357. Grow Your Own Mini Fruit Garden Book| Gardenerd Podcast | Christy Wilhelmi | Los Angelos, CA

Grow Your Own Mini Fruit Garden: Planting and Tending Small Fruit Trees and Berries in Gardens and Containers
Christy’s Recommended book

Welcome to the Green Organic Garden Podcast. It is Friday, December 4th, 2020. Although it’s probably 2021 when you’re hearing this. Cause we are in season three. I have an amazing guest on the line. I’ve been trying to book her on the show since I very first started. She’s the gardenerd from California. Here’s Christy Wilhelmi. So welcome to the show, Christy.

8m 45s

Christy Wilhelmi

Thank you. I’m happy to be here.

8m 47s

JackieMarie Beyer

Well, go ahead and tell us a little bit about yourself.

8m 51s

Christy Wilhelmi

Well, I am a Southern California native and I, I garden here year round in my backyard in Los Angeles. And I have a community garden plot as well. That’s a small space. So naturally that’s where I started. And I, I, I have this small space that made me learn how to grow biointensive intensively. So that’s what I specialize in small space. Bio-intensive organic vegetable gardening and I have three books. Well, I have four, but one’s not coming out for another year, but I’ll tell you about the three that I have.

So gardening for geeks is my primary gardening book. It’s the, you know, soup to nuts, learn how to garden from scratch in a test way.

9m 38s

Christy Wilhelmi

And then I have a ebook that is a compilation of the first 10 years of my garden nerd tip of the week podcast. And now the newest book I have that’s coming out in March, which you can pre-order now is called grow your own mini fruit garden. And it is the fruit companion to small space growing to the, to the vegetable gardening book that I have. So that’s kind of sums it up for me. And then I just got a book deal with William Morrow slash Harper Collins for a novel that I have written that is coming out in March, well, spring 20, 22. And that is very much, I’m very excited about it because it is set in a community garden.

10m 22s

Christy Wilhelmi

And so it’s for gardeners, but

10m 24s

JackieMarie Beyer

It’s fiction and

10m 26s

Christy Wilhelmi

Yeah, so that’s, that’s, you know, I teach people how to grow their own food through classes, consulting food, garden design, I’ve got my own podcasts. I’ve got a YouTube channel, Twitter, Instagram on all that jazz. And I’ve been gardening for over about 30 years now and I love it. And it’s now my life.

10m 49s

JackieMarie Beyer

So is that, is the interview still, is the podcast still called garden nerd or is that separate? Like, do you still do the tip of the week

10m 56s

Christy Wilhelmi

That it is the gardener tip of the week podcast? And each week I ask my guests to share one awesome tip at the end of the interview. So it’s still the tip of the week podcast and it’s, it’s still streaming, you know, wherever you stream podcasts, you can get it.

11m 14s

JackieMarie Beyer

Cool. I can’t wait to read your novel. I am actually writing a novel that I just started about my husband and I were looking at this farm in Maine that we wanted to buy. And so I’m writing the novel about like, if we have bought it and all the things that like would have happened.

11m 37s

Christy Wilhelmi

Oh cool. Yeah, that’s a good, that’s a good story in the making.

11m 40s

JackieMarie Beyer

It’s so fun. Like I, and I can’t believe like I’m up to 30,000 words and I’ve only like I wrote it out by handled like these pages and I’m on like page four of my handwritten thing. And it’s a, and like 85 pages typed. It’s like, I just, I keep hearing all the voices and voices of my guests that I’ve interviewed. Like there’s all these different characters. It’s just so fun. So I’m glad to hear that, that you’re writing a novel like that, that takes place in a community garden. Isn’t that interesting. 20, 22, you already have a book deal for,

12m 14s

Christy Wilhelmi

Yeah. This year was pretty busy for me, I think with, because I was working on how to grow or I’m sorry, because I was working on grow your own mini fruit garden at the same time as doing another draft of my novel. I was at my desk typing most of the time, which Whoa, everyone else was like cleaning out their closets and doing all the restorative, you know, COVID stuff. That was really, I was like, Oh, that sounds nice. I still am surrounded by junk everywhere. So I haven’t gotten to that yet.

12m 49s

JackieMarie Beyer

No worries. I got to say, I was able to master I I’m an elementary teacher by trade and when school got out in June, I was able to master the Marie Kondo sparking joy thing. And so I did manage to get my house cleaned out, but then I I’ve been, we’ve been married 27 years, so there’s still a lot of stuff, but I want to hear about grow your own mini fruit. Tell us about that.

13m 17s

Christy Wilhelmi

Sure. This is called the grow your own mini fruit garden. And it’s coming out in March, 2021 from cool Springs press. And my focus, as I mentioned earlier is about small space bio-intensive gardening. And so it really is for people who only have a patio or a balcony or a very small backyard. And it talks about growing fruit trees and berries and all in a way that is conducive to either growing in containers or maintaining it at orchard height or below so that you can actually manage it without having to take up your whole yard with one giant tree. You know, most of the instruction that we get about fruit trees and orchard care is based on farmers.

14m 6s

Christy Wilhelmi

You know, they’re, they’re talking about or commercial fruit production. And so the home gardener is taking advice from professionals who are growing acres and acres of the same thing and have space between their trees at like, you know, 15, 20 feet between trees. We don’t have room for that kind of stuff. Most people who live in urban environments. And so this book focuses on the small spaces and how to manage fruit trees for small spaces, and also how to plant things in succession in a way to strategize for having fruit year round or at least the bulk of the season. So that you’re not getting all your oranges and hundreds of them at once.

14m 48s

Christy Wilhelmi

You can strategize with different things. So I, I was when cool Springs press came to me with the idea for the book I glommed onto it. I thought, Ooh, this is great. So I’m really looking forward to seeing it out there in the world. And we just sent it off to the printer today as of this taping. Wow.

15m 9s

JackieMarie Beyer

Wow. That is so exciting. So my listeners are always asking me questions, like how can they be more productive or what can they do to grow better for? So like what’s something they can do. That’s why, why maybe we should back up because I kind of pretty much know what the bio-intensive model is. I think now that I’ve done my podcasts, like I could almost picture myself asking my friend Cavita I think it was what is bio-intensive or maybe it was just pierced down at the, she worked at the Jacob Jevon that Jacob Devin,

15m 41s

Christy Wilhelmi

John Jeavons. Yeah. John Jeavons, he he’s one of the, one of the big proponents of grow grow biointensive is his whole method. And it’s one of those, one of the practices that I incorporate into my own gardens.

15m 53s

JackieMarie Beyer

So why don’t you tell us first a little bit about what that means?

15m 57s

Christy Wilhelmi

Sure. So the word bio-intensive is simply an umbrella term for growing a lot of stuff in a small space. And for me, I use a combination between square foot gardening and John Jeavons, how to grow more vegetables than you ever thought possible on less land than you can imagine his book and, and the philosophies that are behind that. It is about really, it all comes down to making sure your soil is as vibrant biologically, alive and fertile as it can possibly be to support growing things closer together than you normally would. And so in vegetables, what that looks like is instead of growing in rows with lots of footprints, you know, foot traffic between your clustering, them into either, you know, mounted, raised beds or raised beds with frames or something that you can group everything together.

16m 54s

Christy Wilhelmi

And in like Jevons method, they plant on centers. So everything is on six inch centers and a hexagonal planting, spacing, or offset rows, where as they grow in, they form a living mulch and there’s no sunlight passing through to the soil. So there’s hardly any weeds you’re losing less water to evaporation. And you’re, it’s just easier to maintain. Everything’s closer together, but you can’t just plant closer together in any old soil, you’ve got to steward your soil. And so my big evangelism, if you will, is all about the soil, food web and taking care of your soil and making sure there’s food for the microbes that live in the soil, not doing things that kill the microbes, like tilling it and, and making sure you put down mulch because that’s a fungal food stuff like that.

17m 43s

Christy Wilhelmi

So a lot of that carries over into the fruit arena, especially most, especially when it comes to soil prep before you plant a tree. So it really is about planning ahead. Most of the time people dig a hole and put the tree in the ground and hope for the best. But that is when you come into problems where there are, you know, fungal or bacterial or eaten in most cases, viral diseases that are completely uncurable, viral diseases. It’s basically the end of your tree and you have to pull it. And those things show up because of mostly poor drainage. And so it always comes back to making sure your soil is well amended in the entire area where the roots are going to occupy, not just the planting hole.

18m 31s

Christy Wilhelmi

So I go into depth on how to prep for planting a tree ahead of time, as well as other strategies for placements. So you’re not causing shade where you don’t want it and making sure you’ve got enough room between trees. So they’re not crowded and sad.

18m 46s

JackieMarie Beyer

So I know my I’m in Northwest Montana, so we could probably have more opposite climates, but like really struggling with blueberries, got any suggestions for me with my blueberries. Now they are in like, probably like, I think the pH is an 8.3. There’s very alkaline 4.5 or something. And maybe that’s where my whole problem is, but yeah.

19m 13s

Christy Wilhelmi

Yeah. Blueberry has

19m 15s

JackieMarie Beyer

A way to get it down to the 4.5.

19m 19s

Christy Wilhelmi

Right? That’s a very good question. So blueberries really like acidic soil. And I thought I had a set of soil where somewhere around 7.1 7.2, but you, I didn’t realize you guys up there are more alkaline than we are. The, the trick for blueberries. Oftentimes we will just plant them in containers with straight acid planting mix or lots and lots and lots of peak mosque because Piedmont’s tends to have a lower pH than a regular garden soil mix. The other trick, and I share this in the book is most of the time our municipal water sources have water, our water that’s delivered to our homes that we’re watering our gardens with is very alkaline itself.

20m 6s

Christy Wilhelmi

And so you want to acidify that. Now I learned from the folks up at the Caspus farm in Santa Cruz, UC Santa Cruz, they actually ferment their apples that fall from the trees into vinegar. And then they pumped some vinegar through their irrigation system for their 400 plus blueberry trial garden that they have there. And so on the home scale, that means something like adding, I think it’s four tablespoons of vinegar, like a regular or an Apple cider vinegar to two gallons of water and using one of those watering cans each for each blueberry plant and doing that every couple of months to a couple of weeks, depending on how alkaline your soil is.

20m 55s

Christy Wilhelmi

And that helps drive down the pH and makes the blueberries a little bit happier to co-exist with your existing soil.

20m 60s

2

Yeah.

21m 3s

JackieMarie Beyer

Cool. So then adding milk would be like the worst thing I could do. Yeah. I don’t, I don’t know.

21m 10s

Christy Wilhelmi

No, I, in fact, I haven’t even heard of using milk as a way to benefit. I mean, I know people will use milk and water as a spray to keep powdery mildew away, but I don’t see that that would help. Yeah. Sorry. Haven’t heard about that.

21m 26s

JackieMarie Beyer

I don’t know where I got that from my husband is like, what are you doing? I want to say I’m mixed, like milk and molasses with a gallon of water, like a cup of milk and a tablespoon of molasses and a gallon of water. And I don’t know where I got it from, but it did not work, but I have Apple cider vinegar in the, in the fridge right now. And then I’m, I’m curious. Cause I’m thinking like we had lots of apples that, you know, had dents and bruises and different things and should I have kept them and put them by the blueberries?

21m 59s

Christy Wilhelmi

Well, it would make, you would need to ferment them first. So it’s about, it’s about that fermentation that, you know, the vinegar is, is a very acidic property, whereas apples themselves are not very acidic. So I think, you know, when you’re talking about adding milk and molasses, you’re making me think, Oh, that’s upping the sugar content of whatever’s going on. So that’s food for bacteria, but that’s not gonna help. Acidify your soil. I’m going down a rabbit hole here. So stop me if you want. But so bacterially dominant soils tend to be more alkaline and fungal dominant soils tend to be more acidic. So it’s actually the plants who help determine their own soil pH by putting out either sugars for bacteria or humic acids for fungi.

22m 50s

Christy Wilhelmi

And they will start to breed more. And that helps re you know, alter the soil pH depending on the fungi and the bacteria that are in the soil. So, so you’re feeding bacteria and that’s going to make your soil more Ackland. Is there anything?

23m 8s

JackieMarie Beyer

And I need to go the other way. Like, I it’s like so hard for me. I’m like the number goes up and that means it’s more acidic and I want the number to go down to be alcohol or the number goes up and that’s more alkaline and I want the number to go down to be. Okay.

23m 29s

Christy Wilhelmi

Correct. So yes. So the, the lower, the pH, the more acidic it is. So, you know, battery acid is down at the, you know, in tomatoes, like acidic soil, blueberries, like acidic soil. That’s going to be down in the, you know, 5.5 range somewhere there. And then when you get up to eight and nine, that’s where we’re talking a really, really alkaline.

23m 57s

JackieMarie Beyer

Hmm. All right. Cool. And you are just full of golden scenes. Well, gosh, I haven’t even asked about your very first gardening experience. Like, were you a kid? How old were you? Who were you with? What’d you grow? Sure.

24m 12s

Christy Wilhelmi

I was a picky eater as a kid and my parents had trouble feeding me and they put in a garden in the backyard. And I remember the only vegetables I would eat were the peas off the vine raw and the carrots raw out of the garden. I didn’t like anything that was cooked if it was a vegetable. And so that was my first experience gardening, but it didn’t carry through. I went through most of my life, not gardening. I won’t say most of my life I’ve spent more than half of my life gardening, but I spent most of my childhood not gardening. And it wasn’t until I became a vegetarian in 1993 that I decided I needed to know more about my own food source.

24m 58s

Christy Wilhelmi

And that’s when I started gardening. But my first garden was at my parents’ house in pretty clay soil. And we grew peas and carrots. That’s what I remember

25m 10s

JackieMarie Beyer

Was that, no. Did you grow up in California?

25m 13s

Christy Wilhelmi

I grew up in a little town called Simi Valley. That’s about an hour North of Los Angeles. My parents still live there and they had the most incredible oranges and nectarines and apples, and never wants to, I ever remember them fertilizing or putting compost or anything down around those trees. And I thought that was my, you know, kid memory, but I asked them and they were like, no, we never fed it. And they just had the soil. There was just so darn good that they didn’t have to do anything. And we had the most abundant harvest every year, so here and where I live, where we have very, very Sandy soil and the nutrients just drain out of it, like sand, we’re having to feed things more regularly and it feels like a specificity in effort sometimes.

26m 7s

Christy Wilhelmi

Cause it’s like, it’s just not, not what I remember when I was growing up, you know?

26m 14s

JackieMarie Beyer

Huh. Interesting. And they still don’t have to feed it.

26m 18s

Christy Wilhelmi

Well, they moved to a new location and that’s a different type of soil. So they’re having to work a little harder now.

26m 27s

JackieMarie Beyer

Well tell us about something that grew well this year.

26m 31s

Christy Wilhelmi

Well, you know, I had a fantastic watermelon season this year. Sometimes last year, the rats got every single one of them this year. I had about watermelons coming in, in succession. So we had the whole summer just week after, week after week with three different kinds of watermelons coming in from the garden. And that was probably the best thing that happened. It was delightful.

26m 58s

JackieMarie Beyer

So how does that work? Succession planning is something I really struggle with.

27m 4s

Christy Wilhelmi

You know, it’s hard, especially in a small space because your, your impulse is to plant the whole thing at once. And I think for me this year, I planted a little bit later than usual. Actually let me check my, my notebook. Cause I actually put the planting date down, hang on a sec. <inaudible> Pulling up in my journal with my notes. No worries. When it was planted. No, you know, I planted them early. Actually. I did not plant them late. I planted them early, which for me, you know, I used, I usually will wait until almost June before I put in my watermelons, just because I’ve got stuff growing in that space up until then.

27m 51s

Christy Wilhelmi

But I put them in at the end. I was wondering about, yeah, I put them in, in April this year and they took off. And I think because I was growing three different varieties, they produced at different times. And so I ended up harvesting a moon and stars here followed by a white sugar, lump followed by a black tail mountain. And it ended up being that they were just coming right. But different times. I also, so I have four by four beds and I plant in a triangle when I’m growing things that sprawl like pumpkins and watermelons and other squashes, I’ll plant three different varieties in the same four by four bed.

28m 36s

Christy Wilhelmi

And let them crawl all over each other. This is that bio-intensive gardening. I was telling you about. So they’re equal just in a part in a triangle, but they can, they are intermingling and same with the watermelons. They’re crawling all over each other. I just keep picking the vines up and co curling them around, back into the beds and they keep producing. So it’s great. And, and that, that did really well. And I managed to keep them from being eaten somehow. I don’t know. I didn’t even cover them. They just didn’t get eaten this year, which was a miracle of nature. I have to say,

29m 10s

JackieMarie Beyer

How come four by four beds? What made you pick that size?

29m 14s

Christy Wilhelmi

That is based on the square foot gardening method, Mel Bartholomew’s books, square foot gardening. The concept behind that is that an adult arm is usually long enough to reach two feet in all the way around if you and without tramping all over your soil. So you, you build these four by four beds with some space in between to walk, you know, between them. And that way you can plant things really close together without any rows in between. And you are making the of the space without compressing. You’re compacting your soil.

29m 51s

JackieMarie Beyer

How about something you’re excited to try different next year, something new. You want to try

29m 56s

Christy Wilhelmi

Something new next year? Well, it’s funny because I’m because we’re growing year round. I’m actually trying something new right now. But by the time your listeners hear this, there’ll be ready for their spring crops, which we have in our coal or cool weather season is right now here in October, November, December. And that goes until about March. And then we switch over to the hot weather stuff right away. So I am growing. So I’m a big, I call myself a kale whore. I love kale. I grow 14 different varieties of kale every year, but this year I’m trying a new one that I so far am loving. It is called, hang on one sec, getting to my notes,

30m 39s

2

Right?

30m 39s

Christy Wilhelmi

So there’s a couple of different things I’m growing. I’m a, I’m a big fan of dazzling blue kale. It’s relatively new in the world of seed catalogs, but it is a purple lacinato or Dino style kale. And then this one from I Gardner, which is called premiere kale. And it’s very much like a Siberian kale with loose leaf, big, big leaves. They’re kind of pretty. So I’m doing those new kales. I’m also growing the salad green that looks like grass. It’s called menu Tina, and it’s really fun.

31m 20s

Christy Wilhelmi

And let’s see, what else am I doing? I am, I’ve got, I tend to put all the new stuff in my test garden first and then, and then branch out to my community plot. Oh, giant Nobel spinach is a new one that I’m trying for the first time this year too. So those are my new ones. Every year I try and grow two or three new varieties in order to keep experimenting with well in and including diversity in my garden. Because as you know, diversity is key in that is the key to our survival as a species as well.

32m 3s

JackieMarie Beyer

I’m curious about your garden journal, you seem so organized, like, is it just a notebook or do you have like a special planner or like, and do you write things down? Like I’m notorious for like, after we’ve planted, I go down this year is the first year where I’ve really like almost have all of 20, 21 written out and done already. Like I know what’s going to happen. Oh, nice.

32m 28s

Christy Wilhelmi

Well, I do keep a journal. I have all of my gardens dating back to 1997 and the layout is fall spring, fall, spring, fall, spring. And then, you know, I’ll have certain things where it’s like this and then that like when the garlic comes out, then this is going in. And I early in my twenties, I was really good at remembering everything. But now that I’m in my fifties, I am not. And so I write everything down. I sketch out my, my garden and I have, I have in my gardening for geeks book, I teach people how to plan out their garden on paper every season.

33m 8s

Christy Wilhelmi

And I also have a YouTube video that summarizes that as well. But the, the gist is I have a notebook that has graph paper in it. And I sketch out the beds or I create a template for my home garden in my computer. And I print out a fresh blank, copy every season and sit down with my seeds. And it’s important for me to track it because you know, crop rotation is really important when you’re wanting to not plant something in the same place. Year after year, you have to keep track of where it was. So I can flip back to three seasons before and no everywhere. I had my Proseccos or my tomatoes, which really shouldn’t be planted in the same place for three or four years.

33m 49s

Christy Wilhelmi

And then I can decide what bed they’re going to go in this season and build around that. And so that’s, yeah, that’s the easy way for me to do it. Cause I don’t remember anything anymore.

33m 60s

JackieMarie Beyer

Gosh, like with all your knowledge, you’d almost think it would be like second nature. Like, you know, well I’m taking this out, so this is going in next.

34m 7s

Christy Wilhelmi

Yeah, it would be, except that I really have way too many seeds then is sane for human halves. And I like to make sure I’m trying things out. Plus I want to remember how things did. So at the beginning of the season, I’m writing it all down on paper, but by the end of the season, I’m going back to say, this did well, this didn’t do well. And of course, when I planted, like you don’t, for example, I just thought I told you when, or, you know, I mentioned that, I thought I planted my watermelons in June, but I didn’t. I planted them in April and I wouldn’t have known that hadn’t I written it down.

34m 43s

JackieMarie Beyer

Yeah. Well that was part of like, I have this chill bed and I was, I wanted to put, I got those beneficial nematodes and I wanted to make sure I put some in the kill bed where I’m going to plant the kill next year. And so that was kind of what instigated the like, well, where is everything going to go next year? And that’s kind of how I came out of it. Cause I was trying to figure it out and then wouldn’t, you know, it because I didn’t write it down. I didn’t have it out there. The day that I put the nematodes out, they didn’t go in the bed that I was planning on putting the Cal next year.

35m 16s

Christy Wilhelmi

Well, they will still benefit where you did put them. So that’s good news.

35m 19s

JackieMarie Beyer

Yeah. Cool.

35m 25s

Christy Wilhelmi

Pause. Can we pause for a second while I blow my nose?

35m 29s

JackieMarie Beyer

Thanks. Hang on. No worries. After I talk for a while it builds. Okay.

35m 38s

Christy Wilhelmi

And we’re back.

35m 43s

2

Nope. Did I lose you?

35m 44s

JackieMarie Beyer

No, because I mute my mic when you’re talking and then I muted my mic by accident. Well, how about something that didn’t work so well the season like, maybe didn’t go the way you thought it was gonna

35m 57s

Christy Wilhelmi

So many things often don’t go well, we have some serious vermin issues where I live and between my home garden and my community garden, my cat is not enough to do the trick. So we’re setting rat traps everywhere. They are always after my Proseccos and they were after my tomatoes over summer. And I feel like it’s an uphill battle, but I’m dealing with this with a lot of my clients too, where we, you don’t want to put out just one or two traps. You want to put out like 30 traps and you know, we never use poison. And I don’t recommend that anyone ever does because they, rats are low on the food chain and animals in the wild and house.

36m 41s

Christy Wilhelmi

Cats love to eat them. So in order to prevent poisoning those poor animals and I’ll pause because this is going to ring for four times

36m 51s

2

And then it will stop. Oh, no worries at all. Okay. One more time. And that should be it. I deal

37m 6s

Christy Wilhelmi

With this with my own podcast.

37m 9s

JackieMarie Beyer

Hi listeners are always like your alarms are always going off and focuses when I’m teaching in the classroom. I have like 27 alarms that go off during the day five minutes to go get the kids, pick up the kids, time for lunch, you know? And I just can’t, I’m not going to shut all those alarms off while I’m podcasting. And my phone’s usually on my bed. Cause I’m checking it. Sometimes my calendar, somebody, I dunno. Sometimes I use my phone. I don’t know. Anyway. Yeah,

37m 36s

Christy Wilhelmi

No worries. Let’s see. Where was I? I was talking about road trips. So

37m 42s

JackieMarie Beyer

Rat traps, like then what do you do with the rats?

37m 47s

Christy Wilhelmi

Well, when we, when we catch a rat, it is dead and we dispose of it in the, in the trashcan. Now, if I were in a more rural setting, I would probably just leave it out there for the wildlife to pick up. Oftentimes my cat will discover it before I’ve released it from the trap and have to chase her and the rat trap down and then release the rat trap off of it. So she can finish eating it from head to tail, which she does. But most of the time, no, no, it doesn’t matter. The size sheets them whole. She’s all about it. I have this fantastic cat, but which some people have seen if you’ve seen any of my YouTube videos, mittens mixed cameo, appearances, and most of them these days.

38m 34s

Christy Wilhelmi

Cause she’s always curious, get in front of the camera anyway. So yeah, rat traps are important. Also physical barriers are very important. We use a lot of burden riding around here on my apples and my tomatoes. I used believe it or not magnet barriers that are made for Apple trees, but I started putting them on my tomatoes and that would slow down the disappearance quite a bit. So it wasn’t a hundred percent successful, but I’d say we got maybe 30 to 50% more of the harvest than we did last year.

39m 6s

JackieMarie Beyer

Nice. That’s a big game. Yeah. Is it hard to put the things up? Like does one go on each tomato or just goes over the whole thing?

39m 15s

Christy Wilhelmi

No, it goes on each tomato or a cluster of tomatoes. So I’d put them around clusters of cherries or smaller, smaller tomatoes, but yeah, singly it’s at the end of the season, mostly, you know, once summer really hits that’s when I started protecting them. So at that point we’re, we’re pulling off a lot of them, but if your whole tomato, Bush is covered in tomatoes, then I would go for a full barrier instead like bird netting or physical, other physical barriers around the area. That’s the best way to go.

39m 49s

JackieMarie Beyer

That we have birds are strawberry.

39m 53s

Christy Wilhelmi

Yeah. And so for that, you know, if you can do hoops and bird netting, pin down all the way around or metal cages over them or closures, you know, that helps a lot.

40m 7s

JackieMarie Beyer

Hmm. Okay. Good ideas there. Have you ever tried, like I’ve always wanted to try the rocks where people paint the rocks like strawberries.

40m 17s

Christy Wilhelmi

Oh, I’ve not tried that. I’ve not tried that I’ve heard of, you know, putting fake snakes in the yard and that kind of thing to help deter the birds. But I haven’t seen the paint rock painted rock thing.

40m 29s

JackieMarie Beyer

Yeah. I don’t have very many, I planted like six strawberry plants last year and then the dull kind of grew up and I didn’t get down there in time and it just cut out. I didn’t, I got like three strawberries. Yeah. I have much success there next year.

40m 46s

Christy Wilhelmi

I like to keep bird netting over my strawberry patches. A hundred percent of the time. That seems to be the trick to keeping them for yourself.

40m 56s

JackieMarie Beyer

Cool. Good to know. All right. Well this is the part of the show I called getting to the Rudy of getting to the root of things. So do you have a least favorite activity do in the garden? Something got to force yourself to get out there and do

41m 10s

Christy Wilhelmi

Well. I can tell you I have a, I have a pile of mulch, not mulch. I have a pile of garden debris from the summer that I have to shred and I have to wheel out the shredder and put on the mask and do the whole thing. And it’s kind of a half day event and then build compost piles out of it. And I have to say, it’s not my favorite thing to do,

41m 30s

JackieMarie Beyer

But probably very valuable.

41m 32s

Christy Wilhelmi

It’s incredibly valuable. Your own compost is the best thing in the world you could do for your garden.

41m 38s

JackieMarie Beyer

Yes. What’s your show on the flip side, what’s your favorite activity to do in the garden?

41m 45s

Christy Wilhelmi

Harvesting, obviously bringing in the fruits of your labor is the best thing in the world.

41m 55s

JackieMarie Beyer

What’s the best gardening advice you’ve ever received.

41m 59s

Christy Wilhelmi

That’s a tough one. I’ve really learned a lot from a lot of people over the years, but I think, you know, well, it’s, it’s going to be, this is kind of a let down, but I say to my students, because this is what I’ve learned from so many people is that nature always wins and it is our job to just do what we can to work with her instead of against her.

42m 27s

JackieMarie Beyer

I like that. That might be the title of the show. Work with nature, not against, or, or nature always wins. What’s your favorite tool? If you had to move, is there something you couldn’t live without?

42m 43s

Christy Wilhelmi

You know, my compost bins are my favorite thing that I would have to move with me. I would take it with me. It’s sort of an, you have two questions there, but the compost bins I have are called the bio stack and it was made by Smith and Hawkin. And then when they went out of business, they stopped making them. And I somehow managed to get four of them and I’ll never ever give them up. So those are, those are my favorite thing. I would have to take with me if, but my favorite tool I think, or my, my Philco printers. I really love them. Their number six is for small hands and they’re perfect.

43m 20s

JackieMarie Beyer

I need to hear more about the bins.

43m 22s

Christy Wilhelmi

Oh, so, so the compost bins, most compost bins are not made for actively turning your bin. Your pile. For me, it’s really important to turn the pile in order to expose new surface area and give bacteria and fungi more to eat. And that’s what breaks down. Compost. It’s not about heat or anything. It’s really, it’s a chemical response and a biological response to putting carbon and nitrogen together. And I’m sorry, I’m going off on a tangent. But when you have a bin with the little lid on the top and the stupid little door on the bottom, you can’t really turn the pile. And so what I tell people to do is shimmy the bin off you and a friend or someone in your household set the bin down next to the pile, take the lid off and start shoveling the pile back into the bin and the turning that’s the best way to turn a compost pile.

44m 17s

Christy Wilhelmi

But the bio stack was fussy, was sorry. The bio stack was created to facilitate that activity. It’s three layers. There are three frames that stack on top of one another and a lit and you take lid off, you take one frame off the top, you set it down next to the bin and you start shoveling into there. And then you take the, you want to get down to the second layer. You take the second layer off and you shovel it over. And it just makes turning a pile really easy. And it’s the best compost bin that was ever made. I actually started a petition. That’s on my website, on my blog and in my newsletter every week for people to sign the petition, to get target, who now owns the patents for those bins to start making them again because the world needs to compost.

45m 3s

Christy Wilhelmi

That’s how we sync carbon into our soils and reverse climate change. So it’s one of the most important things you can do as a person living on this planet is to compost your waste instead of throwing it in a landfill and the composts or that I love the bio stack is the best one for it.

45m 22s

JackieMarie Beyer

Oh my gosh, you’re melting my heart. I know all of this. I can’t believe the target needs a petition because they have the patent. I mean, if they’re doing anything with it, what do they need the patent for? I kept wondering, I’m like, why doesn’t she just make her own? But now I understand why.

45m 38s

Christy Wilhelmi

Yeah. And, and I, you know, people have said, you should just try and buy the patents off of them, but I don’t have that kind of money. And I, I certainly am not in the manufacturing business. So if someone wants to get out there and do it, I will totally love that. But it’s something that I feel like Target’s got the they’ve already got the infrastructure and the money they can do it. So they just need a little nudge from all of us.

46m 3s

JackieMarie Beyer

And gardening is so big right now. They’re poet. You’d probably think they want to. I was going to suggest, cause I was actually supposed to talk to Jim Fortiay this morning, who is like a master of the bio-intensive method who just started his own, it’s called growers and co. And like they’re making tools like broad forks and clothes and all sorts of like really cool gardening, you know, things for gardeners. I was thinking maybe he would take it up, but then you mentioned the target thing. But I just, I just loved so much because I was such a compost person and I don’t understand, but I, like you said, it’s a chemical thing, carbon and nitrogen see my notes, but I always feel like the big piece of it is like mixing in the oxygen, like the whole point of turning it and what makes it different than putting your cause?

46m 53s

JackieMarie Beyer

Like what drives me crazy is like, people don’t understand them, putting food scraps in the garbage makes it become, is it anaerobic? Yeah. It makes them anaerobic. So then they’re not getting the oxygen. That’s why it doesn’t work there. Exactly. It’s like the oxygen phone, I guess that’s part of why it’s so important for you to do the stacking thing. Right? Cause you’re getting the oxygen flow,

47m 16s

Christy Wilhelmi

Right? Yes. And so the, the bad kind of bacteria, anaerobic bacteria breed in a non oxygen environment. And so when you turn the pile, you end up reading the right kind of bacteria instead. So if your, if your compost or your worm bin smells like garbage or sewage, it’s because if there’s not enough oxygen in that mix and you do need to turn the pile and add more Brown because it’s probably too wet. So Brown will help absorb the moisture. It’ll help dry the place out. It’ll create more spaces, pockets between protocols fixes a lot of things.

47m 50s

JackieMarie Beyer

Cool. I know it’s so funny. Cause I always talk about, I don’t like dirty Gordon jobs, but to me turning the compost is like one of the cleanest easiest. I’ll do it any day. Right. I call it a clean garden job. Yeah. I’m so baffled that people think who compost is so messy. Do you not get it? How about a favorite recipe? What do you like to eat from the garden?

48m 13s

Christy Wilhelmi

Well, I’m a big fan of cooking straight from the garden and I’m always cooking, whatever is available. So I’m, I’m also a big fan of the five minute meals. So what I usually do is I’ll have, I will cook on a weekly basis. I’ll have a grain like Brown rice or keenwah or something. And then I’ll have a bean, either a lagoon, you know, a lentil or a, a chick pea or a black bean or something like that in the fridge. And then I will pull whatever’s coming in from the garden, either a kale or chart or whatever, and lettuces and salad garden.

48m 54s

Christy Wilhelmi

That’s a different thing. But you know, whatever’s coming in from the garden, chop it up, throw it into a pan, saute it for a few minutes and a little olive oil then throw in the beans and the rice and then a sauce. So, you know, whether you buy a store-bought sauce or you make your own mats, like having pesto or soy sauce or anything in between a marinara, anything throw that in there. And, and you’re done and that’s a five minute meal and I kind of live off of that all the time. Me too.

49m 26s

JackieMarie Beyer

Sounds perfect. And eating seasonably so important about a favorite internet resource, where do you find yourself surfing on the web?

49m 38s

Christy Wilhelmi

You know, I find myself going to one of my favorite suppliers, which is peaceful Valley farm and garden supply. And they often have really informative videos. They do their research and they are really good about explaining certain concepts very, very well. And I like their videos for that. So I go there, but I have a lot of, I mean, there’s so many resources, I’m a member of garden calm, which is an organization of garden writers. And there’s a lot of people in that organization who have great websites. Honestly, I look up stuff on my own website a lot because I’ve been writing blog posts since 2006, 2005.

50m 21s

Christy Wilhelmi

And so I’m like, I’ve written about this. I have to look it up. And I look on my own website a lot of the time. Oh no

50m 28s

JackieMarie Beyer

Kidding. I use the search bar on my website more than anybody because people ask me a question. I’d be like, Oh, well this person talked about this in this episode. And here’s what they said. Right. But it is a garden like C O M or like C a L M

50m 43s

Christy Wilhelmi

C O M M as in communications. It used to be called the garden writers association. But there are more media platforms now like podcasts and television and radio. And so writers didn’t fit the bill. So the change in the name to garden calm.

51m 1s

JackieMarie Beyer

Hmm, cool. Yeah. How about a fever book or reading material? Like besides the books you’ve written? What book?

51m 11s

Christy Wilhelmi

Yeah. I, I, my, my Bibles, when I first started gardening were square foot gardening by Mel Bartholomew and John Jeavons. How to grow more vegetables than you ever thought possible on less land than you can imagine. I’m also a big fan of what am I? Oh, right. So there is a companion planting book that I refer to often when I’m planning out my gardens by Louise. And I want to say her last name is pronounced <inaudible>, but it might be riot. I don’t know, but it’s R I O T T E and M.

51m 51s

Christy Wilhelmi

She’s basically the go-to person for companion planting books. And her book is called carrots. Love tomatoes. I use that a lot when I’m planning out gardens.

52m 1s

JackieMarie Beyer

Cool. Maybe I should see if I should kick get her on. I think I’ve read that she was going to say

52m 7s

Christy Wilhelmi

Long time ago. Yeah. She’s no longer with us, but her, her information remains

52m 13s

JackieMarie Beyer

And I love peaceful Valley too. They’re my number one, please. Still like they were going to come on, but I can’t remember what happened. We like missed the interview and then we’ve never rescheduled. All right. Tell us. So we have seven minutes and unfortunately, avatar lesson that I have to teach to my students from last year that I missed yesterday. So I have my big final question, but I want to give you a chance to plug your books one more time.

52m 42s

Christy Wilhelmi

Sure. So my basic gardening book is gardening for geeks, and that came out earlier this year or 2020, actually my new book coming out in March, 2021 is grow your own mini fruit garden. My ebook is 400 plus tips for organic gardening success. And it’s an e-book because it is full of hyperlinks to click through to resources, go lower. So I didn’t want to put that in print form. It’s ebook only, and that’s available on Amazon Kindle. And then my novel will be coming out in 2022. And it’s called garden variety.

53m 24s

JackieMarie Beyer

Oh, garden variety. What a cute, all right, listeners. Well, you know what I’m going to say, get Christie’s books, give them a review. So other people can find them because that’s the most important thing. And I know they’re full of tons of valuable information. She’s putting out great free content for years and just, I know you’re going to learn a ton. So my final question is Christy. If there’s one change, you’d like to see the creative green world, what would it be? For example, is there a charity organization, your passionate about or project you’d like to see put into action? Like what do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment, either locally, nationally, or on a global scale?

54m 8s

Christy Wilhelmi

Wow, that’s a big question. And there are so many answers to that question. It’s hard to narrow it down, but I keep coming back to soil health. We really need to change the way we do our industrial agriculture. And it starts by everybody buying from people who grow the way that is actually regenerative and restorative. So, you know, think twice before you spend your dollars on where you’re spending your dollars, because that makes the biggest difference. And the has the biggest influence over what you can do as a regular person to change the world.

54m 46s

JackieMarie Beyer

I love that. And it’s so true. And Bob Quinn on my show said, just start with like one thing and like try to buy that organically. Cause I really struggled. But I noticed like we finally started feeding our chickens, organic food. And like now I don’t even think about it. I just, when I go to get them li mash, we buy organically mash and little things here and there really add up. And for sure, our dollars count, Christie told everybody how to connect with you where they find your awesome podcast.

55m 15s

Christy Wilhelmi

Sure. So you can find the gardener tip of the week podcasts, wherever you stream it’s on Apple iTunes. It’s the first thing you find. If you type gardening or garden in the search box, it’ll be the first one that shows up. You can find me at garden. nerd.com, G a R D E N E R d.com. We’re on Instagram and Twitter under garden nerd, one on Facebook as garden nerd.com. And of course the gardener YouTube channel is garden nerd. So

55m 45s

JackieMarie Beyer

Check it out and it’s got the cutest little carrot with glasses. I just love your logo. Thank you all your vegetables. Have those glasses on. I’m glad you spelled it because I would have thought there were two ends, G a R D E N E R t.com. Well, thank you so much for sharing all of this today was so fun. I feel like we have so much in common and I just, it was a real delight to talk to you and have a wonderful weekend. I hope you feel better. Thank you.

56m 15s

Christy Wilhelmi

I’ll hopefully. Well, I thank you very much. I and my outro is terrible. Well, thank you very much. It was happy. I was

56m 24s

3

Happy to be here.

56m 26s

JackieMarie Beyer

Well, thank you. No worries. And I will send you the link and we’ll play this when it comes out and we’ll play it again in the spring when your book comes out and have a wonderful weekend, a happy holiday and a super happy new year. And we’ll talk to you again. I hope. All right. Thanks a lot. Thanks. Bye. Bye.