Tag Archives: composting

Starting Small

Pay attention to what you’re doing, and don’t get in over your head.” – Barbara Pleasant

startergardenMarch is coming, and with that in mind, I am already starting to think about what to plant in my garden this year. Last year I planted my first real vegetable garden, but even with friends and co-workers giving me tips and encouragement along the way, it was a daunting activity in the beginning. There are so many different gardening books/videos/classes out there, and it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Unfortunately the library is as much help as hindrance in that department–browsing the shelves in our home & garden area can be a mind-melting experience.

As a beginner, I needed a book that was simple and fail-safe. As luck would have it, I happed upon Starter Vegetable Gardens: 24 No-Fail Plans for Small Organic Gardens by Barbara Pleasant. This is an excellent book for the novice, as it provides easy to follow garden plans with detailed instructions for what to buy, when and where to plant your vegetables, and (of course) how to care for those vegetables lovingly. It’s almost like gardening-by-numbers, which is not a bad way to start learning how to grow your own. As Ms. Pleasant points out in the opening pages of the book, “one worry free way to start your first vegetable garden is by following a “recipe” provided by an experienced gardener, and that’s just what this book provides … these gardens are practically foolproof!”

In addition to detailed garden plans, there are also special sections on everything from starting plants from seed, to the magic of mulch (I love you mulch,

Proof (from the poster)  that some books yield excellent results.

Proof (from the poster) that some books yield excellent results.

it is because of you that I no longer have to mow my lawn!) All of these sections are accompanied by simple and clear illustrations, and in some cases, helpful color photographs.

Of course, the library also offers more detailed lists of resources, on everything from vegetable gardens to composting to local organizations that can help you get started. For those particularly interested in gardening from seed, you will want to save the date for our excellent seed swap and seed saving workshop on Saturday, March 2nd.

So how ’bout you? Do you have any large (or small) gardening plans this year? Do you have any favorite go-to gardening books or resources? Share your thoughts below!

Now lettuce rest, I’m feeling beet,

Tara

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breaking down compost

Thanks to the Pennsylvania Resources Council, I am now the proud owner of an Earth Machine. The PRC offers affordable backyard composting classes, where they break down (forgive the pun) the basics of composting and provide attendees with a bin. While composting has intrigued me for some time, I was surprised to discover several key points. Namely, it doesn’t smell bad if done correctly, it’s easy, it doesn’t require much space, and it doesn’t take very long.

If you garden with herbs, fruits and veggies, flowers or trees and shrubs, composting can provide you with a great way to amend the soil in just a few weeks. Using the same ground for years at a time my lovely gardenhas reduced some of the nutrients in my already typically Pittsburgh clay-like yard, but composting creates dark, rich humus that restores beneficial qualities to the soil. Composting is also a great way to reduce the amount of yard and kitchen waste I leave on the curb for the city to collect. Municipal waste management is among the highest costs cities must deal with, and it feels good to know that I’m doing my part to help my garden, the environment and the city budget at the same time.

One more bit of good news about recycling…even though I’m doing what I can to battle the devastating effects of plastic bags, recycling my 1s through 5s, and composting has reduced my weekly garbage day contribution, all the junk mail, old bills, magazines and other paper I throw away still weighs on my conscience. Not anymore though! This week I discovered the Paper Retriever bins–bright yellow and blue dumpsters placed throughout communities where people can drop off paper to be recycled. Their locator showed me that there are two right by my house.

Michael Pollan recently wrote a moving call to action for small, individual eco-actions, and as I take the time to set up systems for my everyday activities, going green gets easier and easier.

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