the heirloom sugarcane and my trustworthy African Horned Melon. Needless to say, the garden was failing.

I was about to give up on the idea of ever having a successful vegetable garden, when I had a great idea. Why not create a permaculture plot?

Permaculture is an agricultural system that integrates human activity with natural surroundings so as to create highly efficient self-sustaining ecosystems.

When I first heard about permaculture, I was talking with a friend who just happened to mention it offhand while talking about edible gardening techniques. Of course, being curious by nature, I had to learn more. I researched the topic and ended up taking a course on permaculture design.

My curiosity ended up getting the better of me. “I wonder if I could cultivate a successful permaculture plot in my yard? How will the weeds react to this natural approach to edible gardening?”

I have to know.

 

There is no one using permaculture techniques in my area, so this will be something unique. In the coming few weeks, I plan to start designing my garden for planting this next spring. Expect some follow-up posts monitoring the progress of my new garden.

Last thing: If you have a permaculture plot and are willing to share information, contact me! There are not many permaculture enthusiasts in my area. One of my goals with The Garden Scout is to cultivate a sense of community. I’d absolutely love to hear about your personal experiences in the world of plants! Also, if you’re interested in learning more about this style of gardening, head over to Permies.com, a website specializing in permaculture and has forums dedicated to this unique style of gardening.

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


!


!


Submit

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

More Posts...

Popcorn, Anyone?

Oct 13, 2017

BLOG

the

Have you ever been driving down the road, minding your own business, when something catches your attention? SCREECH! Goes the car as you slam on the brakes. You’ve just seen a plant that you’ve heard about for years, but up until now, never seen it in person.

This happened to me one day.

Maybe only a serious plantaholic could ever admit to almost running off the road after seeing a plant that they’ve been searching for. Searching actually under-represents what I’ve been doing. I’ve been hunting: scouring the internet for that very plant, with little success.

To see it in my hometown after searching for so long was like seeing someone you know at the house next door, only to find out that they’ve been living there for years.

I was incredulous.

And then I did it.

I walked up to the house whose yard the plant was growing in and knocked. Afterward, I was surprised that I had the courage to do it, but at the time, I didn’t care. An older man opened the door. He was very friendly, and after talking with him for a while, I found out that he was an avid gardener and lifelong plant enthusiast. When I mentioned the plant that I liked, he offered me a young seedling of it! After a few more minutes of pleasant conversation, I went on my way, and he went to work in the garden.

FullSizeRender (24)

All that to say, I finally had the plant that would form the centerpiece of my tropical garden: the Popcorn Plant, Senna alata.

This Mexican native is a showstopper for the fall garden. The flowers resemble popcorn slipped on a skewer and painted the brightest shade of yellow, almost golden. Its long, pinnate leaves serve as a reminder that it’s a legume.  The plant itself can reach almost eight feet in height by the end of the summer from seed! Sadly, the deer browsed mine while it was still young, resulting in the still-impressive height of six feet.

 

FullSizeRender (19)
FullSizeRender (20)

<< Closeup of Leaves

FullSizeRender (22)
FullSizeRender (23)

In other words, a showstopper!

Do you still think that I was crazy for almost running off the road at the sight of it?

It is tolerant of almost any soil type, excelling in both drought and wet, rainy periods. I have mine in part-sun, receiving afternoon shade by the big oak tree to its west. As long as it’s not in full shade, the Popcorn Plant is happy.

What amazed me most (besides its unreal flowers) is its growth rate. It was a foot tall when I first planted it in May, growing an incredible five feet in just four short months. I could go away for a week-long trip and find it had grown six inches just in the time I was gone!

IMG_4551

Unfortunately, it has limited hardiness. It is easy enough to start from seed saved from the previous year though, so I should never run out of new plants. If I do, I can always go on a drive and start the search again.

 

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


!


!


Submit

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Popcorn, Anyone?

Oct 13, 2017

Have you ever been driving down the road, minding your own business, when something catches your attention? SCREECH! Goes the car as you slam on the brakes. You’ve just seen a plant that you’ve heard about for years, but up until now, never seen it in person.

This happened to me one day.

Maybe only a serious plantaholic could ever admit to almost running off the road after seeing a plant that they’ve been searching for. Searching actually under-represents what I’ve been doing. I’ve been hunting: scouring the internet for that very plant, with little success.

To see it in my hometown after searching for so long was like seeing someone you know at the house next door, only to find out that they’ve been living there for years.

I was incredulous.

And then I did it.

I walked up to the house whose yard the plant was growing in and knocked. Afterward, I was surprised that I had the courage to do it, but at the time, I didn’t care. An older man opened the door. He was very friendly, and after talking with him for a while, I found out that he was an avid gardener and lifelong plant enthusiast. When I mentioned the plant that I liked, he offered me a young seedling of it! After a few more minutes of pleasant conversation, I went on my way, and he went to work in the garden.

FullSizeRender (24)

All that to say, I finally had the plant that would form the centerpiece of my tropical garden: the Popcorn Plant, Senna alata.

This Mexican native is a showstopper for the fall garden. The flowers resemble popcorn slipped on a skewer and painted the brightest shade of yellow, almost golden. Its long, pinnate leaves serve as a reminder that it’s a legume.  The plant itself can reach almost eight feet in height by the end of the summer from seed! Sadly, the deer browsed mine while it was still young, resulting in the still-impressive height of six feet.

 

FullSizeRender (19)
FullSizeRender (20)

<< Closeup of Leaves

FullSizeRender (22)
FullSizeRender (23)

In other words, a showstopper!

Do you still think that I was crazy for almost running off the road at the sight of it?

It is tolerant of almost any soil type, excelling in both drought and wet, rainy periods. I have mine in part-sun, receiving afternoon shade by the big oak tree to its west. As long as it’s not in full shade, the Popcorn Plant is happy.

What amazed me most (besides its unreal flowers) is its growth rate. It was a foot tall when I first planted it in May, growing an incredible five feet in just four short months. I could go away for a week-long trip and find it had grown six inches just in the time I was gone!

IMG_4551

Unfortunately, it has limited hardiness. It is easy enough to start from seed saved from the previous year though, so I should never run out of new plants. If I do, I can always go on a drive and start the search again.

 

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


!


!


Submit

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Popcorn, Anyone?

Oct 13, 2017

Have you ever been driving down the road, minding your own business, when something catches your attention? SCREECH! Goes the car as you slam on the brakes. You’ve just seen a plant that you’ve heard about for years, but up until now, never seen it in person.

This happened to me one day.

Maybe only a serious plantaholic could ever admit to almost running off the road after seeing a plant that they’ve been searching for. Searching actually under-represents what I’ve been doing. I’ve been hunting: scouring the internet for that very plant, with little success.

To see it in my hometown after searching for so long was like seeing someone you know at the house next door, only to find out that they’ve been living there for years.

I was incredulous.

And then I did it.

I walked up to the house whose yard the plant was growing in and knocked. Afterward, I was surprised that I had the courage to do it, but at the time, I didn’t care. An older man opened the door. He was very friendly, and after talking with him for a while, I found out that he was an avid gardener and lifelong plant enthusiast. When I mentioned the plant that I liked, he offered me a young seedling of it! After a few more minutes of pleasant conversation, I went on my way, and he went to work in the garden.

FullSizeRender (24)

All that to say, I finally had the plant that would form the centerpiece of my tropical garden: the Popcorn Plant, Senna alata.

This Mexican native is a showstopper for the fall garden. The flowers resemble popcorn slipped on a skewer and painted the brightest shade of yellow, almost golden. Its long, pinnate leaves serve as a reminder that it’s a legume.  The plant itself can reach almost eight feet in height by the end of the summer from seed! Sadly, the deer browsed mine while it was still young, resulting in the still-impressive height of six feet.

 

FullSizeRender (19)
FullSizeRender (20)

<< Closeup of Leaves

FullSizeRender (22)
FullSizeRender (23)

In other words, a showstopper!

Do you still think that I was crazy for almost running off the road at the sight of it?

It is tolerant of almost any soil type, excelling in both drought and wet, rainy periods. I have mine in part-sun, receiving afternoon shade by the big oak tree to its west. As long as it’s not in full shade, the Popcorn Plant is happy.

What amazed me most (besides its unreal flowers) is its growth rate. It was a foot tall when I first planted it in May, growing an incredible five feet in just four short months. I could go away for a week-long trip and find it had grown six inches just in the time I was gone!

IMG_4551

Unfortunately, it has limited hardiness. It is easy enough to start from seed saved from the previous year though, so I should never run out of new plants. If I do, I can always go on a drive and start the search again.

 

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


!


!


Submit

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

More Posts...

Plant Sales: Considerations + Advice

Oct 9, 2017

BLOG

the

Dear Friend and Gardener,
I want to tell you about one of the most terrifying moments in the gardening season for me. PLANT SALES! “Why is that something to be scared of? It’s just a plant sale!”

Just a plant sale, heh. Plant sales can both be thrilling and scary. A car-full of rare gems could instantly take all of your pocket money. Stress levels rise as you rush around the sale searching for that one plant on your wishlist. I can relate.

Even though a plant sale might not be a life-altering event, it will be more enjoyable with a game plan. Something to organize my thoughts and make them flow logically without the stress of lat-minute planning. Today I’d like to share a few of my thoughts on how I successfully approach a plant sale and come away with a feeling of accomplishment.

1. Money Matters

The first thing that I consider (before even daring to look at a plant availability list), is funds. How much money can I afford to spend on the sale? I used to make the mistake of reading what plants are available first, and then s a budget. That never works. I end up basing my budget off of what plants I want, and not what I can actually afford.

Money is also very hard to come by for me, being a broke teenager with little funds. Some plant sales, I can’t afford to buy anything. That’s when I ask the salesperson at the booth I want to buy a plant from, “Can I trade you for a piece of this?” Sometime, it works, and I walk home with a free plant. Other times, it doesn’t. But it never hurts to try.

Also, take gas costs into account. It’s not unusual for me to head to the other end of the state for a great sale, but I have to consider something. Is it really worth it to drive a great distance for a plant that I could get cheaper (than the cost of gas + the plant) online? Let’s move on to my second consideration.

2. Plant List

It’s not uncommon for local plant sales to release a plant availability list either through Facebook or their website. When the list comes through, I immediately print it out and look it over. After I’ve set my budget, I can go through and highlight some of my favorites, and write them down on a notepad, noting which ones I want most. That way, if my plant list exceeds my budgetary limits, I can always choose the ones that I want most.

3. On The Day Of The Sale

Plan to arrive early. As early as possible. On my very first plant sale, I arrived at 11:00am, and the sale ended at 12:00pm. To my disappointment, all of my favorite plants were either extremely picked through or sold out. I usually try arrive at the plant sale at the starting time. In my region, the average plant sale starts around 8:00am, which gives me plenty of time to get up and ready before I have to leave.  I have seen some sale that start as early as 7:00. But my proximity to the sale might also dictate what time I’m able to arrive.

Once you arrive, do NOT be seduced by the huge array of beautiful plants and friendly gardeners trying to sell them. That is a HUGE mistake. Last year, I went to a large plant sale (down in Lafayette, Louisiana) searching for tropical plants for my exotic garden. My budget was set at $30, but by the time I was finished gawking at all of the rare plants, I walked out of the sale with $125 worth of plants. That was my last plant sale for a while.

One last tip: enjoy yourself! There are lots of gardeners who would love to talk plants with you. Take advantage of that! Talk about a problem area in your yard. Maybe they’d be able to suggest a plant to grow there. Ask them any question that you have about the plants being sold. They’d love to answer you!

Quick Recap:

  • Consider your budget
  • Decide what plants you want
  • Arrive early
  • Ask questions
  • Have Fun!

Edit: I attended the fall Plantfest in Baton Rouge, LA and walked out of the sale having spent exactly $100. Better budgeting than last year! 😉 Not everyone will have as large of a budget as I do, but all you can do is plan with what you have and ALWAYS overplan and overexpect what you will spend.

Happy Gardening and Plant Shopping!

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


!


!


Submit

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Plant Sales: Considerations + Advice

Oct 9, 2017

Dear Friend and Gardener,
I want to tell you about one of the most terrifying moments in the gardening season for me. PLANT SALES! “Why is that something to be scared of? It’s just a plant sale!”

Just a plant sale, heh. Plant sales can both be thrilling and scary. A car-full of rare gems could instantly take all of your pocket money. Stress levels rise as you rush around the sale searching for that one plant on your wishlist. I can relate.

Even though a plant sale might not be a life-altering event, it will be more enjoyable with a game plan. Something to organize my thoughts and make them flow logically without the stress of lat-minute planning. Today I’d like to share a few of my thoughts on how I successfully approach a plant sale and come away with a feeling of accomplishment.

1. Money Matters

The first thing that I consider (before even daring to look at a plant availability list), is funds. How much money can I afford to spend on the sale? I used to make the mistake of reading what plants are available first, and then s a budget. That never works. I end up basing my budget off of what plants I want, and not what I can actually afford.

Money is also very hard to come by for me, being a broke teenager with little funds. Some plant sales, I can’t afford to buy anything. That’s when I ask the salesperson at the booth I want to buy a plant from, “Can I trade you for a piece of this?” Sometime, it works, and I walk home with a free plant. Other times, it doesn’t. But it never hurts to try.

Also, take gas costs into account. It’s not unusual for me to head to the other end of the state for a great sale, but I have to consider something. Is it really worth it to drive a great distance for a plant that I could get cheaper (than the cost of gas + the plant) online? Let’s move on to my second consideration.

2. Plant List

It’s not uncommon for local plant sales to release a plant availability list either through Facebook or their website. When the list comes through, I immediately print it out and look it over. After I’ve set my budget, I can go through and highlight some of my favorites, and write them down on a notepad, noting which ones I want most. That way, if my plant list exceeds my budgetary limits, I can always choose the ones that I want most.

3. On The Day Of The Sale

Plan to arrive early. As early as possible. On my very first plant sale, I arrived at 11:00am, and the sale ended at 12:00pm. To my disappointment, all of my favorite plants were either extremely picked through or sold out. I usually try arrive at the plant sale at the starting time. In my region, the average plant sale starts around 8:00am, which gives me plenty of time to get up and ready before I have to leave.  I have seen some sale that start as early as 7:00. But my proximity to the sale might also dictate what time I’m able to arrive.

Once you arrive, do NOT be seduced by the huge array of beautiful plants and friendly gardeners trying to sell them. That is a HUGE mistake. Last year, I went to a large plant sale (down in Lafayette, Louisiana) searching for tropical plants for my exotic garden. My budget was set at $30, but by the time I was finished gawking at all of the rare plants, I walked out of the sale with $125 worth of plants. That was my last plant sale for a while.

One last tip: enjoy yourself! There are lots of gardeners who would love to talk plants with you. Take advantage of that! Talk about a problem area in your yard. Maybe they’d be able to suggest a plant to grow there. Ask them any question that you have about the plants being sold. They’d love to answer you!

Quick Recap:

  • Consider your budget
  • Decide what plants you want
  • Arrive early
  • Ask questions
  • Have Fun!

Edit: I attended the fall Plantfest in Baton Rouge, LA and walked out of the sale having spent exactly $100. Better budgeting than last year! 😉 Not everyone will have as large of a budget as I do, but all you can do is plan with what you have and ALWAYS overplan and overexpect what you will spend.

Happy Gardening and Plant Shopping!

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


!


!


Submit

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Plant Sales: Considerations + Advice

Oct 9, 2017

Dear Friend and Gardener,
I want to tell you about one of the most terrifying moments in the gardening season for me. PLANT SALES! “Why is that something to be scared of? It’s just a plant sale!”

Just a plant sale, heh. Plant sales can both be thrilling and scary. A car-full of rare gems could instantly take all of your pocket money. Stress levels rise as you rush around the sale searching for that one plant on your wishlist. I can relate.

Even though a plant sale might not be a life-altering event, it will be more enjoyable with a game plan. Something to organize my thoughts and make them flow logically without the stress of lat-minute planning. Today I’d like to share a few of my thoughts on how I successfully approach a plant sale and come away with a feeling of accomplishment.

1. Money Matters

The first thing that I consider (before even daring to look at a plant availability list), is funds. How much money can I afford to spend on the sale? I used to make the mistake of reading what plants are available first, and then s a budget. That never works. I end up basing my budget off of what plants I want, and not what I can actually afford.

Money is also very hard to come by for me, being a broke teenager with little funds. Some plant sales, I can’t afford to buy anything. That’s when I ask the salesperson at the booth I want to buy a plant from, “Can I trade you for a piece of this?” Sometime, it works, and I walk home with a free plant. Other times, it doesn’t. But it never hurts to try.

Also, take gas costs into account. It’s not unusual for me to head to the other end of the state for a great sale, but I have to consider something. Is it really worth it to drive a great distance for a plant that I could get cheaper (than the cost of gas + the plant) online? Let’s move on to my second consideration.

2. Plant List

It’s not uncommon for local plant sales to release a plant availability list either through Facebook or their website. When the list comes through, I immediately print it out and look it over. After I’ve set my budget, I can go through and highlight some of my favorites, and write them down on a notepad, noting which ones I want most. That way, if my plant list exceeds my budgetary limits, I can always choose the ones that I want most.

3. On The Day Of The Sale

Plan to arrive early. As early as possible. On my very first plant sale, I arrived at 11:00am, and the sale ended at 12:00pm. To my disappointment, all of my favorite plants were either extremely picked through or sold out. I usually try arrive at the plant sale at the starting time. In my region, the average plant sale starts around 8:00am, which gives me plenty of time to get up and ready before I have to leave.  I have seen some sale that start as early as 7:00. But my proximity to the sale might also dictate what time I’m able to arrive.

Once you arrive, do NOT be seduced by the huge array of beautiful plants and friendly gardeners trying to sell them. That is a HUGE mistake. Last year, I went to a large plant sale (down in Lafayette, Louisiana) searching for tropical plants for my exotic garden. My budget was set at $30, but by the time I was finished gawking at all of the rare plants, I walked out of the sale with $125 worth of plants. That was my last plant sale for a while.

One last tip: enjoy yourself! There are lots of gardeners who would love to talk plants with you. Take advantage of that! Talk about a problem area in your yard. Maybe they’d be able to suggest a plant to grow there. Ask them any question that you have about the plants being sold. They’d love to answer you!

Quick Recap:

  • Consider your budget
  • Decide what plants you want
  • Arrive early
  • Ask questions
  • Have Fun!

Edit: I attended the fall Plantfest in Baton Rouge, LA and walked out of the sale having spent exactly $100. Better budgeting than last year! 😉 Not everyone will have as large of a budget as I do, but all you can do is plan with what you have and ALWAYS overplan and overexpect what you will spend.

Happy Gardening and Plant Shopping!

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


!


!


Submit

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

More Posts...