Tag Archives: gardening

  • Veggies on the Fire Escape: Small-Space Gardening

    Veggies on the Fire Escape: Starting your Small-Space Garden

    As I sat down to write this post, my four-year-old expressed some interest in what I was doing. I explained that some people don’t have grandmas with lots and lots of land where they can plant gardens (like my four-year-old does). Some people don’t even have backyards. So where, I asked him, do you think those people could plant gardens?

    “They could build a planter box. And put it in their bedroom.”

    Um, sure.

    But assuming your bedroom doesn’t get a full six hours of sunlight (or that you don’t want your tomato pots draining onto your carpet) is there a solution for yard-less would-be gardeners? You bet, says BuzzFeed’s Rachel Sanders, in her aptly named article, “How to Grow Herbs and Veggies on Your Fire Escape.”

    Sanders’ article takes small-space gardening to the next level, telling us where to put and how to arrange those containers, as well as what and when to plant for maximum yield. Divided into 17 handy tips, her list includes considerations that commonly get overlooked—everything from “does my landlord allow plants on the balcony?” to keeping mint from staging a hostile takeover of your property. (Heads-up: she also talks about squirrel-proofing your garden, which accounts for the naughty word in the article.)

    Not yet convinced that there’s such thing as an urban green thumb? We’ve written here before about container gardening and ideas for re-purposing junk as garden real estate.

    And here are a few more resources that will have you fairly running to your nearest home and garden store.

    Before you start your fire escape garden, make sure that it is legal to do so in your city. Several cities have fire codes and laws prohibiting fire escape gardening.

    Whether your backyard looks more like Green Acres or Eva Gabor’s beloved penthouse view, you can grow a lovely and tasty garden this season!

    -Stacey

    Photo courtesy of Buzzfeed.com

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: gardening tips, gardening

  • What's Bugging your Garden?

    Has something like this ever happened to you? It’s a lovely spring morning, dew on the grass, and wispy clouds scattering before the breeze. You step outside to breathe it all in, and just as you’re admiring the new little green buds on your strawberries, you see them. Bite marks on the leaves! (frightening minor chord!)

    This is the time of year I’m so happy to be outside with my hands dirty. But it’s also the time of year my deep loathing for all things creepy-crawly takes on a life of its own. (Interestingly, it’s the only time of year I’m brave or deranged enough to kill insects with my bare hands—something that would make me curl up into a ball and cry during any other season.) Yes, I’m on a rampage. And I have a good reason to be.

    Up in my little corner of the country, the garden pest du jour is this nasty piece of work: The western tent caterpillar.

     

    What's Bugging Your Garden?

    The western tent caterpillar, or Malacosoma californicum, breeds in staggering numbers, can reduce a tree to bare branches, and will insult your mother while doing it. Okay, maybe not, but they’re certainly making life miserable for gardeners this year, as you can tell from this headline from a local publication: “Growers at war with intense caterpillar infestation.”

    While I battle these loathsome larvae for territorial rights to my potato patch, other gardeners across the country are facing different foes. Aphids, slugs, locusts—they all go on our bad list when it comes time to try and coax tender little vegetables out of the ground. While your first impulse might be similar to mine—grab a garden hoe and show no mercy—as ever, our best weapon is good information.

    If you’re not sure which garden pests to anticipate this season, check out this super useful chart of Worst Garden Pests by Region, from Mother Earth News. Alternately, if you’ve found a culprit, but can’t put a name to the face, both the National Gardening Association’s Pest Control Library and the University of California’s online pest management program have lists with mug shots to help identify common pests.

    Fortunately, there are clear-headed people out there with your garden’s best interest in mind. For some great ideas on organic pest control (so, my garden hoe method doesn’t count as organic?) check out the very practical survey results in this article, “Organic Pest Control: What Works, What Doesn’t.”  Also, go back to our insight article from earlier this year, “Why Won’t My Garden Grow? 5 Mistakes You May Be Making,” to see what other factors, besides multi-legged monsters, might be keeping your garden from being its best self.

     

    I’m fairly serious about the garden hoe thing.

    What are your (better) ideas for keeping the bugs at bay this growing season?

    -Stacey

     

    Photo Courtesy of Texas A&M University

    https://insects.tamu.edu/extension/publications/epubs/e-218.cfm

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: gardening, garden

  • Reduce, Reuse, Retrash

     Reduce, Reuse, Re-trash

    Spring is here, and summer is just around the corner, which means garage sale season! Up in my neck of the woods, as soon as we get two sunny Saturdays in a row, the signs start popping up like daffodils at every intersection. And while I’m an acknowledged sucker for old suitcases and cheap art, my mission this year is to work on our outside space—specifically to gussy up the garden a bit.

    Which is why I was stoked to find this article from Mother Nature Network: “10 Beautifully Useful Things Made From ‘Useless’ Trash.” Okay, a few of them are a little mod, even for me, and the jury’s still out on that bracelet. But the old window as a cold frame is unequivocally genius, and I’m having visions of a softly lit garden party with those bottle lanterns

    The subject of the article is one Nathan Devine, an artist, designer, and dumpster diver from Australia. Devine runs a website called Retrash.com and will publish a book of the same name later this year, full of ideas for everything from bird houses to jewelry. And not only does this fire the imagination, when perusing retirees’ driveways for fabulous old junk—it makes me re-evaluate my approach to spring cleaning! I could haul that broken kids’ dresser down to the dump, or I could plant my herbs in it. Hmmm…

    Do you remember our post from last year, “Thinking Outside the (Planter) Box”? I’ll be checking there for some tips on the kinds of materials and containers that work best for growing food, before heading out on my secondhand-treasure-hunting expeditions this summer. Maybe I’ll post pictures of the good stuff I collect and re-use, and I’d definitely love to see yours!

     

    --Stacey

     

    Photo Courtesy of Mother Nature Network

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: garden tips, gardening, garden

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