Category Archives: Garden Prep

Working With Family Relationships

It’s also useful to know that some family cycles are particularly beneficial. For instance, both legumes and nightshades do particularly well when planted where sweet corn recently grew. Conversely, it’s less productive for squash family members to follow tomatoes and vice versa, probably because both need lots of calcium. (Our Northwestern soils tend to be calcium poor anyway, so both these crops will benefit when you spray the foliage with diluted skim milk. A 10% solution of 1 part skim milk powder mixed with water works well and won’t clog most sprayers.) Continue reading

Posted in Early Crops, fall/winter crops, Garden Prep, Health & Wellbeing, Nutrition, Sustainable Gardening, Sustainable Living | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Backyard Permaculture

One important consideration for all who are thinking about creating a more natural garden where insects and critters are welcome is the fact that all critters need water, food and shelter. Unless we have natural ponds or streams, we may need to provide shallow bathing bowls and keep them clean and full of fresh water. Food will be abundant wherever we offer a diversity of plants but providing food and shelter means allowing some visible “damage” to plants we may hold dear. It also means leaving much of the garden undisturbed in winter, when butterflies, frogs, toads and other creatures are hibernating. If you tend toward neatness over the natural, this may be painfully difficult, so one way to ease into a new way of caring for your garden might be to allow sweet disorder to reign in areas you don’t have to look at every day. Keep you entry and walkway as neat as you please and comfort your tidy self with the knowledge that letting go of a little control now will pay a dividend of flourishing garden life in the future Continue reading

Posted in composting, Garden Prep, Growing Berry Crops, Health & Wellbeing, Nutrition, pests and pesticides, Pollinators, Soil, Sustainable Gardening, Sustainable Living | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Planting For The Planet

If this all feels hopeless, it’s heartening to know that we gardeners can make a genuine difference right now. All of us can preferentially choose food and clothing made from organically grown crops, but anyone with a meadow or a backyard or even a windowbox can also provide food and shelter for local insects. Even the tidy minded can set aside an area to be a Bug Bank, filled with plants that local beneficial insects can chew and sip and make homes amongst. Let a little land go wild and the wild will return. Turn a pocket lawn into a meadow and insects will make a home for themselves. Let a lot of land return to nature and natural communities will reestablish. Continue reading

Posted in composting, Drainage, Garden Prep, Growing Berry Crops, Health & Wellbeing, pests and pesticides, Pollinators, Sustainable Gardening, Sustainable Living | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Battling Weeds With Rodents And Beetles

Once summer harvesting ends, cool season cover crops can restore soil health in the veggie patch. Deep mulches of compost or aged manure can nourish tired beds, but cover crops can do even more. Where new beds or lawns are planned, cover crops can eliminate the need for destructive tilling, acting as living mulch to restore soil fertility and reduce winter erosion. Recent research shows that cover crops can also reduce weed seed numbers by providing cover for seed-eating beetles and rodents.

Ick? Not really; both critters consume significantly more weed seeds when cover crops provide shelter and protection from predators. Purdue researchers found that when beetles and rodents had cover crop protection, the weed seed burden was reduced by as much as 400% compared to fields without cover crops. Surprisingly, the soil cleaning effect continues even when rodents eat high numbers of the beetles. Continue reading

Posted in fall/winter crops, Garden Prep, Soil, Sustainable Gardening, Sustainable Living, Weed Control | Tagged , , | 2 Comments