Sowing Winter Cover Crops

With the weather turning cool and the fall harvest beginning to come in, you may think the time for sowing seeds is past. And for most seeds, you would be right. But there is one class of seeds you could usefully plant in the next week or so if you’re here in Zone 7, and that’s winter cover crops….

Ordering Seed Potatoes

In early January, when I took inventory of my seed stocks and sent off my 2013 order to Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, I told myself that I had plenty of time to order my seed potatoes later. I didn’t have to order everything at the same time this year because I’m ordering the seed potatoes…

The Resilient Gardener

I’ve read a lot of gardening books in my thirty-one years, and I’ve learned something new from every one. But it isn’t often that a book comes along in which I not only learn something new in every paragraph but each bit of new information feels absolutely vital. Carol Deppe’s book The Resilient Gardener is…

Starting Onions

Here in Zone 7, January is the time for starting onion seeds indoors: two months before the last expected frost. I got mine planted a little over a week ago, and the shoots are already green and unbending towards the sun. (When an onion seed first germinates, its stem is folded over with both ends…

Brassica Attack

Remember how my nasturtiums were supposed to act as a sacrificial crop to protect the cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower from cabbage white caterpillars? And how I wasn’t sure they’d be able to do the job because they couldn’t be planted until after the last frost, when the brassicas had already been in the ground for…

This Life Is in Your Hands

If you’re an organic gardener, you must have heard of Eliot Coleman. You’ve probably read some of his books: Four-Season Harvest or The New Organic Grower. I confess that I haven’t. Yet. But that didn’t diminish my excitement at finding a memoir written by his daughter, Melissa Coleman. In 2011, she published This Life Is…

Edible, Flowering Mulch

One of the principles of permaculture is that everything should serve more than one purpose, and every purpose should be served by more than one thing. This complexity makes an ecosystem flexible and resilient, leading to long-term stability. Creating a garden that emulates nature in this way is one of my long-term goals. But permaculture…

So Many Ways to Plant Potatoes

It seems like everyone has their own favorite way to plant potatoes. Some presprout their seed potatoes, some don’t. Some cut their potatoes ahead of time and let them cure, some don’t. Some dig holes for the potatoes, and some just lay them on top of the ground and cover with a heap of compost….

A Welcome Mat for Slugs?

I’ve never had a slug problem before. I figured it was too dry for them here in central Virginia. And when I read about slugs ravaging other people’s crops, I thought, “Well, thank goodness I don’t have that problem.” But in the last couple of weeks, when I’ve gone out to stroll the garden in…

Organic Fertilizer to Mix at Home

I’ve been writing a lot lately about my early failures in the garden. My hope is that some of you whose first experiences in the vegetable patch have been less than stellar will be inspired to keep trying, knowing that sometimes a year or two of experience goes a long way. I’m also hoping that…