Tips and Resources for Your Hardiness Zone

Find Tips and Resources for Your Hardiness Zone, although with information on first and last frost dates for your area so that you know when to plant.

What’s a hardiness zone and how do I find mine?

The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which gardeners can determine which plants are most likely to thrive in their location. The map divides the United States and Canada into zones based on the average annual minimum temperature for that area.

This information is particularly useful when purchasing seeds, plants or trees for your garden. Each plant will bear a tag indicating the zones in which it will best grow. Trying to grow plants that are not suited for your zone will generally result in weak growth, disease, and even complete failure.

There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. Permaculturist Sepp Holzer, for example, has created microclimates on his farm that literally change the hardiness zone allowing him to grow lemons in an alpine climate. It’s exciting and encouraging to know such work is being done, but beyond the scope of this post. We’ll stick to the basics here.Continue Reading

The Easiest Way to Pick Up Fall Leaves

Are you killing yourself raking those leaves? Here's the easiest way to pick up fall leaves!

Picking Up Fall Leaves Can Be Quite a Chore

Fall is really beautiful, but do you ever find yourself groaning when it comes time to pick up those leaves? Raking has to be one of the worst tasks around, and for some reason, it’s a killer on my back.

There are some tools out there designed to make your job easier, but I’m not sure they’re necessary. We’ve never had a leaf blower, but when I watch people using them to pick up fall leaves, they really don’t look all that easy. The leaves still end up blowing all round the yard and they are still whole, making them a less valuable commodity, at least in my eyes.Continue Reading

Experimenting with a Cover Crop in a No-Dig Garden

In a garden building healthy soil is vital. It's recommended that cover crops be dug into the soil but I'm experimenting with using them in a no-dig garden.

Why I Haven’t Used Cover Crops in the Past

One of the most important things to me as an organic gardener is to build healthy soil, so that I can have healthy, nutrient-dense produce. I’ve found that a great way to do that is by building no-dig, lasagna style garden beds.

Cover crops have interested me because of their ability to revitalize soil, but I’ve never actually planted a cover crop because of the recommendation to till them under in the spring. I’m pretty adamant about not wanting to till my garden – here’s why.Continue Reading

July’s Garden

Sometimes you think there won’t be a garden. Winter wouldn’t end this year. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve planted and re-planted beans and cucumbers and carrots and chard because of those blasted critters. And then it happens . . . Horseradish - In the garden

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Preventing Late Blight in Tomatoes

Organic prevention of late blight in tomatoes

What is late blight?

The weather here in NEPA has been cooler than normal. Instead of the hazy-hot-and-humid-chance-of-an-afternoon-thunderstorm weather typical for July, we’ve had mild days with cool nights great for sleeping, along with a fair share of rain. And that’s the perfect prescription for the spread of the the pathogen Phytophthora infestans, better known as late blight.Continue Reading