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Hodgson Biologic

203 529 7293

In Connecticut's
Naugatuck Valley

Remember Waste Not Want Not? It applies to the garden, too!

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Red Currant Patch Planted by Local Birds in the Edible Forest Garden
That was a saying I heard often enough in my childhood that it echoes almost daily in my mind. These days, I hear it as I step out into the gardens.

As I manage the gardens (currently including Square Foot Gardens, Edible Forest Garden, and patches of garlic, raspberries, blueberries, hazelnuts, and potatoes), that phrase comes back to me and applies to my time, to nutrients, to water, to the plants.

Time spent just watching the garden, paying attention to what is happening there, keeps me from wasting my time by giving it something it doesn't need. Observation may not look like you are doing anything, but it is key to wise gardening.

Having needed tools at hand (clippers, garden knife, watering can) saves a bit of wandering around and can help avoid forgetting to go back and take care of something unexpected.

The study of plant nutrients increases understanding and helps avoid wasting them, and wasting time trying to get something to grow in soil that does not meet its needs. I include in my compost piles tree bark, wood ash, kitchen scraps (non-meat), weedings, raked leaves, old potting soil and other organic items that have nutrients.

In New England, most years we have enough water. Often the isses are with the timing and quantity of its arrival as rain or snow. I capture water from the roof in rainbarrels. I am working on directing the overflow effectively into a small rain garden or other moisture reservoir. I am increasing the number of soaker hoses I use for the patch gardens (what I call my little beds of garlic, raspberries, and so on) to reduce overhead spraying. I use mulch to hold moisture. I am using coarse vermiculite in the Square Foot Garden beds. I plan to incorporate hardwood charcoal from my woodstove to eventually replace the role vermiculite plays in the garden bed soil (see my Idea about that one).

When I weed, or clear an area for a different planting, I take a little extra time and effort to dig entire plants up and pot them temporarily so that I can give them away, rather than composting them. Composting weedings is an excellent practice, it is true. Better still, preserving healthy edible and medicinal plants and sharing them keeps me from wasting opportunities to build community and a stronger local food system.