2016 $45 “Get Started” Special

Gardens shouldn’t be a big WORK effort, and they also shouldn’t be a big expense!
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Our “Get Started” special this year includes:

  • Site visit/survey within Billings/Lockwood city limits. During that visit I will help you determine the best place, size, style etc. for your garden. (I am available within the surrounding area as well, contact me for details!)Garden Girl
  • We’ll talk fences, compost, soil, sunlight, water, and your availability to maintain your garden (which helps us determine the size and focus of your garden).
  • We will discuss what types of vegetables, flowers and herbs grow well in our climate as well as what your family would eat.
  • I will give you area-specific information on seed starting and garden planting dates, varieties that do well in part-shade, deer-resistant plants, companion planting, and information about the benefits of organic gardening.
  • We will determine the best approach for your garden bed building itself, with detailed instructions given on how you/your family can implement this approach.
  • I will draw out a map with plant spacing and locations, so when it is time to plant, you know exactly what to put where (including seeds and seedlings).
  • My big focus is on helping you put in an EASY garden – easy to put together, easy to plant, to maintain, and to harvest! I NEVER USE TILLERS!! I’ll teach you how to let nature work its course and do the hard stuff for you.
  • I also prefer to NOT weed, I mean let’s just be honest! And frankly, who has time to constantly water a garden, especially for those who don’t have city water, but rely on a well or cistern? So I have methods to show you that can dramatically reduce your water needs!
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    Let’s talk Gardening!

Upcoming Gardens 101 Classes!

We have several classes for Basic & Fun Kitchen Garden building, upcoming this spring in Billings!

Building a no-till, low-water, low-weeding kitchen garden! How to grow tons of veggies in your own backyard without breaking the bank or your back in the process. Interactive presentation (lots of Q&A) followed by “hands-on” portion, putting together an actual working garden bed for the host location. Bring a pair of gloves but leave the Tylenol at home.

Benjamin Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” You’ll leave with a handful of information, a head full of knowledge, a bit of dirt on your gloves, and the ability to put in or improve your own gardens!

$10/person or $15/family.

4/4/15 (Sat) 10:30AM downtown Billings

4/10/15 (Fri) 10AM Alkali Creek/Heights

4/11/15 (Sat) 12:30PM Heights

4/17/15 (Fri) 5PM Heights

4/18/15 (Sat) 10AM Heights

5/2/15 (Sat) NW Billings

5/9/15 (Sat) Laurel

Check out our facebook page at My Gardener Friend, or RSVP by replying to this post or emailing MyGardenerFriend@hotmail.com.

Greenhouse Plant ALERT

healthy but very tender blueberries

healthy but very tender blueberries

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Have you heard of the gardening term “hardening off”? This refers to the process of taking a brand-new nursery-raised plant from greenhouse conditions (ie diffused light rather than direct sunlight, no wind) to real-world garden life.

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Your new plants will look GREAT when you buy them… big tender leaves, lots of new growth, good root system (check that before you buy, by the way!). But if you are buying them in a greenhouse or from a big box store, you really want to make sure to go through the hardening off process before subjecting them to the full force of a Spring in Montana (or anywhere else, for that matter). This is a normal procedure and nothing that the nurseries or greenhouses are doing wrong!

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Find a place in your yard that has solid partial shade. By that, I mean that you never get more than 6 hours of direct sun at one time, and really, 4 is better. Under a tree? Northeast exposure? Failing those, some sort of sunblock fabric will work. Just remember that you wouldn’t put a newborn baby in direct sun, and your seedlings, young shrubs, or fruit-bearing plants will all need that same protection at first.

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You also need to protect them from full-on wind. Typical Spring wind gusts can really do a number on a young plant! Winds are dessicating, or drying. They damage the cellular walls, can break weak stems or branches, twist leaves until the plant health is all but destroyed. Let your babies become accustomed to wind with some protection first so they can develop some strength in resistance and sturdy-up.

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Make sure that you check your young plants at least once a day, watering as needed. The small containers plants are grown in do dry out quicky, especially outside. Watering them with a weak “starter solution” (available at plant nurseries, inexpensive, goes a long way), or weak compost or earthworm casting “tea”, will help plants prepare for and recover quickly from transplant shock.

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After a week with wind protection and part shade, you can move the plants to conditions approximate to where they will live. Full sun? Partial shade? Give them a few days with those conditions with regular waterings and attention before planting them.

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What happens if you do NOT harden off your baby plants? You may likely find sun scorched leaves that can no longer photosynthesize (or are limited) to provide health to the plant… in many cases, every leaf on the plant will drop. If you manage to save the plant after that, it’s rare, and recovery will take far longer than the 1-2 week hardening-off process would have.

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Do note: this is not just about shrubs and fruit-bearing plants, your young vegetable plants need hardening off as well! A little bit of early protection and preparation, some solid time spent teaching young plants to handle the conditions of the real world, and you have the recipe for a healthy garden. And healthy kids, come to think of it…

Gardening for Life

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0989286304/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_myi?m=A33WI9GBMMOTJV

Want to grow more, healthier, tastier produce in your garden, without breaking the bank? Invest $20 in the new book “Gardening for Life” by Wayne Burleson, and start applying their ingenious methods! Wayne and his wonderful wife Connie garden in a USDA Ag Zone 4 garden in the foothills of the Absaroka-Beartooth mountain range in Montana. They also travel to 3rd world countries teaching native people groups how to grow healthy food using found resources and creative methods.
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Wayne teaches that the health of any plant is in the soil, and that sometimes the old and mostly forgotten ways are best, feeding the soil and earthworms in order to gain a powerful health base for vegetables to really produce. To make these ideas work in modern America as well as poverty-stricken areas on other continents, he applies his natural problem-solving perspective to new ways of thinking.
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It is a wonderful book, one I had the extreme pleasure and honor of pre-reading, and I recommend it highly!

Companion Planting – Herbs & Marigolds

Ever heard of Companion Planting? It’s not gardening with a buddy… it’s the “backyard science” of growing certain plants together that provide benefits to both. Companion plants do all sorts of things for each other, from fixing nitrogen to repelling pests, improving flavor and growth to loosening soil and bringing up nutrients from the deep sub-soil.
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Here are some herbs that grow well all throughout the garden, helping discourage pests, bringing in beneficial insects, adding beauty and color: garlic and garlic chives, caraway, yarrow, viola/violets/Johnny Jump-ups, calendula, green onions, parsley, valerian, thyme, tansy, marjoram, lovage and lemon balm.
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But the workhorse of companion planting – the crowned hero of Pest Deterrents? MARIGOLDS. French, African or “pot” marigolds all have super-powers when it comes to gardens. They are also cheerful, colorful and hardy. Ranging in colors from pale yellow to orange, almost-red and variegated, the flower sizes also include small to massive blooms.

Building a No-Till, Low-weed, Low-water, Highly Productive Garden Bed!

Saturday, May 11, 2013
1PM – 4PM
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We will meet at a home on the west end to discuss, then hands-on put together the easiest and most productive garden bed style you have ever seen! If you’ve been thinking about putting in a new kitchen garden but have hesitated because of thoughts of tillers, underground sprinkler lines, summer weeding and endless watering… you are in luck! This gardening method will make Garden Work a thing of the past. Best yet? It’s an organic method! The class will run 2-3 hours and is only $10/person. Please RSVP to confirm your place – limiting to 10 gardeners!
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RSVP or ask questions by emailing MyGardenerFriend@hotmail.com. Or, click on this link to see the event on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/events/149261635250866/permalink/154513364725693/#!/events/380163642098556/

Green Monster Hummus

Kids and adults alike will love this fresh-tasting, healthy hummus!
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GREEN MONSTER HUMMUS
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2 cups cooked chickpeas (or one can, drained)
1/4 cup tahini paste
1 teaspoon garlic powder or minced garlic
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon Braggs or soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon dry basil (or add fresh leaves)
2 cups spinach, kale, swiss chard, or whatever dark greens you have available!

1 – Combine all in a food processor and pulse until well-combined, scraping the sides as necessary
2 – Serve with veggies, pita bread, crackers, or your favorite dipping foods.