raised bed with cement edging

How I Prepare Raised Beds for Early Spring Planting

The weather over the weekend was glorious and full of spring’s promise. As previously mentioned, I took advantage and dove headlong into my early spring to-do list. In a typical spring I charge straight into these chores and make mention of them in passing, but rarely get into the nity-gritty of my process here. This


My 2014 Herb Experiments (+Giveaway)

My gluttonous seed-hoarding habits seem to be behind me now, or have at least calmed for a spell. This year I have abstained from impulse buys from swollen turnstile racks and I only placed one mail order this season. Of course, I say this having bought 40 packets of seed in Tucson, Arizona last June.

Salvia coccinea Coral Nymph

Coral Nymph Salvia

I like salvias. I like any and all salvias; from the delicious, culinary sages to the nectar-rich, super smellerific and sticky sweet types that aren’t hardy in my region. I even like the ones that aren’t edible or aromatic. I’m not sure what it is about this genus. Is it their drought tolerance? Their snapdragon-like

The First Flower of Spring

First Flower of Spring

I usually avoid republishing images that were recently posted to one of my social media accounts, but when you consider how hard won this spring feels and the fact that this little flower was trapped underneath a deep lake of ice less than a week ago… I think it begs repeating here. And now, we

My garden - April 2, 2014

Spring at Last! My April Garden To-Do List

Just when I was at my lowest and had become fixed on the idea that we’d entered a terrible new Ice Age, spring finally made its move. Over this past weekend, the warmest parts of my zone 5b(ish) yard here in Toronto began to thaw and by Monday at least half of the garden was


Guide to Choosing Organic Potting Soil Mixes

Questions about seed-starting and potting soil brands are some of the most popular that I receive. They’re tricky to answer because I’ve found that many of the best quality potting soils or soil-less mixes tend to be produced by smaller companies with short distance distribution. In terms of quality and ingredients, soil mixes vary widely

Rattlesnake Pole Beans

Food Worth Growing: Rattlesnake Pole Bean

I have two criteria when choosing beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) to grow: they must be delicious at the tender, green bean (aka snap bean) stage and they must have something about them that is aesthetically pleasing. Over the years I have experimented with a lot of bean varieties and by these criteria ‘Trionfo Violetto’ and ‘Royal


Food Worth Growing: Chiltepin Pepper

Chiltepin (Capsicum annuum var. glabriusculum) aka (Capsicum annum var. aviculare) or bird pepper is a small, pea-sized chile that grows wild on 3-4 ft-tall shrubs in parts of Texas and Northern Mexico. Coming in at 50,000-100,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), this pepper is ferociously hot and pungently flavoured. The heat comes on violently, yet diminishes

sand verbena

Early Spring California Desert Wildflowers

I recently had the good fortune to visit the Mojave desert just after the area received a few days of much-needed springtime rain. The rain was followed by warm, springtime temperatures and sun, and you know what that means… FLOWERS!

Large Agave grown in a pot

Giant Agave Threatens to Take Over Small Office

I kid. A little hyperbole on a Thursday afternoon. The leaves on this particular plant expand as much as 25″ across! Those of you living in warmer climates must wonder why in the heck I have such a large agave indoors! They’re big, heavy, and their spines are painful. At this size they are not

Earth Star Cryptanthus terrarium

Grow an Earth Star Terrarium

Ground control to Major Tom. Perhaps it is the trippy name or the reference to outer space, but David Bowie comes to mind whenever I look at the little cluster of earth stars aka cryptanthus that I keep in a terrarium. In reality, the common name of this unusual Bromeliad family plant has a much

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