Organic Gardening Blog

Welcome to my organic gardening blog. At certain times of year I post gardening tips weekly and other times much less frequently. Sign up for my ebook over to the right if you want to get my best stuff :)

Click for video transcription

Phil: Okay, so Heather, can you say, it’s fall bulb planting time?

Heather: It’s fall bulb planting time!

Phil: That’s perfect. Hey guys, it’s fall bulb planting time, it’s Phil here from smilinggardener.com and my sister and I have teamed up to write this article for you. What we did is we wrote an article on my website. I’ll put, if you are not on my website right now, I’ll put a link down below and that’s the full article. What we are going to do with this video is just really quickly share a few points from that article. So, why don’t you remind people where you live?

H: I live in Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Phil: So that’s why we started thinking about this bulb thing, right?

H: Yeah, the home of the tulip.

Phil: Right. So that’s why we started thinking about this and because it’s fall and it’s time to think about planting, we want to talk about it. So I will ask you first, when should people plant their bulbs, when in the fall?

H: Okay, well, that obviously depends on where people live. You want to leave about four to six weeks of above freezing temperatures so that the roots can get established and that is so that in the spring, the root system is already established and they can go right into pretty soon big flowers.

Phil: Did you say established twice.

H: Aye, twice, really established.

Phil: Okay, so I’ll talk just quickly about choosing bulbs. So obviously, when we are talking about planting fall bulbs that means these are bulbs that are going to flower in the spring. So we plant those in the fall. All there is to choosing your bulbs, you want to buy them now in the fall. You don’t want to buy them in the spring and then store them until then. So buy them now, get the biggest bulbs you can. So whatever varieties you are planting, choose the biggest ones from the shelf and just get ones that are healthy and not diseased. That’s basically all there is to it. Then when we get into actually planting them, why don’t you tell them about the location? Why don’t you try to say in Dutch here, a little Dutch saying?

H: I am so sorry to anybody who speaks or understands that. Okay, there is a Dutch saying and it’s something like this, it’s like, “bollen houden niet van natte voeten”. I think I am saying that more or less correct. It means bulbs don’t like wet feet. So you want to pick a location that is sunny and most of the time sunny and that has good drainage so you don’t have puddling water beneath them.

Phil: And then when it comes to preparing the area, you don’t need -- in fact, if you are on my website, I’ll link to a couple of articles. You don’t need bone meal, you don’t need 10-10-10; all you need is to loosening up the soil. If you have some well done compost that’s wonderful to work that in there and then you can either loosen the whole area or just dig your holes where you are going to find your bulbs and you can even dig a little deeper than the bulb is going to go in order to loosen the soil below that.

Phil: Speaking of depth, why don’t you tell people how deep to plant them?

H: So you want to plant something like three to five times the height of the bulb. So big bulbs need to generally go a little bit deeper and what you might want to do so that you get kind of a layering effect of blooming is plant some deeper and some more shallow because deeper bulbs are going to bloom later and so that should prolong the flowering time of whatever cropping plant it is.

Phil: Why don’t you say maintenance too because there’s not much to do for maintenance, right, after you plant them?

H: Yes, there’s really not too much to do. Yeah, after you plant, you give them a good water and Phil, I have a question actually to ask you.

Phil: Okay.

H: When you are planting garlic, are you supposed to take off the tunic?

Phil: No.

H: So you break up the cloves and...

Phil: Yup.

H: Okay.

Phil: Okay, I did have one other point about keeping squirrels away. So if some people have squirrels or little critters that like to come and steal your freshly planted bulbs, there is a couple of things you can do. One is you can put mulch, sometimes just a couple of inches of mulch will help or if the leaves are all falling, just pile the mulch on top there. And actually, I’ll let people to go to the blog for the other things because I know this video is getting a little bit long. There is a couple of other little things you can do so I’ll leave them hanging. We had a question we want to ask people, right?

H: Yes. I was wondering where does everybody live, what’s your climate like and if it’s time for you guys to plant now or do you still have a little bit to wait.

Phil: Yeah, because we plant in September, but other people might plant in different months because it’s a different climate, right?

H: Yup.

Phil: Okay, that is all for today.

It’s fall bulb planting time!

We’ve been especially aware of that this week because my sister has been living in Amsterdam during the last few years.

And of course you can hardly think of the Netherlands without images of bountiful tulip bulbs bursting out of the ground.

I visited her in 2010, and surprisingly, the plant life is quite similar to back home.

In Amsterdam, they have mild winters and (generally) cool summers leaving plenty of lush green around the city year round.

And since it’s getting cooler, now’s the time to start considering your fall bulb planting.

Click for video transcription

Phil: Hey guys, it’s Phil from SmilingGardener.com and for those of you who follow me, you may know that I spend almost all of my time filming videos that go into my online gardening course and it just has turned out so far that I rarely have enough time to film videos to put out for free on YouTube or on my public website. So what I am going to do, what I’ve done is I’ve hired someone to help me just get my butt in gear, like filming a few more videos and she’s going to help me with a little bit of editing, a little bit of writing here and there and just odds and ends stuff. So this video is just to introduce her. So why don’t you introduce yourself.

H: I am H and I am Phil’s younger sister.

Phil: Yeah, everybody thinks you are older, because maybe you are more mature or something, but you are four years younger, right?

H: Yup, I am.

Phil: So let’s tell people just where you learned about gardening and that kind of stuff.

H: So I basically had the same start that Phil had growing up, working in my parents' garden center and quite fell in love with that. So after that, I ended up going to college and studying horticulture there.

Phil: What kind of classes that you take there?

H: I did a lot of different plant identification classes, soils, greenhouse management, turf management, arboriculture, things like that.

Phil: It was like, that was a two-year degree, right?

H: Yeah, two years, yeah.

Phil: And that wasn’t organic. So neither you or I were organic when we were younger but I started an organic gardening business and then you eventually took that over when I moved to the West Coast, right?

H: Yeah, I mean basically, I didn’t start learning about organic gardening until Phil did and then he kind of passed that torch over to me when I took over his business.

Phil: So the other thing is where are you right now?

H: Now I am in Amsterdam, I am in the Netherlands, and I am back in school, doing another degree over here.

Phil: So what are you studying?

H: I am studying psychology.

Phil: Yeah, cool, so not gardening but you are still -- like whenever you are back home, you are always doing gardening jobs.

H: Inevitably, right?

Phil: So that’s just a quick video today. So you guys could do me a big favor and welcome my sister down in the comments below, maybe tell us where you’re gardening, where you are from and just welcome my sister to the gardening group here.

H: Yeah!

As you may know, I’ve been rather busy for the past 2 years filming videos for the Academy.

It's been loads of fun, but it means I rarely get around to doing free videos, and sometimes it's 3 or more weeks between blog posts.

So I've finally decided to get a bit of help. I'm still doing everything around here, just with a bit of help from... my sister! I’ll let her introduce herself:

I went hiking in the mountains on Tuesday.

My surroundings got me thinking we could learn a thing or two about organic gardening by a good old-fashioned hobbit garden.

Did you know they just wrapped up filming for the new hobbit movies in New Zealand?

Yesterday, I was recording a video in my home vegetable garden that will serve as an introduction to the growing food section of the Academy...

(Note to Academy members, that section will be ready this fall)

...and I decided to take a walk through my vegetable garden with the video camera, and also post the video here.

Phil Growing A Vegetable Garden

We had a family get together a couple of weeks ago.

It's always fun trying to explain to family or friends who I haven't seen for awhile about what I do for a "living."

"I have a website where I teach people about growing a vegetable garden, and organic gardening in general."

Intensive Gardening With Permaculture/Biological Gardening Principles

The scope of this topic probably calls for at least a few thousand words.

But this isn't meant to be an authoritative or conclusive comparison on these organic gardening topics.

It's just a few thoughts I've been having this week that I figured I'd pass on to you.

First, a few notes:

Growing Organic FoodThe 3 sisters: corn, beans and squash

Today, I have an excellent companion planting chart to share with you.

But first, let's briefly get into what companion planting is and why it can be useful.

Companion gardening involves pairing plants that work well together.

I'll use the 3 sister guild as an example, which are 3 plants that were originally combined by Native Americans in such a way that the plants all helped each other out.

Praying Mantis In My Self-Sustaining Garden
Insects like this praying mantis take care of my garden for me.

One of my goals is to have a self-sustaining garden.

Today is a good example of why. Heather and I are visiting her brother and his family in New York City.

I don't know how anyone gets anything done with a 3 year old (sorry, 3 and a half) and a new baby in the house!

Compost Tea Recipe

Update: Nearly 2 years after writing this, I decided to start selling the same compost tea brewer that I use. You can check it out (and learn more about compost tea) here.

A compost tea recipe doesn't have to be complicated in order to be effective.

In fact, the simplest compost tea recipes are often the best because they're easier to experiment with.

In case you don't know, compost tea doesn't look like my literal interpretation in the picture here.

Watering Vegetable Garden - Adhesion

Watering the vegetable garden. Chances are you don't want to spend much time reading about it, because water is just always there for us.

We take it for granted because it comes so readily out of our tap, so we find the topic rather boring.

But man, is it ever important, vital for all living things. Go 24 hours without drinking it and we would all become more interested. The fact is, we're made of it. Throughout the course of our lives, our bodies contain between 50 and 80% water.