gardening

Fall Edible Gardening Tips

Fall Edible Gardening Tips

Fall is a great time to:

  • Install a new edible raised bed in good weather without a rush

  • Plant a fall crop of veggies

  • Super-charge an edible bed with composted manure for a spring harvest.

Get free garden coaching

When you buy a raised bed, soil, mulch, fertilizer, seedlings or other products and services from Deep Roots get free coaching for your fall gardening from the Deep Roots director David Murphy. Contact David at (773) 502-5600 and dmurphy[at]deep-roots-project.org

Filling space vacated by spring crops with summer-sown vegetables will keep your garden productive well into fall, and even winter. Beans, cucumbers, eggplant, musk melon, okra, peppers, pumpkins, squash, sweet corn, sweet potato, and tomatoes will all be damaged by even a light frost, but many other crops will survive. Fall, with its cooler temperatures and more abundant moisture, offers excellent growing conditions for many vegetables. As summer draws to a close, gardens everywhere can morph into a tapestry of delicious greens like tender lettuce, frost-proof spinach, swiss chard, collards, arugula, beets, kale with a sprinkling of red mustard added for spice. Plus, cooler temperatures will make your fall vegetables taste crisp and sweet. Learn more about frost-tolerant garden vegetables.

How to Create a Head-Turning Yard... Even if You're Always Busy

How to Create a Head-Turning Yard... Even if You're Always Busy

Have you ever driven by a home with an incredible looking lawn and thought, “Who has the time to make their yard look like that?” We all know what it’s like to dream of the perfect lawn, to make plans for giving it the attention it needs, and to have life happen and change those plans. The good news is that there are practical solutions that can help you create a head-turning yard this summer, and you can do them even with a busy schedule.

Don’t Over-Mow

An overgrown lawn is a quick way to make your property appear abandoned, so it’s important to keep it in shape. But you also want to avoid over-mowing it. It’s better to plan your mowing around how your grass is growing rather than worry about sticking to a strict schedule. In other words, the length of the grass matters more than how often you mow. Depending on your geographical location and how much rain you’re getting, this can change by the week. Sometimes you may need to mow weekly and sometimes it may be every two weeks.

When you over-mow, it keeps your grass from properly growing and reaching its lush, green potential. A good indicator that your grass isn’t growing is if it pales or turns yellow. If you see that, you should let it grow a little before you cut it again. Also, it’s common lawn advice to never cut more than one-third off the length of your blades. Even if it’s severely overgrown, it’s better to first cut one-third off your grass and to gradually make it lower.

Eco-Friendly Ways to Make Your Yard Look Fabulous

Eco-Friendly Ways to Make Your Yard Look Fabulous

They say the grass is greener on the other side, but we’re not sure which side they are starting from. It doesn’t matter where you live, there are ways you can “go green” in the yard, and many of them have nothing to do with the color of your grass. Keep reading for five water-saving, eco-friendly, and easy lawn and garden changes you can make this summer.

Get Rid of the Grass

Grass needs water -- and lots of it. It’s everywhere, and when it gets too dry, it makes your landscape look like a barren plain. You can buck the tradition of having regular grass by swapping your fescue for fragrant ground coverings such as creeping thyme or Roman chamomile. Moss is another option for shaded areas. If you’re handy with a shovel, you can also level out a section of your lawn to create a hardscape design with pavers, rocks, statues, and potted plants. Reader’s Digest also suggests laying down some mulch and creating a play area for the kids.

How to Maximize Your Gardening for Better Overall Health and Wellness

How to Maximize Your Gardening for Better Overall Health and Wellness

We all know gardening can be good for us when it comes to the beautiful flowers or delicious vegetables that are produced. But gardening is also good for the mind, body, and soul. It’s a great form of exercise and has mental health benefits galore. In fact, many addiction rehabilitation centers feature gardens, since having a hobby, exercising, and spending time outdoors are all beneficial to recovery, and gardening naturally blends all three.

Maybe you think gardening would be a great source of physical and mental exercise for you, but you've never been sure how to get started. Or maybe you’re not in a position to have your own garden yet. Chances are that there are local resources that would be more than happy to help.

Volunteering at a local botanical garden is one way to get your hands dirty and become familiar with gardening in general. For anyone who lacks experience, this is the perfect opportunity to learn more about gardening and help your community, both of which equate to a boost in your mental well-being.

Of course, having a garden of your own is another way to boost your health. Getting outside and working in your own backyard is a great way to get a workout, improve your mental health, and make sure you and your family have delicious, healthy food to consume for most of the year (or the whole year if you brush up on preservation techniques!). While any efforts you make in the garden are worthwhile, there are some ways to maximize your gardening strategies for better overall health and wellness.

ROUNDUP INGREDIENT DETERMINED CARCINOGENIC

Looking over at your neighbor’s spotless lawn, its understandable to envy the lawn’s crisp finish. Your own lawn has a couple yellow weeds swaying in the wind, as if to mock you with their presence. A spray of weed killer should do the trick. However, before you reach over for that bottle of Roundup, consider the dangers in its ingredient list.

Glyphosate is a herbicide that inhibits the growth of plants first introduced in 1974. It is the main active ingredient of the popular weed killer, Roundup, owned by the company Monsanto. According to research done by the Department of Agriculture, in 2014, 240 million pounds of glyphosate were sprayed in the U.S. mostly in farms and homes. Labels on Roundup products have safety precautions warning users to avoid digestion, and eye and skin contact. However, the label fails to mention a troubling concern from the scientific community which has resulted in long drawn-out lawsuit.

Recently, California scientists concluded glyphosate as a cancer risk. In 2015, after reviewing several human cancer studies, International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization designated glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic”.  Based off this verdict, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment wants to add glyphosate onto its long list of chemicals known to cause cancer. There is also concern about how much glyphosate we’re ingesting. The Environmental Protection Agency estimated that American adults could be ingesting more than 5 milligrams of glyphosate every day. However, data on how much glyphosate resides in food is limited due to federal agencies not being mandated to test levels in food and water. The chemical has also been found in the urine of adults and children through biomonitoring studies.

Currently, the Environmental Protection Agency allows for 2 milligrams per kilogram of body weight in adults, which is 127 times greater than what California proposes.

Monsanto is currently trying to appeal this action. Adding glyphosate onto the list would negatively affect Monsanto as they would then be required to place a cancer warning label on all its Roundup products. In 2015, Monsanto made $4.76 billion in sales from herbicides, mostly from Roundup. The bulk of their revenue stems from seed sales and licensing genetic traits.

Monsanto is no stranger to attempting to obscure the nature of its products. Per the New York Times, revelatory documents recently came to light during the ongoing Monsanto trial. The documents revealed that Monsanto could have been aware of the alleged cancerous effects of glyphosate and attempted to influence scientific research and media coverage on the subject. This included Monsanto helping draft an article published in Forbes that countered the WHO's "probably carcinogenic" findings. Forbes has cut contact with the writer as of the discovery of his connection with Monsanto. 

This is reminiscent to the time when smoking was a cultural norm and no second thoughts were given to the health risks associated with cigarettes. It wasn’t until the 1950s when research emerged linking tobacco to causing cancer. Tobacco companies responded by placing doubt on the scientific community and reassuring the public of the safety of their products. They did this by hiring industry scientists, publishing their own research, and running advertisements with doctor endorsements. Nonetheless, the Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965 required all cigarette products sold in the U.S. to have the warning, “CAUTION: CIGARETTE SMOKING MAY BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH”.  As years have passed, different legislative actions have required companies to become more detailed in their warning labels, such as detailing cancer and pregnancy risks associated with smoking cigarettes. Nowadays, tobacco products aren’t illegal; people can still choose to use them but with the carcinogenic risk in mind.

The same cultural awareness that occurred with tobacco products could happen with herbicide products if they were also required to include a carcinogenic warning label. Although Monsanto might receive an economic blow from this action, it is a necessary one. Monsanto could focus on making revenue elsewhere such as with seed sales. This would effectively knock down one of the biggest distributors of glyphosate and give Americans a chance to begin a healthier approach to their lawn care. Oftentimes, we become so accustomed to using mainstream products that we forget to question its safety. We are reassured by the thought that if the product did cause harm, surely it would be off the market. However, the general public should be aware by now that isn't always true.  People should start questioning what they’re applying to their lawns, not only protecting their health but also teaching a younger generation to be more cautious.