This is not a gardening post or anything to do with growing. Just a fair bit of warning, this is a rant so I won’t go long.

The issue displayed in the linked article is one close to my family, thus my heart. We have a deaf family member in our home. We have many deaf friends. Sign Language is an integral and vital part of life for us. Having to use interpreters in our life is an accepted fact. Qualified Interpreters are a must. It is simply outrageous that anyone who is not qualified would let themselves be placed on such a stage, as this man has done. Furthermore it is appalling to think that he believes he is doing no harm since this is reportedly the second time this man has appeared on a public stage in this capacity.

Bloggers know, anyone who lives in society understands that communication is key; that clear and correct communication is vital. Arts and expression aside, there is a time and place for those. What this man has done is neither clear, expressive, correct, or artistic. IT IS A TRAVESTY to deny or embarrass an entire people group during such a world-wide time of honor and respect for human rights.

Rant over. You can read the link if you like.

Deaf News: ‘Fake’ sign language interpreter mars Nelson Mandela service for Deaf people worldwide | The Limping Chicken.


26. Season Extension and the NC Cooperative Extension Service

  • Learn More: North Carolina Community Garden Partners,

“Season Extension for Community Gardens”

My notes from the presentation by Nicole Sanchez, Commercial Horticulture Area Agent, NC Cooperative Extension; NCCGP Board Member at the 2nd annual Nurturing Sustainable Community Gardens workshop in Durham, NC.

The practice of season extension “enables gardeners to increase the length of time produce can be harvested from the garden, both at the beginning and end of the traditional growing season.” While many commercial growers can easily and often must apply any of a myriad of season extension practices, various simpler & still effective extension methods are available to the gardener and small scale grower. Some of these methods include: Plastic Mulch; Cloches, or “Water Walls”; High tunnels; Low Tunnels; Cold Frames; the use of location and proximity.

Raised vegetable beds covered in plastic mulch.

Raised vegetable beds covered in plastic mulch. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While season extension “enables” gardeners to increase the “length of time,” it can not transplant time. Essentially season extension moves the “book-ends” of the season, the start and end, lengthening the middle time, the productive time, but it cannot take what is grown in the summer and move it to the winter. That is a whole other practice altogether for another post and time. So, to reiterate, in the big picture for most NC gardeners, season extension can take the starting time of March and move it into February or take the October end of the season and move it into late November or mid December. Ms Sanchez calls it moving one growing zone south, at most two, but says you cannot use it to successfully grow productive tomatoes in February.

Season extension, according to Ms Sanchez is also useful for tempering the daily temperature extremes we experience here in North Carolina. During the summer months temperatures here are pretty steady throughout the day and night; warm nights and hot days. Shade cloth and mulches can help mitigate that. During the cooler winter months, however, we have a very different situation where it might be freezing or frosty in the night and early morning, but reach as high as 60 or 70 during the day. Get enough sunny 70 degree days and most lettuce and coles will begin to bolt. Get enough frosty nights or mornings and the tender greens will be ruined. Using simple techniques such as hoop houses and cloches can protect plants from these daily extremes and provide a milder microclimate more conducive to the plants health and productivity.

Perhaps the simplest and easiest season extension technique displayed is the proximity and location of plantings to structures or other larger plants. Planting shade loving lettuces and greens near a house, shed, or greenhouse can itself provide temperature control against mild or harder frost. Consider sun angles as well when planting and you have provided added shelter by really not adding or building anything.

Cold Frames are a small yet wonderful way to provide greenhouse-like conditions for starting crops without the huge expense and area needed for proper greenhouse control.

Hoop House

There are so many simpler and efficient ways to extend the growing season but none of it can replace or supplant basic plant knowledge; one cannot expect to successfully grow a hoard of cabbage and lettuce just because he/she places some hoops and material over these plants in the dissipating heat of September. Know your plants, Sanchez says. Improper application of these methods can result in devastating results to crop yield and plant health. However, armed with proper and basic plant knowledge, the gardener/small-scale grower can successfully apply the proper methods to the proper plants for desirable results.

a bit more about NC hardiness zones

In North Carolina the traditional growing season is roughly March to November regardless of the gardening zone determined by the USDA. According to the USDA, North Carolina is covered with 5 different hardiness, or growing, zones; 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, & 8a. These Hardiness Zones, Gardening Zones, Growing Zones and Plant Zones refer to defined geographic regions that can support specific plants, flowers and trees. The zones define a minimum range of temperatures that a plant or tree can survive safely in that zone. The most commonly used Hardiness Zones were defined by the USDA.

25: Pecha Kucha and North Carolina Community Garden Partners

Originally posted on Growing it Forward:

  • Learn more: Visit the North Carolina Community Garden Partners website:

On November 9, 2013 North Carolina Community Garden Partners convened their 2nd annual workshop titled “Nurturing Sustainable Community Gardens: How to Get Rooted in your Community.” Over 120 gardeners, organizers, and volunteers from all over the state gathered in Durham, NC during a seasonably grey day to learn, share, and discuss issues related to establishing and/or growing gardens in their respective communities.

Started in 2008, North Carolina Community Garden Partners (@NCCGP) is a non-profit organization based in Greensboro, NC with the vision to:

. . . increase the quantity, quality, and sustainability of community gardens in North Carolina.

NCCGP advocates community gardens on a statewide level by “increasing awareness of established community gardens; providing resources and best practices for establishing new gardens; organizing workshops, conferences, & tours on a statewide level; and promoting policies that encourage development, implementation…

View original 561 more words

24. Permaculture according to Maurice Smalley

The first 10-15 minutes or so reminded me of the lyric by the C&C Music Factory

… and I’m just a squirrel

trying to get nut to move your butt. . .

That and the fact that he had us hold our neighbor’s hand till the whole room became one continuous circle weaving its way up and down every row of seats in the room. Every one is a squirrel, trying to get nuts, dodging cars, holding hands, getting tired. Now you have some idea of what it is like to experience Maurice Small.

But more than just an impression, Maurice Small is an accomplished practitioner of practical permaculture, vermiculture, and an award-winning organic gardener. For more on the individual that is Maurice Small you can follow his twitter feed here. I will now give you my take on his presentation of Practical Permaculture given at the 2nd Annual Nurturing Sustainable Community Gardens event put on by the North Carolina Community Garden Partners in Durham, North Carolina.

Practical Permaculture, according to Small, is loosely more a discipline of observing and being mindful of one’s environment rather than a dogmatic set of rules and theories espoused by some book. To this point Small quips that we should “shovel the norm away,” because “nature is stronger than any book.” He illustrated his point using the antics of the squirrel in the beginning of class. The squirrel cares not for his garden or his harvest. He does what he does; collecting nuts, storing them, dodging cars, and planting trees. He fills in his place in nature by doing what he is supposed to do and has been doing it for generations upon generations. Much like the psalmist urges us to “remember the sparrow, which sows not or reaps not” but is provided for, Small urges fellow gardeners to remember their place in the natural cycles around them. “Nature gives us a balance,” says Small half-way through his presentation. That if we listen to and observe our respective environments, plan and plant for unavoidable losses (theft, drought, critters, etc), then nature will in the end yield to us the best and strongest that it can produce. To that end there are means and methods which the gardener can use to encourage stronger and healthier results but all of these methods, according to Small, begin and end with the soil; its health and nourishment.

“Living, healthy soil is the most important important foundation for communities.”

Maurice Small talks about Urban Farming with M...

Maurice Small talks about Urban Farming with Meet.The.Bloggers* (Photo credit: GeorgeNemeth)

A self-proclaimed “worm whisperer,” Small advocates the use of vermicomposting to enrich the soils and beds in which one grows produce. He and his family practice their vermicomposting in a very interesting and nuanced way; compost burritos. Compost Burritos are today’s average raw kitchen scraps wrapped in yesterday’s newspaper and placed in and around garden beds. Buried, slightly buried, or not, worms crawl up from underneath and begin to devour the microorganisms decomposing the scraps and paper. When asked if he buries his “burritos” Small replies that he placed them on top, effectively becoming a mulch layer and they soon enough become enriched soil which produces amazing plants.

Another aspect of practical permaculture, according to Small, is the use of the garden as a palette for the senses and therapy not just a tool to grow more food. Since permaculture in its many forms preaches design design design, consider the visual aspects of a garden and how they might be used for reflection or peace. Not to be confused with meditation gardens and such, still productive but also pleasing. Look at native species and cultures, textures and behaviors as cues for establishing a long lasting harmony with your particular surroundings.

Small also advocates the use of gardens as tools to strengthen communities and overcome blight and crime like his projects in Cleveland, Ohio where a 5 acre urban farm built on land reclaimed from in fallen and depressed neighborhoods is credited with a 25% reduction in violent crime.

Finally, in order to feed the soil the gardener must work to catch the water and eliminate run-off with the use of swales and rain gardens. Improve water retention thusly reducing and eliminating costly run-off. To this end Small challenged us all to a No-Water challenge.

This is the No-Water Challenge:

  • during the “off” season, work to establish and improve the health of the soil in your garden. Carefully select and source your inputs to protect the prolonged health of the soil environment. Cover it. Protect it.
  • During the “on” season, do not add water.

The theory is that if you have a healthy system of catchment and retention based on careful observation of your environment, then the plants will be sufficiently provided for. Of course this also involves the use of native varieties and species, as well as careful arrangement and planting (all permaculture techniques as well).

This has been my take on Practical Permaculture, by Maurice Small.