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28 May 2018

Q&A with Darrell Frey & Michelle Czolba, authors of The Food Forest Handbook


Darrell Frey is a sustainable community development consultant and permaculture designer with nearly thirty years experience in the field. He is co-author of the Food Forest Handbook and the author of Bioshelter Market Garden: A Permaculture Farm (New Society Publishing 2011)

Michelle Czolba, M.Sc. co-founded the Hazelwood Food Forest and was co-owner of a Pittsburgh-based permaculture design business. She has extensive experience in the design and maintenance of perennial polyculture through personal and professional projects. Her formal training includes biology, chemistry, and herbalism, and she has earned a B.Sc. in Environmental Science and a M.Sc. in Sustainable Systems. After obtaining her Herbal Certification she founded a natural cosmetics company, and developed her own full line of handmade, wildcrafted and organic skin care products. You can find her as part of the team at threesisterspermaculture.com.

In their collaborative effort, “The Food Forest Handbook“, Frey and Czolba offer a practical manual for the design and management of a home-scale perennial polyculture garden complete with simple, straightforward instructions.  Read on to learn more and enter below to win one of three copies from New Society Publishers!


1. The concept of a “food forest” might be new to some. What exactly is it, in a nutshell?

A Food Forest is a perennial garden with up to seven layers of useful plants. Picture an apple tree,with smaller shrubs, such as currants around the edge of the tree’s canopy. Among the shrubs herbs and flowers can be planted.

Plants in the food forest are chosen based on permaculture principles and generally have more than one purpose, for example a plant that is both edible and attracts beneficial insects.

2. Why should we pursue developing a food forest? What are the advantages over other types of gardening?

A food forest is a good way to maximize small spaces. Shade loving plants can be placed on the shady side of the tree and sun loving plants on the sunny side. Instead of a single harvest of fruit from a tree, a perennial polyculture can provide provide a number of crops in the same space. Additionally, food forests include plants that provide for the system itself, such as plants that fix nitrogen, are used for mulch, or attract pollinators.

3. Can those in rural and urban areas alike develop and grow a food forest? Does it require a lot of acreage?

Some people do plant and manage large scale forest gardens, but a food forest design can be as small as a couple hundred square feet.

4. How does your book simplify the design and planning of a food forest?

Our goal was to write a book that takes the reader through a simple step by step process to study their land, make a plan and manage their food forest on a scale that the home gardener can tend to easily. We do not go into excessive details on specific plants to use, rather we wanted to keep it simple and focused on the design process itself.

5. What are some features of your book that readers will find particularly useful and helpful?

The Food Forest Handbook has a main focus on understanding basic permaculture concepts that relate to food forest design. We also provide a number of instructive and inspiring examples of food forests around North America. The reader can go from an empty piece of land, through the design process, to planting and maintaining their edible landscape with easy to follow instructions and language. One does not need to be a permaculture expert to understand the concepts.

Win one of three copies of “The Food Forest Handbook“!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post by midnight on Sunday, June 3, 2018 (be sure to provide a valid e-mail address) in answer to the following question:

Why do you want to transform your land into a food forest?

Be sure to include a valid e-mail address. The winner will be drawn at random from all qualified entrants, and notified via e-mail. (See rules for more information.)

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22 May 2018
sunscapes landscaping columbus

How To Grow And Care For Marigolds


The Marigold, a cheerful and easy plant to grow, and the first choice among those who want a bright and splendid natural display for their homes! This annual plant flowers with radiant sprays of multi-colored brass, copper and gold flowers all throughout the summer season.

Marigold flowers, come in a wide variety of happy colors. Shaped like daisies, or heads that resemble carnations standing alone or tightly packed in ball-like clusters. Shades of yellow and orange, maroon, gold, crimson, and sometimes… blooms of white or dual-colored marigold. The size of the plants vary from a demure 6-inch (Signet Marigolds) to a sizable 2 or 3 feet tall (African Marigolds).

Marigold Plant Varieties

There’s quite a number of different Marigold plant species, but the most popular varieties include:

The delicate Tagetes tenuifolia, also known as the signet marigold thrive in signets and rock gardens. It can grow up to 12 inches tall. This plant loves dry areas and is great for landscape edging purposes. Tagetes tenuifolia has edible flowers for human consumption. They also give gardeners season-long blooms of fragrant flowers and even leaves unlike other varieties with pungent odor. Tagetes tenuifolia is also easy to grow, deer & rabbit resistant, and drought tolerant.

The French Marigolds (Tagetes patula) characterized by a bushy, compact size. Don’t let that fool you; tagetes patula’s elegant, dainty, demure flowers and plants growing anywhere from 6 inches to about 2 feet tall. French marigolds require full sun and a well-drained soil. They need to be planted deeper than the bedding container and six to nine inches apart from the other French marigolds seeds.

Desert marigold known for its daisy-like flower petals reaches from a few inches up to a foot high. Although it serves as a short-lived perennial, this plant of yellow flowers produce lots of marigold seeds.

The French vanilla, also called white marigold differs from the usual yellow and orange bearing varieties of marigold plants. The size of its pure-colored flowers spans up to 3 inches across.

On the other hand, pot marigold or calendula has cheery bright yellow, gold and orange blooms. Calendula’s citrus tasting flowers is used to make marigold tea and also serve as a good ingredient for culinary recipes. You can try them in salads, sandwiches and seafood too. You can also use calendula petals to add color to rice dishes.

Finally, Tagetes erecta,  the tallest of the Marigold group of plants and sometimes called the African marigold, with plants ranging anywhere from 3 to 5 feet. African marigolds also bear the name American marigolds or Aztec marigolds. The African marigold produces blooms of larger flowers. Among other well-known varieties like the French marigolds, this Tagetes erecta is more drought tolerant, loves the full sun, and seem to like a poor soil.

marigold flowers in full color

Marigold Flowers excellent plants for natural pest control.

How To Care For Marigolds Flowers

The Marigold plant, the equivalent of a no-fuss, easygoing person who brings a lot of color into your life.

It blooms some bright and extremely cheery flowers throughout the summer season until the first autumn frost arrives.

Marigolds flower and thrive in all USDA plant hardiness zones. Due to their resilient nature, plant them almost anywhere and they will start growing with little to no encouragement.

For the best looking Marigold flowers, plant marigolds in places where they get plenty of heat and sunlight.

They will continue to grow even when placed near paved surfaces, as long as you don’t forget to water them.

As far as marigold care, the plant can tolerate some partial shade, but only if that particular area gets a fair share of sunshine.

Plant marigold flowers in flower beds along with the other bright-hued perennials and annual plants.

Growing them in containers the marigold will grow in regular soil and will actually thrive in poor soil conditions!

Don’t water them too much, or apply too much fertilizer, as plants will grow too many leaves instead of the beautiful flowers.

How And When To Plant Marigold Seeds

Plant marigold seeds in your garden when weather is warm or sow seed into pots approximately 4 to 6 weeks before the last spring frost arrives.

Cover marigold seeds with ¼ inch of soil. Marigold seeds germinate easily but watch out for damping off issues as they grow. Separate marigold seedlings when they reach about 2 inches.

When caring for marigolds remember, they do not demand a special soil, but many gardeners recommend using a potting mix when putting their plants in containers.

When planting marigolds, use a loose soil, whether in the gardens or containers.

When planting tall marigolds space them about 2 feet apart, while smaller varieties space them approximately 1 foot apart.

Deadheading Marigolds

Marigold plants do not necessarily require intensive pruning, but deadheading actually aids plants in the blooming and suppresses the seeding process.

When deadheading, inspect plants for any dead flowers, and snip them off via your fingertips. Before you know it, healthy marigold flowers will grow and take its place!

Marigold Pest Control

The natural scent of the Marigold plant works very effectively, wards off various insects and some animals from your garden.

It also produces a substance known as alpha-terthienyl which helps in getting rid of root-knot nematodes. It staves off harmful microscopic nematodes and other pests for a good number of years.

More specifically, you can protect your precious other plants from the deer by adding the marigolds into the mix.

However, marigolds don’t find themselves entirely immune to pests though; white & green aphids and sap-sucking spider mites sometimes take a liking to the marigold plant.

A quick spray of water combined with an insecticidal soap or neem pesticide spray oil will usually solve the infestation issue.

Apply once per week until the pests are gone. Slugs may also find your Marigolds attractive during the wet season, but there’s nothing a bit of slug repellent options won’t fix!

Marigold Plant Care: Question & Answers

Question: Some gardeners suggest that marigolds will keep aphids away from other plants. Is this true? HZ, Illinois

Answer: If the weather is favorable for aphids I’m not sure anything except constant spraying will repel them.

For example, pyrethrum spray made from flowers of the chrysanthemum family is an effective control for aphids.

Yet aphids attack the chrysanthemum plants. A bench of marigold plants in the greenhouse has no effect as a deterrent to aphids on plants in adjoining benches.

 

 





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16 May 2018

Backyard She Sheds: Man Caves for Women, Only Better


Man caves are special sanctuaries where guys can go to kick back, enjoy a cold drink, watch TV, play video games or hang out with buddies after a long day at work. A guy lucky enough to have a large man cave may have an entertainment system, pool table or fully equipped bar. The sanctuary-like space of the man cave is like a little piece of heaven for guys, but it leaves women wondering, “What about us? Where’s our special place?”

 

Sorry, guys, but we ladies work every bit as hard, and 90% of the time we are the ones caring for the kids, cleaning up the house, doing laundry, carpooling after school, picking up groceries, helping with homework, cooking meals AND holding down a full-time job of our own! Seems to me that women could use a little space of our very own after a long day. So, if you’re feeling a little envious of your guy’s man cave and wondering how you can carve out a little space for yourself, I found a perfect solution. Online store SolidBuildWood.com has a variety of natural wood sheds which the company creatively calls, “She Sheds.” – FINALLY!

 

Don’t be discouraged by the name, though. SolidBuildWood.com garden sheds are really much more than simple “sheds.” These cozy little cottages are constructed from natural Norway spruce boards and built with elegance, style and durability in mind. Of course, you can still use the attractive garden sheds to store your mower, wheelbarrow and lawn tools, but why? They are just what we gals need, a place we can add our own personal style and turn into unique get-away – somewhere we, women, can go to for solitude, to grow plants, to write, to paint, or whatever makes us feel good and destress.

 

If you’re limited on outdoor space, that’s okay too. They offer various sizes to suit nearly any space, like the Douglas 10 x 8 garden shed, which provides plenty of space to curl up with a good book, paint, write, or share a glass of wine or a cup of coffee with friends. And if you’re a crafter, hobbyist, musician or artist with a need for more space and light, you can choose from several other sizes and styles. For example, their largest garden shed, the Bristhol 13 x 10, offers a cozy but elegant interior with extra-large glass doors to let in plenty of natural sunlight.

 

The Brightoln 10 x 10 shed has extra windows that not only provide plenty of light but allows you to keep an eye on the kids as they play. This way there’s no need to worry about where the little ones are or what they’re doing, because we all know how difficult it is to relax when we are left wondering about the kiddos. Face it, as women, we’re are always on call, but why should the guys have all the fun? We can still have a space of our own to relax – and we deserve it.

Whether you’re looking for a she shed, a pool house, a guest retreat or a space to house a sauna or hot tub, SolidBuildWood.com provides exactly what you need – in first class style. Larger sheds and cabins even have ample space to install a bathroom and small kitchen – a perfect office or home away from home. This company is committed to quality at every step of the process. All products are constructed from natural, high-quality wood with no toxic materials, plastic or plywood. Assembly requires little skill and no expensive labor is required.

Here is what Larisa from Westfir, OR said: “I am a 5’1” woman, and I assembled the shed by myself, completely alone, within about 4 or 5 hours. Of course, the shed kit we ordered did not have a roof, so that assemble time did not include roofing, but I still think that is incredible!!!!! I was very impressed, and my husband was even more impressed when he got home from work and saw what I had done!”

Welcome to your she shed!



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10 May 2018

37 Garden Border Ideas To Dressing Up Your Landscape Edging


This collection of garden edging ideas will help you define garden borders, highlight an area, add texture and dress up your landscape.

Often overlooked, lawn and flower bed edging can play an important role in your landscape design plan to improve your property’s overall curb appeal. Edging comes down to simply separating two distinct areas.

Not all of these landscape edging ideas will fit your garden. You may love the look but they simply are not practical, affordable or the style of your garden.

Keep in mind as with many things in the landscape and garden there are NO RULES. Landscape edging comes down to your style, creativity, materials and budget.

The materials used for edging come in a wide range of choices and combinations: stone, concrete, brick, wood, tiles, metal, plates, glass, gabion, logs, and all kinds of things recyclable items.

Let’s face it, upcycling is popular for use in the garden. Many of the garden edging ideas below incorporate some type of up cycled material and most of the ideas include sources to tutorials.  Let’s get started!

Concrete Edging And Curbing

broken-concrete-garden-edging-09302016

Broken concrete makes for great garden edging.

The word “concrete” can sound very hard and cold, but a concrete edge offers lots of design opportunities.

source: plantedwell.com

The arrangement of these flat stone or “broken concrete” around the corner of the house draws attention to the hostas and other foliage planted against the foundation border edge of the house. It’s always a good idea to install landscape fabric and edging in that order.

Poured Form Concrete Garden Border

source: pinterest

This edging comes uses concrete to form a curbing. The construction of these concrete designs is made onsite and very permanent. The concrete can also be stained or painted. It’s a nice way to edge around a tree.

If you’re curious on “how much does concrete curbing cost per foot”? HomeAdvisor estimates $4-5 per square foot.

Brick Garden Edging

When we think of edging materials in most yard landscaping projects we think of brick edging and as you’ll see, bricks and pavers can be used to create a landscape edge in many ways.

Neatly assembled stone tiles placed flat in a shallow trench make a garden edging which forms a nice barrier between the garden bed and grass. A neat clean look which provides uniformity to the landscape. A way to edge a flower bed with bricks that makes mowing easier.

source: flickr

What’s interesting about this garden edging idea is that it is very symmetrical. The square shapes made of 4 bricks makes the edging look clean and distinct. However, the center of each “square” carries a different design.

source: buzzfeed

How can you dress up brick edging during the evening hours is by having a rope lighting strip tucked away on the inside of a rock lawn edging. This is a very simple way to bring a lot of style to the garden.  It looks almost mystical in the way that it seems to generate light from nowhere.

source: thechicsite.com

We see bricks used as edging all the time to separate the lawn edge from flower beds. Turning the bricks on their side creates an entirely different look in the garden design and give yet another way to lay brick edging for front yard and backyard landscaping.

source: ny times

It is an old style look that has a new style when it comes to the brick. It almost looks like a wave that is leading the way for you.

source: pinterest

A beautiful eye-catching brick garden edging idea due to the symmetrical shape. The tiny blocks inside the edging give it a very suburban look.

Metal Landscape Edging For A Rustic Look and Feel

Manzanita Garden

By raising the height of the garden and installing metal landscape edging this winding “rusty” steel edging gives a contemporary look that calls your attention.

Corrugated Steel Panels Installed Vertically As Garden Edging

I love the neat look of this landscape edging idea. It gives a very minimalist feel and looks clean and simple. The colors are not too busy and makes the yard feel peaceful. As a bonus the panels used full size did not require any cut of the metal landscape edging.

Metal Edging Laid In A Zig Zag Pattern

The short and long metal edge gives it a very simple look. It’s nothing extravagant or eye-catching, but it gets the job done. Paint the thin steel edge sheets if desired.

Gabion Wall Used As Edging

This kind of garden edging called “gabion” offers lots of possibilities. It looks natural yet structured but blends in well with the natural environment. It’s also quite sturdy, and should hold up well.

source: plantedwell.com

This gabion garden wall edging works as a retaining wall holding plants and soil. This edging serves as a garden focal piece.

Garden Edging Stone

Stone edging ranks right up their with brick edging as a popular material to separate areas. Generally, stone carries a low cost but does require some “heavy” labor to get it all in place. However, stone edging does produce impressive results.

Stone and rocks come in so many shapes, sizes, colors, looks and textures. This allows the use of stone as a stand alone in edging or combined with different stones to achieve interesting looks.

Stacked Flat Edging Stones

source: hoselink

This shows a nice way to edge a flower bed using short flat tiled rocks stacked on top of each other. A simple design with a casual look and feel separates the lawn edge from the mulch and flower bed.

Stones Used As Simple Clean Edging Of A Deck

This uncommon way to differentiate the deck from where the garden starts, but adds a “polish” to the design.  The small rock border makes a world of difference when stepping out to take in the view.

 Crushed Rock Filling In Between Bricks

source: belmanliving

This lawn edging idea provides a contrast with brick and a wide strip of crushed rock. The small height of the stone but the sudden change of color makes it a clear boundary but doesn’t intrude in the landscape design.

The contrast of light and dark stones along with different sizes complement each other quite well next to the concrete stepping stones. It gives a concrete definition of where the walkway ends and where the border begins.

Stones Combined with Brick Edging

source: pinterest

This edging made up of smooth rocks and bricks gives off a very natural but not too manicured and perfect look. Simple yet the way it spirals gives it an impressive flair. As you can see… no complicated “install stone landscape edging” instructions. The stones were laid edged right up to the bricks and followed the garden path.

source: homebn.com

The graduated stone bed is an excellent contrast. The small stones create a nice transition border, while the large stones make up the bed. It’s a very pleasing way to implement a natural border.

Bowling ball size rocks compose this edging The rocks and plants make you feel walking to or from a beach!

Wood Landscape Edging

Wood like brick and stone comes in many form. The most common edging using wood is the raised garden bed but as you’ll see… more types exist!

Railway Ties As Garden Borders

This garden edging happens to be one of my favorites. Railroad sleepers placed at angles to the fence and ONLY one plant in each “growing area.” The biggest issue I see comes with maintaining the grass.

Vertical Railway Sleepers

source: kilgraney.com

These railroad ties cut at uneven lengths make this garden edging unique. It adds a casual look and feel.

source: pinterest

We often think of the garden edging being the accent. In a twist, this edging gets an accent with stones resembling two small feet next to each other. It shows how using the resources around you can turn simple into beauty.

This garden edging looks like a miniature fence. It does serve as a symbol saying keep out of my plants but in a playful way.

This garden bed looks similar to the uneven railroad ties, but uses a landscape timber and this edging does not vary in height but also deliver a very attractive and natural feel.

Scrap Treated Wood As Garden Edging

The mini boards from possibly a pallet of this garden edging are high enough to define the garden bed. Not my style but that’s OK.

Cut Tree Trunks Laid Out As Edging

source: hometalk

This edging you don’t notice due to the bottle walkway. Lots of detail when into the walkway bit the edging looks to me like an afterthought.

Garden Edging Made From Pallets

The look of this garden edging looks very “homey” as though the creation appears to be part of a project. The cut apart pallets give a very western feel.

Woven Garden Hoses Used As Edging

source: karapaslaydesigns.com

A unique and beautiful way to create a one-of-a-kind fence. The best part is breathing new life into old garden hoses destined for the dump.

Braided and Woven Vines

source: sad.co.ua

This woven garden edging gives off a rustic feel. A lot of work involved in thing edging idea.

Manufactured Landscape Edging

For some the easiest method to edge the flower bed or lawn sits on a shelf down at the local garden center. Pre-made, usually manufactured plastic edging makes for quick installation. All come with “how to install landscape edging” instructions.

EasyFlex No Dig Edging

source: amazon

This manufactured plastic edge material delivers a simple, minimalist look. Perfect for a quick fix and barely noticeable in any garden.

Grey Cobbled Stone Plastic Garden Edging

source: pinterest

This manufactured garden edging is thin, made of a plastic material with a brick edge design face. The extra room allows you more space to plant flowers and shrubs. The color does not take away from the beautiful colors of the plants and is easy to install.

Flexi-Curve Garden Edge

source: menard’s

The edging in this garden makes it look spotless. The beautifully crafted designs are very eye catching.

source: haddonstone.com

This manufactured garden edging looks beautiful in white. It almost looks as though it is made from marble. It has a bit of a slope where the plants lay on top.

Landscape Border Ideas We Can Only Call Unique!

Glass Bottles Recycled Into A Garden Border

Glass bottles catch the eye and help provide a landscape border to keep certain pests out of the yard. It’s a good craft if you have multiple, uneven-sized bottles – any size or shape can easily fit the wall! Not sure about the safety level though!

China Plate Garden Edging

source: 33barefootlane

These dinner plates make a very uncommon way to set up a garden border. Using plates that would otherwise sit in a china cabinet is an excellent way to make use of items that usually remain “off limits.”

Terra Cotta Pots Fashioned Into A Garden Border

source: om mig 

This garden edging is very different from others. The terra cotta pots laid out make for an interesting, whimsical look. The tubular shape also adds a nice effect.

Collected Bowling Balls Used As An Edging

 

source: beth evans ramos

Not much to say about this landscape edging design. Just an excellent example of quirky garden edging with no rules.

Collected Hubcaps Made Into Edging

source: beth evans ramos

This edging made from hubcaps is a great way to reuse and recycle. These hubcap flowers offer another idea. A fun conversation starter, and unique design. Not sure how much work it would take to collect them all!

Recycled Bicycle Wheels Used As Garden Edging

The bicycle wheels provide a great use for older bikes. They also ensure that plants along the border get enough exposure to the elements needed to grow. This edging would be a difficult “assemble” in many areas to acquire the bike rims.

These edging ideas are only the tip of the iceberg… just use your imagination!





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04 May 2018

Mitoyo Eggplant Info – Learn About Growing Mitoyo Eggplants


If you are seeking a sweet, densely fleshed, medium to large eggplant, look no further than Mitoyo. Picture chubby, round to oval, glossy, black-skinned fruits that are absolutely adorable and delicious. This variety is native to Japan and grown primarily in Kanonji and Mitoyo provinces. Not only is the flavor memorable, but the plant is striking and could be grown as an ornamental.

What is a Mitoyo Eggplant?

Mitoyo produces a commercially large, dark fruit. It was originally discovered in a market in Japan and seed was saved. It is now widely available to grow and has a milder, sweeter flavor than Western varieties.

Mitoyo eggplant info describes the cooked flesh as creamy and subtle. The fruits can be up to a pound (.45 kg.) in weight when fully mature. They can also be picked when smaller, but tend to have a hint of bitterness. The hefty fruits accept a host of flavors and work well in many ethnic dishes.

Eggplants can be steamed, fried, grilled, baked, pickled or eaten raw. Additionally, eggplant has been shown to be a brain food. It contains a phytonutrient called nasunin, which has been found to protect fats in brain cells. It is also a powerful antioxidant.

Mitoyo Eggplant Info

Mitoyo eggplants can grow waist high and produce fruit much like their cousin the tomato. Fruits hang from the stems in an ornamental fashion. The biggest complaint is the damage done by flea beetles to the large leaves and occasional attacks by Japanese beetles.

Eggplants produce the best fruits in late summer, but Mitoyo can produce wonderful eggplant into fall provided an early freeze doesn’t destroy the plants. Mitoyo eggplants should be left on the stem to ripen fully if you wish to save seed. The variety is also known to be a strong and vigorous producer of fruit. Mitoyo fruits look a bit like the classic Black Beauty variety but a bit more on the purple side and more rounded with creamy green flesh.

Growing Mitoyo Eggplant

Eggplants grow quickly from seed. Mitoyo eggplant needs 85 days from sowing to maturity. In temperate to cooler regions, it is best to start seed indoors 6 to 8 weeks before setting plants out. Seedlings do not react well to transplanting, so it is best to start them in small compostable cells or pots.

Keep soil moderately moist. Prepare the soil before planting out by adding plenty of compost and loosening it deeply. If necessary, perform a soil test for pH. Eggplants prefer a soil pH of 5.5 to 6.0. Space plants 3 feet (.91 m.) apart to allow plenty of air circulation and room for growth.

Fertilize every two weeks with compost tea or other organic liquid nutrients. If fruit becomes too heavy for the stems, stake them up to prevent breakage and keep fruit from soil contact where slugs and insects can damage them. Harvest fruit any time they are large enough to eat and enjoy.



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