It is that time of the week to learn about the unique gardening techniques that we use here at Rock ‘n Renew. This week we will explore No Till Gardening.
Earth Easy tells us how No Till Gardening works, and the many benefits of this type of gardening.
“Gardeners traditionally dig, or turn over the top layer of soil before planting to get rid of weeds, and make it easier to use fertilizers and to plant crops. This also speeds up the decomposition of crop residue, weeds and other organic matter. Tilling the soil is often the most strenuous of a gardener’s tasks.
- promotes natural aeration and drainage
- saves water
- reduces or eliminates the need to weed
- saves time and energy
- helps soil retain carbon
- builds earthworm populations
- helps reduce soil erosion
Here is a short video on the perks of No Till Gardening with Mulch!
Here at Rock ‘n Renew we teach students how to grow their own food, while exploring the differences between various agricultural practices such as, Permaculture, Biodynamics , Biointensive, Natural Farming, No Till Farming, and many others. Through scientific analysis, students make their own evaluations as to which systems work best. We will be making a post every week about each of these agricultural practices. This week we will learn about Permaculture and how it works.
What Gardening Know How says about permaculture:
“Permaculture gardens serve many functions. Rather than limit the garden to only one use, permaculture gardens employ a variety of uses. A permaculture garden provides food and medicinal crops, wildlife habitats, crafting materials, an attractive appearance, and a private, relaxing atmosphere throughout every season. Permaculture gardens are self-sustaining.
Nothing within the permaculture garden should ever be wasted. Garden waste is used for composting, which in turn, is used for soil amendment and fertilizer.
Water is also an important element with permaculture gardens. Not only does water keep the soil and plants hydrated, but it is also used to attract wildlife to the permaculture garden. Many permaculture gardens even implement recycling practices for watering. For instance, rain barrels are often used to catch rainwater coming from the gutter downspout. This not only saves on water but is especially
good for the garden as rainwater is loaded with nutrients.
There is no need for pesticides in a permaculture garden. Water features often encourage beneficial insects, birds, frogs, and other small wildlife creatures, and many of these will feed on pests in the permaculture garden. Companion plantings also help keep insect and other pest problems to a minimum.
Permaculture gardens require less maintenance. Once a permaculture garden has
Permaculture aims to combine the best of natural landscaping and edible landscaping that sustain itself and the gardener. It also emphasizes using native plants that are adapted to your local area. Every plant in the garden must serve a purpose. Go ahead and try to incorporate permaculture practices next time you are planning out your garden.
It is spring, which means it is asparagus season! All you is cut the young shoots, and they keep growing for about 8 weeks.
Organic Gardening tells us what we need to know about growing asparagus.
“Asparagus is a perennial vegetable grown for its delicious young shoots. Rich in B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, and iron, asparagus is one of the first crops of spring harvest. Fresh-picked spears are far more tender and tasty than store-bought ones.
Asparagus thrives in any area having winter ground freezes or dry seasons. The mild, wet regions of Florida and the Gulf Coast are about the only places where it’s difficult to grow.
Select and prepare your asparagus bed with care; this crop will occupy the same spot for 20 years or more. It can tolerate some shade, but full sun produces more vigorous plants and helps minimize disease. Asparagus does best in lighter soils that warm up quickly in spring and drain well; standing water will quickly rot the roots.”
We are still patiently waiting for our asparagus to shoot up out of the ground. We can’t wait to start cutting our shoots and having 8 delicious weeks of asparagus!
Check out these delicious asparagus recipes…http://allrecipes.com/Recipes/Everyday-Cooking/Seasonal/Spring/Asparagus/Top.aspx
New York City is famous for its public art projects and unique street art. One New Yorker is taking street art to the next level. She wants art to be infused with social meaning. The artist uses moss as her paint, and New York buildings as her canvas.
This is what the artist had to say on Good.is
“By utilizing conceptual eco-relevant materials, these artwork installations become infused with social meaning. Green guerrilla tactics bring a sense of earth, art, environment, and the unexpected to the city viewer.
It is with this “urban greenery” that I intend to reflect on the cycle of life, advocating sustainable living and artful participation in the metamorphosis of an urban visual culture.
I’m also exploring the diversity and intricate connections between nature and the inorganic world created by man. Often sheathed in steel, glass, pavement and stone, the installations provide an unavoidable contrast to their surroundings. My installations, animated and playful, call to mind a more familiar, environmentally-friendly state breaking down cold urban norms.
My actions contain the critical view of our attitude towards living in and with nature as well as my passion for it.”
Rock ‘n Renew will soon be announcing its own public art project! It will combine beautiful sculptures with restoring our precious watersheds. Be on the lookout for our big reveal…
Our Bayonne Ecology Center will also be getting, with the help of a high school senior class, its very own beautiful mural!
Happy Earth Day!
Why do we celebrate Earth Day?
Mother Nature Network tells us why.
“Earth Day first began on April 22, 1970, when 20 million people across the United States participated in rallies celebrating nature and decrying activities that put it at risk.
Sen. Gaylord Nelson, a Democrat from Wisconsin, came up with the idea for Earth Day in 1969. Inspired by the anti-Vietnam War “teach-ins” that took place at college campuses all over the nation, Nelson envisioned a large-scale environmental demonstration that would catch the attention of the federal government. Earth Day had an immediate impact. By the end of the year, the United States saw some of its first major political efforts to protect the environment, including the founding of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
By 1990, Earth Day was celebrated across the globe by 10 times as many people — 200 million.
Many cities have turned Earth Day into a week-long celebration with events that educate children about the environment and encourage greater participation by the community in local green causes.”
The earth is a beautiful place full of wonders. It is our job to take care of it as best we can! Earth Day is a small reminder to remember to treat our planet well. We should all strive to celebrate Earth Day every day.
“There is a great need for the introduction of new values in our society, where bigger is not necessarily better, where slower can be faster, and where less can be more.” –Gaylord Nelson
“The wealth of the nation is its air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats and biodiversity… that’s all there is. That’s the whole economy. That’s where all the economic activity and jobs come from. These biological systems are the sustaining wealth of the world.” –Gaylord Nelson
Kale is a leafy green vegetable packed with flavor and nutrients. It has lots of iron, calcium, vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Kale even has more calcium than milk! It is similar to cabbage and other greens like collards, cabbage, and swiss chard. We have it growing in abundance in the Bayonne Ecology Center garden.
There are several varieties of kale. Some have long flat leaves, while others have wide curled leaves. Some kale is even purple! Kale tastes a bit bitter, but makes a great salad and is even tasty on its own straight from the garden.
The great thing about growing kale in your garden is that you plant it once and it grows all year round, and year after year. You just pluck the mature leaves and new ones will grow! Some types of kale grow to be very tall almost like a little tree. Dinosaur kale can grow to be 3ft tall.
“All true kale enthusiasts wrinkle their noses at kale that has been harvested prior to the first winter frost. Its true flavor develops only after exposure to the first freezing weather. That temperature develops the characteristic flavor and loosens the plant’s cell structure, thus making it easier to digest. But the chief reason for delaying the harvest until after the first frost is the change of some of the plant’s starch into sugar.” -The Epoch Times
Seattle is taking on an exciting venture to build a food forest in the heart of the city! It is called Beacon Food Forest, and it will serve as the largest food forest in the country.
Beacon Food Forest tells us what a food forest is and why they are building it:
“A Food Forest is a gardening technique or land management system that mimics a woodland ecosystem but substitutes in edible trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals. Fruit and nut trees are the upper level, while below are berry shrubs, edible perennials and annuals. Companions or beneficial plants are included to attract insects for natural pest management while some plants are soil amenders providing nitrogen and mulch. Together they create relationships to form a forest garden ecosystem able to produce high yields of food with less maintenance.”
Beacon Food Forest’s mission is to to design, plant and grow an edible urban forest garden that inspires our community to gather together, grow our own food and rehabilitate our local ecosystem. Their goals are to improve public health, reduce climate impact, and improve the security of our food supply.
Sounds very similar to Rock ‘n Renew’s mission. Can you imagine our El Jardin NYC Garden taking up a whole 7 acres of Manhattan?
The food forest will be open to the public. Anyone can take a stroll through the forest and pick berries from a bush or apples from a tree. What an inspiring idea Seattle! We hope to see these popping up all over the country.
When walking around outside and enjoying the beautiful spring weather, you may notice a strong smell overwhelming your nostrils coming from the newly blooming tree and flower beds. The culprit is MULCH.
Mulch…what is it, and why is it important for our gardens?
Our friends over at organicgardening.com give us the 411 on mulch.“The best time-saving measure a gardener can take is applying mulch. This goes for every garden site, from vegetable garden to flower bed. Mulched gardens are healthier, more weed free, and more drought-resistant than un-mulched gardens, so you’ll spend less time watering, weeding, and fighting pest problems. There are two basic kinds of mulch: organic and inorganic. Organic mulches include formerly living material such as chopped leaves, straw, grass clippings, compost, wood chips, shredded bark, sawdust, pine needles, and even paper. Inorganic mulches include gravel, stones, black plastic, and geotextiles (landscape fabrics). Both types discourage weeds, but organic mulches also improve the soil as they decompose. Inorganic mulches don’t break down and enrich the soil, but under certain circumstances they’re the mulch of choice.”
Here at Rock ‘n Renew, organic mulch is our mulch of choice. We have a truckload coming this week to help us with our garden at the Bayonne Ecology Center.
If you don’t want to buy mulch, it is easy to find around the yard. Grass clippings and dead leaves make great mulch! Instead of throwing them out use them to make a mulchtastic garden!
We just planted our first seeds of the spring, and they were peas!
Did you know that peas are one of the oldest cultivated vegetables in the world?
Burpee has some great tips on how to grow peas:
“Growing peas is pretty easy, as they need little attention other than watering and harvesting. Pests and diseases are rarely a problem, particularly if disease-resistant varieties are planted. Just keep an eye out for aphids on the pea plants and get rid of them with a sharp spray of water from the garden hose.
Peas thrive in cool weather and young plants will tolerate light frosts. Once germinated, peas adapt well to the cold, damp climate of early spring. Peas must be planted as early as possible in the spring to get a full harvest before hot summer temperatures arrive and put an end to production.”
We told you about guerrilla gardening earlier this week, but have you ever head of seed bombing? Seed bombs are seeds wrapped in soil and formed into a ball. People “bomb” an area, which may be neglected or abandoned, with seed bombs in order to grow plants there.
Good wrote a brief history of the seed bomb: