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
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.
Thermometer is frosty, but inside the bin it is a cozy 140 F.
There are two important things to know about winter composting in places like Massachusetts:
1. Winter composting is possible and requires little more than frequent additions.
2. If your compost freezes over, which is normal, that is NOT A PROBLEM! The pile will restart once the weather warms. Continue reading
All garbage, mostly great for the garden. Image via Shari Weinsheimer, with no copyright, using this CC: https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/
Autumn’s garbage provides a wealth of opportunities for next year’s garden. Not just leaves, but pumpkins and potted plants, too. (But leave the straw bale.)
After clearing the bed, add lime (if necessary) and some slow-release nitrogen.
Garlic is one of the greatest crops to grow because it requires so little effort, and the results are delicious.
Don’t be frightened by the number of bullet items below – the whole process takes me 45 minutes, including planting 160 garlic. Continue reading
Completely Updated 9/25/2016: Nobody wants rats in their compost. There are a few ways to get them to scram, and a few other ways to keep them from ever getting in, with varying degrees of cost and difficulty.
Let’s start with the easiest and least expensive.
First of all, take care in what you’re composting, and make sure you’re not adding anything rats especially like to your compost. No animal products
other than eggshells, no bread, no rice. No eggshells, and many people report that potatoes are a favorite rat food. Used coffee grounds are unlikely to repel rats, but rats don’t want to eat them, and they get the compost cooking quickly.
Well, not me, but MassSave will. If you’ve got a second fridge in the basement (do people keep them anywhere other than the basement?) that is doing nothing but wasting energy, they will not only PICK UP your fridge for FREE but they’ll give you $50 for the trouble.
Hype aside, second refrigerators really can suck up $100 in energy costs for doing little more than keeping that crummy six-pack of Bud Light your ex-friend brought to the party last year. Get rid of all three (the fridge, the Bud Light and the ex-friend) but get $50 for the fridge. Why not?
Now that we know newspaper is as safe as anything else to use in the garden, here is a quick tutorial on how to make paper pots.
I generally use a soil block maker to start seeds and then another block maker for transplanting, but when I do make small paper pots, I use this wooden maker. However, you can use the same technique to make smaller pots using any concave-bottom-shaped vessel – some people use tomato paste cans, for example.
In this example, I’m making large paper pots – I typically use this size for tomato or pepper seedlings as their final up-potting before they get planted.
How to make large paper pots: Continue reading
I should have posted this earlier, but I’ve got one class (Thursday, October 1) and one event (Thursday, October 8) coming up.
The class is Composting 101, taught through Arlington Community Education, Thursday, October 1, 7 – 8:30 pm. We’ll cover all sorts of information, from basics to advanced, with time left over for questions.
The event is Rot & Roll, put on by the Arlington DPW, Thursday, October 8 from 4-6:30, heavy rain cancels. The event is free and held in the parking lot of the Arlington DPW, 51 Grove Street.
I’ll be there answering as many compost questions as I can (last event was a blast, with all sorts of composting questions coming from a large crowd), and DPW will have compost units for sale. Other groups, including LexFarm will be there showing off worm composting and other fun activities for the kids.
I hope you consider joining me at one or both events!