We’d love if you’d join Organic Gardener Podcast Facebook Community!
Im excited to introduce another podcaster! His show is called the Small Scale Life and of course you know I believe in a theory of abundance and that if you get something from my podcast and his podcast and someone else’s were’e all the better for it!
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a husband, 22 years tomorrow so that will be great and an awesome anniversary! and we have 2 boys 21 & 17
My background professional civil engineer
working on light rail projects
2 billion light rail project, right now I’m
work for the federal govt
- first love is railroads,
- 2nd love is gardening
- now this whole podcasting thing.
120 feet of raised beds but I’m renting so I can’t till up the backyard and plant all of it, so it’s been sort of an interesting ride!
My blog is smallscalelife.com launched a podcast launched on Jan 1… BUT WE’RE moving forward
The mission of small scale life to develop a healthy life, through
- healthy living frugal living and also having some adventure and fun along the way
- weight loss
- adventures and doing some fun things
- frugal living
We talk a lot about gardening, the latest piece that we have aded is the frugal living piece my wife is taking charge of trying to make our budget work and make our dollars stretch, I’m plugging in with that to, so we’ve got a lot of content coming and we have a lot out there.
We only started Small Scale Life in November before that I started small scale gardening which was all about gardening and I got into blogging world. I wanted to talk about a little bit more and so we’re opening it up now.
What’s your wife’s name?
Julie she is a Wedding florist, she has a studio business here at home called Julia’s Blooms
She does all kinds of events and weddings here in the twin cities for years.
Tell me about your first gardening experience?
I’m actually from Wisconsin, my wife will start snickering over at her desk, because I’ve lived most of my life in Minnesota, we also lived in Illinois for 9 years for job purposes. My roots are back in Wisconsin, so hopefully some day soon… wel’ll move back there.
all but my first gardening experience
been around gardening ever since I was a little kid, my grandparents, they were the kind of gardens where you have a plot, till it up every spring, plant some things tomatoes, squash but over- weeded over by mid season overrun with grass and weeds, so punishment was going out and weeding, I had my own space carrots and lettuce etc
rabbits owl, deer
My dad was a professional foot ball player, and retired and said what are we gonna do?
pigs and chickens
what are we doing?
made some friends
got sick and had to sell it
we were moving around with my job and everything and we were living in Illinois and right around crash of 2009, I was an office leader… and I tried some tomatoes but they were measly tomatoes
I didn’t know what I was doing, and my neighbors across the street were
not enough sun
what are you doing?
All new square foot gardening book
I have it in my hands
I don’t want to do the weeding, I earned my stripes doing that what I was.
My wife looked at it and said they have cells, it’s organized we can do this.
1×1 foot area
for this certain vegetable
We read the book, and had a big harvest that year.
simple compost bins out of wire
got excited, it was a big stress reliever, I’d be at work and then I’d come home water the garden, it was a lot of fun
thought that if the crash comes,
you know learning some skills
didn’t know if I would have a job
if nothing else we can go home and eat from the garden.
Best part about the raised beds
don’t have any weeds
couple of layers underneath
I always tell people when you have limited water, you only get water on the roots, and no weeds are getting any water. I’m thinking we need to build my mom a raised bed! I thank that’s a great price of inspiration for people and that you were able to come home from work and do it when you came home from work after a full time job.
don’t go back
beans aren’t gonna yell back at you unless they and think I see the bird over there it’s nice, it’s soothing and hey let’s pick a few cucumbers it’s ripe! and you get a lot of pride out of that, and think we built this, we made this happen!
I hope my friend Daniela is listening because she just built a deep bed herself. this weekend.
water shortages. You have the watering bans, using rain barrels is a great way to capture in.
illegal in some states
ways to try to water
article last week
one of my readers, said my husband is extremely frustrated
got a blight
turns out he was watering the
2 zones were hitting the leaves and that just encourages the blight and the encourages the fungus
so how you water…is important.
My husbands always yelling at me watch the leaves, dont water the leaves. I this especially if you do it during the day, it’s maybe not as bad in the night or early morning… I know Shelley Clark talked about keeping the beds clean…
pruning of tomatoes…side stems get those low hanging branches out of there.
How did you learn how to garden organically?
it really came back to Male Bartholomew
raised gardens with compost
fertilizers do have a lot of chemicals, they have a lots of salts in there. Over time you’re really poising that soil.
really looking at organic was
build rich soil
folks out in Utah, it is very productive. There’s things I like about it like the
- Raised beds
- intensive plant spacing
almost like a market gardener
how tight they plant the plants
they use fertilizer weekly, water it in, they treat the soil, and call it like a medium
soil is that key ingredient, that key building block
it gets all of it’s nutrients
really rich compost
lot of life
if something happens don’t need fertilizer
got to figure it out
Mel is a civil engineer
Mel Bartholomew in Square foot gardening,
and Jean Martin Fortier.
You can have a commercial business and use compost.
Do you have any tips for building compost, I know my mom always had compost when we were kids and I don’t know if it’s cause my dad’s gone or what’s going on? She’s worried about squirrels and animals etc getting in her compost. Which seems weird because we live in the wild and nothing gets in our compost except the chickens.
It’s all about layers, I use during the season
- vegetables scraps
- potato peels
- apple peels
- you know stuff you cut off
- no meats attacks the raccoons
generates a lot of heat you really want the compost or soil to heat up
gonna cook any weeds or seeds that’s in your compost pile
a little brown matter like
- cardboard or
- shredded paper or
- even some crunched up branches.
Also in the fall the leaves…
- compost full of leaves
layer of leaves on the beds before you button em up for the year
soil getting better…That’s what you want to see! Your soil getting better!
Our compost can go from kitchen scraps to compost in almost 2 weeks. It’s funny my bother came on and he talked about his compost bin and they have 2 kids on long island and he just alks about it just sits through the winter and he does about one a year, but Mike and I we keep ours going and try to produce a lot more of that.
I wish I had another 2 sections, I’d let some compost age for a little bit, and then a third and be flipping between the 3
past 2 years just using a tote, but I was generating too much so I went and took an old pallet and some scrap wood, boy that thing holds a lot, but I need another one!
We do too, mike built another one for bigger stuff and we bought a chipper even too !
chop up the bigger stuff…
yeah like watermelon rinds, banana peels!
- egg shells
- coffee grinds…
- fish bones
That was something we’ve never done before was just egg shells.
One thing about the egg shells, I did the same thing, when I plant tomatoes, I put coffee grounds in the hole and then the eggshells and I’ve heard put some aspirin
egg shell is calcium to help with blossom end-rot
What I found digging up in my tomato bed this year is that the eggshells didn’t break down like I thought they would, so I looked online and it said that would create a concoction with vinegar, that would make a slurry of the water and egg shells
research on that…
You asked another question about fish bones?
Funny story about that.. fish will break down in the soil and really add a lot of nutrients to the soil
My grandmas secret my grandpa was a great sportsman, he was an insurance salesman in Wisconsin, he had a heart attack and so they actually bought a resort in Central WI and they lived there for 50 years. So he would go catch all these fish, that he brought home supper. So she would sneak some and bury them in the garden because she was like I can’t cook all these! So 1/2 the fish would end up in the garden but she must of got it deep enough where they couldn’t smell it! I know I have enough trouble with squirrels I’m not gonna entice raccoons, we have 3 big ones in the neighborhood.
One thing I’m gonna say is listerners, whenever Mike plants tomatoes or anything he puts a coffee can full of water in the hole and let it soak in before he plants anything to moisten the soil. Then he puts the plant in. The other thing I was thinking she said to crush the egg shells in the blender.
Yes I use motor and postal, those chunks I found… but I got a a thrift store a Cuisinart Coffee Grinder so I went through and ground them up really small.
yeah you don’t want eggshell to scratch your Ninja or Nutrabullet. Yeah a cheap $7 coffee grinder or something did great!
Tell us about something that grew well this year.
The tomatoes! They did great over 13 feet tall… Really big fan of Amish Paste and Packaroma
Seed Savers Exchange
don’t have many seeds
Amish Paste is more of a juicier tomatoes
really big on cutting back the side stems
trimmed them up to the lowest fruit and take off any suckers
really grew well
this year I’m gonna see
cut the growing tip once they are 8 feet tall,
tall is nice… but I want production.
When you say trim them up to the lowest fruit. When you plant it and it startes to grow and this is after they have flowers?
I wait till they develop some tomatoes on them, you might get some low branches getting. I’m so paranoid about fungus, I’ll let them grow up a little bit.
Another thing I do is I trellis them
simple trellis built of
2 by 4
string to a conduit. I also have an old clothes line that’s along the base of the box where the where the stem of the plant is
tie off around the line, and start rapping tje line around the stem of the plant
I just use these lines
technique I learned from the Mittleider folks. Again take the best of what you learn. Almost like a greenhouse style of gardening. Once those plants grow up I’ll start taking off those side stems
not right away
once the first fruit starts to set, Ill take off those lower branches, they are just taking energy from plant, when you do that it tells the tomato, I need to stop growing my stalk so tall I need a thicker stalk.
Mittleider Gardening Method GrowFood.com
Jacob Mittleider was a plant dude at the University at Birmingham Young
Is there something you would do different next year or want to try/new?
One thing I’m finding, I planted too many seeds this spring, so I only have 120 sq.. feet. I think I have everything booke, all my raised beds so I think I’m gonna try some vertical gardening. One of my followers on Instagram, started his own urban farm using rain gutters, I’m gonna tray some rain gutters filled with soil and with drain holes
leafy greens with basil in those
Im gonna try to go vertical
foot spacing between the rain gutters, they’ll have rain holes in them, I’ve toyed with the idea of adding a water source underneath but that would addd some costs.
Now you’re still working full time and doing all this? You much have a bundle of energy!
My wife thinks I’m kind of crazy
weekends get into project mode, I just spend all day Saturday and sunday out there, I mean the beds are in place already
Are you selling any of this?
not selling anything yet.
In my second podcast, Small Scale Life I talked about the growing the greens challenge. I want to knock the leafy greens off the grocery list. I have a ton of greens kale etc growing. I’m gonna see if I can knock the leafy greens off the grocery list.
We’re big into canning… big into salsa so I make a lot of salsa
- killer pickles
part of the healthy frugal living is to stock the pantry and freezer, so when we get into the winter months
- pesto pre-make that and freeze it up
- corn relish from last year
- jellies and such
try to use as much we can. I’m not selling anything yet.
I know I know listeners are always looking for a challenge because they download the episode but no one has signed up. Last year I said let’s grow one vegetable for a season one or two months and a half a dozen people signed up, this year I made it really easy just plant anything and no one has signed up!
This is all me…
how much would it take
he’s a speedy runner
work out freak
supply enough …
for his demands
Julie got a Ninja for Christmas! And she loves it! That has been great! It’s just so versatile! Throw some kale and spinach in there, it’s green but it’s awesome! We’ve got salads at night.
To see if I can
Romaine hearts and 5 in a pack, so I have to get aggressive and see if I can grow it, what it takes to actually do it…
so far it’s not growing fast enough I’ did finally get a salad this week so I’m winning!
Congrats. That was always Mike’s goal to grow enough of our food, for us so we dont have to buy product. I met this guy in Paris, who has a vertical grow system, the guy came from boston or New Orleans and he had these systems from Wyoming (Check out Dr. Nate Storey coming soon!)
I talked about the challenge and the rain gutters thing is coming…
funky growing system
high red rain gutter grow system like an aquaponics system without the fish and running water. I have a 3inch pipe with net cups
pipe is the water reservoir, self watering, the water wicks up into the baskets of soil… it’s been great for the past two years, really productive.
small scale blogging
my first blog, that article is still the top post…
I’ve got some other plans how to make it so simple
try that as a garden
That’s amazing, I think listeners will be inspired because you work a full time job and have time to garden and blog! I can’t do that. I thought when I started I would be blogging and I can’t keep up with any of it, the social media piece is really hard even for me a techy, having new phones really helps. I would be happy if I could just consistently post 3 days a week!
OK, I’m a night owl, so I might stay up a little later and then I try to write something on the weekend, one or two articles. It’s been an evolution too, my first ones we’re really long and then you kind of get into a flow that might be too long, people don’t want a wall of text. They might want a
we live in this content rich environment these days, you have to get the message, get it quick and let people spend more time with it.
Someone was telling me about my show notes, quit transcribing …
you might miss it, and there it is right there, different folks, for there it takes…
I’m kind of like that, I’m a reader, so I like to go back and see, sometimes it’s annoying on my phone, from 2010- 2013 0 and then like 200 in 2014 … In 2015 I had like 2000 people and then I’ve already had more then that this year…
Tell me about something that didn’t work so well this season.
Would have to be my peppers, last year that was a struggle! I tried to jump start things, peppers just take a little longer to germinate, I was getting kind of frustrated. What I did differently this year, I planted them in a seed flat, last year I dropped them right to a red solo cup and said grow.
I have to grow things in my basement, I don’t have a lot of good southern facing windows so I keep them in the basement under grow lights and then another thing was I used a heating pad.
Heating Pads/Seed Flats
- grow lights
- seed flat with a heating pad
Last year I just dropped them in red solo cups and said grow and nothing happened and nothing happened, so someone said put em in your oven, and leave them in your oven and just put the light on and that will keep them warm enough and they’ll grow!
I was getting a little desperate so I’ll try this, thinking I figured nobody would mess with those… and I had a meeting or something and I left and I come home and my wife is laughing, and she says we were gonna put a pizza on, hit it up to 350º and started smelling something and looked in the oven and said, “There’s dirt! and There’s cups and they’re melting! So needless to say that experiment too well… but this year I finally got some to grow, it was just a comedy of errors, I didn’t get as much as I wanted to, but I learned a lot!
This year I started with the heating pad
what do you mean cells?
get the packs
9 different little cell
flat of geraniums
pack of the cells, it’s a package where each, you can fit 8 packs in an 11×22 seed flat and you grow plants in these little cells. Some people use the little peat pucks…
mmme…. I’m thinking of when I go to the store and buy like a 6 pack or 4 pack of broccoli or cauliflower packs… The people we got our sheep from, we went on a little farm tour down there a couple of weeks ago, and this woman, Lynn Hendrix from Walking Bear Ranch in Whitefish, MT is just a powerhouse and she grows like 72 beds and has 4 greenhouses just for her animals and she’s like 70 years old…. just amazing…. what she using for a heating pad, is just these strings of Christmas lights. What are you using?
I bought these, IDK what they’re called, they’re little, I got them at big box, we call it Menards you know like home depot or Lowes. They’re pads that fit under the seed flat, the same size but a thin pad and it just plugs right in, it’s almost like a heating pad,
I have 3 of those, put the seed tray, seed flat right on top and it warms it up nicely. I also did some home, some homemade wine making, keeps the basement warm and the
fermentation around that
My son is on the varsity basketball team, and I used it to kept the pasta warm
cost about 20$
I have heard of the rope lights…
Which activity is your least favorite activity to do in the garden.
Weeding… I really don’t like weeding, it just takes me back to being a kid and that’s been the beauty of raised beds! I have a
No Weeding Deep Beds
layer of newspaper
- layer cardboard
- landscaping fabric
and if they do they’re really easy to pull out. I really don’t like weeding, it takes up too much time and they’re unproductive.
What is your favorite activity to do in the garden.
- preserving it all
I do like trellising and pruning the tomatoes! because you can see the results.
Singing to Plants
My wife would probably say she sees me singing out there to the plants!
That helps them grow. Isn’t there something about the carbon dioxide is coming to your mouth and also I always think that if your singing to your plants, you know what they need more because your paying more attention to them….
“When you sing or talk to your plant you are expelling carbon dioxide which the plant needs to absorb to allow it to go through the process of photosynthesis and grow. In turn, the plant releases oxygen back to you, which is both beneficial and important for your health. per the Farmer’s Almanac
The other day I was subbing, the kids asked me a question the other day, and I was like IDK, google it? They all have chromebooks, they all really to get tot the answer. I think it’s awesome!
What is the best gardening advice you have ever received?
That was a tough one to answer
Get in Production!
we all sit here, reading a book or blog, not actually doing it, but that’s the way you learn, practicing trying, failing, trying, just try!
get in production, grow something
see what happens
I gonna forget
if it dies it dies, but it might grow! And you might learn something…
I have to say, it does help to have those tips and tricks. My husband and I are just the total opposite I’m the brown thumb and he’s the green thumb! I like to grow a little bed of lettuce. And I just made a pdf for listeners if you want it jump over to the website and grab a copy of 7 Awesome Ways to Find Time to Garden… and when I posted it in my podcast group… I thought I grew that stuff and I took those pictures… which is funny cause usually I just post pictures of what my husband grows…
I think people just get
there’s no time
Even those meager little tomatoes in containers in Illinois
And then when I opened the garage doors and there were chives inside! I thought they were dead!
Yeah! And bees love chives. That’s one of my goals this year is to plant more chives because they’re one of the first plants to bloom in the spring and the bees love them and their these big beautiful purple pompoms! No maintenance! And they are easy to care for they bloom for a long time! And they survive! I don’t think you have to do anything to them, they are drought hardy, I don’t even eat them and I just love the purple blooms!
I put them on my baked potato! Im the only one but I figure you grow em why not!
A favorite tool that you like to use? If you had to move and could only take one tool with you what would it be.
I was thinking a garden hoe…it’s a multipurpose tool…
- you can break up some soil
- make a whole to put the plant in
- you can defend yourself if a wild animal’s coming!
I think it’s good all around tool!
I’ve got small garden beds
Will you describe your deep beds?
- I’ve got 3 deep beds
- one is a 14×8
- the 18 inch
- is 12 inches deep
- 2 foot wide 8 feet long
- 2 2×4 foot so it’s basically a 2×8
the 3×8, I tried potatoes
6 peppers and herbs
They’re not super deep beds, because I have that weed barrier in there. It varies from 6 inches where the herbs are gonna grow.
highbred, rain system, they are basically
foot cylinder so foot wide by a foot deep…
I always think deep beds are hip high because the frist ones Mike built were but we do have lots of beds that are only a foot deep. I just like them because I like to sit on the edge if there is any weeding or harvesting… I can sit on a lot of the foot tall ones… and some I can’t ;)
- I usually take out a pad or
- kneel on a garden pad
- seat cushion
beauty of the vertical
I know where do you get dirt to fill your pots, beds? That’s a problem here
that is a struggle
more of a mix from the square
tried the sand and peat moss mix but that didn’t work for me so I went back to the
1/3 peat moss
I get the compost at a big box store
not all black dirt is the same. I could go to the municipal lot and grab some but I just don’t know where it came from and especially in this town where we have a history with big industry with contaminated soil
pay a little bit, I don’t have that much garden space
when we move to more homestead, this is all setting up to be, I’m hoping that the soil is on…
That’s where some animals come into it…
A big thing I’ve been learning about this year are cover crops to produce soil. I’m gonna interview this woman from Bountiful Gardens and it seems like 60% of what they grow is soil building cover crops to grow food. And the whole point is to grow enough to feed your whole family… we actually recorded it and had to rerecord it…
That’s where these urban farmers and Market Gardeners are going…
using cover crops
- nitrogen fixers
- dried turkey compost
- rabbit poop
I know that’s what Curtis Stone is doing…
if you can build the soil
This woman Liz Carlisle just wrote this book the Lentil Underground and they are doing this on the east side of Montana and she talks about why aren’t’ we oing this fi we know this is best practices? She investigares in the mid-west why … that’s why we got our chickens years ago… the eggs are just bonus.
can have chickens for a suburb, I’ve never had chickens, but my parents did
something we’re gonna
I’m a renter, so I’m doing this don’t own any of the property
area was full of junk, full of thrown all this junk and brambles
When I’m done I’m gonna have to take out the raised bed and just plants some flowers…
Unless the next person wants to garden, it would be a shame to take that out…
Part 2 starts here
A favorite recipe you like to cook from the garden?
Salsa. Love to make salsa when you can make the ingredients
and now garlic, I throw some garlic in there too! I really enjoy that. We had a little contest the year before, where we brought in some different salsas from my brother, my brother in law and my mother I won!
IT’s part of our awesome April! We’re holding our second annual Salsa Fiesta contest
We’re gonna put up our salsas, and we have a couple of folks, and we have a semi-pro salsa guy, we’re all gonna test, maybe well get a couple of more. I said my crown is on the line, so I put in $50!!
So who’s judging it?
My family, but I’m gonna be bringing in a couple of other folks… it’s part of Awesome April!
Everything is lignin up
relaunched my podcast… broadcasting a new one
going to 2 different schools
kids are gonna plant some seeds
teach the about
2 different classes
2 different cities
talk a little more about gardening
not dumping roundup
in an ag environment
don’t even think about gardens
trying to introduce it
doesn’t have to be fun!
put this in
got some other guests for the podcast
small scale life blog
Part of my job
My real job
is to do some public ed around railroad tracks
great crossing railroad safety
we have a lot of teachers in the family
family members teaching at different schools
you could come back and teach about gardening
ok that sounds like a great idea
it’s a great opportunity
one of the schools
living in apartments!
Boy scout groups/4 h/church groups
there’s ar real interest right now
we’re so crazy in our lives
and look back
my grandparents used to do this
comes back to 2009
my wife read to
some amazing stuff
not that I want to churn butter
Don’t have to rely on the grocery store all the time
nice to see
I’m seeing a lot of
A favorite internet resource?
Small Scale Life
there’s some really good stuff out there
Rusted Vegetable Garden
really walks you through how he’s doing things
whole channel set up for new gardeners
know it all trolls
other people really helpful
I run a couple
Im in a bunch
Regenerative Ag Facebook group
chickens and ducks
multiple ways to go about it
Raingutter grow system book
Larry Hall from MN
A favorite reading material-book, mag, blog/website etc you can recommend?
Definitely, still looking at Square Foot Gardening…
st lewis park MN
fun to bump into that guy
Curtis Stone Urban Farmer
detail on how he runs his business
Bret L Markham
a lot of good info
on composing rotation
Mini Farming Self Sufficiency on 1/4 acre
If you have a business to you have any advice for our listeners about how to sell extra produce or get started in the industry?
Even on the blog or podcast finding that voice
documenting what I’m doing
take a look
there’s a couple good…
people get busy
best if you
put a post on Tuesday
find your site
havent’ and a lot of guests
for selling produce that kind of things
put up an add…
gage price points
if people start calling
we’re sold out
see if your too much your too high
one way to gage interest and
people put eggs out there…
develop a list
take their info
when you have some product
kitchen’s pretty small
turkey boiler a flame
cook in a pot
water bath canning out there one night and it was midnight
oh your dad’s out there
Final question- if there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be? For example is there a charity or organization your passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment either in your local area or on a national or global scale?
I thought about this one… Im really big into staying local
though my various projects
I ve seen what a group of local people can do
I can’t go to Washington and fix what’s happening there
I can make a cool garden
my neighbors what are you doing there
you’ve created a world back here
Im not using any fertilizer
this is a bee friendly yard
your doing it
then you get people to come into your world
then they start to ask question
then they’ll try it
then maybe you can go help them do it
some of the beaurocracies and charities
you can do something small
you and your neighbors there
really small person
doing small things
get behind it
see your doing things
catch Th. evasion
a lot of people
movements start by one or two people getting active…
keep making organic stuff…
get to know your local egg person, meat person
Do u have an inspiration tip or quote to help motivate our listeners to reach into that dirt and start their own garden?
Again… just do your research just try, give it a start
find something you like to eat
grow what you eat…
best place to start
you like beans grow some beans
How do we connect with you?
website is www.smallscalelife.com
got a go pro camera
strap it on my chest
wrote an article
a week later
I didn’t copy it.
I posted over here. check it out…
another good one podcast answer man …
I’ve got the small scale gardening fb group
that’s all about gardening stuff…
put a lot of content
family friends and others
who want to share
other people they have a story tell to…
I run another
MNWI Region ag fb group
there’s people in my area
that want to talk about local issues
might want to meet up
build a network of people here in WI
plant a bunch of trees
to develop a group of people who are interested in
you;ll 10% are only
Bonus podcasting chat…
I really like Permaculture Voices by Diego Footer.. .interviews a lot of people. Curtis Stone, …. Joel Salvation
its about gardening, business, sustainability.
Curtis, Jack Spirco, radio
garden bloggers trying to meet locally…
Jeff Goins… writer in Nashville advertising
The Organic Gardener Podcast is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com
If you like what you heard on the Organic Gardener Podcast we’d love it if you’d give us review and hopefully a 5 star rating on iTunes so other gardeners can find us and listen to. Just click on the link here.