video tutorials, tried-and-true tips + our latest learnings to surround you with abundance all season long
Tomatoes love basil.
Kale loves dill.
Is it really that simple?
Yes and no.
Companion planting is the art of planting your garden so everything will thrive in each neighbor's company.
Here is the bottom line: Diversity is essential for a healthy, gorgeous garden.
And the more the merrier: More species, more varieties, more flowers, more insects, more abundance, more joy.
Our insectary mix, full of diversity delicious for countless species.
What makes a good companion plant? Here are the three characteristics I consider when pairing companion plants, followed by my four go-to companion plants for any garden.
Tall plants can act as a living trellis for climbing crops. For example, pole beans grow marvelously up sunflowers and corn.
Sunflower and corn are living trellises for pole beans.
Tall crops often create shade in your garden, as well. Limit the shade they make by planting tall crops north/south...
Traditional wisdom sends us to our garden Memorial Day weekend. And for good reason: the soil is finally warm, it is marvelous to not wear socks and all the quintessential summer crops (tomatoes, basil, beans) can be planted with confidence knowing there will (likely) not be another frost 'til fall.
Certainly, Memorial Day is a great time to start your garden but friends, there’s no need to wait. Especially if you love salad as much as Davi and I do :)
With the right seeds, the right tools and the right timing, you can be eating greens six weeks or more before Memorial Day, even in our short seasons here in the Finger Lakes.
Yes, even when it's still snowing on April 19th, as it is today :)
Here are my five ways to make sure you're eating salad before Memorial Day.
When does nature sow her seeds?
In the fall!
Much more on this as autumn approaches :)
In the meantime,...
Here in the Finger Lakes of New York, Zone 5a, we're filling our greenhouse with the seeds of crops best sown 6 to 8 weeks before last frost. Exploring last frost dates is a blog coming soon! In the meantime, we aim for Memorial Day as our frost-free date.
Here is the laundry list, with notes:
Though onions & shallots (like Cuisse du Poulet below) were ideally started 4 to 6 weeks ago, there is no time like the present and last call! Other alliums like Leeks and scallions are not day-length sensitive, so sow them anytime now through mid-July. We'll be planting them out early/mid-May.
Now is the perfect time to start peppers, eggplant and tomatoes (like Brandywise below). Other varieties in the solanid family to start indoors include ground cherries and tomatillos, but hold off on them til mid-April: they are a lot more vigorous and will easily become stressed started this...
Tomatoes are quintessential summer. Whether it's fresh salsa from the garden, a satisfying slice on a sandwich or dropping wedges onto the top of a frittata just as it enters the oven, tomatoes are one of the simplest ways to make me smile in any season.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Chiapas is always the first and last tomato we harvest. Super early, super productive and super disease resistant, it's also super delicious.
Honey Drop ripens right after Chiapas & is lusciously sweet, similar to Sungold in both flavor and size. The biggest difference? Sungold is an F1 Hybrid owned by a multinational corporation while Honey Drop is open-pollinated (so its saved seed will grow true to type) and is owned by no one, so we all have access and will for generations.
Gold Medal has remained one my favorite tomatoes for decades. It's massive! With flavor rich and fruity, it's cross-section is marbled red, orange and yellow....
Growing up in my father's garden, I learned to love bats as much as grow lettuce, sing songs and save seeds.
Bats play an astonishing role in our world. We would not enjoy mango, banana, chocolate or tequila (from agave) were it not for millions of bats pollinating them each night. Keystone species in nearly every ecosystem, the 1,200+ species of bat account for nearly 20% of mammals on earth. Even if you aren't cultivating guavas in your garden, there are so many reasons to welcome them.
-Bats eat up to 1,200 mosquitoes per hour, often consuming their weight in insects overnight
-Bats also eat Cucumber Beetles, the primary vectors of bacterial wilt.
-Bat guano (dung) is rich, well-balanced fertilizer for your garden. Did you know guano was Texas's largest mineral export before oil?
-Watching bats fly above the garden at twilight always takes my breath away. They are incredible acrobats (teehee),...
We've officially made it through to the other side of the Persephone Period!
Enjoy my video for the full story :)
Beyond Greek goddesses rejoicing, this means it's almost time to start sowing seeds beyond onion, shallot & leek...
...but if you're with us here in the Northeast, still hold back.
When you're planting seeds, timing is everything.
Here is one chart from my ebook, Rise & Shine: Starting Seeds with Ease, that will help plan when to sow seeds direct in your garden this season:
Here is another chart from Rise & Shine: Starting Seeds with Ease, that will help plan when to start and tranplant your seedlings this season:
Last week at the Philadelphia Flower Show, Stephanie asked if I would sign a printed copy of Rise & Shine.
My jaw fell quite wide.
Friends, I sometimes forget that more than offering seeds, and deeper than building skills, I am sharing inspiration. Confidence. Transformation. Gratitude. Abundance, in...
Evening Colors sunflower is a heavenly mix of autumnal hues with long, strong stems perfect for cutting.
My favorite moment of Evening Colors last summer was watching a family of song sparrows navigate their branches, foraging and feasting on the soft, invertebrate bodies of caterpillars also having lunch among the blossoms. The mother (I confess a presumption) was only slightly larger than her children by July but her calm, exacting movements clearly demonstrated her honed skills, deftly capturing and whacking one insect after another as her protégés fumbled along after her. She would patiently offer her quarry to them, letting them squirm as their caterpillars squirmed, letting them learn, slowly, the quick grace of slipping an insect straight down a throat.
I’m sure I did very important things that day.
Critical things, even.
That dance of life and death, of learning and becoming, those breathless moments among the blossoms: that is all I remember, all...
The red-winged blackbirds have returned and we just got eighteen inches of snow!
Before I sat down with a cup of chaga tea to write you this morning, here is what we did at dawn:
Friends, I've been asked a lot recently:
"Is it worth planting these seeds I didn't sow last season?"
The answer is yes. Mostly.
Here's the thing: most seeds will last three to five years kept dry and stable, relatively low temperatures. A kitchen cupboard or desk drawer are perfect places for seeds. So planting seed from the year or two prior is perfect.
The only exception: anything in the allium family (onion, leek, scallion, chive, shallot) and parsnip. Their seed coat is thin and fragile, so they readily oxidize and lose their germination. These are the only seeds to purchase each year. If you do have extra from years past, sow them more densely than you would if their germination was optimal.
Many seeds are delicious as seedlings...
With snow still on the ground and freezing nights long from over, it's finally time to sow the first seeds!
Sowing alliums is certainly a sign that spring has nearly sprung.
The ideal window to sow onions, leeks & seeded shallots here in Zone 5 is mid-February to mid-March. No need to rush, you've got time to gather everything you need to make it easy. Growing great seedlings is one of the best ways to ensure you'll truly reap what you sow.
And don't worry, it's not time to start everything. In fact, most seeds sown this early would be sown weeks (& months!) too soon, here in Zone 5.
The only seeds to sow in February are allium seeds. The Allium family (thanks for the great name, Linneus) include onions, leeks, shallots, chives and garlic. Garlic and vegetative shallots are planted in fall and chives can wait 'til April, but the first three are best sown mid-February to...
Many gardeners want to start seeds more successfully, so my friend Sal and I created this gorgeous infographic for you:
...the LED grow light that we use? Here.
...easy to use soil blockers to make gorgeous soil blocks? Here.
...organic potting soil? Here.
...a heat mat that will change my life? Here.
And for our Ultimate Seed Starting Collection, head here.
Dreaming of the season ahead, my dear friend Kc inspired me to make a list of the 7 essential things she needed to know to start seeds well...
...then I'm scheming to make supper with my dear friend Sal, whose illustrations are as vivid and whimsical as her gardens and stories. Eureka! Sal and I had SO much fun laughing and learning as we brought to life the 7 Essentials of Seed Starting through visual story.
Welcome to Sal's Garden!
Petra: Whose advice do you always listen to?
For years we’ve been asked to demystify seed starting and here it is: Rise & Shine shares everything you need to start seeds successfully at home in 40 beautiful pages with easy-to-follow instructions and insightful tips for the novice and experienced grower alike.