Archive for category Gardening

Edamame vs. the Sago Palm

The choice is pretty easy, if you ask me.  I hate sago palms!

Edible landscaping can look just as pretty as decorative shrubs with the additional benefit of yielding several pounds of fresh edamame for my girls.  The soil was improved, too, thanks to the beans fixing nitrogen in the roots.  I just added pepper plants to follow the beans, I’ll mulch them to cover the dirt, and next we’ll see a flourish of beautiful  red, yellow, orange, and green sweet peppers!

I think this picture says it all!  Edible landscaping for the win!


The Driveway Strawberry Patch

Edible landscaping is the way to go. I turned a patch of full sun nothing alongside the driveway into a strawberry patch. Not only does it look great, but my girls get organic strawberries all summer long!

edible landscaping driveway strawberry patch

edible landscaping driveway strawberries

It’s simple math

Gardening and edible landscaping serves up some incredible meals.


edible landscaping gardening local seafood

Make your own seedling pots from newspaper

This How-To article shows how you can make your own seedling starter pots from newspaper!  Very cool idea.  My plastic trays are getting crumpled from continuous reuse and buying new peet pots is expensive.  I’m going to try using newspaper as described in the article.  Cheap new pots in perptuity!

Signs of life


Spring is officially here and the growing season has begun! I have high hopes for these pole bean sprouts.

Broccoli in December


South Carolina weather is good for an extended growing season. Here is my broccoli after Christmas.

Trending local

$45 of every $100 dollars spent at local businesses stays in circulation in the local economy.  The money is spent on local salaries, payments to other merchants, and so on.  A big chain, on the other hand, only keeps $13 in local circulation.  This is the finding of an economic study done in Austin, TX.

Buying local is a nationwide trend.

For years, I’ve seen bumperstickers around Charleston, SC that read “Friends don’t let friends buy imported shrimp” or other slogans mean to encourage support for the local fishing industry.  Other communities have taken the Buy Local idea even further.

One community businessman in Brewton, AL handed out $2 bills to his employees with the rule that after a charitable gift the money must be spent locally.  The bills floated around town and eventually found their way back to his store, which dramatically drove home the point that money circulating in the local economy is its own form of stimulus.

Other communities have encouraged a “10% shift,” which encourages people to redirect 10% of their spending to local businesses or “$20 on the 20th” campaigns where you would spend $20 at a local business on the 20th day of the month.

Best selling author Barbara Kingsolver wrote “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” about her and her family’s quest to grow or buy only local food for one year. They intimately learned the value of their labor, the strength in their community, and the power of taking control of their health and environment.  They put the kitchen back in the center of their family and learned to work together toward a common goal.  Yes, they had to give up the instant gratification of being able to buy strawberries year-round, but they gained an intense appreciation for delectably fresh asparagus that you can only get by growing it yourself and you can only experience once a year in springtime.

Some may call buying local mini-protectionism, and in a sense it is, but it makes for a strong local community.  It’s kind of like saving your money during a recession.  It’s good for the individual who’s saving, but it’s bad for the overall economy because no one is buying.  But just as saving keeps more dollars here at home than abroad, so too does buying local keep our dollars in our own community.   There are intangible benefits, too, in that communities and families are strengthened as they come together not just for the greater good, but for their own.

Small organic farms on the rise

I just read a Fortune magazine article about a farming youth movement and how young people are starting organic farms and businesses.   I find the article timely considering I just wrote an article of my own advocating backyard organic gardens.

You can read the Fortune article here:

Compost Toilets the “in” thing

And I thought writing about composting in a Victory Garden was a good thing to do, but I’ve been easily bested by people in Fiji who created composting toilets because they found their sewage was seeping into the sea and affecting their coral reefs.

The toilets separate liquids and solids, with the liquids becoming a fertilizer after some filtration (it’s sterile, afterall).  The solids are mixed with dry stuff like sawdust and then packed away for several months.  The solids compost over time and become fertilizer, too.

I’ve read before that nitrogen-rich urine makes good fertilizer and also helps a compost pile break down faster, but this is the first I’ve read about people using good ol’ #2 for their garden.

5 reasons we should all grow Victory Gardens

Victory Gardens were a popular and patriotic way to aid the war effort during World War II.  Millions of families across the country planted gardens to alleviate pressure on the domestic food supply during the war.  Victory Gardens also boosted public morale because everyone felt civic pride through their contributions.  In today’s difficult times, planting a garden makes more sense than ever.  In the spirit of public service, we should consider them Victory Gardens, just like the ones our grandfathers and grandmothers had.

Here are five good reasons we should all grow Victory Gardens. Mark Turansky's row garden


Fresh vegetables from the grocery store can be expensive.  Growing your own vegetables is inexpensive!  Seeds are cheap.  Water is cheap.  Time and sunshine are free.

Enjoy a continuous harvest by staggering plantings of various veggies with different maturation rates.  You  are guaranteed that something will be available for consumption every day during the growing season.

2.  100% ORGANIC

Your home-grown, fresh vegetables are chemical-free.  Do you really want your children consuming pesticides and poisons designed to kill organisms?  Growing your own vegetables is 100% organic.

There is a trend afoot for organic farms and gardening that’s bigger than your backyard.  Organic farms are being built into developments and subdivisions as an amenity, giving the local community access to fresh, healthy, and chemical-free produce.


According to the EPA, 24% of our landfill waste is comprised of lawn clippings, leaves, and organic scraps from the kitchen.  In other words, perfect compost materials account for a quarter of our garbage!  This is a waste of our tax payer money.  Fiscal conservatives and environmentalists alike can agree to save money, space, and resources by composting.

Making compost is easy and it’s great for your soil.  It makes your garden vibrant and healthy, and the legacy you leave long after you move from that house is revitalized and regenerated soil.  This is a Very Good Thing for our communities.


Your fresh vegetables have a small or even negative carbon footprint. There is no truck carrying your produce across the country for consumption, so there is no pollution from your veggies.  And considering that all green plants convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, your garden is cleaning the air.


My daughter loves picking snowpeas with me when I get home from work.  She loves playing in the dirt and planting seeds.  It’s a great way to bond, but it’s also a valuable learning experience.  She is seeing the results of her work while learning when and how to plant various crops.  I know she’ll have great memories of working the garden with Daddy.

Sophie picking peasMore than bonding with my girls (the baby just likes playing in the dirt, but she’ll learn), gardening is also rewarding for me.  I enjoy watching it come alive and grow.  It’s a great reason to spend time outside enjoying the sunshine.  It’s fun to get dirty while getting some exercise. I also know I’m doing a good thing for my family, my community, and our environment.

I encourage everyone to grow a Victory Garden during this recession.  Let’s show future generations that we’ve learned something from The Greatest Generation.  We’ll all be better off, and so will our communities and environment.

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