You may be just about to dig out your very first garden. If so we are really excited for you and would encourage you to check out all the information we have for beginners on our Garden page. You probably feel a little behind when talking to experienced gardeners, but did you know there is actually a place you have an advantage over them? Even better, it's the answer to your question of "what do I do with all this grass when I dig it up?"
Try using the grass chunks you dig up to make a natural raised bed or compost pit. As you dig out each chunk, arrange them into a square or rectangle and then just keep piling more on top until you hit the desired height or dig up all the grass. At that point you can fill in the hole with new dirt and you have a beautiful raised bed, or you can toss in your compost and use it like a compost bin. I have used this method a number of times and it works out perfectly, with an added bonus of not having to haul off the grass chunks into the woods an acre away.
You'll notice all planting instructions reference how deep to plant the seed under the soil. If you're only planting one kind of seed you can probably measure once and then eyeball the rest and do just fine, but what about someone who needs to plant many different varieties of seed, and lots of each type?
If I was a terrible millennial I would call this a "garden hack", but since I'm not I'll just tell you about it. In this case we used an old paintbrush but you could really use anything. Just score a line every 1/4" and then all you need to do is just poke little holes in the dirt down to whatever line you need to. Ink will smudge off in the dirt so it's best to use something made of wood you can carve into with a knife or thin blade. We used to just wing it and poke little holes with our fingers but this actually makes it easier and of course much more accurate.
"Opening Day. All you have to do is say the words and you can feel the shutters thrown wide, the room air out, the light pour in." This is a quote by columnist Mary Schmich where she is talking about baseball (Yawn....wake me up in October), but it applies just the same to gardening. There is no feeling like finally being able to get your hands dirty again after so many months of day dreaming and planning for this day. You might be excited to try something new or eager to prove that you learned your lesson last year and that this is the year you finally do things the right way. No matter what you're doing, it's just great to be doing something...anything outside again.
So what did we do? First step was to pop open the compost bin and see what we had to work with (Check out our photo gallery to see that process for yourself). We were able to get more than enough compost for a spring planting and the rest will be sitting until late May.
We planted an 11' row of Organic Oregon Giant Snow Peas. We have planted these in the past and had good success with them. The pods are huge as the name would suggest however the vines only grow 3-4' high, so these are a great option if you want to plant peas but don't have a huge trellis or fence for them to grow on. For full details on how to plant peas in your own garden, click here.
We also planted a row of Organic Windsor Fava Beans right in front of the peas. It was a wide bed and since the peas grow tight to the fence and straight up we wanted to maximize space by planting a row of something else along with them. Since fava beans were ready to plant at the same time we thought that would be a good companion for them. We have never tried these before so why Fava beans? For one, you can plant them ASAP. The other reason is their protein content, especially important for those of us who have switched over to a plant based diet. 1 cup of fava beans has 10g of protein, about as much as you would get from 2 eggs. They are also high in iron and fiber. If you're familiar with lima beans they are very similar, however lima beans are not cold tolerant so for us northern gardeners fava beans are the way to go. Find instructions for planting your own fava beans right here.
We had bigger plans in mind but parts of the beds we wanted to plant our greens in were still frozen. As always the garden is a great metaphor for life. Sometimes things don't work out exactly as you had planned but you just roll with it and do what you can. Still feeling like we accomplished a lot and very happy to say the 2019 garden is officially underway! Stay tuned for more updates as we go along.
Does your family use safe products? We're guessing no. Don't believe us? Check for yourself. EWG (The Environmental Working Group) has already done all the work for us.
Go to the links below, enter the name of the product or ingredient you are using today, and see what the independent research says.
Ouch....That didn't go so well
See...told you. Did your search come back with any ingredients of moderate or even high concern? First of all, don't feel bad. We are all just doing the best we can with the information we have. Nobody has the time or energy to research every single ingredient in every single product they use. We all have the right to assume groups like the EPA and FDA are looking out for our best interests when products get approved to go to market - but what is their definition of "safe"? In many cases, it's a particular range or threshold and not banning the use of a harmful ingredient altogether. They may admit a particular substance could be harmful, but they deem the level of concentration to be below the line of what would impact a person's health. But is it really? And what about the impact on the planet after I throw it away or flush it down the drain?
Nice flowers. Wait, what's that, they were treated with pesticides? Oh never mind, the pesticides were approved by the EPA so they must be safe, right? Hmmm, so why would Home Depot go to the trouble of putting this tag in there telling you where to go for more information? Is it because we have now confirmed Neonicotinoid use is harmful to bees and just may be a major contributing factor to colony collapse disorder? Is it because THE ENTIRE EUROPEAN UNION voted to ban it from being used at all outdoors? Seems like there was plenty of room to print that on there. Here, let me fix it for you Home Depot:
We have already started getting lots of great questions through our Facebook page, and the most common one so far is some variation of "What should I grow?". Ultimately it comes down to 2 things: 1) How much space do you have? 2) What will you actually eat? There is no right or wrong way to go about this, so if you have something in mind give it a try and see how it works out. The great thing about gardening as a hobby is nobody is going to starve if you make a few mistakes. But if you're interested in breaking ground on a new garden and have no idea where to start or what to grow, we've created this simple garden template that will both be manageable and give you a constant stream of fresh vegetables from June-November. In theory you could follow it exactly but it's really meant more as a starting point for you to adapt based on your own space and preferences. Continue reading to find out what you'll need to get this up and running.
Did you know that at exactly 5:58 pm tonight we will officially be in Spring? Seems like it should be a bigger deal, doesn't it? So how does Spring come at such a precise time? It's because astrologically speaking, Spring officially begins when the Earth moves into a position where the power of the sun is focused directly on the Equator.
You are probably familiar with the Summer Solstice in June (longest day of the year) and the Winter Solstice in December (shortest day of the year). The Vernal Equinox is the exact midpoint between those 2 days. If you have ever seen an image of the Earth at night (sorry flat earthers) you have seen the line where sunlight ends and darkness begins. During the Spring Equinox, this line is exactly perpendicular to the equator. The word equinox comes from the Latin Aequus, meaning "equal", and Nox, meaning "night".
So next time someone asks, "What the hell is the Vernal Equinox?"....now you know
Various cultures around the world have celebrated the Vernal Equinox as a symbol of resurrection and new life. The Pagans celebrated the feast of Eostre where they marked the return of the goddess of Spring with a feast featuring representations of eggs and rabbits which were images of fertility. Sound familiar?
Today the word organic is all around us. But what does it really mean? We usually see the Certified Organic USDA label in our grocery stores, but few of us know the details of what makes an agricultural product Certified Organic. What exactly are they doing, or not doing to our food in order to get that seal printed on the label? Just about everyone knows that organic food is more expensive, but why? And more importantly - is it even worth it? Our final conclusion might surprise you.
Obviously gardening is a main focus of the site, and composting is a huge part of organic gardening at home, but even if you don't have a garden or a yard you might find some benefits to composting anyway. One very practical reason is it cuts down on trash. If you live somewhere you have to bring your own trash to the dump or have a bin provided by the town with limited space, composting will turn a good size portion of that garbage into something beneficial you can use or give away to a lucky friend.
What is composting anyway?
If you want to do some detailed reading on the subject, we have covered it here in our Gardening section. If you want the short version, the picture above pretty much sums it up.