Category Archives: Garden Coach TV

Video: No Such Thing as a Green Thumb!

In today’s video, I share with you my recipe for gardening success and offer you a philosophy that will hopefully make you feel less like a failure when things go awry.

I don’t believe in green thumbs and brown thumbs. A little creativity, a bit of scientific know-how, and some experience will bring your urban farm vision to fruition.

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Video: The Pallet Garden Prevails (Sort of)

A year ago, I made a pallet garden. I planted it with beautiful herbs and I videotaped the process for all to see.

Since then, it has become my most popular video on YouTube and I’m proud of that.
I wish I could say that a year later it is thriving just like the picture above. But in all honesty, it’s not. Every time I walk by it or remember to water the poor thing, I cringe at its current state.  I should know better than that, I think to myself. This self-proclaimed garden coach should not have her pallet garden in such disrepair. A year later it should be billowing over with abundant herbs, fuller than it was before. But it’s not. This is real life and I’m airing my dirty laundry.

The thing is, no matter how simple the method, whatever you plant needs care and maintenance. And my poor little pallet herb garden just hasn’t been getting the TLC it deserves. So I want to share with you what I’ve learned from my pallet garden mistakes. No matter what you’re growing, these gardening ground rules are key.

Location is imperative! There’s a permaculture principle about different locations in the garden that recognizes that we all have those spots in the yard that are rarely frequented and under-used. You don’t want to put something high-maintenance into that space. You might have good intentions, but it will get neglected. While I love the look of the spot that currently houses my pallet garden, it just doesn’t work. 

If your pallet garden is in a space that you rarely see, you will forget about it. These puppies dry out quickly, so it’s important to keep an eye out for them and keep ’em watered. Mine is in a location that is out of sight and somewhat sheltered from the rain, which ultimately led to the downfall of my pallet garden.

If the light isn’t good enough, most plants, edibles especially, just won’t thrive. The vertical nature of the pallet makes it awesome for small spaces, but if it’s not in a space that gets enough light, like my east facing , in-the-shadow-of-two-houses space, your pallet garden plants won’t be happy and all the effort you put into building the garden will be for not. The saying “right plant, right place” holds true for this type of garden too.

Despite the sorry state of my pallet, all is not lost. Relocation to a new spot in the yard will be the first step I’ll take to reclaim my pallet garden because it is really just too cute to waste. A little replanting to replace the plants that have met their end should give those empty spaces new life.  As the saying goes, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”


Video: The Florida Weave

Of all the plants I grow on my farm, I’m most successful with the tomato. Lucky for me, when this hobby of mine was really taking off, we had the best summer for growing tomatoes we’ve had in ages and they pretty much grew on auto pilot. The taste of that success got me hooked and I have since been dialing in my tomato-growing techniques.

As an artist, the appearance of my garden is important to me…except when it comes to my tomatoes. I put their needs in front of my own and keep ’em covered for as long as I can. The cloche frame looks alright, I guess, besides the unsightly pile of excess plastic that hangs off the side of the cloche that must expand as the tomatoes grow.

But now, as the plastic drapes over the fence posts that make up my new trellis, things are really looking unsightly. The plastic eyesore in the middle of my farm is as tall as me. It must be done though. Eighty pounds of tomatoes in Seattle don’t come easy. And for those flavorful gems, I’m totally willing to put my artsy inclination to the side. In this case, the tomatoes win.

I have experimented with all sorts of trellises, from weaving them up through a “wall” of netting to caging them in square tomato towers. I’ve tried the “tie a string to the base of the plant and train them to grow up the string” method and am now trying my hand at the Florida Weave. And as you’ll see in my video today, in my premature attempt at this system, I can tell it’s going to be a keeper. For folks growing as intensively as I am, this method is inexpensive and efficient.

Like all things, this method isn’t perfect. I can already see a few problems I’m going to have to solve. For example, I’ve got indeterminate (vining) and determinate (bush) tomatoes mixed together in the same rows, which won’t need the same type of support. I’ll work around them and weave the ones that do. Or what about the few empty spaces that will soon be filled with the tomatillos I’ve got started downstairs? They’ll need support at different places and different times then the ones already in the bed. Eh! I’ll work around them. If it means putting another level of twine around the existing, already-trellised plants, I’ll do it. There’s nothing I can’t work around.

Video: Pot ’em up!

Happy Monday, friends! When growing new seedlings, there’s a process. First, you sow the seeds and wait for them to germinate. Check. Then, you give them access to light. 14 hours a day, please! Check. Finally, once they’ve gotten their first two true leaves, you need to pot them up to give them more room to grow. In today’s video, I show you how to  make that happen. It’s easy! I’ll show you!

Step one: Fill up clean, 4-inch pots with potting soil and water with a little fish emulsion-spiked water.

Step two: Use a butter knife to cut apart a chunk of young seedlings and carefully, tweeze apart the seedlings to separate them. Set aside the ones you plan to use and the ones that didn’t make the cut. Pot up the biggest, healthiest looking seedlings!

Step three: Make a small, narrow hole in the middle of one pot with a butter knife and slip one seedling inside…all the way to the first set of leaves. Hold that seedling by the leaves! The stem is super delicate!

Step four: Gently press the soil around the new seedling so that it’s snug in its new home and continue the process with the rest of your seedlings. Get those seedlings back under your lights and let them grow for a few more weeks before you harden them off.

That’s all there is to it! And friends, you can do this anytime throughout the season, especially as we approach July and you start thinking about your fall and winter garden. But we can talk about that later. So, give it a try – I know you can do this!

Your garden coach,