Kristi Waterworth grew up on a farm in the Missouri Ozarks, where nothing could top sneaking samples from the rows of onions, marigolds, tomatoes, okra, peas, and beans in her mother’s garden. When her father gave her a copy of “The Square Foot Gardener” as a preteen, her interest in gardening exploded. Kristi’s dreams of vegetation soon bloomed into a small commercial greenhouse, where she sold heirloom vegetables and offered advice to a steady stream of gardeners from all walks of life. Sadly, she closed the greenhouse in 2011, but continues to write about gardening while studying seed catalogs and experimenting with gardening techniques.
I found Kristi when I was researching Harlequin Bugs and found this great article she’d written and so I asked her to come share with us today!
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a copywriter, I was trained as a journalist. the small town newspaper concept is not really a viable career path so I converted to copywriting about 7 years ago, which is how I got into writing for gardening channels.
I grew up in SW Missouri on a small beef operation. So it was really important that we had a vegetable garden because it helped feed us throughout the year. The small town, everyone had a garden, my grand mother had a bajillion little pots of Oxalis (flowering shamrocks) and african violets. It always kind of part of the culture I grew up in.
So when I was offered an opportunity to do gardening content for demand media that produces ehow I took it and then I went over to gardening know how…
Can I just ask are you a millennial?
I am 37 years old in betweenneers between the gen x’ers and little generation
I love millenials.
marketing purposes I consume content in similar ways. I only got my first smart phone a couple of years ago but I was like I’m addicted to this thing!
So I read like a millennial but there are other things I do like a gen xer.
I didn’t grow up with a computer. We had an apple2E when I was 15 first time I had seen a computer in my life. One of the most millennials big definining characteristics
grew up understanding that language, we got it as teenagers, so I’m semi-fluents.
I got my first iPod Touch, I was working at the Apple store and I was like how did I ever live without it?
I feel the same way with my smart phone, there are several aspects of my business I run off my phone….literally it has more computing power then the bank of computers what sent up Apollo 13.
How did you learn how to garden organically or earth friendly techniques?
That’s the thing. Organic wasn’t really a thing then, or it wasn’t a thing we knew about.
When you messaged me, we weren’t really 100% organic. We did what was necessary, anti-biotic free and pesticide is fine until you have a problem and then sometimes it’s where it gets to the point when it’s cruelty to deny that.
If you have a cow that has pink-eye don’t just force it to suffer, you give it anti-biotics.
We had a lot of manure laying around, we had cow waste. We used what we had. Compost and cow manure laying around, the hay that was rotting in the back of the barn. That’s what you have.
In south west Missouri, there’s lots of folk ways, not medicines.
We have folk traditions for how you deal with certain kinds of pests.
Natural Deer Repellant
There are so many deer there!
One of the ways they say is to put a fence up and hang onions on it. I think it works if you don’t actually have deer. But what does work is if you have old pie pans and you hang them off the fence, anything that will make a lot of noise and that will scare the deer because they’re skiddish pest animals.
It will work, only works to a point, rotate your scare traps.
kept in by a fence
rabbits and deer both is fencing
deer require an 8-10 foot fence
what you ought to do is dig a trench
wire 2 foot deep
45º angle with a bend
pests it’s a matter of control
don’t even have to get anything else involved, it’s al ot of labor.
This has been so timely, they have been big questions in our Facebook group. Dropping lots of golden seeds.
This is a lot of what I have done for the at least seven years. I somehow have managed to carve out a niche in Pest Management. I wrote over 1200 articles! I have done some research.
One of my listeners talked about burying wine bottles and the wind would whip through….
I haven’t heard of that in particular if it was really windy
a lot of people think moles are a big problem, it’s usually gophers.
Moles they live really low in the soil and they don’t really eat garden/plants. They usually eat worms and grubs so they can do damage if the water table gets too high. They don’t like to get up where plant roots would be. That’s just an aside that does not matter.
Gophers are really hard to deal with them.
We had a dog that would give them up! Get a dog and teach it to dig them up!
That’s kind of what keeps them out of our place. I think cause the dogs keep them at bay outside the fenced in area.
That’s what worked on our farm. My grandfather had a couple of big old beagles. We had a big ol farm dog, half collie and half german shepard. We always had a bunch of dogs running around.
Do you have a garden now?
Right now we are in a rental
don’t have a garden
a couple of plants
Blood Banana ~ Musa zebrina!
I never been able to grow a banana. I have a Musa zebrina it’s called a blood banana. It has big green leaves with red splotches I have that growing in a pot because as soon as I saw it the Home Depot, I sort of squealed and ran towards it in sort of slow motion!
My husband is like what are you doing? I was like a Musa zebrina!
He was like what the hell is that? We had a fight at the Home Depot.
I do a lot of looking and learning
drive through neighborhoods
don’t see a lot of trees
a lot of prairie
can’t think of the other thing that they call it when we pull it up on the map. There’s lots of prairie and decent farmland colliding here. The prairie is soil is really sandy and I think it’s gonna be trickier to grow things here.
In sw Missouri, you learn how to grow in really bad conditions because there is almost no top soil. Your garden is going to be more rock then dirt and what dirt you have is probably clay. When I was a kid my dad used to pay us to pick rocks out of the garden. Not a small garden, probably bigger then my yard here in fort worth.
I have chickens so you can guess how happy my neighbors are! We’re gonna buy a house here in a year.
what’s best here
The summers are really hot. There are like two separate growing season, have starts ready for February and then harvest for May or June and then it’s gonna get hotter then the sun! Then in Sept start dropping again. When I got here in February spring dresses because it was so hot and humid.
I think this will be a good place to two season cut gardens. I don’t have any friends that are local or that have any gardening experience so I don’t have a good feel for that.
I was gonna say, I have a lot of listeners in Texas, you should tell people how often you blog for Gardening Know How?
What I do is I work for the woman who owns the site. She sends me a packet of 5 questions that need to be answered I usually do about 10 a month.
she gives me 10
gardning know how experts
someboedy who knows stuff will get back to you. Whether it becomes and article depends on how frequently that question is asked. If someone asks something that’s way out there, Heather will just jump in there but if 40 people come in and ask how to get into palmetto, they are gross, super gross flying cockroaches! They are nasty.
People ask about a specific kind of bug, may not be immediate… may take a while
I only get so many a month, not the same fairly close to demand media
gardening doesn’t change a whole lot year to year. Many have decent content
designed those questions by aggregating questions out of google.
How much compost do I need to put into my garden?
If enough people ask that question it will filter back into their system which is automated and then people do manual checks on it and it will come down to the writers. By the way the answer to that question is
about 25% of the depth of the garden your gonna have
8” deep across
organic materials in the fall not in the spring that way they have time to break down. Then you do a soil test in the spring, to make sure everything is cool!
I have had this question asked so many times I thought I’d just answer it.
That’s interesting so if you have a bed that’s like 2 feet deep you’re gonna put 1/2 foot of compost?
Up to 25% depending on the compost you use, some of it has a high salt compost
if it’s from an animal source
llamas on my farm
they all need salt supplements and then they pass that in their poo and urine so you don’t want to over salinate your garden that will kill everything.
almost 7 years…
I think you should put a book together!
I have considered it, I have one that I am working on, I don’t want to quote it wrong.
REemember what JLD says, if you have a choice between clear and clever, be clear and if you can be clever too!
I thought I was
That’s the number one rule in journalism
first goal is to communicate
and then goal is to entertain
Liar Liar Plants on Fire 10 Common Gardening Myths
working on it
Out there in Canada they used to have the Red Green show… pro duct tape
would love the Red Green show. He was a Canadian who duct taped everything
find him on youtube
probably on netflix…
fake fix it like program made you just cry
his big stick was the duct tape
I was on pbs
my dad growing up on a farm
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Let’s Get to the Root of Things!
Which activity is your least favorite activity to do in the garden?
When you see articles that I’ve written, I always give this advice, this specific advice.
To keep disease down, at the end of the growing season you have this stubble and dead plants and stuff that you need to deal with it right away. As soon as they’re done, you need to get rid of them and don’t leave them there to attract mold.
I’m the world’s worst about not doing that.
In Missouri, you plant your tomatoes about May, and in August it’s hotter then the surface the sun, I don’t even go out and water.
I don’t care, I’m just done!
If you go back to where tomatoes
I’m doing air quotes, the original tomato plant, the genetic traits, go back to the tomatoes they’re like wild vines growing in South America. They’re a hearty stalk to begin with so they prefer to be neglected
grass is dead or not gonna water them
spread it out
water once a week
unless they’re in pots
anything in a pot, if it’s really hot out, don’t water it daily it’s gonna die!
I love how you’re sucking up to me, it’s not necessary!
7 years of research. I thought about going back to school and getting a degree in plant science! I realized I would just use it for blogging and what’s the point in that.
What I was specifically looking for was something focused on crop development. If you did that you would work with an extension office
- help farmers take better care of their crops
- introduce them of newer ways of doing things that were more efficient.
- use less chemical control
- introduce the idea of IPM (integrated pest management) – a system where you don’t start with the harshest chemicals. Whatever kind of mechanical management you can do. If you have a problem with wasps you use a trap.
Start with that and then move up the scale until you hit a solution
depends on the density
evil wicked things from beyond the grave you have to hit them hard because there’s no other option.
Or they work in research to develop better types that are more resilient towards things like corn. The reason we do so much research with corn because it is so fragile. It is really bad about certain kinds of pests. On an agricultural scale not in your backyard. There are certain kinds of caterpillars. You can’t go through every stalk, it would make your corn costs so much that you couldn’t afford it. You have to have other ways to go about that.
- develop sturdier stalk
- better method of controlling caterpillars
nothing to do with crops
mosquitos problem in Florida, so they bred a mosquito that his sterile and they sent it out to breed with the local population, so it cuts the mosquitos down so they can’t breed. There’s lots of tricks you can use with the science before you break out the 24d…. which is like nuking the world!
What is your favorite activity to do in the garden?
My favorite activity to do in the garden is to just stand there an eat things!
We grow some of those super sweet one hundred cherry tomatoes. IDK why there aren’t any there must be a problem with song birds!
My dog, my little jack russell terrier. My great uncle when he was a kid told me this story about a dog on a farm, he would get into the tomatoes and he’d eat them.
One year they took one and hollowed it out filled it with black pepper. He bit into that tomato and they watched him. He kind of stopped for am minute and he shook his head and all it did was teach him to like black pepper. Not an uncommon thing for dogs.
Yesterday we were out picking huckleberries, the dogs like them. I asked mike yesterday how come we don’t ever have strawberries and he said it was cause of the birds.
What is the best gardening advice you have ever received?
I’ve read a lot. My dad’s the big gardener in our family. I mean I think the biggest thing, This is a really cool invention
Waterworth thing to grow is tomatoes
okra and onions but nobody got as excited about those. Everyone’s really into the tomatoes. That’s kind of what got me going, I got into the heirlooms and all the different colors and flavors.
My dad he has this trick he uses every year. Instead of standing around watering his tomato plants or using automatic drip which can be tricky and expense if you’re not careful.
- uses about 1/2 inch or an inch
- sticks it around the depth of roots
- fills it up with water every few days
- keeps them watered without overwatering
I tried it a couple of times, but I couldn’t get the depth right. I couldn’t get the ratio or pipe length right. I know he experimented quite a bit cause that’s how he is.
I just throw out a soaker hose! I am the ultimate in lazy! I’m all about hands-off!
I know how you feel. I’m usually busy. There will be 3-4 days in a row where I won’t even make it to the garden. Keeping up with weeding and watering is difficult. We’ve always had a water shortage, up until a couple of years ago, being able to turn a sprinkler on now is different! I’m all about convenience. My thing to do in the garden is paint or read a book. Sitting in the shade and smell the flowers. I’m blessed with a husband who likes to grow vegetables.
I mostly grow vegetables when I have my druthers, but they are so messy, they can get kind of gross. I’ve done some articles on edible landscaping something that wasn’t viable where I was living. Maybe now that we’re in Fort Worth.
I can grow things here like guavas and bananas. Things that are showy and can produce food for somebody! So that maybe something we try just to see if we can do it!
A favorite tool that you like to use? If you had to move and could only take one tool with you what would it be.
I left quite a few tools behind, we had to make those hard calls.
What came with you?
the biggest thing
idk if you want to count as a garden tool
have one of those battery powered self-feeding. I use it for everything!
A lot of people don’t use them in the garden because you have to be really precise.
help keep the weeds and stuff down
with the garden plants
when it gets really hot in the summer time, sometimes it helps to have a little extra cover over the root system.
let a little bit of grass grow
don’t keep it
very tall, run it between the rows.
Mike does a lot of weed eating… it’s been a challenge to find a good one!
auto feeds don’t have to bump it
black and decker
love them in a way that’s unnatural. It’s the second one we have!
A favorite recipe you like to cook from the garden?
Normally in the summer time, we don’t really cook a lot. We do a lot of whatever’s laying around cold.
- tomatoes tossed with some salt
- chicken next to it
things I have cooked in the past when I had a really big garden. I’d always grow 75-80 tomatoes. It’s a weird relationship I have with them.
The thing is that you can freeze them solid whole in a bag! Since I was growing all these different varieties of heirlooms at the time. At least one of each color. I’d separate them in bags in this giant chest freezer so towards the end of the season I would take each individual bag and make certain colors of
- tomato sauce out of the garden
- if you grow corn
- throw it on the grill
- recipe as such
- cucumbers we just salt go to town
U can’t really grow potatoes anything like that there’s just too many rocks….
I think just telling people you can put a tomato in a freezer is a big tip!
Really sick that year, I could not peel them, I’m just gonna throw them in the freezer
boil to slit the skins off, because lazy, just put them in the food processor and they just zip away.
Do you put them on a cookie sheet?
Nope, just right in the bag!
A favorite internet resource?
Do you really want me to answer that question?
Gardening Know How obviously!
A favorite reading material-book, mag, blog/website etc you can recommend?
I actually do have a favorite book! The best book I have ever read for gardeners!
It’s in it’s 5th printing now
It is called
The reason I like this book is because it explains how plants work in a really simple way
- that anybody can understand
- lots of illustrations
- doesn’t necessarily talk about disease
- how all the structures work inside a plant
That way when you hear these folklore type of remedies you go that doesn’t make sense at all once you understand how plants work for so many people their kind of like an alien species. They’re like octopuses, we don’t really get how these things work becasue they are so much different!
helps it make a lot more sense
- best book I ever read on gardening
- had a big library of gardening books!
- It’s available as an ebook which is great because then you don’t have to carry around.
There’s another one too!
This one is actually the book that my husband and I when we were first dating we talked about because I was reading it at the time
by Amy Stewart
she’s written a few gardening books
- earth worms
- how they work
- different applications for earth worms
- change the way they
- environment can chance earth worm populations
- I had read some other Amy stewart
- picked it up
- what is this all about
this is amazing!
It really wasn’t a game changer. It was a book my husband and I had our 4th anniversary!
I read it about that time, five years ago, maybe still kind of stuck with me! I can’t shake it.
I just saw this challenge on Facebook this morning about burying your underwear on the clothesline. If you’re farm is healthy and full of earthworms all that should be left should be your waistband.
I mean microbes are really important to the health of your soil and garden. It’s a little harder to do that in the smaller scale that we’re talking about. There’s a lot of limitaitons on a practical limitations that a farmer has that a gardener has that a farmer doesn’t.
You’re neighbors aren’t gonna like it if you run your pigs over your garden! A lot of things you just can’t do.
lot of value to that
I bet you could do it with newspaper or all kinds of things.
this is important to keep in mind your’e garden is full of animals and bacteria that will break down waste, doesn’t mean you also have problematic microbes like nematodes. So the world in your soil is complicated and it’s good and bad together. If it’s just scorched earth that’s not great, even if there’s a lot of those decomposing type creatures, you’re still not necessarily in the clear.
You should still get a soil test?
A soil test has nothing to do with it. All a soil test will show you what kind of nutrients are in the soil.
What do nematodes do that is so bad?
Nematodes are hard to detect without a lot of money
- root knot
- expereience things look good
- everything looks nice
- plants are not thriving
some are and some are not
came form same stock, it’s really inconsistent and it gets worse and worse and no matter how much you water your plants don’t look like they’ve been watered
- round worms buried in plants
- make it hard for nutrient to take up water
not exactly fiberosis
making everything hard
starting to clog up pores
nutrients can’t come up if you have nematodes they’re not your friends
they’re may be some beneficial ones.
I come across them a lot join the literature and it’s never pleasant. You can avoid problems with nematodes if you’re using healthy crop rotation
growing coniferous plants over here rotate them with your grains over so many years depending on whatever nematodes you have.
4 years crop rotation with different plant families
big difference to how well they thrive
valid to an extent
the marigold thing. They use marigolds as a deterrent. The french marigolds have shown some efficacy at pushing back nematode colonies but they need to planted within like 12” IDK exactly but it’s really close. If you are going to plant basically marigolds with your tomatoes.
They have to be french marigolds
- need to be in a sort to cross hatch pattern
- groping of marigolds next to tomatoes
- surround them all
old timers would put them around the outside of the bed, but if there are no nematodes in the center. They’re so microscopic takes a long time for them to build up.
has some merit you have to plant them more frequently then previously believed. they didn’t put their scoops of soil under a microscope.
I’m gonna have to see what we plant. What a french marigold looks like.
Basic small ones.
if there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be? For example is there a charity or organization your passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment either in your local area or on a national or global scale?
Here’s the thing… some of your listeners may disagree with me
Climate change is real! In the next few years we’re experiencing this in a real way!
The most important thing to help the world is to get it’s act together!
Our country, our leadership is very anti-science!
It doesn’t want to give any merit to global warming!
Backing out of the Paris Accord, all of these things are going to lead tot he end of humanity! Not in a crazy apolitical sense, this world is getting so hot there’s not going to be anything left if we don’t make some major changes!
- manufacturing efficiencies
- cleaning up the air
- generally reducing the amount of carbon we put into the world would make such a big difference.
- All we have to do is we just have to say YES! We are committed to our impact on the environment
seeing changes in the natural world around them
That’s what’s happening is in the last 10 years we’ve had an increase in extreme events. Yes we always had them, but one like every 20 years not 5 in 10 years etc.
lot of tornadoes
never they changed
something that happened
the Maunder Minimum
in one of my history classes
1645-1715 when it was caused by sun spots
for some reason the sun wasn’t kicking out as many sun spots
caused the overall temp of the planet to drop by 2ºcelcius… when you read about it you’re like it doesn’t feel significant, but the problem is even just a few degrees can make globally can make such a difference this was a natural occurrence not caused by human intervention but when we’re talking about temps exceeding
people died because ag failed and Europe was such a wasteland. They had such a hard time keeping crops growing. They call it the little ice age
so cold they had a really hard time keeping crops growing. We are experiencing the opposite of that. We’re seeing temps that are globally a few degrees above what we expect to see. That’s globaly on an average!
It has such a big impact! IT’s not 2-3º in your neighborhood, that’s the planet.
It’s not like youre gonna have 70º instead of 68º days it doesn’t work like that.
it influences weather patterns
chain reactions like were seeing right now
glaciers breaking off in the arctic.
We live right next to Glacier National Park, and the visitors are increasing because they are melting like in 2030 they are supposed to be gone, they call it Glacier National Park/Waterton National Park the peace park on the border. I’ve been wanting to go to Iceberg Lake from when my parents and I went in 1988 and this teacher I know went this summer same month of July and the snow difference is amazing.
honestly keeps me up at night
for us to survive this
we should have made changes 10 years ago
change agriculture in significant ways
ways we can’t imagine yet
this is going to be one of those things
we sink or swim
We either reduce carbon emissions and clean up this mess we’re making even if we turn this around, we’re gonna be left with scars from it. We’re gonna need to change the way we have to do agriculture. We’re gonna be seeing a lot more climate controlled air conditioned greenhouse or indoor growing areas where plants don’t see the sun. These will become necessities
protect our plants
or we’re going to starve to death
keeps me up at night and it upsets me!
My favorite organization is 350.org named after 350 million parts per million in the atmostphere we broke 400ppm a few years ago.
You want your listeners to know that they still have a voice in our government, if they write to their congressman and call and make their stance known on our Paris Accord standing and our standing in the world as far as the climate.
I tell my listeners all the time even if they agree with you your congressmen can’t do anything without support. Our Congressman is a democrat and an organic farmer but he can’t do anything without people to having backup.
Do u have an inspiration tip or quote to help motivate our listeners to reach into that dirt and start their own garden?
I mean its one of those things
Life’s a garden! Dig it!
How do we connect with you?
they’re also on twitter
may have an instagram
youtube – which I did not know
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