Maureen Gilmer

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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Brassicas: 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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Summer Vegetable Garden Nutrient Deficiencies

pepperThe yellowing of this formerly green pepper plant is a sign of nitrogen deficiency that often crops up at the end of the growing season when soil is depleted.

Organic gardeners must be readers of signs, which are the silent and often subtle ways plants communicate their needs to us. Summer vegetable garden nutrient deficiencies appear as changes that indicate something isn’t right.  They’ll show up during the heat of midsummer vegetable gardens because plants are […]

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Diving Into Succulents for Drought

agaveThis five-gallon potted Agave americana ‘Medio Picta’ adds succulent zest to this border.
With statewide water cutbacks in California, everyone will have to rethink some of the plants in their home landscape. Rather than viewing this as a tragedy, make it an opportunity to dive into some of trendiest plants filling gardens of the rich and famous: succulents.  If you’ve always wanted that great succulent look, but have never grown one before, there is no […]

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