The old kitchen garden, with its neat, straight rows of vegetables, has faced any number of challenges in recent years—raised beds, intensive gardening, square foot gardening, succession planting—all turn their backs on the conventional layout of neat rows of carrots, peas, or potatoes.
Enter polyculture, which turns its back not only on rows, but on the whole idea of a vegetable garden at all. Not that you shouldn’t grow vegetables, but in a polyculture, they’ll be mixed up together, and there may well be herbs and flowers in the mix as well.
David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth have just published What’s Wrong With My Vegetable Garden?: 100% Organic Solutions for All Your Vegetables, from Artichokes to Zucchini. For them, as for many organic gardeners, half the solution lies in prevention, and a key to prevention is polyculture. When they talk about putting the right plant in the right place, they mean not just giving it the soil, light, and water that it needs, but the growing companions as well. Continue reading
The incredible thing about interviewing Judy Owsowitz is how much she knows. This is true of just about everyone I interview, and I always learn something, but in a way it’s more startling when the topic is one that I actually think I know something about, such as starting seeds and caring for the seedlings. Continue reading
Hover mouse over photograph for name and photo credit. Many more photos below!
Four guests, representatives and owners of one organization and three companies that sell heirloom and organic seeds, tell us about a few of their many seeds: new ones, undervalued ones, and personal favorites. But first, I hold forth at greater length than usual about some of the terms that you’ll encounter when perusing catalogs or websites in search of organic and sustainable seeds.
Okay, I have a confession: I am not a seed catalog addict. I do not pour over new arrivals, cultivars, and varieties, or old favorites, tried and true heirlooms, prolific producers, dependable bearers of heavy yields, whatever. Truth to tell, I didn’t really care.
After doing this week’s show, I do.
Permaculture has to be one of the most interesting gardening movements I’ve discovered recently, and I have to thank Jerome Osentowski and Kareen Erbe hugely for letting me interview them about it. The idea of perennial food gardens delights me, and in permaculture that’s just part of the picture: it’s a whole philosophy of living sustainably, and of getting as much of what you need from your own plot of land as possible. I’m all for that, and as I mention part way through—well, both interviews , I think—it’s given me a name for something I’m already trying to do.
I’m honestly not sure what I was up to when I stumbled onto Jerome Osentowski’s Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute, which more or less blew my mind. Four greenhouses, and no power needed from off-site? Figs and passion fruit growing at over 7,000 feet? Hello? Continue reading