Archives for March 2010

New to Organic Gardening? Helpful Resources

You’ll be hearing a lot about my square foot garden as warm weather gets nearer. Last year was our first run with it and we had so much fun, we’re expanding this year. While things weren’t entirely perfect, I learned a lot, and am eager to begin again. Several people have asked me how to get started. I’m certainly not an expert, but I’d love to share with you some of the resources and organic gardening information that has been helpful to me.

All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. I started with this book and it was of great help; I can’t recommend it enough. Mel’s website, Square Foot Gardening contains a lot of information as well.

◊ Just recently, I found the website My Square Foot Garden. Emily does an amazing job of walking her readers through step by step tutorials. She even sends out a weekly newsletter based on your climate zone that tells you what tasks to do that week.

If you need more help, she’s just published two new ebooks, Gardening for Beginners and Planting by Color that look really useful. Emily has a great video on her site detailing exactly how the ebooks can help you.

One Green Generation. There’s a wealth of green goodness over there, but especially helpful for beginning gardeners are the extensive resources available in the Organic Gardening 101 series.

Free from

◊ Little House in the Suburbs has put together a wonderful free spring planner that you can print and fold into a little booklet. It’s really terrific. And did I mention that it’s FREE?! They also have a new book out that’s looks terrific, Little House in the Suburbs: Backyard farming and home skills for self-sufficient living.

Good luck as you create your own organic garden. Please let me know if you have any questions about getting started. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll do my best to get it for you.

Garden Beginnings

Sprouts! We have sprouts!

I can hardly wait to get gardening. We’ve been busy clearing out the square foot garden beds and filling them up with more Mel’s Mix. My seed order arrived and a few tomato plants have already sprouted. They’re set up under the grow light for now while we wait for the peppers to sprout and get the carrot and radish seeds in the ground with the onions. We even have a lone little asparagus peaking up from the soil.

I don’t know why I get so excited about gardening. Maybe it’s because the results of the effort we put in are so tangible (and delicious).

I’ve learned a lot over the last few years about the kinds of things I want to expose my children to, and about all the things I want to protect them from. Having our own organic garden just a few steps from our back door is one significant way for me to put both of those things into practice. It’s a way for me to teach them the wonder of nature (really, food from seeds!) and the taste of home-grown vegetables. We can talk about food from our yard being much better for the environment than food shipped half-way around the world. We can delight in the pesticides we are not consuming and the large, abusive seed monopolies we are not supporting when we use organic, heirloom seeds.

My garden can represent environmental, chemical and political causes.

It can also represent the one cause that means the most to me: my children, and their health, and their joy in playing in the dirt, and giggling when they see worms, and tucking seeds into the soil with their tiny, careful fingers.

Our garden is time spent together.

How does your garden grow?

Green Baby Steps

If you’ve decided you want to live a little greener, but don’t know where to begin, below you’ll find some easy tips to baby step your way to green. All of the information out there can be overwhelming and there’s as much greenwashing as there is good green advice. The good news is that you don’t have to sell all of your possessions and walk everywhere to be green. It’s really more of a mindset than anything else. Living a greener life is all about living a more mindful life — thinking about your impact on the world around you.

Let’s get started. Here are a few places to begin:

1. Start recycling. Check your city or county website to find out if they offer curbside pick-up. Many places don’t even require you to separate your recyclables. If curbside pick-up is not available in your area, commit to recycling just one type of product  (for example, glass, or number 1 plastics). Find out where you can drop them off and do it.

2. Take reusable bags to the store. Most stores sell the bags for around $1 each now and many places will give you a credit for using them. It’s easy (as long as you remember the bags) and can save you money in the long run.

3. Be more mindful of how much water and energy you use. Remember to turn of lights when you leave a room. Focus on how long you leave the tap running when you’re washing dishes or brushing your teeth.

4. Combine errands. Try planning your stops so you make fewer trips in your car.

5. Spend some time outside. Often just connecting with nature on a regular basis will be all the incentive you need to move in the right direction.

For green veterans, these tips may sound obvious, but they are all things I need to be reminded of. I’m pretty good at recycling, but sometimes I get in a hurry and don’t pay as much attention to my energy and water usage as I’d like.

What other suggestions do you have?

Need help becoming a little greener? Email me any time with questions. I’m happy to help.

Photo Credit: Charlotte Speaks

Green, Good Resource List

Sometimes it helps to have lots of green resources in one place. I’ll continue to update this list as I find more resources; you may want to bookmark this page and check back often.


Earth 911

Local Food

Local Harvest

Growing Your Own Food

Organic Gardening

Mother Earth News

Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening Site

One Green Generation

Square Foot Gardening Posts on SFT

Green & Safe Products

EWG’s Cosmetics Database

Good Guide

Budget Green & Safe Products on SFT

Doing Good

Charity Navigator

Doing Good on SFT


Healthy Child, Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home

Smart Mama’s Green Guide: Simple Steps to Reduce Your Child’s Toxic Chemical Exposure

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

Anything by Michael Pollan

Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World

Most Good, Least Harm: A Simple Principle for a Better World and Meaningful Life

◊ See the Good Reads Page on SFT for more suggestions.

Green Blog Directories

Best Green Blogs

Alltop: Green

Help me grow the list; what resources would you add?