You have questions and we have answers. Please see some of the most commonly asked questions here. If you have questions not covered here, please feel free to pick up the phone and call use, or email using the form found below.
Common Garden Questions
Please refer to: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/organic-food/art-20043880
Glyphosate, a synthetic herbicide patented in 1974 by the Monsanto Company and now manufactured and sold by many companies in hundreds of products, has been associated with cancer and other health concerns. Glyphosate is best known as the active ingredient in Roundup-branded herbicides, and the herbicide used with “Roundup Ready” genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Herbicide tolerance is the most prevalent GMO trait engineered into food crops, with some 90% of corn and 94% of soybeans in the U.S. engineered to tolerate herbicides, according to USDA data. A 2017 study found that Americans’ exposure to glyphosate increased approximately 500 percent since Roundup Ready GMO crops were introduced in the U.S in 1996.
Statement by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) Reproductive and Environmental Health Committee: “We recommend that glyphosate exposure to populations should end with a full global phase out.” (7.2019)
Essay in Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health: “Is it time to reassess safety standards for glyphosate based herbicides?” (6.2017)
Consensus statement in Environmental Health Journal: “Concerns over use of glyphosate-based herbicides and risks associated with exposures: a consensus statement” (2.2016)
Improve your health. Consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables is one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy. …
Save money on groceries. One of the benefits of enjoying garden vegetables is a reduced monthly food bill. …
Get outdoor exercise. …
Gardening is a natural stress reliever.
Despite the natural state of dormancy that most plants undertake for the winter months, if you choose the correct varieties you can grow yummy veggies all winter long. Whether you really want to boost your sustainability credentials or you just want to see if you can pull it off, the tips below should keep your garden producing even during the colder months.
If you happen to live in a climate that stays relatively mild all winter long with temperatures above 60 degrees or so, congratulations. You’re lucky enough to grow a myriad of vegetables in the open. For gardeners in other areas who can expect frost, ice, and a fair amount of snowfall, these are the vegetables you should limit yourself to for any winter gardening this season.
These include: spinach, broccoli, kale, garlic, leeks, and radishes. And, if you take a little extra care, you may grow lettuce, radicchio, endive, carrots, parsley, celery, peas, and cabbage.
Snow cover actually acts as an insulating mulch in the garden and may keep the soil below warm enough for the plants to survive throughout the cold winter months.
If you live in an area that gets more rain than snow, you may have to worry about rot. If that’s the case, cover your veggies with clear plastic tunnels to ensure they don’t get drenched and suffer from rot. Also, be sure to place mulch around the base of the plants to insulate the soil.
Learn from Integrative Oncologist, Dr. Brian Lawenda, who discusses toxic chemicals in our daily lives. Harvard-trained, Board Certified Radiation Oncologist and Stanford/UCLA-trained medical acupuncturist Brian Lawenda, M.D., is the National Director of the Integrative Oncology and Cancer Survivorship Program for 21st Century Oncology.
Symptoms of an environmental illness depend on what is causing it. The symptoms may be like those you can get with other conditions. Examples are: Headache, Fever and chills, Nausea, A cough, Muscle aches, A rash.
If you think that exposure to toxic chemicals or other health hazards could be making you sick, talk to your doctor.
Exposure to some types of chemicals can cause an environmental illness. The more of the chemical you are exposed to, the more likely you are to get ill. Examples include:
- Chemicals in cigarettes are known to cause lung cancer.
- Exposure to asbestos, an insulating material found in some older buildings, can cause tumors, lung cancer, and other diseases.
- Wood-burning stoves and poorly vented gas ranges can produce smoke or gases that can cause breathing problems.
- Unsafe drinking water from a rural well polluted with pesticides or other poisons from a nearby industrial plant could cause allergies, cancer, or other problems.
- Certain chemicals in the workplace may cause sterility in men or fertility problems in women.
- Lead poisoning can cause health problems, most commonly in children. It can also cause high blood pressure, brain damage, and stomach and kidney problems in adults.
Not everyone has a green thumb, and growing a garden can often be a tiring — and expensive — endeavor for anyone to tackle. While it can be easy to spend hundreds of dollars on seeds, plants, additives, and water, you can make gardening worth your investment by growing the fruits and veggies that cost the most in stores today.
Starting a plant as a seed (for veggies) or a sapling (for a fruit tree) is the best way to realize savings, although it takes longer for your harvest to come, and there is more risk. Seed packets usually run no more than $2 a packet, even for heirloom varieties. (Heirloom is original, non-hybrid, non-GMO seed stock.) With between 20 and 100 seeds per packet, if even a handful of the seeds grow into fruit-producing adult plants, you’ve earned much of your investment back.
Most gardeners hope to go far beyond “breaking even,” however. Considering that the recent California drought, rising gas prices, and overall food inflation will make fresh fruits and veggies even more expensive this year, it may be easier than ever to earn back what you spend on even the most modest garden.
Whether you are short on space, lack direct sunlight, or live in a cold, challenging climate, there is a creative solution for a determined gardener to have easy access to fresh herbs all year long.
Find ways to utilize your vertical space. Hanging baskets and multilevel plant stands are excellent ways to add more herbs per square foot. If you have a rail, use the long window boxes and attach them to your balcony. Try unique twists on vertical gardening, like growing herbs in re-purposed pallets.
Growing in a Small Outdoor Space – Landscape with food! Plant herbs along walkways or at the garden’s edge for easy harvesting. Since most herbs are so easy to grow and maintain, plant a lot of herbs within your perennial garden, alongside flowers in my summer planters, and as companions with my vegetables. Also intersperse containers throughout my garden, for they provide added depth and are easily moveable in inclement weather.
Tips for Growing Herbs in Containers
- Select hardy varieties and companion-plant. Choose the herbs that you cook with the most frequently and try to find heirloom varieties whenever possible. My personal favorite herbs to grow indoors are basil, parsley, and rosemary.
- Choose a sunny location. Again, light is key. Position your pots directly beneath your window to maximize sunlight effectiveness. Don’t forget that pots can be moved around, when seasons and light conditions shift. Remember to rotate your pots, so that your herbs don’t become too “leggy.”
- Use a container with good drainage. Make sure that you choose pots with drains and saucers. If you only have a sealed pot, place rocks at the base and toss some vermiculite into the soil to aid with drainage.
- Water and fertilize accordingly. Don’t get overzealous. Keep a calendar, if you have trouble remembering when you watered last. Most plants die because of excessive attention, not the lack thereof.
- Harvest properly. Wait until the plant is mature to harvest the first time. Never harvest more than one third of the plant at one given time. Afterwards, wait for that one third to grow back, before you harvest again. Quickly remove all flowers that appear, to ensure the most vibrant flavor. Herbs will expand and proliferate, if you prune them properly (see the photo of the mint, above). Do a little research to find out specific pruning needs for each herb.
Iit turns out that coffee grounds contain a good amount of the essential nutrient nitrogen as well as some potassium and phosphorus, plus other micronutrients. The quantity and proportions of these nutrients varies, but coffee grounds can be used as a slow-release fertilizer.
If you have a garden, you can bury your scraps right there and let them compost underground. Just keep your kitchen scraps in a plastic bucket with a lid.
Potato peels, citrus rinds, greens, leftover vegetables, eggshells and bread—just about any nonmeat food residues can be easily composted. Whenever the bucket starts to get full, take it out to the garden, dig a ditch between the rows of one of your crops or in a currently unused bed, dump the garbage in and cover it up. The scraps will decompose in situ and add their nutrients to the soil.
If you want to enjoy a continuous supply of garden-fresh herbs in your own kitchen, keep these tips in mind.
- Choose plants carefully. Opt for small-leaved herb varieties when possible, as they do the best indoors. In basil, for instance, you’ll find Fino verde, which has half-inch leaves. Some herbs naturally have small foliage, like oregano.
Buy established herb plants in the nursery or via mail-order, or grow your own from seeds or cuttings. Dickinson grows her basil year-round by periodically letting older plants go to seed and then scattering the seeds in the pot. To grow mint, she roots clippings.
Start herbs from seed in a soil-less potting mix in a warm location. Hasten germination and get the plants off to a good start by growing them on a seedling heat mat. Once the herbs reach two inches high, take them off the heat and repot them in regular potting soil.
- Provide plenty of light. Most herbs grow best in a bright location, such as near an unobstructed southern window. Eastern and northern windows can also work, if you provide supplemental light from full-spectrum lighting. Western windows receive afternoon sun, but get warm and may burn foliage, especially in the summer months.
If your kitchen is windowless, grow herbs in a hydroponic growing system that comes with its own special lighting.
- Ensure air-circulation and cool conditions. Herbs grown in stuffy, warm rooms attract pests like scale insects and mealybugs, and they grow weak and spindly.
“Herbs don’t like it warm in winter, even if you do, so place them in cool areas, such as on windowsills,” says Denise Schreiber, greenhouse manager for Allegheny County Parks in Pittsburgh and author of Eat Your Roses. “Air circulation is also necessary,” she says. “Locate the herbs near an overhead fan or in an area of the kitchen that receives air movement from another room.” Cracking windows open occasionally also helps.
- Watch watering. Avoid overwatering your indoor herb garden or letting pots sit in trays of water, as soggy soil will quickly lead to root rot. Water when the first inch of soil dries out.
- Rotate often. Leggy, weak growth is a common problem with indoor herbs. Help ensure they grow straight and strong by rotating the plants once a week so that all sides receive adequate light.
- Fertilize monthly. Keep your herbs growing healthy and strong by feeding them on a regular basis with a half-strength solution of a well-balanced, liquid fertilizer, such as a 15-15-15.
- Prune regularly. Fortunately for your cooking, herbs require frequent pinching for the plants to stay bushy and healthy, so make sure to prune often. The more you pinch, the more the herbs will grow, and the tastier your cooking will be.
The traditional kitchen garden, is a space separate from the rest of the residential garden – the ornamental plants and lawn areas. Most vegetable gardens are still miniature versions of old family farm plots, but the kitchen garden is different not only in its history, but also its design.
The kitchen garden may serve as the central feature of an ornamental, all-season landscape, or it may be little more than a humble vegetable plot. It is a source of herbs, vegetables and fruits, but it is often also a structured garden space with a design based on repetitive geometric patterns.
- Herb Pots should be a minimum of 6 inches in diameter. Only the dwarf or creeping varieties of culinary herbs should be placed in a small pot, such as thyme or spicy globe basil. Herbs that are heavy spreaders can be contained by the size of the pot. A mint will fill either a 6 inch or 20 inch pot in time.