One of Flora Grubb's tips for being a more eco-conscious gardener was to use eco pots. These Cowpots ($11 for a set of 12 pots) certainly qualify — they're biodegradable, made from a renewable resource, and provide essential organic ingredients for potting. Cowpots are actually made from cow manure — but don't get grossed out yet. These award-winning biodegradable transplant pots are odorless and completely yuck-free. Invented by dairy farmers Matt and Ben Freund, the manure in the pots is dried, completely composted, mixed with natural fibers, and pressed into pots. See what I thought of the Cowpots I tested.
Interested in gardening, but not sure where to start? One easy first step is to join our community group The Girls' Guide to Gardening. Then, if you're handy, you can try DIYing my garden box. But if you're pressed for time, you don't have to break out the lumber and electric drill to enjoy a garden box in your backyard. Instead, you can buy one that's easy to assemble, set up, and plant through Los Angeles-based company Mini Farm Box. In celebration of Earth Day on April 22, Mini Farm Box is offering a complete Ready‐to‐Grow kit for just $199 with free shipping (the box is regularly $250). The kit contains everything you need to get growing, including a four-foot-square garden box made from sustainably harvested cedar. This garden box assembles tool‐free in 10 minutes or less and comes with customized irrigation, organic heirloom seeds, a moisture gauge that tells you when to water, an organic growing manual, and a full one‐year subscription to Organic Gardening Magazine.
Since we're not all lucky enough to have big backyards for our gardening pleasure, sometimes we have to make do with patios, porches, and deck space. That's where container gardening comes in. Container gardening can be a great option for herbs, strawberries, lettuces — and even tomatoes. Over the next few weeks, I'll be testing products from Gardener's Supply that relate to small-space gardening and first-time gardeners. This week, I planted three container gardens for tomatoes. While I'm testing a series of gardening products with Gardener's Supply and reviewing the products over the next few months, I've been a big fan of the company for the past few years, long before they sent me these products to test. My opinion of the company was formed when I toured it several years ago as part of an eco home tour in Vermont.
Are you a first-time gardener, or do you have some gardening experience under your belt that you'd like to share? Show off your skills and garden photos, or simply pose questions about gardening by joining the newly formed Girls' Guide to Gardening.
Join the group by clicking here!
Source: Flickr User Maggie Hoffman
Planning on growing a few vegetables or herbs this year? Whether you're short on space or want to expand your garden's footprint in the easiest way possible, the new Colorful Grow Bags ($30 and less, available in periwinkle blue, poppy red, and black) from Gardener's Supply will help yield a major harvest even if you only have minimal space.
By adding Gardener's specially formulated organic soil mix to each Colorful Grow Bag, you can be guaranteed a plentiful crop of whatever you plan on planting. These bags are specifically sized for each crop, including carrots, beans, potatoes, carrots, lettuce, strawberries, tomatoes, herbs, or flowers.
The bags feature a patented polypropylene fabric that "breathes" and "air-prunes" roots for strong, healthy root systems, which is also tear-resistant and has reinforced seams. No tilling or amendments are necessary, since the energized Potting Mix is an organic slow-release fertilizer. Cage supports are included for tomato and bean bags. For hotter climates, choose red or blue fabric, which will reflect less heat. And since each bag is guaranteed for seven years, you don't have to worry about them wearing out after only a few seasons.
Would you try gardening with one of these bags?
On a rough-and-tumble corner in Oakland's Ghost Town neighborhood, the most unexpected of sights awaits you. Behind a chain-link fence, on an abandoned lot, sits a thriving urban farm. I stopped by Ghost Town Farm yesterday afternoon for its informal farm stand, where preserved lemons, dinosaur kale, and extremely local honey, among other selections, were being sold.
The force behind this farm is Novella Carpenter, author of best-selling memoir Farm City, which notably begins, "I have a farm on a dead-end street in the ghetto." In the book, Carpenter describes the evolution of the empty lot next to her rented flat from garbage-filled wasteland to thriving urban farm. It's a great read, and I recommend you pick up a copy of the book, which is now in paperback.
If you're planning on visiting the Bay Area, be sure to check Novella's blog to find out about the time of the next farm stand. Her site is also packed with anecdotes and advice on everything from building a cob oven to keeping livestock in the inner city. Curious as to what she's raising? Check out my photos of her 4,500-square-foot farm. While I didn't get pictures of the bunnies and chickens, I did snap some photos of one of the goats, one of the beehives, and quite a few of the veggies and fruit trees that abound on this unexpected piece of agrarian culture in the middle of the city.
While it's nice to have a year-round growing season in the Bay Area, the foggy days make for a long lag time between germination and harvest. Other regions, such as the Midwest, enjoy optimal growing conditions for at least three months straight, which yields huge vegetables in a very short amount of time. At long last, though, my garden is starting to produce a lot of veggies. I'm currently picking wax beans, snow peas, grape tomatoes, and my new favorite, serpentine squash, which is also called zuchetta, and has a very interesting anise-like flavor when eaten raw.
Time to get excited about all of those veggies and fruits in the backyard! If your little green fellas made it through the snowstorms and freezes of the past year, help them make it through the warmer months with this quick gardening tip.
Instead of watering your rows from a standing position, employ a soaker hose. It will allow the plants to get their nutrition from below, where it is most necessary. This method of irrigation will keep fungus and mold from creeping up on the veggies and ruining your potential homemade salad. It also keeps weeds at bay as the space between the plants becomes less of a breeding ground for the pesky growth. And let's not forget how much it will save you on your water bill and the Earth on its resources. Everybody wins!
A recent SFGate article notes that the 2009 trend of ditching seeded lawns in favor of veggie patches will likely continue in Spring of 2010. The article says, "According to November's Edible Gardening Trends Research Report sponsored by the Garden Writers Association, food gardening will continue to be big, with 37 percent of the households surveyed planning to expand their food garden this year."
While I haven't said goodbye to my entire lawn, a good portion of it is now reserved for gardening (as you can see from this picture). Would you consider replacing all or part of your lawn with a veggie garden?