Root Factor

Plants have three basic components; roots, stems and leaves. I grow some of my tomatoes in plastic planters that have open bottoms.

Tomatoes are able to grow roots along the stems. Some people let the stem get leggy and then lay the stem down in a horizontal position to allow more absorption of water and nutrients through the the increase in area. If you are growing in a planter, you may want to consider placing the young plant close to the bottom of the container. As the plant grows and reaches for the sun, add soil around the stem. In a short time, small roots will appear along the stem that are buried in the soil mix. Those roots will increase the absorption factor for the plant. The size of the planter that you use will help determine the root growth. A planter that is too small will reduce root development.

For early tomato growth, I put a used five gallon water jug over the plant to allow in sunlight but to keep the plants warm at night. The jug also reduces evaporation of water. Then I added drip irrigation using a 2 liter tonic bottle to drip compost tea.

Container planting provides flexibility for people planting in limited spaces. Good times.


What Is Wrong? – School Gardens

A farmer who has been involved school gardens in South America, Asia and the United States surprised me with an interesting observation:  School Gardens don’t work.


My observation has been that the intentions are most always good but: here in the Northeast, if we follow the patterns of farmers and gardeners, the traditional vegetables are harvested in July and August.  The children are gone for vacation.  Who waters and weeds during the summer?

Growing cold weather plants can offer a harvest before kids check out for summer.  The germination process however needs to start on or before January 1st.  These plants can go into the ground as soon as the frost is gone.

Check out these cold weather plants that we are harvesting right now.  Please realize that teachers are overwhelmed and in January most are not thinking of a school garden with snow on the ground.

Yes, This Is Real!

Over the past couple of weeks I have been talking to people who question whether a 3 by 3 space can yield them meaningful garden produce.


It is not the square area that you plant in, it is the quality of the soil medium that is used. Big gardens can become overwhelming.  You might want to start off with something that is manageable and then expand it.  First of all make it enjoyable.

The pictures are of one 3 by 3 Square Foot Garden.  Tomatoes, kale, cucumbers and string beans all in one.

Don’t You Dare Try It

Keep doing what you are doing because for you there may be no time for gardening.

How do living things grow to full their potential?  Can we avoid thinking about this as we prepare, plant and harvest a garden?  Can we apply some of these principle to other aspects of life?


The Chinese say: “If you want to be happy for a day, get drunk; a week, kill a pig; a month, get married; for life, be a gardener.”

Your Driveway

In our community we have a farm that is a CSA.  I volunteered on the farm one afternoon.  I said to an environmental intern from the University of Vermont that the soil appeared to me to lack organic composition.  I asked him how they successfully grow anything.  His answer: “fertilizer”.

This CSA and many others participate in the local farmers’ markets.  Many of us believe that if it is purchase at a farmers’ market it must be good.  I would like to encourage you to start small with a Square Foot Garden and see where it takes you.

One more point.  A Square Foot Garden can be an urban garden.  The only space it takes is a patio, a driveway or even a front yard.

Garden Gangsters

Rick Swanson is without a doubt the most powerful administrator that I have ever met.  He is not related to me.  Instead of using the administrative line, “I’m not sure we can do that”, he figures out a way to empower students and provides resources.   The students’ environmental work at the school is an inspiration.   He sent me this TED talk that is must see.

Please get back to me and make suggestion of what we can do.

At Hingham High School where Mr. Swanson works, they compost cafeteria waste, cardboard food trays and more.