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My father was in the Occupied Forces of Japan during WW2 and that experience influenced his life profoundly… he had a lot of wartime expressions peppering his conversations (and a few fun songs too, like this). Over the last four years as I’ve worked with the Peterson Garden Project to teach a new generation of food gardeners in our Pop-up Victory gardens, the KISS Principal has been very beneficial. During my research on the Victory Garden era I’ve been obsessed with one question: how did cities teach large chunks of their population to grow food so quickly?
As I mentioned, the volunteer educators of PGP have been teaching a lot of people over the last four years how to grow food.
But one thing that is the same as WW2 – there is great interest in this type of education. So, with history as our inspiration, we’ve written our own WW2-esque gardening guide – Fearless Food Gardening in Chicagoland!
If you want to grow your own food, know someone who does or want to support Peterson Garden Project you can order your own copy HERE.
One of the biggest challenges we will all face during the hot summer periods, is keeping our gardens healthy, happy and adequately watered. If your soil is sandy or silty in texture with minimal organic matter then it probably needs your help. The Soil is the foundation and engine room from which plants grow and if you ignore it in your garden maintenance routine, your garden will always struggle. How do we take advantage of the hot summer period ahead and achieve maximum plant health and growth results from our garden maintenance routine?
Ideally we want every drop of irrigation or rainwater to stay around the root zone of our plants for an extended period.
This encourages roots into the deeper layers of the soil where it is cooler and plant roots have more room to spread out. Your garden maintenance routine should monitor regularly where and how high the mulch is piled up around plant stems, if mulch is sitting up against the stem push it back and create a bowl.
When your garden and lawn happily absorbs and uses water your plants will want to grow and so it’s essential to feed them with a quality slow release organic fertilizer. A good fertilizer will provide all the nutrients your plants need to develop strong, healthy roots, foliage and flowers and also helps them to resist pest and disease attacks. Water is such a precious commodity that we need to make sure every drop of water gets to the plant roots, and then stays around in the soil for a while. This entry was posted in Garden Maintenance, Rejuvenate your Garden and tagged garden maintenance, organic gardening, rejuvenate your garden by Sue Bampton. Many factors will determine just how serious a case of powdery mildew is: variety of the host plant, age and condition of the plant and weather conditions during the growing season. Making yourself familiar with powdery mildew and how it affects your plants is the first step in getting rid of it or just completely avoiding it in the first place.
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Teachers and Parents: Enter to win an entire set of Dawn’s nature books of one title for your home or classroom.
Clue 2:  I live throughout North America in deserts, prairies, forests, and even in towns and cities.
If you guessed correctly, you’re automatically entered into the monthly drawing for a set of nature books from Dawn Publications.
Throughout the school year, clues for a new Who Am I are posted no later than Sunday night, so you can use them with your class on Monday morning.Good luck!
Although Inside Outside Nature blog is changing it's focus, this weekly "Who Am I?" will remain the same!
Michelle Obama’s book American Grown: The Story of the White House Garden started a conversation among parents and teachers about childhood obesity, healthy eating, and exercise. Studies show that kids are more than twice as likely to eat fruits and vegetables if they grow them. This past month I’ve featured three of Dawn Publications’ picture books that support gardening with children. The underlying message in each book is, “It’s fun to grow your own food—and it’s delicious.” Did you know that Dawn’s website has downloadable lesson plans on their website for these and other books? Introduce your students to the six parts of a plant (roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruit, and seeds) and make a yummy salad together using one of these lessons from Molly’s Organic Farm or What’s in the Garden?
Michelle Obama’s suggestions for raising healthy children include not only eating healthy food, but also doing getting more exercise.
Smart Moves—Another way to support healthy eating and physical activity comes from NASA’s Train Like an Astronaut program. Most people know Jane Goodall as the “chimp lady.” Her ground-breaking research with chimpanzees at the Gombe Preserve in Africa in 1960 revolutionized the way scientists view animals.
This year I joined her, along with a dozen other people, as part of the Jane Goodall Institute’s Crane Viewing Tour. Although Jane Goodall’s work began with chimpanzees, she sees similarities between cranes and chimps. Have your students find the similarities between two different species of animals, including their behaviors and habitats. Jane Goodall travels over 300 days a year, speaking to large groups and sharing her message of hope, peace, and conservation.
According to Japanese legend, anyone who folds 1,000 origami cranes will be granted one wish. On a cool spring day in 2005, a little orange cat showed up at a small organic farm in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas in northern California.
I stopped by Mountain Bounty Farm—one of our local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms—every week during the growing season to pick up a box of organic vegetables, and with each visit I got a special greeting from Molly.
My husband and I lived in a small cabin right next to the farm, and we were asked if Molly could spend the winter with us. So it was for four seasons—Molly socializing at the farm in spring and summer, then spending a quiet fall and winter with us.

Prior to planting and seeding, the first step is to make sure you get rid of any existing grass, weed, and roots in the garden bed.
This method should be used with caution as the application of salt or vinegar will change the salinity of the soil.
Vegetable Garden Images » Heirloom Tomatoes Ripening On The Vine Heirloom Tomatoes Ripening On The Vine Heirloom tomatoes are sometimes saved within families for generations.
Most Popular Rabbits and Deer Won’t Eat These Flowers, Shrubs, Herbs, and Trees Rabbits and deer are notorious for grazing your garden.
He particularly liked mentioning the KISS Principal (keep it simple stupid) when I tended to complicate things. We set up our gardens so they’re uniform (bed sizes are all the same), we teach a unified gardening method (a variation of Square Foot Gardening) and we teach organic practices. They followed the KISS Principal, of course, by providing regionally specific basic gardening instruction. In the case of WW2 the motivation was food shortages, of course, and this and other patriotic messages are woven into all the materials.
Our scope with the Pop-up Victory gardens is limited to the four or five rotating community gardens we manage, the Edible Treasures garden at the Field Museum and our demo garden at our Learning Center (we have about 3,000 people gardening and volunteering with us).
It is written in a month-by-month format specifically for brand new (potentially scared) gardeners and provides lots of helpful tips and charts. Excited for new gardens but mostly excited for new gardeners growing for the first time this spring. Not all the WW2 era books kept it simple, FYI… Here’s an image from a very elaborate hydroponic gardening guide I found at the New York Public Library! Its a season where carefull consideration should be given to your garden maintenance routine to ensure your plants will survive and thrive through the hottest and driest months . These kinds of soils leach and repel water away from the soil particles quickly, this means your plants will suffer the most. So this article is for anyone who wants to get their garden maintenance on track and change that. If you water the garden for short periods frequently, you will notice when you scrape under the mulch that your soil is probably still very dry or only slightly moist. Many mulches and soils become hydrophobic (water repellent) once they have dried out and can be quiite difficult to get back into a condition where they absorb and hold water effectively. Water granules and fertilizer are the absolute must do’s for every garden and lawn but the overall improvement of the soil foundation is essential if you want to create a lush, healthy, sustainable environment you can be proud of and enjoy.
Water is critical for the health of a plant and like us, if they can’t get access to it, they will surely die.
It’s at its worst when the weather is warm and dry, and affects just about any plant: cereals and grasses, vegetables, flowers, weeds, shrubs, fruit trees, and broad-leaved shade and forest trees.
Powdery mildews are the most severe in warm, dry weather because, unlike most fungi, it needs a wet leaf surface for the infection to begin. By using Pure 3-Way or Kapow on your indoor plants, you are able to tackle the powdery mildew and take it down without harming your plant. He was just starting to get a good rhythm going when a bug flew into the barn and started circling his head. In this book the First Lady invites you inside the White House Kitchen Garden and shares its inspiring story. Read more about kids and exercise, and get your kids (and yourself) moving with these suggestions from the President’s Challenge. These science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) activities are correlated to the National Education Standards.
Jane’s mission has expanded beyond Africa, and since 1986 she has worked tirelessly to support worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats. Every year she goes to Nebraska to watch the cranes gather along the Platte River during their annual spring migration. It was truly awe-inspiring to watch hundreds of thousands of cranes fill the sky at dawn and dusk. They’re both highly social animals, form tight family units, have suffered habitat loss, and rely on human intervention for protection. Her yearly trip to Nebraska to watch the crane migration is a time for her to “recharge her batteries.” She told me that her spirit is renewed as she listens to the sounds of the cranes returning to the river each evening. She was an unusually small cat, most probably because she didn’t get proper nourishment when she was a kitten. This book is written in loving memory of Molly, a homeless cat that found not one but two homes.
This activity (downloadable pdf) from Molly’s Organic Farm, by Carol Malnor and Trina Hunner, reinforces concepts about the seasons by having students make watercolor sketches of seasonal vegetables. For several years she lived adjacent to an organic community farm near Nevada City, California. Fortunately, there are some methods out there that allow you to eradicate them without having to resort to harmful chemicals.
You can get a good workout from doing it but if you are working with a medium to large-sized garden bed or lawn then we would highly recommend you use an electric cultivator or aerator to ease the physical workload.
For those who are new to gardening, mulch is basically decaying material like dead leaves and compost that is spread over the surface of the soil to insulate or enrich the soil. Gardeners find this method particularly effective when killing grass or weed that grows on sidewalk cracks or driveways.
You may want to try products like AVENGER organic weed killer, which is environmentally-friendly and smells great too! When I took this pic, we had just experienced a heat wave, which made the blemishes much more pronounced. And, since our gardeners are often brand new, we keep our educational materials it very, very simple.

But, basically, each city is a variation on these few ideas –  keep it local, keep it simple and keep it positive. It is applicable to anyone, in a home or community garden, who wants to learn to grow their own food. The most important lesson to learn about gardening is, if you want a healthy garden, focus on improving your soil as part of a regular garden maintenance routine. This shallow surface moisture not only teases plants but attracts thirsty roots to the soil surface where they compete with each other and where they are most vulnerable to hot soil temperatures. To assist you in this quest it is absolutely essential to purchase quality water granules (not crystals) at least twice a year, Spread them around the base and dripline of plants and over the mulch surface.
Quality water granules relax the soil and mulch particles allowing water to filter to roots deeply and evenly.
The additon of composts, manures, seaweed and fish extracts are all effective and should be considered a regular part of your garden maintenance routine. Consider this an important part of your regular garden maintenance routine and check the soil after irrigation or rain to ensure plants are getting enough of this valuable resource. There are many plants that have become resistant to powdery mildew, but for those that aren’t, it can really be a pain.
Tiny spherical fruiting structures (first white, then yellow-brown and finally black) can show up alone or in a group.
The natural ingredients in these fungicides protect your plants and the rest of the environment as well – so you don’t have to worry about your children or pets being harmed! With over half a million congregating at one time in mid-March, this is the largest gathering of Sandhill Cranes in the world (80% of the world population).
As their rattling trumpet-like calls echoed over snow-covered fields, it was easy to imagine that this prehistoric bird species has been taking this migration route for 2.5 million years. As teachers and parents, we need to find ways to renew and recharge ourselves, too, so we have the energy to share our inspiration with children.
But despite her wild start, she loved to be around people and instantly bonded with the owners of Mountain Bounty Farm.
Molly spent her days frolicking in the chard, zooming through the broccoli, and chasing after all the many farm creatures.
Children use observation and several scientific tools to examine garden soil in this activity (download pdf) from Jo MacDonald Had a Garden by Mary Quattlebaum. These methods aren’t as instant or as effective but will go a long way in making sure your garden is safe and free of harmful chemicals in the long-run.
Not every gardener believes in tilling the soil but if you are one of those that does then this is a great time to take out anything that could potentially sprout into new grass shoots.
Once you have cleared as much weed and grass as possible from the garden bed, spread the area with thick newspaper. Keep in mind, however, that these products don’t work on every grass and weed so check on that first before purchasing the product. White vinegar typically already comes in a distilled solution (around five percent) so won’t need the addition of water.
I love experiments, so I started growing this tomato a few years ago and haven’t stopped. I spend my time talking about food gardening as a way toward empowerment, self-sufficiency and community because it makes me happy. This means that the disease is pretty common in crowded plantings where the air circulation isn’t too great and it’s damp, and shady. Pure 3-Way and Kapow incorporate lemon grass oil, which is an excellent natural anti-fungal.
And learn from the White House Garden team about how you can help plant your own backyard, school or community garden.
She and her husband Nikos began to “mark our lives around the cycles and rituals of the farm.” She even spent a few spring days planting with the farmers and developed an immense respect for them and the hard work farming takes. Here are five steps you can take on your own to stop weed and grass from growing in the garden bed. Once the solution is ready, put it into a spray bottle and apply it directly onto the unwanted weed or grass. It’s a wonderful producer and very well adapted now to growing in my area of Pennsylvania. The disease is most commonly observed on the upper side of the leaves, but it also infects the undersides of leaves, young stems, buds, flowers and young fruit.
The risk of infection escalates as relative humidity rises to 90 percent, but it won’t happen when leaf surfaces are wet, such as when it rains.
It’s difficult to get rid of powdery mildew, but these products will help you prevent it in the first place. Explore the difference with these two lesson plans from Molly’s Organic Farm and What’s in the Garden? The quality of the food itself convinced her that healthy, fresh food has transformative powers and made her passionate about eating and promoting local, organic foods. Infected leaves will most likely become distorted, turn yellow with small patches of green, and fall prematurely. She can often be found riding her bike to the elementary school where she teaches, skiing in the mountains near her home, or cuddling her cat Charlotte. For years I had no idea what this tomato was, a good lesson in why you should always mark the name of the plant on the envelope or jar you save your seeds in. Powdery mildew can seriously harm flowering crops such as squash, pumpkins, cyclamen and reiger begonia, but it isn’t as harmful to other plants such as lilac and oak.

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