350 Garden Challenge

Across the world people will be planting gardens this weekend to help combat the challenges of our changing climate. Last year Sonoma County, California residents alone planted over 600 food, habitat and community gardens. Visit 350.org and Transition United States to learn more about this and other important climate crisis initiatives.

I will be planting kale, lettuce and sunchokes (in pots since our threat of frost is not yet past). What will you be doing this weekend?

Happy Earth Day and OneGarden’s 2nd Anniversary

It hardly feels like two years since I wrote my first post, but here we are, having survived moves, job changes, garden neglect, and a whole lot more. And we will continue to not only survive, but grow.

Here in Santa Fe the days are getting longer and warmer, though the nights still regularly dip deep into the 30s, so it will still be a little while before any seeds can go into the ground. So while my friends and family back in California are already seeing sprouts, I am starting leeks, lettuce, and kale indoors and dreaming of September’s bounty.

So, in honor of this holiday and my new home, I have two small gifts for you. The first is a wonderful quote from Michael Pollan’s 2008 Earth Day article “Why Bother?”

The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world.

The second is something I wrote with the recent political and ecological climates in mind.

Where to Start
We are fighting the wrong revolution –
turning our eyes to the government,
our hopes to the corporate machines.
Our fight is not out there.
It’s right here.
In this small space before us.
In the dirt that needs water.
In the lungs that need air.
In the life that needs choices.
In the voice that longs to be heard.

Right here is the hand that needs holding.
Right here is the land that needs healing.
Right here is the mind that needs changing.
Not the President’s.
Not the policy makers’.
Not the CEO’s.
But ours.
Just ours.
Start here.

As gardeners we all know what one small seed can do. What seeds are you planting this year? What dreams for your garden, your family, or the planet do you long to see bear fruit?


Hope Springs Eternal

According to Plants of the Southwest in Agua Fria (just outside of Santa Fe), the last frost date for this area is May 15th, but that didn’t stop me from buying a boatload of seeds on a little shopping excursion yesterday. I had a general idea of which basics I was looking for: the three sisters, of course, and leeks, but beyond that I had no plans. That is unusual for me. I am a big-time planner, but something about starting a new garden in a completely foreign environment, inspired me to leave at least some of my choices up to fate. I also decided that whenever possible I wanted multipurpose local or native seeds with short growing seasons that were tolerant of heat and drought and whose seeds I could save for next year. So here’s what I came home with (you may need to scroll to find the specific seed):

I am still searching for the perfect chili pepper (I’m leaning toward Chimayo) and a few more types of greens but I’m hoping to find some at upcoming seeds swaps. And now that I know what I’m going to be planting, I’ll be able to do that planning. And don’t worry, I’ll go into a lot more details on the process and the individual plants soon.


According to the National Gardening Association, I have gardened my entire life within a single hardiness zone: 8B (Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys — minus the inland valleys in my case). In fact, I’ve gardened my entire life within a 35 mile radius of the house where I grew up. This is great in some ways. It has made me a much better gardener within my specific region (what I like to call the nor-cal fog zone, where the temperature sits at right around 55 degrees all year round). And I do love the plants I can grow here: tree ferns and split-leaf philodendrons and bamboo and of course all kinds of cool-weather, low-chill and short season fruits and vegetables. I even managed tomatoes 10 blocks from the foggy beach.

This spring, however, I will be packing up my trowel and moving to a climate so different that I don’t even know where to begin my garden planning. For starters, it snows. I haven’t lived somewhere that snowed since I was 6 1/2 years old. And in the summer the heat — a very, very dry heat — can bake the paint right off the house. And did I mention the altitude? Yeah, I’m way out of my depth on this one. But gardeners, we garden. We don’t know what else to do.

So while most well-seasoned southwest gardeners are probably starting seeds, I will be studying. Luckily I have friends out there who can help me understand this strange new/old world.

And even though my new garden may be temporary, I will give it all the green thumb I have. And then some.

Video: The One Straw Revolution

Destructive, toxic industrial farming techniques not only poison our water and food, they destroy the finely balanced network of organisms in the soil that help keep our land fertile and productive. After a high-pressure career in plant pathology, Masanobu Fukuoka returned to his rice farming roots to figure out how doing less could yield so much more. His book The One Straw Revolution details his work which has greater implications not only for farming but for health, education, and so much more. I’ve written before just how deeply inspiring I found that book, and wanted to share this wonderful video that passed through my inbox this morning.

Pick Your Own

Don’t have a viable garden of your own or looking to supplement with more variety? Now you can easily find loca farms that let you pick your own from their bounty. PickYourOwn.org also offers a variety of tips and tools including crop calendars, weather forecasts, and canning and preservation instructions with  over 150 recipes including my favorite holiday standard: apple butter.

The site isn’t the flashiest, but it’s homey and chock-full of great information. Note that many of the listed farms close for the season in November, so I recommend getting out there this weekend. You can probably even get some great prices on pumpkins for your Thanksgiving pies.

Ample Harvest

And while we’re on the topic of what to do with all that extra produce, if you find yourself in a giving mood (especially with Thanksgiving right around the corner), check out AmpleHarvest.org. Launched in May 2009, this non-profit connects gardeners with local food pantries in need of fresh produce donations.

Veggie Trader

Have you found yourself stuck with a mountain of late-season zucchini or tomatoes? Don’t work your fingers to the bone baking loaves and loaves of zucchini bread or let the fruit languish on the vine. VeggieTrader.com enables you to connect with other local gardeners. You can trace your zukes for someone else’s cukes, sell your excess to neighbors without gardens, and even search for replacement crops for the rhubarb plant your dog dug up while you were on vacation (all for free). Their site is intuitive and fun to read and they even have a supporting blog.

So check it out. And pass it on. The only way to keep great ideas like this growing is to participate.

Rooftop Gardens on Wheels

There has been a rash of gardening innovation lately–chairs with built-in planters, modular apartment buildings with spaces for parks at each level, and my favorite of the bunch: rooftop gardens on wheels. Yes, you guessed it, people have started putting gardens on top of buses. The theory is that all those plants will help absorb at least some of the exhaust that each bus creates. Just imagine if the buses ran on clean energy how much more those little succulents would do. Of course they wouldn’t be great for food gardening (at least not with the buses running on diesel), but who knows what the future might hold… we could give a whole new meaning to “fast food.”



Product Review: Wonder Weeder

Recently my brother and his family visited New Zealand. They returned bearing an assortment of very cool gifts including a deceptively simple, yet ingenious weeding tool called the Wonder Weeder.

Yes, it does look a little like something cobbled-together in the backyard, but as soon as you get it in your hand it becomes clear just how useful and clever a product this really is. For starters, holding it just feels natural. Its shape automatically encourages ergonomic wrist position, lessening strain on a whole host of gardening muscles. It even comes with a long-poled version to save your back.

It worked perfectly tending the weed-prone spots between my mom’s patio blocks and is also great for places where you need fine control and a delicate touch like containers of seedlings.

So far I’ve only been able to find it for sale in New Zealand but I’m going to dig deeper to see if we can get them here in the states. Until then, I will definitely be bugging my mom to borrow hers as often as I can.