Monday, April 6, 2009


I'm trying to get a food and flower garden going at my mom's (as a mother's day gift), and was wondering if there are any ethical ways I could get dirt other than digging it up out of my own yard. I rent, so that is not an option. For the record, I first got the idea in my head that commercially available dirt could come from mountaintop removal from bfp's blog, and it deeply scares me, not least of all because I'd like to move to Appalachia to be closer to my Appalachian darling partner. Soon. I don't want to be an unwitting accomplice to damaging his home* any more than I want to unwittingly contribute to the destruction of my beloved Michigan.

Also, more experienced gardeners (I'm looking at you here, Trish and Eve_L), I have a gardening question. I bought some beans (and so did my mother, actually). I was wondering how I could maximize their nitrogen fixation benefits. Should they go in the middle of the garden? Scattered amongst the other plants? Along the edges? Any suggestions at all would be greatly appreciated.

*Seriously. Even if he didn't have other ties holding him to the area, you should hear him talk about it. It's as if no one would willingly leave the county - the only acceptable reasons for exodus are education, jobs, or being kicked out.


  1. Hi there,
    For Dirt- start a compost pile first off.
    Second- you can do a layered composting and there are some websites for it i'm sure, i read about it Gaia's Garden. You put down green stuff (kitchen waste, weeds, etc, and then brown- newspapers, leaves, etc, and then green and layer it like that a bit.

    one thing you could do is Double dig and add some fertilizer- there is organic commercial fertilizer available. This allows you to build raised beds- if you did double digging then the layered compost- it would really be beneficial. One fun thing is a vermaculture bin- and you would totally dig it- pun intended i suppose.

    Beans- we planted some with inoculant and some without. by far the ones we innoculated when going in the ground are doing much better. You can buy it at your home garden store i'm sure. just ask them and they can help. There are instructions on the packets. :)

    We have bamboo and chicken wire for some of our trellising- but you can use clipped branches and string for something to climb on. Some beans go on the ground fine too but read about it first. I look up a plant and everything about it before i plant it.

    As for companion planting- I put some leeks and parsley around it- but i don't think really specifically they help eachother- but i hear that the three sisters method is great- and we are doing that in some places. Plant Corn, beans and squash together-

    the books i use the most in gardening right now are : Carrots Love Tomatoes, (companion planting book), and Organic A to Z. and several other books but those too i reference a lot it seems.

    good luck with your garden! and if the soil question/answer arn't going to work, let me know, and give me more detail of what you have to work with. You may end up just buying a couple bags of garden soil (organic) and add it to the soil you have maybe?

    talk to you soon, trish

  2. I forgot- what about moving to Appalachia? - trish

  3. Err, yeah. I'm trying to get a job in Pittsburgh to be closer to that guy in Ohio. Or a job here that I can transfer there. Either way, it's not going well in this economy.

  4. Ok, for dirt, I'm looking to start an a earthtainer bin, also courtesy of bfp's consciousness-raising blog, to hold some melons so that they are portable, don't ruin my parents' yard, and therefore are less likely to draw the "accidental" ire of my stepfather's lawn mowing skillz. I will push the compost bin idea, but I need more dirt sooner than a new compost bin could yield.

    I'll have to look into that companion planting book, since that sounds very interesting.