Easy compost turning with video

Turning compost can be difficult for people with limited upper body strength, a bad back or limited height, depending on the style compost unit you use. Plunging a pitchfork or shovel into a pile is easy, but lifting that material may not be.

What we’ve found is that a long bulb augur does the job well, at the right price. Continue reading

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Garlic: Eight good years

“You can’t always get what you want.”

For eight years I’ve been growing all my own garlic, for consumption and “seed” garlic to grow the next year’s crop. Garlic is, as I’ve said previously, one of the easiest and enjoyable crops to grow.

Unfortunately, something went wrong this year.

My garlic is usually done before others on my area, but I always chalk it up to varieties(I grow German and Music varieties) and the oddities of micro climates.

This year it was done, as exhibited by leaves browning, significantly earlier than others around me, and the results weren’t pretty.

The heads were either already splitting (typically a sign they’ve been left in the ground too long) or significantly smaller than usual.

Why? I don’t know, but even experienced farmers have crop failures, and not spending a penny on garlic for eight years seems a pretty good run, to me. A bummer for sure, but certainly not a tragedy. (Garlic I grow at several other locations seems be just fine. Still, I’m not seeing any evidence to suggest insect or disease as the cause in my home garden.)

Soon I’ll buy enough new seed garlic, enough to continue growing 180 plants, and hoping that they’ll last a good long time – at least another eight years.

(Here is how I grow garlic.)

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Saving scallion seeds

Pollinators love scallion flowers. Kids of all ages do too.

If you’ve got second year (overwintered) scallions, now is the time to save seeds. Continue reading

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Garlic scapes

That’s good eats!

I love garlic. It is one of the easiest crops to grow, it keeps all year (if you grow the right varieties) and early summer it produces a “scape,” a delicious and fleeting delicacy.

Before I go any further, there is one thing I want to make very clear: Garlic scapes are not “ramps,” no matter how insistent and sincere you may be when telling me so. They are two very different things. We good? Excellent. Let’s continue. Continue reading

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Quick and easy rabbit protection

Baby kale tucked safely away from nibbly rabbit teeth.

Cute and fluffy, rabbits can cause a lot of damage to your leafy greens, broccoli and more.

While a hinged cover on a raised bed is great, it doesn’t make sense for everybody, especially if you don’t have a raised bed. Fencing an entire garden can be costly and not necessarily effective, as rabbits can hop over low fences when they want to, and humans can have a hard time getting over tall fences.

A smaller, less cumbersome and less expensive solution can be found in chicken wire “chimneys” or cylinders. (See video below.)

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Potatoes with pupils

Briefly, here is how I plant potatoes with preschoolers. My preference is to set things up so it is as easy as possible, especially because I’m working with 3-5 year olds. Continue reading

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Hinged garden covers for raised beds

Dolorean hinged garden protection to keep out critters.

I help maintain a raised bed garden at a local preschool where the garden animals include not just kids, but also: Squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, rabbits, groundhogs, moles/voles, turkey and deer.

For a few years this has meant that any peas, carrots or greens (lettuce, broccoli, etc.) planted would never grow to harvest. So when the kids said they want to grow strawberries, something had to be done to prevent a complete loss.

Thus came the Delorean hinged cover. Continue reading

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Dutch White Clover

Spring is here, by date if not by weather, and people are thinking about their lawns.

Flowers go, when you mow.

I’m here to show you why you should plant clover.

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Helping Monarch butterflies with easy Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Honey bee on Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Butterflyweed, or Asclepias tuberosa, is great for pollinators and a required host for Monarch butterflies, whose caterpillars eat the toxic plant as a way to protect themselves from predators.

Many other pollinators, including native solitary bees, flock to the showy orange flowers as well.

They can be grown from seed very, very, easily. Or, if you prefer, you can grow them only moderately easily if you want to watch it grow indoors or plant in a very specific location. Continue reading

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Raspberries and coffee and raspberry coffee cake

Coffee and old friends go together beautifully.

The recent warm winter weather provided a good opportunity to do my simple and free winter fertilization of the raspberries with coffee, and a favorite raspberry coffee cake recipe.

A few years ago, the area where these raspberries grow was little more than gravel and rubble (literally, piles of bricks and rocks). At this point the rubble was removed, the gravel is still there if you dig, but there is beautifully rich soil on top and the raspberries are thriving.
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