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Michael Harvan has been a member since January 28th 2012, and has created 869 posts from scratch.

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Oklahoma City Allows Front Yard Gardening

William Crum writes a short “at a glance” article noting that Oklahoma City allows front yard gardening.  This seems to becoming a more and more popular concept in cities, since government officials are realizing the benefits of proposing new urban farming measures.  Credit must go to brave individuals who have resisted city ordinances and have fought for the right to plant gardens in their yards, including front yards.  I curated several articles about the fight the Helvenstons had with city council in Orlando, who eventually relented.  The fact that Oklahoma City allows front yard gardening is due, in part, to the courage of people like the Helvenstons in Orlando. William writes:

Now Oklahoma City allows front yard gardening.

The Oklahoma City Council unanimously agreed Tuesday to proposals intended to enhance neighborhood gardening and urban farming.

Those enhancements include rules about compost, hoop houses, vegetable gardens, commercial farms and storing rain water.  I’ll let you read the specifics of most of those rules in William’s article, but here’s what he writes about vegetable gardens.

Vegetable gardens, which will be allowed in front, side and backyards. Ward 8 Councilman Pat Ryan said city leaders should be aware that poorly tended front-yard gardens could detract from the neat and tidy appearance of neighborhoods.

Thank you, Councilman Ryan.  We certainly need to know that poorly tended front-yard gardens could detract from “the neat and tidy appearance of neighborhoods.”  Oh, brother!  As if poorly tended lawns, overgrown and full of weeds don’t detract from “the neat and tidy appearance of neighborhoods.”  Let’s focus on the negative, okay, rather than on what the benefits of front-yard and side-yard gardens can bring to a neighborhood in terms of community cohesion and cooperation. By all means the way things look is far more important than the way people interact and get along with one another in a community.  (Sarcasm intended.) As is allowed in Ypsilanti, MI and Orlando, FL, now Oklahoma City allows front yard gardening.  Hooray!  Read William’s brief article by clicking here.


Chemicals Or Companion Planting

Organic gardeners have no debate whether it comes to using either chemicals of companion planting. If you are not an organic gardener, you might still want to read the article by Katie Marks to get some information that may be helpful to you and may get you to reconsider your position. Continued use of chemicals in your garden can contribute to your having dead garden soil because of what chemicals do to deplete necessary microorganisms in the soil. Katie gives the reader several good examples of how the question of whether chemicals or companion planting is preferable is a moot point.

Is using chemicals or companion gardening preferable?

What’s companion planting? It involves the use of different plants established alongside crops to enrich the soil, protect them from insects, and provide other benefits, though some stout Atlanta fencing is still recommended to protect the garden from marauders. As a side bonus, many companion plants are also edible, so they can do double-duty in the garden by defending your primary crops and adding a little color to the table. Even better, some are lovely flowers, so they’ll make the garden more lively. Win-win, right?

The companion planting Katie is talking about here is more than the three sisters planting of corn, beans and squash.  These three plants were planted in the same mound by Native Americans Indians. Planted together they both improved the soil and provided a healthy diet.  In the companion planting Katie writes about, combinations of both vegetables and flowers work together to prevent insects from destroying a garden.  Depending on the particular problem insects, different combinations of plants have been found to be effective.

Marigolds are a very popular choice, because they provide natural protection against insects, along with rosemary and sage. Nasturtium, thyme, and tansy also offer insect and cabbageworm protection (useful for brassicas, including, surprise, cabbages, along with broccoli, kale, and mustards). Oregano is excellent for general pest control, while alliums like chives and garlic guard against aphids. All of these plants are edible, and many are delicious to boot.

There are some plants that you don’t want to grow together because the benefit one might bring to the garden cancels out the benefit another might bring.  Katie gives you a web site in her article, which you can read by clicking here or on the link below, where you can check out those plants.  I remember my wife’s aunt who had a large farm garden–she needed lots of produce to feed her hungry, hard-working farm family.  She had the idea.  It was no question for her whether it was chemicals or companion planting.  Her large farm garden was ringed with several layers of marigolds.  Her garden always looked like the way I wish mine would always look.


Make A Colorful Stepping Stone Path

If your garden needs a little pizazz, you can make a colorful stepping stone path without too much trouble. You can even make a more formal stepping stone path leading directly to your front door.  Maureen Gilmer writes about how concrete steeping stones can make a big difference in your yard and are fairly inexpensive.  Depending on your creativity, you can make a colorful stepping stone path or a more formal one with concrete stepping stones.

You can make a colorful stepping stone path.

With the new movement toward modern, minimalist layouts and organic style, there’s one element I look for more than any other. In generic terms, they’re called precast concrete stepping stones, but that hardly does them justice. They’re sold in all home improvement stores from coast to coast, costing a little more than a dollar for a simple foot-square stepper.

Maureen prices out those stepping stones that you can buy at the big box stores. She suggests different arrangements with different size stepping stones.  With rectangular stones set side  by side, Maureen says you can mimic a regular cement walkway that is just as good, more environmentally and less expensive than a standard cement walkway.  Maureen suggests that a pleasant, less formal path can be constructed by leaving spaces between the stones and fill the spaces with a variety of things.

Lawn is a popular choice, but it’s hard to manage, so many folks have discovered the new artificial turf that’s so realistic it fools me all the time. This is a great way to get the green grids you see in magazines without the high maintenance of living grass. Ground-hugging herbs and ornamental groundcovers are other popular gap fillers. Herbs such as creeping thyme and chamomile are great choices because they release fragrances when walked on. Other groundcovers bloom in a fabulous carpet of color; or mix them with small clumping perennials such as thrift.

My personal preference is to make a colorful stepping stone path.  You can learn how to do that by reading Maureen’s article.  Click  here or on the link below.  I like the idea of adding some sparkle by using recycled tumbled ground glass.  You can make your own yellow brick road, or any color path you want.


Satchel Paige Narcissus

I’m curating this article about the Satchel Paige Narcissus for a few reasons.  One of those reasons is that being a Cleveland native myself, I am proud of the fact that Satchel Paige pitched for the Cleveland Indians in 1948 helping them win a world series.  He was also the first black pitcher to pitch in the major leagues.  Another reason is that Bill Finch’s article tells of a different climate than is found in the northern US.  Spring begins about this time of year in late December along the Gulf Coast, and the Satchel Paige Narcissus he calls “The Ghost of Satche” is among the first signs of that beginning.

This Satchel Paige Narcissus is about to bloom.

That Christmas narcissus that I call the Ghost of Satch — for ol’ Satchel Paige, perhaps the greatest baseball player ever — is blooming now, as it does every Christmas. It’s kind of like a paperwhite and sort of like a jonquil, but it’s the cleanest, purest white, and it doesn’t quite match any other narcissus I’ve seen. No one else dares to put a name on it. But I declare it is the most beautiful of the December bloomers. Its Christmas blooms remind me of Satch because I imagine his mom or dad — a gardener by trade — must have planted it more than a century ago in Mobile’s Down the Bay neighborhood. I found it in an overgrown, abandoned lot on a street where Satchel and his brothers learned to swing a bat and throw a ball.

It’s too bad, as Bill notes, that Mobile hasn’t honored its famous baseball players.  He states that not too far from where Satchel Paige played ball as a kid is where Hank Aaron and Willie McCovey played ball a generation later.  Curating this article makes me feel good about Cleveland, about  a special narcissus and about a famous baseball player in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.  Bill is proud of his area of the country.  He takes a slight jab at gardening experts who write about gardening as if it only happens in the northern part of the US and ignore what happens gardening and climate-wise along the Gulf Coast

But the Gulf Coast’s December flowers are determined to shine, even when we’re too dim to see them. You won’t read about them in your garden books because your garden books don’t know squat about a Gulf Coast December. It’s something you have to see with your own eyes. And because we see our seasons through the eyes of Boston, few dare imagine that December sparks a new year of gardening. During these 12 days of Christmas, you’ll see, if you step out into the sunlight, plants responding to the lengthening days as if they had been juiced with some miraculous fertilizer. It’s not fertilizer. It’s the coming of the light.

I hadn’t given a lot of thought to the fact that sunlight is more available as the seasons go through their progressions to the southern part of the US.  More sunlight–more gardening and earlier gardening.  You can read Bill’s article by clicking here or on the link below.  I know the narcissus is one of the first flowers to appear in our northern springtime, but it is certainly not in December that we see the narcissus for the first time–more like March if we’re lucky.  Do we have the Satchel Paige Narcissus in our area?  I really don’t know, but I’ll bet it would grow here, especially since Satch pitched for the Cleveland Indians.



Make Money From Your Gardening Hobby

If you’ve reached the point where you would like to make money from your gardening hobby, there is an article that will be helpful for you to read.  In the Scotsman, (yes from Edinburgh, Scotland), the author refers to a book written by Kate Collyns  throughout the article.  The author says that Kate knows what she’s talking about, because she left a job in magazine publishing three years ago to garden for profit.  If you want to make money from your gardening hobby, you can do so with the information given in the article, and probably by purchasing Kate’s book as well. (See either of the links below.)

Make money from your gardening hobby.

. . . for keen gardeners what better way to start 2014 than by looking at turning a hobby into a business and making some money out of that glut of fruit and vegetables? A new book called Gardening for Profit: From home plot to market garden provides a step-by-step guide for anyone interested in selling their home-grown produce on a full or part-time basis. From finding land and deciding what crops to grow to marketing your produce and managing your accounts, the book looks at all the aspects that need to be considered when starting your own market garden business.

I don’t know if I’d have the courage to give up my main source of income to turn my gardening hobby in to an income producer.  Kate is reported to say that there are things you need to do differently when you go from gardening as a hobby to gardening as a source of income.  She says that over two years she spent the equivalent of $16,500 in US Dollars in order to get her gardening business going, from renting land, purchasing equipment, building polytunnels, constructing protective fencing, etc.  Kate is reported to have had supporters or loans to finance her business, but it takes a while to turn a profit from the business.  Kate recommends the following if you’re considering the idea.

Even when the money does start to come in, Collyns says it is not a job for someone looking to make their fortune. “No-one goes into growing veg in order to be a millionaire. However, if you enjoy what you do, and it gives you a sense of purpose, then as long as you make enough money to live off, you can’t ask more than that. Plus if I was a millionaire, I would still grow veg.”  She adds: “The benefits include the knowledge that what you’re doing is an essential part of life. In some previous jobs, I’ve wondered to myself ‘What’s the point of this?’ Growing fresh and healthy produce for local people to enjoy is a great feeling, especially when customers and chefs let you know how much they appreciate it.

You can read the rest of the article by clicking here or on the link below.  If you would like to make money from your gardening hobby, it would be a good idea to get Kate’s book.  Even though it was written by a person in Scotland, the principles would seem to apply anywhere in the world.  Kate mentions the plants that she found to be the most and the least profitable, and that in itself is very valuable information if you are considering profiting from your garden.



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