The Market Gardener by Jean-Martin Fortier (Book Review)

Recently I purchased a copy of The Market Gardener written by the Canadian organic farmer Jean-Martin Fortier. As soon as I read the description I was immediately interested in its contents. The Market Gardener explains how to raise enough crops on just 1.5 acres of land to make a full time income and support one's family. With my love for growing the garden, farmers market experiences, and a hope to always be able to continue to do what I enjoy for a living The Market Gardener sounded like a great book.  I was not disappointed! I learned a lot from the pages of The Market Gardener. Jean-Martin Fortier has 10 years of experience in growing vegetables which he then sells through a thriving CSA program, to grocery stores, and at farmers markets. He and his partner Maise-Helene Desroches have created a unique business plan for small scale farming using biointensive…

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7 Years of Garden Blogging and A Giveaway from Troy-Bilt!

This week marks seven years since I began this blog, Growing The Home Garden. It's amazing to see how many changes have taken place in the garden and in my life since that late October day. When I started this blog our backyard was vacant of trees, plants, and anything resembling a garden. It's grown and so has our family. When I began blogging our oldest daughter was 2 and the next one was due to be born that Thanksgiving. Now there are four kids running around the garden, 3 girls and 1 boy. Everyday is an adventure! My little garden blog grew from barely anyone reading it (or even knowing it existed) into one that now gets a couple thousand visitors a day. My experiences in plant propagation, vegetable gardening, and assorted other garden projects have given me opportunities to work with great companies like Lowe's, Troy-Bilt, and several…

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Troy-Bilt CS4325 Wood Chipper Review (and Giveaway!)

As part of the Saturday6 team of bloggers I have the pleasure of getting to test and keep some very cool products. Last year if you recall I tested the RZT (0-Turn mower) which has greatly diminished my mowing time and a 4-cycle trimmer with cultivator attachments.  I'm still enjoying both of those products in the garden. This year I selected the Troy-Bilt CS4325 Chipper/Shredder to test in my garden. I had a big Bradford pear tree that I took down and needed a powerful tool to take care of all the branch debris. The CS4325 Chipper is capable of chipping branches up to 3 inches in size. It has a powerful engine that easily started on the second pull. It's loud by necessity as it takes power to chip these branches into fine little bits of mulch. Ear protection is a necessity. Being able to hear is nice isn't…

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A Safe Solution to Wasps

While wasps certainly are a normal part of nature and serve an important function we don't always want to be around them.  Wasp stings can be quite painful and some people even have adverse reactions to their sting (as I can attest to, see the post on my swollen foot - not for the squeamish!)  Removing wasps from an area can be a challenge especially if you are like me and don't want to spray chemicals all over the place. Recently I was sent a product to test which does a very good job at capturing wasps without having to use any chemicals in the garden.  It's called the Trapstik by Rescue. The Trapstik is very simple to use.  I just removed it from the box, took off the paper wrap that was on the sticky part of the trap, then hung it up.  I put it on my children's…

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Five-Plant Gardens by Nancy Ondra (Book Review)

Available on Amazon Recently I was given the opportunity to check out Nancy Ondra's latest book called Five-Plant Gardens. Nancy Ondra writes the blog Hayefield and has written several other books including The Perennial Care Manual.  She is definitely what I consider and expert on perennial plants! This latest book isn't about the care of the plants it's about how to go about creating a sustainable plan for your perennial garden.  If you are passionate about perennials then this book can help you plan a fantastic perennial garden that will return each year. Five-Plant Gardens does just what the title says, it takes five types of plants and makes them into an easy to plant garden plan. Included in each plan section is a synopsis of the plants, a diagram showing the placement of the plants, and an artist's rendering of what the garden will look like. The photography in…

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The Troy-Bilt RZT Mower

As a member of the Saturday6 with Troy-Bilt I have the privilege to test out and keep the products.  I'll even be able to give one away this summer so keep checking back for that really cool giveaway!  Today though I'd like to share with you my experiences on the Troy-Bilt RZT Mower. The 46" RZT Mower is a 0-turn mower.  0-turn mowers allow the rider to quickly turn corners and turn completely around for faster mowing.  My other riding mower has a very wide mowing radius in comparison which means I spend lots of time trying to get that last little circle of grass in a spot by changing my angle repeatedly until the grass looks just right.  The RZT helps me get really close and tight around small areas which reduces the amount of time I spend spinning on the mower like I used to do! Sometimes time…

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The 20-Minute Gardener – Book Review

The 20-Minute Gardener on Amazon A couple weeks ago I was sent a review copy of the 20-Minute Gardener from Sunset Books.  The idea behind the book is very intriguing: 20 minutes of gardening each day for a great garden.  You may have heard this concept before.  The idea is simple.  If you do a little bit in your garden each day you save yourself a lot of work over the season.  The 20-Minute Gardener puts together ideas, concepts, techniques, and designs that will help you maximize your gardening. My First Impression When I first looked at the 20-Minute Gardener I was expecting something a little more along the lines of an edible garden resource.   (Sunset actually has a different book for that.)  the 20-Minute Gardener is more about designing for aesthetics with ornamental plantings and has just a small amount of edible gardening inside.  There are 3-4 designs that do…

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A Review of Rootcups

A few weeks ago Mr. Brownthumb posted an interview with the inventor of Rootcups on Treehugger. Rootcups are an easy to use propagation device that the home gardener can use to help propagate some of their favorite plants.  I contacted Mr. Brownthumb because I was curious about the product and and then got in touch with Mike who sent me a few to review.  I'm always interested in new plant propagation devices and tricks and thought that his idea might be useful for home gardeners. The Rootcups are made of a non-toxic material and are fairly small in size which makes them easy to put on a windowsill. The top of the Rootcup has a slit and a round hole in the center to allow the plant stem to easily be removed from later.  I was sent a set of green Rootcups and a set of gray Rootcups but they…

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John and Bob’s Organic Soil Amendments

Late this winter (or early this spring) I was contacted to try out some of John and Bob's Organic Soil Amendments.  They have a variety of different formulations that contain humus, beneficial minerals, and microbes that help the soil do what it does best - feed the plants!  They sent me several things to test and I fully intended to run a comparison evaluation of John and Bob's products by utilizing my vegetable garden beds as testing beds. I was going to have a bed with the amendments and one without then compare the same variety of tomatoes.  Unfortunately life hasn't been too kind to us this year and many of my best intentions have fallen woefully short of my expectations. But I did end up spreading the amendments on most of my garden beds and can pass on a few observations. My first observation was that blossom end rot…

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Greenland Gardener Raised Beds – Part 2

A few weeks ago I told you about the Greenland Gardener raised bed system. It consisted of several composite boards that could be put together using specially made corners also made from composite lumber. With composite materials you don't have to worry about the materials breaking down which is a huge advantage over typical lumber. If you read my previous post on the Greenland Gardener raised beds you probably remember the basics of the raised bed kit. Overall the system was OK and the idea good but I had some issues with boards that were not properly routed out. Something that I think is really good about the system they've devised - there is a simple way to plan and plant the vegetable garden. They've devised a clever seed planting kit (that retails for 14.99 at Amazon) that may be just the thing for new gardeners. The planting kit comes…

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