Back to Basics
By Doug Hall
Photography by Christa Neu
In 2011, to prepare for the 70th year of Organic Gardening, we brought back some of our favorite vegetable varieties from the past. At the same time, we quizzed the horticulturists at some trusted seed companies to tell us what varieties in their catalogs had undiscovered virtues—outstanding vegetables that we should be growing, but weren’t. We then dedicated our trial beds at the Rodale Institute, near Kutztown, Pennsylvania, to these tried-and-true standards, familiar open-pollinated varieties, and lesser-known heirlooms. Our team of 13 test gardeners scattered around the country grew the same varieties. We review the best of our 2011 harvest.
Goat Cheese Guru
How one very enterprising cheese maker is working to get her handcrafted products into every fridge in America.
By Chip Brantley
Photography by Peter Frank Edwards
Inside a former cotton warehouse in rural north-central Alabama, Tasia Malakasis is dreaming again. The space might hold a café in one corner, she says, or a demo kitchen for cooking classes or a small specialty foods market—maybe even all three. Outside, the torn-up parking lot could become a crushed-stone courtyard with outdoor seating and a regular open-air market, all of it ringed with orchards. And right in the middle of the warehouse, she says, tracing a square into the air of the 16,000-square-foot space, “I want to put a giant glass box. That way, everyone can walk around it and see how the goat cheese is made.”
Harvest of Hope
The garden at Chicago’s Cook County Sheriff’s Boot Camp gives incarcerated men the skills to grow vegetables—and potentially new lives.
By Beth Botts
Photography by Bob Stefko
Except for the curls of razor wire, it’s a place of straight lines: the twelve -foot fences, the ranks and posture of young men marching in platoons along heat-baked concrete walks, the eaves of low-roofed barracks, the edges of raised beds.
But in those beds, zucchini vines sprawl with their usual disrespect for boundaries. New lettuce sprouts in a cheeky green. And the young men here, digging carrots, pulling weeds, harvesting bright leaves of chard, move easily and freely at their tasks.
Simply Fresh: Ramps
These pungent cousins of leeks are a delicacy to be enjoyed sparingly in spring.
By Victoria von Biel
I first tasted ramps a couple of years ago when a friend presented me with a bunch she had bought at the Union Square Greenmarket in New York City.
“You’ll love these,” she said as she handed me a strong-smelling cluster of leafy green stalks, wrapped in paper like a precious bouquet. “Think of them as garlicky spring onions.”
She was right. I did love them. I added finely chopped ramps to risotto, folded them into scrambled eggs, and made pesto. I even went to a dinner at a local restaurant in which every course featured the pungent green. I was hooked.
Times are tough for organic peanut farmers in the United States.
By Felder Rushing
Maybe it’s just a southern thang, but I can’t pass up a roadside vendor of boiled peanuts. And all my life I have enjoyed putting a healthy handful of unsalted peanuts in my colas. Call it a country boy’s cocktail: a perfect pick-me-up combo of flavored fizzy sugar water and protein-packed peanuts.
Celebrate 70 Years
Early in our history, Organic Gardening offered lifetime subscriptions to our readers. In celebration of our 70th anniversary, Maria Rodale wrote to the group, which today numbers 26 original subscribers and their descendents. Many of them replied and you can read their shared memories of their years with Organic Gardening.
In search of nature’s oldest living things
By Emily Main
Photographs by Rachel Sussman
The camellia-dotted grounds at Middleton Place, the historic Charleston, South Carolina, estate built by politician Henry Middleton, are the oldest landscaped gardens in the United States. But the azaleas and magnolias planted there in 1741 are mere toddlers compared with the plants photographer Rachel Sussman has spent the past 7 years documenting.
Two-hundred-seventy-year-old trees? Too young. This artist has made it her mission to find and photograph the world’s oldest living species, be they exotic bushes or microscopic bacteria.
Good friends make fine company, and this new book describes how the plant world’s blooming buddies can turn a garden into paradise.
By Ken Druse
Botanical scans by Ellen Hoverkamp
Garden art takes many forms and in his latest book, Natural Companions, Ken Druse shows us the creativity behind composing a garden picture in the physical garden, but also in capturing a pictorial representation of plants. Produced in partnership with photographer Ellen Hoverkamp, the text is vintage Druse: an engaging blend of humor (the punning titles are rib-ticklers), garden history, botanical knowledge, and practical advice based on the experience of creating his garden in northwest New Jersey as well as what he’s gleaned from gardens around the world.
Skills & Abilities: Building a Raised Bed
When it came time to build new raised beds for the Organic Gardening Test Garden last spring, the executive director of the Rodale Institute, where our test garden is located, recommended a simple design. Mark Smallwood—“Coach,” as he’s known around the Institute—showed us how to build a raised bed using four pieces of untreated framing lumber, with not a scrap of waste.
Plant TNT: Heritage Irises
For the ancient Greeks, Iris was the goddess of the rainbow, who carried messages between earth and sky. It seemed obvious to identify her with the three-petaled flowers whose colors brightened European streambeds and meadows. The iris often is acclaimed as the stylized flower depicted in the fleur-de-lis, the symbol of French royalty since the 12th century. With its tall, slender leaves and elegantly formed flowers, it was a common motif in Art Nouveau.
And Much More:
Design Like a Pro
On Ireland’s windswept coast, planting a veg garden creatively served a practical purpose.
Ground-covering thymes are easy on the eye.
Plants to grow specifically to enrich compost.
Ask Organic Gardening
Ready to sow? Poisoning compost? How to bust bindweed?
Good Bug, Bad Bug
Of all the beetles in all the gardens...
Slippery characters threaten havoc in Southern gardens; the new zone map arrives.
We Like This!
Wheel me in! Barrows for every purpose.
Texas’s bluebonnet country lassos antique roses, great music, and wide-open spaces.