No Time Like the Present

Gardening encompasses many things. It is meditative and an expression of prayer. Creating an organic garden, whether limited to a few containers or committed to acres, is the single best thing each of us can do for our planet. And dare I say it, gardening is definitely an economic bridge and a pure pleasure in the process. So let’s get started.

 Sometime in the last 10,000 years we got it in our heads to abandon the wild tangles of wilderness for what we thought was more efficient food production. It worked for a while, a very short while. We planted row after row of the same species, then acre after acre, defiant of the chaotic beauty of our beloved Earth. Before too long the soil played out, washed downstream or was carried aloft to the next village, county or country. Determined to maintain our illusion of control we continued to plant the same way; crops weakened and in moved the bugs. I could never decide if we as a species were slow learners or simply insisted we must continue head-on with the bit between our teeth. Either way agriculture has led to a planet imperiled. Ecosystems are collapsing globally, deserts are growing by a staggering number of miles annually, and the world’s population is starving. Time to go back to the wild tangles.

When we look carefully into untouched landscapes what we see are dazzling collections of great diversity growing in drifts and colonies. We see unique groups commanding the edges of streams that spread so far before conceding to an entirely different group taking the higher ground. Each of these levels even when only a few feet apart is a habitat and each habitat thrives in the company of the species that share it. There is absolutely no reason why our suburban gardens, even our balcony and rooftop container collections can’t be constructed the same way. This is called Companion Planting.

It is my hope with this blog to lend some insight into just how gardens can be returned to wild colonies and remain healthy, productive, and breathtaking in their beauty. I certainly invite each and everyone of you to contribute what you have experienced, suspected to be true, or heard from the old gal down the street who has managed a gorgeous garden for a half century and you can’t “prove” a single word she ever said. And you can be sure, if you know me at all, that this blog will contain its share of plant lore as well so please don’t hesitate to share the old wives’ tales. You and I both know that the old wives always had it right.

If you are interested in growing at least some of your own food you simply must read Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew and Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza. It doesn’t matter if you have been gardening for fifty years or have never tried; these books are the only books you need. I have heard so many people say that they have a black thumb (whatever that means) and they can’t grow anything. Wrong! These two books are simply presented, brilliantly organized and environmentally responsible. They cover in detail by specific crop, how to grow it in your yard, rooftop and container collection. Square Foot Gardening and Lasagna Gardening both demonstrate that children, the elderly, the disabled, and individuals who work 90 hours a week can do this.

 What they lack however is sufficient information about companion planting; hence this blog. And over the years I have developed a method of growing starts (seedlings) under lights that is so utterly easy you’ll wonder why you waited to try it, thanks to the superb products developed over the years. I will take this up too. There will be brief tutorials about soil, fertilizer, and insect control. I will show you how a basic understanding of a plant’s life cycle enhances its productivity. Samples of shopping lists and a sowing calendar will be included followed by beautiful collections and enticements for hummingbirds, butterflies, bees and beneficial insects that make pest control virtually unnecessary. Eventually we’ll move on to edible flowers, recipes for all kinds of things like herb butter, oil and vinegar, sugars, syrups, jellies and of course, herbal tea. And before I bring it to its esoteric finale with lore we’ll explore drying and freezing the herbs I think you will love to grow.

 There are thousands of catalogs and probably tens of thousands of books on gardening and herbs. In 45 years I have previewed countless. Choices become overwhelming so I will make a few recommendations. Some are, in my estimation, “must-have” marked with an *. Others are valuable references that I will use throughout this blog that might interest you for further study. And a note about catalogs; catalogs are often the best references of all. Order them today, don’t wait! We are going to need them very soon. More and more companies are going “virtual” and where a printed catalog is unavailable visit and study the websites. And remember, even when a printed catalog is available, many websites have e-newsletters that often include unadvertised specials.

 Books: *Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza

                *Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew

                Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotta

                Companion Plants & How to Use Them by Helen Philbrick

                How to Cheat at Gardening & Yard Work by Jeff Bredenberg

                Secrets of Great Soil by Elizabeth P. Stell

               Landscaping for Small Spaces by Patricia Lanza

               Complete Book of Herbs by Leslie Bremness

              Note that all of these books are available on Amazon.  And I noticed lots of inexpensive, second-hand copies.

 Catalogs & Websites

              *Seed Savers Exchange

              3094 North Winn Road

              Decorah, Iowa 52101

             563-382-5990

             www.seedsavers.org

             *The Cook’s Garden

             PO Box C5030

             Warminster, PA 18974

             800-457-9703

            www.cooksgarden.com

            *Nichols Garden Nursery

            1190 Old Salem Road NE

            Albany, OR 97321

           800-422-3985

           www.nicholsgardennursery.com

Seeds & Supplies

          *Park Seed Company

          1 Parkton Avenue

          Greenwood, SC 29647

          800-845-3369

          www.parkseed.com

Organic Fertilizer, Soil Amendment & Insect Control

          *Gardens’ Alive

          5100 Schenley Place

          Lawrenceburg, IN 47025

          513-354-1482

          www.gardensalive.com

          *John & Bob’s

          www.johnandbobs.com

Containers

          *International Greenhouse Company

          888-281-9337

          www.greenhousemegastore.com

Referenced in this blog

           Seeds of Change

          www.seedsofchange.com

          Edible Landscaping

          www.ediblelandscaping.com

Incredible Others

          Bluestone Perennials

          7211 Middle Ridge Road

          Madison, Ohio 44057

          800-852-5243

          www.bluestoneperennials.com

          Gardener’s Supply

          128 Intervale Road

          Burlington, VT 05401

          800-427-3363

          www.gardeners.com

          Chiltern Seeds

          Bortree Stile,

         Ulverston,

         Cumbria, LA12 7PB

        England

        www.chilternseeds.co.uk

Bulbs (Just Because)

         McClure & Zimmerman

         335 South High Street

         Randolph, WI 53956

         800-883-6998

         www.mzbulb.com

          John Scheepers, Inc.

         23 Tulip Drive

         PO Box 638

         Bantam, Connecticut 06750

         860-567-0838

         www.johnscheepers.com

         Van Engelen Inc.

         23 Tulip Drive

         PO Box 638

         Bantam, Connecticut 06750

         800-567-8734

         www.vanengelen.com

         (Larger quantities offered by John Scheepers)

 I had hoped to start this blog sooner but due, no doubt to the dictate of spirit that didn’t happen. So for the next few months it will become something of a crash course with numerous weekly posts. This should insure that you have sufficient time to acquire seed, supplies and complimentary material as well as learn a few techniques, making the growing season of 2012 productive for you. Although my work is copyrighted I invite you to print this as we go for future reference, and share it with your friends.




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Responses to “No Time Like the Present”

  1. Angela Cheetham Wilkinson February 25th, 2014 - 10:58 pm

    Ooh what a happy encouraging optimistic start to the joys of Spring.
    I expect to be following with relish.

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