I can’t think of a single gardener who wouldn’t want to plant a vegetable garden that could grow anywhere–without soil—and never needed weeding.
When something sounds too good to be true, in most cases it means watch out for all the pitfalls. Gardeners are used to hearing claims for plants, products and tools that sound perfect, but end up being a big disappointment.
But Joel Karsten’s new book may be an exception. “Straw Bale Gardens” (Cool Springs Press, 2013) promises to be The breakthrough method for growing vegetables anywhere, earlier and with no weeding.
He practically guarantees gardeners can get big yields and grow 100 percent organic anywhere. As proof, he suggests planting in straw bales on balconies or driveways. No soil required.
“You plant your garden directly in bales of straw. Add some water, fertilizer and sunshine (not necessarily in that order) and your garden will explode with beautiful wholesome produce. No tilling, no cultivating, no weeding,” he writes in the Introduction.
A happy couple of Red-shafted Northern Flickers took just a week to create this impressive nest.
John brought me up-to-date on what was happening at the homestead and before ending the call he said, “I have something to show you in the backyard when you get home.”
My imagination was set in motion, but I wasn’t prepared for what was about to unfold.
A pair of Red-shafted Northern Flickers was preparing a nest in our neighbor’s old cottonwood tree.
It was our incredible good fortune this happy couple decided to build the nest within direct eyesight of our office window.
Over the course of a week, we watched the pair share the construction duty. Each took turns pecking at the tree with long, curved bills and discarding the wood chips on the ground below.
One of these days it’s going to stop snowing so we can start gardening. If you’re a gardener in the Rocky Mountain region, you know how challenging gardening can be. After all, it was 60 degrees yesterday and 29 degrees today. That’s a shock to plants and gardeners alike.
Here are some of my top tips for Mountain Region gardeners from my Creative Ideas Team blog.
Easy Gardening Tips for how to:
45 timely tips for what to do in your garden, from March through December.
If your garden is lacking spring color, you need to make a list of these spring-blooming bulbs that are perfect for fall planting.
Attention, Gardeners! Science needs you to join the army of citizens advancing the body of scientific knowledge.
Citizen scientists are the extra eyes researchers need to help look for nine-spotted ladybugs, note the first tulips in spring or keep watch for endangered arboreal toads. They partner with scientists to provide valuable data that helps answer real-world questions.
Volunteers can join any number of organized efforts to use their backyard living laboratories to observe plants, insects, birds or other animals and report their findings. Researchers say citizen scientist initiatives help identify signs of climate change, track migrating species and monitor the health of animals and the environment.
Whether you prefer to watch birds or bees, monitor blooming plants or count the spots on ladybugs, there’s a science project waiting for you.
For example, citizen scientists in Boulder are helping real scientists at the University of Colorado gather data on bees for a program called “The Bees’ Needs.”
New gardening books are published every year, but this crop is especially fruitful.
If you need inspiration to help you add more vegetables to your family’s menu, look no farther than this new cookbook from the folks at the Baker Creek Seed Company. The cookbook, written by Jere and Emilee Gettle with Adeena Sussman, is a natural follow up to the Gettle’s first book called “The Heirloom Life Gardener.” If you didn’t grow up enjoying Grandma Nellie’s Garden Soup, don’t fret. Her recipe for homemade vegetable soup is included in the new collection of more than 125 recipes in “The Baker Creek Vegan Cookbook” (2012, Hyperion).
“Vertical Vegetable Gardening” is a Living Free Guide (2012, Alpha Books) that adds to the body of creative ideas for using every square inch of gardening space. Chris McLaughlin has gleaned ideas from gardeners across the country for the best ways to grow vegetables vertically.This user-friendly how-to guide is organized into four parts that make it easy to find information. While beginning gardeners may want to delve into The Basics: Soil and Seed, experienced gardeners might turn right to Vegetables and Fruit that Enjoy Growing Up.
The new gardening catalog from Territorial Seed Company is about twice the size of other seed catalogs.
I’ve written about Territorial Seed Company in the past and have placed orders with them. But the company’s garden seed, plants and supply catalog for spring 2013 is something special.
This catalog is huge and features 240 new gardening products for 2013.
Territorial Seed, located in Cottage Grove, Ore., was the first mail order catalog to offer the Mighty ‘Mato grafted tomatoes after trialing them in its gardens.
Gardeners responded to the superhero status of the Mighty ‘Mato and Territorial Seed sold out most varieties last season. The double variety (‘Sungold’ and ‘Sweet Million’) was especially popular with gardeners who wanted to grow two flavorful cherry tomatoes on one plant.
Grafted vegetables are included in the 2013 catalog including grafted peppers. One eggplant variety, ‘Rosa Bianca’ is also in the catalog.
All the grafted vegetables are grafted by hand.
Jung Seeds & Plants, based in Randolph, Wis., is a is a family-owned business that has offered gardeners quality products since 1907.
The annual Jung Seeds & Plants home gardening catalog is one I always look forward to reading.
This catalog features, vegetables and flowers, seeds and bulbs, fruit and all kinds of gardening supplies. It is loaded with great gardening gear from cover to cover.
It’s also entertaining to read all of the descriptions. I’d love to meet whoever wrote the description for the ‘Super Freak Hybrid’ pumpkins or the ‘Red Warty Thing’ winter squash.
Every page is loaded with clever narratives about the company’s vast amount of offerings.
Family owned and operated for 106 years, Jung’s searches for the kinds of seeds and plants that gardeners like to grow.
There are plenty of old favorites, Jung Exclusives, Jung Top Picks and new introductions, too.
Renee’s Garden is introducing a new range of organic seed for the 2013 gardening season.
This year Renee’s has added a complete range of USDA Certified Organic vegetable and herb seeds.
Some of new line include heirlooms like ‘Chioggia’ beets, ‘Royalty Purple Pod’ bush beans, ‘Jade Green’ container lettuce, ‘Marvel Stripe’ bicolor tomato and much more. The complete line is featured in the online catalog.
As with all of the vegetable, herb and flower seeds offered by Renee’s Garden, the organics were selected after testing them in her own trial gardens. Detailed instructions for planting and growing are included on every packet.
Years ago when I first heard about Renee’s Garden, I had an image of a gifted gardener named Renee starting a specialty seed business selling based on the plants grown in her own garden.
If it’s January, it’s time for the new seed catalogs to come rolling in.
As a gardener, it has to be one of my favorite times of the year because each catalog holds the promise of warm spring days and bountiful summer harvests.
So many seeds, sow little time.
There are hundreds of new annuals, perennials, fruits and vegetables just waiting to be be purchased and planted.
I’ve taken a look at what’s in store for the 2013 gardening season and I’m amazed at what I’ve seen. There are more interesting choices for gardeners than ever before:
New sunflowers that will knock your socks off.
Sweet corn for container growing.
Gorgeous pink-and-rose colored petunias with 3″ blooms.
Personal sized melons.
Two-pound tomatoes bred for making sauce.
Broccoli that looks like long stalks of asparagus.
Grafted tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.
A basket of gifts from the Women’s Bean Project is a meaningful (and delicious) way to celebrate the holidays.
If you’re looking for some last-minute holiday gifts, purchasing products from the Women’s Bean Project is a simple way to spread the good cheer.
Gourmet food packets of soups, chili, salsa and dip mixes, spice rubs and chocolate-covered espresso beans make wonderful edible presents and help support the mission of the Women’s Bean Project in the process.
Each product is handmade by participants in the project who are working to break the cycle of chronic unemployment, poverty or other difficult life circumstances.
The group helps get women ready for employment by teaching job skills through its business of packaging tasty food products and making beautiful pieces of jewelry.
The nonprofit started in Denver in 1989 and has grown considerably since those early days.
Beginning with just $500 worth of beans, the program now has an annual operating budget of over $1.5 million. That’s a lot of beans!