Posts Tagged ‘Gardening’

The Third Annual Grow Your Own Food Summit

I don’t have any affiliation with this Summit, but it’s always a good one: the Third Annual Grow Your Own Food Summit. This year focuses on growing food in your own yard with as little effort as possible, as well as getting your kids involved in growing. More details and free signup here.

For anyone who wonders what growing your own food has to do with Medical Intuition and the other “more spiritual services” I offer: plenty! It gives you the freshest produce, control over what goes into your body, beauty, and the chance to connect with and observe Nature in ways most people forget to do in our busy lives.

Hundreds of years ago, the Goddess of Sovereignty and the Goddess of the Land were one and the same. Kings received their right to rule based on how well they honored the Land. The story of the Fisher King and the Wasteland springs from this ancient myth. How different would our world look today if those in power needed to prove themselves to the Land? How different would our world be if each of us reclaimed a little echo of Sovereignty — of our right to connect with Nature, our bodies and local, organic food?

The Grow Your Own Food Summit offers steps in that direction. If you have time, I hope you check out some of the free programs.

Incremental and Lasting Change: Create New Systems and Safety Nets Before Summoning Destruction

Today’s post is actually a comment I left when Ines, the writer of the blog post “Starving the War Machine ~ Let’s Try This Again,” privately emailed me to challenge me to advise people to crash the financial system en masse. Her post throws down the gauntlet to “Hundreds and thousands of people in the Alternative Media and the great researchers, truthseekers, wanna be gurus and Cult leaders that come from all walks of life [and] pride themselves for the knowledge/information/intel they acquired” who continue to operate in the financial system. Apparently, one of my readers, Anthony, suggested in the comments section that Ines contact me, which she did. You can read her post by clicking through the above link. Here are my own thoughts on her ideas:

Thank you for emailing me Ines, and Anthony, thanks for the suggestion. While I personally spent many, many years starving the war machine and then later trying to get our community set up so that it could survive the kind of financial chaos Ines is championing, I have found that a) most people are not interested in self-sufficiency or even resilience; b) this sort of widespread chaos is exactly what the PTB are hoping for; and c) it takes money to get things in place as a safety net.

This is not an excuse. I have poured thousands of dollars into rehabbing land and creating a food forest, which I’m turning over to 5 other people when we move. I also use these gardens to make bumper crop food donations to local food banks, feed neighbors, friends and impoverished people I encounter. I address the issues in the most practical ways I find, which includes doing my best to get local communities to do what you, Ines, and I and others are personally doing: taking responsibility for ourselves, growing our own foods, using plants to heal, focusing on energetic as well as community resilience.

In America, we are nowhere near the level of resilience where I could in good conscience recommend people try to crash the financial system in a week. Right now there are not enough safety nets in place. We are moving to a city that has many more of these nets in place — several public food forests, many, many community gardens, an ethic of “Community Capitalism,” where those who do have money voluntarily funnel it back into local projects that support people and the earth. I forget where you live Continue reading

Garden Update: Bursting Forth and Bittersweet

I’ve been so busy with sessions and house hunting, which makes this season’s Dance of Spring a little bittersweet. The literally thousands of bulbs I’ve planted as recently as last Autumn have begun their smiling jigs and Sufi swirls. I still contend that this circle of miniature daffodils I planted around our North Star Cherry tree, visible from the stairwell’s window, was one of the very best gifts I’ve ever given myself:


You can also see the chives poking through as they prepare to bloom in the season of alliums, while the Elfin Thyme ground cover awaits warmer weather.

As David and I view property after property, Continue reading

Garden Update: First Crocus, Hazelnut Catkins, Sedum, and Bulb Action

While the West Coast has found itself with winter floods, here in Northern Indiana, we’ve had an unseasonably warm winter. I expected that, although even I’ve been surprised by just how warm: fifties to upper sixties in February. With sun! Thankfully, we’ve had at least some rain and a few snow showers, too, but as crazy as this weather is, it arrived as a welcome treat. We’ve taken many long walks on trails and in the woods, and I even spent some time cleaning up the garden.

Yesterday, I noticed a lot of bulbs beginning to poke through. When I took over Haus Am See in Fall 2015, I added another 1,000 Spring bulbs to the hundreds I had already planted around Faery Hof. I didn’t know how many would return this year, as apparently, not all tulips remain perennial. It looks like most plan to reveal themselves again, as I see signs of hyacinths, daffodils and tulips poking their way through mulch and thyme. Last Fall, I  planted another 100 or so bulbs, mostly a wide blooming time array of daffodils and some extra hyacinths.

What a nice surprise to see some crocus, though! These two smiled at me yesterday, as I moved mulch to weed. Normally, the bunnies eat these before I get to enjoy them, but here they bloom — the very first harbingers of Spring:


Some of the nine sacred hazel trees and shrubs Continue reading

Laura Bruno on Instagram!

I decided to join the 21st century and have finally opened one, yes, one (!) social media account. My blog is running low on photo space, and I’m actually in the early stages of creating a whole new site. In the meantime, I opened an Instagram account for those of you who prefer more photos and less text. If you’d like more garden and lifestyle photos, tips, and inspiration, follow me @TheLauraPortal. I’d love to see you there.

UPDATE 12/16/16: Well, that was a short-lived experiment. I have temporarily disabled my account, as I found I really do prefer a life apart from social media. At some future point, I might re-activate the account, but for now, it’s offline. I’ll be focusing more on creating some videos, a new site and eventually, some online classes, all of which seem more in alignment with what I have to offer. 🙂

Flowers in November: Some Beauty on a Gorgeous Day

Getting back to more of the garden variety garden posts, here are some flowers still blooming today, plus a bouquet I made David’s mom this past Saturday.





Cosmos and sedum:


Mums and sweet alyssum:


Saturday’s bouquet with blackeyed Susan’s, lavender, cosmos, sedum, zinnias, yarrow, foxglove, and bachelor’s buttons. We’ve also got wild violets, snapdragons, calendula, nasturtiums, and more still smiling in the yard — at least until this coming Friday’s hard frost. I enjoy it while I can!


Blessed Be …

and be the blessing!



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.


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!


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.


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!