Feb 062015
 

by Avis Licht

I was going to write about rose pruning, since it’s that time of year in many places. Coming out of winter dormancy and going into Spring is a good time to prune roses and many other deciduous trees and shrubs.  But then I realized that before the pruning comes the tools. Right tools make a HUGE difference in the results of your work. Find great tools in my store: Avis’ Store

Pruning saw

You can make delicate cuts with this saw

When you’re working in the garden, it is so satisfying to have a good tool. Whether it’s for pruning, raking or digging, you want your tool to feel strong and make the work easier. It makes no sense to get a cheap tool that doesn’t last and doesn’t do the work

Since there are myriads of tools out there, I’d like to share with you my favorites. It’s also nice at this time of year to give a well made tool as a present.

Fiskar pruning shears

A well made tool is a great delight

Pruning tools include, hand pruners like this Fiskar:

When looking for a hand tool, you want it to fit into your hand comfortably, be easy on the wrist, and be adjustable at the blade, so that you can loosen or tighten it.

And don’t forget your hands. The best gloves for pruning roses and other dangerous plants with thorns are long sleeved rose pruning gloves.

Thick gloves with long sleeves really protect your hands and arms.

Thick gloves with long sleeves really protect your hands and arms.

Protect yourself. Wear gloves.

Protect yourself. Wear gloves.

Hand saws are important for pruning branches larger than an inch in diameter.  You need to make clean cuts. And you don’t want the blade to start getting loose.

For Fall pruning, loppers are also an important tool. You want the handle long enough to create leverage but not so heavy that you can’t use it for extended periods of time.

Loppers

Strong enough and not too heavy. Excellent for Fall and Winter pruning chores.

 

And finally for those hard to reach places you need a long handles pruner. You can extend the handle, prune or saw with the attached blade. This is helpful for branches where you don’t actually want to climb the tree.

The hardest part of pruning overhead, is looking up. By this, I mean that you can get a serious crick in your neck when working overhead. Be sure to take plenty of breaks and stretch.

 

 

 

 

Pruners for edible landscaping

May 082014
 

by Avis Licht

Herbs in Containers

Herbs in Containers

Many people have told me they don’t plan on putting in a vegetable garden this year because of drought conditions and wanting to save water. But I tell them, YES! To save water you should plant your own vegetable garden.  Sometimes we confuse water we save at home with water that needs to be saved state wide. A large scale farm uses much more water to grow, harvest, wash and transport to market the vegetable and fruit that you could grow at home using a fraction of that water.

We just need to grow smart.

Here are my top five favorite and easy tips to save water in your garden, and still have a productive and beautiful yard.

1. Use containers and pots for growing herbs and small veggies. You can control the amount of water they use easily. You can use water from the sink or shower that you collect while waiting for it to warm up.

Bok choy in container

Bok choy in container

2. Use raised beds and interplant with a variety of vegetables to make best use of all the area. An example would be broccoli, lettuce and radish. By the time you harvest the radish and lettuce, the broccoli will be big and cover the whole bed.

Interplant fast and slow growing vegetables together.

Interplant fast and slow growing vegetables together.

3. Use drip irrigation. Put water to the roots and not the air. 

Use drip irrigation

Use drip irrigation

4. Mulch the soil to preserve moisture and keep it from getting compacted.

Young plants benefit from compost

Mulching keeps the yard looking good and provides a healthy environment

5. Use a moisture meter, or at the very least, use a trowel to check the moisture of your soil. Just because the soil is dry on top, doesn’t mean it is dry down below. Be sure to check before you irrigate.

To buy this moisture meter go to my store:

 

moisture meter

Best tool ever. This will save you time, water and money.

Mar 172014
 

by Avis Licht

All the good food in a week's box in Live Power Farm's CSA

All the good food in a week’s box in Live Power Farm’s CSA

This winter I went to visit Live Power Community Farm, in Covelo, California. This farm is part of a movement called Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, for short. The idea for this model, is that the people who eat the food support the farmers by guaranteeing them a fee for the food every week, so that the farmer is not left out on a limb of growing and then not knowing who will buy their food.  This model shares the risk involved with farming and allows the farmers to get on with their job of growing the best food possible.

Live Power Community Farm, the first CSA in California, is a unique model of how to sustain a farm through the power of relationship, community and a transformative economic model.  In effect, the community of people eating from the farm are not simply buying food, but also partnering with the farmers to sustain the farm. They deliver to the San Francisco Bay Area from May to November.

  They write: 
If you would like to be a part of this vibrant community farm, there are harvest shares available for the coming season.  The CSA season begins May 10th, 2014 and continues every Saturday till November 22, 2014.  

Live Power’s vegetables are biodynamically grown with a low carbon footprint. Where else can you get vegetables that have been grown without a tractor?  Keep Live Power’s horses employed, join the community! 
 
Horse drawn plows

Using draft horses and old fashioned plows, the Decaters, gently work the soil.

And did I mention: all of the vegetables taste fantastic!  They’ve been picked usually less than a day before they arrive in your basket.  You get to try new foods and always eat what’s in season.  Particularly rewarding, you and your children can get to know the farmers and can even visit the farm (located in Covelo, Mendocino County).

Gorgeous, beautiful broccoli, fresh from the farm to you

Gorgeous, beautiful broccoli, fresh from the farm to you

How does it work? You sign up for a share. You will then be grouped into a cluster with others that live near you.  Each cluster sends one person per week to the sort, which will take place at the Waldorf High  School in San Francisco this year.  From 8:00 – 9:00 a.m. on Saturday mornings, the sort group joins together to distribute the vegetables and fruit for all members. The sort is a fun, community-building event. After the sort, each sorter delivers the baskets to the other families in their neighborhood, and most of the rest of the 29 weeks their basket will be delivered to them by the rest of the members in their cluster  
 
Each share is responsible for doing the sort about 5 – 6 times per year.  Some families split a share, meaning picking up baskets filled with veggies from our porch every other week and going into the City to sort 2 – 3 times per year.

For a list of the projected and actual quantities and varieties of vegetables received last year, please go to http://www.livepower.org/csa-overview/bay-area/ and look under the Live Power Offerings.  Also, attached is a list of prices.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call one of the delightful farmers, Gloria Decater, at (707) 983-8196 or livepower@livepower.org or one of the SF Bay area members, Amy Belkora at 415-596-2866 or abelkora@gmail.com  
Row after row of compost, from their farm, feeds the soil and powers their food.

Row after row of compost, from their farm, feeds the soil and powers their food.

 

Jun 122013
 

by Avis Licht

Mixed herbs in the landcape

Mixed herbs in the landcape

In the garden my plants are bursting with happiness from the latest rains after some very warm days.  In northern California we rarely get rain in June, and when we do, it’s cause for celebration.  Irrigation from the municipal water that is treated with chemicals, is not the same as rain and the plants truly respond to the difference.  Read about nitrogen and rain in this post.

Father’s Day is coming up soon.  Be sure your favorite Dad has the tools he needs for his garden. Great Garden Tools

A few easy and useful tips for keeping your summer garden growing well:

1.Check your irrigation system for leaks and make sure all the plants are getting watered.  With overhead sprinklers plants can get missed by interfering foliage.  With drips, you need to check that they are working, haven’t popped off and that there are enough for your plants. Drip is good at conserving water, but you still need to check for moisture  around your plants.

I recommend Robert Kourik’s book on drip irrigation. He is the expert and as we say, wrote the book on it.  Read about it here. 

Here is the place to get drip irrigation at excellent prices: Drip Irrigation Products

2. Mulch your plants to keep the soil from compacting, to preserve moisture and reduce weeds.  Read this post about different types of mulch. I talk about how to pick the right mulch for your garden.

3. Keep Your Eyes Open.  By this I mean, walk around the garden regularly and look at the plants, the soil, and the birds and the bees. By noticing changes in your plants early you can rectify things. For example,  if they are being eaten by bugs, snails or birds, if they’re wilting due to lack of water, sun or even too much moisture, or just not thriving, you will be able to keep the garden healthy before it is too  late. Doing this one thing can be the difference be success and not so much success.

4. Enjoy your garden.  Take the time to sit back with a cup of your favorite beverage and enjoy the fruits of your labor.  I’ve placed chairs in various places around the garden so that there’s always the right place to sit no matter what time of day it is.

A  quiet shady place to read

A quiet shady place to read or perhaps catch a few winks

May 032013
 
lettuce

Mixed lettuce varieties

by Avis Licht

I’m starting a new feature on my blog as a result of popular demand. Whatever your reason, it’s going to be easy to send me your gardening questions and get a quick answer.  If I don’t know the answer, I’ll direct you to a good source.

ASK TODAY!

Honey bee in borage

Honey bee in the borage.

Here’s chance for all of you far flung fans to ask me questions about gardening. No question is too simple. Gardening is a wonderful, yet perplexing activity.  Why something works once and then the next time it’s a total bust can be frustrating.

Nature will have her way, but there are methods that work to ensure  success in the garden.  After 40 years with my hands in the dirt, I’ve probably made as many mistakes as you could imagine, but trust me, I haven’t given up yet.  And you can be the beneficiary of my experience.

Ask a question in the comment section below and I’ll get back to you pronto.

 

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours in the joy of gardening,

Avis

I love answering your questions, and you can help me to keep doing it when you buy your tools, books and garden stuff through my site. Thanks! Great Gardening Tools

May 072012
 
Lettuce with drip irrigation


A bed of lettuce

Closely planted lettuce in Spring

by guest blogger extraordinaire: Robert Kourik

Robert Kourik is a guest blogger for this site. He’s definitely got the right credentials. Author of Your Edible Landscape Naturally, and Drip Irrigation for Every Landscape and All Climates, he’s got lots of experience and lots of opinions. In this article he has some radical suggestions for how to use your drip irrigation.  Give it a try and see for yourself if it works in your garden. Let me know what you think. Being conscious of our water use is imperative and drip irrigation is an important tool.

Robert writes:

It’s about time to start up drip irrigation systems. No matter how you use drip irrigation, frequently or every once in a while, it will always be more efficient than any sprinkler you’re currently using.

Consider daily irrigation for the best growth and greatest vegetable yields. Daily irrigation doesn’t use gallons of extra water. Oddly enough, infrequent watering may use more water than frequent, even daily, irrigation. If you have young seedlings, their roots are shallow, near the soil surface. They need access to water easily. Infrequent watering can have the effect of deep soil moisture and shallow dryness.

The other main consideration for frequent watering of small amounts is the texture of your soil. If you have a sandy or light loam soil, water will go through quickly and not be held in the soil. A clay soil will hold moisture much longer and should be watered less frequently. As with all the other tips you’ve read, observation of your own plants in your own garden will be the best way to determine what works best for you.

1/4 inch drip with lettuce

Newly planted baby bibb lettuce with 1/4 in drip

Lettuce grown

Lettuce fills in with 1/4 in drip

Once I planted a drought-resistant landscape with plants such as lavender, santolina, rockroses and rosemary. The day after planting, the timer was set to irrigate for 15 minutes. After the risk of transplant shock was over, the drip irrigation was turned on each day for only eight minutes to replace the moisture lost each day by transpiration. The plants flourished, even though each one-half-gph emitter was distributing only seven tablespoons of water per emitter each day. Contrast this with a nearby garden with a similar soil and plants arbitrarily watered only twice a month for four hours. This amounts to two gallons per emitter for the two-week period, or just more than 18 tablespoons of water per day—more than twice the water used in the flourishing landscape.

Please visit Robert at his website: RobertKourik.com and find out about all his books.

I would add one more thing to help you decide how much and how often to water. Use a moisture meter. It has a probe that you can put into the soil to see what the moisture is at different levels below the surface. A dry surface does NOT mean the soil is dry. You need to check 2 – 6 inches below to see if your soil is wet or dry.

moisture meter

Best tool ever. This will save you time, water and money.

May 022012
 
Rose


Roseby Avis Licht – Do you want to make your mother happy? If she’s like me, she wants something useful and thoughtful. My sons have really nailed it over the years.  Each of the suggestions below are gifts from my sons. Of course, I’m not exactly a “normal” girl, but, hey, get a gal what she wants. If  your mom likes to garden consider getting her one of these:

wheelbarrow

Sturdy, lightweight and well balanced wheelbarrow

 

1: A light weight, well balanced wheel barrow. Seriously. Most wheel barrows are made for men and are too heavy and unwieldy. I use my wheel barrow all the time and it makes my life easier. I never want to do more work than necessary and that means never moving more weight than I have to.

Jeep Model HO-5P for Homeowners 

The perfect wheelbarrow solution for around the garden. Even with 150 pounds, this corrosion-proof 5 cu. ft. wheelbarrow remains light because the tub is up front over the wheel. A steep angle of inclination assures that even a “wet” load will never spill a drop.

D handled spade

I've had my spade for 40 years. It looks like this only dirtier

 

 

2. A strong, well balanced spade. This one should last the rest of her life, hopefully a long one. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  It’s worth spending more now on a good tool and having it last than having to replace one that breaks, or gets wobbly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. You can never go wrong with flexible, well fitting gloves.  A woman’s got to keep her hands looking good and still keep them in the dirt. These gloves fit perfectly, allowing you to use your fine motor skills, unlike some of those gloves that make you want to rip them off your hands so you can get some actual work done. (Click on the photo to order a pair!)

Don’t forget to tell your mother you love her. She’ll like that too.

 

Apr 112012
 
Long handled shovel, Digging fork and D handled spade

Tools I can't live without - Not every woman's idea of a great thing to have, but it is mine

by Avis Licht
Although gardening can be a very simple and straightforward event, there are some basic tools that are necessary for success and a few that just plainly make it easier and better. Here are some of my favorites:

1. A strong digging spade and fork for loosening up the soil. I’ve had my English digging tools for 40 years. Take care of your tools and they last a lifetime.  It is worth the extra money for a strong tool.  They are made so that you can leverage the D handle for moving the soil without hurting your back.

A strong tool won’t bend, break or give up on you.  You can count on it to do the work for a lifetime.  I use my digging for for breaking up hard pan, dividing plants, loosening soil and digging beds. Though it’s hard to fork over the dough for a good tool, you’ll realize it more than pays its own way when it lasts 40 years.

D handled spade

This handle allows for leverage in moving soil without hurting your back.

D handle garden fork

Excellent for digging and loosening up the soil


I am thrilled to be able to offer Clarington Forge tools. I have used them for years, and they are absolutely high quality. Click on the banner and take a look at what they have.

2. Small hand tools: A planting trowel should fit comfortably in your hand and be strong.  Cheap trowels bend easily at their neck and break in no time.  I know, I’ve tried them. A small hand fork works to loosen up soil as it becomes compacted over the season.  We hate compacted soil.

Ergonomic hand fork

To loosen up the soil around plants, this tool is essential.

Ergonomic hand trowel

Strong and angled correctly. You will use this tool a lot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bamboo poles for staking tomatoes

Start early for staking tall plants so they can grow tall and straight

 

 

10% off orders over $50 at Gardener’s Supply Company! Expires 5/24/12.

 

 

 

3.Plants grow quickly and many of them need support.  One of the biggest mistakes gardeners make is to  wait too long before staking up plants like peas, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers and flowers.  Once a plant falls over it is hard to train it  up without hurting the stems.  Have a look at these growing supports. Sometimes you can make your own, but sometimes you can buy what works best for a reasonable cost.

Expandable and lovely willow trellis

Use them in the summer, then put away in the winter for next year.

tomato cage

It is important to hold up your tomatoes, or they will rot on the ground

pea fences

Peas and beans grow faster and better when staked early

Gardener’s Supply Company Deals of the Week: amazing discounts on Gardener’s Supply favorites!

Dec 122011
 
Glass teapot

Glass tea pot is elegant and beautiful

In a previous post I wrote about herbal teas from the garden and the fun of having nice tea pots.  Here is a glass teapot that really shows off your tea.

There are many  wonderful reasons to grow your own food. But when we harvest the bounty of onions or potatoes, we’re also left with the problem of what to do with the food that’s piled up on the kitchen counter.

One way to store tubers and bulbs is in a beautiful basket. These baskets work for onions, potatoes, small winter squash, yams and garlic.

Good looking and tidy basket storage

There are different ways to store your harvest. Baskets are great.

Another vexing problem can be fruit flies.  When you bring in a basketful of tomatoes or apples you can find your kitchen visited by fruit flies. Extremely annoying. These pretty glass containers will take care of those pesky flies with no harmful chemicals.

fruit fly trap

Lures contain yeast, sugar and other natural ingredients

I’ve saved the best for last though. We’re always looking for a good way to store composting scraps in the kitchen and finally someone has made a bucket that fits under the sink with a good tight top. I mean really, it’s about time. You can find all these useful kitchen helpers at Gardener’s Supply Company.

Under counter compost bucket

Finally a good compost bucket to store out of sight

Nov 182011
 
Pruning saw

You can make delicate cuts with this saw

When you’re working in the garden, it is so satisfying to have a good tool. Whether it’s for pruning, raking or digging, you want your tool to feel strong and make the work easier. It makes no sense to get a cheap tool that doesn’t last and doesn’t do the work well.
Since there are myriads of tools out there, I’d like to share with you my favorites. It’s also nice at this time of year to give a well made tool as a present.

Fiskar pruning shears

A well made tool is a great delight

Pruning tools include, hand pruners like this Fiskar:

When looking for a hand tool, you want it to fit into your hand comfortably, be easy on the wrist, and be adjustable at the blade, so that you can loosen or tighten it.

Hand saws are important for pruning branches larger than an inch in diameter.  You need to make clean cuts. And you don’t want the blade to start getting loose.

For Fall pruning, loppers are also an important tool. You want the handle long enough to create leverage but not so heavy that you can’t use it for extended periods of time.

Loppers

Strong enough and not too heavy. Excellent for Fall and Winter pruning chores.

 

And finally for those hard to reach places you need a long handles pruner. You can extend the handle, prune or saw with the attached blade. This is helpful for branches where you don’t actually want to climb the tree.

The hardest part of pruning overhead, is looking up. By this, I mean that you can get a serious crick in your neck when working overhead. Be sure to take plenty of breaks and stretch.

 

 

 

 

 

Pruners for edible landscaping

Long handled pruners and loppers

With these tools you can do most of your winter pruning that doesn’t require a chain saw or climbing ropes!

Oct 052011
 
Good tools make good friends, for your garden health

Tools that will make your life in the garden a little easier.

Important gardening tools

Loppers and clippers

For the Fall Garden clean up it’s important to have some good tools. The stronger and sharper your tools, the easier and better your work will be.  These are a few of the ones I simply can’t live without.

Long handled loppers give you the length and leverage to prune those hard to reach places. These will clip branches up to an inch in diameter.  It’s important to keep your blades sharp.

Hand clippers, are  of course, the tool of choice for everyday in the garden.  I actually have 3 or 4 pairs scattered around the  garden so I can always have a pair near at hand.  Fiskars or Felco’s are great brands.

Best tool for the job, is the right tool.

Telescoping pruner

The other pruner that is important is the telescoping pruner.  If you have trees or vigorous vines, this is the easiest way to get to those heights. I find that looking up and pulling on the rope bothers my neck and shoulders. Be sure to take breaks in your work or you’ll find yourself with a seriously stiff neck.

A small pruning hand saw is good for branches larger than 1 inch.  Orchard Supply carries these tools at a good price.

If you don’t have one yet, it’s a good time to consider getting a free standing compost bin.  You can find them at Garden’s Alive along with other organic gardening needs.

Enjoy the Fall weather, when the seasons really change in your Edible Landscape.

Aug 282011
 

Working in a small garden you need to have good hand tools.  They should be strong and well made to last long, and easy on your back and hands. In the name of saving money, I’ve bought cheap tools, only to find that they didn’t last long and didn’t work well.

For digging in the garden I use an English spade with a D Handle made by Bulldog Tools.  They’ve been doing this for more than a hundred years and really know how to make a great tool. I’ve had mine for 40 years, and it is still as good as the day I bought it.  The wooden handle is sturdy and hasn’t come loose in all those years.

I also use a digging fork. Especially useful in rocky soils and wet soil, the fork is a great tool.

A long handle fiberglass shovel, my old digging fork and a new spade, my most important tools

 

The Felco Pruners are well made  and come with a variety of handles that are made to fit your hand. Keep them sharp for easiest use and best results in pruning.

A long handled shovel is also necessary.  The one I use has a fiberglass handle which won’t rot like a wooden handle, if you leave it out in the rain. Not that I would ever do that, oh no. Well, maybe a few times.

 

This is a Haws watering cans.  Let me tell you, all watering cans are NOT created equal.  You can see that the Haws has a long spout. A gallon of water weighs 16 pounds and it is difficult to carry that much water with a regular watering can, it always wants to tilt forward.  But with the Haws you can carry it by the spout, which  evens out the weight, and then it pours very well from the spout. You can get it in metal or plastic

Keep your tools clean, sharp and in the shed, and they will last a long time.

© 2011-2019 Edible Landscaping Made Easy With Avis Licht All Rights Reserved