How to Attend Hands-On Classes in Gardens, Kitchens, Forests, and Even a Late 1800’s Cabin

It’s here. The garden classes are in gardens, the cooking classes are in kitchens, the nature study is in forests, the raspberries taste like raspberries, and the snozzberries taste like snozzberries! I worked for weeks on the lesson plans for these hands-on classes, workshops, and tours and am so excited to finally roll them out. Click here for my entire…

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Update: Public Permaculture Demo Garden Progress

When I founded the SC Upstate Permaculture Society I had no idea we’d be this popular, but we’re up to 644 members with multiple people joining each week. If you live in upstate South Carolina (or nearby) we welcome you to join us. Last October we broke ground on a huge new garden that is already stacking functions by being…

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How to Have Perennial Food Plants & No Disease for Your 2015 Garden

Okay, maybe not NO disease, but insignificant diseases and pests sounds good, right? Plus, perennial fruits and veggies mean less work for more harvest. Eliza loves teaching the two class topics available this week at the Swamp Rabbit Cafe & Grocery. Click here to sign up for class or click here to see the full 2014-2015 class schedule. THIS WEEK:…

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How to Deal with Pillbugs When They Become a Problem

The key here is “when they become a problem.” In general, pillbugs, or roly polies as I grew up calling them, are quite nice little composters. The textbook “fact” is that pillbugs prefer to eat rotting organic matter and only graduate to other foods when they can’t find enough. That’s actually false. They’re opportunistic omnivores, and they’re going to eat…

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How to Identify Pests and Control them Naturally with Beneficial Bugs, Trap Crops, and More

Consider this article “Sustainable Pest Control 101.” Once you’ve read this, you’ll be an expert at dealing with insects on the farm or in the garden. One of the classes I taught at Saturday’s SC Organic Growers Conference was Insect Garden Ecology. This is a topic that overwhelms growers everywhere… people often tell me they just aren’t good at remembering…

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How to Attend Our Classes (and Other Great Classes) at SC’s Organic Growing Conference

We love the Organic Growers School in North Carolina and are delighted that we now have a similar version for South Carolina! This is the 2nd year for the annual SC Organic Growing Conference which occurs on March 2nd, 2013. It’s run by the SC Organization for Organic Living (SCOOL) which you can find on their website or on Facebook….

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How to Grow Sweet Salad Turnips (with Recipes)

If you’ve never eaten a salad turnip, and you probably haven’t, it’s unlikely you think they sound very exciting. Back when the Organic Growers School was Saturday only, they did an experimental Sunday session in Burnsville, NC. Among skills like how to build hoop houses and grow through the winter, I mostly remember taste-testing the ‘Hakurei’ turnips that Patryk Battle…

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How to Control Kudzu Bugs (Megacopta cribraria)

You’re probably having the initial reaction that I did, “Why would I want to control kudzu bugs? Just have at it!” But kudzu bugs (Megacopta cribraria) also attack other legumes. Especially soybeans, wisteria, and hyacinth beans (Lablab pupureus). The idea of something that successfully retards the growth of kudzu having a picnic on my soybeans is not appealing. It’s possible…

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How to Keeps Squirrels off Your New Seedlings

I used to hate squirrels. Then my daughter raised and released some orphans and I began to recognize their charms and place in the ecosystem. They’re native and gardeners too — of forests. I can share my garden with them. But I still shake my fist in anguish when they forage through my newly planted beds, uprooting seeds and plants…

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How to Prevent Fusarium Wilt on Tomatoes

Last season nearly every local gardener I know had tomatoes die from Fusarium wilt. We lost a large percentage of our crop to it (although with 80 tomato plants, we still had plenty to harvest). Then I saw GOFO’s office garden at Crescent Studios and could not believe my eyes.  Unlike the other gardens I’d seen, their tomatoes didn’t have…

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How to Identify Fusarium Wilt and Septoria Leaf Spot in Tomatoes

I felt silly displaying a potted ‘Tumbling Tom’ tomato for the Urban Farm Tour since we already had 80 tomato plants in the ground but last week it paid us back with extra early ripe cherries. Now the garden is producing handfuls of medium-sized varieties, leading up to the bumper crop we’ll be able to sell to the public. I’m…

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How to Prevent Squash Vine Borer and Powdery Mildew on Squash, Organically

Many organic gardeners who have grown squash in the southeast US will think this must be a practical joke. It’s not! There are chemical-free ways to grow as much squash as your “conventional” neighbors. Then you can finally participate in Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day. No really, that’s an honest-to-goodness national holiday on August 8th every year….

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How to Spray Milk to Prevent Powdery Mildew Disease

In the humid south we can usually expect plant diseases to start showing up in June and July. Some of them are difficult to manage at all, but powdery mildew (PM) has a surprisingly effective organic solution… milk! I know, milk… it seems like one of these too-good-to-be-true crank organic remedies, right? The September 1999 issue of Crop Protection reported…

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How to Identify Eastern and Forest Tent Caterpillars

Tent caterpillars aren’t the end of the world. They may attack your ornamental or orchard trees but unless a tree is already suffering from other stresses it should recover quickly. These native, spring ephemeral caterpillars are often confused with fall webworms (Hyphantria cunea) or gypsy moths (Lymantria dispar). Fall webworms also have a brief life cycle (in the fall instead…

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How to Choose Disease Resistant Rose Varieties to Grow Organically (With Sources List)

I’m an organic gardener and I grow a lot of roses — about 50 varieties of them. They don’t look like sticks with a bow on top and I don’t treat them any better than my other garden perennials. I plant mine in the same amended soil I use for the rest of my plants, fertilize them a couple times…

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How to Teach Beginner Organic Gardening in 15 Minutes

If you had 15 – 30 minutes to teach people how to start an organic garden, what would you do? Last Wednesday I did this crash course for our local Green Drinks International chapter. I gave out a one page, fridge-magnet-ready handout to go with it — which I included below. Here’s the handout. I was able to expand on…

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How to Use Fennel (or Dill) to Keep Caterpillars Off Your Vegetable Plants

I don’t do a lot of companion planting. I’m not saying it doesn’t work (and I’d love to hear your success stories) but other than being impressed by mycorrhizal fungi and permaculture plant guilds I haven’t felt the need to find my plants a buddy. Oh! EXCEPT for growing fennel next to plants plagued by caterpillars. Flowering fennel is like a beacon…

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How to Kill Fire Ants, Carpenter Ants, and Termites with Mushrooms (a Mycoremediation Crash Course)

If that title sounds too good to be true, it’s not. Over the weekend my friends Tradd & Olga invited me over for dinner (and after eating the wild mushroom dish that Olga served you can expect a post on morel hunting soon). Tradd is a Mycologist and together they run Mushroom Mountain out of Liberty, SC. You can buy…

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How to Use Compost Well

I’ve seen endless information about how to make compost but very little about what to do with it once it “happens.” One frequent question I get as a Master Gardener is when and how to use this garden black gold. I decided to write a comprehensive post about it. First, you need some compost. You can make it in a…

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How to Grow Yardlong Beans

Who needs fertilizer? Heat and humidity seem to be the recipe for lush, productive yard long bean vines. They’re tasty, too — this is one oddball veggie you won’t just try once for novelty’s sake. The elongated pods really can reach a yard in length, though they are best at around 18″ or less, when they are still thinner than…

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