From Zero to Vegetable Garden in 6 Months – Tips So You Can Succeed

This is John Kohler with,
today I have another exciting episode for you, I’m yet on another field trip, we’re
here at Farm Girl Nursery here in Novato, California, and we’re here for one very
important reason – to let you guys know that you can go from zero to hero in no time
flat. That’s actually I think the song in a Disney movie called Hercules. But anyways
we’re not going to talk about the Hercules movie by Disney, but what we are going to
talk about is a gardener here that we’re going to meet today, who started the nursery
that literally went from, this was a horse track, or you know, nothing, and planted things
out and has a nice luscious garden in only six months! So I want you guys to know that
you guys can go from zero to be a full-fledged gardener in six months, and it doesn’t take
a lot. She has no prior training, no prior experience, and she has a wonderful garden
growing on now. But of course, she has a few tricks up her sleeve that I’m going to share
with you guys today. So in today’s episode, what we’re going to do is we’re going
to show you her garden and maybe a few of the other things going on here. She actually
has some animals, she actually has some animals, she actually does racehorse rescue, which
means racehorses that are past their prime for racing, they come here and they can lead
out a nice happy life after their usefulness as a racehorse is over. In addition she has
pigs and chickens and goats, and this would be a wonderful place to take kids on literally
a field trip to see and get back to nature. So they are only open at present time Wednesdays
and Saturdays like 10 to 4, and at the end of the video we’ll mention their contact
details so you could learn more about the farm. In any case let’s go into the farm
and show you guys what’s growing on. So next what we’re going to do is we’re
going to go into the garden here and once again this was a flat area with nothing here
just six months ago. And if she could go from zero to hero, or zero to a garden in six months,
so can you. So what I’m going to do next is we’re going to go inside, I’ll tour
you around some of the things that are growing on inside, and then maybe even at the end
we’ll get to interview her and ask her some of her tips and secrets so that you can grow
some food and grow a lush, beautiful garden like this as well.
Now we’re here in the garden, and you could see here there’s just many pathways. The
pathways are all made with woodchips that were dumped here for free. So you really don’t
have to spend a lot of money to make your garden look nice, just get some free wood
chips that many landscapers or tree trimmers would probably just like to get rid of and
dump on your property at no cost to you. In addition some of the areas she has defined
out so her little beds that aren’t necessarily raised although some are, are using primarily
horse manure here from her farm and also some topsoil that she did bring in. So next what
we’re going to do is we’re going to look around at some of the different areas and
just show some of the plants that she has growing on today.
Now we’re in her garden you can see here she has some little raised beds made out of
two by fours. She said she actually recycled or reused wood pallets and took them apart
to build some of these guys right here. And they’re just raised up just a few inches
off the ground. She has it filled up, and she has lots of tomatoes planted out, about
three plants, she has some small cages, and so a lot of things are in little beds like
this and some things are just in big beds that aren’t actually defined, but that’s
not a problem if you don’t have the edges, you don’t need the edges, just bound up
some soil, and you can start growing. In addition, maybe she’s a viewer of my show and she
actually growing her mint instead of the raised bed or in one of the beds she has it in a
container, and this is the best way to grow mint so that it doesn’t take over and spread.
And this is some beautiful and delicious chocolate mint that actually tastes really good too.
Here’s just yet another bed, and as you can see she has a pathway and then just right
on the other side of the pathway she basically has a line, and then the bed starts. And in
this bed she has things like onions and lettuce and tomatoes and some squash. And one of the
cool things she’s using is she’s growing vertically so that things don’t sprawl,
she’s growing it vertically, and what she’s using is some bamboo off her property, she
has some bamboo plants that she harvests the timber from, and then she’s using some accordion
bamboo trellising that she actually purchased locally. I like those a lot I actually use
those, I think they’re a great way for a trellis and they’re adjustable, so you could
fold them out as wide as you need then make it kind of shorter, or you could fold them
up so that they’re not as long, and then they’re taller. So that’s a really cool
item to use if you can find it in your local area.
One of the things that I really like in this garden is that she has inter-planted flowers
like almost on the outside of every raised bed, whether they’re edible or just ornamental
ones. She has marigolds in several places and right here she has some beautiful nasturtiums
actually on both sides of me. And she has several different varieties and colors of
nasturtiums, and I want to remind you guys that on the nasturtiums, definitely the flowers
are totally edible, they contain a little bit of pollen, pollen’s actually really
rich in protein, and the flowers have some nice pigments in there. Mmmm, they have a
nice peppery flavor as well. In addition, the nasturtium leaves are what I would call
lily pads, these guys are also edible although if you eat them, you could just ramp up that
heat level by a factor of ten over the flowers, it’s really hot and spicy, so if you don’t
have hot peppers, tear off some nasturtium leaves put in your salad or in the food your
preparing, and be prepared for a nice kick. Another thing she’s doing here that I like
a lot is that she’s making use of things that would normally be discarded to grow more
food. And here’s just one example, in a 55 gallon plastic drum, she’s cut it down
and she’s growing potatoes in here. And I think that’s really a good use for a plastic
drum, you could actually leave the bottom on or more intelligently for something like
potatoes I would actually just make a cylinder and use the center of the barrel. So actually
out of the barrel you could probably get like three containers – the bottom half with
the bottom on it of course, pop some holes in here, the top half you could flip upside
down, pop some holes in there, and then the middle section would just be a tube. Now for
growing potatoes I’d actually just put the tube on the ground and fill it up with the
soil and the seed potatoes and grow and when you’re ready to harvest, you’re just going
to lift the tube up, and all the potatoes are going to fall out. So that’s definitely
a really good use for these old 55 gallon plastic drums, even metal drums you could
use to grow some food in, actually let’s take a look at some of those next.
Here’s yet another 55 gallon drum that was actually cut in half and then made into a
feeder for horses. And now maybe that’s not being used for that anymore, but you can
literally just fill that up and plant some things in there. She got some herbs in one
side, and it looks like she’s pulling up some potatoes in the other and here’s some
of those potatoes right there. And so I want to encourage you guys to always look for items
that you can reuse in your garden. Basically anything that will hold some soil you could
pop some holes in you can grow in. Every time I visit a new farm or a new place I always
learn something new, and the thing that I learned this time that made the trip entirely
worth it is this right here. You’re saying “Hey John, that just looks like a pot with
a burlap sack around it.” Well yeah, absolutely, that’s what it is. So instead of having
just a standard nursery pot that doesn’t look so decorative, by taking a standard burlap
sack normally that coffee gets shipped in, that many coffee houses and places that roast
coffee, end up with all these burlap sacks that they need to do something with that they
may sell you for cheap or even give to you for free, you could take that and make a planter
that looks nice for your place. And this one looks like she just stuck some bamboo, she
tied it together and she’s growing some pole beans up it, and next let me go ahead
and show you guys how to do that real simple real easy, you’re just going to go ahead
and get a burlap sack, and I like all the ones that have different sayings on them and
whatnot, it makes them look authentic. And then basically you just take the pot, we got
a 15 gallon nursery pot here, and going to just tuck this in just like that, and tuck
that right down in there, fill it up with dirt and you’re ready to plant and check
it out, that looks a lot nicer than just the standard black pot now, doesn’t it?
Another thing she’s doing that’s really smart is she is maximizing the use of her
growing space. As you can see here this is basically the fencing around her little gardening
area. And this is just a standard welded wire fence and up this, she’s growing one of
my favorites, snow peas. Mmm, they definitely taste good too. Snow peas will climb up the
welded wire fence no problem, and as you can see in the background there’s tons of peas
on there that are ripe for the picking. I always encourage you guys to actually use
all the available space you have including the fences that surround your garden to grow
things up vertically because if you’re not, you’re just wasting space. To even maximize
the space further, down at the bottom she has some flowers planted too that are going
to soon be sprouting and look really nice too. So this is almost like stacking functions.
Here in the garden even an old fertilizer spreader has its purpose, and the purpose
it’s now be repurposed to grow some plants in. Looks like she has some edible flowers
and some other edibles in here along with some decorative flowers. So I’ve really
enjoyed checking out her garden, but now we’re in for the special treat, we’re going to
speak with Lisa who brought all this together, who is truly the hero in my eyes, I mean if
she can go from zero to hero or zero to a garden in six months flat, so can you. So
let’s talk with her next to learn some of her secrets.
Now we’re with Lisa from Farm Girl Nursery, and Lisa, the question I want to ask is what
are your secrets to grow a garden literally in six months?
You know, there are no secrets, and that’s really the honest to god truth, just plant
it. And that’s what I did was, let’s just experiment. I call it my experiment, let’s
just put stuff in the ground and see what happens. I started everything from seed, and
some things took off, actually most everything took off. It is, it’s just one big experiment,
so don’t be afraid of anything just dig in and do it.
Wow, that’s great. So what’s your analogy for growing a garden?
Well—okay here it is guys. My son when he gets a haircut he never wants a haircut, and
I say “Don’t worry about it, it will grow back.” It’s the same thing with plants.
Maybe one plant’s not going to make it or you cut it and it grows back to too much,
it’s okay, because it’s going to grow back and if it dies, plant another. So it’s
really pretty simple, don’t take it too seriously.
And if you’re an old guy don’t have any hair anymore, just go for the Bosley treatment.
Then it will grow back! [laughter]. Alright Lisa so what was your inspiration or motivation
to grow a garden I mean six months ago that was just a lot with nothing there right? A
horse track or whatever and now it’s full and yeah, it takes an incredible amount of
work. Why did you do it all? You know I see the obesity problem in kids
today, and children I love farmer’s markets, I think farmer’s markets are the coolest
thing, kids can go and pick up their fresh food, but the thing that was lacking in that
is they don’t know where it comes from. They see the strawberries and they see the
carrots, but they have a vested interest when they come here and they pull a carrot out
of the ground, or they pick a pea, they open the pea pod, they want to eat it and they
have a vested interested in that plant, in that product, in that food. And so I want
to inspire one person at a time to go out there and start their own garden you don’t
need a lot. You don’t need a lot of space, you don’t need a lot of knowledge and again
it’s all an experiment. Wow, that’s great I definitely agree and
besides just inspiring kids you know, when you grow it yourself you also have a vested
interest too, so hopefully you guys will be growing your food and also eating it for dinner,
I’m proud to say last night my dinner, except for the macadamia nuts which are from a farm
in Hawaii, everything I ate for dinner last night came out of my garden including my strawberries
and tomatoes and my greens. Love it.
Awesome. That’s what I try to do too. Breakfast was
strawberries, peas and some eggs. So when you can you say home, you don’t even need
to go anywhere. You don’t even need to go anywhere for food,
and isn’t that a novel idea, didn’t they do that 200 years ago?
Yeah. There weren’t stores. [laughter]
There’s an idea, why don’t we get back to that?
Another question I have for you Lisa is that I was just up in your garden showing my viewers
your garden, and you re-used a lot of things that are in your garden. So why are you so
big into reusing and recycling and things like that?
I think—John that’ s a good question, I think so many people throw so much away
these days, more and more and more, and I look at something before I would ever think
to throw it out, and how can I use it, what can I turn it into, can it be a planter, can
it be something to store things in, and it’s kind of exciting when you can take something
that someone else has discarded, or you’re about to discard and turn it into a useful
thing, and it’s especially fun in the garden. So what’s an example in your garden that
you turned extra branches and things into something useful?
Oh my god you want one? Uh, how about three? A couple?
You know, I think you showed up there I use horse troughs, I use the plastic containers,
the 15 gallon containers, I use all my horse manure, that’s the staple for all the soil,
I try to implement the pallets I cut those up and reuse them, we use on the inside of
the shop we have burlap walls, I mean stuff that most people I think would think it’s
useless and I try to find uses for it and I get a kick out of that, it’s really fun.
I think that’s another thing that really makes Lisa here successful is that she has
a child-like mind, kind of like I do. You always want to try to experiment and see what
you could do, and just see if it’s going to work or not. Because if it doesn’t work,
no big deal, you’re not really out much, then just start over and try again, but the
big problem I see with gardeners “Oh I have brown thumbs I can’t do it,” and guess
what, you foiled yourself before you started with that kind of attitude. So you want to
have a positive attitude, the “I can” attitude, and remember there’s always Bosley
to regrow your hair. [laughter] Lisa, so I have had a great time here so if somebody
wants to get a hold of you and find out your services and what you guys do here, how would
they get a hold of you and what do you guys do here?
We do a little of everything. Farm Girl Nursery on Facebook, you can also get a hold of me
by calling me 415-730-6917, and we’re located in Navato, I think you probably said that
but we do a little of everything here, we’ve got the—it’ll eventually be a you pick
garden but right now it’s a Lisa pick, but we try to have the fruits and vegetables I’d
like to have it all season long, and I’d love for families to come in maybe grab a
basket, go pick some tomatoes, some lettuce, some beans, some zucchini, whatever we’ve
got in season. We’ve also got a kids camp that I’m putting together for the summer
of just a one-day camp to educate kids about the garden. We sell seeds, we sell seedlings,
we sell garden art, we’ve got some knicknacky art stuff up there in the barn, but it’s
really like, I take it all the way back to it’s an experiment and we’re just going
to go along and see how it goes, but people right now are really loving it, loving the
animals. Awesome yeah, so I didn’t even get to cover
the horses and some of the pigs and the chickens and some of the goats and all kinds of animals
here. I’ve had an amazingly fun visit and would encourage you guys to come out just
to see her garden, hang out with her she’s definitely a cool person and she has a lot
of cool things happening. And especially if you’ve got kids you want to bring them out
to give them that farm experience in the city. So hopefully you guys enjoyed this episode,
once again this is John Kohler with, we’ll see you next time and keep on growing.

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