Every Thursday live on Instagram @homegrown_harvest answers questions from followers about gardening and sustainable living. If you have any questions you would like answered, we would love to help out. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Samantha in Maine asks: What’s the best way to incorporate my compost into my garden? Shouldn’t I “till” my soil with gas tiller or something?
Hand mixing is the best way to incorporate compost and any other amendments that you introduce into the soil. It doesn’t destroy the microorganisms that live in the soil web which is the first few layers of the soil. Healthy soil is biologically alive and balanced in minerals and carbon content. The inter-connected activities of soil organisms improve soil stability and underpin nutrient cycling on a global scale.
It’s a fact that healthy soils are responsible for the production of food borne antibiotics, vitamins, phyto-chemicals and amino acids – all of which are crucial the health of humans. The right soil will yield the most nutritious and flavorful food possible.
The second part asked about roto-tilling and hoeing on soil – old school of thought – This can be very disruptive to soil organisms. We always recommend raised beds which help avoids soil compaction which also effects soils organisms and the soil can be worked more easily without disrupting soil organisms too much. Repeat This is why we recommend hand mixing.
Melissa from Virginia asks: I want to grow fruit trees. Do they need to be planted in pairs to pollinate?
Without pollination there would be no fruit, so it’s important to know. Fruit tree pollination = sexual reproduction and fruit development. Fruit trees fall into 2 categories: self-pollinating and pollinator required.
Self-pollinators are trees that don’t need another to complete the pollination process. Most apricots, nectarines, peaches and sour cherries are self-pollinators.
Fruit trees that require pollinators are trees that need to be planted by another variety of tree. These include. apples, pears, plums and sweet cherries. So it all depends on what you want to grow.
Diane in Connecticut asks if you could have 1 vegetable plant which would give you the most beauty for viewing or the most value for eating?
Mark’s favorite thing to grow are tomatoes. He absolutely loves them, low fat, no cholesterol, versatile in the kitchen and delicious – beautiful to grow they come in a variety of colors from red, orange, yellow, even purple! For me, for its beauty while it’s growing – I’d have to say lettuce since it comes in so many beautiful varieties and colors, shapes and textures – you can make an entire mosaic out of it in the garden – not to mention it’s simple to grow, even indoors. Plus with all the recalls on lettuce – I prefer to grow our own. But if we were talking just value for eating – that I like – because stuff like kale would probably be no.1 as far nutritional value but I hate kale so I’ll say peas. They are high in fiber, protein, vitamins A, C and K, riboflavin and thiamin, niacin and foliate – also have some compound known as saponins known for their anti-cancer effects. Plus they are super easy to grow – are pretty and tasty, tasty. Homegrown peas are the best tasting peas you will ever taste. Everything homegrown tastes better.