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

Organic Gardening Magazine, Universal Principles, & Helping Yourself

Organic Gardening Magazine

I’ve been reading Organic Gardening magazine for 32 years.  J.I. Rodale started that magazine in 1942.  It was known then as Organic Farming and Gardening magazine.

It’s not the same today by any means, but it is still considered a trusted source of information for those of us who want to educate ourselves and improve our lives and possibly the world around us.

Education is part of the key, which is why I have always found it necessary to read Organic Gardening magazine.  Unlike years ago, I find things in it from time to time that I feel are not correct, but to my knowledge there is no other source where one can obtain the information that they offer all in one place.

(Update 2013 – After all these years I cancelled my subscription to Organic Gardening Magazine.  Nothing last forever — and the Organic Gardening Magazine that I knew, loved and depended on is no longer.)

Mission to Inspire and Instill a “Can Do” Attitude

My mission in creating this website is similar to Rodale, Inc.’s mission. I too strive to inspire and instill a “can do” attitude so that readers can take a more active role in maintaining good health and a good life for themselves and their families.

It is amazing how little the vast majority of people seem to understand when it comes to —–read more—-

Fresh Tomatoes Elevated to Gourmet Status

Also included: Why an organic gardener’s tomatoes are better and what Organic Gardening Magazine didn’t tell you about oils.

In spite of the drought and also getting a late start with tomatoes this year, we are enjoying an adequate but not abundant amount.

Recently we had special guests come for dinner. To start off with I used a cucumber and tomato as part of my appetizer dish and our guests just raved about the flavor of both. They told me the tomatoes and cucumbers  they had been getting from farm stands had absolutely no flavor and they had been unable to eat them.  They wanted to know why mine were so good. I feel sure the answer would be obvious to almost any organic gardener.

We’ve had severe drought which has effected even organic growers, but I’m sure it is much worse for conventional gardeners and farmers.  Their fields are bare ground. No organic matter to speak of to feed a plant. Chemicals are used to force the ground to produce something. And drought to top it off.  Is it any surprise that their vegetables are dry and have no taste?

As you can tell by the conversation with my guests, my tomatoes were already a hit to begin with, but I wanted to elevate them to gourmet status for the salad course of the meal.  The recipe I am going to give you is so simple and so easy that you probably won’t believe how delicious it is until you try it yourself.

A couple more comments about the ingredients —–read more—-

How Is Your Garden in This Drought?

My guess is if you’re a bare ground gardener you’re not doing well at all.  If you mulch I would imagine you’re still having some difficulties, although you’ve probably made it through a lot better than conventional gardeners.

Even if you’re set up to water, it’s not the same as rain to plants. I don’t water, but when I thought I was going to lose my cucumbers and squash for sure, I hauled several gallons of water to them (twice) to try to get them through.   Fortunately – we had just enough rain last week to help them make a recovery.

The picture below is what you see as you walk into my garden. The cucumber is growing into my asparagus.  Tomatoes are to the left and right. (Summer poinsettia at bottom left corner of picture reseeds in my garden every year.  It’s so lovely I would hate to pull it all up.) This was taken yesterday, July 21, 2010.

Here’s how the same cucumbers  have been —–read more—-

Why Mulch Your Garden Paths?

This post was inspired by a reader of my site who has recently invested some time in preparing a new garden bed.  Her sister-in-law is doing the same and they had a question regarding a recommendation I made in the second part of the post Soil Preparation – 1st Key to Soil Improvement.

In preparing a new bed I advised adding about 3 feet to each side of the area designated for the bed and dig that at the same time you dig the bed.  The soil from the path area would be thrown up on the bed leaving the paths much lower than the bed.  I then recommended mulching the paths as well as the bed.

(Picture below shows my new roll of straw.  I try to keep one on hand all the time.)

My reader writes:
“My sister-in law was wondering —and I got stumped a bit— as to why it is important to mulch the paths.  ———I guessed that since you use the path dirt to raise the bed, old weed seeds get exposed.  Mulching the paths helps keep the weeds down and keeps them from seeding into your beds.—”

She’s correct of course.  When you dig up ground —– buried weed seeds are exposed and therefore can germinate. Mulching the paths keeps the weeds down and/or controllable.

The nearer weeds grow to your garden beds the greater the chance they’ll re-seed in your bed.  Even if you’re diligent in removing them ——life is life —–and in all probability sooner or later you are going to have some weeds grow and go to seed in your beds.  Much less chance of this happening with mulch on the paths.

There are other important reasons to mulch —–read more—-

Roses & Tomatoes ----& Cats?

From time to time as a summer progresses blackspot may show up on my roses. When it does  – if it’s a bad case – I usually just cut back the bush and get rid of the parts with black spot.

I only have 3 bushes, but after Mrs. Hundley’s 7 guest posts on Tending My Garden in May,  I have plans to add 3 more floribundas.  (You will recall that Mrs. Hundley is an ARS Consulting Rosarian, a Master Rosarian and an ARS Horticulture Judge.)

Anyway — I was going through a little booklet today published in 1976 entitled Hints for the Vegetable Gardener. Over the years I’ve used a lot of information from this book.  Today I noticed their tip about blackspot on roses and it was just too good —–read more—-

Last Part - Adding Organic Matter - 2nd Key to Soil Improvement

If you are just joining me I recommend you read the articles that preceded this article. Here are the links:

Soil Improvement – Your Foundation for Success;   Soil Preparation – 1st Key to Soil Improvement; Cont’d. Soil Preparation – 1st Key to Soil Improvement; first part of Adding Organic Matter – 2nd Key to Soil Improvement; Cont’d Adding Organic Matter – 2nd Key to Soil Improvement

Compost

Many organic gardeners compost. In case you don’t know, ‘to compost’ is to pile up organic material and allow it to totally decay.  There’s more to it than that —-but you get the idea.  The finished product — called compost — can be added to the soil at any time for the purpose of improving the physical condition of the soil and feeding plants.

When I first started gardening I started composting.  I did so for 10 years or more.  I never had enough.  I stopped composting.

I changed to incorporating —–read more—-

Cont'd - Adding Organic Matter - 2nd Key to Soil Improvement

If you are just joining me I recommend you read the articles that preceded this article. Here are the links:

Soil Improvement – Your Foundation for Success;   Soil Preparation – 1st Key to Soil Improvement; Cont’d. Soil Preparation – 1st Key to Soil Improvementfirst part of Adding Organic Matter – 2nd Key to Soil Improvement

Repeated Tilling and Hoeing -Their Effect on Organic Matter

One of the things that I’ll bet will come as a shocker to many is the fact that repeated tilling and hoeing destroy organic matter in the soil.  Tilling and hoeing are so common and so much a part of human culture worldwide that it’s almost sad to have to think of them as being something that is not particularly good for our soil.  The good news is —-the key word here is ‘repeated‘.

Tilling and hoeing expose soil organic matter to more oxygen and thus oxidation. Oxidation “burns” away the organic matter.

Your plants need —–read more—-

Adding Organic Matter - 2nd Key to Soil Improvement

If you are just joining me I recommend you read the articles that preceded this article. Here are the links:

Soil Improvement – Your Foundation for Success; Soil Preparation – 1st Key to Soil Improvement;   Cont’d. Soil Preparation – 1st Key to Soil Improvement

Part 3 –

Organic matter is anything in the soil that was living and has decayed.

This act of increasing organic matter in your soil by adding organic material will be of great significance and value to your garden.  It will have a profound effect on your garden’s success and the survival and well-being of your crops.

The study of soil has been extensive and the knowledge that organic matter is necessary to raise crops successfully is widely available. Yet, worldwide crop production has resulted in a decline in soil organic matter and thus, a decline in soil fertility.

The chemical companies great —–read more—-

Cont'd.- Soil Preparation - 1st Key to Soil Improvement

If you are just joining me please read Soil Improvement – Your Foundation to Success and the first part of this post, Soil Preparation – 1st Key to Soil Improvement.

Best Time to Prepare Your Soil

The best time is either spring or fall.  The main thing you want to try to avoid is hot, dry-as-a-bone ground and extremely hot temperatures. Try to work in soil that is neither too wet nor too dry.  It’s best to work when temperatures are pleasant — best for your body, best for your mental outlook, and best for your soil.

Never till wet soil because it will cause heavy clodding and the layer beneath will become further compacted.

Before You Begin

If you’ve done any —–read more—-

Soil Preparation - 1st Key to Soil Improvement

If you are just joining me, please read Part 1 – Soil Improvement – Your Foundation for Success.

Part 2

Fundamental Step

Preparing your soil is the first fundamental step when you start a garden. Without preparing your soil you are pretty much wasting a lot of time and energy. And you are making it harder, if not impossible, to be successful.

What Soil Preparation Does

Soil Preparation is your first step in creating the most productive garden possible. It helps improve —–read more—-