Organic Gardening

2018 Gardening Course Schedule (final) Register now!

2018 Gardening Course Schedule (final) Register now!

Hello Everyone, I'm so excited about this year's gardening classes!   We will be in some of the very best gardens in Greensboro.  It will be a blast exploring them and learning from the successes and failures of the most knowledgeable gardeners around. Here is the final edition of the 2018 Gardening Course Schedule: 2018 Course Schedule Registration information is below and also at the bottom of the schedule.  This is a printable document.  Classes start March 11th!   Please register soon as I anticipate that these will fill quickly. (I may add more one date to each course if there...

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Screening Plants

The dozers have been working for 4 days to clear leggy pines, dead trees, poison ivy, honeysuckle vines and ancient barbed wire fences to make room for our new house.  There will be still more underbrush to clean up when they leave, but already the clearing has left our 4 acres quite exposed, with more road noise and less privacy.  As soon as the back hoes and dozers are out of the way, I will be desperate to get some large plantings in the ground. But what to plant? What will be of substantial size, mostly evergreen, super drought tolerant, deer resistant, tough enough to stand up to strong...

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At the Cusp of a New Year; a Winter Perspective

It was no surprise to NC Triad gardeners that 2016 set world records (again) for the warmest year ever.  It was a HOT one and our NC Piedmont summer seemed to last forever! Our first frost in Summerfield did not come until mid-November, a month later than average, but by November I was grateful for the mild temperatures. If there was ever something to renew your spirit after a fierce political season, it is the beauty of nature. I harvested the last ripe figs on November 8th.  My “Bloomathon” azaleas were still gorgeous. Camellias had begun to bloom even as my summer annuals were still...

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The Magic of Summer Bulbs

The Magic of Summer Bulbs

I have been so happy in my garden this spring that I could not bear to sit at my desk any longer than to handle the most urgent necessities.  Surely you missed me!!  Now at the summer solstice with 90 degree temps upon us, it feels good to be inside chilling out and taking time for a bit of reflection. Perhaps my favorite surprises over the past couple of months have been the bulbs I planted last fall. For many springs seasons, as soon as the last azalea and rhododendron blooms had faded, my garden turned a quiet monochromatic green.  Yes, green is still a color and May did offer offer rose...

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Seed Catalogs! What to order now?

Seed Catalogs! What to order now?

It is that time of year when seed catalogs start filling my mailbox.  When the weather drops to freezing outside and the rain is coming down, I sit inside with a hot cup of tea and comb through page after page of beautiful photos planning what to add to my garden come spring.  What?  No catalogs? You can find everything online now and I’ll tell you where to look. Of course I have tried-and-true favorite seeds, many of which I save every year from open pollinated plants, but I always have to try a few new things each year.  Here is what is arriving in my mail now: Benary’s Giant Zinnia...

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Five Easy Fruits for Every Home Garden

Five Easy Fruits for Every Home Garden

Having been raised by parents of European decent, it is impossible for me to imagine a garden that does not have fruit ripening every summer. I remember climbing our plum trees to eat loads of sweet ripe plums, and watching my brother’s young children dance through his tall berry patch with a fist full of warm blackberries in one hand, and blueberries in the other, so excited and happy, their smiles and clothes purple from the juice.  Refrigerated fruit, irradiated and neatly packaged from the grocery store is just not the same. Many different fruits grow well in our temperate climate – apples,...

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September Harvest

September Harvest

As many years as I have gardened, I never get over the joy of going out to the garden to see what grew, what ripened, and what I can harvest to bring inside.  Whether it is  beautiful flower or luscious tomato, I am still like a kid finding the chocolate Easter egg.  This was a beautiful July harvest from several years ago. This year I planted a few heirloom (open pollinated) tomatoes, but more hybrid tomatoes.  Regardless of taste, it is just impossible to beat the productivity of hybrid tomatoes.  My 8 tomato plants produced over 150 lbs of tomatoes.  I dried, canned and froze...

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2016 Gardening Classes

I am patting myself on the back today for posting my 2016 Gardening Class Schedule so early.  The truth is that I was feeling guilty about having received several requests (Thank you!) so I made it a top priority. In response to student feedback, the 2016 Course Schedule has changed a bit.  The new offerings should provide students more flexibility in their choice of classes - and give me more time for writing, and for at least one special overseas garden tour.  (Gardens are the best vacation destinations!) Courses #1 through #5 will be offered as a single “Gardening Essentials”...

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No-Fail Flowers to Grow from Seed

No-Fail Flowers to Grow from Seed

Remember the glorious spring season of pastels when it seemed like every tree and shrub was in bloom? Has your garden gone monochrome green for the summer?  With a few seeds and some good soil it is easy to make your summer garden as vibrant as HD TV and in full motion with bees, butterflies and hummers. Every spring I head out to the garden with rake and seed packs in hand. By the summer solstice, my garden has its summer bloom in full swing. Why not just head to your local nursery for some 6-packs of annuals?  One would think this would give you a definite head start, but here are some...

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Is your garden Bugging You?

Is your garden Bugging You?

It is June, the time of year when every kind of bug makes its way to my Summerfield, NC garden.  I have already seen big fat rust colored potato bugs with a brood of newly hatched babies, aphids on my hellebores, flea beetles on my eggplant, slugs on my hostas, cabbage worms on my kale and kohlrabi, and now the cucumber beetles and Japanese beetles have arrived! How do gardeners control these thugs without poisoning themselves or the bees and butterflies that are happily floating around the garden? The number one thing to understand is that bugs are your friends.  Most are beneficial to your...

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