Autumn Leaves into Cold Compost

  • Post published:October 30, 2016

Autumn leaves are falling. It is time to turn those leaves into ‘black gold’ known as cold compost, and improving our soil. It was not very long into my Heath gardening career that I met Larry Lightner of Northfield. By the time I met him he was retired from the Mt.Hermon school where he had worked with students to create and maintain some of the school gardens. He still had his own productive gardens and had produce to…

Time to Compost – Harvest the Biomass on the Ground

  • Post published:November 24, 2015

As far as I am concerned the leaves that fall in the fall tra-la are as welcome as the flowers that bloom in the spring. When I lived high on a windy hill in Heath all the leaves blew away. I helped a neighbor rake leaves, and took them away to my compost pile. I loved picking up a few bags of leaves that people left in front of their houses when I came into Greenfield to shop.…

School Gardens – Innovation and Discovery School

  • Post published:November 2, 2014

  When I arrived last Thursday afternoon the scene at the school gardens of the  Discovery School at Four Corners were enjoying controlled chaos. Several teachers were staying after school to divide and pot up perennials from the butterfly garden. “Is this Echinacea or a rudbeckia?” one teacher asked and her spade bit into the center of the clump. “Don’t pot the dill! It an annual,” another shouted. “Are you sure these are all bee balm?” another asked…

Dear Friend and Gardener – July 17, 2014

  • Post published:July 17, 2014

Dear Friend and Gardener: Where do I begin? With these new bean rows that I put in early this morning? Contender bush beans that promise to be ready for harvest in 50 days, on August 31?  We'll see.  But, they should be bearing well before frost. The rest of this bed separated by a pile of mulch, and two hills of Lakota squash which are coming along very slowly. We have had fairly good rainfall, but we have…

Forbes Library Garden Tour June 14 in Northampton

  • Post published:June 13, 2014

Time for the Forbes Library Garden Tour June 14 10 am - 3 pm. The time comes for many of us gardeners when we think we cannot carry on with our gardens, or houses, as they are. We are older, the children have gone, and we are not quite so energetic or willing to toil for hours in the summer sun over our weeds and slugs. The time comes to think about a smaller house and a smaller…

Garden Planning II – What Does the Garden Need?

  • Post published:January 19, 2014

               For me garden planning is difficult because I am always rushing about with a new idea for a new project. Things work out in the end, but I understand the unfettered enthusiasm that a new gardener, or a gardener with a new space, feels as she looks out at that space. However, I know that the best way forward is to move thoughtfully, and maybe with a pad and pencil in hand.             First, inventory your…

Life Under Our Feet – and Fruit Over Our Heads

  • Post published:May 13, 2013

There is life under our feet. I have talked about living soil from time to time, but in his New York Times essay yesterday  Jim Robbins says that "One-third of living organisims live in  soil. But we know littel about them." Well, of course I know about worms and  bugs and the mycellium that I can see, and I know the soil is full of microbes, but to think that one-third of ALL living organisims live in the soil…

F is for Fertilizer on the A to Z Blogger Challenge

  • Post published:April 6, 2013

F is for Fertilizer  on the A to Z Blogger Challenge - and Fertilizer means another three more letters, N-P-K. If you look at bags or bottles of fertilizer you will see three numbers on the label, like 5-10-5.  This is a statement about the ratio of the three major nutrients that plants need. N is for Nitrogen, P is for Phosphorus and K is for Potash (otherwise known as Potassium). Each of these elements is important for different…

Compost: Feeds the Soil and the Oppossum

  • Post published:January 22, 2013

This opossum has been a regular evening visit to our  compost pile. I don't think it is heating up at this time of the year but at least s/he is loading up on nutrituous peels. ADDENDUM - I had forgotten that oppossums are Marsupials - just like kangaroos. Only smaller, of course. Lots of fascinating information about oppossums here from the National Oppossum Society.

Green Manure, Winter Wheat and Turnips

  • Post published:September 8, 2012

Green manure is a crop that is planted in the fall; its purpose is to improve soil fertility and tilth in the spring. I have just seeded a fall green manure mix from Johnny’s Selected Seeds in three of my newly weeded and watered (thanks to the rain) garden beds. This mix contains annual seeds like crimson clover, annual rye grass and yellow peas, as well as winter rye and hairy vetch that will go dormant but begin…