Monthly Archives: January 2013

LECTURES, VEGGIES, & HERBS

My upcoming lecture schedule:

Feb 8-9, PASA (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, State College, PA): UNCOMMON FRUITS WITH MARKET POTENTIAL, BLUEBERRIES: RELIABLE & EASY TO GROW, HEALTHFUL, & DELICIOUS; PRUNING FRUIT TREES, SHRUBS, AND VINES

Feb 12, Planting Fields Arboretum (Oyster Bay, NY): FEARLESS PRUNING

Feb 16-17, NOFA-VT (Northeast Organic Farming Association, Burlington, VT): FRUIT GROWING SIMPLIFIED, NO-TILL VEGETABLES

Mar 2: Miami Valley (Dayton, OH) Garden Conference: WEEDLESS GARDENING

Mar 9: Philadelphia Flower Show: Fruit Growing Simplified

Mar 10: Philadelphia Orchard Project: LECTURE AND HANDS-ON WORKSHOP ON PRUNING FRUITS

Mar 16, Thetford, VT: FEARLESS PRUNING

April 6, Maine Garden Day (Lewiston, ME): FRUIT GROWING SIMPLIFIED, MULTI-DIMENSIONAL VEGETABLE GARDENING

April 10, Rosendale (NY) Library: BACKYARD COMPOSTING

April 20, Berkshire Botanical Garden (Stockbridge, MA), GROW FRUIT NATURALLY, BLUEBERRIES: RELIABLE & EASY TO GROW, HEALTHFUL, & DELICIOUS 

May 11, Margaret Roach’s Garden (Copake Falls, NY): BACKYARD FRUIT LECTURE, GRAFTING WORKSHOP

May 16, Brookside Gardens (Wheaton, MD): MY WEEDLESS GARDEN

June 1, The Cloisters (NYC): MEDIEVAL FRUITS A …

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OCCULT PRACTICES, WINTER COLD

Do occult practices contribute to the health of my pear trees? After all, there I was, clomping through lily-white snow in boots tossing what looked like puffs of smoke at each tree. As I moved from tree to tree, a gray halo settled to the ground arround each tree’s base.

Yes, those puffs of smoke would be contributing to my pear trees’ well-being. No, all that puffing was not occult, not even really smoke, in fact.


The stuff was wood ashes, and I had three reasons for what I was doing with it. First and foremost, I was disposing of it. Wood ash is rich in potassium and alkalinity. Potassium is an essential nutrient for plants, and alkalinity is good to counteract the increasing acidity of our soils, where rainfall constantly washes out its alkalinity.

But too much of a …

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The Tipping Point, Passed

We’re now at the tipping point. No, not the global climate one after which our climate permanently veers off in a new direction. Nor a sociological tipping point that describes, for example, how many instigators are needed to create a mob action. Nor the biodiversity tipping point, the threshold after which biodiversity irreversibly plummets. This tipping point is more down-to-earth and not open to debate: buds on houseplant stems are poised to grow, seeds are ordered, and the sun is slowly rising higher in the sky and lingering longer each day.

I feel it and act accordingly. As soon as buds start to open on indoor plants, I’ll put a little fertilizer in with the water when I water them. Not the tablespoon per gallon per week that’s recommended on the packet label. The plants can’t use that much yet; any extra is wasted and contributes to salt buildup …

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Let It Be?

“Let it be, let it be” went the old Beatles’ lyric, and this could very well be a mantra in gardening. Sometimes, sometimes a little, and sometimes not at all.


Take, for instance, the climbing hydrangea cloaking the north wall of my brick house. Even now, bereft of leaves and flowers, the finger-thick vines, with their papery peeling, tan bark are a pretty sight weaving their way across and up the russet red wall. Come spring and through summer, bricks peek out from behind a cloak of heart-shaped, glossy green leaves. In summer, white flowers open on short, horizontal stems that reach out from the wall, the whole effect, with the leafy background, like twinkling stars against a dark sky.

I planted the vine about 7 years ago, knowing that it’s slow to get started and that it can coexist …

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