Organic Gardening Blogs

Chosen as one of the Top 30 Organic Gardening Blogs – March 2018

Tomatoes – Save Time; Save Freezer Space; Get Better Tasting Sauce; Recipes for Kids, Formal Dinner, Appetizer

Tomatoes are just about the most popular home grown vegetable (fruit). Many who don’t consider themselves gardeners, still grow a few tomato plants every year.

I’m so spoiled by the taste of homegrown tomatoes from my organic garden that I won’t eat tomatoes from the store — organic or otherwise.

Tomatoes from my garden.

Other Ways to Enjoy Your Tomatoes

Here are some other ways to make the most of your tomatoes that I’ve previously written about.


Want a recipe using your fresh tomatoes that the kids will love in the summer?  That you can also use for an elegant luncheon or a formal dinner during Christmas?  One that only takes 30 minutes to make and offers a taste of summer and is sure to impress your guests?

Tomatoe Sherbet- Serve at a Summer Luncheon or as Part of Your Main Christmas Meal

Here’s a recipe that’s so simple you probably won’t believe how delicious it is until you try it yourself. Serve it a an appetizer or as the salad in a formal sit-down dinner.

If you have to restrict your intake of salt, this is a definite must-try.

The post also tells you what Organic Gardening Magazine didn’t tell you about oils.

Fresh Tomatoes – Elevated (even more) to Gourmet Status

Sauce – Saving Time, Freezer Space and Getting Better Taste

Are you one who cooks tomatoes on the stove for hours to make sauce?
Is your freezer space taken up with whole fresh tomatoes?
Would you like to save time and space and still have the great taste of summer tomatoes in a much easier-to-work-with-form?

You can use this “sauce” right out of the oven with or without spices. You can freeze it in a fraction of the space taken by whole tomatoes. Great for quick meals all year: pasta dishes, soups, or by itself as a side dish. Use in anything that calls for tomatoes, sauce, or paste.

(The thickness of what you freeze will depend on how long you cook it.)

To get all the options offered, be sure to read all four posts.

Tomatoes – Roasted for the Easiest Most Delicious Tomato Sauce

How to Make Tomato Sauce or Tomato Paste the Easy Way

Quick and Delicious Tomato Sauce

Addendum to Quick and Delicious Tomato Sauce

Stir the roasted tomatoes.

After you stir the roasted tomatoes, this is what the sauce will look like.

What Tomatoes Make the Best Tasting Sauce?

Tomatoes with drier texture and little or no seeds are called paste tomatoes.
Many gardeners grow them especially for use in making sauce/paste.

Over the years I’ve grown dozens of varieties of paste tomatoes and have never found one that even comes close to the taste of regular tomatoes for making sauce or paste. I don’t grow them anymore.

If you grow both, you might want to do a test. Fix a batch of sauce with paste tomatoes and one with regular tomatoes. (Since the paste tomatoes are drier they’ll be finished sooner than the regular tomatoes.)

When both are done, thoroughly cooled, and before you add any seasoning, taste each and make your decision.

Final Thoughts

Wishing you an abundance of great tomatoes for use now and throughout the winter.


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Time to think about Garlic – One of Earth’s Most Beneficial Foods

The medicinal properties of garlic were revered even in ancient and medieval times going back 5,000 years or more.

In World War I and World War II it was used as an antiseptic for wounds and given to prevent infections like gangrene.

During the time of the plague in the early 1700s, gravediggers in France are said to have used crushed garlic in their wine to protect themselves from the sickness.

Garlic In Modern Times

If you’re only a believer of what’s been researched by modern science you’ll be happy to know that garlic fits the bill. All you need do is Google and you’ll quickly find information on any specific you’re looking for. If you have problems like ulcers that garlic might irritate, that information is also available.

Garlic falls into the category of one of the few things that’s good for just about everything that ails you.

Where Does Super Market Garlic Come From

More than 50% of garlic consumed in the US comes from China. And yep, what you buy in the grocery store more than likely comes from China. If you want reasons for not buying things produced in that country review this post.

Finding a Source You Can Trust

Even if we grow our own garlic, we can’t always grow enough to get us through the year. Finding a source we can trust can be difficult. is a source you can trust and is certified organic. Their large bulbs of seed garlic are grown specifically to be used as seed to produce healthy, hardy garlic in your garden.

If you don’t have enough garlic from your garden to get you through the year — or if you don’t grow garlic — no problem: has garlic for eating as well as seed garlic.

You can still choose the variety you want. The bulbs are just a bit smaller than bulbs of seed garlic. And there’s a nice savings on the eating garlic.

This small company is a hands-on family operation. Troy, his wife, and 6 kids grow all 20 of the varieties they sell.

The kids are very much involved in the day to day activities of the garlic business as part of their education. As a matter of fact, Troy wrote recently saying the kids handled all the harvesting this year while he was busy with something else.

Lydia and Lorna take a break (last October) from planting to smile at their Dad as he took the picture.

To Be Associated With

As you might recall from past posts, I often get requests from businesses wanting to advertise on TendingMyGarden.  Almost without exception when those businesses are further investigated, I find they don’t share the organic values that I encourage. So, of course, I decline their offers.

You can imagine how delighted I was 5 years ago, after an inquiry by Troy Greenberg about advertising, to find that shared the values TendingMyGarden encourages.

More Than Just an Advertiser

Troy and I correspond off and on throughout the year and we’ve become  good friends.The more I learn about the Troy and his family, the happier I am to have them associated with TMG and to be able to recommend them to you.

I consider them part of the TMG family and appreciate the service and product they offer you, my readers.

Troy took this picture of his daughter and son, Lydia and Elias, last October as they finished packing orders to be shipped the next day.

Final Thoughts

Their continued support (now 5 years) goes a long way towards making it possible for me to continue to give you the help you need to be successful in your garden.

I hope you’ll check out’s offerings. If you decide to order and have a chance to talk to Troy, his wife, or one of the kids, I hope you’ll let  them know how much they’re appreciated.


Related Posts:

Growing Garlic – A Good Reason to Grow Your Own

Garlic – A good Harvest Possible Even With Too Much Rain

Garlic is a Family Affair At the Greenbergs in Wisconsin – Making Memories

Welcoming Back



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Want More Yield from Potatoes?

I’ve covered Green Sprouting as a way to increase potato yields. But if you’re still not satisfied with your yield, knowledge of how different varieties grow and produce could make a difference.

Variety Classification

Varieties are classified as early, mid-season and late growers. But sources don’t always agree on variety classification. Days from planting to harvest might be more useful in choosing which variety to grow.

Days from Planting To Harvest

In general early varieties can be harvested within 60 to 90 days after planting. Those are the ones that delight us with the first new potatoes of the season. And their foliage is usually the first to die back. (Yukon Gold, Chieftain, and Norland are 3 of my early producing varieties. In my garden they produce in about 70 days.)

Late season varieties are those that continue growing for 90 to 120 days.

These are the ones I bring in during late fall for winter eating. I don’t have good conditions for storing potatoes, but I can usually keep late season varieties like Butte, Canela Russet, Red Pontiac and Kennebec looking fresh and perfect for two, sometimes three months.

You’ll find a lot of cross-overs in lists of midseason potatoes. Kennebec and Red Pontiac are listed as midseason by some sources and late season by others. Chieftain is sometimes listed as early; sometimes  midseason.

If I wanted to pick a midseason variety, I’d go with a variety that produced in 75 to 90 days from planting.

Different Growth Characteristics – Determinate and Indeterminate

Early varieties grow differently than late varieties.

Early varieties are considered determinates. For potatoes that means they grow in a layer, just above where the seed was planted. They’re finished after they produce that layer of spuds.

Late varieties are considered indeterminate and produce more. Potatoes are grown in multiple layers over a longer growing period.

Fingerlings might be the exception as I’ve read they’re determinate no matter how many days it takes them to mature. Wish I had known that many years ago when I grew fingerlings. Never felt their harvest was worth the garden space.

Keeping it Simple

You can find all kinds of conflicting information on how to grow determinate and indeterminate potatoes. But the basic information you need to be successful, I’ve given you here.

I like to keep things simple and easy.

All my potatoes ( determinate and indeterminate) are planted 6 to 8 inches down. I cover with a thick layer of straw.

When they start growing I add more straw.

As potato vines start to spread apart and lay down, I look for exposed potatoes and cover them with more straw. (Otherwise they’ll turn green from the light)

Final Thoughts

The variety of potato you choose can make a big difference in your yield. So can Green Sprouting.

But as always, your success with any vegetable will depend mainly on your soil.


Suggested Reading:

Potatoes – Green Sprouting – Advice from A Leading US Grower

Growing Potatoes – It’s Hard to Mess Up


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3 Tips – Potatoes, Lettuce, Tomato Hornworm and a personal note

Yes, I’m still in the kitchen floor, but getting better everyday. As you may have already imagined, my heart is out in the garden.

A reader wrote to me not long ago and said that the Secrets to Seed Starting Success PDF was filled with such “common sense” suggestions that she couldn’t believe she’d not already thought of them.

If we live and garden long enough most of these simple little tips will occur to us sooner or later. But the sooner we have them in our arsenal of tools for success, the easier things get.

Here are 3 tips to add to your list if you don’t already know them:

Potatoes – A Harvest Tip

If soil is heavy, has poor drainage, or is not yet improved,  potatoes left in the water logged ground can rot.

But if you have good drainage and your soil is moist during heavy rains but not soggy, your potatoes should be fine even left in the ground long after they’re finished.

So if you have reasons you don’t want to harvest all your potatoes at one time, you don’t have to.

I usually harvest enough for a few meals each time I harvest, beginning in May or June through our first frost long about November. They do well in the driest of summers and even during unusual torrential ongoing rains.

As long as you have potatoes covered well with mulch (straw, pine, leaves, etc) so they won’t be exposed to sunlight and turn green, they’ll keep nicely in the ground until the first frost.

Once exposed to freezing temperatures (or frost) they change composition and don’t taste as good.

Some varieties produce only at the level just above where they’re planted. A few of the tubers produced will show above ground when the vines start to die back.  Seeing that, I bring in straw and cover them. That fixes that.

Lettuce – Want It Well into The Heat of Summer?

If you love lettuce like I do, you’ll want it fresh from the garden as long as possible. And you can have it, provided you don’t stop planting with just one or two plantings in the spring.

My winter lettuces produce bountifully in late winter and early spring. This gives me plenty of time to start seed and transplant lettuce for the summer months.

From April to the first of June, I planted 4 times. Each planting was about 20 days apart.

Here it is mid-July. We’ve had many hot and humid days in the 90s.

The last two plantings (Sierra Batavia and Aerostar) are still producing crisp and delicious lettuce. The first two spring plantings are setting seed. (As you know I can’t walk yet, but Lisa gives me the scoop on what’s happening in the garden each day.)


These pests blend so nicely with tomato foliage they can be hard to find even when you’re looking right at them.

If you see damage (stems totally stripped of leaves) and still can’t see the worm, cut the damaged stems away. Come back later with a fresh eye and you’ll probably see it.

And just a reminder: If you see one colonized with the cocoons of the Braconid Wasp — leave him be. He’s paralyzed already and won’t do anymore harm. The young wasp will emerge and help you keep these pests in check in the future.

Final Thoughts of a Personal Nature

I want to thank you for the loving comments left to my post telling about my most recent challenge.  They were so encouraging to me.

I’m almost finished answering each message individually via email.  So, if you haven’t received a personal email from me, you will soon.

As I’ve told you many times, you are the most wonderful friends and readers in the world and there are none finer.   Thank you for your encouragement and caring.  I’m so grateful for having you in my life.

All my best and warmest wishes,



Related Posts:

Discrepancies in IDs – Hornworms – eggs or cocoons.

Lettuce Making Sure You Have Enough for Fall, Winter and Next Spring


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Meeting Another Challenge

Change, heartbreak, hardship and other adversities can enable us to grow and become greater than we are. But they’re seldom welcomed with open arms.

If you’re like me it’ll take time and a lot of mental effort to turn those conditions into something that adds value rather than ruination to life.

I’ve fallen far short of my goals in the past four years. Bill being sick, his death, and dealing with ongoing grief have taken their toll.

Nonetheless my goals remain fixed. And one that is primary is to find ways to help you even more in your garden and your life.

It may be a longer journey than I anticipated, so I hope you will be patient and stay on the path with me until the very end.

Most Recent Challenge

I’m writing this post from my kitchen floor where I’ve been for the past two weeks after taking a bad fall by my garden.

After I fell I dragged myself across the yard to the drive way. My new neighbor found a thin piece of ply wood. As I held on she dragged me the rest of the way across the drive and the cement walk to my back steps. We spent the entire night outside until I could decide how I wanted to proceed.

I’d always wanted to spend the night under the stars, just not under those conditions. Nonetheless, the night was lovely and it is a night neither of us will ever forget.

At 6:30 AM I was moved into the house to my kitchen floor.

A Debt That Can Never Be Repaid

I called my friend Lisa to let her know I’d fallen. Although I didn’t ask or anticipate her coming over, she arrived shortly after with all kinds of healing herbs and tonics and food that she knew I might eat.

My neighbor and Lisa took care of me most of the day.

The next day my neighbor’s husband custom built a small frame around me to keep me in one place.

My neighbor comes every morning to give me the nutrients I need to speed healing and anything else that I need to get through the day. She returns last thing in the evening for a final check.

As busy as Lisa and her husband have been on the farm she has still been here everyday. Her husband was also ready to come to my aid, but I’m not presentable for male company.  He’s had to take up the slack for Lisa spending time helping me and that’s been difficult enough.

In addition to fixing the one meal that I eat each day, Lisa harvested my onion crop, saving it from ruin. The list of what she’s done is far too long for this post.

I owe a great debt to these two women and their husbands for helping me at a time I needed it the most. It would be impossible to repay.

Computer is Difficult

I’ve only be able to use the computer for about three days. Still difficult lying almost flat on my back, being only slightly raised.

I’m gaining more movement everyday and healing nicely. Pain free about 98% of the time.

Walking Towards the Desired Outcome

As at any time in our lives the future is not sure. But as Bill and I have always done, I will continue to “walk” in the direction of the outcome I want.

Final Thoughts

Thank you for taking time to read this. I wanted you to know that you are always in my thoughts. If you need help, please feel free to email me as always.


Bagged Manure – Is it Organic?

I’m helping a reader, Becky, from South Carolina with some problems she’s having getting plants to grow and flourish in her “enclosed” raised beds.

I feel confident that one of her problems is experienced by many gardeners who want to be organic.

Marketing today can easily deceive us into buying products that may give indication they’re for use in organic gardens, but they’re not.

Becky uses the brand Black Kow® “composted cow manure”. But there are probably many more brands that use the same approach to sell their products for use in organic gardens.

Is It Suitable For Use in Organic Gardens?

If you go to a brand’s website or look at their product bag and don’t see the USDA/organic (certified organic by the US Department of Agriculture) label anywhere, it’s not suitable for use in organic gardens.

And although that label is decreasing in its legitimacy due to pressure by big corporations – it’s the best national label we have to go by right now for packaged products. We have to educate ourselves to be sure we get what we think we’re getting.

The Word organic

The definition for the word “organic” is: relating to or derived from living matter.

Various companies legally use the word organic, which may imply to the unknowing reader, that the product is organic (meaning for use in organic gardens) when it’s not.

You’ll see wording such as:

  • all-natural organic way to improve native soils
  • (brand name) is an organic soil amendment

Also, the things accomplished by adding organic materials to the soil (such as helps moisture holding capacity, etc.) may be touted as something that comes as a result of using their product. (And that may or may not be true.)

These bagged manures (that are not USDA certified organic) in all probability come from feedlot operations, where it is common to have a 1000 or more animals confined. These are the only places they can get the volume of manure they need to sell nationwide.

In some states the confined feedlot operations have even caused problems with property devaluation because of the smell that lingers in the air for miles from these huge mountains of manure that for the most part are too much to get rid of.  There have even been human health issues from living too close to these feedlot areas.

In addition, antibiotics that are given to cattle conventionally raised, end up in the manure.  They’re not always rendered harmless by composting.

The Way Cattle Were Raised for Thousands of Years

For thousands of years cattle were raised on their mother’s milk. As they aged they’d graze most of the year and then winter on hay.

The Unthinkable

Then the unthinkable happened. Cattlemen found that adding protein to feed would fatten out the cattle more quickly. Feeding the cattle rendered animal parts (see below) was promoted as the new modern way.

Rendered animal parts: feathers, poultry feces, cow blood, parts of pigs, horses, fish, cattle and other animal parts not fit for humans.

It’s amazing to me that cannibalizing cattle, who are constructed perfectly for eating plants, would be considered “ok” by any sane person.

A Smack on the Hand After The Mad Cow Outbreak

After the outbreak of mad cow disease some time back, the government supposedly banned some of this perversion in order to “protect” the public from mad cow disease. But from everything I’ve been able to find, much of it is still considered “ok”.

Even after composting, I would not want to use manure from any of these conventionally raised animals. And  I definitely would not want to eat any part of these cannibalized animals.

Find Good Manure if You Can

If you can find manure that you know is good AND know how to use it – it’ll be fine for your organic garden.

Do You Need Manure for Success?

If you can’t, it’s really not a problem. You don’t have to use manure to be successful in your garden.
I’ve addressed that in many posts.

Fall leaves are one of the finest amendments you’ll ever find for your organic garden.

Final Thoughts

All of us can be fooled by today’s marketing. It takes some thought and a bit of knowledge to make sure you’re getting what you want.


Related Posts – Suggested Reading:

Information to think on before you purchase food, hydroponics, afo/cafo meats, vitamins and grains for you animals that you might think is organic.

Manures – Good or Bad for the Organic Garden?

Soil Fertility – Without Manure or Compost


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Making a Difference with Your Kids and A Reader’s Story

I wrote a post in January of 2011 that is even more relevant today than it was then, since it tells of how the basics of human existence have escaped most in our society. (And I don’t think “most” is an exaggeration.)

The majority seem clueless about where food comes from and don’t really see a need to know.

The very sustenance of life (our food) has been entrusted by most to that “unseen” someone. And the belief that “they (whoever they might be) would not sell it if it were bad for you” is very widespread.

This lack of education in the basics has been going on for decades and as you might imagine, it’s not uncommon for kids to know nothing about gardening or growing food.

Who Makes the Most Difference?

Bill and I worked with and loved more than 50 kids over a 30 year period. Those kids now range in ages from 20 to 50! Unbelievable!

In spite of the love, time spent, and our best efforts we were able to influence only for that short time. Hopefully, they still carry with them some of what we said and did that will make a positive difference as they go through life.

But the bottom line is: parents have the most influence. And that’s just the way it is.

I’d guess that grandparents are next in line after parents and then aunts and uncles.

Including your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc. in the processes of growing food and fixing food is the kind of teaching that will enable them to make better choices as adults.

Jack’s Story Proves the Point

A Teacher’s 1/2 Hour Lesson on Gardening from a 6 Year Old

Through the years, Bill and I enjoyed many wonderful stories and pictures from friend and reader, Jack, telling various stories about his granddaughters. Some I’ve shared with you. Long time readers will recall the delightful 24 second video of then 18 month old, Ellie, checking over the broccoli in Jack’s garden. A priceless video!

Ellie, now about 6 years old, and her younger sister (2 years old) spend as much time as possible with Jack. Both girls are right at home in Grandpop ’s garden.

Recently Jack shared another great Ellie-story.

He wrote:

“At school, as her class was going out for morning recess, her teacher asked for 2 volunteers to plant some flowers in raised beds along the sidewalk to the front door. Of course Ellie stuck her hand up.

They took the plants out and as the teacher was giving instructions how to plant them Ellie listened, then advised the teacher that they first needed to get all of the weeds out first. (He wasn’t going to bother).

As they were getting ready to plant she explained how she and Grandpop plant things and told him of ALL of the different vegetables and fruits I grow here.

She went on to explain that the weeds, if left, would fight for the nutrients in the ground and the plants might not do so good because they wouldn’t get as much energy from the soil.

She asked him how big the plants would get when they were full grown, but he didn’t know so she gave him the spacing speech, explaining that they need space to grow right and couldn’t be planted too close together.

She had his full attention and was on a roll from there when she figured he didn’t have a clue what he was doing…..

And (went on to explain) how I never ever use chemicals, how I mulch the top of the soil with shredded leaves to keep the soil from drying out and to feed the worms etc…

The teacher was so impressed he sent a note home to her parents explaining how knowledgeable she is and about his 1/2 hour lesson on gardening😁😁😁

Does my heart good to see that she has such a grasp on how real food is grown at such a young age. She knows more as a kindergartner than I did when I was 50 years old when I first started learning how to garden organically!”

Final Thoughts

Thanks to Jack for letting me share such a delightful and encouraging story!

If you have a great story about engaging your kids in the garden, please share it with us.


Related Posts:

The Basic Knowledge of Feeding Yourself Well

Gardening with Kids – Workin’ Over the Brocolli

Consider Variables When Determining Spacing Between Plants

Information to Think on Before You Purchase Food, Hydroponics, Afocafo Meats, Vitamins and Grain for Your Animals You Might Think is Organic


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Potato Talk – Varieties/Potato Beetles/Help from Wasps

Potatoes are in more than a dozen spots throughout my garden. The plants are beautiful and looking at them is enjoyable as I check everything each day.

I grow several varieties: Chieftan, Norland, Butte, Yukon Gold, Rose Gold, Kennebec and another russet whose name has been long forgotten.

When Bill was alive more potatoes were needed. Now it’s no longer necessary for me to buy seed potatoes. But I still want (and have) an abundance for eating fresh and also making soup. (For more on how I grow potatoes you might want to check out this post.)

Potato Beetles

Do any of you remember being driven crazy by potatoes beetles? I certainly do. Having to kill hundreds of larvae and/or adult beetles each day is not a fun task.

Or maybe that’s your situation right now. Be encouraged by the fact that as you continue to improve your garden AND if you take a proactive approach, potato beetles will decrease over time and become “comfortably controllable”.

Things in my garden have improved to the point where I have very few potatoes beetles. Found only two  adults in mid May. Found several larvae each day for the past few days. A very insignificant amount considering the number of plants I have all around the garden.

Helping Me with “Search and Destroy”

I see a variety of wasps checking the potato plants each day, although their main focus this year seems to be on my broccoli and cabbage. (Yeh!)

It’s fascinating to stop and watch these wasp take away cabbage worms and/or potato beetle larvae. They take them back to their nest and feed them to the wasp larvae.

Of the many varieties of wasps in the garden, the ones I’m most familiar with are the ones that commonly build their nest under eaves or between my storm window and regular window in the bathroom upstairs. (Not convenient for me at all.)

Will they Sting?

For almost 40 years, hundreds of bees and wasps have patrolled my garden with me.  I’ve brushed against them as I move through the plants. My hands and arms are right next to them on a daily basis.

I’ve never been stung inside the garden. Although I did back into the tiniest bee I’ve ever seen many years ago. That was enough to bring a loud “Ouch!” and the kids that were there at the time thought it was hilarious.

Last year, in pulling up a dead lavender plant in a border that had not had timely attention, what a surprise to have a dozen wasps let me know that I was invading nest-territory. I was stung on the face twice, but it was nothing compared to what they’re capable of. I’d like to think they knew it was me. 🙂 It certainly seemed that way.

The Biggest Mistake Made With “Pest” Insects

I think probably about the biggest mistake gardeners can make with “pest” insects is to ignore them.
If you’re proactive and address the problem when you first notice it and are diligent about “search and destroy” you can keep them under control.

(I made the mistake of ignoring harlequin beetles and the various cabbage worms back in 2012. I swore off growing brassicas for a while after that. Full story here.)

Even though I have next to no problem with potato beetles, I pay attention to the plants as I pass each day — or at least every other day. A few larvae gone unattended can turn into a much greater number within a month.

Do the math:
Each female potato beetle can lay up to 350 eggs over 3 to 5 weeks. Eggs begin to hatch about two weeks or sooner. Larvae can complete development in as little as 10 days; then drop from the plant, burrow into soil and pupate and emerge as an adult in 5 to 10 days.

Handpicking as a Control

As unpleasant a task as handpicking is, it might be the best method of control.  Before deciding that you have too many potatoes for hand control, you might want to review what Jim Gerritsen, one of the foremost potato growers in the United States, had to say about it.

Final Thoughts

Potatoes in bloom.

Some of the early varieties are in bloom. That means new potatoes on my menu soon!

If you’re not growing potatoes, I hope you’ll consider it for next year.  You’ve never really tasted potatoes until you grow your own in great garden soil. Nothing can compare.


Related Posts:

Organic Pest Control – Is It Just About the Soil?

Oil Seed Radish/Brassicas/ And A Bug Story

Potatoes/ Green Sprouting / Advice from A Leading U.S. Grower

Growing Potatoes – Is the Natural Way the Best?

Potato Beetles – Organic Pest Control – Programmed Responses

Growing Potatoes – It’s Hard to Mess Up


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Consider Variables When Determining Spacing Between Plants

One of the things that you don’t see talked about much is the variables involved in determining how much distance you need between your vegetable plants.

I think it’s a safe bet to say that seed packs give spacing based on what’s done (or necessary) in conventional gardening.

Those of us who work with nature have a few more things to consider before we make that final decision.

While it’s true that plants need space to grow, they might not need as much space as you think under the right conditions.

It the soil has been properly loosened to a depth of about 2 feet and the soil life has been provided with compost or other organic materials to feed on, your garden can easily thrive with intensive (closer) planting.

Deeply prepared soil allows roots to go down rather than having to spread out to the side where neighboring plants reside.

And the great news is — deep preparation need only be done once: when you establish your permanent beds. Soil compaction won’t be an issue anymore since you’ll walk on the permanent pathways rather than the beds. And covering the soil will prevent compaction from rain and keep the soil workable.

The result is not only space saving, but time saving.

Take tomatoes for example. The general recommendation for indeterminate tomatoes is 3 to 4 feet apart. I plant them about 1 to 1 1/2 feet apart.

If you think your soil is not quite ready to support close planting, but almost, lay down a layer of compost over the bed before you plant.

Keep in mind as you experiment with intensive planting that some seedlings will be smaller than others and end up not growing as large. If you’ve started enough seed you can just plant the biggest and strongest. If not, go ahead and plant them all if you want, but just keep in mind that there’s always the stronger and the weaker. That’s the seed, not your soil.

If you already have the 3 keys working in your garden, you might want to give closer planting a try.

Here are some pictures from my May garden.

Broccoli plants


New spring lettuces on May 15th. Two weeks later (today) and these plants are huge! More than doubled in that short time in spite of my harvesting daily.


Young cabbages


Young cabbage plants. Three rows show in this picture. To the left are peas and a stray potato. The bed to the right is potatoes.  The pink with the cabbage is oenothera. The little white flower at the top with the cabbage is cilantro blooming.


Related Posts:

A Read Writes: Everyone is Amazed at my Garden

3 Books that Can Change Your Garden, Your Health, and The Way You Look at Life


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Assumptions/Watering/Onions and Most other Vegetables/3 keys

Since I first started in 2010, one of the things that I’ve found to be strong within gardeners is the urge to water.

The urge is so strong that unless someone literally has no way of watering (other than maybe hauling an occasional watering can to a plant – like my situation) they never really know what the plants will or can do.

In this age of marketing, we’ve been programmed to think we have to water in order to garden.

And it’s easy to make wrong assumptions based on what you see taking place, but not really knowing all the variables involved.

Here’s an example of what I mean:

A friend who lives about a mile from me visited yesterday. We walked through the garden and talked about how the almanac called for more dry weather in this area.

A few days ago, even though she uses mulch, my friend felt it necessary to water her onions and some other vegetables in the garden. They really perked up and seemed to “grow” a bit over night. Of course she attributed that to the watering.

As we continued our conversation, it turns out that the same time her onions perked up overnight, was exactly the same time mine perked up and also seemed to grow some. Except mine were not watered. (I’ve not watered onions EVER in the almost 40 years I’ve been growing them.)

Nothing Wrong with Watering especially if –

  • you have good water,
  • the means to water at ground level and water deeply,
  • and water only when needed.

The “when needed” part is probably where most gardeners miss the mark.

If you’re gardening with nature and using the 3 keys (deep soil preparation, adding organic matter/materials, covering the soil) in almost all cases it will be very seldom, if ever, that you need to water.

I’m living proof that’s true. But there’s plenty of documented proof as well.

Here are a few facts that I covered in a previous post:

  • Working with nature (using the 3 keys) will allow you to garden with 67% to 88% LESS water.
  • Only 20 inches of rain per year can produce the “best yields in the world” when working with nature.
  • Soil that has been deeply prepared will have the capacity to hold 25% of its volume in water. For example: 24 inches of deeply prepared soil can hold 6 inches of water.
  • Covering your soil (shading your soil) reduces evaporation by 13 to 63%.
  • Once your soil is improved to have the right nutrients, plants transpire (give off) 10 to 75% LESS water.
  • Having only 2% organic matter will reduce the water needs of plants by 75%!

For example: if the soil has 1/2% organic matter a plant may use 200 gallons of water. At 1% organic matter it would need 150 gallons of water. But at 2% organic matter the plant would need about 50 gallons, which is 75% less than the 200 gallons.

Final Thought

If we’re working in harmony with nature,  the water needed to grow a pound of food is reduced to about 3% of what is normally required (in conventional gardening/farming). That being the case, the vast majority would never really need to water.


Suggested Reading:

3 Keys to Successful Gardening – More Proof They Work

Needs One Inch of Rain a Week. Oh Yeah?

Watering. It’s Overrated.


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