Book Review: Crops in Tight Spots

Crops in Tight Spots, written by Alex Mitchell. Published by Kyle Books in 2019.

Growing food, and growing them in tiny spaces is a trendy part of gardening right now. This is a good trend, since growing food at home is always a good practical hobby.

I have thought for a long time, that growing food at home, even if it’s herbs or a single tomato plant, is the best way to reduce one’s carbon footprint.

It reduces the fossil fuels needed to produce and transport the food. It can prevent food waste, since the food is bypassing more parties and going directly from ‘backyard to table’. Any spoiled food grown can be composted at home and recycled back into the earth.

If more people grow food, this puts less demand on large mono-culture conventional agriculture, which would eventually reduce the amount of chemicals poisoning the soil, air, and water. Plus, you know how your food was grown and what’s on it, potentially reducing risk of food poisoning.

This book has many ideas on what types of containers to grow food in. Tight spots require small containers, or at least containers that utilize space and give the most growing space.

Many of the containers are recycled items that most everyone may collect at some point- like tin cans, take out containers, and wood crates. This is good, because if someone lives on an upper apartment floor, it’s less things to carry up or down. It’s also the newly added fourth ‘R’ in Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Repurpose!

In tight spots, space is a premium, so there are ways one can grow plants vertically with shelves, wall hangings, or trellises. Most of the book focuses on growing food in containers on patios or balconies, but there is a section on small sized in-ground gardens, or growing indoors too.

Throughout the book, there is information on how to best grow each type of crop in small spaces and dwarf varieties to grow. For example, sweet peppers like warm sheltered areas and moist soil. When grown in a pot, it may want to be placed in an area protected from wind and where shade is casted on the container its potted in.

One neat technique is growing radishes in a pot, and revolving them, so you have a fresh crop all season long. Small space gardening is all based on efficiency and how to get the most of the resources available, including growing weather.

I believe this book can be used by anyone who’d like to vegetable garden. Some homeowners may have a large backyard, but due to mobility or shade, would like to grow food on a sunny patio.

Small space gardening can also be a way to make a garden-y fashion statement. Cute containers, green beans growing on wires off an awning, and tiny tomatoes in hanging pots are certainly more interesting to see than single crops all planted in a row.

Crops in Tight Spots is a neat book to check out if you’re interested in growing food. It has lots of neat pictures with ideas for growing your veg, with plenty of information as well.

This post originally appeared on http://www.EARTHeim.comThere may be links to products in this post. As an Amazon Associate I earn a commission from qualifying purchases made through these links. This is at no cost to you and you don’t need to do anything. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: Gardenista

Gardenista, written by Michelle Slatalla. Published 2016 by Artisan.

Gardenista is a catchy name. This self titled book is a physical publication written by the editors of the Gardenista blog, a website all about stylish outdoor spaces. It is a sister site to Remodelista, which has a physical book too.

This photo centric hardback book has some weight to it. It is full of inspirational garden design ideas. The first section of this book is dedicated to showcasing 13 different residential gardens across the United States and United Kingdom (most are in California, London, and New York). All of the gardens are very stylish. They look clean, fresh, and tidy, while still having a little bit of wildness to them.

The photos do a good job of glamorizing the garden beds, hardscaping, structures, and fashionable design details. They certainly inspire me to get out and start tidying up my own garden.

One thing these types of book show me; that garden design is much like the art form of photography. A photo looks best when there’s a focal point, something that leads your eye somewhere. After finding the focal point, your eye then discovers other parts of the photo, just like you would in a garden. This is what makes it interesting.

The rest of the book focuses on topics like using color, how to get more out of your outdoor spaces, and design ideas, but to me the sections all morph together in just a continuation of garden photos.

The last section I wasn’t so excited about. It is a look-book of 100 products Gardenista likes, that you can buy to compliment your garden. Most of these items would fit a high end budget, and aren’t necessarily things that’d fit my space, or I’d want to go out and purchase.

Personally, my budget is reserved for second hand stores, or things I can repurpose or make myself. It just seems like this section could have been eliminated entirely, or dedicated to something else. Though the last little part with a list of resources is useful.

The gardens in this book are really nice. All of them have some type of unique architecture, or professional hardscaping which gives the garden clear defining structure. I’ve always admired the brick walls used in England that serve as backyard fences!

I was surprised of some design ideas that made it into the book. One of them I even have myself! Yes, just like in the book, my very own vegetable garden has a 3′ wire fence held up with green metal stakes surrounding part of it. Not all aspects of a garden have to be top notch. Maybe I should have hope my garden could be showcased on Gardenista one day soon.

While I may never have an arched brick entrance to my garden, I think it’s important when looking at books like this, to know I can still adapt a design layout or style to my own garden.

Gardenista, written by Michelle Slatalla. Published 2016 by Artisan.

Gardenista Book Review

This post originally appeared on http://www.EARTHeim.comThere may be links to products in this post. As an Amazon Associate I earn a commission from qualifying purchases made through these links. This is at no cost to you and you don’t need to do anything. All opinions are my own.

Restore Your Land with a Pocket Prairie

Take a moment to look outside your window, or take a stroll in your backyard. Imagine what that very land used to look like before it was ever settled on or used for agriculture or development. The land may have been any type of landscape such as; a meadow/prairie full of grasses, a wetland with lots of frogs, a forest where deer made refuge, a bushland where pheasants made nests, a savannah where buffalo roamed, or a desert with tall cacti.

There is no yard or space too small to restore that land back into something more ecologically meaningful. While you may not be able to restore it into its original pre-settlement landscape, you can still adopt an ecologically beneficial landscape to restore it to.

If you’d like to spend more time with birds, butterflies, and pretty flowers than with your lawnmower, why not convert some land into a pocket prairie?

A prairie I created at the Berea Municipal Utilities building

Size

The term prairie, usually elludes visions of an expanse of land. However, prairies are not limited by size. A pocket prairie would be a prairie on a miniature scale; it could be 5’x5′ or 30’x30′. They are a perfect solution to restoring a bit of land on an average suburban lot, a downtown front yard, or a given space at a church or school.

Native plants that grow in your region are the necessary tool to create a pocket prairie. Plant matter, that insects recognize, are the food and shelter they need to survive. Insects are the building block of our entire food chain. Native plants are the ones they can utilize best.

Since implementing more garden spaces at my house, I’ve seen a frog and toad population grow even on my small suburban lot. It’s fun to watch them gather on the back porch at night, waiting to see what bugs they can eat that night. I’m sure they’re eating plenty of slugs!

If you have a slug problem on your hostas or lettuces, create some habitat for toads to live, and they might take care of the problem.

Fritillary on Purple Coneflower

Plants

For a pocket prairie, you’ll want to choose native plants that give you the most for your time and dollar. That means, ones that are most ecologically beneficial: long time bloomers or ones that really draw in the pollinators.

For my clients who want a pollinator garden and have really limited space, I curate a plant palette that is going to attract the most pollinators throughout the whole season from spring into fall. However, there is an even more important step to pick out the plants that will work with the microclimate of your garden first.

Don’t be afraid to use native plants that get tall, such as 7′ joe pye. Taller plants can be some of the most beneficial to wildlife, especially for birds.

Depending on the given space, you may want to avoid plants that like to spread, such as silphiums (though absolutely beautiful!). If you’ll be creating a larger pocket prairie, don’t mind it being ‘wilder’, and it’s located in a space where it will be mowed around, by all means, include them.

Pick out a spot in your yard, prepare the ground, and plant away with pollinator friendly native plants. Before you purchase plants, make sure they have not been treated with neonicitinoids. Go with a grower that does not use these deadly insecticides in their plants.

First try local garden centers where the sales associates will hopefully know more about the plants. Avoid big box garden centers, which may purchase plants from growers who use them. If you or the sales associate is unsure, take a pass. No one wants to draw in pollinators only to succumb them to their doom!

Cecropia Caterpillar

EARTHeim on Lexington Community Radio

Live Green Lexington has as weekly radio show on the Lexington Community Radio 93.9FM at Mondays 11am. The show is about different environmental issues and events occurring in Lexington. Past episodes can be listened to on SoundCloud. Listen to two episodes with EARTHeim.


Ep. 19.3 Green Check

EARTHeim speaks about its experience becoming Silver certified in the Green Check Lexington program in 2019.

https://eartheim.com/2019/11/11/greencheck-lexington-awards-2019/


Ep. 16.2 Plant By Numbers

EARTHeim speaks about the Plant By Numbers program with LFUCG

https://eartheim.com/2018/08/16/plant-by-numbers-project-art-exhibit/

Ecological Landscaping

Ecological landscaping is the design, build, and maintenance of landscaped spaces while considering the natural ecology of an area. Ecological landscape designers create gardens that enhance the surrounding environment for the benefit of humans and all other life forms within the ecosystem too.

Ecological landscape designers may concentrate on rain gardens, pollinator and wildlife gardens, stream buffer restoration, prairie restoration, bioremediation, permeable paving, or bio-swales for example.

Ecological landscaping uses the wisdom learned from natural systems, and strives to create a balance between the building site and the natural environment. Land is forever altered when it and its ecosystem is disturbed while buildings, roadways, and conventional farmland is being constructed. However, giving thoughtful attention to the site, ecological landscapers can create outdoor spaces that are much less impactful on the environment and help to restore a natural ecosystem as much as possible.

There are many ways to employ this, but ecological landscapers may consider the native flora of the area, weather conditions, pollinators, wildlife, soil, air, and water quality, human health, sustainability, and resources. With proper design and implementation, a healthy landscape is built and maintained sustainably with each component of a landscape; the people, animals, plants, fungi, microorganisms, water, soil, insects, and wildlife.

Conserving the land and resources is an important part of ecological landscaping. The objectives of an ecological landscaper would be to reduce water consumption, preserve water quality, prevent soil erosion, protect biodiversity, reduce or eliminate the use of toxic chemicals, and minimize the use of non-renewable resources. By striving toward these goals, the ecological landscaper can create gardens that are not only environmentally responsible, but also enjoyable to experience.

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