My husband and I went to a meeting with master gardener Caleb Warnock. Perfect date night! Yeah, I’m that nerdy. I love date nights where we can learn together about practical and/or academic stuff from someone who is smart and funny, and simultaneously be with other people I know. We just needed some yummy snacks during the meeting and then it would have been utterly perfect. That’s how it is sometimes with my homeopathy class. My friend Britney brings food. She used to be a caterer. Britney where were you?
If you don’t know who Caleb Warnock is, and even if you do, he’s the still the same person, haha. (I think it’s funny when people say, “For those of you who don’t know me, I’m…” or “For those of you don’t know him…” You or him are the same person, LOL, whether the audience knows the person in question or not.) Caleb Warnock is the author of the following amazing books:
I could do a whole huge post with all his tips as a recap of the meeting, but I won’t. Just go get his books. They are soooo informative! Also, the video of the meeting is here.
Here is the biggest tip of all from the meeting that you can apply right now, even before spring hits, to get your garden going for this coming summer.
Here it is:
Recycle milk jugs to use as mini-greenhouses to plant your seeds. They will be protected from the wild swings of Utah spring weather until summer is here full-blown. Cut the jug like in the photo above, all the way around, except through the handle. In other words, leave the plastic below the handle intact. It’s like you are cutting a “Muppet mouth” so your milk jug can “talk” with a hinge in the back. See up close below.
Then you fill the bottom with potting soil. He gave a recipe for soil because he says Utah dirt is horrible. He says he hasn’t used native Utah soil in years. This is probably the same for all dirt in the desert west. It is so alkaline! When I lived in AZ the dirt was even worse. One lady at the meeting just moved from AZ and she said that dirt was like talcum powder. She says she loves the dirt here.
Anyway, here is is his recipe for his miracle dirt:
1 part sand (he lets his sit for two years so the salt is washed out)
1 part vermiculite
1 part baked clay, bought from the kitty litter aisle at Walmart
6 parts black peat moss
6 parts compost
If you don’t have access to all that right away, then he says, use potting soil from Dollar Tree. Get his soil mixture for sure when you plant the seedlings outside.
Then plant your seeds, about 15 in the soil. You can get heirloom, non-GMO seeds from Caleb at seedrenaissance.com. Water them. Tape up the slit with duct tape or packing tape. Keep the lid off and place the jug in your backyard. Check every few days to make sure the dirt is wet, and water if needed. He says the seedlings are sensitive to water that is alkaline and will curl up or get crusty. So if you use plain tap water, use 1 c tap water to 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar. Hopefully some rain will come. Caleb made a ton of jokes about how dry Utah is, how it never rains.
Then watch your seeds grow! When they reach the top of the jug, it’s time to plant them in your backyard garden.
I’m totally doing this! Thank you Caleb. I love that the containers are free and so easy to find. Also that you are recycling something that might get thrown away. If you want more milk jugs than you have or use, ask around. Even if your family doesn’t drink milk, you can probably easily round up some empty jugs from your neighbors. One of my friends at the meeting says she put the word out in her church group that she wants everyone’s milk jugs when they are done, so she’s been getting a bunch. I’m totally doing that too!
Here are some videos of Caleb so you can get a taste of how ingenious, skillful, and funny he is.