Posts Tagged ‘Garden Tower Project’

Garden Update ~ Butterflies, Blooms, Garden Tower Project and More

People keep asking me, “How was your garden this year?”

To which I reply, “It was good, but it’s still growing.” Although I have moments when I think I’d feel fine to have everything tucked away for winter, fall is really one of my favorite times in the garden. It’s butterfly season, for one, and even with those thousand bulbs I planted last year for this year’s spring, we still have more blooms in September than we do in April or May. Here are this week’s photos:

sunday-bouquet-2

Last Sunday’s bouquet for David’s mom.

butterfly-season

So many butterflies this year! Here’s one of several at a time that like to sip from red zinnias.

cushaw-update

The cushaw squash continue to grow. This one is about twice the size of the other one. I accidentally cut off two babies while trying to tame the vine, but these should be plenty! Last year I needed to give away three giants.

The Garden Tower put on another rush of growth. We now have so many ripe eggplants we’ll need to make baba ganoush. Oh, the sacrifice!

Not visible in the photos are some tiny spinach, broccolini and cilantro sprouts started for a late season harvest. Something ate a few of them, but we should still get some yummies.

scabrosa-rose
The scabrosa rose is blooming and making its trademark large, tasty hips.

asparagus-circle

Haus Am See’s herb spiral and asparagus hedge continue to fill in.

cosmos galore.jpg

We’ve got cosmos galore.

welcome-to-the-jungle

Welcome to my jungle!

Neighborhood Food Fascism and What You Can Do About It

I received this link from both Natural News and my outraged mom, and I thought I’d share what I wrote to her, plus a couple additions. Here’s the original outrageous story: “Watch out: Florida residents being fined for growing vegetables on their own property.”

My response to my mom:

That is why we are purposely avoiding HOA’s when looking for a place, and also insisting it has a sunny backyard. I will grow edibles up front, but they will be stealth, like fruit trees and edible flowers and herbs.

In Goshen, I fought very hard to have it included in our City Plan from 2014-2024 to encourage front yard gardens instead of lawns and to protect the rights of people trying to live off-grid. Florida and California are the worst in terms of code enforcement. They have forced people back onto the electric and water grid even if they are self sufficient. There is a war going on against self-sufficiency. You really need to do it in a stealth way. Despite that being the most sustainable way of living, the “sustainability” movement has been co-opted by mega corporations and masquerades around towns and cities posing as a good idea.

It was a huge project of mine for Goshen (rather thankless, but I succeeded) in 2014 to protect the city from what I saw coming down the pipeline. Countless hours of meetings under fluorescent lights, emails, prayer, chanting, energy work, behind the scenes conversations, making a stink to enough people and finally painting a magical portal door did the trick. Our plan is very unusual, and it turns out we influenced the national level, because I befriended someone giving a speech there, and she used most of my ideas in her speech. Other city planners liked what she said, so this top-down movement got a bottom-up shakeup.

Additional thoughts:

Sometimes, this is what it takes. We can model change in many ways — both in our yards and in using our informed abilities to influence the system in peaceful, creative, yet very firm ways. I would not take “no” for an answer on this thinly veiled Agenda 21 scheme, and when no one believed me, I just went subterranean and let the portal door do the trick. It worked.

If you decide you’d like to plant a front yard veggie garden, I highly recommend the following resources, since a beautiful garden with ornamental edibles often gets overlooked as a veggie garden in the first place. Don’t become an eyesore, and you’ll likely avoid getting onto the grouchy neighbor radar in the first place … but it IS worth keeping tabs on local legislation or codes, because that’s how they take away the basic human right to grow and harvest our own food, free of chemical additives, GMO’s, excessive transport, pesticides and depleted soil. Anyway, some resources, including on this blog:

Foodscaping: Practical and Innovative Ways to Create an Edible Landscape

Backyard Foraging: 65 Familiar Plants You Didn’t Know You Could Eat

The Backyard Homestead: Produce All the Food You Need on Just a Quarter Acre

Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, 2nd Edition

The Permaculture City: Regenerative Design for Urban, Suburban and Town Resilience

I have not read “Permaculture City” yet, but it is on my list and seems like essential reading for people who don’t happen to live in a Transition Town where these sorts of discussions already occur. Since neighbors and voting citizens can end up influencing discussions and codes, it helps to know what’s possible and to get a vocal group on board.

I have written a ton on gardening; however, here are some links to address various other challenges with growing your own food:

Troubleshooting in the Garden: Some Tips

Why You’ll Want a Garden This Year

Corbett Report ~ Solutions: Guerrilla Gardening

Growing Your Own Food is a Powerful Metaphor for Your Life

Sarah Anne Lawless ~ Rewilding Realities in Small Towns

The Druid’s Garden ~ Soil Regeneration and Land Reclamation: Creating a Sheet Mulch Bed from Seedy Garden Weeds

The Druid’s Garden ~ Lawn Regeneration: Return to Nature’s Harvest Permaculture Farm

This last link shares an inspiring story of how a front yard permaculture farm built tremendous community, generated healing, and provided huge amounts of food. Ideally, we can each model such possibilities in our own locations, in our own ways. Healthy soil = healthy plants, so begin there. Healthy plants always look a lot better than sick ones, and beauty feeds the soul, as well as the body. That book “Foodscaping” includes an extensive list of vegetable varieties that look so beautiful most non-gardeners would not know they were food. Stealth edibles and abundant food can change the world, one yard, patio or deck at a time.

Big blessings!

Troubleshooting in the Garden: Some Tips

morning harvest

This morning’s harvest

Even during unrelated intuitive sessions, clients often take a few minutes to pick my brain about garden challenges. Since I keep hearing similar questions, I thought I’d share a few observations and tips here.

GARDEN TOWER PROJECT QUESTIONS:

Many people know I’ve owned and used both the original Garden Tower Project (which a new gardener friend now has) and the new Garden Tower 2. A lot of people purchased GT’s after reading about them right here, and new growers have asked for help this year.

First of all, I have to say that in most areas of the US, 2016 has been an extremely difficult gardening year! If you have not had the hugely abundant harvest you imagined, don’t blame yourself or the Garden Tower Project. In most areas, prolonged heat and drought have played a major role — including in my own next generation GT, until I figured out the issues. Below, you’ll find some photos, along with my discoveries in our yard, as well as what I’ve deduced from talking with clients. You can also skip my observations and go directly to their website’s FAQ’s.

Garden tower 2 in August.jpg

As you can see, we’ve got some really good growth up top, some moderate growth in the middle, quite a few empty holes, and some dried out plants on the lower level. If the GT2 were my only garden, I would give it full attention, and I have no doubt this system would be producing from all the holes. I just happen to be gardening 1/3 acre spread across two yards, with many thirsty and delicate new fruit and nut trees and perennials. I also have annuals spread all over the yard in various raised beds and in the ground, so unfortunately, the GT2 has not received priority this summer. That’s sad news if you happen to be a plant in my GT2; however, it’s good news for people who are not as passionate about gardening as I am. Let’s call this a level playing field for the average person who just doesn’t spend much time gardening.

GT2 backside

The empty holes you see above at one time held cooler weather crops like lettuce, cilantro and arugula, which really don’t like much above 70 degrees, or they bolt. We’ve had consistently hot, humid, rain-less temps in the 90’s for weeks. It’s miserable for a person, let alone cool season annuals! If you provide just the right shade at just the right time of day, or you reseed throughout the season, you can grow these crops all summer. I just got too busy to replant when the first round died out, which brings me to …

Tip #1: If you want maximum harvest, then you need to plant the holes with the right types of crops for each season. Again, the Garden Tower Project website’s FAQ section contains a lot of info about appropriate plants. The Urban Farmer site also includes month-by-month info on what to plant when.

Tip #2:In addition to providing extra plants to harvest, filling all the holes with plants shades the soil and keeps the GT and GT2 from losing so much moisture out the sides. I discovered this the hard way! The lower pockets dry out first, since moisture rises. If you don’t water deeply enough, those plants may not even get enough water to begin with. If you have lots of openings for the sun to beat on all day, then those areas and nearby plants will dry out faster. Once your plants grow large enough to shade any empty pockets, this becomes a non-issue, but if you only want to grow a few plants, then you’d be better off growing them in smaller containers. Taking advantage of the many growing holes in the GT and GT2 creates a synergistic effect for all the plants, as they work together to hold in moisture. Plants are social! Pack ’em in.

For the record, we’ve already harvested a lot of produce from the GT2: eggplants, green beans, celery, purple kale, basil, cilantro, lettuce, and we’ve got okra on the way. I find the celery particularly impressive, since that’s usually a challenge even for advanced gardeners to grow well.

The various beans were growing strong until I let them all dry out. Beans like moist soil, which brings us to…

Tip #3: If you want to ignore your GT or GT2, then consider planting more drought-hardy plants like amaranth, quinoa, cosmo flowers, or even a green striped cushaw squash from the bottom holes. 

I’ve actually been really impressed with the eggplants and kale, since despite my neglect this summer, the GT2 ones are producing more rapidly than their in ground or raised bed counterparts. The opposite is true with my black-eyed peas, which apparently hate my irregular watering in the GT2 but have grown gangbusters in the ground. They’ve shown medium performance in raised beds, with much better growth the better the bed retains water. It’s all a mad scientist garden experiment, but now I know: black-eyed peas go in the ground if I want maximum growth. Put hardier plants in the GT2 if I don’t want to babysit it while the rest of the yard demands so much attention.

Tip #4: Yes, you really do need the red wiggler worms, and you need to feed them regularly! If you don’t feed them in the compost tube, they will die, and then your plants will look all sad and nutrient deficient. That happened to me, because we have four other compost bins, and I had “just filled the GT2 tube a few nights ago.” I kept dumping veggies craps in the other bins, and when I opened the compost tube again, it was empty. Those worms can eat! David does vermicomposting in our basement, so I replaced the red wigglers and have continued to feed them every day. Within two days, all the plants except the black eyed peas perked up. I really just need to replace the black eyed peas with a fall crop!

Tip #5: Do collect and reuse your water from the GT and GT2. You need a tub under the first generation GT, but the second generation has a collection cabinet built in. You’ll see the nutrient-rich, brownish “worm tea” when you collect it and your plants will love you for re-watering them with such potent growth material!

CONTAINER GARDENING:

The Garden Tower Project is essentially a very large, complex container garden with a built-in vermicomposter, so all the tips about needing to monitor water and plan for drought periods holds true with container gardening, too.

Plants in the ground can grow deeper roots if the soil dries out, but plants in containers only have whatever water you or rains provide them. Mulch helps. If your soil still dries out between waterings, or you just don’t want to water so often, you can also saturate the soil and then fill an old wine bottle with water and stick it on an angle in the soil. As the wet soil dries out, it will begin to pull water from the bottle. (If you begin with dry soil, then all the reserve water will just pour out, so begin with wet soil to use this method.) I have many tomato plants in raised beds, but this little container plant produced our first five tomatoes of the season and continues to pump them out. I can’t believe how many tomatoes we get from such a tiny little plant!

tomato with wine bottle

Without the built-in vermicomposter of a giant Garden Tower Project “container garden,” you will need to provide additional nutrients at some point(s) throughout the season, depending on how rich your original potting soil was and how heavy your plants feed. Tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, and leafy greens are all heavy feeders!

You can use an organic fertilizer for fruits and veggies, or dilute your own urine as nutrient boost. It sounds gross, but Mother Earth News did a study a few years ago to find the best fertilizer for plants, and diluted human urine won. It’s free, sterile, and you don’t need to flush your toilet all the time. Depending on the plant and how yellow your pee is, you’ll need to water it down anywhere between 5-20 parts water:1 part urine.

Do NOT pour straight pee or old urine on your plants! It’s too strong and will likely kill them. You can, however, dump straight pee or old, collected urine directly on your compost pile. A lot of organic farmers just pee in the fields (but not directly on their plants) or in their compost pile. It’s kind of a not-so-secret sustainability tip that closes the loops.

CAREFREE BEAUTY:

I’m running out of time here, but thankfully, my public outcry about the drought appears to brought some much needed rain as I typed! Speaking of drought tolerant plants, though, if you’re looking for no-care roses that tolerate pretty much any conditions, I highly recommend Robinhood roses:

robinhood roses

I planted a whole hedge of these lovelies in front of our house, and they bloom from June until the first heavy frost. You don’t need to deadhead them back to the first five leaf bunch like most roses, and I have not even watered these once this year. Sometimes I do cut off the spent blossom clusters, but not in a fussy way at all. These roses are somewhat salt tolerant, too, so you don’t need to worry about acidic soil. They line an area that often gets salt spray in the winter. Birds love hopping around these branches, and bees go nuts on the blooms! Every morning, I see flowers waiving in the breeze.

Robinhood roses: the most carefree beauties in our yard.

Wishing you and yours beauty and abundance. If you don’t grow your own, consider volunteering to help a neighbor who does in exchange for their excess … and don’t forget to support your local farmers market!

Mini Vacation ~ The Fair, The Food, The Feast and Bloomington with Ann Kreilkamp

David had some vacation time giving us a long weekend from Thursday evening through Sunday, so we took the chance to play in Goshen, Mishawaka and on a little road trip to Bloomington. Fun times, indeed! Here were some of the highlights, beginning with the Elkhart County 4H Fair (David gets free passes from work, so we usually go for one short evening each year). Most people go to the Fair for food and fun. We go for the portal doors and fairy houses:

Elkhart County Fair

We walked around, visited some goats and gave much needed Reiki to the magnificent stallions kept in barely large enough pens for show. 😦 That part was very sad, but the horses always enjoy and appreciate Reiki at the Fair, so I make it a point to stop by and offer calm and healing to them whenever we go there. On a lighter note, we looked through the hall of crafts made by young people. We agreed upon this year’s favorite cake:

favorite cake

I spent Friday shin deep in basil, prepping pesto for Saturday’s Lammas/Lughnasadh feast in the GANG Garden at Ann Kreilkamp’s Bloomington ecopod:

basil

Since this is the first harvest celebration on the Wheel of the Year, I made foods featuring as much garden produce as I could. Instead of quinoa pasta for the pesto, I opted for spiralized patty pan squash “raw pasta.” The patty pan squash pictured below fit perfectly into our spiralizer, just trimming off the top and bottom. Others needed extra cutting around the knobs in order to fit. On the whole, though, I found the patty pan squash far preferable to spiralized zucchini, in ease, texture and color. This variety will no doubt become a new regular in our garden:

patty pan squash

patty pan pasta

I also harvested cucumbers to cut right before the feast and mix with our friend Sunny’s kimchee blend. She serves cucumber kimchee at her restaurant, and we love it!

cucumber kimchee

I ended up bringing lots of p’s and “cu”‘s: pickles, pesto, pasta, and cucumbers. Mmmm …

Friday evening we met a friend in Mishawaka, then got an early start for Bloomington on Saturday morning. Attempting to streamline hotel choices, I had looked up “vegan bed and breakfasts” in Bloomington, figuring they, of all places, might have one. Indeed, they do! Well, it’s gluten-free vegan friendly and run by vegetarians who appreciate organic food. The quaint little Persimmon Inn is right in downtown Bloomington and ended up being one of the least expensive of the nicer reviewed hotel options online.

The Persimmon Inn

The Persimmon Inn

We loved all the woodwork, from the entry piece proclaiming “Blessings of Good Health” to a huge, carved chair, to unique wall pieces in the breakfast nook. We rented the “Dogwood Room,” their smallest room, since we only intended to crash there, having pretty much nonstop plans during our time in Bloomington. It was small, but very cute and clean, with a nice bathroom and vintage details, perfect for our needs on this trip. If we had intended to spend more time in the actual room, we might have opted for the “Paw Paw” or another, larger “tree” room:

Dogwood Room at Persimmon Inn

Dogwood Room at Persimmon Inn

It was so lovely to find organic kiwi, blueberries and mango, almond milk, gluten-free oatmeal, rooibos tea, and other organic and vegan yummies at breakfast! Sue, one of the owners, told us that normally they’d have fresh gluten-free vegan pastries from the corner bakery; however, it happened to be closed on this particular visit. Nonetheless, it felt like a treat to have a variety of clearly marked options amidst the more usual breakfast fare. Paul and Sue feel it’s worth the extra expense to serve fresh, organic and special-diet friendly foods and beverages to their guests. We certainly appreciated it!

After checking in, David and I explored downtown Bloomington for awhile before heading over to Ann’s for a tour and prep for our little Wheel of the Year ceremony. We found a metaphysical shop (sorry, I forget which one!), where a particular Tarot deck caught my eye and continued to draw be back to it from different parts of the store. “Tarot De Las Luces Encantadas,” it said, and I thought, “Wow, I might need to brush up on my Spanish lessons, but I seriously doubt Pimsleur covers Tarot terms! I can say, ‘¿Donde esta el bano?,’ but that’s hardly preparation for a Spanish Tarot deck!” And yet … everywhere else I went in the store, I kept coming back to this one, specific deck.

I finally picked it up, and when I turned it over, the other side said in English, “Fairy Lights Tarot.” Well, then, that explained it! I bought the deck and the dragonfly bag it wanted to live in. I played around with the cards last night and decided this is my new, very, very favorite deck ever:

Tarot

Feeling very faery, I continued to wander around with David, who snapped this photo that encapsulates the “blooming” in Bloomington:

bloomington

By then, we needed to hustle over to Ann‘s for our much anticipated GANG Garden tour and to prepare for the ritual I was apparently leading. LOL! Good thing I keep my mini Pagan Cats Tarot cards on hand for quickie altars. The Aces do a wonderful job anchoring the directions, and I love using the potent symbolism of Tarot to represent whatever energies of the Season we wish to celebrate and/or invoke. In this case, I opted for the Sun card on one side of the bouquet and the Nine of Pentacles on the other — a celebration of Light and the Earth’s bountiful harvest. We added the beeswax Venus de Willendorf I’d just gifted Ann — homemade in Elkhart County — along with an altar cloth from Peru, a Goddess from Crete, a crystal from Ann’s late husband, Jeff, some candles and magical sound makers for creating sacred and meditative space.

Lammas Altar

We held the ceremony in the GANG Garden — an amazingly productive, verdant community space Ann and others have created for their neighborhood. Since this point of the year emphasizes harvest, as part of the ceremony, I asked each person to share, briefly, about seeds they had planted (perhaps long ago) that they’ve recently begun to harvest, either physically or metaphorically. Some people shared that for them, they felt they were Fall sowing their own seeds while appreciating what others have sown before them. Others shared some challenges amidst the gratitude. Ann and I both celebrated the community we’ve sown in our respective places and how Goshen and Bloomington communities have now ritually joined. They also joined with gifts — me giving Ann the Venus of Willendorf, and Ann gifting me a “Dahlia” garden statue. It’s a life-sized whirligig she found on a super sale, so we have matching Dahlias and matching Venus’s.

After the short ceremony, we gathered and joined with others for a first harvest potluck. Look at this amazing spread of fresh food!

The spread

We so enjoyed exploring all the in process projects happening at the ecopod, from hugelkultur beds to pathways to creative indoor renovations and community spaces. Even more, though, we loved connecting with Ann and her tribe. What a diverse array of ages, ethnicities, interests and talents! Children through grandparents attended, along with people visiting from overseas. All were welcomed, and everyone brought something valuable to share — their stories, their food, their experiences. At Ann’s and other guests’ encouragement, David and I followed the gathering by doing a “quintessential” Bloomington thing of attending an art showing, which was musically accompanied by the multi-talented young farmer who also made us a bottle of cherry mead. We then explored a bit more of downtown Bloomington before heading to bed and beginning anew the following day, when Ann had arranged for us to meet with her son, Colin Cudmore, inventor of international award winning Garden Tower Project.

We met with Colin at his warehouse and got to look at his (truly!) ingenious designs for not only the Generation 2 Garden Tower Project, which we brought home for assembly, but also for a high end 80-gallon garden composter and greenhouse prototypes for covering, shading and/or protecting the Garden Towers from cold and other elements. David kept saying how much he appreciates that Colin “overbuilds everything,” noting the quality of materials, design and craftsmanship. We spoke of Will Allen, who has consulted with Colin on making some of his projects even more efficient and beneficial, but generally, Ann, David and I just marveled at Colin’s genius. Seriously, he’s got it going on! We left with not only a Gen 2 Garden Tower for the yard of the Blue House, but also Colin’s gift of just the right soil mixture to fill it. I feel immense gratitude to Colin, not only for his generosity to us, but also to the planet. His dedication to finding ways to help people of all classes, abilities, sizes and locations to feed themselves and their communities is both humbling and inspiring.

Laura Bruno, Colin Cudmore, and Ann Kreilkamp at the Garden Tower Project warehouse

Laura Bruno, Colin Cudmore, and Ann Kreilkamp at the Garden Tower Project warehouse

I’ll leave you with a final photo that pretty much epitomizes Ann’s and my time together — connecting on many levels at once from the very spiritual, right down to the most practical, grounded and physical realities, laughing all the way:

Laura Bruno and Ann Kreilkamp

Laura Bruno and Ann Kreilkamp

Thanks to Ann and everyone in Bloomington for your hospitality and friendship, and thanks to David for all of the clearly focused photos (the others are mine, LOL!), for driving and for taking the time for the lovely little road trips, near and slightly farther away. ♥

Zany Mystic’s 3/29/14 Interview of Laura Bruno Now Archived

In case you missed last night’s interview, you can now listen to it at your leisure by clicking here. In another fun conversation together, Lance and I discussed the Garden Tower Project, urban gardening, vermicomposting, human evolution, EMF pollution, inspirational projects around the US, GMO’s, organic farming and the globalist agenda, orgone energy, plus, my own take on the current energies in the world. We didn’t begin the interview with a plan, but we both loved how things turned out. Enjoy!

Early Spring Garden Update

Well, it’s been awhile! My handy dandy Witch’s Datebook marks today as a good planting day. (That’s actually the whole reason I get these datebooks! They tell me the best days for harvest and planting, all throughout the month, so that I don’t need to keep track of the Moon and other influences.) Yesterday, I scrounged around huge volumes of seed packs in order to create a polyculture blend for an early spring crop in the cold frame, along with fava beans to fix nitrogen in the Bed Bed before I try growing Faery Tale Pumpkins there this summer. I soaked the seeds overnight for planting today:

Fava beans on the right, and on the left, Alaskan peas, Lucullus chard, spinach, golden and chiogga beets, two types of turnips, two types of carrots (including a short growing Japanese variety), Ching Chang Bok Choy, tat soi, a less fun to say kind of bok choi, two kinds of radishes, lettuce mix, and some Red Russian kale ... all interplanted for early greens to thin and eat while the others grow to size.

Fava beans on the right, and on the left, Alaskan peas, Lucullus chard, spinach, golden and chiogga beets, parsnips, two types of turnips, two types of carrots (including a short growing Japanese variety), Ching Chang Bok Choy, tat soi, a less fun to say kind of bok choi, two kinds of radishes, lettuce mix, and some Red Russian kale … all interplanted for early greens to thin and eat while the others grow to size.

Our cold frame’s looking pretty ragamuffin these days, but I’ve opened it the past few days to get some rain. The soil is nice and fluffy, dark and rich. Although many of my plants died in the weeks of minus 15, the dried leaves have begun to rot down and enrich the soil:

If you look carefully, you can see garlic, thyme (currently purple but with some green at the base), spinach, parsnips, beets, and some carrots.

If you look carefully, you can see garlic, thyme (currently purple but with some green at the base), spinach, parsnips, beets, and some carrots.

This Red Russian kale looked dead, but it has come back to life with the warmer rains. I left some of the other plants in there, just in case. You can see parsnips growing behind the kale.

This Red Russian kale looked dead, but it has come back to life with the warmer rains. I left some of the other plants in there, just in case. You can see parsnips growing behind the kale.

We've also got sprouts of corn mache (miner's lettuce) and, I think, spinach, that I planted early last week.

We’ve also got sprouts of corn mache (miner’s lettuce) and, I think, spinach, that I planted early last week.

I put an orgone puck near the peas, because I realized after planting them that they are probably too close for comfort to the garlic. Hopefully the orgone will strengthen them. :)

I put an orgone puck near the peas, because I realized after planting them that they are probably too close for comfort to the garlic. Hopefully the orgone will strengthen them. 🙂

I also tried an experiment called "over-wintering," just letting Nature (almost) take its course on normally self-seeding herbs. I haven't seen any signs of life yet, but it's still pretty cold. One container (of corn flower seeds) always looks dry, even though the rest show damp soil. Mysterious!

I also tried an experiment called “over-wintering,” just letting Nature (almost) take its course on normally self-seeding herbs. I haven’t seen any signs of life yet, but it’s still pretty cold. One container (of corn flower seeds) always looks dry, even though the rest show damp soil. Mysterious!

I spent much of last fall mulching out a huge swath of weedy front yard. The last few days of winter included hauling over concrete slabs from the apartment complex next door. These will eventually look orderly, as they line the edges of raised beds and demarcate paths:

Almost finished the edging. It's a circle with three entrances wide enough for my wheelbarrow and for meandering once we have edible ornamentals to admire. You can see the last part of Mount Mulchmore towards the upper left.

Almost finished the edging. It’s a circle with three entrances wide enough for my wheelbarrow and for meandering once we have edible ornamentals to admire. You can see the last part of Mount Mulchmore towards the upper left.

The Bed Bed (a reclaimed Sleep Number Bed Frame) filled with compost and leaf mulch and planted with fava beans. The wire at the top went over the bean seeds to discourage squirrels, who may have unearthed all the tulips I planted last fall. :(

The Bed Bed (a reclaimed Sleep Number Bed Frame) filled with compost and leaf mulch and planted with fava beans. The wire at the top went over the bean seeds to discourage squirrels, who may have unearthed all the tulips I planted last fall. 😦

Indoors, we’ve got a newly arrived and as yet unassembled Garden Tower on our porch. David will be helping me assemble some indoor growing systems this weekend, so that I can get seeds started for warmer outdoor transplants. This Garden Tower holds 50 plants in 4 square feet of space! How cool is that? I bought it to demo for Goshen, but I am now glad for the extra space, since I realized I need to take care of the bindweed problem in a newly mulched out area where I intended to grow pumpkins. Instead, I’ll be growing Mexican Marigolds, which supposedly excrete a chemical that’s toxic to bindweed. No more bindweed nightmares to wake me up in the morning like last summer! I’ll be killing it with flowers.

The Garden Tower Project

The Garden Tower Project

We’ve also got a new faery addition for our window, a lovely gift from two sweet friends:

Faery Toadstool

She’ll be happy near the still blooming Christmas Cactus and a pink geranium — at least until it goes outside for the summer. Until the morning glories start climbing their decorative trellises, I always appreciate prettier views. When growing, our yard sticks out as an oasis of color, food, and riotous flowers and herbs, all the more surprising for the industrial and run down nature of some of the nearby buildings. A local gardener whom I very much admire recently announced that ours was “the most improved yard in all of Goshen!” That warmed my heart. It’s a lot of work, but I’m happy to spread beauty anywhere, especially where most needed.

The most encouraging part of today’s rag tag gardening adventure? I accidentally dislodged a little carrot while moving around mulch to plant my seeds. I didn’t know how this little guy would taste, being so immature, but I decided to give it try:

Very early carrot, accidentally harvested from the cold frame

Very early carrot, accidentally harvested from the cold frame

The verdict? Sweeeeeeet!

Happy Spring!

Pink geranium

Happy Vernal Equinox 2014! It’s a sunny day here in Goshen, Indiana, perfect for planting some cold hardy spring greens in the cold frame. I’ve given myself a mini-vacation this week, finally doing a 3-Day Cleanse, which just happens to finish today. I’ve meant to do the cleanse since January 1, but I haven’t had the right window of zero obligations beyond my own scheduling. This week presented itself and once I started, I realized the perfect timing. Spring cleanse and spring cleaning!

In what may have been the gardening equivalent of grocery shopping before dinner, I spent the past two days plotting our various gardens with a newly “hired” garden faery muse. She’s really switched up my plans for the yard, but I love all the new directions, as well as the extreme variety of crops and flowers we’ll have. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds is my new favorite seed company. In rereading parts of Gaia’s Garden for the third or fourth time — but for the first time I have a cold frame and already prepared and highly varied planting spots — I realized we could get some major polycultures going here with the right combo’s of seeds. I love these old varieties, most of which offer detailed customer reviews about flavor, performance and appearance.

As a perfect spring present to myself (and Goshen, since I’ll be demo-ing it to our community), I also learned that my just-ordered Garden Tower shipped out today! I’m so excited to grow fifty plants in four square feet of space. We don’t need the extra ground space, but I talked to three of the guys at The Garden Tower Project (Colin, Joel and Tom), and I just love their enthusiasm and vision. They designed the Garden Towers after visiting Will Allen‘s Growing Power. The towers include a built-in vermicomposter (for worm castings) and use only eight cubic feet of soil to grow all those plants. I see so many possibilities for communities looking to provide winter food security in solar-panel- or wood-stove-heated greenhouses. I am not an affiliate or anything like that; I just feel called to model what’s possible for those with limited growing space.

Garden Tower partner Colin is the son of Ann Kreilkamp (exopermaculture.com), who synchronously just posted about the Garden Tower she brought down to her family in Louisiana. Click here to share more spring gardening joy!

Cheers and a Happy Birthday to my nephew, Anthony and my Schizandra and the Gates of Mu character, Haru (Japanese for “spring”).