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Man in Overalls - You Don't Need a Farm to Garden

I've been rolling my #GrowCart through Jacksonville's streets to highlight the fact you don't need a lot of space to grow your groceries. In other words, you don't need a farm to have a garden - which is worth celebrating!
If you're like me, you'd love be able to pick something from your garden, more or less, everyday - something to base dinner on or something to give it that extra touch of flavor and the health that only fresh can provide. Growing your groceries gives you the freshest food money can't buy as I like saying. Unfortunately there's a deep seated myth in the American psyche about having a food garden.

I can't count the number of folks I've met at workshops, calls and emails I've received, and Facebook comments I've gotten over the years from folks saying something akin to: "I'd love to have you out to help us start a garden once... we've got a bigger place" - or - "we move to the country." The as…
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Man in Overalls - Thanks to my Grocery Growing Gurus

I'm grateful because...
Well, it started with my mother: when I was 8, she taught me how to turn over the soil with a shovel, how to sow seeds, how to break a little branch off a shrub and stake it over newly transplanted starts to lessen the brunt of the sun, how to thin carrots, stake tomatoes, dig potatoes, and crop collard greens. By and large, the basics, I learned from her. Without the fertile soil of those fundamentals nurturing my journey as a gardener and these days as an itinerant urban farmer I wouldn't have had those early seasons of (relative) success. I wouldn't have hung up my sign as they say, and I surely wouldn't have made these how-to videos with the FL Department of Agriculture in order to freely share those basic gardening skills with the state's children.

I am Man in Overalls in no small part due to the many agricultural teachers I've had through the years. I am able to support folks like yourself in growing food for self and neighbor onl…

Man in Overalls - An Ode to Collards (Now with my recipes)

I love growing my groceries in the fall - watching the miracle of growth, having ready-access to the freshest produce money-can't buy, the many flavors, getting to try new varieties - all while the temperature drops to more and more pleasant levels. I enjoy growing most anything in the fall, but, if I had to choose just one thing to grow every fall for the rest of my life, it would be collard greens, hands down. 
It's a health thing and an effort-to-yield calculation, but in the beginning, the roots of my collard green passion were seeded by family.
When I was a kid about 9 or 10, just a couple years into gardening in the front yard, my aunt, the family documentarian showed me a clipping of my late grandfather from the Graceville New (or was it the Jackson County Times?) beneath his 9ft collard greens that he had kept alive multiple years, growing them into small trees. Seizing the moment, my mother suggested that I grow some collard greens too. "But I don't like col…

Man in Overalls - Summer Garden Blues & What To Do

Welcome to mid summer in the Deep South! If you're anything like me, you're actively looking for excuses to avoid going outside this time of year. The heat doesn't so much radiate down from the sun as it seems to rise from the side walk. Rain helps- for about ten minutes- and then simply adds to the humidity as it vaporizes on the payment, so that it feels like you need a snorkel to make it from the house to the car, but of course, it only gets worse when you turn on the AC, and that first puff of hot air feels as though someone just wrapped your face in a plastic bag - not to mention that if you cut your grass yesterday, you're going to have to do it again... tomorrow. And, lets not even talk about how fast the weeds grow this time of year! Or the insects seem to multiply! Oh, home... :)

Here's the good news: If your garden looks a little worse for wear, it's okay. Really. Mine does too. As much as I aim for- and largely achieve- a productive & beautifull…

Man in Overalls - It's Like Washing Your Dishes

I often hear folks joke, "Yeah, I had a garden once. I put in all this money & effort, and I only got a handful of tomatoes. Each one of them cost $27!" And they usually end by saying something about not having a green thumb.

I smile and think about a mental model I've been working on: Growing your groceries is like washing your dishes.

While they're raving about how many plants they've killed, I'm thinking, "It's not your thumbs. I bet you don't have a sink. And if you do, are you using decent soap or that garbage from the dollar store? And did you mention you've never washed dishes before in your life? And you're surprised you broke a couple wine glasses with no more experience than a four-year-old?" My eyebrows furrow involuntarily belying my thoughts, "Really? That doesn't seem all that surprising to me." But, of course, not only would saying all that confuse people, it'd kill the moment, so I just smile som…

Man in Overalls - When to Plant Your Tomatoes

"Plant 'em in the spring. Eat 'em the summer. All winter without 'em's a culinary bummer," as John Denver sings in "Home Grown Tomatoes." 
So, just when should you plant* your homegrown tomatoes? Or, more generally, when should you plant your spring food garden?
Since tomatoes along with other spring favorites like squash, corn, green beans, cucumbers, peppers, and the like are "frost sensitive" (in other words, they'll die if it freezes), it's all about the "last frost date" for your area. Unless you're a weather savant and remember the last freeze for the past twenty years, you'll have to do some investigating.
You could look up your Plant Hardiness Zone on this cool "interactive" map from the USDA, and you'd learn that Jacksonville is in zone 9a, Tallahassee is in 8b, and Atlanta is just barely in zone 8a, near the edge of 7b. Okay, sounds interesting... maybe important? But what does all that me…

Man in Overalls - Growing Great Soil

Good soil will basically grow your groceries for you, but how do you build great soil? 
The answer is that there are two options: a quick & easy way and a DIY, hard(er) way. 

So we're on the same page, I'm continuing my #GrowYourGroceries The Easy Way series by digging into the how-tos of growing great soil. These stories and techniques will likely make the most sense after reading Geeking on Good Soil, my last update. (I outlined where I was headed in The Big Picture.)


As I was saying, the easy way to build a great soil is to fill raised beds with a terrific compost-based soil mix like my Magic Mix to jump start your food garden productivity from year one. From there, seasonally, you simply top-dress each season before planting with another few inches of compost-based soil mix. This is how I manage my own food garden and those of my customers. Why? Because at the root of things, I'm a lazy food gardener, and long ago I decided to embrace it. 😎

But if you're not in th…