Compost 101 – When & Why to Add Compost to Your Garden

Compost can be confusing. We all know it’s “good”, but good how? And when should we use it? Do we even need to use it? Here is a short good-to-know guide for when and why to add compost to your garden. Compost is an efficient and practical fertilizer. Composed of decayed organic matter, compost is a basic tool for the organic gardener. Brown leaves, compostable materials like cardboard and newspaper, grass clippings, food scraps, twigs and more can all be broken down into compost. Compost is created through the process of thermal decay and then added as humus to the garden. Compost is home to millions of active microorganisms which help to continue breaking down organic matter into bio-available nutrients – food for plants! Quite simply, compost adds nitrogen to a garden. Nitrogen is what contributes to a plants healthy, green growth. This is an excellent excerpt from an article … Continue reading

Common Garden Mistakes & How To Avoid Them!

If you’re a true gardener, these warmer temps and blooming crocus are a sign you better get your act in gear. For new gardeners, this means getting organized and figuring out what exactly you want to plant this year, but there is way more to it. Learn how to Avoid Common Garden Mistakes this year! In the Pacific Northwest, we get our first seeds in the ground right about mid-March and from there it is a fast ramp up to a full spring planting. This little breather gives us some time to make a planting plan, prepare any beds that need attention or build new structures, like these handy potato cages. This is also a great time of year to get started out on the right foot from the beginning – there is nothing worse than making a ton of effort for little reward. With that, I was recently asked … Continue reading

HOW TO :: Grow Your Own Fig Tree | Propagating Figs

This is a great fall project as we move into winter. Be sure to position the cutting in a sunny spot so it can put on growth before winter really sets in. It will go dormant over winter (keep the soil moisture consistently JUST damp) and pick up growth as we turn into the new year. I think you’ll be surprised at how simple this is, but for anyone interested, here are the instructions if you want to DIY it: Find a fig tree! Maybe your neighbor has one or maybe you’re in a local park. Using pruning shears, cut a 4- to 10-inch long piece of soft wood new growth, just above a plant node. Fill a large pot with potting soil (a simple plastic pot that shrubs come in is perfect) and stick the fig cutting in, cut side down. Don’t worry about stripping the bark, spacing or … Continue reading

Five Container Plants For Fall

It’s hard to believe, but fall is on its way. Here, a quick guide on what to plant now for the perfect patio harvest come cold weather. It doesn’t necessarily feel like it, but sadly summer is waning. Our days are shorter and while temperatures may remain hot (you lucky ducks!), shorter days means less light for growing plants. In many states across the country this means it’s time to get the winter garden going, if you haven’t already. Late summer begs for cool loving crops that are quick to grow. For anyone starting now, smaller leafy greens are your friend. By nature, leafy greens require less direct sunlight, prefer it when it’s a bit cooler, and can be grown in both a proper garden bed and a smaller container. Most greens germinate quickly and many can be found as starts. Following is a list of five plants to grow … Continue reading

Why Tomatoes Crack & Split

split tomatoesIn late summer, I’m bound to receive texts from my friends and clients showcasing cracked and split tomatoes asking me what went wrong. In short, you can blame it on the rain.

When tomatoes (and all ripening fruits) have a sudden fluctuation in their water levels, they are bound to react. After a somewhat dry summer (and with a consistent watering schedule), a sudden downpour allows plants to drink up way more water than usual. As they take up water, the fruits expand, causing the skins of tomatoes to Continue reading

Best Trellis Ideas

If you haven’t planted your Sugar Snap, English or Snow peas by now, it’s time to get them in the garden! These springtime plants grow quickly and can be used in a vertical garden, thereby freeing up precious space on the ground. I use all sorts of different trellises in the garden and no one exhibits these better than Lily over at Rake & Make. This is her favorite pea trellis, and I’d have to agree. We use string in all of our gardens, but a staple gun and netting is a fine idea – you can roll it up when the season ends. I also love her version of a cucumber trellis – it’s a great way to get those heavy fruits up and off the ground and makes them easy to harvest. Incidentally, both peas and cucumbers can be grown in pots, making them a great choice for … Continue reading

HOW TO :: Tomato DIY – Pruning & Trellises

Pruned tomato vineCome summertime, when the air is hot and the sun is high, everyone comes down with a little case of tomato fever. I’m not sure how this plant grew to such epochal proportions as to measure the success of a home gardener, but it has. Today we present tomato tips and tricks, from pruning for maximum yield to easy DIY trellises.

Pruning Those Suckers
Tomato suckers are the small sets of leaves that grow between the main stem and a leafy branch of a tomato plant. These suckers, if left to grow, become additional flowering and fruiting stems for the plant. That’s good, right? Not quite. If allowed to bloom and fruit, these additional tomatoes will Continue reading

How To :: Propagate Herbs

Last summer I met up with my friend Sarah, a farmer. Sarah has been farming for years and she’s an absolute pro, so I asked her to meet me out at a new space to help me devise the perfect garden plan. (She’s a genius that way – indispensible knowledge.)

We met up and walked to the garden. On the way, she spotted a old, prolific fig tree and stopped in her tracks. “Oh – I need that,” she exclaimed, and simultaneously reached into her back pocket as she crossed the street. With at quick snip, she cut a couple inches length from the fig plant, looked at me, and whispered, “You want one?”

Splitting thyme rootsThe practice of growing a plant from a small clipping is called Continue reading

How To :: Building Potato Cages

Potatoes, diggin upPotatoes are one of the most often requested vegetables when I first meet with clients, and they’re a great crop to grow if you have limited space. Potatoes are a ‘tuber’, an underground, fleshy stem bearing buds that eventually turn into the potato. (Jerusalem artichokes aka sunchokes are tubers, too.) Dahlias are also tubers, but those roots are simply food-storing roots for the plant.

Once the potato seed is planted (check out this detailed post with pics for details), the seed (which is a small cut piece of a potato with a sprouted ‘eye’) will put on top growth – a leafy part of the plant that develops in about 4 weeks after planting. This leafy bit produces leaves and flowers. As the plant stem grows, they produce too much energy for the plant and this energy is then stored in the ‘tubers’, which we call potatoes. Get it? Good. Continue reading