Using Wood Chips in a Vegetable Garden

Wondering if using wood chips in your vegetable garden is a good idea? We'll discuss some pros and cons in this post.

Four or five years ago, we had to have a tree in our yard cut down. We asked the arborist to chip the smaller branches, and we used those chips to mulch the paths in our raised bed garden. A year later, we discovered the documentary, Back to Eden, about Paul Gautschi and his method of wood chip gardening.

We were intrigued, and as I looked at the paths in our garden I noticed that as the chips were decomposing, the soil was becoming black and gorgeous. We’ve been mulching our garden with hay, leaves, and grass clippings for many years, but thought that it might be worth experimenting with wood chips. We’ve had some amazing results, as well as some dismal failures. Here’s some of what we’ve learned.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

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

Soil Temperature: The Best Way to Know That It’s Time to Plant

It's spring, but is it time to plant? Using a thermometer to take soil temperature is the best way to know.

It’s spring! But is it time to plant? One of the most accurate ways to determine spring planting time is soil temperature – not air temperature, or even the calendar. Early morning is the best time to monitor your soil’s temperature. The soil may warm later in the day, but you need to know the coldest temperature your seeds will experience. Planting seeds in soil that is too cold will prevent sprouting, and your seeds may rot.Continue Reading