Friday, July 24, 2009

Vegetable Gardening: Three Sisters Update

An update from Patti and Ale!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Vegetable Gardening: Three Sisters Companion Planting

Please watch. I'll be exploring more Native American gardening practices in the future.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

June 2009 Urban Sustainable Living Magazine

June Cover

Cotton FlowerUrban Sustainable Living
JUNE 2009

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Dear Patricia,

Check out my profile on Vegetable! I am posting lots of new pics there.

  • Fred talks about Poultry Breeds
  • Sun Exposure
  • Spring to Summer Crop Rotation
  • More on the Gardening Coach Susan Harris
  • Forageing for Food
  • Woolly Mamoth Fiber is now available!

Patti Moreno, the Garden Girl

info (at) garden girl tv dot com
Buy Patti Moreno's DVD at Olive Barn, featuring hours of never before seen video, only $19.99 plus shipping and handling.
"Patti excels at providing real solutions to real problems that gardeners everywhere face. Her organic approaches show that success is achievable and compatible with the demands of real life." Steve Aitken- Managing Editor Fine Gardening Magazine

"Patti Moreno's passion gets you fired up to grow and eat the organic way, and then she shows you how in simple steps that transform aspiration into a garden of earthly delights. Best of all, Patti's videos make the process of learning and doing pure fun." Scott Meyer- Managing Editor Organic Gardening Magazine

What good is that chicken?

Ornamental, Eggs, Meat and Dual Purpose

By Frederick J. Dunn
It's like puppy shopping; never buy that cute little rascal, without first understanding what sort of adult he/she will be when grown.

Maybe you live in the city and don't have readily accessible County Fairs or 4-H Exhibitions. I love being in our poultry barn/tent during the fair season here in Pennsylvania. It's not hard to locate the poultry... someone is always crowing, or squawking about some egg she just produced!

Bird HouseWhat I always find interesting, is the sudden urge some have to buy "that" chicken! They are stuck by the amazing feather coloration, or a timid disposition. "Look, that one looks like it has fur"! (That would be a silky). Not the least bit interested in the "purpose" of the breed, looks win over substance time and again.

If you're keeping chickens, you're spending money. All chickens have to eat and be adequately provided for. Some chickens give very little back in the way of eggs or meat... those would be your ornamentals. Lawn flowers, as I call them, earn their keep by looking fancy as they fluff in the dust, lie in the sun, or line up on your porch railing in the morning sun. What are they good for? Well, just look at them... they seem to know that they are not in line for a stew, or expected to produce an egg of any size or with any regularity... let's say they are super models. I have far too many of these beautiful free loaders on my land. No one is standing around waiting for their d'Uccle to lay an egg for breakfast. Who could dismiss the Phoenix, with his six foot long tail feathers trailing behind? What of the tiny Serama... chicken equivalent of a tea-cup poodle, often weighing less than 350g. as an adult..

Egg laying breeds are those which do one thing with great regularity, produce an egg almost every 25 hours. Top of the list would be Leg Horns and the Rhode Island Reds. We won't go into hybrids for this article... The Leg Horn beats out the Reds in thrift, more eggs on less feed.

Meat birds are good at getting fat and plump in very short order and with very efficient feed to flesh conversions. Some produce one pound of flesh on 2 pounds of feed. They amazingly are often harvest as table fare in as little as 5-6 weeks! They are almost all derived from the Cornish breeds.

Dual Purpose... my personal favorites, do very well on open range and are moderately suitable as both meat and egg chickens. Because of their great utility value, these are the breeds most often seen roaming door yards of most rural keepers. They would include the Rhode Island Reds, Barred Plymouth Rocks, New Hampshire Reds, and Orpingtons.

Chickens of pure breed, each have a specific purpose for which they were produced and continued. Understand what purpose they are to fill in your life and then set out to get the chicken most suited to your needs.

Frederick J. Dunn
Author/Presenter, Regarding Chickens
Purchase his DVD by clicking here.

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Where did Spring go?

By Richard Davies

The summer solstice is nearly upon us, but for most of the Northern Hemisphere, summer has already arrived in our gardens. However, for many of us, cool weather, or spring crops have not yet matured, and won't for another month or more.

This presents a few problems. For one, that space is probably needed for summer crops, especially when you're growing salad greens or brassicas like broccoli, cauliflower, or cabbage that takes up a ton of space before it matures. Secondly, whether lettuce wilts as the temperatures get into the 90s, summer storms pound the wide leaves tearing them to shreds, or a signal is sent to the plants to rush to seed, weather isn't always conducive to maturing cole crops.

For anyone who is like me and running into these problems, here is what I've done in my small 150 SF Square Foot Garden. For the space hogs, I have planted seeds for summer crops in amongst them, knowing that they will grow slower until I harvest the spring crops. It works slick if you time it right. For the weather, I'm taking a page from Judy's last month's article trying to extend her salad green harvest as temperatures skyrocketed. I have made use of the screens off of old windows to shade my lettuce and spinach when we hit 90 this week. Of course for my summer planting of lettuce (I can grow one here in the PNW), I intend to use the natural shade of taller plants to keep the next crop from wilting or going to seed too soon. Whatever works.

Summer also means that those potatoes that you threw in the ground or otherwise planted are growing up a storm. Anyone that knows me likely knows me first and foremost for my Build-As-You-Grow Potato Bins. Of course, any way you grow potatoes is great, just grow them, they're easy. The point I'm making is that if you are hilling, you've been doing it far more often than you originally thought you would. I have been adding a board or two a week it seems, and going through a bag of hilling soil every day.

While potato bins are by no means the only way to grow potatoes, they're also not the way to grow early season varieties like Yukon Gold or many reds. They only set fruit once so they don't benefit from hilling, all the potatoes will be in the bottom six inches. For that reason, I threw my sprouted seed stock stored from last year into my beds. They too have shown tremendous growth in just a few weeks.

So, depending where you are and how hot your climate is, you could be harvesting potatoes in the next month or so, or you could be like me and have to wait until October, using a ton of space in your summer garden for a spring crop. Anyone for a garden expansion?

Expert Advice! Patti Moreno, nationally known as the Garden Girl, provides how-to help on growing heirloom tomatoes and other vintage vegetables. She also offers sage advice on organic/sustainable practices for going green in your garden.

Just a taste of what's inside.
Here, you'll find expert, how-to help for growing lots of your garden favorites. Enjoy the satisfaction from seeing your crops go from the garden patch to dinner plate:

Strawberries all summer long , Pumpkins good enough to eat, Tasty muskmelons and sweet carrots, Edible flowers to sparkle up a salad and simple recipes, too! A Lasting Reference! Grow, Vol. 2 is definitely a "keeper" because it's packed with invaluable help home gardeners will go back to season after season:
how to prune tomatoes
keeping your harvest fresh
attracting good bugs
keep out the biggest pests: deer
and much, much more...


Why is it that all plants, grass seed, shrubs and trees are classified in the garden center by their sunlight needs.? We've all seen the signs - Full Shade, Part Sun, etc, but what exactly do these different light classifications mean and why are they so important? The sunlight needs of any plant depend on where it's originally from, what it does, and how it reproduces.

Here are the four best ways to classify plants, based simply on hours of sunlight received in one day.

Full shade 0-2 hours direct sun
Part shade 2-4 hours direct sun
Part sun 4-6 hours direct sun
Full sun 6-8 hours direct sun

Let's talk about full shade. It's true that fewer plants will grow here than in full sun, but you can still find beautiful options for this area as well. Think woodland. Plants that are happy here are usually the ones that decorate the floor of a forest underneath huge trees, so they are used to getting little, if any, direct sunlight. Ask your local garden center for suggestions for this sunlight condition and you may be happily surprised at how many choices there are.

Part shade can be confusing. There's definitely more options available than in full shade, but don't whip out the daisies just yet. What this category likes is a little bit of sun but enough shade to keep it mostly cool and moist. Most part-shade lovers will make a flower, usually a small or delicate one, but still very pretty.

You can start to think seriously about flowers with part-sun. Although they will almost always take more sun, many flowering plants will bloom quite well in part-sun. From daylilies to daffodils, you will be able to plant a lot of varieties of perennial, as well as shrubs like roses, with good success.

Full sun is the grand Poobah of all categories, allowing the widest range of choices for most flowering plants, vegetable s and herbs. All vegetables need a lot of sun to produce-there's a lot of work that goes into making a tomato or green bean or cucumber, and it's all powered by the sun, via photosynthesis. This is also the best option for traditional plants like roses, peonies, sunflowers, daisies and poppies.

What you need to always remember is that sunlight is absolutely the first consideration when choosing plants. You cannot fudge this area and have great results. If you put a full sun plant in part-shade you will grow a lot of wimpy looking foliage but not the flower you want. A full shade plant in full sun will probably do even worse by simply withering up and dying. Choosing plants that are right for your sunlight is always the best place to start.

I just got my yarn back from the mini mill. I was so excited. I've been waiting for it for 7 months to get back from the mini mill. It is just beautiful. The yarn is a combination of pygora fiber from year's worth of shaving my goats, , (click here to see me shaving them)tussah silk, and merino wool. I split the run into two separate lots. One is blended with 50% plum merino wool and the other is blended with 50% grey merino wool. The plum blended yarn looks more like a navy and the gray blended yarn looks more like a champagne color. I waited for so long that I'm at a loss for what I should make. I just purchased the French Girl Knits book where there are beautiful patterns. I'm officially a decent ragalan sweater maker and I love making one piece shrugs. I welcome suggestions on my message board. Please post any links to great pattern ideas and I'll keep you posted.

I also have a limited amount available for you to purchase. There are two colors: Plum &Champagne. 10, 200yard skeins available in each color.
$65per skein, 2 skeins for $100

It is a worsted weight yarn.
Best used with size 10 knitting needles.
The gague is 4-5 stitches per inch.
30% Pygora fiber from my goats
20% Tussah silk
50% Merino Wool
For questions or to purchase via paypal email me. info (at) gardengirltv dot com
Click to see a video of my fiber arriving from the mini mill.
Foraging in Your Neighborhood

By Luci Fernandez

On my walks in my neighborhood with our dog, I am forced to stop every once in a while for the dog to sniff around or do his business. This forces me to slow down from my normally hurried pace and pay attention to what is around me. Since I have been looking at our local foodshed from a variety of perspectives, I thought about what I can find growing within a few blocks from my home; in other words, urban foraging. There is much information on foraging for food in the wild, but I am going to stick to an urban setting.

I live in an older neighborhood dating back to the 1940's. Nature has had some time to reclaim her space and because houses were built in onesies and twosies, the area was not clear cut as is done with so many new developments.

I decided that first I needed to inventory what I have found in my walks. I had noticed that one of my neighbors around the block has pear tree in her front yard that yields a tremendous amount of pears. She has put up a sign on the tree that says "free" along with bags for folks passing by to stop and take some home. This was an easy one to find! Ok, so now on the quick map I drew, I can add the pears. You may want to write down when the fruit is ready and other observations as an easy reference.

I also discovered within a 4 block radius from my home wild raspberries, black walnuts, apples, mulberries and pecans. Not bad for just being observant when I am out and about.

I have adapted rules on urban foraging from the book The Urban Homestead by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen.

These are my rules:

1. Do you know what is that you are gathering? Can you recognize poisonous plants that are native to your area? If you have any doubt, pick up a good guide such as The Forager's Harvest by Sam Thayer to help you identify local plants that are edible.

2. Found out what kind of pesticides or herbicides are used near or around the food? Ask the owners? Do you see a lawn service spraying on the property next to it?

3. Do you have permission? This is a great way to get to know your neighbors. Maybe the property is too much for the person living there. You might just learn some history about your neighborhood (I found out that my area used to be a pecan grove). Offer to barter - maybe you pick the berries and make some jam in return for the owner. You could start a neighborhood trend!

So, do you want to learn more about your unique food-shed? Check out community garden or master gardeners. They may be a good resource for locating foraging experts in your area. For on-line resources, check out

There's a whole other world out there for local foods! Find what treasures are hidden in your neighborhood!


A special thanks to Susan Harris for contributing to the news letter last month click here to review.

Quick Links...
Meet the Garden Girl
I'll be at Mahoney's answering questions and giving advice on gardening with vegetables and herbs.
MEET THE GARDEN GIRL at Mahoney's Garden Center
Click the link below for more information
Saturday, June 13th

Mahoney's Garden Center in Osterville, MA: 10AM - Noon
Mahoney's Garden Center in Falmouth, MA: 1PM - 3PM
Hope to see you there!

NEXT OPEN HOUSE at Garden Girl's Urban Farm
88 Lambert Avenue Roxbury, Massachusetts

JUNE 20th, 10am-2pm