If you need detailed technical help with garden questions, you can always find it at your local USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES-USDA). “These offices are staffed by one or more experts who provide useful, practical, and research-based information to agricultural producers, small business owners, youth, consumers, and others in rural areas and communities of all sizes.” Find your nearest office by visiting this page.
The climate may be changing, but we still have winter. Gardeners in intemperate climes must know their planting “zone” and the projected date of the last frost to take full advantage of their abbreviated growing seasons. When is it safe for you to plant? Click on “Frost /Freeze Data 1971-2001” to use the widget from NESDIS, the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service, which will find station freeze/ frost probability tables for your state.
Can “smug” be a compost catalyst? Because I get a squiggle of self-satisfaction every evening when I tap my used coffee grounds into my kitchen compost pail, knowing that they will wind up in my backyard bin along with bread heels, egg shells, fallen fruit, and even shredded bank statements. In the spring, I slide up the panel at the base of the compost bin, and out pours black gold, made from a year’s worth of garbage, ready to mix with my potting soil. Here, the State of California walks us through the basics of composting at home.
Diane Relf wrote this instruction sheet for the Virginia Cooperative Extension in which she details exactly how to grow food in containers. “Vegetables grown for their fruits generally need at least five hours of full, direct sunlight each day,” she cautions, although she concedes that the requirement can be fudged by placing reflective materials around the plants.
Landscape architect Jamie Durie hosts “The Victory Garden,” TV’s longest-running garden show. The accompanying website offers advice on growing food in a kitchen garden. Read and watch videos about great new varieties of vegetables as well as garden project ideas and maintenance tips. The Victory Garden can be downloaded as a podcast.
Urban Homestead: Path to Freedom
Talk about your extreme self-sufficiency! Since 2001, Jules Dervaes and his family have been growing almost all their own food (including chickens for eggs and goats for milk–they are vegetarian) and even making their own biodiesel fuel in their modest backyard near Los Angeles. Pick up a little of their defiant mojo by touching their blog.