5-06-09 The Garden is Alive

In This Issue:

  1. May in the Garden
  2. Composting
  3. Gardenerd Tip of the Month: Beneficial Insectaries
  4. Product of the Month: SALE! Ultimate Garden Bag

1. May in the Garden

What an exciting time in the garden!  Everything is bursting to life.  What might have been idling along during the colder weeks has suddenly kicked into action out there.  Haricot Vert Beans are up, lettuces are showing their colors, and of course the tomatoes are growing taller every day.  The first signs of flowering bring hope that this year’s garden will be the best ever.  I can almost taste those new tomato varieties we planted out this year.

There are flowers on the squash, which means that harvests of yellow crookneck are not far behind.  We’re still enjoying last year’s chard – it just keeps going; while newly planted chard brings up the rear.  We’ve also been harvesting collards, an abundance of strawberries, and even a few asparagus spears (2nd year plants can be harvested for about 2 weeks).  It’s rewarding and rejuvenating in so many ways.

Speaking of rejuvenating, we just returned from co-teaching a 5-day organic gardening workshop at the Esalen Institute.  Wow, wow, wow, what an amazing experience.  The Esalen Farm and Garden is one of the most beautiful places on earth.  The soil is so black it stains your hands.  Shirley Ward, Jamie Self and I spent many hours in the garden with 15 students covering everything from soil preparation to composting to irrigation.  We had guest teachers like Amigo Bob Cantisano – founder of Peaceful Valley Farms – share his wisdom about beneficial insects and plant insectaries (habitat for good bugs).  The workshop was beneficial for all of us, and “filled the well” for me in so many ways.

In this issue you’ll find information that was shared at the Esalen workshop.  I hope it helps bring your garden to life this spring.

Happy Gardening,


2. Composting

While up at Esalen, we had the pleasure of seeing the gigantic composting operation that is responsible for turning all the kitchen and garden waste into black gold for the farm and gardens.  We also had the opportunity to scale it down to home-gardener size.  In about 10 minutes, we fashioned a quick compost bin out of chicken wire and wired baggy ties.  Then we layered in browns and greens, watered the pile and added a little compost to get things started.  Here are a few tips to get your own compost bin started:

1) Save your kitchen scraps – veggie trimmings, unbleached paper towels and napkins, tea bags, coffee grounds and fruit peelings all go in.

2) Remember the rule of 3 – your compost pile or bin needs to be 3 x 3 x 3 in order to have a sizable mass to generate enough heat.  A smaller bin will take much longer to break down – years in fact.

3) Water it – just like your garden, the compost pile needs adequate moisture to keep active.  “Moist like a rung out sponge” is the general rule of thumb.

4) Keep animal products out of the bin –  with the exception of egg shells, most animal products (dairy, meat, bones, etc.) attract unsavory characters to your compost bin.  That said, if you have a huge pile like at Esalen, throw it all in;  the key for large piles is to make sure it gets hot enough (between 120-140 degrees) in order to cook it all down.

5) Educate yourself  – For more information about how to start recycling all your garden and kitchen waste, take the upcoming Composting Workshop on May 30, 2009, 3-5 p.m.  Click here for details and registration.

3. Gardenerd Tip of the Month: Beneficial Insectaries

Amigo Bob spent the afternoon with us at Esalen, divulging the secrets of beneficial insects and insectaries – plants that attract and house beneficial insects.  Here is a quick list of plants that will invite helpful bugs into your garden:

Sweet Alyssum
Umbels (flowers that are shaped like an umbrella) – Yarrow, cilantro, carrots, parsley
Scabiosa (pin cushions)
Herbs – Fennel, dill, chervil
Let your brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage) go to flower at the end of the season  – beneficial insects love them!

4. Product of the Month: SALE!  Ultimate Garden Bag

In the spirit of spring cleaning, organizing and gardening, Gardenerd has launched a sale on the Ultimate Garden Bag.  For the month of May, take $10 off this fantastic garden bag, and sleep soundly knowing that you have all your tools in one place.  Here are some of the great features:

  • 100% hemp and low impact dyed cotton
  • Made locally here in Los Angeles in a sweatshop-free environment
  • 14 pockets for all your gadgets and gizmos
  • Save $10 this month only!

Click here to get your today

Stay tuned for more gardening tips and tidbits from the all-new Gardenerd.com. Happy Spring Gardening!

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