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The Manic Gardener – Kate Gardner

Kate Gardner

3
Followers
25
Plays
The Manic Gardener – Kate Gardner

The Manic Gardener – Kate Gardner

Kate Gardner

3
Followers
25
Plays
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About Us

Organic vegetable gardening is the new national pastime, outstripped only by advice about how to do it. But sorting through all that “information” requires either a PhD in horticulture, or a leap of faith – neither one of which seems like a particularly good idea when you just want to grow some tomatoes. Kate taps the experts to sort through fact, fad, and fiction, covering all things gardening, from the difference between synthetic and organic fertilizers to how to make the most of a small garden space. For solid information backed by reputable science, or if you’re just plain curious about how things actually work in that plot of earth in your backyard, “The Manic Gardener” is your place to dig. Get the straight story from Kate, delivered in her distinctly quirky style.

Latest Episodes

The Manic Gardener – Energy and Landscaping: Surprising Connections

We’ve all heard this one: to shade your house in summer (and save the energy used to run fans or air-conditioners), plant a tree on the south side of the house. According to my guest this week, that’s not so much a no-brainer as it is brainless. (Though she’d never put it so rudely.) In the course of the show, Sue Reed (http://www.susanreedla.com/)not only explains why that won’t work, she also tells us how to plant trees in order to shade a house and funnel breezes towards it in summer--but also capture sunlight and deflect winds in winter. These and dozens of other tips take the familiar gardening maxim, “the right plant in the right place,” to a whole new level. A registered landscape architect with 25 years of experience in energy-conscious design, Sue is eminently qualified to address this issue. She has taught at the Conway School of Landscape Design, and her amazing, and amazingly thorough, book, Energy-Wise Landscape Design: A New Approach for Your Home and Garden (htt...

--2012 JUL 3
Comments
The Manic Gardener – Energy and Landscaping: Surprising Connections

The Manic Gardener – The Weed-Free Garden

A weed-free garden sounds too good to be true, and near the end of our interview, Lee Reich (http://leereich.com/), author of Weedless Gardening (http://leereich.com/books.html), admits that it is: He does indeed weed—for about five or ten minutes a week. Five minutes, though, is close enough to nothing as makes no difference. How does he manage this? (Without planting through a plastic mulch, that is.) During this week’s show, Lee explains his four-part system and its many benefits, which range from healthier soil to way less work for the gardener. The system itself is pretty simple: don’t till or disturb the earth; lay out permanent areas to walk and plant; keep the soil covered at all times; and use drip irrigation where irrigation is needed. But how to implement the system is not quite so clear. How do you fertilize, or add organic matter, without digging? And don’t plants need access to these things deep in the earth? As for keeping the soil covered, mulches are indeed grea...

--2012 JUN 25
Comments
The Manic Gardener – The Weed-Free Garden

The Manic Gardener – The Seven-Fold Way of Xeriscape Gardening

If you think “stones and cactus” when you hear the term “xeriscape,” then Andrea Cummins (http://www.ext.colostate.edu/cedirectory/detail.cfm?index=4853)would like to talk to you. She’s too polite to just say “No,” and too eloquent for “Er, not so much,” but those do convey the general idea. A Horticultural Extension Agent from Douglas County, Colorado, Andrea spends much of her time dealing with such misperceptions. At the opposite end of the spectrum, she and her fellow agents try to educate the many newcomers to her area who think they can recreate a New England or South Carolina garden in the west if they just water it enough. Before Andrea and I launch into the seven principles of xeriscape (http://www.ext.colostate.edu/ptlk/ptlk1900.html), we spend a while talking about where she lives, a high county in the east Rocky foothills with no major lakes or rivers, where the biggest draw on residential water supplies is the irrigating of lawns and gardens. We talk about this...

52 MIN2012 JUN 11
Comments
The Manic Gardener – The Seven-Fold Way of Xeriscape Gardening

The Manic Gardener – Hidden Waters

My guest this week is Duncan Patten (http://landresources.montana.edu/Department/Patten.html), an ecologist with whom I discuss agricultural pollution, the importance of riparian strips along streams, fracking, and yes, rain barrels, all under the umbrella topic of groundwater. Duncan spent thirty years at Arizona State University before “retiring” to Montana, where he is now a research professor in the department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, the director of the Montana Water Center (http://watercenter.montana.edu/), and member of an EPA panel charged with studying how hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. “fracking”) might affect public health and the environment. But before all that, Duncan got a doctorate in ecology at Duke University in 1962, and he starts this show by defining ecology as the study of how organisms affect their environment and it affects them. In other words, ecology is about relationships. That theme ran through our conversation, stitching together ...

59 MIN2012 JUN 4
Comments
The Manic Gardener – Hidden Waters

The Manic Gardener – Thrifty Gardening with Marjorie Harris

If you’re a Canadian Gardener, chances are that you’ve heard of Marjorie Harris (http://marjorieharris.com/), but we below the 49th parallel may not be so fortunate. The author of seventeen books, fifteen of them on gardening, Marjorie keeps in shape with her weekly column in the Globe and Mail, one of Canada’s leading newspapers. She’s also a speaker, videocaster, garden designer, and this week’s guest on the Manic Gardener. Her topic, of course, is Thrifty Gardening, which is the title of her most recent book, or half of it: Thrifty Gardening: from the ground up. (http://www.houseofanansi.com/Thrifty-Gardening-P1226.aspx) That book, by the way, is not only useful, but hilarious. (She refers to gardening catalogues as “garden porn.”) In both book and podcast, Marjorie tackles the topic from every angle. Prospective house buyers are encouraged to skip the usual glance at the garden, which usually serves merely to ascertain if it’s beautiful. That, Marjorie says, matters not ...

61 MIN2012 MAY 28
Comments
The Manic Gardener – Thrifty Gardening with Marjorie Harris

The Manic Gardener – Greener than Grass

“Greener” here doesn’t refer to color, but to being environmentally friendly. Yup, it’s a metaphor. Last week’s show presented some information about the damage that conventionally maintained lawns can do. This week, we dive into the whole ocean of lawn alternatives. Some people keep their lawn because they like them—which may be the only good reason to do so. Some of us believe that we need a lawn, perhaps because we don’t have the money to get rid of it, or because “natural” gardens are more work, or—and this is a big one—because we have kids. For most of us homeowners, though, the lawn is a given, an unthought, default planting. During our conversation this week, Evelyn Hadden (http://evelynhadden.com/), author of Beautiful No-Mow Yards: 50 amazing lawn alternatives (http://www.timberpress.com/books/beautiful_no_mow_yards/hadden/9781604692389), lays all of these fears to rest. She recommends walkable ground-covers or sedges for those who just love the look of a lawn, a...

60 MIN2012 MAY 21
Comments
The Manic Gardener – Greener than Grass

The Manic Gardener – So—What’s wrong with lawns?

Lawns are practically an American institution, but they’re increasingly under attack. The amounts of pesticides, fertilizer, and water used on them are all matters of contention. If you’re wondering whether lawns deserve the abuse heaped on them, this show might help you make up your mind. My first guest, Paul Tukey, is a writer, filmmaker, activist, and founder of Safe Lawns.org (http://www.safelawns.org/). He tells the story of Hudson, Quebec, where a persistent local doctor got the town to ban lawn pesticides, and of a school in Ohio where pesticide drift sent 47 students to the doctor. He has the facts on 2,4-D, an herbicide widely used in northern Canada, where so many farmers die of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that it is referred to as "old farmer's disease." But first he tells the story of his conversion from lawn-care professional to a passionate advocate of organic lawn-care. That conversion came only after his own health had deteriorated to the point where doctors told him th...

59 MIN2012 MAY 15
Comments
The Manic Gardener – So—What’s wrong with lawns?

The Manic Gardener – A Farmer’s story

When they try to make a movie of Atina Diffley’s (http://atinadiffley.com/)story, some producer is going to reject it as unbelievable. Losing one organic farm to development, okay; but nearly losing a big chunk of the second to an oil pipeline? A pipeline owned by one of the two largest companies in the United States? Start with this setup, and it’s a given that Atina takes them on and beats them. To top it off, she not only protects her own land from the pipeline, but she gets Koch to accept an agreement (at least in Minnesota) that will protect all organic farms threatened by pipelines. Then add that Atina had survived five years in an early, abusive marriage. Isn’t that just a bit much, as plots go? Maybe. But it’s true. Author of the beautiful memoir, Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works (http://atinadiffley.com/turn-here-sweet-corn/), Atina Diffley joins me this week to talk about the double assault on organic farms that she and her husband Martin have endured. She d...

60 MIN2012 MAY 8
Comments
The Manic Gardener – A Farmer’s story

The Manic Gardener – How to Buy a Plant

On one level it can’t really get much simpler: you give them the money, they give you the plant, and you’re done. But then there’s the question of whether you and the plant stay happy with this arrangement: is the plant content in its new home, and do you remain pleased with the plant? Toby Day (http://www.mtmastergardener.org/), Extension Horticulture Specialist at Montana State University, returns to The Manic Gardener, this time to guide gardeners through the intricacies of the plant purchasing process. We look first at how to choose your basic herbaceous plants (vegetable starts, bedding plant, young perennials); then at selecting healthy bare-root asparagus, strawberries, and small fruits; and finally at choosing trees and shrubs. We also talk about getting these into the ground with the least effort and the greatest chance of success. There are numerous surprises along the way: choose a stocky plant, not a tall one; look for a plant with no flowers—even if it’s a flowerin...

62 MIN2012 APR 30
Comments
The Manic Gardener – How to Buy a Plant

The Manic Gardener – Composting 101: Bite the Silver Bullet

Spring has sprung just about everywhere in North America, and certainly across the pond, and in spring the avid gardener’s thoughts turn to—composting. All that pruning and mowing and clipping and raking of last fall’s debris and this spring’s growth produces plenty of garden waste. But just how does one start with this composting business, anyhow? The number of books out on the subject—or the fact that even one person, much less several, thought the topic deserved an entire book—can make the task seem daunting. Then there’s the question of hot or cold processes, and the problem of balancing brown and green ingredients, not to mention what it means (something bad, clearly) if a pile “goes anaerobic.” And if you’ve ever happened upon a commercial composter costing several hundred dollars, you may well have concluded that the whole thing is way more expensive than it’s worth. But despite all those books and dollars, backyard composting can actually be pretty straightforward...

61 MIN2012 APR 24
Comments
The Manic Gardener – Composting 101: Bite the Silver Bullet

Latest Episodes

The Manic Gardener – Energy and Landscaping: Surprising Connections

We’ve all heard this one: to shade your house in summer (and save the energy used to run fans or air-conditioners), plant a tree on the south side of the house. According to my guest this week, that’s not so much a no-brainer as it is brainless. (Though she’d never put it so rudely.) In the course of the show, Sue Reed (http://www.susanreedla.com/)not only explains why that won’t work, she also tells us how to plant trees in order to shade a house and funnel breezes towards it in summer--but also capture sunlight and deflect winds in winter. These and dozens of other tips take the familiar gardening maxim, “the right plant in the right place,” to a whole new level. A registered landscape architect with 25 years of experience in energy-conscious design, Sue is eminently qualified to address this issue. She has taught at the Conway School of Landscape Design, and her amazing, and amazingly thorough, book, Energy-Wise Landscape Design: A New Approach for Your Home and Garden (htt...

--2012 JUL 3
Comments
The Manic Gardener – Energy and Landscaping: Surprising Connections

The Manic Gardener – The Weed-Free Garden

A weed-free garden sounds too good to be true, and near the end of our interview, Lee Reich (http://leereich.com/), author of Weedless Gardening (http://leereich.com/books.html), admits that it is: He does indeed weed—for about five or ten minutes a week. Five minutes, though, is close enough to nothing as makes no difference. How does he manage this? (Without planting through a plastic mulch, that is.) During this week’s show, Lee explains his four-part system and its many benefits, which range from healthier soil to way less work for the gardener. The system itself is pretty simple: don’t till or disturb the earth; lay out permanent areas to walk and plant; keep the soil covered at all times; and use drip irrigation where irrigation is needed. But how to implement the system is not quite so clear. How do you fertilize, or add organic matter, without digging? And don’t plants need access to these things deep in the earth? As for keeping the soil covered, mulches are indeed grea...

--2012 JUN 25
Comments
The Manic Gardener – The Weed-Free Garden

The Manic Gardener – The Seven-Fold Way of Xeriscape Gardening

If you think “stones and cactus” when you hear the term “xeriscape,” then Andrea Cummins (http://www.ext.colostate.edu/cedirectory/detail.cfm?index=4853)would like to talk to you. She’s too polite to just say “No,” and too eloquent for “Er, not so much,” but those do convey the general idea. A Horticultural Extension Agent from Douglas County, Colorado, Andrea spends much of her time dealing with such misperceptions. At the opposite end of the spectrum, she and her fellow agents try to educate the many newcomers to her area who think they can recreate a New England or South Carolina garden in the west if they just water it enough. Before Andrea and I launch into the seven principles of xeriscape (http://www.ext.colostate.edu/ptlk/ptlk1900.html), we spend a while talking about where she lives, a high county in the east Rocky foothills with no major lakes or rivers, where the biggest draw on residential water supplies is the irrigating of lawns and gardens. We talk about this...

52 MIN2012 JUN 11
Comments
The Manic Gardener – The Seven-Fold Way of Xeriscape Gardening

The Manic Gardener – Hidden Waters

My guest this week is Duncan Patten (http://landresources.montana.edu/Department/Patten.html), an ecologist with whom I discuss agricultural pollution, the importance of riparian strips along streams, fracking, and yes, rain barrels, all under the umbrella topic of groundwater. Duncan spent thirty years at Arizona State University before “retiring” to Montana, where he is now a research professor in the department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, the director of the Montana Water Center (http://watercenter.montana.edu/), and member of an EPA panel charged with studying how hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. “fracking”) might affect public health and the environment. But before all that, Duncan got a doctorate in ecology at Duke University in 1962, and he starts this show by defining ecology as the study of how organisms affect their environment and it affects them. In other words, ecology is about relationships. That theme ran through our conversation, stitching together ...

59 MIN2012 JUN 4
Comments
The Manic Gardener – Hidden Waters

The Manic Gardener – Thrifty Gardening with Marjorie Harris

If you’re a Canadian Gardener, chances are that you’ve heard of Marjorie Harris (http://marjorieharris.com/), but we below the 49th parallel may not be so fortunate. The author of seventeen books, fifteen of them on gardening, Marjorie keeps in shape with her weekly column in the Globe and Mail, one of Canada’s leading newspapers. She’s also a speaker, videocaster, garden designer, and this week’s guest on the Manic Gardener. Her topic, of course, is Thrifty Gardening, which is the title of her most recent book, or half of it: Thrifty Gardening: from the ground up. (http://www.houseofanansi.com/Thrifty-Gardening-P1226.aspx) That book, by the way, is not only useful, but hilarious. (She refers to gardening catalogues as “garden porn.”) In both book and podcast, Marjorie tackles the topic from every angle. Prospective house buyers are encouraged to skip the usual glance at the garden, which usually serves merely to ascertain if it’s beautiful. That, Marjorie says, matters not ...

61 MIN2012 MAY 28
Comments
The Manic Gardener – Thrifty Gardening with Marjorie Harris

The Manic Gardener – Greener than Grass

“Greener” here doesn’t refer to color, but to being environmentally friendly. Yup, it’s a metaphor. Last week’s show presented some information about the damage that conventionally maintained lawns can do. This week, we dive into the whole ocean of lawn alternatives. Some people keep their lawn because they like them—which may be the only good reason to do so. Some of us believe that we need a lawn, perhaps because we don’t have the money to get rid of it, or because “natural” gardens are more work, or—and this is a big one—because we have kids. For most of us homeowners, though, the lawn is a given, an unthought, default planting. During our conversation this week, Evelyn Hadden (http://evelynhadden.com/), author of Beautiful No-Mow Yards: 50 amazing lawn alternatives (http://www.timberpress.com/books/beautiful_no_mow_yards/hadden/9781604692389), lays all of these fears to rest. She recommends walkable ground-covers or sedges for those who just love the look of a lawn, a...

60 MIN2012 MAY 21
Comments
The Manic Gardener – Greener than Grass

The Manic Gardener – So—What’s wrong with lawns?

Lawns are practically an American institution, but they’re increasingly under attack. The amounts of pesticides, fertilizer, and water used on them are all matters of contention. If you’re wondering whether lawns deserve the abuse heaped on them, this show might help you make up your mind. My first guest, Paul Tukey, is a writer, filmmaker, activist, and founder of Safe Lawns.org (http://www.safelawns.org/). He tells the story of Hudson, Quebec, where a persistent local doctor got the town to ban lawn pesticides, and of a school in Ohio where pesticide drift sent 47 students to the doctor. He has the facts on 2,4-D, an herbicide widely used in northern Canada, where so many farmers die of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that it is referred to as "old farmer's disease." But first he tells the story of his conversion from lawn-care professional to a passionate advocate of organic lawn-care. That conversion came only after his own health had deteriorated to the point where doctors told him th...

59 MIN2012 MAY 15
Comments
The Manic Gardener – So—What’s wrong with lawns?

The Manic Gardener – A Farmer’s story

When they try to make a movie of Atina Diffley’s (http://atinadiffley.com/)story, some producer is going to reject it as unbelievable. Losing one organic farm to development, okay; but nearly losing a big chunk of the second to an oil pipeline? A pipeline owned by one of the two largest companies in the United States? Start with this setup, and it’s a given that Atina takes them on and beats them. To top it off, she not only protects her own land from the pipeline, but she gets Koch to accept an agreement (at least in Minnesota) that will protect all organic farms threatened by pipelines. Then add that Atina had survived five years in an early, abusive marriage. Isn’t that just a bit much, as plots go? Maybe. But it’s true. Author of the beautiful memoir, Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works (http://atinadiffley.com/turn-here-sweet-corn/), Atina Diffley joins me this week to talk about the double assault on organic farms that she and her husband Martin have endured. She d...

60 MIN2012 MAY 8
Comments
The Manic Gardener – A Farmer’s story

The Manic Gardener – How to Buy a Plant

On one level it can’t really get much simpler: you give them the money, they give you the plant, and you’re done. But then there’s the question of whether you and the plant stay happy with this arrangement: is the plant content in its new home, and do you remain pleased with the plant? Toby Day (http://www.mtmastergardener.org/), Extension Horticulture Specialist at Montana State University, returns to The Manic Gardener, this time to guide gardeners through the intricacies of the plant purchasing process. We look first at how to choose your basic herbaceous plants (vegetable starts, bedding plant, young perennials); then at selecting healthy bare-root asparagus, strawberries, and small fruits; and finally at choosing trees and shrubs. We also talk about getting these into the ground with the least effort and the greatest chance of success. There are numerous surprises along the way: choose a stocky plant, not a tall one; look for a plant with no flowers—even if it’s a flowerin...

62 MIN2012 APR 30
Comments
The Manic Gardener – How to Buy a Plant

The Manic Gardener – Composting 101: Bite the Silver Bullet

Spring has sprung just about everywhere in North America, and certainly across the pond, and in spring the avid gardener’s thoughts turn to—composting. All that pruning and mowing and clipping and raking of last fall’s debris and this spring’s growth produces plenty of garden waste. But just how does one start with this composting business, anyhow? The number of books out on the subject—or the fact that even one person, much less several, thought the topic deserved an entire book—can make the task seem daunting. Then there’s the question of hot or cold processes, and the problem of balancing brown and green ingredients, not to mention what it means (something bad, clearly) if a pile “goes anaerobic.” And if you’ve ever happened upon a commercial composter costing several hundred dollars, you may well have concluded that the whole thing is way more expensive than it’s worth. But despite all those books and dollars, backyard composting can actually be pretty straightforward...

61 MIN2012 APR 24
Comments
The Manic Gardener – Composting 101: Bite the Silver Bullet
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