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Garden Fever

Everybody wants “locally grown.” There’s nothing more local than your own backyard.

Backyard garden. (Flickr/Rick Harrison)

Backyard garden. (Flickr/Rick Harrison)

It’s planting time. Rake and hoe and seedling time. And there’s garden fever loose in the land. Everybody wants to eat local these days. Get close to the earth. Save a buck. And there’s nothing more local, earthy, and thrifty – if it works – than a kitchen garden in your own backyard. Veteran gardeners know that.

Now a new generation of American gardeners – twenty and thirty-somethings with a yearning to plant– is getting its fingers in the dirt. They’ve got gardens and gardening tales and gardening questions.

This hour, On Point: we’ve got gardeners, and garden fever.

-Tom Ashbrook


Charlie Nardozzi, garden coach and consultant. He is host of the Vermont Garden Journal and author of several books, including Northeast Fruit and Vegetable Gardening, Vegetables from an Italian Garden, and Vegetable Gardening for Dummies.

Karen Wolfgang, owner and project coordinator at Independence Gardens in Portland, Oregon.

Tom’s Reading List

The Washington Post  “‘I was like any other hopeful gardener with a pot out on the windowsill or a small plot by the back door. I was nervously watching the sky. Would it freeze? Would it snow? Would it rain?’ she [Michelle Obama] writes in her first book, ‘American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden adn Gardens Across America.‘”

2012 Garden Trends Report “Generation X and Y are taking up the mantle to protect and defend the earth. “These new ‘urban-knights’ are creating oases wherever they can find a patch of earth.”

The New York Times “This is great for garden geeks more interested in obsessively tracking every aspect of the growing season than designing a plot. You create a garden using the simple, uncluttered interface, then add plants from an index of 50 vegetable types and 500 varieties.”


Little Potato by Metamora

Vegetables by The Beach Boys

Homegrown Tomatoes by Guy Clark


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Brett

    What a great family activity, even if it only amounts to growing cherry tomatoes in a five gallon bucket…it is also a good way of using movement in meditation, to be mindful and to focus on nothingness simultaneously. I’d bet that sticking one’s hands in good soil has a similar effect on the blood pressure as petting a dog or cat.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Why would you want to focus on nothingness?

      • Alan in NH

         No pesticides, no artificial fertilizers, no GMOs, no long-distance shipping and pollution, no high fructose corn syrup processed in, no preservatives, no hidden ingredients – what could be less “nothingness” than that?

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

          Given the context of his comment, I don’t think that was his point, nor am I arguing about what you said, even though some of those things are beneficial and some are no big deal.

          • Alan in NH

             Point accepted about context. But which of those in your opinion would be no big deal?

          • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

            Pesticides, fertilizers, genetic modification, preservatives, and corn syrup all have their good uses.

          • nj_v2

            Specifically, what are the “good uses” of genetic engineering?

      • jefe68

        Maybe he’s a Buddhist. 

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

          I figured that, but it doesn’t explain what it means.

      • Brett

        You know, focusing on nothingness, not unlike reading your last comment…to clear one’s mind, turn off the internal dialogue (or, monologue, whatever the case may be), quiet the internal  self, be purely in the moment, and so on.

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

          Apparently, doing that doesn’t make you any more considerate.  What’s the problem with an internal conversation?

          • Brett

            Yes, that was a bit of a cheap shot of a retort, unfortunately, I’ll admit it; I stand before all here and say that mistakes were made in my reply, certainly, but you’ve heard of meditation, I’m sure. You may have even imagined what it must be like to practice going in to that certain frame of mind. We have an internal voice that goes on and on…it even goes on into our sleep states, and even into our dreams. To make some attempt at some activity that quiets that voice for brief periods and puts one in a present but deeply relaxed state is a good thing. That activity can be anything from fishing, gardening, running, lotus-positioned omming, to a walk in the wilderness. 

            Assuming you’ve heard of all of this, one might just draw the conclusion that your questions were more of a rhetorical nature. That perhaps the idea of meditation is silly or something; I could be wrong. 

            P.S.-I’m not a Buddhist; I’m not even a Budist!

  • Wm. James from Missouri

    Question 1: Is any manufacturing offering a gardening robot ? I don’t need to be in the sun anymore than necessary. Melanoma , you know !

    Question 2: Have any of you tried to grow your own coffee plants? If so, what has been your experience ?

    • Alan in NH

       Doesn’t coffee typically grow in volcanic soils found mostly in tropical locations? You might be at a disadvantage in Missouri.

    • jefe68

      I doubt you can grow coffee in the Northeast or the Midwest. The winter kills the plants which are tropical as are tomatoes. 

  • AC

    :( gardening is a total mystery to me…i can’t keep houseplants from dying….

    • Brett

      Houseplants aren’t that difficult, really. As with all plants, it’s a matter of getting to know them as individuals. Most all plants like nutrient-rich, well-drained, well-aerated soil; some like that soil more acidic, others more alkaline. Some, say, such as tropicals, like to be watered a lot, and misted; others, say, succulents, don’t like to be watered so much. Some like low light, full sunlight, bright but indirect light, and so on…One can either read up on each plant when the relationship begins with each, or one can pay really, really close attention to determine their individual needs. 

      The disadvantage, I think, to indoor plants, is that, should a household have the misfortune of hosting some sort of insect-pest infestation, detrimental to the plants, one’s options regarding solutions are limited, and those limitations are either isolation or chemical interventions only. In the outdoor garden, however, natural pest control, e.g., attracting butterflies/moths if one has aphids (they’ll eat the aphids), can take on a more natural form, imitating nature’s own balance. 

      Either way, indoor or outdoor, gardening is not natural, it is constructed out of the imagination; it does not occur without our help. We are free to be good stewards, but we also have liberties to be creative…I love gardening, both indoor and outdoor.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Start with Aloe Vera?  It is a minimum-maintenance plant, that has MANY healing and health uses, including burn treatment!

  • jefe68

    I already had my first harvest kale last night. I have also been using Sage and Oregano for the past month.

    The tomatoes, eggplants, lettuce, squash (pray the vine bores stay away) , beets, carrots are in and I hope to have a decent harvest.

    One thing people in urban or high traffic areas need to do is have their soil tested for lead. Fruit baring vegetables are not a problem but from what I understand lettuce and greens could have traces in them. For adults it’s not an issue, for kids it is.

    The lead is in the air. I’ve replaced my soil for the garden, however in the Boston area you will still have this problem.

  • Victor Vito

    I have a garden every year, and try to get a little better every year.  Every little bit toward independence helps.  I’m also starting to coordinate gardens with my neighbors and co-workers to expand our available varieties.

  • Terry Tree Tree

    Anyone that has eaten many home-grown vegetables knows the greater taste is THERE!
       Growing your own vegetables and fruits, should help reduce obesity, because the better taste, and nutrients reduce hunger.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    The pitfall most people fall into with gardening is the “$64 tomato” scenario – basically listening to the businesses that want to sell them endless crap for gardening instead of listening to the folks that are doing it successfully and economically. Learning is key to successful gardening.

  • Nutricj

    I live by the rule that if it was made in a lab it is not food. I preach. I practice what I preach. I read and study.

    But, for the life of me, I have dead thumb! Can never seem to keep anything alive in the garden unless it grows wild on its own well, like the dill and rosemary I had in the PNW. I am most and eternally grateful to all the beautiful local organic farmers and neighbors wherever I live/have lived.

    • Alan in NH

       There does seem to be some capacity to encourage plant life to thrive. It is said that my grandmother could put a stick in the ground and it would begin to leaf out. I wonder if there is some scientific explanation for green and black thumbs.

      • Nutricj

        My mother is in NH and she is a wonderful gardener! She can make her own clothes too….I got none of that, lol

    • BHA in Vermont

       Some things seem to grow more easily than others. I’ve had problems year to year with bell peppers. Great one year, miserable another. Green beans and Swiss Chard usually grow well. Radishes seem reliable (and are fast growing) as do carrots – but you have to get even tiny stones out of the ground first for carrots. Some varieties are short – 3-4 inches so less digging or amending.

      • Nutricj

        Thanks!! I am in CT and under our lawn is a lot of rock in the soil. It was very lush dark soil, no rocks in WA yard. I am probably going to take a class at a local garden center. Maybe they have dead thumb cure?

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    When it comes to growing things, if it’s green and stands more than an inch or two high, it needs to be mowed.  That’s all I know about plants in the yard.  There’s a reason that human beings developed specialization some ten thousand years ago.

    • jefe68

      What is your problem? Is there a reason that you think taking the piss out of people on this subject is fun?
      Are you just so boarded with your life that you need to dump on folks who are doing nothing more than some gardening?

  • Rptwinkie

    I grow a garden on my apartment porch — in pots!  We have squash, green beans, tomatoes, raspberries, cucumbers, basil, lettuce, and corn… and no room for anything else!

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

     Global weirding?  Ghosts and ghouls are coming out?

  • notelevision

    I am harvesting over a pound of strawberries per day on a 10 year old patch.  There is nothing like it.  Any perfect day includes a garden.

  • GardenerBear

    My potted basil always dies by July – what am I doing wrong?? Help!

  • Jim

    My favourite is blackberry and my second favourite is korean pears. i love my trees. the blackberry plant was originally the size of a cup of coffee..  Now, it is a wild bush…

    I can’t wait to pick my fruits.

  • Nutricj

    He makes great sense…I am not artistic either ;-(

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kay-Schlembach/719348866 Kay Schlembach

    I garden in my own yard – veggies and for birds and butterflies – as well as designing and coordinating my local elementary school garden. All 850 kids have a square foot. I teach them all about bugs, natural solutions to problems, healthy eating, and how forgiving the garden can be. Composting, plant development, praying mantis, how FUN!

  • Jay Collier

    Don’t forget Kitchen Gardeners International, a Maine organization that convinced the Obamas to start a vegetable garden at the White House.


  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

     I developed a strong dislike of gardening in my childhood having to hoe my parents’ garden in the North Carolina summer.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Here in Arkansas, our two chief crops are poison ivy and rocks.

  • Matt

    Gardening is great for the temperament. Raining? At least I don’t have to water the garden. Hot and Humid? At least the tomatoes and basil are enjoying the weather. Cold snap in the fall and you can look forward to great tasting Kale and Brussels Sprouts.  

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Keeping a gardening journal is very helpful.

  • Eric

    I just put in a beehive this weekend.  I am learning to be patient and not look inside every few hours to see if the bees are doing what they’re supposed to!  It’s taking a lot of self restraint.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Don’t beekeepers and books tell you to check a few WEEKS?

      • Eric

         Well, yes, but as a new beekeeper I’m awfully curious and eager to make sure it all goes well!

        • Terry Tree Tree

          You MAY make sure all go AWAY?

  • Julia

    Advice to new gardeners? Call an old gardener! Asking questions, sharing experiences and seeds (!!) is part of gardening culture. Good luck!

  • Holly

    I’m part of a community garden. There’s always someone out there to chat with or just garden “together” with. I had one plot for 2 years, now I have 2 and may try to get another. It is really addictive to just be away from everything. My new plant is tomatillos. LOVE to garden

  • Stillin

    A garden is common sense, and that is something sorely lacking in this country presently. I teach, and it is sorely lacking in my kids grades 4-12. That said, I live on the border of N.Y. and Canada in the northernest part of NY State. Our growing period is short, but man is it great! I drive an hour south to buy my tomato plants in April from a tiny greenhouse called Barlett’s, ( Redwood NY) and right now, with those tomato plants I am EATING red home grown tomato’s right now!!!! Delicious. I will put in swiss chard, because you can’t kill it and homegrown it is so tasty and from the grocery store, bitter, horrid. I also can, and come fall, when all the vegetable stands are at their prime, there is not better eating.

    • Nutricj

      Chard is easy to grow??? I spend so much on it for morning juicing.

      • http://www.facebook.com/pamohearn Pamela Paasche O’Hearn

        super easy, unless you’re in the south. it likes northern places…longer days, cooler temps.  

  • Cary LeBlanc

    My wife and I have just planted our garden (five 4X8 square foot gardens). One thing we haven’t considered is how do we avoid seeds from BIG Ag, like Monsanto, ADM. Cargil, etc? They seem to own most of the seed supply.

  • nj_v2

    What happened to the excerpt from Mr. Nardozzi’s book that was here last night?

    As someone who has worked in the realm for a number of years, Let me be the first to inject a note of reality to the conversation.

    We’ve installed a number of vegetable gardens for people over the past few years. A number of them have languished or been converted to ornamental beds, because people just can’t keep up.

    People often underestimate the time, effort, and money to grow food. Seed starting (indoors in winter for the dedicated), soil preparation, planting, mulching, weeding, managing insects and diseases, protection from critters…

    Not everyone has a White House staff to do the work for them.  

    With tree fruit (apples, pears, cherries, peaches), it’s a whole other level of attention. Commercial growers spray their orchards 15–20 or so times per growing season. Add in mulching, pruning, protection measures for birds and rodents, etc. and it becomes a part time job.

    As the conversation so far has emphasized, the rewards and benefits are real and sometime profound, but folks need to understand what’s involved to avoid becoming overwhelmed and/or disappointed.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      They should start modestly?

      • nj_v2

        That and doing some research before jumping into something, even on a smaller scale.

        It’s easy to plant a few fruit trees. Maintaining them in a timely manner, year after year requires some effort and time. Even a few trees may prove daunting if one doesn’t know what to expect.

  • Assen

    This year I am trying to do hay bale gardening. Instant raised bed. Seems to be doing okay so far, as long as I remember to water mornings and evenings.

  • Lorna

    You don’t need a lot of space. The strip running up my driveway has basil, sage, rosemary, lovage, marjoram, chives, garlic, tomatoes…. and flowers.

  • Bob from Vermont

    what about organic vs. chemical fertilizers?

  • bonnie

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get fresh tomatoes!
    I have peas, asparagus, strawberries tomatoes, and broccoli all doing great so far, other things just getting planted here in Boston’s western suburbs.   Love the community gardens since my own yard is shady and hilly, and comparing with other gardeners.   Most of all I love getting in touch with nature, watching the weather, etc.; it makes me a better citizen of Planet Earth.  It is not always so nice being humbled by critters who can figure out how to get to my crops at the right time and despite many tries keeping them out!  But I plant extra for them since I am all-organic!

  • Jim Hetrick

    I’ve been gardening for over thirty years. I started when I was homesteading in Maine, and my 1/4-acre garden was the place I could go just to relax, feel accomplishment and escape from the world for a while.
    These days, the garden is smaller, but I still grow killer corn, beefsteak and grape tomatoes, hot and green peppers, squash, zucchini, cukes, carrots, peas, radishes, sunflowers and about 5,000 different varieties of weeds.
    The most important thing to me about the garden is that it is better than my son’s, who lives 1 mile down the road from me.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

     Mescaline?  Isn’t that illegal?

  • http://www.facebook.com/pamohearn Pamela Paasche O’Hearn

    I just came in from my garden, listening to on point while checking on my ‘babies.’  I have 8 4×8 raised beds, 4 4×4 raised beds, and built an attached greenhouse last year. I’m learning what I call ‘defensive gardening’ (getting used to mountain zone 4/5 after growing up coastal zone 6-7), and we’re still eating carrots, beets, sauerkraut, pickles, beans in the freezer while starting to  pick peas & lettuce in the greenhouse. (we got snow last week outside). I’m wondering about people’s advice for heirloom tomatoes in a place like mine, I never seem to have as much success as with modern hybrids, but the taste is so yummy from the heirlooms.
    with the greenhouse this year, I’m trying artichokes, tomatillos red bell peppers, cantelope cauliflower & broccoli in the greenhouse that seem to not be able to handle our 90 day growing season. Trying corn outside for the first time.
    Outside, lettuce, herbs, cukes, zucchini, yellow squash, spaghetti squash, cabbage, brussels, potatoes, tomatoes, hot peppers, beets, carrots, kale, collards, chard, peas, yellow and green beans, raspberries, blackberries, hops, apples, cherries, …

    also, any advice about sweet potatoes in Idaho, zone 4/5 mountain short season?

  • http://www.fibrowitch.net Jan Dumas

    Wow I never realized my family was so cutting edge. We have been gardening since my Great Grandmother was a girl. From the 30′s to the  60′s they would bring their produce in to Boston and sell it so they could pay bills. In the 60′s when the grand children arrived the garden was re purposed to feed our many families. It has only been since the 80′s were the pressure to feed so many people lessened and it was possible to have a small single garden. Which I do.


  • Nutricj

    Nitrates become nitrosamines when they are heated/cooked. This is carcinogenic on human consumption. This is the reason high levels and additives in processed foods are a deep concern.

    • nj_v2

      The caller was asking about nitrates in the soil where they are a key nutrient. Nothing to do with nitrates in meat.

      Soil tests for nitrogen don’t mean much, as soil nitrogen is fleeting, readily changing form and prone to leaching. Providing a steady, moderate supply of nitrogen by some combination of fertilizer, compost, and mulch (which slowly breaks down and releases nutrients) is the way to go.

      • Nutricj

        She specifically asked, also, why it was a safety concern. Nitrates are not only in meats my friend.

        • nj_v2

          I don’t remember that the caller referred to meats. I understood the concern to be nitrates in soils, and, specifically, how to test for them.

          Soil nitrates are not a “safety concern.”

          • Nutricj

            In human health, high concentrations of nitrates in foods can be exceptionally dangerous to the sensitive infant. There is some concern, such as with green house grown spinach for example, that the high levels can be very dangerous in infant food. Also, High nitrates in food + heat yield nitrosamines. Remember, vegetables also contain proteins/amino acids…not just meat.

            I have no idea why you keep talking about meat. I am talking about infant food safety which was the primary concern of the caller: making safe home made baby food.

          • Nutricj

            I should add that nitrate poisoning is rare, but infants are at high risk. Some recs say the leafy greens like spinach and chard should be kept to min before 6 months old, others say 9 months. Personally I got blending with my leafy green baby food making at the 9 ish month mark with both my children. And they both love greens still at 6 & 8

          • nj_v2

            I was mentioning meat because most of the concern with nitrates and nitrites, combining with amines seem to have centered around meat, in cases where nitrites are added as as preservatives.

            From what i’ve read, nitrates and nitrites occur naturally in many plants, usually in small quantities that, in food plants, don’t pose any special hazard.

            There’s some information that synthetic fertilizer use on food crops can increase the nitrate content of the plant, so that seems to be another reason to buy/grow organic.

            I haven’t gone back to re-listen to the broadcast, so i’m not sure if my impression/assumption that the caller was talking about soil nitrates was valid. I thought it was in the context of soil testing, so i assumed that they were referring to nitrates in the soil.

          • Nutricj

            Please forgive me if I was not explanatory enough ;-) sincerely. I listen to this program while 1. On the treadmill and then my comment writing is as short as possible. 2. I am a nutritionist, and much of my work has focussed on pediatric nutrition. When I wrote my initial comment, rather than sweating and forgetting, I should have been very specific that i was discussing hazards in infant food. And 3. Occupational hazard…I heard baby food and safety and my head went straight to infant food safety. The caller may very well have been more concerned about the effects of her soil on the nitrate content of her veggies. In this I am certain you have superior knowledge as I have (see everywhere- I am a really good cook, but I cannot keep a vegetable alive on a vine to save my life!). I think the call started with her inquiring about making baby food, it’s safety, why worry about nitrates, and how to test soil to limit this. Infants are particularly sensitive to nitrates. Once they hit a certain point in development, they can metabolize much better as we can as adults. And it is true that most nitrate hyper-exposure cases for infants come from contaminated ground water where the adults are fine and the babies- well they don’t recover. The leafy veggie family, as well as tubers and a few others have higher concentrations of nitrates stored in their leafs and roots. Most human needn’t worry, but say a 5 month old baby with an underdeveloped GI tract…well, it can be disasterous. So when it comes to infant food we are extra extra cautious. And, going in the meat direction- its true for adults, I am more concerned with advising against added nitrates (hot dogs, perfect example), then grilling lending to nitrosamine consumption and this is VERY BAD for us all. But, on the infant food front- using spinach as the most commonly asked about in baby food making- it has a natural higher nitrate concentration, and there is some evidence (I believe UC Davis has some published data), that the nitrates in spinach build up more in storage. So the concern becomes: parents cook this spinach, then blend into baby food and feed to infant that is not ready for the larger doses of nitrates. Luckily on the meat front, most professed carnivores, still at the recs of their pediatricians starts with cereals and veggies when infants switch to solids from breast or bottle, so we don’t have as much exposure to the meat nitrates in infancy as we do as adults.

            I totally agree with you that even the small amounts that are kept in plants for children beyond the age of 1, and adults, no safety issue. Infancy is special, and I should have said that at the start.

          • nj_v2

            That’s all good information on nitrates in food; thanks

            Realize, though, that nitrogen is an essential plant nutrient, needed in quantities only exceeded by carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen which  plants get from water and the air.

            Nitrates are one form of nitrogen that plants absorb through their roots. The nitrogen gets used in other processes in the plant. Nitrates present in plant tissue are the result of other metabolic processes in the plant, and are not the “same” nitrates that the plant absorbed from the soil.

          • Nutricj

            I liked that Mr. Nardozzi explained this too, on the soil variant.

            My favorite biochem prof. Had all these beautiful and intricate drawings about the routes into our world for nitrates. he especially cared about plants and human wellness (as do I). he very sweetly would say, “yah think oxygen is important? Well hold onto your hats because Nitrogen, WOW, nitrogen is bigger, much bigger!”

            I promise promise, I aced all my chem and biochem exams ;-)

            If it hadn’t been a baby-food-safety Q, I wouldn’t have even commented about this issue from nutrition POV.

            I just want to learn how to grow veggies without killing them.

  • BHA in Vermont

    My question: Is it OK to toss the algae (not blue-green) from a pond on the compost pile? I presume so, it is just another form of vegetation – just not the kind that we find palatable.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Just tell me how to keep a steak vine and a doughnut tree going.

    • J__o__h__n

      How are the Scotch plants growing? 

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

         Slowly!  It takes those dang things a long time to mature.

        • Terry Tree Tree

          Good booze gets aged?

    • nj_v2

      We get it. You’re out of touch with the processes that sustain us and have no interest in understanding the basis for our existence. You could have stopped after the first post.

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        Why should I stop?  You never do.

    • jefe68

      If you’re not interested in the subject why are bothering to post. It’s not political it’s about growing food. It’s a harmless past time that brings people satisfaction. It’s also your loss. There is nothing better than that vine ripened tomato newly plucked from the vine. All warmed up by the sun and bursting with that intoxicating fragrance that rivals peaches, which is no small feat for a nightshade.

  • Scott Frank

    Hi, love the show. I live in an apartment with my son and we have no land to till. Will that stop me? No! We have a full garden in planters and 5 gallon buckets and my 5 yr old loves helping me. I’ve even started a blog to chronicle the experience. http://theapartmentgarden.tumblr.com

    I’m so glad to hear this show today. Thank you!

    Scott in Rutland, VT

  • Paul James

    As far as local goes and thinking about the idea to get back to native and heirloom plants – where can one look to see what plants were once native to your local area? 

  • Naomi in Vermont

    How nice to hear “our own” Charlie Nardozzi on your program–he’s the best! (It’s always a pleasure to listen to him on Vermont Edition, now the rest of the country can share him.)

  • Allen in Southington, CT

    I started my 20 x 20 garden in the fall of 2010; had my first crop last year. This year I am back again. Potatoes, cabbage, spinach, tomatoes, peppers, beans/peas, onions and winter squash and pumpkin in a row outside the garden. I also have an herb garden and am wrestling with a raspberry and blackberry patch.

    We have had so much fresh produce in the second half of the year from not much effort other than the early spring.  I don’t have the best space (sun only 1/2 the day) but it still produces wonderfully.  I’d recommend others to do start a garden.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dotknott Michaela Knott

    I’m a new gardener (first time with a real place for it.. )

    We have a 3 car driveway and only one car, so we’ve turned half the driveway into a container garden (of rather large containers.) I’ve already had my first harvest of spinach and am expecting carrots soon.

    Three varieties of carrots, two onions, strawberries, purple pole beans, spinach, scallop squash, two varieties of potato (one lovely purple variety,) celery, ornamental peppers and two varieties of hops that are growing faster than anything I’ve ever seen (as much as an inch a day!)

    I’m so excited for the hops..

    • http://www.facebook.com/dotknott Michaela Knott

       all (except for the hops are heirloom varieties BTW)

  • Nutricj

    That book was soooo great! $64 tomato that is ;-)

  • Call_Me_Missouri

    I live in Maryland and we have water issues where it either Floods or we’re in a Drought.

    I grew everything last year in pots without drain holes and early in the season this worked because we were in drought mode and I had to manually water everything and keeping the water in the  pot was great.

    Later in the season we went into flood mode and the water backed up in the pots.

    Do you have a suggestion for creating a pot with pluggable drain hole so I can have the best of both worlds?  I was thinking of drilling a hole in my current pots on the side near the bottom then plugging the holes with wine corks that can be removed when we get too much rain.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Pots with drain holes, in short pots, or saucers, to hold the more appropriate amount of water?

      • Call_Me_Missouri

        I think you are on the right track.  I’m going to see if I can find the next size pot up and put one inside the other.

        I planted Tomato plants in pots last year and they took A LOT of water.  On the hot days I’d rather they had more than a saucers worth of water!

        • Terry Tree Tree

          Water holder should NOT be near as high as the plant pot.  TOO much water.  Saucer, or other  low container will hold enough water, but not too much.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bridget.meyer.3 Bridget Meyer

    Here’s a gentle plea for not gardening! Support your local CSA providers and farmers markets! You’ll form wonderful relationships with farmer/providers and fellow consumers and you’ll have some spare time!

    • J__o__h__n

      That is my prefered method of gardening. 

    • Nutricj

      I do! I promise! My husband would tell you, “will work for CSA” should go on his pay stub ;-)~

    • Terry Tree Tree

      NOT mutually exclusive! 

  • Wl_fu

    Your guests have any suggestion on how to protect the crops from small animals, like chipmonk?  The only sunny spot in my house is the front and my husband is not excited about the idea of putting fence and wire at the front of the house to protect the tomato plans or basil or strawberry?  These days our strawberries are gone before they get a chance to ripe.

  • Grace

    I’m 13 and I’ve had a garden since I was 6. This year I’ve planted potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, leeks, lettuce, carrots, beans, cucumbers, cantaloupe, pumpkins, and zinnias. We harvested lettuce from my garden last week and had it for dinner. I find it really satisfying and fun!

    • Nutricj

      What a gift Grace! You made my day with this post!

    • nj_v2

      : : :  Smiling and applauding  : : :

  • Carrie

    Thank you for the show!
    I truly think we need solutions for young people who want to enrich soil, invest in land, and grow food for themselves and their neighbors – but who live on rental properties. My experience is that property owners (the 1% who own) do NOT care about building community through gardens – the beauty, the bounty, the abundance of food. Instead they fine renters. This, to me, is a crime. Gardening is a solution to economic problems! It gives wealth back to people. If it is criminalized then it is just another way for the rich to stay rich and to create “lack” among the masses.

  • Courtney

     I love what my garden does for my kids! My 3 girls, ages 8, 7 and 2 spend a lot of time in our garden with me. I even had a couple of kids from the neighborhood helping me weed over this past weekend! I love that they know where their food comes from, and can recognize it from seed to plate. Each of my older daughters has even brought their class on a “field trip” to our garden. We have everything from tomatoes, potatoes, onions, peas, and peppers to fruit trees and bushes like apples, plums, blueberries, and raspberries. It makes me smile at my desk just thinking about it!  P.S.  I am a neighbor of Charlie’s in VT, and listen to him regularly on VPR!

  • Bethmonika

    My 5 year old planted a pumpkin seed at school and brought
    home a beautiful plant.  What tips can you give me for planting
    it without killing it?

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Dig a hole as large as the container.  If the container is biodegradable, cut a few holes for roots to grow through, and put it in the ground.   If the container is NOT biodegradable, remove the plant, WITH the dirt, or cut the container off, then put plant and dirt in ground.   Water a little at dusk, or later, but before sunrise.

  • Catherine Kelley

    How do cantalope do growing up a trellis?  I am trying this for the first time and am concerned about the weight of the maturing fruit.

    • nj_v2

      You can make little slings for the fruit as they get larger.  Thin, strong fabric that dries out quickly after a rain works well—cheesecloth, wedding-veil type fabric, even old pantyhose. Attach the material to the structure and loop under the fruit so the fabric carries most of the weight.

  • http://twitter.com/planetirving Irving Steinberg

    I have a couple of small raised vegetable and herb beds and have been installing a native wildflower garden that includes native edible fruit bearing shrubs. It is a bonus for me and the native wild life. 

  • BHA in Vermont

    I have a 3′x40′ raised bed along the north side of my driveway. People are amazed at how much you can get, both in variety and quantity, in a small space.

    For one thing, people need to think in the “Square Foot Gardening” concept rather than large farm, tractor tilled, row cropping. When it is small, the plants can be closer together, you can look at every plant every day. Water when needed, deal with pests, etc.

    Compost all your kitchen fruit and vegetable scraps (other than corn cobs and stone fruit pits, they take WAY too long) in the compost bin. No need to buy soil amendments at the garden center.

  • nj_v2

    Production from small plots can be increased by growing up. Simple trellises allow vining crops to grow vertically. 

    Cucumbers, winter squashes, beans, peas, melons can all be grown on trellises to good advantage. Keeps ground space open for other plants and improved air circulation around the vines helps reduce conditions that lead to disease problems.

  • Julianne

    Thank you for this great discussion!
    I’m a new gardener, and for the last two years have been struggling with my seeds! This year the bush beans have been eaten alive.  I’ve gone out in the evening to inspect the leaves but haven’t found any prolific amounts of beetles, etc.  I did notice what looked like a golden lady bug (Mexican Beetle?).  What can I do?  I’m now losing my cucumber seeds as well! 
    I’m trying to make my garden more economically sound by starting with seeds.
    Any suggestions?
    We’re also wondering about fertilizing.  Should I do this?  With what organic fertilizer?  I know tomatoes love to eat, what about the rest of the garden?
    Happy growing-  

    • http://twitter.com/RexScora EnriqueEdwardFacundo

      Try getting some marigolds or lovage. They are both great for helping repel pests. I was having issues and now look at my garden – it’s thriving! Here’s a link if you want to see it – http://facundofarmscommune.tumblr.com/

  • Chris

    This year I added a 23″x13″raised bed. I have 12 healthy crops growing in six raised rows within the cinder block frame. My question: When winter comes, should I till all of the soil together or just rotate the crops into the exsisting rows without retilling the soil?

    • jefe68

      With beds it’s best to rotate the crops and to start  composting and add the new composted soil in the Spring.

      Tilling all the soil is making way to much work for yourself.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

     This is interesting.  On Point went dead, and now I’m hearing the outfield chatter of the engineers.

    • http://www.facebook.com/dotknott Michaela Knott

       super weird
      “it was cool kinda like BBC”

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        Now I think we’re getting Marketplace, plus the director’s cues.

    • nj_v2

      Only on some stations, apparently. Program is still streaming intact on the mother ship (WBUR).

  • lpell2000

    I have gardened for years, but for two years in a row I was inundated with something that ate all my plants.  :(  I spent sooo much time nursing them to adult plants only to have them eaten within a week.  I believe it was a beetle problem.  I put down numerous “beer traps”, but there have been just too many.  I gave up.  I did plant a couple of tomato plants this year, but reluctant to grow much else because of this problem.

  • Dianne Weinfeld

    We own 3 apartment communities in Foxboro,  MA. and 15 years ago we bought a small farm and have been offering community gardening to our residents as one of our amenities. We supply the water they work the land.  It has been a big success and enticed people to move to our properties.   Dianne W. Mayfair Realty

  • Curt

    What happened to the stream?? Some intern just got canned…

  • BHA in Vermont

    Too bad you can’t get the chickens to eat ONLY the bugs and weeds and NOT the plants people want to eat.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Reminds me of something I read a while ago:  How do you unscramble an egg?  Feed it to a hen.

    • http://www.facebook.com/pamohearn Pamela Paasche O’Hearn

      my chickens & I are in an absolute love-hate relationship at the moment, as they only seem to eat the veggies, or dig them up to make dustbaths. they also know to wait until the cars drive out before they break in.

      • Terry Tree Tree

        Chicken, RUN!  ?

      • jefe68

        I’m not sure why you don’t put up a fence to keep them out. Such as one made of chicken wire.

  • Chris

    I started gardening as a practical way to opt out of a destructive industrial food system. I am a 30yo Engineer and I see a growing trend among my peers to do the same. However there is a reason our society consist primarily of specialists and not farmers. Growing food is difficult and people dont have the time to risk.

    As a busy Engineer,I built my garden to be a self sufficient as possible. I put it on the roof of my garage in self watering containers that fill from rain water. It doesnt need to be watered and needs minimal weeding. Ive made it my mission to make this more affordable so other busy specialists can have access to this transformative experience. Ive recently started a company in the northampton Ma area to install self maintaining food gardens that are economically compatative with a two year organic vegetable bill from whole foods.

  • Alana Torraca

    We have a vermi composter in our dining room and one of the most satisfying things is to feed them our credit card offers. They turn it all but the little plastic window into rich compost which grows delicious tomatoes, peas, beans, cucumbers, zucchini, spinach and herbs in our raised beds. One of the best things about living in Vermont is that almost everybody has a vegetable garden and I’ve learned so much and received so much support since I moved here.

  • William Linton

    I have a question.  What is the function of Peat Moss and how does it effect the soil?

    • http://www.facebook.com/pamohearn Pamela Paasche O’Hearn

      it does a lot of things. it will break up and lighten heavy soils that have a lot of clay. it brings the pH down and acidifies the soil, it adds organic matter and nutrients, and it helps hold moisture in the soil.  Most veggies like a slightly acidic soil, but if you have a really acidic soil, you need to be careful to balance it back out and not be too acidic.

      • William Linton

        I live in Utah and we have a considerably alkalinic,  clay soil and ever since I added the peat moss to a bed, it has cut the production on the bed significantly.  I find now, that I have to fertilize it much more as well.  What can be done to reverse the damage?

        • jefe68

          Do you know any horse farms or people who board horses? I would find out if they have any manure that you can haul away.
          It’s best if it’s older than six months or more. If it’s fresh I would compost it for a year. 

      • Zing

        You are beautiful.

        • nj_v2

          Zingless moves from banal vacuity to social inappropriateness.

  • Sam Thomas

    I am the faculty adviser for the SEEd Project (Sustainable Edible Education) at California Lutheran University. From my experience working with undergraduates in small-scale agriculture (more like permaculture), I can echo what your guests were saying early in the show about how gardening connects with young people in their search for what matches their values and experiences. I would add that for many of them, gardening is a way to experience the “real” in a way that temporarily sets aside all the ways in which their lives are mediated by technology, representation, and social expectations. They come to a place (the garden) where they are confronted with a set of questions and problems – gardening is nothing if not complex and mysterious – that intersect with all aspects of human life: food production, economics, ethics, philosophical questions about our relationships to the environment, etc. For many of them, this is their first experience with the soil, and for many of them, it will not be their last.

  • Taraloughran

    What about sunlight? Most people in apartments or condos just don’t get much sunlight in their properties. How much is enough? I only get morning sunlight myself. Is there a way to make it work?

    • nj_v2

      That might be enough light for plants where you’re just going to harvest the leaves—lettuce, chard, kale, mustard greens, some herbs, etc. 

      For plants where you want the fruit, you’ll need most, if not all, of the day’s available sunlight. It takes a lot of energy to produce fruit!

      Bright surfaces in the area of the plants might reflect some of the light back and maximize what light you have.

  • Terry Tree Tree

    Some bozo has put a 1 1/2″ X 3″ box, center screen?

    • Zing

       They’re probably GREEDY

  • Zing

    Factor in your time, the cost of materials, incidentals, loss to pests, and that’s what you’ll save…a buck.

    Remember “back-to-the-landers” ?  All those I knew love Whole Foods, Wegmans, Public Market, Trader Joe’s…besides, the lettuce I grow in February in Minnnesota is pathetic. 

  • Pingback: Green thumb, anyone? | runningonjava

  • Robin

    What are good plants for desert climates? Where I live it’s very hot & dry, and the soil is (of course) very sandy. Water is expensive and in short supply. Any suggestions?

    • jefe68

      Not much. Most if not all vegetables need a fair amount of water. If you live in the desert there is not much you can do if you don’t have a water source.

      You might be able grow some herbs such as sage, oregano and other dry climate herbs that can do well without much water.

  • Marynewstjoes

    Please talk about Burpee and genetically modified seeds so that they can only be used within 1 year.  Heirloom seeds can last almost forever …using seeds from the crop to use again.
    It’s awful that seeds have been modified this way.

  • JGC

    My son is planting a garden to feed his pet rabbit. Lettuces, parsley, carrots… What he doesn’t quite yet realize is, he will be feeding all the wild neighborhood rabbits as well…

  • DonnyT

    I don’t have time to farm, but I’m participating in a local CSA (community sponsored agriculture) You pay a certain amount at the beginning of the season and the farm provides fresh, local, herbicide/pesticide free vegetables picked that same day/week! Also it beats the supermarket where produce are shipped in from different parts of the country and sit in storage for days. This is a great site if anyone is interested in CSA.

  • http://www.gardentowerproject.com/ Ramsay Harik

    Urban organic gardening is the wave of the future, and your show captured this nicely.  Container gardening is a big part of that, but has its limitations.  Our company has invented a revolutionary self-feeding container garden that grows 50-plus plants in 4 square feeding, with a central composting tube that transforms kitchen scraps into black gold vermicompost.  I invite everyone to take a look and let us know what you think:  http://www.gardentowerproject.com.  Thanks!

  • Guest

    Advice please! I live in the Sierra and at this location, I have red clay that doesn’t even pass a water perk test. I have a 20ftx20ft garden set up now and half of the soil has many bags of amended soil that were added by the marijuana growers who were evicted. I think the growers helped the soil?

    I didn’t plant a garden for 2 years, since I was concerned about the soil safety. Now, I have it planted, again. I have plenty of water!

    After reading other posters, I learned that all the additives that were added to the soil by the “growers” may not be good for vegetables.

    Should I have my soil tested?  What are the requirements for a vegetable garden vs a marijuana garden?  I thought it would be about the same but I am reading that that may not be the case.

    Thank you for your advice.

  • Jbcoughlin

    Enjoyed the show as I do most days but I  have a problem with On Point. It is the “music” which comes on too frequently for me. The drumming on your show and then ,different but equally awful, drumming for WBUR news makes me turn off the radio. I seldom get a chance to go back.
    Enjoy your guests, Tom, but wish something could be done about the extra noise.

  • BarrytheBully

    I’ve been gardening for 12 years and it seems each year my garden grows. The more I do it and study it the less I know. I keep reading and trying new things. It’s a big mystery trying to figure it all out. Some years I have bumper crops and think I am Mr. Green Jeans, other years are like what the heck did I do! Critters are my biggest challenge. Birds keep eating my strawberries and blueberries. Beatles, slugs, caterpillars, fleas, and others eating a lot of my other stuff. It’s a labor of love. Definitely be cheaper and easier to just buy a coop share but not as rewarding.

  • Sententious

    True love & home-grown tomatoes!

  • Pingback: PRK On The Air: Your Garden | WBUR

Aug 21, 2014
In this November 2012, file photo, posted on the website freejamesfoley.org, shows American journalist James Foley while covering the civil war in Aleppo, Syria. In a horrifying act of revenge for U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq, militants with the Islamic State extremist group have beheaded Foley — and are threatening to kill another hostage, U.S. officials say. (AP)

An American is beheaded. We’ll look at the ferocity of ISIS, and what to do about it.

Aug 21, 2014
Jen Joyce, a community manager for the Uber rideshare service, works on a laptop before a meeting of the Seattle City Council, Monday, March 17, 2014, at City Hall in Seattle. (AP)

We’ll look at workers trying to live and make a living in the age of TaskRabbit and computer-driven work schedules.

Aug 20, 2014
In this Oct. 21, 2013 file photo, a monarch butterfly lands on a confetti lantana plant in San Antonio. A half-century ago Monarch butterflies, tired, hungry and bursting to lay eggs, found plenty of nourishment flying across Texas. Native white-flowering balls of antelope milkweed covered grasslands, growing alongside nectar-filled wildflowers. But now, these orange-and-black winged butterflies find mostly buildings, manicured lawns and toxic, pesticide-filled plants. (AP)

This year’s monarch butterfly migration is the smallest ever recorded. We’ll ask why. It’s a big story. Plus: how climate change is creating new hybridized species.

Aug 20, 2014
A man holds his hands up in the street after a standoff with police Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, during a protest for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo. (AP)

A deep read on Ferguson, Missouri and what we’re seeing about race, class, hope and fear in America.

On Point Blog
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On Pinterest, Thomas the Tank Engine and surprising population trends from around the country. Also, words on why we respond to your words, tweets and Facebook posts.

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Nickel Creek Plays Three Songs LIVE For On Point
Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014

Nickel Creek shares three live (well, mostly) tracks from their interview with On Point Radio.

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