239. Angel Garbarbino | Organic Gardener Podcast listener and backyard gardener | Boise, ID

Angel Garbino


June 14, 2018

I’m so excited to introduce this guest from the Organic Gardener Podcast Facebook Group a listener and a fan!

Tell us a little about yourself.

To start off I am the beginner gardener like all other gardens. This is really my first year gardening. About 3-4 years ago we bought a home in Idaho, we were living in CA

The house sat on a farm plot, it was 2 1/2 acres just weeds, when we first moved in we rented it out and then we just moved in officially about 2 years ago.

just one tree


this last year took a gardening class trying to grow my own food.

Are you a rockstar millennial? I figure 1980-1995.

I just learned I am on the cusp, born in 1983.

So you did some landscaping and took a gardening class, and I love that you came on today, because the lessons you have learned are going to be relevant and fresher in your head. And also landscaping is a question people have been asking me about a lot this summer, how to have an organic lawn.

Tell me about your first gardening experience?

I watched my boyfriend, we lived in California, I didn’t know, it was easy to grow things.

we had a small apartment, and he had a whole bunch of pots and he grew tomatoes, that grew so tall and I was just like gardening was so easy so when we got to Idaho, I thought I’m going to grow a garden!

This is my first intro to growing food

Growing up dad always had me out there weeding

always learn

growing taking care of the garden. This is pretty much my first experience.

How did you learn how to garden organically?

My boyfriend is always in the organic

I’m kind of book nerdish

as soon as I decided

ten books I just went through

different audible books

Lab Girl https://amzn.to/2uZcZIv

Lab Girl

not specifically gardening

female scientist talks about plants in general and how they communicate

listening to books about gardening and trees

bought a lot of books

learning the details from a class I took on  how to garden Judy Allen

not specific on organic gardening but on the principals you learned

kickstarted my garden this spring

Tell us about something that grew well this year.

I’ve got a 10 x 3 plot. I’ve got a lot of lettuce, carrots, beets

The lettuce is up and it’s doing really well

I never thought I would grow that much and have enough for salads every night.

  • variety of arugula
  • red fire lettuce

I kind of cheated I got Cosmic Apple starters

a little bit of cheating

I tried to grow seeds inside this spirng and they didn’t go very well

  • I ended up getting lettuce starters
  • beets
  • carrots
  • onions
  • horseradish
  • cilantro
  • peas – sugar snap
  • garlic

As a teacher, there’s no cheating! You’re not taking a test right? There’s no reason to worry about cheating! In Idaho, we had a really late winter, Mike’s had a really hard time germinating lettuce this winter, he’s finally getting everything in. (FYI we’re talking on June 14, 2018) To me you’re doing amazing because are you not a higher elevation then we are?

We’re Teton valley microclimates base of the east side of the Tetons

5-6000 feet. It get’s cold but I’m told it gets less cold here, then some places that are closer to the river in the valley

last week we had we had 2 frosts, we had to cover things and teh whole bit.

Last week we were worried we would have a frost and we’ve been getting firewood all week, and I always say there’s like a couple of weeks in July where we don’t have to worry but we can get a frost anytime!

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

I got really jazzed up! I took this garden class in February, March

There’s a topic we talked about growing seeds 

in Idaho you have to do that inside with lights to some extent

  • I read the packages 
  • did all the research

I’m kind of nerdy like that, and I converted a room that wasn’t supposed to be for gardening. All morning and night, turning lights on 

no idea why why I had no success in seeds? I have been thinking about doing another batch if it’s not too late?

It’s not too late! If you want to put a fall garden in you want to start seeds in July. One thing that Mike does that helps peppers that like a hotter climate, is he makes like these little mini terrarium/greenhouse things. Starting from seeds is not easy!

I feel like there’s a combination mystery, I don’t understand why this one is doing well and that one’s not doing well. I think you need a lot of time to see what works and experiment. We live in a core foam house I think we just don’t get airflow.

What’s a core foam house?

Think if you had a house built of big foam blocks, covered with plywood

6 inches thick these huge panels of  foam

thick foam

it’s great for insulation but it’s really poor for circulation

no way for house to breathe

if you’re cooking

notice with seeds they just struggled from mildew

I had a rosemary I brought in this winter that had 

  • mildew on it
  • experiment soil

Want to hear the tip my friend Nola gave me for growing a rosemary plant. She’s an amazing master gardener. I had a really nice plant at school last year but it died.


Difficult seeds. I grew difficult things too. 

  • rosemary
  • thyme

I was trying to grow all these herbs from seeds, but I guess they are harder to grow

maybe better to sew outside

seed thing

  • it’s expensive
  • I got the heating pads and lights.

If you drove by my house at night you would be like what is going on there?

Still trying to figure it out!

That’s good to know, I have struggled for years to get herbs started like lavender. On the flip side, basil and oregano, they grow like crazy for me. 

Another great resource for growing herbs is one of my favorite blogs The Empress of Dirt. She has a pdf to help you on how to grow herbs indoors here.


Let’s take a minute to thank our sponsors and affiliate links


Seed Voyage

Good Seed Company Seeds

The Good Seed Company

Now Let’s Get to the Root of Things!

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

I would say my least favorite is also my favorite weeding which is weeding! 

I work at home and so during my lunch break or if I am having a  frustrating day

I can just zone out with an audible book or podcast, put it on for 60 minutes

relaxing experience working in the garden.

how many weeds we have

2 1/2 acres of weeds

If I could sell dandelions

what kind of grasses I have a lot of weeds! 

It’s been a struggle to keep true to 

  • soil conservation
  • organic practices

So you’re actually pulling the dandelions

last year

for getting landscaping

cardboard mulching, I laid down a bunch of cardboard. Like the crazy woman going to the recycling center, you know it’s bad when you pull in and their likethe cardboard lady is here!

I would spend time ripping off the tape

  • top soil
  • compost
  • mixed it together 4 inches on top of that

I got kentucky blue grass

water as much

don’t want to be a slave to water!

now I have that grass

weeds that have blown in


so easy to pull out

trying to keep on top of that and actually have some grass around the house.

So do you wish you would have put some clover into it to have some mixed in?

I think I would have gone goat fescue which I had never heard of but I heard from local gardeners.

clumping fescues

I didn’t think they did well in cold climates. I read things that contradicted themselves all the time. But I’ve heard from people around here that have it, it’s awesome!

grows very tall

clumping not your average

not your average turf grass.

It doesn’t need watering and mowing

  • stays green!
  • Slow growing
  • starts late!

started their plot

With Kentucky Blue Grass, I’ve been battling weeds because it grows so slowly

  • a lot of watering
  • dry
  • windy
  • not super hot


What’s fescue?

if I was gonna try to explain it, I wouldn’t give it justice. I even called seed centers and ask them all sorts of questions, and I learned people who don’t practice organic gardening are gonna have different perspectives because they’re ok with using herbicides to keep their turf looking the way they want it. I’ve learned a lot

the best thing I can say, is find the organic gardeners in your area and ask them what they’re doing? In hindsight that’s what I should have done. 

You should start a podcast, or video, I think you would do well, you have that curiosity. And your willingness to share and your mistakes! This is awesome!

So weeding is your favorite activity to do in the garden?

yeah because it’s relaxing to me, 

I listen to podcasts, or audible. It’s really easy to pull the weeds because of the mulch. 

I can’t remember the name, It’s like a sickle, it has a blade and it cuts down the tops of the weeds

go out there it’s a good work out for 30 minutes

for thirty minutes


I’ve learned when it blooms, to mitigate it’s spread tops of before it goes to seed! 

I always think it’s best to get the dandelions before they go to seed. Of course there are always ones that bloomed and they pick them and then they blow those…?

What is the best gardening advice you have ever received?

I have a tendency to go all in

  • patience is a big one
  • I read all this stuff and I want to go for it and do it all at once
  • having patience
  • taking it easy

focus on one area – I’m trying to conquer landscaping and vegetables at the same time can be overwhelming at times

So I don’t appreciate it, just feel like there’s a lot of work that needs to be done

what do you want to do really well



Judy Allen gave me that advice after meeting me at a dinner party. She said, just so you know you’re trying to do everything and I was like it’s not that much and then after spring came!

I know start small, and that August slump that comes and you’re like I’m spent!

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? Would it be the sickle thing?

Yes! that thing’s awesome!

even if you want to go out there

much better then a mower

I am limited on my tools

I have a push mower  and I have two and half acres!

not electric!

It’s a full on push mower

I kind of have, what I wear

I have a fanny pack and knee pads!

I love that my mom just showed me her knee pads, And Jean Martin Fortier is wearing knee pads in his pictures. And then she had this portable bench, I am so sick of Mike’s mini-farm I miss the deep beds. Too much bending over for me!

The fanny pack is for my phone and put headphones on. 

I usually do it during my lunch hour, but if I need to if I get pinged and I can still be accessible. I look totally dorky.

But that’s great. Last year I realized one of my barriers was shoes. I think gardening has to be convenient, it’s a lot of work no matter how much you love it and enjoy the birds and butterflies and plants it’s still a lot of work that you have to do! 

New Gardening Shoes from Animal Rescue Site

big green boots

A favorite recipe you like to cook from the garden?

here’s the thing, the trick with cooking is I don’t cook, my boyfriend does the cooking. He’s amazing cook!

I will say my favorite thing he makes from the garden is 


sourdough starter

  • bread making
  • pizza oven
  • fresh herbs on there
  • tomatoes that I can add to that
  • fresh herbs

otherwise to go to the store

Barrels and Bins

they have herbs in plastic bags for a little bit of rosemary

I can tell in a few years you’re gonna be the source for herbs in your area!


pizza oven

I’m gonna butcher this

general oven


like a fire place that contains the heat in kind of a ceramic area and concentrates and you slip the pizza in there and it’s like you go to the pizza place shoveling it in on a big wooden flat tool called a peel.

We have a small little pizza oven

Where is it does it sit on the counter?

No, its outside

all sorts of pizza ovens, we have a friend that built theres from mud

concentrate it

pizza in and out easily

smaller moveable

can take it apart and move it but they are very heavy and awkward to move. He built a little bench for it to sit on, and it stays there permanently. 

Cool, I like that because Mike got really into the pizza making thing a few yeas ago and he might like that! 

There’s a lot of books out there to build your own.

A favorite internet resource?

I will say the internet can be, I work in tech, so I’m on the computer all the time… I feel like Googling is a skill itself you can work up to. One thing I wish the internet had more of pictures. I’m guilty of this too.

If you take pictures and post them

  • identifying things
  • different stages of growth
  • mildew on my rosemary

Does anyone else have mildew? IS it like my mildew?

one resource

youtube a lot

set up irrigation

those are most helpful because they are visual

books are great

make visual of

I know exactly what you mean, last year Mike got this broccoli, covered in aphids, and I never got a picture of it last year. How dumb? Video, video, video everyone says if you wanna have an online business video is still king!

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

Lab Girl https://amzn.to/2uZcZIv

Lab Girl

is a wonderful audible book Hope Journan

not so much gardening

approaching it as a scientist

center of communication

oragnizms your trying to grow

another book I read

The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers, and Foodies Are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet

The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers, and Foodies Are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet

by Kirstin Olsen

that talks about earth worms.




I really appreciated it. They are not directly on how to do things but on giving you an understanding of the biology of kind of your yard. I really appreciated those. 

As far as how to do things

Rocky Mountain Gardening https://amzn.to/2mQAIWV

The Rocky Mountain Gardening Books

I enjoyed them in the winter, I would say they didn’t necessarily to my situation. I got them because I thought it would be similar because I am in the Rocky Mountains

But what I learned that I’m totally different.

OrganicGardeningInColdClimatesOrganic Gardening In Cold Climates

This friend of mine, Leslie Fowler I interviewed recommended this book called gardening in cold Climates you might like. 

I can’t take the advice

not gonna work for what I am dealing with out here



 I liked what you said about googling? Do you have any advice for people about that?

I listen for resources a lot  to see where they’re getting their resources

look at pictures a lot, to try to get me in the right directions, if you poke around the actual picture… I can get really geeky. 

  • where the picture is
  • where it was taken
  • some of that kind of stuff

I’ll search for pictures of plants in the area where I’m at, so I come at it at different angles

Do if my search is for mildew on rosemary plants in the Teton valley? I’ll maybe search for rosemary in Teton Valley. 

There are different ways of how to approach it? Someone might touch on it?

Since we met in the Facebook group, so just out of curiosity are you having any luck in other Facebook groups?

There’s a Teton Valley Gardening one

great for community

heads up when theirs frost

good too

I posted for mowing services because I have 2 1/2 acres of weeds

someone replied in the message ~ FYI.. if you cut off the tops, it grows back with more heads for seeding, so maybe mowing isn’t the best way to go about this…

some people grow it as flowers



don’t have many bees

We haven’t had a lot of bees this year. 

I put some lupine seeds came up.

I feel like we haven’t seen any bees this spring. My mom said so too. It’s scary in a lot of ways!

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 would say, knowledge is one of the biggest issues and you can tell I’m geeky and like to research things

Lab Girl https://amzn.to/2uZcZIv

Lab Girl Hope Jahren

getting a perspective of what’s going on

living organisms and how they get affected in how they happen by different environment.

And all the changes you need to make, once you have some empathy what’s going on around you. That’s kind of the crux of taking some action to make change. 

tons of great organizations

composting efforts

all these different things you can get involved in.

it can feel like an overwhelming problem

focus on one thing

  • make that your mission
  • can’t solve all the problems
  • especially in conservation

so just choose one thing

  • composting
  • organic gardening

or whatever it is!

I have to slip in my John Lee Dumas acronym

  • F.ollow
  • O.ne
  • C.ource
  • U.ntil
  • S.uccess

I’m struggling with that cause I want to start a new podcast this summer called Authentic Teacher to kind of teach about that. I finally got my email series worked out the first day of this summer!  so if you finally sign up for my email you’ll get welcome emails and hopefully I’ll finally figure out how to send out monthly emails!

Do you have an inspiration tip or quote to help motivate our listeners to reach into that dirt and start their own garden?

Oh, man, no

  • be informed,
  • search for it
  • have fun with it
  • it’s alot of work
  • sense of appreciation
  • interact

How do we connect with you?

Organic Gardener Podcast Facebook Group

I’m gonna say you can find Angel in the Organic Gardener Podcast Facebook group.

  • Instagram
  • private user
  • who look like they’re not bots!
  • argarbarino

Wouldn’t post some things about gardening but you have inspired me to start getting some video content! 


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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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