Blog : Reflections

Stop planting carrots. Please.

Look I get it – you like carrots but you really don’t like carrots after you start planting them.

In my first year of doing garden installations I was so excited to go outside and help people install a garden they could harvest and hopefully learn how to grow and harvest their own food. In the business world of things it wasn’t the most thought out plan due to the fact that eventually my clientele won’t need me – but I don’t care about that.

One thing I always asked people was ‘what do you want to grow’ and then I was hit with a truck load of wants and needs and wow….we’re off running.  I never considered that I can not ask that question any more.  Due to many facts but one is that I was installing a garden and the ‘know how’ was left on me and yes I gave people this cute little printed/laminated hand off to learn quickly about their veggies and fruits but I was finding that many people did not read them – at all.

To experienced gardener carrots, beets, tomatoes, and so on always seem easy.  But if you can remember growing your first carrot – it probably didn’t go so well and if it did you only grew it once that year.

Most cold weather crops IE lettuces, alliums(onions), salad green(mustards, beet family), and carrot family need a few things to happen for great success.  One is succession and the other is thinning.  There are many other factors but those come first in my book.

Now if you’re a root vegetable lover of carrots and beets you know the pains of thinning.  Imagine you plant thousands of seeds and then in about 10 days you come back and have to ‘thin’ them out.  It’s the polite term for killing or making room so to say for the others.  Beets and carrots both need this process.  So that’s your step 2, step one was planting in the first place.

Step 3 – this step happens 10 days after you plant.  It’s call ‘succession’ growing.  You see unlike planting a tomato seed whereby you get lots of tomatoes if you plant a carrot seed you only get one carrot and there is no multiplicity to that seed.  In the long run one day well after we are gone we’ll have to consider plants and vegetation that is efficient and less time-intensive – carrots I feel won’t make that list.

So now do you still want carrots?  Is it really worth it?  Plant, thin, re-plant.  Oh and hope you’re soil is good enough due to their sensitive nature of hitting most other forms and deforming in the soil and add to that timing – these are cold weather crops that once temps stay about 60-65 day and night begin to bolt(go to seed) or full on remain in a vegetative state.  I’ve had beet seedlings grow throughout the summer and only until september they finally began to bulb out.

Yesterday I bought decent little bushel of carrots for $1 and was just discouraged for the farmer wishing he would never plant them.   Just doing the math was discouraging for me and to think I paid a dollar – for someones efforts over 40 days a dollar!

I never tell people to plant carrots because it is not worth it.  Just like lettuces.  A small discussion came up at our house yesterday about lettuces and I feel the same way about lettuces as I do carrots.  You need to have coordination, a bit of know how, and lots of lettuce to fill the shelves of your fridge and at the end of day are you really eating that many salads to want fresh lettuce every time?  I will say that fresh lettuces last longer than store bought ones and if you’re planting kales – I recommend getting your hands on some asian flowering kale.

We’re coming out with a small book in the spring of 2016 about what people should be planting in their first garden to make it worth it.  I have about a dozen books on gardening and in the back is an A-Z list of what you can grow.  Awesome, great, and who is about to do all that?  We need to show generations having a garden can be productive and life changing – and it’s not going to be with carrots.  In my garden alone I grew over 60lbs of food and I have only 60 square feet of space and that is roughly 1lb/square foot.  I feel accomplished and sure if you’re growing the big squashes you can smash that number due to overall density – I did it with tomatoes, beans, zucchini, and cucumbers.  And we never recorded herbs because that’s just takes forever.

Stay tuned, stay in touch, and lets turn a generation around by telling them the truth.

Tell me your thoughts, confessions, and triumphs and trials…I want to know.  I’d rather hear from someone who has failed as opposed to the success stories because often we learn our best from where we fail and we seem to only revel in success than learn from what we did right.

Radish Days to Harvest | 30-40 Cold Weathering crop Space 2-3" apart Succession at sign of true leaves.

A radish is a good example, the only photo I had, to give an example of why these species shouldn’t be grown by the amateur.  This radish is grown on a soil block and it took about 30 days.  1 radish 30 days.  If I planted 1 tomato I get dozens of tomatoes.  The math is better and we need to create success and not stress.  Radishes need to be sown early on to prevent bolting, and spaced out properly, and given plenty of water since its’ small roots don’t root out like tomatoes.  Still want radishes now?

The real heroes of plants – Roots

Roots are one of nature’s silent partners.  We walk all over them and never notice their large role in a plant or trees life.

After doing this time-lapse I realized by the moving of the root they might also be the brain.  Just watching it choose where it’s going almost leads you to believe there is thought or consciousness behind these white creatures!IMG_0591

Roots need everything! Water, air, nutrients, and most of all – space!

Seems kind of hard to find underground but they do enjoy space!

Ever brought home a plant that is root bound?

Ever wondered why even though you water your plant is dying?

It’s not so simple is it!

Looking to give plants air? Instead of just plopping the plant into any container consider putting stones or small rocks into the bottom.  This trick helps roots breathe at the bottom(tips) where they need it most.  Without that they tend to sit in stagnant water and how would you feel if you slept in the same water every day?

Water is just as important to roots as air is! Do you know what’s in your water? Most city watering systems apply chemicals to make water ‘safe’ for us from microbes – all microbes. Good or bad are being killed off by chemicals in our city water systems.  For us – it’s not ok but our bodies seem to handle it.  For roots that use microbes to convert nutrients and minerals this is not good – they’re buds are being killed off.  Ever had rotten tomatoes on the vine?  Blossom end rot can be caused by chlorinated water killing off beneficial microbes that assist in the calcium uptake to plants and calcium deficiencies cause blossom end rot.  You can also get plant burn! Yup! Chlorine can just plain burn the roots!  What to do….wait about 30 minutes before watering your plants if you live in the city – most of the chlorine should evaporate and you’ll be ok!

Nutrients – surprisingly I feel this is where most people get confused.  Plants are 95% water so above anything else – they need water! Plant nutrients has sky rocketed in sales no doubt with grow stores and many suppliers who come out with plant food?  Have we forgotten about compost?  We now have an industry that is all about feeding the plant and giving it what we apparently are not!  Maybe if we knew more about air & water we’d use less of these chemicals even the organic ones!

Space                      plants love                space.(see what I did there).  I use a soil blocking method with gives roots the ability to go outside the walls because there are none! But most plant buyers go out and buy a plant that is in a container or small plastic thing(waste) and you pop it out and it’s entirely wound up onto itself! That’s root binding! Unless broken apart you could plant that and expect it to die.  The generic trick is to break the roots a little bit, water, and plant!  Roots don’t like doing that – by the way.  And if you don’t transplant right – they will get what is called ‘root shock’.  Shock can definitely set a plant back and or kill it entirely.  If you didn’t grow from seed then you don’t know the feeling of having your small baby plants die in your arms! Ever want to try to start from seed?  I sell my soil blocks(case of 40) and it’s the best way to start plants…tons of nutrients, easy to water, and plenty of space and air for the roots to breathe! 

So now…if you see a plant try to consider what’s happening below! The roots – and although we don’t get to harvest and enjoy them we should know they are just as important as what’s above!

Overhaul

I thought it was about time to overhaul and re-organize this website.

So I did.

We’ve created new pages.

Plant Info | Not only does this showcase garden photography but each photo is filled with tidbits of info making it super easy if you’re reading or actually in the garden to find out more about the plants you are planting.  We’ll be working on a database for planting instructions for your everyday use!

The Shop | We’ve put our products under one roof for you to read through before we re-direct you to our storefront.  We’ll be continually adding more products as they come about!

Organic Garden Services | We’ve listed what we can do for your garden.  Go check out it out and contact me if you think your garden needs an overhaul!

What’s next for us! Stay tuned in and see! We’re drawing back on the fanciness of the time-lapse videos to give you more raw footage and more information! First up – everyone’s favorite – Basil! Tomorrow we’ll feature a video of how to grow, what to look for, and simple tricks of basil!

Why do I do this?

So maybe one day you’ll want a garden of your own!

 

Redefining community gardens.

I get asked a lot about what I do – as if bartending 40+ hours a week isn’t enough.  I garden, and some could say I am a professional gardener.  But I am not about to grow you shrubs and decor.  I want you to grow something good for you! I want you to be growing so much food you are giving it away to your family, friends, and neighbors.

What a thought right? A whole community of people, neighbors, growing food and sharing in the abundance! Can you imagine if Tom next door had the best sun so he is in charge of peppers and to know everything about peppers…and dill.  And then Susan and her husband Nick who live 3 doors down have the second best sun plus 3 kids so they get tomatoes and the kids get weeding duty! Get where I am going with this?  A community garden should not be a place we go to but where we live.  Our neighbors should be our community garden and each neighborhood designed with the ability to sufficiently grow plenty of food for all!

Don’t think it’s possible.  I put possible to the test this year.  I have 60 square feet of garden space in my rental home in Interlochen.  That is 6 raised beds each have 10 square feet.  Each bed is 7.5″ raised from the soil level up.

As of today, Friday September 18th I have harvested 55.9 pounds of produce from my garden.  That is nearly 1 pound of food per foot.  1lb = 1sq/ft.  To me that’s impressive because were not growing pumpkins or large heavy set squash.

The breakdown

27.1 lbs of TOMATOES

11.9 lbs of Zucchini

6.4 lbs of Cucumbers

2.5 lbs of Acorn Squash

8 lbs misc(documented but not detailed)

1 pound for every square foot.  I have tomatoes stuffed in drawers everywhere and I’ve even given plenty away.  We made 3 loafs of Zucchini bread and 2 dinners of Zucchini boats and still….Zucchini was around!

We never measured our herbs cause well – it takes forever and I don’t have the right scale.

You don’t need the space you think you need and you don’t need the light you think you need.  I don’t recommend growing the hard things or things that are technique very hard, surprisingly this is carrots and lettuces.

Imagine communities with 3 gardens focusing in on growing one or two things in 30 square feet.  5 houses with 3 gardens each would be 15 gardens, 150 square feet – that’s 150 pounds of produce in 5 houses.  That’s only 5 houses – not hard to do! Do it with a friend and coordinate a friend network of gardens and share in the wealth! Just give me some credit when ya do it!

I had extra space too…plenty of it! Next year we’ll shoot for 2 pounds per foot…seems crazy, but it can be done. You just have to know what you are planting.  And stop planting carrots please!

Why you’re really sick!

Lets face it – YOU’RE NOT HEALTHY.  But then again, neither am I.  In fact I’d bet very few are actually healthy – what sucks is that you didn’t really choose to be this way but you’re also not helping yourself out of this way.

Let me guess – you eat right and by eating right I mean you had some lettuce a few weeks ago.  You exercise and by exercise you walk to work or you walk around at work.  You probably take all your vitamins and by vitamins you mean plastic capsules filled with hopes and dreams.

Here’s the problem with being healthy – it’s too forward thinking.  Being healthy is like insurance – you pay for it but hope you never need it.  I have phone, car, forced healthcare, business and so on and I pay forward for each hoping I never have to call on them because we all know what that means!

Why is it so hard to explain to people good real food is your insurance plan for health?

Here’s why it’s not your fault.  Industry & Marketing.  The second you walk into a grocery store more than 3/4 of what you see is literal crap, fillers, and mainly corn.  The first 1/4 of the store, that department called the produce department – that’s where we find the good stuff.  But big ads and false advertisements across every package lure you in to buy this so called vitamin rich product – ok so they got me too at one point.

Here’s why it is your fault.  You don’t balance your diet with raw healthy foods.  The process of cooking anything removes and degrades vitamins, minerals, proteins, and so on from any food.  From broccoli to beef if you cook it – it craps out.  Yes there are still things left but not as strong as before.  When was the last time you had raw anything?  Broccoli, beans, cauliflower, onions, or cucumbers! And not as a snack but as a meal! When was the last time your meal didn’t come from a box or a can?  And do you really think that one time made a difference?  No, it didn’t.  You felt food for maybe a day but then again you can at least function.

Do you get sick a lot?  Your body has this thing – called an immune system.  The, say it with me, IM-MUNE SYSTEM is what keeps you from getting sick.  Life has good bugs and bad bugs and we need to keep at bay the bad ones.  But this system requires fuel in the form of good food not process, canned, boxed, or dehydrated shit!

Bear this thought – if you are about 75% water all together, your cells around probably around 95% and if you predominantly eat processed, boxed, or dehydrated foods(no water in each) then how can you expect your bodies cells to function?  You aren’t giving them anything! And that old adage of when we were young “our bodies find the good things in food and expel the rest” is a complete lie and furthermore you’re not giving your body anything in the first place.  Plants and vegetables are 95% water – hence their real value is not only vitamins, proteins, and minerals but at best water content for your cells!

Still not convinced.  Well I can’t force you but try eating a raw or more raw diet than you are now.  And document your progress or just keep in mind if you’re not sick – it’s working.  Just like any industry we like to complain more than we praise.  We expect to be healthy and be on autopilot – I can’t look after me while taking selfies! But when we get sick we immediately play the blame game and co-workers come first.  I’d point the finger at your diet and lifestyle first before you go blaming the world for your oreo wine dunking butt!