Gardens

I’ll admit it right up front. I’ve never grown amaranth. But I’m going to consider it for next year (and no, it’s not too early to start planning next year’s garden). Why? We’ve always been interested in growing grains as part of a desire for self-sufficiency. And then we’ve been learning about what a nutritional
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Friends that read this blog are always anxious to offer criticism, point out mistakes, and otherwise find things I’ve said that just might not be true in every case. Rather than get all defensive, we’ve learned to engage our fact-checkers, address the questions and, more often than not, learn something in the process. So when
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Sunlight: Full sun to partial shadeMaturity: 60-75 days from transplant, 90-120 days from seedHeight: 12 to 48 inchesSpacing: 2 to 3 feet apart, 3 to 6 feet between rows Native to the Mediterranean and favored by many home gardeners, growing rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is popular for its many culinary qualities. The aromatic and pungent leaves may be used fresh or dried and are traditionally paired
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In a practice — raising one’s own food — that’s full of satisfying activity, there’s little as satisfying as planting fruit trees. Fruit trees planted this season will, in a few years, provide us a lifetime of nourishing harvests, harvests that we will enjoy with our children, harvest that, with the right care of our
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As a kid, your friendly Planet Natural Blogger was thought weird because he would eat the parsley garnish that came on his plate when we made those infrequent trips to the restaurant. I enjoyed my weird characterization so much that not only would I eat my garnish but would collect and eat everyone else’s parsley as
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Do you have your tomato starts planted? If you need motivation, here’s the latest. A study published last month in PLOS One, the international, peer-reviewed, open-access scientific journal, showed what a lot of us always suspected: organic tomatoes are more nutritious than conventionally grown tomatoes. You can read the study here. Don’t let its title — “The
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Plants are diverse living organisms that can be found from your backyard to all over the world. Archaeologists have even discovered fossils of plants! While some plants produce pretty flowers or delicious fruits or vegetables, other types of plants serve as food for animals or even as their shelter. Today some plant experts suggest that
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With apologies to turkeys everywhere… what says Thanksgiving more than a beautiful centerpiece of ornamental gourds? Gourds have become such a symbol of the late fall season that one of our favorite literary magazines has done a tongue-in-cheek essay about such displays (sorry, no link; too much profanity and, well, this is a family blog).
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We’ve previously addressed the controversy over genetically modified apples being developed, not by Monsanto, but by a specialty Northwest grower. The apples have been engineered to resist browning and bruising, making them more suitable, it’s claimed, to being served as slices. Surprisingly, a number of established apple growers have questioned the need for the GMO
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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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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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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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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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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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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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