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Winter is time for:

Garden Preparation

Start preparing gardens for spring by pruning trees and bushes and amending the soil by planting cover crops in unused beds.

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Tips for Hand Bed Preparation from the Esalen Farm and Garden Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Esalen Bed PrepGood organic gardeners will tell you that they don't grow plants, they grow soil -- and by that they mean a soil rich in organic material. As we begin to pull out our summer crops and get ready for fall planting, it's a good time to take a look at the soil in our garden and do what's necessary to create the "healthy dirt" -- or humus -- that will give life to our new seedlings. For some, it might be time to put in a cover crop. For those ready to put in their next round of seeds or seedlings, here is a step-by-step "Guide to Hand Bed Preparation" created by the food folks at the Esalen Farm and Garden, who have some of the healthiest beds (and, hence, crops) you'll ever see. I made a few edits for the home gardener but it's a great guide to get you started. Happy fall planting!

1. Clear all plant waste of previous crops and weeds from the bed using a short-handled fork, hard or soft rake, and a compost bin or trash can.

2. Check that there are suitable stakes (i.e., able to have a string easily tied to) at each corner of the bed. Stakes should be between 42-48 inches apart. If a stake is missing, drive a new stake into the ground to create the appropriate width; move existing stakes to create the appropriate width.

3. Connect parallel corner posts with string to mark the length of the bed along the pathways.

Read more...
 
The Best Garden Hose Nozzle Ever Print E-mail
Written by Janine Warner   

After years of frustrated experimentation, I've finally found a spray gun nozzle that works!

Don't get me wrong, like all nozzles I've tried this one will wear out over time, but after many attempts I've finally found a nozzle that makes me happy.

In fairness to nozzle makers everywhere, these hose attachments must withstand tremendous water pressure, and if you're like me, they get dragged through the dirt, dropped, and occasionally stepped on, as well.

But after the frustration of bringing home new nozzles that didn’t work from the start, I’m happy to report consistently good luck with the Dramm Revolver. With nine different settings -- from spray to jet to full to mist -- you get everything you need to water, mist, and spray clean everything in the garden, including the muddy tools. And the Dramm Revolver, which looks a bit like a ray gun from the latest sci fi cartoon, even comes in a rainbow of colors.

I prefer red because it’s easy to find and that means I’m less likely to step on it.

Order the Dramm 9 Revolver Garden Hose Nozzle from Amazon

 
The Best Soil for Seedlings Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

seedlings for JanineWhen starting plants from seed, you will want to find a place that gets a lot of light each day -- and I mean a lot (at least four hours). I'm lucky in that my kitchen window gets that much sun so I've been able to start a number of plants from seeds there.

The other important thing is a good soil mix. Here is the mix used (and suggested) by the folks running the farm and garden at Esalen:

1.5 parts sifted compost
1.5 parts vermiculite
1 part coco peat
.5 parts earth worm castings
.25 kelp meal

Not having any coco peat or worm casting around, I start seedlings using an organic potting mix plus the vermiculite, compost and kelp emulsion.

If anybody has any soil recipes they'd like to share, feel free to send them along or post them in the comments section of this article.

 

 
Square Foot Gardening Print E-mail
Written by Janine Warner   
The square foot gardening concept has been around for a number of years.  There was a book published by Rodale Press (I think) on the technique.  We are very excited about our gardens and the great camaraderie between gardeners at the site.  Everyone's happy because of the ease of planting and no weeds.  Bonus!!
 
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