Organic Gardening


 My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant’s point of view. ~H. Fred Dale


Winter still has its grip on us here in central New York.  90% of the ground is still covered by snow with frigid temps.  Not much is stirring outside, but the good news is the sun is coming up earlier, staying out later and warming the ground more.  Well that is when we get the sun.  So I am dreaming of my garden.

IMG_2473My seed sowing and garden plans have not gotten far as work has consumed my life.  Long hours have left me drained and exhausted so any free time is spent daydreaming and resting.  I had hoped to have my veg garden plans ready for this post, but they are not finalized yet as I am still contemplating if I have time and space for everything I want to grow this year.

A perfect way to celebrate the coming of spring was to read this book about organic gardening and so much more.  So I decided to review the book for Holley@Roses and Other Gardening Joys Garden Book Review meme that takes place on the 20th of every month.


Organic Gardening (Not Just) in the Northeast:

A Hands-On Month-to-Month Guide



Author: Henry Homeyer
Paperback:  264 pages

Publisher: Bunker Hill Publishing Inc (April 16, 2011)
Amazon Price: $13.13 (Paperback)




In a Few Words

Organic Gardening (not just) in the Northeast is organized around the calendar year starting in March.  Homeyer gives advice about all sorts of gardening chores and topics such as:  starting plants from seed, making good compost, organic lawns, dealing with insect pests without chemicals, biennial flowers, saving the harvest, saving seeds, growing garlic, forcing bulbs, poinsettias, study your landscape and make plans  IMG_8416and seed catalogs.  These are just a few of the many topics arranged monthly.

There is also one interesting topic monthly that you might not expect in a how-to gardening book.  One of these topics is, Listening to the Garden Spirits which is in the March section.  Homeyer discusses the Findhorn Garden in Northern Scotland and dowsing here in the US.  Homeyer’s words about others’ beliefs regarding  so-called spirits in the garden made me smile and realize this was a man with an open mind and in tune with his garden:

Surely I will never understand how the energy of living things flows through plants and animals.  But I do accept that there is mystery in the garden, and that I should be open to all theories of how that happens.  And I hope I will be listening if a deva speaks to me.

I thought I would read a month or two in advance so in February I read March and April topics.  In March I’ll move to May’s advice and topics.  In this way I can make sure I savor each and every topic, and use what I read in my gardening and journal posts.



What I Liked

Henry Homeyer is also known as “The Gardening Guy” and has written garden books, a weekly gardening column as well as teaching garden courses.  And with all his knowledge, reading his book is not like learning from just an expert.  It feels like I am having a conversation in the garden with my dad as he gives me down home advice from his experiences.

IMG_5217For instance Homeyer says that when starting seeds, it is important to run your hands over the seedlings each day or two to mimic the wind.  This will stimulate the seedlings to grow strong stalks and it feels good to the gardener too.  I also learned about day-neutral strawberries that produce the first year and need less space.  Additionally, I learned that to grow good strawberries you need good compost.  But don’t despair since he also teaches you how to make compost.  Want advice on how to grow carrots, peppers, tomatoes and other veggies?  Well Homeyer is a fount of knowledge, even when and how to plant roses.

On his advice, I went to Johnny’s Selected Seeds and found some tomatoes better suited to the NE with our tendency for blight and wilt.  I’ll let you know how it goes with these tomatoes this year.  I can only hope it is better than last year.



Not So Much

The only issue I have with this book is finding time to read and take in all this great information and use it.  I suggest picking one topic a month to focus on, but it will be hard to do.  I would love to have more wonderful conversations with the author about gardening, and perhaps he will write a sequel or two.  He does have a couple of other gardening books I think I will check out.



Final Thoughts

I actually read the whole book in one sitting as I couldn’t wait for months to hear all of Homeyer’s wonderful sage words about so many interesting IMG_5592topics.  But as I said, I will re-read sections before each month since there is so much to learn from the author.  And I love to learn.  You can’t go wrong reading this book if you love to veggie or flower garden.  And his advice is for all areas of the US, and I would say even for anyone wanting to learn more about gardening anywhere.


Next Month’s Book Review:  I was asked to review a book, The Garden Club of America, by the publisher for my March Garden Book Review post.  It is the 100th anniversary of the Garden Club of America, and the book is being released in early March.  I will also be giving away a copy of the book in March.



Seed Contest

In honor of this book review and as I am getting ready for gardening season, I thought I would have another seed giveaway.  I will have 2 winners who will receive a variety of some of the vegetable seeds below.  All you have to do is leave a comment.  The contest will end February 28th with the winners announced in my Seasonal Celebrations post on March 1st.

Beefsteak Tomato


This contest is only open to those residing in the US.  And to make sure I am compliant with full disclosure, I purchased the seed I am giving away.


It is an exciting time in gardening.  Attitudes are changing.  More people are keen to tend their bits of land in a way that is in tune with nature.  ~Jane Powers


Come Join Us:

Seasonal Celebrations is a time for marking the change of seasons and what is happening in your part of the world during this time.  I hope you will join in by creating a post telling us how you celebrate this time of year whether spring or fall or something else.  Share your traditions, holidays, gardens and celebrations in pictures, poetry or words.

And it seems so appropriate to collaborate with Beth and her Lessons Learned meme.  What lessons have you learned this past season of winter here in the North and spring in the South.  Then tell us about your wishes, desires and dreams for this new season.The rules are simple.  Just create a post that talks about lessons learned and/or seasonal celebrations.  If you are joining in for both memes please leave a comment on both our blog posts.  Or if you are choosing to join only one meme, leave a comment on that blog post.  Make sure to include a link with your comment.

Beth and I will do a summary post of our respective memes on the equinox (the 20th of March).  And we will keep those posts linked on a page on our blog.  Your post should be linked in the weekend before the equinox to give us enough time to include your post in our summary.  And if you link in a bit late, never fear we will include it on the special blog page (which I still have to create).  The badges here can be used in your post.   So won’t you join in the celebration!!


Next up on the blog:  I am ending February with a Wildflower Tale post next Monday.  I will be featuring spiderwort.   Spring is getting closer and closer, and Seasonal Celebrations will be here starting with a post on March 1st.  Then it is all uphill from there as I put on my garden shoes to kick into high gear.

I will be linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Wednesday.

I hope you will join me for my posts once a month at Beautiful Wildlife Garden. See my most current post now.

As always, I’ll be joining Tootsie Time’s Fertilizer Friday.

Please remember, to comment click on the title of the post and the page will reload with the comments section.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2013.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

81 Replies to “Organic Gardening”

  1. You brought me back over 30 years to a public speaking contest I participated in during 11th grade…my topic “Organic Farming”. Think about a kid from Queens in NYC competing on such a topic at all. I was in the middle of a vocational agriculture HS degree program…and this competition was among several held by the Future Farmers of America (FFA), of which I was our local chapter secretary. OK, so I know your eyes just glanced upward again to look at the location…yes Queens, yes NYC. I learned a lot from that program and all my great teachers, I learned a lot from the FFA, I still have a compost and dabble at my garden…and one day when I too can truly. Graduate (aka retire) I hope nd ead an entire book on organic gardenng in one stting…thanks as always for inspiring.

    1. Wow Joyce I would never think of farming in Queens….I would love to see your garden…if you are ever in the area we should hook up….I know you will have so much fun once you retire. You continue to amaze and fascinate me Joyce!!!

  2. Hello Donna
    Don’t you love the little gems of wisdom that pop up every so often? Whether from a book, conversation or gardening show, I collect these in a journal and write about them from time to time.
    I’m referring to running your fingers lightly over seedlings, something I always did when I had grow lights in the basement. Also, a little cinnamon spread over the soil when starting seeds will help prevent damping off. Much of this information comes from the older gardeners who gardened organically way back when.
    A positive review of the book.

    1. Judith thanks for the reminder of the cinnamon…it does help. I love these tidbits of wisdom as well and should write them in my journal.

  3. Donna – this is a brilliant review and I can tell how hooked you were on it, given how full up your time is. (so especial thanks for still finding time to pop over to my blog)

    Champing at the bit come February and it’s hard having to accord with our own individual climates.

    I run my hands through seedlings just to feel the close-crop textures so they must think I’m the wind – or a grazer or a garden spirit!
    p.s the colour of the antirrhinum is shockingly pretty

    1. Laura I would not miss your wonderful blog…it keeps my creative juices brewing. I am champing as you say. That antirrhinum was grown from seed last year and I was amazed at its stunning color. I hope to grow more this year.

  4. Hi Donna…this book sounds so interesting. The garden spirits section sounds like fun. Keep dreaming..spring will be here before we know it!

  5. The idea of stroking seedlings is a wonderful one. We are also still in the grip of winter, but I’m convinced spring will arrive next week! 😀

  6. Thanks again for joining in the meme. I do so appreciate your participation. I love those little bits of wisdom like running your hands over the seed, and listening for the spirits. I think every vegetable garden should be organic, even if the rest of the garden is not. I think I would really enjoy this book. I also look forward to hearing next month’s review. Please don’t sign me up for the giveaway. I am still growing vegetables from the seeds I won last year! I did one post about it, but I will do another soon.

    1. Holley I thought about you and the seeds and wondered 🙂 So glad you are still going with all those seeds. I usually can eek out 2 years with a packet of seed and sometimes 3 years.

  7. Donna,Winter here is also far from over although today was very Spring like, great to get outdoors and do a few jobs. Findhorn is about 75 miles from Aberdeen. I always think of the people living there to be akin to Quakers or a sort of religious sect without the bad press side. Although its further north than Aberdeen it enjoys milder Summers than we have, something to do with the gulf stream.

    1. Interesting about this fascinating place and how its climate is milder than yours. We I hope for some rest before spring as I need it, but I fear that will not happen as it will be here so quickly now.

  8. Spring is on the way despite what it looks like outside all white and frigid, so now is the best time to read, sit and dream. Some of what you noted are things learned in our Master Gardening training, like running your hand gently across the seedlings. I am sure advice like that gets passed down through generations, but also has scientific merit to back up the action. It always amazes me what people knew without even having any reason to know it is true.

    1. Oh I so wish the snow would melt and stay away so I would have some color. We had 14 feet so far this winter and I really am done. I have tried to get into a Master Gardener class but unfortunately it is only offered at night in downtown Syracuse in a not so safe area. I cannot even begin to find time to take a night class and I refuse to go alone to this area, park and walk in the dark. Not a good idea. I have asked them to consider other options but they are not willing. Oh well.

      I too find this type of info fascinating as much of it has been passed down from generation to generation.

  9. Sounds like a great book, Donna. I liked what you said about finding the time. I’m reading a lot of fiction lately and leaning more toward picture books and magazines when it comes to garden ideas. Every once in a while I come across a fiction book that has a gardening/nature thread–those are some of my favorites. Nice review, Donna!

    1. Thanks Beth. I am giving myself a bit of a break and reading more fiction these days as well. I love Susan Albert’s Beatrix Potter’s mystery series and am cozying up with one now 🙂

  10. Wow, your spring plants are now starting to show up, celebration! I have a blogger friend in Illinois who always send me seeds, and now bulbs. The seeds don’t grow or adapt, but the amaryllis/hippeastrum do. Another pack i just received last weekend, i have a lot of things to do and experiment again.

    Re:your seeds giveaway, i am sure many hands and hearts will be happy! God bless.

    1. Sorry I should have noted these are last years spring plants…we are covered by snow still Andrea. I did not realize I could send seed from the US to the Philippines. I will note that for the future Andrea.

  11. I didn’t know about stroking seedlings – maybe that’s where I’ve been going wrong. Mind you it would help if they germinated in the first place.

  12. Oh yes, compost for strawberries. This reminds me that my container strawberries must be dug and replanted in fresh compost/soil.

    Looks like a great book. Please count me out of the contest. I love your generosity but I don’t plant veggies from seed. Best of luck to all of the contenders.

  13. This book sounds quite thorough! I hope your grafted tomatoes perform better for you. It made all the difference for us last year, although we don’t tend to have the same magnitude of blight problems as you do there. I’m with Carolyn, don’t enter me in the drawing! I’m almost done sowing my seeds, and I don’t want to sow any more! 😛

    1. I will certainly be letting you know how the grafted tomatoes fare. I also am planting some hybrids and non-hybrids. I plan to plant some heirlooms and non-hybrids in homemade hanging tomato planters (at least I hope to) to see if they do better against the blight growing upside down.

  14. I have a tendency to pet all my plants, though I am very careful with the ones with thorns. Never realized I was mimicking the wind, but the plants seem to respond! I like the idea of an organic book divided up by the months.

  15. Looks like another great book! Today at the garden show people kept complaining about moss in their lawns, I told them to get rid of their lawns! Thought you would like that,

    1. I love it Elaine…I will have to use that when they complain about violets too as I find them so lovely in the lawn. My neighbors probably think I am crazy for growing Glory of the Snow and crocus in the lawn deliberately too.

  16. Great book review, Donna, and thanks for the link re: good tomatoes for the NE. I have so much trouble growing tomatoes. One thing I love about your blog is the wonderful quotes. The one from H. Fred Dale is a favorite of mine and I may put it after my email signature for a change. P. x

    1. I was quite taken with the quote too Pam. I left another comment further down about the tomatoes I am growing this year if you find you want to explore them a bit more.

  17. It seems Henry Homeyer is open to an understanding of the natural world which eludes much of the human race. Your link to Findhorn was an unexpected blessing. I may have found some kindred spirits. Have a beautiful day, Donna.

  18. interesting Donna, I try to be organic and am in most things, I’ve heard of Findhorn but do not know much about it, your book sounds very interesting, good and helpful,
    sorry work has taken over so much of your time but at least being in winter there is not a lot you can do for gardening, I hope you will have more time in spring and summer when the weather is better and everything is growing,
    Frances x

    1. Michelle you will enjoy this book as it has so much interesting info…I just took 3 days off as it will be another 6 weeks before I can find time to take again.

  19. Hi Donna, I hope reading and dreaming about gardening helps you deal with the tiredness. The book sounds like the best kind, one to keep going back to, again and again. I have one of those myself, also on organic gardening, already much thumbed. And thank you, I have been forgetting to tickle my seedlings as they grow their first true leaves!

    1. I hope to have some seedlings to tickle soon Janet. I have been visited by some woodpeckers and they are keeping us amused as winter is still very much here in all its gray and white glory.

  20. I thought I left you a comment after faving you in blotanical. Darn No! You are in NE – yahoo….I find very few gardeners from NE. I am also in NE – NJ to be precise. So, I indeed have to get hold of this book. Thanks for the information.

  21. I’m always a little overwhelmed by the incredible organisation of this blog! I shall day dream, not of vegetables or crocuses but of being this efficient in life. (I’m not a great fan of gardening books.)

    1. Oh Lucy you make me laugh…I guess I am a bit obsessive when it comes to my blog. I loved buying garden books but rarely found time to read them…and when Holley started her meme I began to enjoy reading about gardening. I do enjoy a good mystery story even more and make sure I have a balance of time between garden books and mysteries. I think my job formerly as a teacher and now as a school district administrator requires me to be organized especially in thinking and writing.

  22. I like that you have to run you hand over the seedlings to simulate the wind. It is good to have a book on hand to read bit by bit to follow for the planting season. Yes, I would read it in one sitting as well, then as you said, go back and read it in the time frame laid out in the book.

    1. Karen I am trying Marglobe and Oregon Spring from Mike The Gardener as the Marglobe is heavy producing even in blight and Oregon is early and does well in cold. I am also trying Burpees grafted heirloom tomato plants. They graft heirloom tomatoes onto disease resistant stock tomato plants. I wanted to see how these performed as I love heirlooms but wilt and blight always get them. Lastly I am trying Johnny’s Selected Seeds Organic Hybrid Defiant, Granadero (sauce), Red Pearl (grape) tomatoes. We shall see. I think I may even build my own hanging tomato planters to try to grow some hanging upside down as maybe they may not have as many problems with blight. I have blight every other year it seems.

  23. It is a credit to this book that you read it in a single sitting and want to go back and reread passages. I feel the same way about learning new things. It’s exciting and keeps the mind young. This sounds like a great book Donna!

  24. Hi Donna,

    I hope things warm up for you soon and you get some much needed blooms in the garden! 🙂
    I’m off to make some much needed hot chocolate as it’s become chilly again (shouldn’t complain, as it means the spring bulbs are hanging around much longer than usual).

  25. I have trouble doling out garden books to myself a little bit at a time — even though that’s often what I say I am going to do. Your strategy of reading Homeyer’s book cover to cover and then going back to digest useful information more slowly seems like a good strategy.

  26. Hi Donna, I love the photos, are the first two pansies and crocus? I like the strawberry, too! Don’t know what the red flower is. I’ll be sure to participate in your Spring Seasonal Celebration. The winter one was fun, and I met new bloggers by visiting their posts. Have a lovely week! 🙂

    1. Actually the first photo is violas I grew from seed and the second is crocus. The red is snapdragon. You can see what each picture is by running your cursor over the pictures…the titles come up.

      I am looking forward to you participating Loredana.

        1. Hi Donna again, thanks for your recent comment on my post. It was an old post from November 2012, and I’m not sure why Blogger sent the notification email for an old post. Sorry about that. I do appreciate your continuing support. I will be reading your newest post soon. Have a lovely day 🙂

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