27: Nell Foster | from JoyUsGarden | Santa Barbara, California


Nell’s resume for the last 47 years says it all. She’s been a: John Deere operator, neighborhood lawn mower, groundskeeper, barley crosser, herb propagator, interior plantscaper, nursery salesperson, garden designer, professional gardener, commercial Christmas decorator, florist assistant, flower show designer, designer & manufacturer of gardening accessories, blogger, budding author, and emerging youtube personality.

Nell’s goal is to inspire and educate you about growing and creating wonderful things. She oversees the business, writes content for the blog, does videos and authors books.


Tell us a little about yourself.

Live in Santa Barbara CA lets you garden all year. Raised in New England. Started gardening at a young age.

Tell me about your first gardening experience?

Green house starting seeds with dad at 5 years old, rearranging seed packets.

What does organic gardening/earth friendly mean to you?

2 things – 1 using something that doesn’t have any chemicals and 2

building up the soil which is the foundation for the plants. Worm castings.

Who or what inspired you to start using organic techniques?

Dad did he used things that came from chickens and cows.

How did you learn how to garden organically?


Tell us about something that grew well this year.

Mainly succulents and bromeliads.


Always have citrus oranges and lemons and an herb garden. Avocado tree is suffering because it’s so dry. Farmer’s market is 6 days a week, so have good access to produce. Loquat tree and a giant bird of paradise because of warm winter and spring.

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


Lots of cuttings of succulents and propagating.

Examples of succulents – jade tree and aloe vera, agave. A succulent is a plant that stores water in its leaves and stems so it doesn’t need as much water.

To propagate – easiest way is to take a leaf of a succulent, and let it dry and it might grow a root and let it sit for about a month or two and then plant with worm castings.

Stem cutting cut at an angle, and then you can just stick directly in ground or soil just needs a loose draining soil, and doesn’t like to be wet.

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

Avocado tree

Something that you find is easy to grow and is generally successful every-time.

Herbs. Mint. Sweet marjoram, greek oregano, thyme. Basil and parsley.

Mint in green smoothie, lemon ginger in hot water with some mint. Good in thai cooking.



Something you would steer new gardeners away from that you find is typically challenging to grow in your climate.

Camellias and hydrangeas that people are forcing or that need a slightly more acidic soil.

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


What is your favorite activity to do in the garden.

Love pruning.

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.

Felco #2s. Strong, parts are replaceable, sturdy pruners.

Eating or harvesting vegetables or fruit on time? 

Oranges and lemons and avocado, you can pick hard and will ripen over time. Oranges store in fridge. New England had a root cellar – use basement.

Do you have any special techniques for cooking weird or unusual foods?

Eat a lot of raw food. Kiwi skin and all. Just wipe off fuzzy skin.


2 Oranges and 2 bananas, curly kale 5-6 leaves, small handful of clover sprouts (mungbean sprouts), spinach, ginger, mint, cinnamon, turmeric.

A favorite recipe you like to cook from the garden?

Quinoa – pesto. Brocolllini, and arugala or parsley and garlic and some veggie broth, and some oil, maybe some cheese. Sandwich spread, pasta, potatoes.

A favorite internet resource?

davesgarden.com has a nice forum

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

Sunset Western Garden book – has techniques, things about other zones.

Robert Perry’s Landscape Plants for California Gardeners

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?

Christmas decorating books – Mother Nature Inspired Christmas Ornaments and adorned with succulents and bromeliads (only $1.99 on kindle. I bought with one-click immediately)

Keep your Houseplants Alive 

Most houseplants are native to tropics and subtropics. Need to adjust and keep it in mind when you try to bring a tropical plant into your house. Need to choose the right plant for the right place. Make sure you research what plants do well in lower light, or a plant that can be ignored if you travel a lot. Most people kill their plants by watering too much.

Snake plant, aloe plant, pathos, spider plants, some palms – Kentia Palm, Dracaena Palms, Corn Palms.

Nell has a beautiful website where she blogs and has lots of videos, she writes books, and is part of garden community for ehow.com where she answer questions.

You can see lots of videos about propagating succulents.

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 earth either in your local area or on a national or global scale?

Eradicate GMOs and commercial fertilizers and pesticides.

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

“You don’t get anything done until you start”

Please visit Nell at http://www.joyusgarden.com

You can also find Nell hanging out here:








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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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