Hugelkultur at Snarky Acres

The Snarky Gardener has several hugelkultur beds at Snarky Acres. Here’s his Mother Earth News article on them.

Newly added hugelkultur bed with leeks and onions planted on it.
Newly added hugelkultur bed with leeks and onions planted on it.

Hugelkultur beds are built using buried wood and other organic material. These ingredients break down over time, providing your plants with nutrients and moisture. Breaking down over the next 5 to 10 years, the wood will eventually transform into rich beautiful soil. I recently wrote about my hugelkultur beds at Snarky Acres for Mother Earth News, including what veggies I planted on them and how they are working out for me so far.

Listen to the Snarky Gardener

The Snarky Gardener was interviewed on the Urban Farm podcast. Listen to him talk about Snarky Acres and his projects.

Listen to the Snarky Gardener's podcast interview

 

I had the privilege of being interviewed on the Urban Farm podcast. We discussed my beginnings as a gardener, why I grow food, my favorite book, and my current project (writing my first book “The Snarky Gardener’s Veggie Growing Guide for Ohio and Beyond”). So it was pretty much all about me, someone I know a great deal about.  I didn’t mention the Snarky Girlfriend and haven’t heard the end of it by far. There will be other podcasts in my future, so maybe I’ll remember to talk about her then.

It took me a week, but I finally got up the nerve to listen to my own interview. I obviously was there for the recording, but wasn’t sure how my voice would sound. You can tell I was a little nervous at the beginning but really came on strong by the end. It’s easy to talk about something I’m so passionate about. As you can tell by this blog, growing food is very important to me.

What I really like about urbanfarm.org is that they consider anyone who grows food and gives or sells it to others is a farmer. This definition probably expands the number of farmers in the world tenfold.  We can all contribute to the local food supply even with a “simple” garden. Those overwhelming zucchinis people complain about every summer? Perfect for donating to those who don’t have enough food. Then you too will be a farmer.

 

GrowVeg.com Online Garden Planner Review

The Snarky Gardener loves to plan his garden planting and GrowVeg.com is what he depends on year after year.

GrowVeg.com Online Garden Planning Tool

When it comes to my garden, I’m a planner. I love to design it over the winter when the snow’s on the ground, obsessively moving plants around over and over again. GrowVeg.com lets me undertake this without issue. Each year is represented in its own plan with the previous year copied over onto the next one so to include perennials and mark the previously planted families (nightshades, legumes, spinach, etc).

The red represents legumes (beans and peas) that have been planted in the previous 2 years.
The red represents legumes (beans and peas) that have been planted in the previous 2 years.

In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable. – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Here's the planner interface. This represents my Fenced Backyard Garden as of July 2015.
Here’s the planner’s interface. This represents my Fenced Backyard Garden as of July 2015.

Shown above and below is the planner’s interface. The garden displayed is my 50′ by 30′ fenced backyard garden as of July 2015. Another nice touch is the ability to not only represent the various fruits and vegetables via graphic (notice the strawberries to the upper left?) but to also attach the variety to the plant. You can even add your own varieties if they are not listed (looking at you Snarky Orange Cherry tomatoes).

A closer look at my July 2015 garden
A closer look at my July 2015 garden
An example of my July 2015 plant list including starting, planting, and harvesting times.
An example of my July 2015 plant list including starting, planting, and harvesting times.

Monthly charting is easy and straight forward.

Another plus of using an online garden planning site such as GrowVeg.com is that you can see your garden’s progression through the season. Here’s an example of my garden from April to September 2015. See how the spinach disappears (because it bolted and when to seed) and others come in to take their place. Succession planting at its best. In June the Swiss chard, eggplants, and peppers are planted. and in July, beans (both green and dry) to fill out my garden. Note: the brown rectangles represent my raised hugelkultur beds.

Fenced Backyard Garden April 2015
Fenced Backyard Garden April 2015
Fenced Backyard Garden May 2015
Fenced Backyard Garden May 2015
Fenced Backyard Garden June 2015
Fenced Backyard Garden June 2015
Fenced Backyard Garden July and August 2015
Fenced Backyard Garden July and August 2015
Fenced Backyard Garden September 2015
Fenced Backyard Garden September 2015

Pros:
Plant Families with previous 3 years
Varieties
Perennials
$45 for 2 years
Publish to Web
Plant List includes location based planting and harvest times
Ability to add your own varieties
Detailed growing information on each plant.

There are some downsides to GrowVeg.com

I do really love the ability to publish my plans out to the web, but there are limitations to the size you can show. Of course this is because if you get too wide, the detail will be difficult to see, but it’s a restriction nonetheless.

You can also notice by the graphical nature of the software, it’s really easy to tell when I’m not working on work at work. I’ve had many a curious co-worker as me what I was planning on planting. It’s so obvious to those who don’t even garden. Guess I’ll just have to plan at lunch time or at home (which isn’t a bad idea anyways).

As shown earlier in this post, I do enjoy the month-by-month tracking of my garden. My only wish is that I could go week-by-week instead. I’m a detail oriented person, and knowing which week something was planted or removed would help immensely.

Cons:
Size limitations if you use Publish to Web
Co-workers know that I’m not working
Wish for more granularity (weeks instead of months)
More plants (missing yarrow for example)

A valuable tool to plan your garden.

So as you can see, GrowVeg.com has many features to let you design the perfect garden. Month-to-month and year-to-year representations of your plots are available at your fingertips.

GrowVeg.com Online Garden Planning Tool

Note: The GrowVeg.com banners are affiliate links. If you go through the 7-day trial and buy a subscription, the Snarky Gardener will receive a small percentage. This helps with overhead costs and keeps thesnarkygardener.com up and running. Also, the Snarky Gardener does not endorse anything he doesn’t use and believe in wholeheartedly.

Gardening While Renting

The Snarky Gardener is now a Mother Earth News blogger! His first post is an adaptation of “Permaculture While Renting” with more gardening and less permaculture.I Blog For Mother Earth news

It’s not easy being a gardener who rents or a renter who gardens. In “Gardening While Renting“, I discuss the trials and tribulations of putting in permanent infrastructure (fences, raised beds, and improved soil) while knowing the stay could be quite temporary. Spoiler alert: it’s all about the relationship between renter and landlord.

This is the first of many blog posts on Mother Earth News. I’ll be writing under the “Organic Gardening” topic area with new posts coming out twice a month. I’m excited for this wonderful opportunity to expand my reach and bring other snarky gardeners into the fold. “What does this opportunity pay?” you ask. No cash per se, but it does give The Snarky Gardener unprecedented exposure that doesn’t involve an embarrassing “wardrobe malfunction”.

The Snarky Gardener posing by his favorite (and only) crab apple tree. "Does this tree make me look fat?"
The Snarky Gardener posing by his favorite (and only) crab apple tree. “Does this tree make me look fat?”

The Snarky Gardener (aka Don Abbott) is a gardener, blogger, author, educator, speaker, reluctant activist, and permaculture practitioner from Kent Ohio. Professionally he’s a software developer but spends his spare time producing food at Snarky Acres, his rented .91 acre urban farm. His blog – thesnarkygardener.com – assists others with growing food in Northeastern Ohio and beyond. He is also the founder of the Kent Ohio chapter of Food Not Lawns. In Spring 2015, he received his Permaculture Design Certification from Cleveland Ohio based Green Triangle. Please like him on Facebook as he likes to be liked. https://www.facebook.com/thesnarkygardener/

Please contact the Snarky Gardener at don@thesnarkygardener.com

Growing Jalapeno Peppers at Work

The Snarky Gardener has a new experiment for the winter. He’s growing jalapeno peppers at his office.

Starting Jalapeno peppers in my AeroGarden 3
Starting Jalapeno peppers in my AeroGarden 3

I’ve had much success growing indoor plants with my AeroGardens over the years. An AeroGarden is a small hydroponic garden with a grow light attached at the top. It’s designed so the light comes on first thing in the morning and shuts off 16 or 17 hours later. Once your seeds are started, just add water and (unfortunately chemical) nutrients every two weeks or so. Pretty straight forward even if you don’t know much about gardening.

Over the last 10 years or so (has it been that long? Wow!), I’ve grown a variety of edible vegetables and herbs in my 4 AeroGardens. The list includes cherry tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, basil, lettuce, spinach, thyme, chives, and arugula. They also have an insert you can use to grow starts for your outside garden. I’ve even started leeks and Swiss chard this way, so growing some peppers should be no big deal.

The twist this year is that I brought my AeroGarden 3 into work. This is the smallest of the AeroGardens I own, and fits in my cubicle nicely. Most of my co-workers know that I have a gardening blog and that I’m “the Snarky Gardener”. I had kept that fact under wraps for the longest time until this summer. People knew I was an avid gardener, and often ask me lots of questions (which I don’t mind at all). Once everyone heard about my blogging and such, it sort of hit a whole new level. It’s my own darn fault for passing out my Snarky Gardener business card to my boss.

My experiment this time is a social one. I’m seeing how my co-workers react to having peppers growing in the office. I chose peppers because people know what they are when they see them. Added to this is the fact they are fruit, so there will be flowers and tiny little peppers. I also like that pepper plants are prettier than tomatoes (at least in my opinion). Basil was my second choice, but wasn’t sure I wanted to be smelling basil every day.

Loading up the plugs with seed.
Loading up the plugs with seed.
The first sprouts a week and a half later.
The first sprouts a week and a half later on 12/9/2015.
Growing first leaves on 12/14/2015.
Growing first leaves on 12/14/2015.

Let's Grow Some Veggies!