ChrisMcLaughlinChris McLaughlin, Somerset, CA, US
Chris McLaughlin has been gardening and studying plants for over thirty-five years. She's the author of six books: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Composting (Alpha Books), The Complete Idiot's Guide to Heirloom Vegetables (Alpha Books), Hobby Farms: Small-Space Rabbit Keeping (BowTie Press), The Complete Idiot's Guide to Small-Space Gardening (Alpha Books), Vertical Vegetable Gardening (Alpha Books), and A Garden to Dye For (St. Lynn's Press).
Chris is the associate editor for From Scratch Magazine and a staff contributor to Vegetable Gardener.com. Her work has appeared magazines such as Urban Farm Magazine, Hobby Farm Home Magazine, The Herb Companion,The Heirloom Gardener, and Fine Gardening Magazine.
Chris is the mother of four, grandmother of five, and lives on a small flower farm in Northern California's Gold Country with her family and more animals than she will admit to. Between breaths, Chris attempts to keep up with her her own website, Laughing Crow & Company (laughingcrowco.com).
Follow her on Twitter @Suburban_Farmer
gardening interests: Composting, Container Gardening, Culinary Herbs, Edible Landscaping, Fruits and Berries, Gardening with Kids, Livestock, Medicinal Herbs, Organic Gardening, Ornamental Gardening, Square-Foot Gardening, Sustainable Living, Urban Gardening, Vegetables, Home Agriculture
Member Since: 02/20/2009
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I feel that I've done injustice to bush beans by not giving them credit where credit is due. I'd like to take some time today to share with you some of our favorite bush bean varieties.
As far as I can tell, we're all going to need a leg up. Here's where a cheat sheet comes in handy.
Plant starts are not cheap when compared to seed packets, but they can be well worth it!
Remember the first time you laid eyes on a giant pumpkin? This could be your year.
We realize that at some point our bounty need to be harvested. But when?
A collection of simple homemade garden crafts to give as gifts.
Sharing vegetable and other produce with the community is an eye-opening experience for the whole family.
Fall, winter, and early spring are all great times to lay down a little mulch blanket. While any organic mulch is appropriate for the vegetable garden, sometimes there are strategic reasons to choose one over another.
You've never really tasted asparagus before if you haven't eaten it fresh from the garden. Plant your own patch of asparagus.
Gardening as a family let's you create lasting memories and offers more opportunities to connect with one another.
There's enough basil varieties to plant a garden dedicated to them.
I've been very happy with these pint-sized veggie gardens as long as I remember that they can require a little special attention on occasion.
The fact that gardeners have enjoyed a long love affair with peat moss is completely understandable. Here's the problem.
This refreshing and colorful salad is one of my go-tos when our family is invited to a summer BBQ. If you like pasta and veggies in a creamy vinegar sauce then you're going to love this.
Beyond the pollination, beyond the honey, is the amazing life of the bee colony.
If you've never grown a thing in your life -- start with herbs.
Plant pole beans, garden peas, nasturtiums, black-eyed Susan vines, sweet peas, miniature pumpkins, scarlet runner beans, or birdhouse gourds at the base of bamboo poles to create a teepee trellis.
All it takes is couple of successful gardening experiences to make you a vegetable gardener for the rest of your life.
Our gardens should be a feast for all of the senses.
Garden gloves have never been this useful.
I'm a freak for all kinds of salsas. I've got to share with you one such refreshing recipe that my bestie and me came up with this summer.
Our own spin on Ratatouille is the perfect compliment for your garden bounty!
Brand new farm. Brand new home orchard.
Are you a 20-30 something that just happens to be new to gardening? We've got the book for you!
If you've ever laid in bed at night, staring at the ceiling and wondering "How do worms make babies?" Have I got a post for you.
Want to rev up your compost a little?
Don't let a little shade get you down. Some vegetables are made for the shade!
Nikki Jabbour and seventy-two of her closest garden-geek friends hang out for a Sunday brunch...and a book is born.
Put these water-wise garden tips to work in your garden and save water, time, and time.
Easy to grow and loaded with nutrients. Isn't it time for you to try Brussels sprouts again?
You've got a pot full of rich vermicompost in your hands. Now what do you do with it?
For some if us this is going to be a banner year for water conservation (ahem, California). So how much water are your vegetables going to need?
Eat your way to good luck in the new year with this special lentil soup.
Growing carrots is easy if you keep a few things in mind.
Grocery stores do an injustice to onions by only introducing us to a few everyday varieties, when in truth (like all vegetables) there is so much more for our taste buds to discover.
Incorporating a little Mother Nature goes a long way towards reducing our family's food waste. Here's how we handle much of the discarded food that leaves the kitchen.
Here they come ~ leaves, leaves, glorious leaves! I don't care how you use them, just please don't shove them into bags that are bound for the trash pickup.
Plant from seed? Tuck in starts? You've got choices, my friend.
Cuttings (or "slips") can be taken from softwood, semi-hardwood, or hardwood plants. Depending on the species you'll have tons of new plants in 2 to 5 weeks!
The fall vegetable garden can be a well-kept secret as far as easy and rewarding gardening is concerned.
Fancy herb butters may have that "upper-crust" feel, but they're easier to make than any cake you've ever baked.
Hanging baskets are a vertical gardening method that not only creates more garden space, but it's also a handy way to add quick color and (surprise) grow more food!
Pineapple guava is quite possibly the world's most versatile shrub.
Looking for a new garden idea? Plant your way to afternoon tea!
One of my favorite things about heirloom and open-pollinated vegetables is discovering the amazing array of color variation. And heirloom tomatoes have beautiful hues in spades.
Successfully transplant your seedlings into the garden bed with five simple steps.
If you haven't done any citrus gardening yet (but would like to), consider foregoing the giant standards and planting their dwarf cousins instead.
You may have heard that worm castings make an excellent addition to the soil in your garden beds. But what's the scoop on worm poop?
Harvest home grown potatoes easily and inexpensively.
Complement your vegetable garden with pollinator-seducing herbs.
I think rain barrels are one of the best irrigation systems ever.
Give your baby plants a great head start by acclimating them to the great outdoors before transplanting them in their permanent garden bed.
Have you tried feeding your plants naturally with compost or manure teas?
Tricking tree and shrub branches into thinking it's spring and encouraging their blossoms to burst is easier than you think.
The only commercially cultivated orchid grown for its delicious beans.
Garlic is a must-have in the kitchen and an easy crop to grow in your home garden.
Spinach is a cool-season, annual crop that's east to grow. Make space for it in your fall or winter garden!
Should all types of organic matter be tossed into your compost pile? Certainly not.
Composting is the original earth (and garden) friendly practice, yet false information can be hard to kill. Let's put the top misconceptions to rest once and for all, shall we?
Rotating plants by nutritional needs is another way to utilize crop rotation in the home vegetable garden.
Try this simple and effective technique an an organic control of pests and diseases in the vegetable garden.
There's a composting method to suit everyone's lifestyle.
Versatile summer savory is undemanding in the garden, makes a delicate food seasoning, and attracts pollinating insects.
Colorful heirloom and open-pollinated tomato varieties are unique in the home garden and delicious on the table.
California shows off one of its best sides -- agriculture, in this monstrous home vegetable and fruit garden at the California State Fair.
A gentle reminder about safety precautions we should take before tackling construction projects in the garden.
You can grow plenty of food to supplement your family's groceries. You just have to get in the habit of letting your mind wander up instead of out.
Pole bean varieties are tender, flavorful, prolific, and easy to grow. They're the perfect vegetable crop for the home garden.
No matter how much time you have (or the length of your attention span), there's a composting style for everybody. How to do hot, cold, and warm composting.
Fencing that you already have on your property is fair game as a support for vertical vegetables.
Oregano requires very little attention and happily produces many pungent, aromatic leaves with the most basic care. Pots or containers make a perfect home for oregano, which makes it handy for back porches or those with limited garden space.
Just like all of the other vegetables out there, when you choose to grow heirloom sweet or bell peppers, a whole new world is opened up to you.
Caging is one type of physical barrier technique that allows heirlooms and open-pollinated plants to produce pure seed.
Keep your vegetable seeds pure by preventing cross-pollination with the bagging technique.
For those of us living in a region that has rather mild winters, the seed starting party is only 4-5 weeks away. For some it's a little farther out. But make no mistake, it's going to be here before you know it.
This holiday season, I've become wrapped up in a book that's tailor-made for my reading pleasure: The Heirloom Life Gardener.
So why all the tears? Well, once you take your knife to the onion, enzymes and Amino acid sulfoxides come together to create a volatile sulfur compound (in the form of a gas). This is what turns on the water works. Your eyes are attempting to wash away the offending gases.
All seasoned gardeners have organic gardening hints that they swear-on-a-stack-of-Bibles will work to repel pests, cure disease, and deter weeds.
"Organic gardening" is a term that's gone from hip buzzword to nearly completely invisible in a sentence simply because the term feels overused. This is a shame because organic gardening really does make a difference no matter how lack-luster the phrase sounds today.
If you're a grape fan, rest assured that you don't need a formal vineyard to have a few vines planted in your home garden or landscape.
Let's start with the obvious which is the physical presence of the book which is, in this case, worth discussing.
Let's move past the house-of-dreams, and get on to what we can afford in terms of both space and money.
Even though the deer stepped silently into the yard and devoured a container rose bush all in one night, I remained optimistic for a bit longer.
As the fall-come-winter weather creeps up, those of us who never set a foot inside a honest-to-goodness root cellar a day in our lives are looking for nooks, crannies, cupboards, and hallways trying to find the perfect place to store what we worked so hard to grow.
I want to thank my Italian ancestors for introducing broccoli to America as it's hands-down one of my favorite vegetables.
Backyard gardeners everywhere are doing their part to push pesticides out of the gardening picture for good and insecticidal soaps are helping them do just that.
Lettuce is a cool-weather lover that grows well in both spring and fall garden. In fact, when I plant lettuce in my fall garden, I can often take it all the way through the winter.
Your search has ended. We've got your summer garden-bounty recipe book right here.
Small-space vegetable garden? Make the most of it by interplanting.
Down-to-Earth, practical, whimsical, and beautiful. If you like gardens, you need this book.
Understanding what soil pH is and where your specific soil falls on the pH scale gives clues as to which plants will naturally thrive in your garden. This knowledge also allows you to add the appropriate amendments to your soil.
No matter how great the gardening advances, sometimes nothing compares with good, old-fashioned manual labor.
The truth is that it depends.
We small-space gardeners are indebted to those that pioneered these trees and we're prepared to take full advantage.
I just happen to have handy some dwarf-sized vegetable suggestions.
There are many ways to go about framing a raised bed and material ideas are endless. There's only a couple of things that deserve some consideration before you put one or two together this spring.
If you think that the numbers on the USDA zone map have the last word on your garden - think again.
Beloved compost, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...
Personally, I don't find it at all amazing that the practice caught on like wildfire.
Among the tons of veggies started this winter, probably the majority of those will be tomato seeds.
You'll find that many people aren't growing heirlooms or open-pollinated veggies simply because they haven't been introduced to them.
No worries. If you forget to rotate your crops no one will take away your birthday.
Both seed banks and seed lending libraries can go a long way in preserving our history, genetic variety, and feeding people.
Okay, there is one last window of opportunity to get a fabulous pre-garden party on...
Answer: It shouldn't.
I'm determined to have their short, weedy lives have some meaning.
What are your vegetable gardening goals?
Find more garden space this spring.
The good news is that weeds can be outsmarted. Ve have our vays.
The first advantage is that they're cheaper - usually much cheaper.
No, it's not always the act of pruning that can get tricky, but rather the timing and the type of pruning.
At first glance, this gardening technique may not look like much more than luck and a prayer.
Personally, I don't have any problem with shaping rosemary bushes into topiaries of any kind.
Remember back in grade school when pomegranates would make our lunch sacks heavy?
By throwing down just one hard frost, Old Man Winter can kill all but the hardiest of vegetables.
Those of us enjoying the harvest from out fall and early winter vegetable gardens be forewarned; Jack Frost takes no prisoners.
Knowing the definition of pruning terms won't automatically make you a pruning rock star. But, you'll probably know more than your neighbor.
Think "artist", not "scientist" when spreading your mulch.
For me, this is a first-class practice as far as recycling goes.
There's not may things that I won't sprinkle my onion-y snippets over.
I'm sorry that I had to resort to using the "C" word, but it got your attention, am I right?
I'm a garlic freak so you'll forgive me if I pass on growing that impostor, Elephant Garlic.
I have some random thoughts for you on fall and winter crops.
Don't snuggle up by the fire in your over-stuffed chair just yet.
I think I'm going to be sorry that I didn't use my Earthbox for this little experiment.
I know, I know who hasn't grown 'Bright Lights' Swiss Chard, am I right?
Ever planted a "Peace Offering Rabbit Border"?
They're the perfect radish for fall and winter gardens.
Inside a pumpkin near you is a delicious and healthy snack.
The truth is that they'll actually do a better job than you.
Want your garden to look like that uber-staged Garden of Eden from the movie, "It's Complicated"? Grow cabbages.
Okay, raise your hand if you're planting vetch this fall!
Yesterday my son discovered a new level of hot.
I don't know what you're doing in your garden right now, but I hope it involves planting garlic and onions.
It may seem like a small window on the calendar. But oh, how they're worth the wait.
Serve up a little poetic justice.
I'm so thrilled with the outcome of my compost sandwiches that I almost forgive the chiweenies for trampling every one of my heirloom bush beans to death. Almost.
I love cilantro in the garden, but it's the fastest bolting herb I've ever come across.
Every year since I can remember, we've over-planted cucumbers. This year, we ended the cuke parade.
We'll also be canning some peppers - although not many since the chiweenies trampled a ton of my plants this year.
Personally, I think this is the best thing to come along since Kleenex.
Mark Twain once said, "When one has tasted watermelon he knows what the angels eat." You'll get no argument here.
Just like the predatory insects, you'll want to lure the pollinators to the garden.
Here's a handy list of the beneficial insect predators that you'll want to invite to your garden.
Still when I think of grocery stores, I can't help but think of iceberg lettuce. Iceberg lettuce is just the tip of the, well - iceberg.
I've never grown Fairy Tale before and to tell you the truth I've never cooked my own eggplant ever.
Don't panic immediately. What it could also be that your watering system is failing you.
Let go of perfection - herbs can deal with a little shade.
And now I'm glad that when I planted them I put on my big girl panties, closed my eyes, and pinched off all the very first blossoms. Painful; but incredibly rewarding.
While you're harvesting your fruits and veggies this summer for the dinner table...why not keep an eye out for edible flowers, too?
Extra Tip: If you find yourself face-to-face with a vampire (and you don't want to be), all garlic works equally well in this situation.
I fantasized about placing it strategically on my front lawn. My crops would never be prouder and the neighbors would drool with envy. One look at the price tag and I was over it.
When I first fell in love with gardening, my biggest seducer was herbs. I found herbs to be not only one of the easiest types of plants to grow, but they were also the most fun to create a garden with - not to mention the most versatile group of plants out there.
The day will come when you'll find yourself looking up at corn stalks which are now taller than you and wondering if the time is right to snap those ears off for tonight's dinner.
I was chatting today about composting with a dear gardening friend when the subject of tilling came up...
If you've never grown vegetables in raised beds before, I promise that once you do, you'll be spoiled for the rest of your gardening life.
While I'm not a masterful fruit grower, I manage to successfully harvest the ones in my yard. And this year, suburbia has one more Improved Meyer lemon tree.
These are the two heirloom watermelons in my garden this year.
So many heirloom tomatoes; so little space.
The idea is too keep them in the fridge for a short amount of time, not banish them to Siberia.
Here's a list of some organic fertilizers that you may want to have on hand.
Here's the short answer.
While I've heard it's an effective method, I've also heard that it won't kill the weed's roots. For me, that's a deal breaker. The reason why I haven't given this mixture a shot is that I don't see the point if I can't be sure that I've snuffed them out entirely. But then I'm lazy like that.
I rarely put on my serious voice here at Vegetable Gardener, but this is really, super-duper important.
Truth be told I would still describe its attitude as mild-mannered. But in a baby Godzilla sort of way.
Some gardeners grow 50 varieties of tomatoes, and some grow top notch green beans. Hey, we all have our gifts.
Peas are one crop that no spring garden should be without. They're one of the oldest cultivated vegetables as there's been evidence of peas found throughout Egypt, Europe, Asia and amazingly, among the ruins of Troy.
You'll never catch Kale tooting its own horn. Kale carries itself with so much quiet class, that you may not have even noticed it in a vegetable garden.
One thing is for sure, nothing is more delightful than a small garden bed packed with gorgeous produce.
Even if you apologize to them and promise never to miss another watering - it may already be too late.
So, we decided to do what any born and bred suburbanite would do; transplant the surviving lettuce into containers disguised as decorative planters - complete with flowers.
You know what I like about growing radishes? They're an instant gratification veggie.
I can't believe how handy newspaper is in the garden. I use it for bedding in my worm bins, as extra carbon for my compost pile, and as a weed barrier for my garden beds.
I think it's time to get my lettuces into the garden.
This is the easiest hand-pollinating you'll ever do.
I'm always looking for more ways to seduce the good guys to my garden.
Let your kids plant Green Zebras, or Dragon's Tongues, or Painted Ponies.
After watching these gardeners try every back-breaking, mind-numbing thing they could think of to protect their own, I've decided to throw in the towel before I ever break a sweat.
I mean, there's like a kazillion ways to go with this gardening thing. So many plants; so little time and all that.
My fellow gardeners we are looking March square in the eye and I, for one, am getting itchy.
It's easy to forget about some prime growing real estate that's right before your eyes. We gardeners are usually busy looking at the horizon for growing room.
Not much. One thing is for sure, you absolutely do not need what is referred to as "land" to plant a vegetable garden. Not even close.
It may have never have crossed your mind that some cities don't have grocery stores. They have "convenience stores" - and that's not the same thing at all.
Anyone who comes within a few yards of my garden is forced to discuss rabbit poop and its many gardening benefits - whether they want to or not. I'm determined to spread the bunny-gospel.
Have they invaded you yet? Those million-line-soldiers that cover your floor, counters, and cat food?
Cilantro (Chinese parsley) may resemble its namesake, but it's not the wall flower that parsley is in the garden.
Watch for this unheralded vegetable in the coming growing season, it's one that's catching on.
Those gardeners in gentler climates will have things going a little bit faster (and no, it's not unfair because you snow people get tulips).
Don't get cheap on me here; buy the best olive oil that you can afford and use fresh chopped tomatoes. You get extra points if you use heirlooms.
It just so happens, by happy coincidence, all three of these topics actually intersect; at least in this post.
Think of growing beautiful food as foreplay to dinner.
If you just happen to live in zones 9-11, consider growing some delicious avocados (Persea americana). Not only are they tasty, but they offer nutritional value for your heart and eyes.
If I had to wear gloves (like if a doctor said I would die a horrible death if I didn’t) I would chose those edgy gloves that fit like a second layer of skin. They come in colors that make your girlish heart sing and your hands can at least feel something. Kinda.
There's one place where I documented in brown pencil that I planted "Mammoth" sunflowers. A few months later in red ink the section is crossed out with one line and it reads, "lost to tragedy".
The Southern Exposure Seed Exchange is another catalog I wait for with bated breath. Like many of the seed companies I adore, they specialize in open-pollinated (mostly heirloom) seeds.
Soil "type" is different than obtaining the specifics about minerals and nutrients found in individual soils through soil "testing". Soil type refers to the physical structure and texture of soil.
Before you buy the jean overalls and have a dump truck of manure dropped on your driveway, it's worth it to take a day or so to think about your gardening goals.
The best reason to grow your own vegetables is because you can control what goes onto and into your food; plus produce doesn't get any fresher then traveling 24 feet from the garden to the kitchen.
If you can't remember, then I'm certain that you haven't. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds has hands-down the most fantastic collection of vegetable pictures I've ever seen in anywhere - much less in a catalog.
I know paper catalogs don't sound very earth-friendly. But armchair gardening is an old school practice grounded in the tactile experience. Hey, I didn't make the rules.
We're going to focus on two things here. The first one is saving money on a required gardening practice - seed starting. The second one is ignoring the fact that we're heading straight for deep winter and instead, thinking about spring. We're going to deny that we have have months on end of cold weather and sleeping plants.
Even if someone wanted to decline taking a whiff, I don't think they dared risk it while facing the crazed look in my eyes.
I've gone on and on about ideas for heating small greenhouses, but I want to share another idea for cheap insulation. Bubble wrap.
I like being a worm farmer. Like my fondness for rabbit poop, I take great pride in the rich nutrients they produce for my garden. These are natural talents we humans can't begin to duplicate. Our poop just isn't that great.
Many gardeners started their broccoli seeds several weeks ago. However, I was slow on the up-take this year and didn't start any seeds myself. I was so slow, in fact, that instead of getting to carefully choose my broccoli variety, I had had to pick up whatever was available at the nursery. Works for me; beggars can't be choosers.
Carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene (converted to vitamin A in the body), Vitamins K with traces of C, B, and E. They’re a good source for potassium and manganese, as well. Whose body couldn't use that nutrition for the winter?
This is the beginning of the revamping and reorganizing season. It doesn't feel as fun as the active growing season, but it's a time for stepping back and taking stock. Here's some of the things I have on my list for the month of November.
While lettuces are predominately a cool-weather crop, there are summer varieties available that don't disappoint. They're so easy to plant, grow, and harvest that I try to have lettuces in my garden every season.
Any gardeners out there planning on having some home-grown lettuce on the Christmas dinner table? What varieties are you planting and where the heck are you?
Some gardeners grow a fall garden outdoors, some plant an eclectic group of flowers and veggies in a heated greenhouse, and others plant an herb garden indoors. Then there are those of us die-hards that practice all of the above in determined to feed the plant addiction year-round.
On a more practical note while I do want to keep the greenhouse toasty inside, I'm also interested in keeping my electric bill down to a manageable size. Which isn't as simple as it sounds.
You just can't get the whole pie baking experience from the inside of a box on the freezer isle. No, the true affair of pie baking is an event.
Hollywood and Halloween have done nothing for the reputation of spiders (not to mention bats) and their true value they bring to the natural world.
Suburban and urban farming is being accomplished successfully in backyards everywhere. And it is being done with high yields on very little land.
Utilizing the method of Integrated Pest Management how I garden - period. I'm probably going to get strung up by the organic gardening police for that admission; but before you set the torch afire let me say this.
“Sustainable gardening” is a cool term if I've ever heard one. It sounds edgy in an incredibly responsible sort of way. In suburban farmer (that would be me) speak it’s: “Do no evil.”
Leaf mold by itself is pretty close to pure humus and like compost, smells like the forest floor. Probably because it is the forest floor.
I think the average homeowner over looks the many joys of grass clippings. This stuff is a valuable resource with all the versatility of duct tape.
It's no secret that suburbia is known for it's cookie-cutter foundation plantings and grand expansions of perfectly coiffed grass. Although, I have seen some fabulous yard make-overs where they've used plants that have made me almost slam into the car in front of me. But, I digress.
Fall is the time of year that I start getting concerned for my basil. I'm pretty lousy at calculating how much longer I'll be able to harvest before the frost nails it. Mother Nature has her own calendar no matter where we mark our frost dates.
It's never too early to think about the next major planting season as far as I'm concerned. But that could be because at my age, six months isn't even close to the vicinity of long-term.
I know we're still harvesting tomatoes, zucchini, fruit and the like but the weather and light change are hinting that another season is at an end. Forewarned is forearmed, am I right?
Whether you're new to gardening, a budding homesteader, or a die-hard farmer there's no need to wait for nice weather to grow food crops - grow sprouts!
Here's how to harvest and roast your own sunflower seeds from your garden.
Sunflowers not only attract pollinating insects while they're blooming, but at season's end they become an excellent food source for wild birds.
My perception of cover crops and green manures is they're right in line with compost bins, vermicomposting, grasscycling, and even mulch - they're all a form of composting. In other words, they're all about turning natural resources back into nature.
Don't let the kids keep the magic for themselves. When the morning glories begin blooming, get into that sunflower house, lie on your back and admire the glowing blue sky that you and your kids planted.
Weren't we just talking about summer vegetables? Don't freak out on me, we still have plenty of lovely weather left this season and there all the summer lovelies that need harvesting for weeks yet. But, it's always nice to get a little jump on the coming planting season and at least begin to think about what we'd like to see in our fall and winter gardens.
For one, I live in Northern California where the temps can really get down there but face it, we're not Minnesota. Don't get me wrong, I have lost my share of plants due of lack of vacancies in my house for overwintering plants. I thought I'd give them gave them a shot at winter life in the greenhouse. Try not to be shocked, it's not the first time I've been wrong.
If you're going to have a caffeine addiction, getting the "wake up" into your blood stream by way of black tea just may be the most respectable way. According to the Order of Caffeine Addicts in America (OCAA), caffeine by way of tea is considered to be one of the classiest addictions among the whole substance-dependency lineup. You can look that up or you can just trust a group that bears the motto, "Proud to be; wired with tea."
"I wish I could have a vegetable garden, but we just don't have the space and everything is landscaped...sooo." I saw what looked like remorse in her eyes. Cynical me wasn't buying it. It's sad really, that people honestly think they can escape me that easily. It's so not gonna happen.
Personally, anything to do with Italy is utterly fascinating partly because I'm Italian and partly because I've seen "Under the Tuscan Sun" several times. It doesn't really matter because everyone knows no one does it better than Italy when it comes to food and cars. Man, what Italians do for cars, am I right?
It's just short of a felony to smother mesclun with anything rich or creamy. It's like pulling those tags off of pillows (just know you've been warned). My favorite dressings on these babies are the lighters ones. Raspberry or cranberry vinaigrette are tops on these flavorful salads - or try a lemon vinaigrette.
Am I starting them too early? Watering them too much? Too little? Not performing the right Voo-Doo ritual standing naked over them during a full moon? Because if that's what it takes, I assure you, I've done far more for much less.
I don't remember when the law started declaring the differences between fruits and veggies, but the law is the law. You can always continue to call watermelon a fruit in the privacy of your own home (I think).
Weeds o' mine, don't ask for whom the hoe comes...it comes for thee.
Most hummingbirds will end up in a 12 step program after discovering them on your back porch.
Our family has been spending many nights enjoying summer evenings on the patio; sometimes eating dinner and sometimes just unwinding at the end of the day. Summer is the season of outdoor evenings. Which is why I'm on a mission to plant more fragrant night blooming plants.
The tool house is for containment of proper gardening tools, not your Halloween decorations, your college camp stove or your unused breast pump. Take good care of your gardening tools, and they will take good care of your garden.
If you’re like me, every now and again you hear the siren call of new gardening tools. If you’re like me, you take a look at the household account and figure out just how much you can skim off of the grocery money without sending up red flags.
Someone has to do it.
I love June. In June all things are possible in the garden. The radishes are ready to harvest, and I’ve already pulled a couple of tomatoes off the vine. I’m not even close to the point in the summer when I wonder if, once again, I’ve planted too many juicy varieties.
Herbs may not have showy flowers like perennials and annuals, so using them to create a theme garden is not only a good way to explore unusual herbs and their uses; it’s the perfect way to show your other special interests.
I’ve always loved garden nasturtiums in my flower beds. Oh, I know they’re touted as ordinary and flowers that are easy to grow often get a pretentious sniff.
One of the most endearing things about these gardens aside from the diversity of food and flowers is the fact that the majority of gardens are organic which means you’ll see butterflies and birds galore enjoying the gardens right along with you.
Choosing tomato plants isn’t necessarily tricky. Still, most people only think of two things when they consider purchasing tomato plants for their home garden. They ask themselves what size (regular or cherry)? Next, they decide how many plants to buy and that’s it. There are a couple of other factors that may guide you in how to decide what tomato plant varieties to choose.
These micro-trees will produce normal-sized apples the first year you plant them! God bless the experimenters.
All of your seed planting efforts have come to fruition and you are finally witnessing your success as little seedlings pop through the soil and reach for the sky. They’re tiny things and still so fragile. You hover over them as if they were toddlers and with watering can in hand, whisper good morning as you gently shower them.
Just when you thought the gardening season couldn't last forever, along comes a group of flowers romantically dubbed "everlastings”.
These natural bee sting treatments will help remove the itching, swelling, and pain associated with bee stings. Try one the next time you get stung and let us know what works for you.
This party drink isn't your average glass of water. It's water wearing a prom dress. Serving fruit water at your next party or barbecue is refreshing, healthy, and elegant.
I love farmer’s markets. There’s something so authentic and Old World about them. While I’m loitering around at one, I can’t think of any other place I’d rather be and I’d like to give you some great reasons to loiter around at one, too.
It's said that Cleopatra claimed aloe vera as one of her greatest beauty secrets. Who am I to argue with Cleopatra?
One can only have so many animals in a suburban backyard and suburbia isn’t overly conducive to farm animals…or is it?
While you're planting food and flowers in your garden, why not plant a garden craft, as well? Birdhouse gourds or bottle gourds are one of the thick-skinned gourds that are mainly grown for crafts or decoration.
Garlic has a more practical side that you may not be aware of and it just might be the information you need to push you over the proverbial edge to plant some in your garden this year.
Whether you choose organic or inorganic mulch depends on what your growing and personal preference. But all mulches can be counted on for water retention and as weed-suppressors. Less weeding is, quite frankly, what perked my interest in mulches to begin with.
After years of attempting to force my palate to conform to the masses, I finally gave up trying to understand why no one else was talking about the little seeds that became embedded in my molars. I realized that maybe the world was silently cringing just like me to get to the sweet nectar of the strawberry.
For more years of my life than not, I’ve been raising children. My husband and I have four kids and one sugar baby – I might as well be a Pez dispenser. I haven’t even managed to keep my children out of my bathroom, much less my gardens.
Companion planting by definition is simply any plant that is purposefully planted next to another to enhance growth, beauty or flavor.
Nature does the coolest things. How fantastic that this simple-to-grow flower can also be one of the most adaptable, versatile and incredibly useful plants anywhere?
Not all insects are created equal. Some bugs, such as aphids and snails, think of your garden plants as dinner - they're the bad guys; the enemy. The other guys are known as the “beneficial insects,” and they are your cavalry.
Here's some pictures of our worms and their homes.
Worm composting (vermicomposting) has to be one of my favorite gardening topics in the world. There are so many good reasons to keep red wigglers in the kitchen or by the back door, munching and crunching on your kitchen scraps that it’s hard to know where to begin.
Aphids are those little pear-shaped gals that congregate around the undersides of leaves or the terminal buds on your rose bushes. You won’t be bothered by them in numbers of two or three, but when the situation resembles a Rolling Stones concert – that’s when you’ll sit up and take notice.
There's any number of reasons that we gardeners might prefer to grow things up as opposed to out.
This is the fastest planting method in town.
Is anyone out there in a hurry? Are you working three jobs, have seven children, or on your way to a fire? This no-dig planting method is the fastest way to a vegetable garden – a soil bag can...
You'll want to encourage these docile, no-sting, super pollinators into your garden.
Starting tomato plants from cuttings is a fast and easy project that even beginners can do blindfolded.
We've been eating fresh salad this winter!
Cold frames are basically very short greenhouses sans the heat. They are mostly used for extending the season in one direction or the other. They are one of the handiest tools around for helping...
I have been fighting this battle in my gardens for thirty years and have given great effort to abide by the live-and-let-live philosophy. I have tried barriers - which worked fairly well, still more...
Organic means 100% food
This is the evil snail.