Indian Summer or White Christmas?

So, a few years ago I wrote an article on “Why We Need an Indian Summer” and “What Makes it a White Christmas”. I see that I am being hit big, HUGE, actually, on both articles lately. So…

Let’s get into “El Nino” Christmas. As the data shows, and I have personally been waiting for, this may be the strongest El Nino in 68 years, and it is showing true. Here in Va, we will be having out umpteenth Indian Summer this Fall, and even into Winter, which starts, tomorrow, and I am grateful because of the Polar Vortex finally going back home…. 76 degrees coming this week, thru Christmas. Ma Nature is just a bit out of whack, trying to get things back in order. I remember as an early teen in the mid 70’s, riding my bike around the neighborhood, me and  me buds, on Christmas Eve, gawking at all the Christmas lights, in t-shirts, and shorts well into the evening, just to pass the time. Even then, I was noting the “cycle” of the weather, as now, I remember it. So you Global Warming fools, keep on with your surmises that it’s real. Where were you last year, when I was cheering that the high today, was going to be 26 degrees ?

Little known fact… In any World Atlas, the Soviets include Ice Packs, as land mass, as long as it’s attached to them, for their square miles. In the last decade, they were shrinking. This year, their square miles, is gaining. The Winter Olympics they, couldn’t keep the ice frozen for the events, remember? Go figure….

Yes, a White Christmas has to be snowing on, Christmas to count, good luck with that this year. Buffalo broke a record of without snow this year, and my avid ski buds here in Va are whining… Some are from PA, and THEY don’t have any either!! The cycle is, a cycle. Every 17,000 years, we have an Ice Age, so, PANIC!!!

Gardening.. Hmm. What do I do in an El Nino year? Well, I GARDEN UNTIL FIRST GROUND FREEZE!!! I have always ended my lectures with, “There are NO rules in gardening, IF you are following rules, you are only “landscaping”.

In all my weather watching, I monitor the Jet Stream, El Nino, La Nina, Coral bleaching, the “Ocean Pumps”, Ocean Temps, and a host of Phenology events thru the year, that most, can’t even imagine. Woolly Caterpillar? Pig Spleens? NO, sorry. Not into false things. Personal Garden Coaches are your seasonal protectors, some of us, are actually “Grounded” with the Earth, well, just because we know what that means. Quick! What’s the MgHz vibration of the Earth have to do with Honey Bees and their demise?  Why did the Purple Martins bypass Richmond last year? Why have we had an abundance of Inch Worms 2 years in a row? LOL!!! NOT because of Global Warming, and I bet your Grandparents could tell you of the same such circumstances of decades gone by, as well as things blooming now, that shouldn’t be? How true is it about a Cricket, minus, what, equals the coming temp? There are soooo many of these cool things that kill the panickers reasons, it really is.

My Richmond first snow fall guess is February 9th. I will also remind my active clients, about the importance of Ironite around then, and to watch for Forsythia, to bloom early, Go Time!!! Screw those Box Store ads!!. Find yourself, a local Personal Garden Coach, and Garden-on. Box Store ads are designed to make you purchase more, chemicals…..

Have a Merry Christmas, enjoy your Holidays, whatever, However, you choose. As Garden Folk, we are all, connected, no matter what religion. We enjoy each others endeavors and learn from mistakes, we ask questions, hoping to find answers on a very cool level, no matter who answers, about our gardening successes, don’t we.. When the grind comes down, and sifted thru, as successful gardeners, help is but a pulled weed away.

Think about it, act on it.

BTW, I need a connection to Virginia Veterans and gardening, disassembling Christmas for some, or any Virginia Vets wanting to just do a HUGE thing for those in need..  Your group can be either US Military, Local Police, Veterans Affairs, or FD Hurry, it’s time. Let’s go, time to get dirty.

Email me at




Simple Lawn Care in Virginia

Fescue Lawn Cheat Sheet

The Lawn Sheet Lawn Care 101

Zone 7a – Sunset Zone 32


Great time for lawn prep, mid to late August or so.

Lime and kill anything not wanted with a Glyphosate product.  Be selective. In 7 days you can rake out all dead plants.

Lime at a rate of about 1500 sq ft per 40 lb bag.

Apply a clay breaker gypsum product if you need more perk in the soil bed. This works great for slopes, hillsides and very rainy seasons.

Add an amendment if you want like a little Peat Moss or compost, just enough to cover the bare spots.

Get rid of everything that dies.


Plug aerate if you can’t easily push a 6” screwdriver in the ground to the handle in several places in your lawn area.  If you had crabgrass or any wire-type grasses (creepers) then you need to plug anyway.  They are indicator weeds of compaction.

Apply a starter fertilizer at an NPK of about 20-27-5

Wait until temps are in the range of 70s during the day, and 60s at night, and apply your seed after you have recycled your cutting a little lower than normal.

Keep the seeded lawn watered, damp, maybe twice a day for 2 weeks, when you should have new sprouts showing in most of the lawn.

Then water deeply, every other day, up to 1½” per week

Do NOT mow yet.  Do NOT worry about any other weeds showing up. DO NOT QUIT!


Start mowing, recycling those clippings.  Always change direction each week when you mow. Lessens compaction.

Apply a winterizer with an NPK of about 25-3-14. You can go cheap with a 16-4-8 if you want.

Keep your watering going.

By  mid to late October you should be cutting into your newly planted grass. Hey, great. After 3 cuttings, you can spray treat for weeds. Selectively spray only. Always wait 3 days after cutting before treating, the weed has to be growing to absorb the herbicide.

Keep going.  Keep recycling. Mulch those first falling leaves into the lawn. No bagging yet, unless they are falling a lot, and covering the lawn.

Mid to late month you can apply a straight pre-emergent if you are satisfied with the lawn seed germination, this is why you should seed by Labor Day or soon after.


By now you should be looking for winter weeds.  They are the “pretty” blooming weeds that are left over from the previous spring and fall.  If you see “bloom” in your lawn, start bagging.  The bloom tops are seed for the next crop, which will come about late Feb or mid-March.

Around Thanksgiving weekend, apply your last feeding.  If there are not many weedy spots, then apply the same product you applied in Oct.  If you see weeds, then apply a winterizer and treat by spraying selectively. Keep watering until freeze.

Bag the small weed patches before you apply this feeding.


OK. You are doing great. Ask Santa for a cool gift card!


Apply lime again. That’s all.  Nothing else.  Go in the house.


Still waiting.  Find something else to do, like start your summer garden seeds indoors.  Seed and bulb catalogs are a good distraction.


OK.  You are off the leash again!  When Forsythia starts to bloom, apply a pre-emergent to your lawn to stop all seed germination.  Not just crabgrass, I mean most will stop all germination, including more grass seed, so don’t apply more seed now.

If you don’t have or don’t know what Forsythia is, then get a soil thermometer.  When your soil is 58 degrees F at 4” for 5 days, Forsythia blooms…  Crabgrass and other unwanteds germinate under the same conditions, but for 7 days, so get to it!

Sharpen your blades.

If you are thinking about “Solarizing” your garden, now is the time to act.


Cut grass and start looking for weeds late in the month.


Broad leaf weeds are poking up. Apply a broad leaf herbicide selectively in a spray form as needed, and by Mother’s Day, do the pre-emergent again, without fertilizer. If no chemical is wanted, bagging “bloom tops” can take away the reproductive process of most weeds.


Keep cutting. Bag when weeds are present, mulch when pretty green.

Start looking for fungus problems, and apply a fungus control, especially if you know you had it last summer.  NO NITROGEN!  Use Ironite instead.

Check your fresh cut grass blades, if they are ragged and turn a whitish-yellow on the tips in a day or two, your blades need sharpening NOW!  You are losing moisture at an alarming rate, and your grass is spending a lot of energy “healing” up those ends.


To perk up a lessening lawn now, try Ironite.  Its great stuff, no fungus.

August again

Now it’s easier…

Wait! Don’t Throw That Out!! Part XXVI ?

For over two decades I have been trying to get folks, either in the Water Gardening realm, to the Grow it Yourself people, NOT to toss out things that could be a sustainable “Growing Medium”. See my events about Seed Starting in Dryer Lint, shoes, pocketbooks, etc., if you forget. Even the “never before now always” composters are finding out about the gold they had been tossing out for ever. So now, again, the mysterious “Grow Bags”. I go to clients homes, and sometimes on trash or re-cycle days, and right there, right there, in their trash are the very things they are going to buy, the very thing, I am there to talk with them about. Growing stuff.

So here’s some of the things, I save, to grow in. Balcony Gardening, starting seeds, whatever. If I find it, I’ll grow in it. So should you!

First is an up-cycled store rack. Great for balcony Gardening. Balcony Garden 5

Ask your grocery store, if they are tossing any racks. Grow in it.


Next is the “Grow Bags“. But FREE bags. Grocery Store wine bags, the ones they give you. There’s even a hanging Tomato Plant there. It is inside a pot with a slit and hole cut in it inside the bag for support. Just picture it upside down in the bag. Fill with soil. Same material the expensive bags are made of.

DSCN1512      DSCN1499DSCN1498


Then we get to some other things like Onion Bags with Okra growing in it, Old water jugs with Tulips, some kind of canvas bags I found with Herbs, used clear salad containers, water bottles for cuttings, those clear zip up things that quilts, sheets come in make great Cold Frames or Hardening Off containers… Well, the list is very long. I even use my old spice containers for seed starting. Different spices, different holes, different seeds. And of course, there’s Dryer Lint for starting seeds.

DSCN1204DSCF2051Herbs on HerbsDSCN0670


DSCN1393Dryer Lint Starting 2


So what happens when I show up at a clients home anyway? First is the issues they contacted me about, and seasonal timing. A plan is made, instructions and education. After that, any concerns about future projects. Of course, if it can be re-used, it will be. Don’t go to the dump just yet. I may see the very thing in the pile you would need. Balcony Garden People can find a host of items everyday to up-cycle. Either with other tenants, or in the community trash. Everything will look like a container. If you think you need a Personal Garden Coach, then get one. Most, like myself, even do community groups like Apartments, Clubs, and Cul-de-sac classes.

Don’t forget to sign up for my Monthly Newsletter at Email me your pics of your projects as well at You can also find me on You Tube at Somewhere on my website I still have Outtakes if you need a laugh.

Propaganda and the Mindset of Gardeners. Ignore That Ad!!

Just Shake it Off, Let it Go, and Breathe, Then, Change the Channel

I’ve written about this before, and received a lot of feedback. None bad, but a bit of bewilderment, and the rest was great. The bewildered, admitted they had done all I had addressed, got mad at my article, until, I laid out some examples, directed to other web sites, mostly university and county co-ops, and So the rest, asked me to do it again, smiling, I’m sure, because the term “tattle-tale” didn’t bother me. After 13 1/2 years fighting the box store ads, as a Big Box employee, I finally was called a dinosaur, and they didn’t need my experience anymore. But I had a very large following, and was honest… Ahem.. So in the following diatribe, I will just explore what I met customers with every week end, as well as my nationwide followers, and a few across the big ponds, which, I guess, makes it international. That’s a lot of homework I have to do, zones, weather, soils, availability, etc. But I don’t mind, my weekly customers, a huge chunk of them, weren’t from here anyway. Out of state, out of country, all nationalities, but we made their gardens work. I found a cool translation app, that all I need is your language. You say what you want, it translates to English, and vice versa. Sometimes, there were hardy handshakes and hugs, even, some kissin’, but they got what they actually needed or were looking for.

So here is a bit more, simply because the Big Box Ad Season is here. It is mostly listed, ad item, then what? So if you get confused, or doubt the truth about it, reach me at , or post a comment here. Some of the info I posted before, you took advantage of and sent me your score pics, congratulations to those who actually tried it. Told ya! I know about some others. Because of who I am, I can’t really go places without finding someone I have waited on. I can’t go to a box store, without them asking me to stop…. Dinosaur huh?

First thing, right out of the slot is Lawn Fertilizers. The commercials have even started. Remember, they are National ads and commercials. This is the part where I would ask you to find your zone. There are several sites to give you this info, most, just by entering your zip code. Preventer is always bulked out with grass seed and Weed and Feed. There is an ad out if you get this, get this half off or whatever. Why are you doing this anyway? Do you NEED, to do this? And, will you NEED to do the half off thing? All you are doing is killing yourself and family, and you can’t sow grass seed with any of these products anyway. That’s a lot of hard chemicals you are applying, and will be in your lawn for up to 4 years, if there is no weed to consume the chemical. 2-4D is what you are walking in. If you have to do any chemical weed killer, sprays are better. Organic folks please see that I said if….. Oh, and the cost savings of spot spraying, are spectacular over the half off part of the ad. So if anything, the Preventer part is your last application. Look at the bag of Weed and Feed, the one they say do 8 weeks later in the ad. Say’s Weed Control right? Controls nothing but the life of the weed the pellet sticks to. But, the 28 in nitrogen will lay there too, unused, until a Summer weed germinates, and BOOM!!! Yard full. But wait!! There will be another ad later, no worries, and it will be pushing the sprays….. You do know, you can apply a preventer 3 times a year, without fertilizer, to control, all germination. Organic people, please, hold on, I’m getting there… This is the hardest abused nationwide ad out there, and takes a bit of confusion. So yes, a thick healthy lawn, has less weeds. Cool Season, Warm Season, big difference in the actual feeding times without promoting some other chemical. Same as plug aeration and dethatching in the right season. Do either wrong, and you have weeds, and I mean a lot of weeds. There is a Lawn Sheet on my website, and has been effectively used by thousands in the last 20 years, and helped break this cycle. Always fun to watch Box Store people sell almost opposite, to people who follow this sheet. It is for zone 7a, but is adjustable if you have your zone and know your grass type. HEY KIDS! GET OFF MY LAWN!! Should actually be “because you are in poison“, not just because you are the cranky old man on the corner.

Enough about lawns, moving on to Seed Starting. First, lets remember a bit of High School Biology. When a seed germinates, the first two leaves are not true leaves, and searching for daylight, photosynthesis, converting to sugars and carbs, back to the root. After 3 to 4 leaves, now it’s hungry and pulling from the bottom to the top. OK, so what. So, look at the bag in the ad, look at the ingredients, and NPK analysis. Cant have food. Now find the cheap stuff. 100% peat, no NPK. Feed later, you’ll be glad you did. Oh, and that “Wetting Agent” that’s on the bag, is nothing but Dawn dish detergent. Keeps the soil perking, eliminates cohesion and packing. But you pay more. Get the cheap stuff, and a spray bottle with water and a tablespoon of Dawn. Oh, and there’s your Insecticidal Soap for later. Speaking of later, now your seedlings are hungry. You can either make your own Manure Tea, or buy fertilizer. IF, you buy fertilizer, don’t look at the picture on the box. Read the NPK. OK, NPK = Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium. Up, down, all around. Leaf, root, hardiness. See it yet? On the “All Purpose” types there is a nice picture of blooms, veggies, leaves. NPK is something like 24-4-6, or near there. So that Tomato Plant will be tall and beautiful green, no bloom. You will see this on the commercials in a few weeks, but all staged blooming plants. You need the Tomato food which is not just for Tomatoes, but is around 18-18-21, or near that. Older folks, would say “Just 10-10-10 twice”, that would make it 20-20-20… See it? Balanced, and the higher the middle number, more root, from root, you get bloom, from bloom, you eat… And less problems later on. Start reading labels, and stop buying the ad. Change the channel when you see the commercial I just saw while writing this. How absurd, how stupid do they think we are?

Soils and mulches. UGH!! Soon will be the 5 for $10 Hardwood everywhere. Did you save your leaves and pine tags? Mulch, free and doesn’t get “Dog Puke Fungus”. Bing it, I wouldn’t lie. You can’t treat it, and it doesn’t hurt or infect anything. Just ugly for a bit. It’s the natural process of hardwood composting because of moisture, so don’t let them sell you a product for treating it. In a couple of weeks, it’s gone, and you will think the $17.00 chemical is what fixed it.  Soils, don’t buy into those “moisture control” blathering bags. You want root rot, just keep the garden hose in the hole 24/7. Oh, there is a Fungus Control in the ad when these are on blow out status. The cheaper the soil, the better the plant. I gotta tell ya, I never saw Ma Nature shop at any box store. Never saw an empty bag of anything in the middle of a beautiful natural setting.  Think about it.

You still have time for the cheap “Last Years Overlooked Items”. Read my article on this, save a bit before it’s over next month. It’s worth it, I still get those pics from others, or I tell people I meet where I actually saw it in the overhead at what store.. Who needs an ad, when you educate yourself? Ever shop a “Dollar General” or “Big Lots”? When they put out gardening product, they don’t care what you want, because they don’t know. It’s cheaper, and you can read labels without being harassed by an employee about higher priced ad items. Most times, you can find that “Special Ad Item” that was in the big box last year.

So basically, do your homework. If you can’t, hire a Personal Garden Coach, or have one be a guest speaker at a large function, like community gathering, work, apartment complex. We like gardening on the cheap as well as helping you be a good steward of the Earth. It will give back, if you just garden.


Getting Garden Ready

It’s Time!

Time to start thinking of that plot again, are you going bigger, same, smaller? Don’t know where to start again? If you need help in planning, correcting, or just don’t have time, I will be your Personal Garden Coach. Hiring me for any gardening advice or help can allow you to achieve better results, Water Gardens, starting a community garden, new DIY projects, garden beds, containers, last years problems, indoor seed starting, and the list goes on. Everyone has different situations, and as a Personal Garden Coach, it’s my job to get you on the right track. Hiring me is a better way than wondering if, the whole season. I am available within 10 miles of Glen Allen, Va., for personal consultation, a little help, or just more gardening education and ideas. Fees vary from one-on one to groups of 10 or more. Have a community room or a central home? Groups are cheaper, and everyone gets answered.

If you are interested in my help, email me at . It’s time to start!!

Vendor Confusion is Wreaking Havoc

…and killing your success…

For the 13 1/2 years that I worked at the “Orange Box” as their Garden Specialist, I had to endure several vendor seminars to hear their blathering, about their products. Information that I watched everyone else in the room, suck down like it was gospel, and they never had grown a thing. I could tell, just by their questions, and the answers made me ill. Was it truly an attempt to educate, or was it just a ploy for more dollars to the vendor, limiting your success, because you were told, wrong? Ever notice, that as a huge ad comes out with any “Buy this, get this free and apply this now”, or whatever, that over there, on that shelf, is a product that will be in the next ad, claiming “If you have this, then apply this now”, with a picture of some un-Godly thing growing in a lawn or garden. They know you are being told wrong, but there is another chemical, to correct it. Don’t believe me? Look in the overheads, see what chemical is on like 4 pallets, that’s the next ad. Then do your homework on that product. You will see the “If you did this, then you need to do that”.

After about the 3rd year, I couldn’t take anymore from gardening my whole life, so I started asking questions I knew that vendor didn’t know the answers to, or wouldn’t truthfully answer. My absurd affliction of watching and knowing the climatology of my zone, and observing my customers failures because the same info being shoved at us, and why last year the same info was there, but people were failing was my dilemma. Their info was the same that was on the commercials, again. Yep, all the speaker could do was back up a few sentences, and start again. I was finally asked not to attend anymore lectures. And my attitude towards them and my clients, changed.

I didn’t set out to  kill their products, well, not at first, but I led my clients through scenarios of their past years of anything gardening, no matter what the project was. Especially when they say they “do this every year”. As we looked into their media generated practices, the switches were clicking on. In just one particular season, I was being inundated by clients wanting to see, “that guy”. See, I wasn’t dogging weekly sales plans, they were growing, because of repeat customers, and their friends. I told the truth, and their landscapes were improving. Funny how many times I was told not to tell their neighbor what I was telling them at first. But then, the neighbor was brought in to see me, because of the invasions of those “Un-Godly Things” they were growing. Don’t get me going about grass seed, just read the label on the back, it’s done by an independent lab, and they tell the truth about that particular batch. Add the percentage of seed blends and see if it’s near 100%. There is one in particular, that gets close to 50%, but “It’s NEW and IMPROVED!!” Please.. Just read the label. There’s more.

As the years went by, more info was out about “Organic” gardening and these vendors were clamoring over each other to produce all organic lines of money. Yeah, they went to the limits, even with the Federal Government, that there was a certain percentage of what they had to admit to that was “organic”. By Federal Law, a vendor only has to have their organic products labeled at 85%. The other 15%, they didn’t have to tell you what was in the product. Read any label listed as organic, see for yourself. If there’s no label of ingredients, then either pass on that product, or thank the people that they, would. Scary. Watch what you buy, and join, you will change your practices immediately. Reference to the movie, “Erin Brockovich” when she was at that one home, discussing where the chemicals were coming from that was killing families, the water, and the Mom frantically jumped up and got her kids out of the pool…. Imagine your backyard, the same way, the vendor doesn’t care, but there is another commercial.

A few years ago, I was asked to help a client figure out why most of her veggie garden failed for the past couple of years. She was a farm girl, and knew how to garden her soil first. When I arrived, we walked the landscape first, and it was beautiful. It was a horse farm, and she was completely organic. Last years manure was here, this years was there. But I noticed a weird situation. In the established beds, no weeds. But in the lawn areas, plenty. She used no chemicals at all. As we got to the veggie garden, I could see the nice composted manure, some sporadic rows of veggies, but mostly, bare everywhere else. After a few minutes of asking about and her answering me, her practices, her hay farmer showed up to drop her bales. We continued the tour, but something in me wasn’t right. I took several pics, and her time was up, and I ensured her I’d get back to her. A few weeks later, I was listening to a podcast about gardening with out “The Government” in your back yard. Something the gal said, got me riled up about a suspicion I had earlier. I did some digging, and the next day, called on my client. When I got there, two of her friends, horse farmers as well, were there, and had the same issues in their failed gardens. So as a group, I asked where they got their hay. They all, and a few more friends, got it from the same hay farm. Imagine that the three, all at once, explaining that they don’t know why I was asking about the hay distributor? After finally having the floor, all I asked was “Does he use 2-4d on his fields”? My client immediately called, and he said yes, so there are no broad leaf weeds…. Horses and cows, that eat the hay treated with 2-4d, eliminate the chemical, it’s in the hay. The chemical can be dormant for four years, unless there is a broad leaf anything, to consume it. Silence in a field is strange. Then the phones came out, and friends were called, because this garden problem had been discussed at length at their horse club meetings, and everyone was using the same practices and had the same hay producer.

Now, I wasn’t wanting to end someones livelihood, but the story, is true, and ties in with the first part of this article. How many failures does it take, especially with seasoned gardeners, before they quit too? My info to these people wasn’t just from articles I read. As a Garden Coach, some proof needed to be found. There was actually a middle visit at this farm, and it was to get some of the composted manure for me to make some manure tea for myself, and was offered all I want. But it wasn’t for my gardens. It was experimental, because of my suspicions about the manure. I used it on some of my own seedlings, some from just watering, and some by spraying on. All died or looked like they wanted to. The chemicals from the hay, was in the poop.

In the discussions I’ve had and lectures given over the years, not just in regular gardening practices, but also water gardens, people don’t understand what’s in the chemical they are “sold”. For example the aquatic chemical used to “clear up algae blooms” at about $23.00 per pint, is simply Hydrogen Peroxide. Just a cap full per so many square feet of pond. All it does is sterilize the existing algae so it can’t reproduce, it dies, and is fuel for the next bloom, again and again, until they are sold a mechanical filter or a magic light fixture. I gotta tell ya, I’ve never seen such a thing in a real pond. But the vendor has a method of making a simple project cost you out of enjoyment, it’s now a chore. Simple practices in the maintenance of any water garden, makes it just that, a garden. But you aren’t supposed to know about moving the pump seasonally, and more.

My Apartment gardening clients are all of a sudden, a new breed. There has been a little info out there about containerizing veggies, but none from vendors. I have had several in the past few years, start with a few, and now no room out there. I did have enough that had an interest, that WWBT’s “More Bang for Your Buck” series aired me on just that. And you people went crazy in your gardening on balconies. But, unless you know someone with compost, you have to buy bagged. Just read the label about potting mixes, garden soils, and keep it cheap. Anything that boasts about “water retention”, “longer feeding”, or any other “thing” and has great pics on the bag, let it go. In containers, you have the luxury of no weeds, and maybe less bugs, but…. You have to control your watering and feeding times more than an in-ground garden. Drainage and fungus is where your extra education needs to be above others. So you don’t want that “new and improved” anything. There’s more, but you are a 3rd floor gardener, and it’s worth the effort.

With the onslaught of GMO vs Non-GMO, there is a question of that vendor side as well. If you aren’t saving seeds already, it may be too late soon. With the formation of Seminis Seed Company, a Monsanto entity, it appears that all seeds in the companies they are buying up, will be GMO, and will not reproduce from seeds of that plant. You will have to buy all your seeds from now on. End of the world folks. Some will reproduce, but will not be the same plant. I have already seen some of this, and the packets planted, were not all the same, already. The “vendor” states they are healthier, more resistant to a nuclear blast, etc… But, you have to buy again next year. And yes, the Government is involved with this too. Pretty soon, my seed stash I save year after year, will be illegal, and they will raid that one kitchen drawer we all have, with just “stuff” in it. Imagine it, “Seed Cops”.

Any type of gardening is supposed to be therapy in my book. I already work, I don’t want a pleasure to be work. As a kid, there weren’t many chemicals or bagged goods like today, and we ate good. Certain weeds meant something about the soil, weather, nutrients, etc. Rotating crops, gardening your soil, companion planting, inter-planting to attract good bugs, were all you needed. I’ve never seen Ma Nature shop in a box store. I can go out to the middle of nowhere, and see beautiful things growing, and not the first empty bag of anything. So why can’t you grow without a vendor? Make it pleasurable, therapeutic, and profitable to garden again. Who’s your Garden Coach? Class begins as I step out of my vehicle with my clients, I have a compass, and a watch, and it’s the first thing I note, then it’s on. My interview with you simply includes, my exploring your “chemical closet”, your previous practices, ask about your non-existent garden journal, and then, what do you want, as we tour your property. Then you’re mindset will change, and you are gardening again. Simply keeping a journal, will keep you from listening to those commercials, when the vendor says, “Do this now”.

In my public lectures, weather they are small groups or upwards to 200-300 people, after about five minutes in, they find out I am not a vendor. Questions come early on of what the commercials are that week or what the box store has in their ads, and why am I saying different?…. As I answer them, also with scenarios of what I know what is going on in a garden, certain veggies, weather, whatever, that if they are following the ads, then they start admitting, they have that problem too. Then I ask, why? Now, I got them.

Go Grow Something.


Rage Against the Ad, Part 3

Box Stores End Gardening.. What?

As a gardener, I remember always having things to do in the Winter as far as gardening. Somewhere in the past, the media, ended gardening ideas for Winter. It’s like that movie where Christmas was almost cancelled, there was a war on. With the huge amount of people gardening these days, and I’m talking specifically, the “Grow Your Own Food” folks, there seems to be an end, to gardening. There is, a war on.

Do you believe it’s over, when it comes to that last Tomato, last Squash, last weeding? Let me tell you, there’s more. Way more. If, and I say, if, you are one of the few that kept a journal, either written or photo, of your efforts, then you have the ability and responsibility to “Garden in the Winter”. It’s not over when those ads tell you. Think about the other side, of department stores. When do the flip flops, bathing suits, shorts, patio furniture, etc., go “on sale”. Summer isn’t over, in July, the ads say it is, because Fall sweaters are on the rack by mid August.

See? But we don’t realize they do it to gardeners too. Just because the name brand product ads shift from constant  “down your throat” wrong advice blitz from April to the end of July/early August, and then non-existent, most of you shut down. Me? I have fresh picked veggies for Thanksgiving. I’m nowhere near done. My shorter days thinking, goes towards finishing the beds, proper dressing and cover crop, looking over my pics and notes, for next February, when it actually starts new. I’m separating and labeling my saved seeds, labeling, converting my rotation of crops on paper, gathering things to up-cycle for seed starting, re-organizing my seed racks, taking down my cold frames, cleaning hard used tools. Ever wonder why the seed catalogs come so early? Well they aren’t early, they, are on time, the box stores are late, trying to clear out Christmas, and then have some stupid bathroom fixture sale, they can’t even order product like lime, amendments, garden tools, of things of the like. They are “out of season” and turned off in the system. By the time the seasonal items are actually in an ad, gardeners are well under way, and new gardeners, are lost.

I can’t tell you how many times over the past decades, when I ask if, anything, the  person tells me it’s too early yet. When I break out my phone  and show them what I’m doing, let’s say, mid February, and show them my seedlings up and under light in a cheap seed rack, then I have a new client. Then, they are pounding the stores about why nothing is in the store for gardening. Love the answers they get.

Most of my “Seasonal Only” clients are now year round gardeners. They are getting their Winter Gardening supplies in July, saving them for November, to create their own gardening indoor projects. I get pounded in late January early February with requests, pondering, “can I’s”, whatever, from almost as many thru the “season” gardeners. About 30% of those, repeatedly send me pics of “the thing” they are building, and do I think it will work. Then, Late February, mid March, silence. But I hear them, working, thinking, whining, trying….

Yep, the media has all but killed Winter Gardeners. There is a huge up flow of people tired of their food being tainted, by the very same chemical companies, that are in charge of the ads. Late ads, and wrongly timed advice. See, they don’t want you to grow, especially food. That’s why there’s ads, so the ordinary weekender can just keep trying instead of succeeding. How many times I heard, “Well I do this every year, because the ad says so.” And we’re talking simply about over seeding a fescue lawn. Same with the veggie garden people. See the pictures on the name brand water soluble fertilizers? “All Purpose” with it’s flowering annuals and a Tomato and Pepper? Ever read the NPK on that box? Those folks I am guaranteed to get an email from about the very tall leafy Tomato plant with no blooms, in late July. “But the box”, they’ll say. I know that company generates more dollars in that 12 facing display than they would by actually promoting their “Tomato” food. Watch the commercials next spring. Oh yeah, they have another product to counter the Blossom End Rot if you are lucky enough to get any to blossom. Same as the mid Summer fescue fertilizer pushers. That’s when the Fungus Controls come in by the pallets. They know, they told you wrong, and you will need this, better luck next year, just gimme your money. Fescue lawn mostly Bermuda? They make a product to control it, or are you following the ad for feeding wrong?

This Winter, do yourself a favor, especially if you are confused. Find a Personal Garden Coach, we are here to stop you from watching the ads, be successful, save you money, as you make money growing your own food, and helping the environment. Winter is where I  am invited as a guest speaker, lecturer, given for Christmas, to help generate that kick start in gardeners. We have plenty to do on our own properties and scheduling garden chores, but as we educate others, our life gets easier. Our job is to grow. Not only you, but ourselves. We know how to make gardening mistakes, most of us have done things just to see, or to prove to others. Now I’m all about this article, it needs to be understood, that “ads are the bads” when it comes to gardening. Sales are great, don’t get me wrong, but the education you would get, can stop you from buying by the ad.

Invest in your educating yourself and your family. Change the channel when a commercial is on, keep a garden journal, make your own trends.

Why Bother Hiring A Personal Garden Coach?

A Personal Garden Coach and Their Responsibilities
Sometimes, ya just need to get your client dirty. Or wet. Or sweaty… To get them to understand there is no “art” to gardening. It’s a new mindset, every season, because of the huge swings in climate. You have to let them fail, sort of, so the thought process changes. The worst is yet to come, after they get the idea in their head, to actually put a hoe in the ground. They get hooked, they have a bushel of questions before they even think of what they need, and the surroundings begin to all pour over into one, fine, mess… Sometimes, most times, we have to intervene, for only a minute at a time, then the switch happens.
The media begins by always presenting their view, like when you buy a car, and then you see the same car, everywhere. Clients can’t differentiate actual, from “fiction”, as the commercialism is their total worth, and they “need” to buy “that” product, because the guy on TV said so. It, must be popular. Now, we have the problem, of breaking that trend, and slowing down the day. We begin, the coaching process, of showing the accounts of deliberate, benevolent neglect, can most times produce the desired results of that plant. We have the knowledge of chemicals, climate, topography, plant requirements, tools, safety, insects, disease, organics, soils, and a host of other information that for some unknown reason, we harbor in our souls. We belong to organizations, have a plethora of contacts we trust, aren’t afraid to make a mistake and figure out what we did, right. Me, myself, show up at a new clients home, compass in hand, first thing, because they argue where the sun rises. We’re given as “gifts” for birthdays, etc, by family members, for the “brown down, green up” challenged, realty companies because the old trend of “curb appeal” sells better than new paint in the kitchen, and new buyers, to help figure out, “what’s this?” I tend to believe it’s because we have been dirty, wet, sweaty, most of our lives. And we all have that drawer in the kitchen, with dried seeds in bags, old plant labels, the one glove we couldn’t find the mate to, last years seed catalog, the thing, we were going to do something with… So we coach others, put them in the game, and let them play on. We are OK when they don’t need us anymore. We did our job, and now we learn as we go, on what the new gardener has accomplished. We understand that we are, sometimes, trying to alter Ma Nature, in ways only a garden person can, but with utmost respect, that she is, the ultimate. We are in fact, gardens ourselves.
As the trending climate pushes us on to bigger and more abundant issues, the media feels the need to step in and take your mind to that beautiful lawn or garden on the TV or in that magazine pic. There’s all the hype of before, after, with, without, and the ever popular marketing scheme of a great set-up laid out scene… Makes you want yours to look the same, and it can, if you buy this now, and do it soon….. But wait, there is yet another chemical to correct what they told you wrong, or if you buy this now, get this free… and do it later in so many weeks, wrong, but you save money?
See the trend? As a Personal Garden Coach, it’s against our nature to allow that to happen. I hear so many times, “but the guy on TV said”, and I really want to take that client to the “guys” home, and see his garden. Actors are just that. They are getting paid from the residuals you spend, on the “stuff”. And I bet they don’t even get dirty, they have a “guy” that does their gardening for them. I know for a fact, the vendors don’t do what they are trained to tell you. They are on commission, and you will buy this, after all, it was on TV….
I have in the past, run into these people, and asked simple questions off the topic of their promotion, like “What’s the difference between anvil and bypass pruners?”. “I have Honey Bees swarming in my siding, what can I spray?”. “What does “part to full sun vs sun to partial shade” mean on the plant tag?”. “When do I feed, this, and is this the right food, with the pretty blooms on the box?”. When I get some answer, I realize why I am a coach to so many, and how they are confused sometimes when I say no…
Getting clients to trust you, starts with just a small, “Never could get this to grow right” lesson in getting it to grow as they tend to it, properly. So many times I have heard, “Oh, I always did this…” And now I get pics from them boasting with, “I DID IT!!!” And they did… Personal Garden Coaches never take the credit. After all, they have clients, wanting the best know-how they can get from us, to get their surroundings better, easier, healthier, and, cheaper. Some of my best garden clients are the ones who never ever have put a seed in soil, knew nothing, and grew something. I have gotten pics, a few months later, of beautiful Eggplants, Tomatoes, Peppers, that they started indoors in late February, went to the garden bed, tended, fed, watered, protected, and asked, “What now” in the pic….. And all I send back is, “GO PICK!!!”
At the end of my day, when I smell dirt, see fresh veggies or cut flowers on the counter, I know I have a few new gardeners wondering what they need to do tomorrow, writing notes in their journal, collecting seed catalogs and changing the channel when an ad comes on, thinking how to make something useful from the broken garden hoe, seeing the next season in their head. I feel the growth, pun intended, of the new gardeners toils and ideas. Satisfaction spreads throughout gardeners, whether we are in their dirt or not. They start to notice not only other new things, but problems occurring in others landscaping.. They are now a “Gardner”, not a landscapers. Gardening becomes a soothing therapy, and not a malicious nightmare of overgrown hopes. They see the outcome of the fees they paid, as an education they should have known, to be a good steward of the Earth, and now understand, sustainable living. One plant at a time, one new gardener, at a time. As I attend a “therapy” session in my landscape, I feel the pull of everyone I have coached, wondering if they are doing what is right, their gardens flash thru my head as I get to the areas they have. Sometimes, when they call me, and there have been so many over the years, I have no idea who they are by name, but tell me what you are doing, and I know exactly, who I’m talking to.
Yes, as a Personal Garden Coach, being in the midst of chaos at first, listening to what a client dreams of, coaching just a bit, getting the “before” aspects of the layout and the zillion questions after opening up that first packet of seeds, or breaking properly that root mass, is relatively simple… and then, when the second visit occurs, there is the dotted line of a new gardeners dream. When they don’t need us anymore, I do think of them, even as I weed my own. As a Personal Garden Coach, “I love leaving gardens in my wake.”

Polar Vortex Means Garden Indoors!!

Gardening is therapy, that’s why they invented, March!!

Since the last Newsletter went out, I have been inundated with requests for info about several items and “theory’s” about climate, chemicals, GMO, Government Gardening Intervention, and a ton of, “Can I”…. The last one is easy.. Yes, you can. I do, all the time.. The rest, well, let’s just see what we have here.

Global Warming. Really folks, It IS a trend. Climatically speaking, NO, Maryland people won’t see Crotons thriving in their landscape. Richmond Va will not be “ocean front” property. Ma Nature has been playing with the notion of another Ice Age for about 10,000 years. We have one every 17,000 years or so, so just keep watching the climate trends, they will change again, it does every 30 years, just to keep us wondering. “Average” rainfall and temps, are just that, THE AVERAGE, of an assumed timeframe to make the ratio reality if the decade. I was in Reagans first inauguration. It was 7 degrees that day. The January record high, was 81 in 2002. March record, 94 in 1907. Average that, remember how to do averages? In my previous News Letters, blogs, all my public lectures, I refrain from being nailed down to a date on when to…. Anything gardening. That’s why, I push you to keep your own garden journal. Phenology is a wonderful, misunderstood science blown away by the media, and the big retailers. If there’s one thing I have learned from my decades of gardening, it’s when to change the channel when any garden product vendor is on. I’m shocked, that some haven’t marketed “Un-global Warming” in a can or bag. OK, enough of that, just ponder,  Media x $$ – (executive CEO -pension/perks) = mass panic x layoffs/stock loss squared.

Government in My Backyard?  or GGI  Now, lets let this one out. The Government, has gotten involved with how much vegetables, and what kind, you can grow. Really, it’s out there. This is the third year. Some localities have actually adopted the plan, because of, well, I won’t name names, but the signs in the stores say,’ Locally Grown” or “organically grown”…. Know who now? Over priced produce, that’s not actually local. Check for yourself. Have one of those fancy “scan” apps on your phone? Peel back their label, and you can find most of the time the actual farms scan bar.. Yeah.. Local? There’s a guy going around the country busting these markets as he finds them just with that little scan app.. But, these people and their growers are showing up in congress again for the third year, bolstering us for growing our own food, and not buying from them to keep from eating GMO or chemically enhanced foods.. Google it.. It’s there. And it’s ugly. There are 5 veggies you grow, that you can’t share with neighbors, because you aren’t USDA certified….. It’s there, and coming to your neighborhood soon.

OK, Now the Illusive Chemical Thing Is “Gluten Free” really, free? No, not unless you grow your own Amaranth, Mosh, greens, etc. There is now a huge effort to expose the use of Glyphosate on some crops as a “desiccant”… yes, a desiccant. It’s use is for “killing” of the crop, to make it suitable for harvest, without the leftover “greens” in it. In other words, they “kill” the crop with Glyphosate, for harvest. And you’re eating it.. WAIT!! it gets better. Some of the crops that are GMO, “Round-Up” resistant, they use Corn Gluten in the fields to suppress weeds or unwanted plant growth. Corn Gluten, after 3 years of application, can start to cake up in the soil, and the crops, will start taking up the 10 percent nitrogen available from it, thus, taking up the corn gluten and creating a number 4 thing a Celiac person can’t ingest, besides Barley, Wheat, or Rye… Want more? They spray 2-4d on GMO crops to kill off the broad leaf weeds in hay and straw “suitable” for cattle and horse consumption. I’m still waiting on the results from a few universities about does the animal absorb or eliminate the killer? I think it eliminates it because I have used 2-4d treated hay-horse-poop-tea recently and the plant life didn’t make it….. I don’t like 2 4d in my cereal or my grill. Makes me see spots for a while. Let me know what you find out.

Garden Coach Fees

Garden Coach Fees

Garden Coach Fees
I have been asked about my fees for one-on-one and groups. So here they are. One-on-One, $40 per hr, and you decide how long, how many times out to see you. Helping in Seasonal Gardening chores such as: — Indoor Seed Starting Racks — Seasonal chores of your property, detailed of when, how, why. Assisting by educating about specifics in your gardens, landscape. — Water Garden Maintenance, installations, repairs, education. — Apartment and balcony gardening, vertical, container, hanging gardening. — Placement of new Veggie Gardens, rehabbing old overgrown gardens.
Groups of 10 or more, $175 for 2 hours of lecture time, Q & A, at your location. I have been the guest speaker at several events of 300 plus, so larger groups don’t scare me, but sometimes goes longer than 2 hours, but Group Fee doesn’t change. Sometimes the group wants me to lecture on a specific topic, or we can just go where the questions lead up to. It’s always a fun time.
I have been “given” as a birthday present to many novice gardeners, a realtors gift to sellers and buyers, to help in the Curb Appeal for sale, or to help new owners figure out what they have/want to do, what they can and can’t.
My qualifications are listed under the Bio tab at and I continue to constantly achieve more, it’s my job as a “Grandparent Trained” gardener to keep above the trends, myths, media, climate.
I will try to get an online Podcast sometime. Sounds interesting. I will send the invite in a Monthly Newsletter, so if you are not on the list, you can sign up on the main page of my website.