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It’s the time of year when powdery mildew raises in its dusty, unattractive and growth-sapping cloud. It’s the most common and widespread of fungal diseases, attacking both fruit trees, ornamentals and vegetable plants. Controlling it presents special challenges to the organic gardener. And this summer’s weather patterns — warm and dry — tend to favor
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“Flowers are restful to look at. They have neither emotions nor conflicts.” — Sigmund Freud With a porch, a deck, a balcony and a semi-covered patio, I’ve got a lot of good places for raising potted plants. I spent sometime this weekend going through some favorite gardening books, getting ideas and reviewing principles that will
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In Europe, the number of scientists and other experts contesting EU chief science adviser Anne Glover’s statement that genetically modified foods are no less risky than conventional, natural grown foods continues to grow. Over 275 specialists have signed a document that states that GM foods have not been proven safe and that existing research raises
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Sunlight: Full sun to partial shadeMaturity: 70-75 days from transplant, 90-100 days from seedHeight: 12 to 30 inchesSpacing: 18 to 24 inches apart, 2 to 3 feet between rows A member of the mint family, culinary sage (Salvia officinalis) is a highly aromatic herb with a subtle, earthy flavor. It works especially well with meats such as pork, lamb and poultry, and is often
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Nothing causes organic gardeners more worries, and more temptation to resort to harmful sprays and other treatments, than problems with fruit trees. You might disagree — after all, the pest and disease problems we have with our plants depends on what we grow and where we grow it — but anyone that’s had to deal
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When your culinary-conscious and sustainably minded Planet Natural blogger needs seed for cooking, he usually buys them, already dry, from one of our fine herb stores. They’re used to spice-up some homemade dishes, say flavoring some Middle Eastern cooking with the sharp, licorice flavor of anise or adding some zing to a curry with cilantro
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Sunlight: Full sunMaturity: 80-100 days from seed to flowerHeight: 12 to 36 inchesSpacing: 6 to 18 inches apart in all directions Growing snapdragons (Antirrhinum Majus) provides months of color ranging from pale pastels to vibrant reds and oranges. Native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean, they are a favorite flower for cutting and will blossom all winter in warmer climates. In
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Last evening, your friendly and inquisitive Planet Natural Blogger visited a couple of distinguished food writers — they are a couple and have a couple James Beard Awards to their credit — to get their opinions on some local barbecue for a story I’m writing. We ate outdoors in their beautiful patio garden, their chickens
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Considering my outdoor landscape and making some changes wasn’t an official New Year’s resolution of mine. But it’s the one I’ve kept. I’ve thought about outdoor containers for decks, patios and walkways, maybe building an arbor and a trellis or two, and of course, making my lawn more water wise or getting rid of it
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Brussels sprouts have enjoyed a surge in popularity lately. Much of that is due to the fact we’ve realized how good they are for us. Those little miniature cabbages — they are actually quite different from cabbages even though they belong to the same family, the crucifers, as do kale, broccoli, and kohlrabi — are
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What’s there not to like about an organic lawn? It’s relatively cheap. It’s better for the environment and it takes less work than your traditional well-manicured turf. Americans take their lawns seriously. Lawns used to be for the wealthy who hired a staff to maintain the grounds of their estates. Now they are for everyone.
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This is the time of year that strawberries flood our supermarkets, filling us with expectations of fresh juicy fruits and pies. Sadly, a lot of those strawberries are commercial varieties, meant to ship and maintain shelf life. Neither juicy nor full of that good, old-fashioned flavor, they’re seldom good for fresh eating and take more
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The use of natural and organic methods for pest and disease controls on lawns and gardens is time sensitive, more so than using chemical sprays that will persist in the landscape. Whether you’re using beneficial insects to fight off a an aphid infestation, liquid copper to rid your roses of fungus or disease, or applying Bacillus
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Stories about compost possibly contaminated with heavy metals from sewage waste and disastrous herbicides turning up in potting soil aren’t new. In 2010, the University of Maryland Extension put out a “Gardener’s Alert! Beware of Herbicide-Contaminated Compost and Manure.” The Ohio State University Extension put out a fact sheet (PDF) on one persistent pesticide showing up
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No mow lawns are gaining a lot of attention and for good reason. In times of drought and increasing water bills, a water-intensive carpet of grass may not be practical. Some homeowners find raising their own organic vegetables where grass once grew a more effective use of space. Others find lawns just too much work
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Sunlight: Full sun to partial shadeMaturity: 40-60 days from transplant, 90-100 days from seedHeight: 12 to 36 inchesSpacing: 18 to 24 inches apart, 2 to 3 feet between rows Used widely in South America and the Orient, home gardeners started planting stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) when the safety of artificial sweeteners came into question. Stevia leaves are 10-15 times sweeter than refined sugar. Best of all,
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We don’t have to tell you. The news from many parts of the west is all about drought. You can find accounts of what’s being faced, including the potential for cutbacks and rationing, here, here, and here. And the forecast for the coming months doesn’t look good. No matter if you believe that drought is
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We’ve grown herbs in our garden and surrounding landscapes for more years than we remember. Most of them — basil, rosemary, thyme, sage, and the like — were raised for our modest culinary uses. That said, we’ve always grown utility herbs, like mint, that we used in cooking (mint jelly), flavoring (a sprig in iced
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With an apple I will astonish Paris. — Paul Cezanne This time of the year, when cider presses across the country are squeezing day and night, is a good time to consider the bounty of apples we enjoy. We’re not talking about the stacks of Gala and Fuji and Granny Smith that decorate the produce
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Disguised in the cover of a favorite summer time topic — why don’t store-bought tomatoes taste good? — The New York Times has printed a story, “You Call That A Tomato?“, with an accompanying video that frames the movement to label genetically modified food sources in the GMO development’s first failure: the Flavr Savr tomato. Brought
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