video tutorials, tried-and-true tips + our latest learnings to surround you with abundance all season long
As a child and to this day, praying mantis delight me instantly when I find them in the garden. Their unlikely and adept bodies, their incredible adaptations & their uncanny camouflage are absolutely astonishing. I'll stop what I'm doing, every time, to watch them for minutes on end, spellbound by their captivating grace.
Can you find the praying mantis on the sage, beside Queen Sophia marigold, in front of Pancho?
When we rhapsodize poetic about beneficial insects, the charismatic praying mantis is often celebrated alongside ladybugs, bees and butterflies.
Friends, I love praying mantis.
And let's be clear.
Far from a pest insect, praying mantis (Mantis religiosa) is nonetheless at the bottom of the list of 'beneficial insects' in your garden.
Here are the three essential things to know about praying mantis:
When it comes time to eat, praying mantis are generalists. They'll voraciously...
Once final frost has come and gone and the nights are consistently above 50 F, the soil is finally warm enough for the crops that thrive in the heat of summer.
Some of them, like tomatoes and ground cherries, absolutely must be started 6 to 8 weeks prior to final frost to have any chance of surrounding you with abundance in short seasons.
Others, like basil and cosmos, will surround you with abundance whether you transplant or direct sow them.
Here, friends, are the crops whose fragile, sensitive root systems despise being transplanted. When direct-sown, they'll grow faster and fruit earlier, increasing your harvests significantly. (If you must transplant them, be sure to follow the tips on peat/cow pots and soil blocks at the bottom of the list.)
A brush up on botanical Latin! The Cucurbit family classically sprawls and is slightly spiny, including everything from summer squash to winter squash, cantaloupe to cucumber.
Growing up in the Finger Lakes of New York, high elevation Zone 5, I have the mantra of "Memorial Day is Final Frost" deeply embedded in my brain. I am constantly questioning my assumptions about myself and the world around me; this year I was inspired to dig a little deeper into this maxim.
Are historic frost dates still relevant?
potatoes are ideally planted three weeks before final frost
Pouring over decades of temperature records in our county from the National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Association (which is totally free and fascinating, I highly recommend it!) from 1930 to present, here are my observations:
a) Our final frost dates have (surprisingly) remained fairly consistent, often occurring just before Memorial Day.
b) Even on years when final frost is weeks earlier than Memorial Day (like May 1st, 1970, which happens 2-3 times each decade), the night temps generally aren't out of the 40s consistently until around Memorial Day.
With Memorial Day just around the corner, it's finally time to tuck your transplants in the ground. Whether you're planting them in raised beds, a large garden or in a container on your deck, here are five tips to boost their health and, as a result, the beauty and abundance surrounding you this season.
We grow thousands of certified organic transplants for our farm store each spring.
First, know this: Healthy, unstressed transplants grow the greatest abundance. Healthy transplants are short and stout, deep green and not root bound. See the gallery at the bottom for pictures worth a thousand words.
Without further ado:
Transplants, whether you grow them or buy them, are rather sensitive little beings.
Grown indoors with seed-starting soil mix and a roof over their heads, your transplants have lived their lives in conditions very different from those in your garden. They've never experienced gusting winds, falling rain, fluctuating...
Daffodils bloom, wood frogs sing! As robins pull worms from the warming soil, here are ten easy seeds to sow in May.
The classic harbinger of spring, peas are sown as soon as your soil can be worked. (What does that mean? Check out this video.) Some years we sow peas in March. Other years, it's May. All seasons have their advantages and disadvantages. Everything's grand or everything's not grand: you choose. I digress.
Peas tolerate cool seasons better than most plants in your garden. To some extent, the earlier you plant your peas the earlier you'll harvest peas. Keep in mind: peas developing in cooler temperatures will be sweeter and more tender than those developing in the heat of summer. So tuck them in quick! And whatever you do, please resist starting them indoors; peas absolutely despise having their sensitive root systems uprooted. Most of us can relate.
To extend your pea harvest this season, sow both dwarf and full-size...
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),...
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.