• Gardening,  Thrift

    Asparagus Springs Up

    The first asparagus spear of spring! It’s a different color than usual. About 5 years ago I dug a trench, planted asparagus root crowns and covered them with rich organic matter. Since then I have been planting asparagus seeds over the crowns, so this sprig may be a different type of asparagus. Asparagus likes a dedicated location (don’t tread on me!), lots of food (compost) and no competition (weeding and mulching). I could show you a picture of the asparagus bed, but it’s not very exciting. It’s a big rectangle of dirt right now. I weed it regularly and add compost every year in early spring and again after harvest…

  • Gardening,  Sustainable Community,  Thrift

    The Lazy Gardener: Composting

    The mere thought of all the useful soil I keep out of the landfill motivates me to compost, but some people find the idea of composting intimidating, or maybe just inconvenient.  So let me calm your fears with a little knowledge from one of my favorite books, The Humanure Handbook. Yeah, the name of that book probably didn’t calm your fears… Why EVERYONE Should Compost Composting: Enriches the  Soil Prevents Pollution Fights Existing Pollution Restores Land Destroys Pathogens Saves Money – never buy fertilizer again! Composting Myth #1: Composting is time consuming and difficult I feel bad for the squirrel,but it does dig upeverything. Composting does not have to be time…

  • Gardening

    Rhubarb Jello

    One of my favorite perennials is rhubarb, and mine is coming up. If you don’t already know about rhubarb, check out this great site, The Rhubarb Compendium. This is the one vegetable I truly missed while I was living in the South. Rhubarb is easy to grow and hardy, but it needs cold weather to thrive, so it isn’t grown in the South. The leaves are poisonous, so the only edible part is the red stalk which has a tartness that is amazing. When combined with something sweet, like strawberries, or jello, it becomes that sweet-tart taste so many people love. The stalk is pulled or cut where it comes out…

  • DIY,  Gardening

    Mushroom Kingdom: Lost Cause Mushroom Log

    I bought some shitake mushroom plugs awhile back. I mean AWHILE back. I had no log to put them in so they lived in the refrigerator. I finally got a log, but it was winter. Now months after I got the log I am finally putting the plugs into the log. I am a little worried they might be dead. Suffocated. I gave them a sniff, they smelled¬†alright¬† They were not surrounded by a brown liquid (as described on the help site) and some of them even had some little mushroom looking things on them. So I decided, the worst thing that could happen is that they won’t grow and…

  • DIY,  Gardening

    Herb Spiral Springs Into Action

    Last year I created an herb spiral (Gaia’s Garden, pages 39-42). This 3 foot high, 5 foot wide herb spiral not only creates more space by taking a long line of plants and placing them in a compact spiral, but it also creates microclimates by creating slopes that face all directions. The idea is to take advantage of these microclimates created by the suns movement across the mound to grow plants with different needs in a small area. Here is my herb spiral. As you can see some of the rocks have tumbled down and need to be replaced. The top of my herb spiral gets a lot of sun…

  • DIY,  Gardening,  Thrift

    Stevia in Your Tea

    Stevia leaves in my detox tea. Everyone has seen those new sweeteners you can buy made with all natural Stevia leaf. BEWARE not every “natural” Stevia sweetener is created equal and you would be wise to read the ingredient list before you buy to make sure you aren’t getting anything extra. To avoid all the confusion, and the high price tag, I’ve been growing my own since last year. I pick the leaves and put them in with my tea for a mild natural sweetener. Also, sometimes I just eat the leaves straight up. It’s like chlorophyll candy. What else can you do with the leaves? The leaves can be…

  • DIY,  Gardening

    Bugging Out: DIY Bug Repellent

    Riding my bicycle home yesterday, enjoying the warm 57 degree spring weather, I felt a little thwack on my forehead. Then another on my lip. Gnats! BUGS!  I have in the past used a tomato based spray called Bite Blocker which worked pretty well, but smelled a little odd. Not bad, just odd and people didn’t like it. I plant marigolds and fennel in the yard to ward away the mosquitoes, but I haven’t noticed that this is very effective. I’m curious about this take on using catnip as repellent, since I grow catnip for the cat and it would be very easy to just grow some more for bug spray.  Making…

  • Gardening,  Thrift

    The Lazy Gardener: Ornamentals

    Often one of the first things on a new home owners to do list is digging up everything in the yard to start landscaping with plants from the nursery. This is expensive and it can be costly in terms of loss of new plantings, redundant plantings or destruction of existing plantings. I suggest waiting a year before landscaping. You need to see how the sunny and shady parts of the yard are distributed during each season. Planting ornamentals in an area of the yard that doesn’t get the right amount of sun can lead to plants that won’t flower or never reach their full potential. This is true whether you just built on a…

  • Gardening

    Soaking and Sprouting: Direct Sow Seeds

    There are some seeds you can just sow into the ground and have great success with. There are others that really need a good soak or to be pre-sprouted to ensure success. I always soak my seeds in a wet towel rather than a water bath. If you are going to pre-soak, do it the night before planting and not before, otherwise the seeds may rot or germinate before you have a chance to plant them. While sprouted peas, beans, corn and other large seeds are easy to plant, many smaller seeds are to delicate and are better off germinating in the soil. Seeds can also rot if left to…

  • Gardening,  Thrift

    Hedging on Rose of Sharon

    When I bought my house, the grounds were looking pretty sparse. I thought I would have to do a lot of landscaping. I waited a year, to see what would come up and like most older homes there was already a lot there. It just needed some love, care and reorganization. I have been planting rose of Sharon down the sunny side of the yard, creating a hedge on my side of the neighbor’s fence. Should the fence ever go away, there will still be a hedge to prevent my dog from wandering the neighborhood. Though it will only act as a privacy fence in the summer, I don’t mind.…