‘Growing a Greener World’ Host Joe Lamp'l Shares Fall Gardening Tips

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In this special Today’s Homeowner Podcast, we’re talking gardening with Joe Lamp’l, AKA Joe Gardener. He’s the host of the Emmy Award-winning “Growing a Greener World” series on PBS and runs joegardener.com.

This podcast is sponsored by Exmark, which knows you want to worry less about lawn maintenance and focus on enjoying that lawn, so they’ve created the website Backyard Life. Check it out to learn how you can maximize your outdoor lifestyle.

Why You Should Teach Kids to Garden

Now, more than ever, is a great time for kids to be outside, as opposed to being glued to a TV screen or mobile device. Planting a seed and watching its transformation in just a couple of days is a wonderful learning experience.

When kids plant a seed and watch its progress, they quickly learn that a tomato doesn’t just come from the grocery store. It comes from a plant that they can help grow and, eventually, enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Those lessons carry through adulthood, when many people often decide to grow their own fruit and vegetables to live a more self-sufficient, sustainable and economical lifestyle.

What You Should Grow in the Fall

Fall is here, and if you’re looking to grow something, Joe says there are plenty of options.

The “Growing a Greener World” host recommends planting leafy crops. While fruits require full sun, and a lot of it, a fall garden is much more forgiving, and that means there are many more garden-to-table options.

Some of Joe’s favorite things to grow in the fall are lettuce, arugula, spinach, kale, peas, collards, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and garlic.

The Importance of Testing Soil and Composting

But before you head to the garden center to purchase seeds, first take a soil test. The results will tell you not just the nutrients you will need to improve the soil, but also what you don’t need to add.

For instance, people often think of fertilizer as a good thing, but Joe says there is such a thing as ‘too much of a good thing.’ A soil test’s results will take the guesswork out of gardening and provide the information you need for optimal growth.

Once you have that information, you can continue toward a greener lifestyle. Composting is one way to amend and improve soil with poor drainage, the “Growing a Greener World” host says.

To Mulch or Not to Mulch

Mulch adds a protective blanket over exposed soil; this keeps the good soil intact, so Joe is a huge fan of mulch, and he recommends keeping it year-round.

While it’s true that insects spend much of their time in mulch for the winter, just about 3 percent of those hiding insects are pests. So, the rest are beneficial or neutral, which means you don’t have to worry about providing shelter for harmful insects.

Joe clears up another gardening myth as well, which suggests fall is a good time to prune or trim trees. When you prune, you’re stimulating the tree and activating new growth, but that’s exactly what you don’t want to do coming into the cold season.

The “Growing a Greener World” host says it’s best to resist the urge to do this work in the fall, and wait for full dormancy, around mid-winter or early spring.

Listen to the podcast for more tips from Joe Lamp’l.

  • [1:23] Danny shares memories of his introduction to gardening as a child
  • [3:41] Danny tells Joe Lamp’l about the raised garden beds that he and his wife, Sharon, built at their new home
  • [6:53] Danny professes his love of spinach
  • [7:14] The guys discuss the importance of soil analysis
  • [12:28] Danny asks, “Should mulch be used in a vegetable garden?”
  • [15:06] Is fall the best time of year to prune shrubs and trees?

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