Gardening

Mary’s gardening columns were originally published in the Roane County (WV) Reporter and Times Record. Support local journalism! Subscribe to your local newspaper. Note: Mary’s column is still being published weekly in 2023 – we hope to have all 150 or so columns posted here by the end of 2023.

Click here to view title list of garden columns in chronological order.

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August 18, 2021
Using Mixed Miscellaneous Crops
I believe in preserving any good harvest, even if there is far more than you’ll use in the next year. You never know when you’ll have a crop failure, even several years running of crop failure. I’m glad I canned 25 quarts of applesauce a few years ago, because we still haven’t solved the squirrel problem and have not had a harvest since.
August 16, 2021
Daughter of Cucurbits
I did a column on cucurbits once before, hence the title of this second take on the same subject. First of all, let’s clarify what cucurbits are: they’re vine crops, but not all vine crops. Sweet potatoes are vine crops, but they’re in a different family, the morning glory family.
August 12, 2021
What You Don’t Grow Yourself
I went to the Farmers’ Market in Spencer one recent weekday. I wanted to make some salsa, and while I have everything else, my green peppers are just finally starting to make tiny fruits.
August 5, 2021
Potatoes
I’ve been harvesting potatoes lately, so while I’m thinking about them, let’s talk spuds. First of all, why grow them? How about: because they are a usually reliable crop, yielding more calories per square foot than just about anything else, and a respectable amount of protein.
July 30, 2021
Son of Scientist in the Garden
This is a follow-up to a column I did called Scientist in the Garden, the scientist being you. It was about testing different crops, varieties or techniques to see what works best, and how to make such tests more scientific.
July 24, 2021
Growing Your Own Grain (OK, Some Seeds Too)
The number one reason I’m a serious gardener is that I want to produce food for my own household; that way I know it’s clean and wholesome, I save money, I get good healthy exercise and I enhance my household’s security in uncertain times.
July 20, 2021
Death, Taxes and Weeding
I have actually claimed to like washing dishes, and weeding. The difference is that I only have to wash dishes every other day, while the weeding seemingly never ends (except in the winter).
July 15, 2021
An Abundance of Tomatoes
My tomatoes are pouring in, a pungent red river with headwaters in my garden and the mouth in my kitchen. Right now a five gallon bucket filled with tomatoes awaits my attention.
July 8, 2021
Midsummer in the Garden
In my garden, late June and early July is a time of transition. Some early crops are coming out and I’m replacing them with late crops.
July 2, 2021
Livestock and Your Garden
I once did a column about chickens. But all livestock have benefits to a garden. Most obviously, they all produce manure, which is one of the best sources of organic matter and fertilizer. All manure, however, is not equal.
June 16, 2021
Sustainable Gardening
Do you want to grow your garden in ways that don’t deplete the soil or pollute the water or air? To improve the fertility of your soil without impoverishing some other place? If you are a gardener who cares about the environment, this column is for you.
June 1, 2021
Other Berries
So far in this gardening series, I  have written about everbearing raspberries, and strawberries. Now, let’s talk about some of the other berries. Let’s start with blackberries.
May 18, 2021
Thinking Outside the Rectangle
This week’s column is about experimentation, boldness, innovation, creativity…as pertains to the garden. First of all, yeah—your garden doesn’t have to be a rectangle or square.
May 16, 2021
Seedlings
Starting a few weeks ago, you may have been buying or starting seedlings, and setting them out in your garden. There are various useful media for starting seedlings in; what matters is that they have a balance of free-draining materials and water-retention elements.
May 12, 2021
Scientist in the Garden
You’ve put up a good fence around your garden, good enough to ensure that deer can’t get in, groundhogs and rabbits can’t get in, the neighbors’ cats and dogs can’t get in…and now there’s a scientist in your garden? Oh, wait—the scientist is you.
May 10, 2021
Moving Into May in the Garden
Now that it’s May, and we can almost count on no more frosts…what sorts of garden activities can you expect? You may want to be gradual about planting the tender items, as it has been known to frost in May around here.
May 1, 2021
Raspberries
Last fall I decided to move my raspberries from a bed in the garden to a new location. This makes the third start for those raspberries; I planted them originally in 2010 and then moved them, to renovate them, in 2018.
April 24, 2021
Permanent Raised Garden Beds
This week I’m going to make the case for permanent, raised beds in your vegetable garden. You can grow the old-fashioned way, where you till the whole garden every year and then plant everything in rows a couple of feet apart—but then you’re walking quite close to your plants, which compacts the soil. That’s bad for plant roots.
April 17, 2021
Every Garden is Different
There are many ways gardens differ, and as a result, the best advice on how to do things might differ from one garden to another. Certainly this is true if you compare gardens in widely separate climactic zones; for example, take one in a cold place with a short growing season, say in northern Minnesota, versus one in to a warm-all-year Louisiana where people focus on a spring garden, take the too-hot summer off, then start another garden in the fall.
April 11, 2021
Asexual Plant Propagation
Not long ago I talked about plant sex—the many ways plants are set up to produce seeds with genes from two parents. Here I’m going to talk about propagation that doesn’t involve breeding or genes. Many plants naturally spread themselves asexually, usually as an alternative to sex and seed propagations, which they also do. But here I’m focused on ways humans intervene to propagate plants without breeding.
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Updated: October 22, 2023 — 10:21 am
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