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June 1, 2018

I really dig seed-starting. I take early plant development very seriously. First I'll tell you how I do it, then I'll tell you why I do it that way.

All of my seeds are started in Pro-Mix BX potting medium and supplemented with vermicompost. I use a 4:1 ratio of the two.

Let me start by stating that I am not compensated by the Pro-Mix people nor do I work in a gardening center. I just like the product because it works well for me. Its ingredients are Canadian sphagnum peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, calcitic and dolomitic lime, a wetting agent, and mycorrhizae (that's the most important part for me!).

What is mycorrhizae? It's a fungus that forms a symbiotic relationship with the roots of your plant, effectively extending your plant's access to water and nutrients in exchange for sugars produced by the plant. Almost every species of plant has evolved to take part in this relationship but unfortunately not many people are aware of it. I don't know how many nursery plants are grown in myco...

June 1, 2018

Nanking cherry blooms in February

After a horribly hot February came the horribly cold March and April. Then May gave us half a year's worth of rain in two weeks. Let me tell you what this will do to a garden: wreak havoc.

I think I was the only person in the neighborhood upset about our warm February. My Nanking cherries and peach tree burst into bloom and while they were pretty, I knew it was too soon. Sure enough the deep freezes of March and April left their branches barren. There will be no homegrown cherries or peaches this year from our yard or indeed any yard in our neighborhood.

Thankfully fruit has set on our fig and paw paw trees which set fruit later in the year. Also our wild cherry tree is loaded with small immature cherries that I intend to turn into jelly. Wild cherry sets fruit later than does its domesticated cousins. Are you noticing a pattern here?

So those are the fruits. Now let me tell you about our annual vegetables. April set cold records all month here in Ashevill...

March 14, 2018

The Law of Conservation of Energy states that energy is neither created nor destroyed. It is simply transformed. The truth is that all living beings eventually die and decay. Composting capitalizes on the transformative death/decay process to build soil and plant health.

Seven years ago our little farm began with a compost pile (pictured above). Since then, composting has become one of my favorite activities. How much do I like it? Well, I have two compost piles in the shade garden, a compost tumbler and compost bin in our original garden, a compost bin on the front porch, another one in the greenhouse, and four vermicompost bins in the laundry room. In addition to those, I also compost in place in my garden beds during the winter.

So what is compost exactly and why is it so important? Well, different composts are different things. The vermicompost we make is very different from the compost we make outside. I'll explain more about that later but here's what all compost should have in com...

March 2, 2018

I'm often asked if it's really worth it to work so hard at growing my own food. My immediate response is "Of course it is. Why else would I do it?" But why exactly do I think it's a worthwhile endeavor? After all, I start seeds in February and March for crops that I won't even taste in some cases for months. We're talking about literally spending months tending tomatoes and peppers when it seems much easier to buy them at the grocery store or at the farmer's market.

Or how about the eggs? It takes six months of feeding and watering chickens daily before they lay their first egg. Does it make more sense to buy eggs?

I don't mean to insult anyone but it seems that the people asking these questions generally don't know much about modern agribusiness. Some may be familiar with the importance of buying organic or at least non-GMO food but they generally haven't taken the time to think about soil depletion, nutrient depletion, water pollution, or animal welfare. They haven't examined the risks...

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