Maureen Gilmer

Mulching With Black Gold Amendments

Rhododendron luteum2 JaKMPMRhododendron luteum amended with Black Gold Garden Compost Blend.
When the drought is long, soils are poor, and money is short, one way to revitalize struggling garden plants is to protect their roots with mulch. Good mulches help to retain moisture, cool the root zone, and discourage weeds. The conventional wisdom is to mulch with wood chips or ground up bark, but both are very slow to decompose and can bind needed soil nutrients. The […]

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One-Pot Herb Garden – Anywhere!

herb boxesRepurposed wood crates become one pot herb gardens featuring thyme, rosemary, cilantro, chives and more
Fresh-from-the-container culinary herbs turn a New York loft, a Chicago studio, or a Los Angeles condo into flavor central.  Nothing is quite like fresh mint in your mojito, just-picked basil on a mozzarella sandwich, or cilantro in your salsa.  No store-bought herb carries this intense flavor, because once cut, the essential oils immediately begin to lose pungency.  Cut and eat […]

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Raised Beds: Respecting the Law of Return

densityGardening at high density in raised beds draws proportionately more nutrition from the soil over the course of each season.
If you’re growing vegetables in raised beds, you must respect the Law of Return.  This law states that nutrients extracted from the soil by growing plants must be compensated for by tilling their dead remnants back into the soil or fertility loss will result.  Because plants are often grown more densely in small or raised beds, […]

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Raising Agave Pups

mother plantThis beautiful old mother agave has produced a bevy of pups around herself to take over after she flowers and dies.
Agave are the most widely adaptable succulents, but what sets them apart is that they flower only once at the end of life and then they are gone.  It literally takes an entire lifetime for each plant to save up enough fuel to reproduce.  They do this by bolting, sending up flower stalks […]

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Soil Matters to Lavender

english lavenderDistinguished by long thin wand-like flower stems, English lavender is the most hardy of them all.
The Serenity Prayer asks us to “accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, with the wisdom to know the difference.”  If you’ve tried  growing lavender with little success, maybe it’s time to identify what you can change to make this year’s garden a fragrant bee filled blend of drought resistant lavenders for […]

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Bottom Heat for Happy Heirloom Seed Starting

germination trayPlant seeds in a small tray that’s easy to bottom heat in the kitchen or when using the small heating mat.
The only way to have heirloom vegetables and flowers in your garden is to grow them from seed.  Most heirlooms simply aren’t grown commercially, so they’re not often available as seedlings.  To obtain those antique varieties and to savor their long-lost flavors,  we must order the seed and start the plants ourselves.  […]

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Three Sisters Garden

ajaxhelperBuffalo Bird Woman of the Hidatsa tribe.
Along the flood plains of America’s rivers, indigenous tribes cultivated crops for centuries.  Before levees, rivers spread out far and wide, yet shallow, with each spring flood depositing yet another layer of rich silt upon those from millennia past.  These tribes grew the three sisters of Native American agriculture: corn, squash and beans.  Growing in the three-sisters style is a great way to teach youngsters or to […]

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Mice in My Grow Box

The early planting of tomato seedlings in my Grow Box in February, 2015 - note water fill opening and mouse access on front.Young tomato seedlings in my Grow Box in February, 2015 – note the water-fill opening and mouse access on front.
As the heat of “dead summer”  begins its slow ebb into fall, it’s planting time in California and the Southwest.  While most folks across the US plant in spring, here the mild fall […]

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Mounding For Succulents

cross slopeThese linear plantings of agave and cacti are aligned perpendicular to the slope to check the speed of runoff.
Love succulents but hate your clay soil?  Solve it by creating a simple mound of quality soil that ensures your finicky succulents will be happy with perfect drainage.  Under these conditions your plants won’t suffer waterlogged roots, and rotting will be a thing of the past, if you irrigate with a slow drip system.
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Growing Cabbage, Kale, & Collards: Fresh Super Foods

cabbageA single large clay pot easily supports cabbage, parsley and Swiss chard for porch or patio.
Until recently, collard greens were known only in the South and among African Americans who brought this “soul food” into northern cities during the Great Migration a century ago.  Today collards and kales are heralded as “fresh super foods” due to the high nutritional value of these large-leaved members of the cabbage family. These “pot greens” are eaten stewed, steamed, […]

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