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275. Flower and Vegetable CSA | Eastward Gardens | Larry and Michelle Lesher | Hardinsburg, Indiana

Michelle and Larry Lesher Eastward Gardens
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We were city kids, he was a professional skateboarder and neither of us had a background in farming.

There’s just the two of us but we do it for a living.

I think I found you on Floret. How big is your place?

I’m going into my 3rd season growing flowers. We’re going on selling vegetables etc on 3 years. I was a nurse with the dream I could leave my job.

took us a while

try to make it quick

We moved from Seattle to louisville so I could go to grad school

that’s when Larry started interning on a farm. He’s been farming ever since then.

I just joined full time in  June I quit my job. That’s when I bumped up the flower production. 

I can do more with it

a lot of flowers

we grow on 2 acres

our farm is 16 1/2 acres

We crop rotate

we only have, theres about 6 acres of workable we rotate it and do about 2 at a time.

We sell

  • Vegetables
  • fruit
  • culinary herbs
  • micro greens

 

We sell a lot of micro greens through the winter, we sell a lot of microgreens through the winter months.

Culinary herbs who do you sell those to and do you want to tell listeners the diffeence between culinary and medicinal?

we just specific culinary

herbs people cook with

  • rosemary
  • thyme
  • sage
  • sorrel
  • parsley
  • basil

Who do you sell to? A CSA?

  • 20 week CSA
  • 2 famers markets a week
  • local health food store

small scale because there’s just the two of us

have

health food store we consistently

20 week CSA program

2 farmers market

May or June – Oct

  • radishes
  • turnips
  • arugula

flower share this year for the first time

flower bouquets

in with vegetables

  • ranunculus
  • anemones

Start April

4-6 weeks once they start

more veggies I can say

definitely

  • salad mix
  • spinach
  • first boxes

unique about our CSA

Organic Farm

dietician

newsletters in each box

recipes

items in the box

recipes

are all plant based recipes

nutritional value

how to store the crops

processing and preserving

website

under the CSA tab

6 years worth of newsletters there

that have recipes

work really hard on the newsletter

cook

sharing recipes

good cooked simply

lentils and rice

beans and rice dishes

white bean dish

good to add in

pesto

plant based pesto

doesn’t have cheese in it

have to add cheese

this

when you’re a farmer I don’t like to see anything go to waste

Pesto is a great one you can process and freeze

arugula have to blanch it

boil for 30 seconds

stop cooking process

  • arugula
  • basil and cilantro
  • kale
  • brocoli
  • parsley

all those options are really taste

5 cloves of garlic

walnuts ~ healthy for your brain

pesto is a great way to do in the

store with parchment paper

ring and the lid store in the freezer

easy

great way to use up the foods

best on homemade bread

so the flowers are a total labor of love for me

I’ve wanted to grow flowers my whole life, never really have

year before I quit my job

he was hesitant at first

can’t really eat a flower for one

he didn’t see that we would have much of a market for them

if anything it will attract bees, be pretty

happiness to the farm

wanted to get bees

plan to do in the future

plotted out the field

wasn’t the best spot

drainage

space

come to find out the flowers are easier to grow then food

  • zinnias
  • sunflowers

our first go at it we actually did really well

Mennonite neighbors who do dahlias

gave us our first dahlia tubers

  • sunflowers
  • zinnias
  • cosmos

sun friendly

started bringing bouquets to market

give one bouquet away at market to be thankful

when we started to do that,

it was amazing the reaction

people started crying

I’ve given a lot of tomatoes, but there’s something special about these flowers

he was really sold

the produce is nurturing and feeding our bodies and our health

nutritious

flowers are feeding people’s hearts

impact on him and I both

3rd flower season

tripped the amount of flowers

we added

  • 1000 ranunculus
  • 1000 amenones

we’re doing heirloom mums for fall planting

extensive season out on the back end of it

brings a lot of life

beautiful

attract a lot of people to the table

found customers

with the produce

come for the flowers buy the produce

incorporate for us with the flowers

personally

struggled with depression

when I’m out there harvesting

it’s interesting

one of the things that spoke to me with flower farming

as christians

we’re all individually made

very individual

god is life giving to us

I would go out

Sunday morning

pick em heavy

I think I’m not gonna have any flowers for Tuesday

I won’t have enough

harvest aggressively

zinnias pick

lower you harvest the stem

lower you do it

pick a lot

more they grow

sunflowers

celosia is not that way

zinnias

cosmos

more aggressive you harvest

more they grow

all these new flowers the next day!

That would be one of my biggest pointers

pick them low

there will be some branching flowers

don’t pick it low

cut off those buds that are branching

stem for the bouquet

more aggressive you are with the depth of cutting

first buds

bushed out a lot more

other little tip I would say

old videos

this year to last year

only going into my third year

did in mason jars

cumbersome getting to

predominately f

now I need to add

where are they

45 min drive

right outside Louisville KY

have a CSA pickup

Jasper ID

drop spots

what I have discovered

wrapping bouquets in paper

I think they look better

sticker with our logo on it

we just get

what’s the paper called

forget the name of it

something you can buy at Lowes

you can fit a lot more bouquets in a van

jars are cumbersome

masking paper

tan paper you can pick up at lows

wrap the bouquets

rubberband

customers like it better to

farmer’s market

where are they going to put

he’s the backbone

he’s been farming for 12 years

when we met he was a professional skate

Tell us a little about yourself.

We, Larry & Michelle Lesher, are going into our 13th season farming. Larry was a professional skateboarder before farming and Michelle was a student. Both of us grew up in Louisville KY as city kids…never really planted any food of our own to grow. Michelle pursued a nursing degree at University of Louisville and realized she did not want to become a medicine dispensary and decided to get her masters degree in nutrition to empower people to heal themselves and prevent disease with diet and lifestyle. She was accepted into Basty Universities Masters in Science and Nutrition program and that was when we made the move to Seattle area in 2006. Larry decided before moving there that he wanted to learn more about growing food and had already been avoiding GMOs and eating organically for years. He understood the importance of knowing what happens to your food from the beginning to the end of the growth process. And this is how it all began.

Tell me about your first gardening experience?

Yeah, probably I grew up in the city

we really

when I went and interned in Seattle

one experience

owned a body piercing shop in Reno Nevada

total mess

planted sunflowers

at home

I saw the packet

that would be neat to see what they do

see them sprouting

they’re actually growing

always been into nature and hiking and being in the woods

sort of marvelous thing

totally unprepared for this experience

planting these 400 foot rows

planting everything!

broccoli

head lettuce

chicories

transplanting

this is like

I had no idea what I was doing

3 of us

2 planting

by the end of the day I thought I was gonna day,

Michelle’s like what happened

I worked all day

about to die

are you gonna be able to do this

I’m the chattily strong person

the first week

$25/day

got those muscles into shape

ever since then

first time I went to farmer’s market

this was the moment I knew there was nothing else I could do anymore

lettuce

literally got goosebumps

ever since then this is all

hard worker

couldn’t find

that thing that was his purpose

In 2006 Larry interned on a farm in Carnation WA outside of Seattle. It was here that he realized the impact and responsibility that growing food for people really has. The concept of stewardship and the exchange of service between plants, farmers and the community.

never understood the bible

eastward and eden

the first gardener was god

a lot of people don’t think about this

adam

who’s job was to tend to the garden

commune with god

amazing experience

think about the concept of god into eden

he planted a garden

interesting thing to go out

all the object lessons

how we were created

parables in the scriptures

many parables are

rudimentary concepts of life

when your think about

business side side of

education

garden can be personally

pr

microbial life is important for the plant taking up the nutrients

beautiful cycle for w

created from the ground from the dirt

plant needs from the dirt to be healthy

we need as humans

Larry done a lot of researching and studying

my mom would have all these ferns

I was in graduate school

How did you learn how to garden organically?

I ran a juice bar in

Wild Oats

Louisville

firmly developed that’s how ag should be

great idea

often times turns out to be different then your theory

grocery store to buy food because it has a label on it

become concerned

because of processed food on shelf

really felt compelled that I needed to be probably growing my own food

thought that ought to be

when I start farming

organic

no synthetics

kind of

after 12 years I’ve learned a lot more

in agriculture

that teaches you a lot of the nuances

what organic really is

sometimes some of the things we learn can be quite disturbing

food are processed

a cereal

whole process way outside of normal

learn how

wet pressurized heat

slurry the grain

push it through a mold

cutter

pressed through

shape or number

letter it might be

deconstructs it on a cellular level

becomes what I would call an anti food

reconstruct itself

eat it

has the ability to take nourishment from you

don’t think about how things are made

don’t think we realize the things we are using

what is it grown on

don’t think about it

grown on sugars

where they are coming from

beet sugars

corn syrup sugars

GMO plants

using products somewhere in their processing to make them nothing else

funding GMO companies

monsanto

syngenta

products

organic seeds

cell fusion

cut out the mitochondria

fuse those together

male sterility

shooting for

use those to create f1 hybrid seeds

those seeds can be labeled

organic

quite complicated

complex thing

we’re really unaware of

I feel like I responsible

liaison

where I buy seeds

which seeds I buy

which biologicals I choose to use

process of making compost

if you buy an organic compost

you can use almost any material

it comes out

organic certified

a lot of that stuff can have GMO organicans

chicken manure

chicken capo

feeding non organic feed

GMO feed

hormones

raising those chickens

compost it pelletize it

learned a lot of the things as I learned about what is going into the raising of our food

difficult to find

clean source of manure

blood meal

bone meal

feather meal

we decided we were going to figure it out

try to work thought all the different challenges

one of the things I learned

peanut meal

that sounds like a pretty straight forward source

organic peanut meal

sourced out of south america

grown conventual

remnant

press the peanuts for peanut oil

compost it

now it’s called organic

no

golden peanut

down in Georgia

peanut flour

is about 8 dollars the pound

out of date

can’t sell it as a food grade

peanut

organically grown peanut in Texas

organic process

organic peanuts so

for me it was important

I told you my first experience

I felt

it became really important to me that this lady was trusting me to feed her family

what do I want to eat

something

what’s that mean to me

I want to meet that standard

when we came into farming

the next year I started a farm

the gentleman who owned some land

wanted to work together

are we gonna certify organic

a lot of things going on with the certification

the dairy side of it was

don’t want to name any names

dairy

not following standards

maintaining their certifications

at least a 3rd party option available

opted to try to support that 3rd party

If things started to go awry in the federal organic certification program

big fight to have sludge

3rd party certification process if something

wouldn’t

decision base don our

relationship with them we have maintained

different farms I’ve had the pleasure

always done

indiana

moved here from the west

considered the

done both

looked into doing it it was gonna be like $1100

Most things did well. However, given the genetic potential of plants we have not even come close to reaching half the possibility of what it could or should be. With that said our head

lettuce did well… we planted it in an area that had landscape fabric the year before which decreased the weed pressure and allowed for better management.

Tell us about something that grew well this year.

We farmed in s Dakota for aobut 4 years as well at a lifestyle center

We had really good soils there

When we showed up here in the early spring

When I transplanted them out they literally turned purple

We were low in

  • potassium
  • phosphorous

Framing element helps the plant to grow

when we first moved here we did a basic soil analysis

We worked 2 farms successfully, we grow food well, we know this.

when we first got here

ph was good, all the basic stuff looked good

Probably honeslty didn’t know how to feed a soil test

it dawned on me  it was probably the theme for everyone was farming

Most people probably don’t know how to read a soil test and make applications based on recommendations

largely they’re getting recommendations for how to grow a plant but not 

soil imbalances

  • corn
  • vegetable garden

generally amount of nitrogen, phosphorous etc you need to let that plant grow

what I became

when my plants didn’t grow

got a learning curve

soil analysis

what benefits they had to the plants

why we were having this problem

really big learning curve

not that I think soil analysis is the end all be all but it should be a tool in our tool box

after that I

we had low organic matter

1.5 organic matter

if you know anything about biology

if you are not on a 2 you are basically on a starvation diet

you have your biology on the

find yourself in a real dilemma we found ourselves in this dilemma and it really pushed me to learn how to actually farm or garden

before I was a hard worker

did basic principle

periodically

  • shotgun approach it
  • know the generals and apply them liberally ~ as you feel you need them

take to people

sounds like a difficiency in this so you add a little boron mostly just winging it

most gardeners

tens to be where they come from

this is much more complex

sol biology

chemistry

complex subject

i often relate it to if you were a mayor and had a city divide by a river, you needed to get commerce from one side to the other, families live on both sides, you need to

build a bridge

would you want someone to build it that doesn’t know basic physics?

One of the most important things we do in life is to eat, but we don’t necessarily expect farmers to know how to do it the same way

I felt I probably need to be a lot more educated and thoughtful about my practices

We decided to be veganic

Based on some of those principles I was telling you earlier. there’s a lot more going on in the ground and in the process to nourish the ground to nourish then we realize

don’t want to discourage anyone but I have found it one of the most rewarding things

to actually learn something

if you are going to eat nutritional yeast you ought to know what growing medium they are growing on

If you are going to use a biological to your soil you should probably know what that biological was grown on

empowers you to make wise decisions

can seem scary at first not a lot of choices out there but I think that is what drives innovation

better

generally

I think a lot of organic farmers do something better then what is happening currently

I think a lot of it is we want to eat healthy organic food”

I think the dilen

ask a lot of questions of what

they might not realize they are using something that isn’t ideal

people who are smarter

actually come to solutions

gentleman in our area

he grows compost for a lack of a better way to say it

growing compost from chicken manure

chickens for eggs and meat

make this compost

started making

food soil web

started doing aerobic compost

vegetative composting

found in his area

in kentucky

fields that had been taken out of production put back into

send analysis

biological

what is going on with his compost

highest

vegetative compost

he was growing a vegetative based

  • 80 acres into hemp
  • compost that was all vegetable
  • biological inoculant
  • vegetable based compost
  • no applications on those fields

best numbers is from the hemp

native grasses

manure

diversity

specific biologicals

nitrogen fixers

mine phosphate and potassium

random shot of

diversity

other thing is you want tom make good numbers

biology

help you

mine from the soil

something else to consider

biological

both can survive in both

some are good

some are bad

a lot that we don’t know

we know very little about biology

amount out there

really don’t know much

utilize these chemical reactions

soluabilizing

quite a bit

capitalize on the things we know

fungal highly

fungi

which families

work with which families of plants

all these things are important

chemical structure

good air exchange

have this

movement

how we can

gas exchange

proprietor blend

head lettuce

We have really struggled to grow head lettuce

A couple of years ago we had a good head but it was just inconsistent

this year

Very nice head lettuce

excited to have it in the CSA boxes and on the Market table

we grow unique varieties

oak leaf

Wild Garden Seed

based out of Oregon

Franls’ been doing this a long time I know of him, and talked to him on the pohone on occasion

Very talented seed grower

He does development of seeds that

rescued a lot of varieites

Samantha it is a red oak leaf

just one of the most spectacular lettuces that I tasted

  • frilly
  • spine like a romaine on the back
  • crunchy
  • soft lettuces at the same time

hickory

bitter bite to it

real course

runs the gamet of tectures and coloration

  • sweetness
  • nice lettuce

at the Market we always have the same experience

They say what’s your favorite lettuce and I say Samantha

I’ve never seen

they’ll try it

almost invariable

They’ll come back and say do you have more of that

introduce those types of things

when I was on that farm for the first time

can you go pull a row of pullalosa radichio

He says can you go harvest that?

I would love to go if you tell me what that is

explain to me

IDK if I had ever had it before

Never knew they even existed

salad mixes

Can I back that up and ask a couple of questions?

How big is it now?

How do you mix your compost in? Are you doing no till practices or what are your practices you are following?

so how many acres what do you think of all this no till?

right now

1 3/4 acre

shrink

I use a tractor

In the fields we use a particular implement

I have always been

soil structure

biology

fungal hifi in soils

use a spader

mechanical double dig basically shovels that shovel the ground that deep

very large crumb structure

I talked to a guy at Young’s Farm that’s what they use too

Celli Spader from Celli italy

5 feet wide

right on our bed system

try to be gentle on the soil

  • permanent beds system
  • walk paths are wheels of tractors
  • try to never drive in our beds

careful about

if we are

working cover crops

whole section whole acre

try to maintain driving on the same bed systems

I say we farm an acre and half we have 6 acres

in working very high rotation

We have a lot of that land in cover crops

rotate around in those cover crops

A lot of soil building measures going on while we’re doing the farming

primary tillage is the Celli Spader

till to create a seed bed

somewhere around 2 inches

give or take

shallow weed bed

to do as little damage to the soil as possible

in our greenhouses

broadfork

Johnny’s sells a little tilther

  • mineral
  • compost

puts down by hand

mix it up as whatever we need and spread it by hand with 5 gallon buckets

just bought a handy drop shredder this last fall adn so we’re gonna see if we can speed that process up a little bit

drop shredder to apply those things in the future

Now it’s just the 2 of you?

Practical working model for a couple we are very keen on education

part of our mission to educate people to be able to do this so we do have people come out to help us do that

I do have 2 times a year where we do farm dinners

different family members

4 course meal using farm fresh ingredients

  • community
  • families
  • children
  • come out to farm

Basically it’s just Me and Michelle that run the farm

Let’s go to 

We make sure to take one day of rest

no work on Saturday is our Sabbath and that helps us to recoup

traditional Sabbath from Friday night to sat night ~ is our day of rest

That’s important

Is there something you would do different next year or want to try/new?

We actually got a backhoe

Michelle: Next year we are adding fruit trees!

so many issues with our soil

handle on that

take on the challenge

21 fruit trees coming to be planted this spring!

My goal on a smaller scale to plant more fruit to plant things that are gonna be successful, blueberries, raspberries.

We’re also were gonna try to run some underground irrigation

many hours moving drip tape

to save a lot of time

  • tape
  • hoses
  • connectors all around the field

underground irrigations

bought a backhoe to try to put some systems in place that are time saving

you mentioned it’s a lot of work for 2 people

I think a big part of making it work is to find very effective systems

so you are able to save your labor and focus on the things that are most important in the farming process

I was telling Michelle, our backhoe is broke. What are you going to do? Mike is digging a kind of pond like in Jean Martin Fortier’s Market Gardener book

clay

the backhoe has a couple of purposes

when we plant trees

gamma white

3 foot by 3 foot hole

mineralization process as we layer it back together

It will help me plant the trees easier then me digging that hole

Use it to put the ditches for the underground irrigation

tile drainage, we had some irrigation problems, we put tile drainage and it was great for helping the water moving laterally

sandstone

has to move laterally

add some tile drain

oxygen back into the ground as rapidly as possible

Help us out

What does irrigation mean? Like putting those wobblies in?

what we’ll do run a line out to the field and we will have more pressure we’ll have spigots every 100 feet

when we attach the irrigation

mow

  • hoes running from the wash station
  • manage the weeds all the hoses

Makes it EASIER !!! connected out there

winter farming

if you want to irrigate during the winter months have to drain the hoses again so you don’t have to worry about them that the are gonna freeze and burst

Tell me about something that didn’t work so well this season.

we have struggled with beets

keeping them weeded

as you’ve mentioned there’s just two of us struggle

with them

one of the reasons

in a wet spot one year

roots seemed to rot

didn’t have a very good chance

tile drain

to mitigate

we have acquired some new tools

finger weeders

Alice charmers G-tractor

walk behind finger weeders

Have you seen those?

No, we’re not on that kind of scale yet.

in row weeder

fingers that go in and sweep

in row weed

some of those tools are gonna be quite useful for us

The beets we struggle with

the other thing we thought about is transplanting

Well when he was on my show he talked about transplanting those beets

there’s manpower in that transplanting

do you mulch after you get the beets out?

black landscape

greenhouse

  • peppers
  • beets and things like that we’ve never really done a natural mulch

been for the amount of land we’re doing finding a source of mulch we’re comfortalbe with?

can sometimes get tree trimmings they do them in your yard

use those a little bit but a lot of times if you are putting those directly in the bed 

some permanent no till system

turn it into the ground it takes nitrogen to break down that wood product so I have been weary to put that into the beds.

Which activity is your least favorite activity to do in the garden?

harvesting

great cause the contrast is harvesting is my favorite. It works out fine

I was wondering because the difrference between harvesting a little salad lettuce and harvesting mike’s minifarm 

quite monotonous

twist tie

hoeing

my least favorite is to move the irrigation around

can’t stand it when he’s like go move that irrigation pipe

no not me!

i don’t like doing it!

I like harvesting and weeding, there’s so many great things you can think about while listening to the birds

 

What is your favorite activity to do in the garden?

I really like weeding

think about

listen to the birds

I can’t hardly garden without a podcast in my ears but on the pllus side I’ve spent more time in  my garden in the last 4 years then the other 21 

What is the best gardening advice you have  ever received?

it seems cliche

bigger is not always better

first time I learned that

summer squash

will grow to be

yellow crookneck or something like that

seeds get tough

flesh

spongy

nasty

like you said if you get it when it’s less then 8 inches long

modern

recently

a lot of people grow their farms and they get more and more land in produciton 

you become mechanized and become detached

become a manager of people

then farming

lose the essence of it

touch the stuff

put my hands in the ground

get it down smaller

manage that smaller space better

get higher quality

for me I’d like to see more people

  • gardening
  • farming
  • experience for themselves

more people have doing it less you need to produce

unpractical for someone who wants to make a living at it but  

someone who wants to make a living

lesson book

some experience putting their hands in the dirt

way of life

too

we want it to be

living the agrarian

lot cheaper 

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.

yeah I get made fun of always have my harvest

smaller harvest knife

people aren’t used to seeing

practical thing

harvest knife the thing I use most

flower clippers

priceless

different in quality of clip

Felco

probably

harvest knife was actually mine

she stole it from me

no i didn’t it

wheel hoe

saves me a lot of time

therapeutic thing for me

economically

what’s a wheel hoe

basically a stirrup hoe

wheel and 2 handles

allows you do what a hoe would do with 2 hands

5 inches

make quick work of hoeing with them

get what

A favorite recipe you like to cook from the garden?

4

A favorite internet resource?

they’ll know

the guy is

such a wealth of information

so grounded

in my opinion

grounded thoughtful

scientifically grounded

solid to me

helped me understand

agriculture

biological side of agriculture

far beyond

dug out on my own

actually  I would say, I have learned a lot from floret

don’t

good videos

good youtube

soaking

detailed oriented

incorporating poppies snapdragons

first time

seeded them into trays in beginning of January

ready to go out into a greenhouse

earlier

more cold

A favorite reading material-book, mag, blog/website etc you can recommend?

I have to say my favorite book is probably the bible

Larry would say the same

we don’t have a lot of

second

true education

by a lady named ellen g white

agriculture and education should be fundamentally

How do we connect with you?

eastwardgardens

on Instagram

eastwardgardens as well

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The Organic Gardner Podcast is sponsored by Health IQ, an insurance company that helps health conscious people like runners, cyclists, weightlifters and vegetarians get lower rates on their life insurance.  Go to healthiq.com/OGP to support the show and see if you qualify.

Over half of Health IQ customers save between 4-33% on their life insurance.

Health IQ vegetables celebrating the health conscious

  • Health IQ uses science & data to secure lower rates on life insurance for health conscious people just like you green future growers! Like saving money on your car insurance for being a good driver, Health IQ saves you money on your life insurance for living a health conscious lifestyle.

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To see if you qualify, get your free quote today at healthiq.com/OGP or mention the promo code OGP when you talk to a Health IQ agent

Good Seed Company Seeds

The Good Seed Company

Now Let’s Get to the Root of Things!

Organic Gardening Podcast Group

We’d love if you’d join  Organic Gardener Podcast Facebook Community!

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.

and don’t forget if you need help getting started check out our new 

Free Garden Course.com

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 Free Organic Garden Course 

Remember you can get the  2018 Garden Journal and Data Keeper to record your garden goals in ourhttps://amzn.to/2lLAOyo

You can  download the first 30 days here   while you’re waiting for it to come in the mail. 

Organic Gardening Podcast Group

We’d love if you’d join  Organic Gardener Podcast Facebook Community!

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.

About the author, Jackie Marie

I'm an artist and educator. I live at the "Organic Oasis" with my husband Mike where we practice earth friendly techniques in our garden nestled in the mountains of Montana.

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