Category Archives: Garden Topic

Harvesting and Seed Saving

So you have been working hard in your garden weeding and fending off the pests and it’s now time to enjoy the fruits of your labour. Here are a few tips for harvesting your bounty and saving your seeds.


The biggest question here is: “How do I know when to harvest?” Bigger is not always better: many vegetables taste better and are more tender when they are smaller. If this is your first time gardening, you may have trouble with this concept. It can be tempting to watch your vegetables get as big as they possibly can. If you take this road, be prepared for not only tough produce but also to share your crop with insects and other garden pests. To help you make that decision of when to harvest, check out this harvesting guide put together by the University of Indiana Extension. Cornell University also has a handy downloadable guide. As you gain experience, you will be able to tell when to harvest by inspecting your crop and sampling the vegetables as they mature. Read more here



by Garden Group 4

Word origin: contraction of Permanent and culture or agriculture
The phrase “permanent agriculture” was first coined in a book in 1911 by Franklin Hiram King writing about agriculture that could be sustained indefinitely. It was scientifically developed by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the 1970’s after seeing how destructive industrial-agricultural methods were to the land (resulted in problems such as reducing biodiversity, depleting topsoil, and poisoning the land and water.)  In 1978 they explained their approach with the publication of Permaculture One. Mollison began teaching their ideas in over 80 countries and by the 1980’s the concept had spread and expanded from beyond just agricultural systems design towards the idea of complete, sustainable human habitats. Today there are several permaculture institutes and classes all over the U.S. and other countries such as this one is based in Santa Fe, or this one in San Francisco.

Read  more here –>

Organics, Biodynamics & Pest Control

By Garden Group 3

Organic Agriculture

It’s safe to say that organic agriculture has assumed the role of poster child for alternative food production. The USDA lists it under Alternative Farming Systems and defines it as “a system [of production] that integrates cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.” Organic food in the United States is associated with a national program of accreditation–The National Organic Program. The regulations that govern this process of accreditation are determined by the Organic Food Production Act (OFPA) of 1990.



Soil and Composting

By Garden Group 2

Soil ———————————

What is soil?

Soil from our Fenway Garden Plot

Soil is the natural material that makes up the surface of the earth.  It serves as a medium in which plants can grow. There are four major components, which make up soil: minerals, organic matter, water and air.  Soil is important because plants grow by absorbing the nutrients in soil.  We all learned in grade school that through Photosynthesis, plants use energy from the sun to change carbon dioxide and water into starches and sugars, ie. Plant food.  Plants also need nutrients found in soil to grow.  Primary nutrients needed by plants include nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.  These are usually the most depleted nutrients in soil because plants use large amounts to grow.  Secondary nutrients are calcium, magnesium and sulfur.  These aren’t used as much, and generally aren’t needed to be replaced with compost or fertilizer.

There are twelve different types of soils, yet mainly six describe the soils people plant in: Sandy, Silty, Clay, Loamy, Peaty and Chalky

Read more here –>

Seasonal vegetables & the challenges of gardening in New England

By Garden Group 1

Starting a garden in New England comes with many challenges and needs a considerate amount of research. The climate and geography affect everything from types of pests and diseases, to depth of topsoil, and even water supply. In fact, areas within New England can vary greatly with factors such as soil conditions, pollutants, and temperature ranges.

Read more here –>

Basic Garden Care: Urban Context

By Mayling Chung Basic garden care in an urban context takes additional topics into consideration, such as access to land and limited space; the presence of heavy metals or toxins in the soil and air; population density; and location within the built environment.

photo credit: Rachel Black
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Introduction: Garden Topics

We couldn’t have asked for more glorious weather here in Boston for the first day of the Urban Agriculture course, even if we aren’t gardening outside just yet! The students will be formally introduced to their garden plots next week.

Today is about getting started:

As an introduction to our Garden Topics page, please visit this link to the Basic Garden Care post that is intended to provide resources for basic garden care as it relates to urban agriculture. There is a category for the Garden Topics page on the home page. The student groups will take turns preparing garden topic posts with a list of annotated web links for more information.