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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Winter Composting

Thermometer is frosty, but inside the bin it is a cozy 140 F.

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

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Putting fall “garbage” to use

All garbage, mostly great for the garden. Image via Shari Weinsheimer, with no copyright, using this CC: https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/

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.)

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Planting garlic. Easy with great rewards.

After clearing the bed, add lime (if necessary) and some slow-release nitrogen.

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

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Rats and compost

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.

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I’ll give you $50 for your fridge

Empty refrigeratorWell, 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?

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