Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Order early spring seedlings by February 21

Reserve your seedlings ahead of the growing season! Select the varieties you'd like now, then pick them up at M R Gardens when it's planting time.

The Pre-Season Prep service gives you a chance to think through your and your garden's needs. You are also helping to create a sustainable plant nursery. If we know ahead of time the quantities of plants to grow, then none are wasted.

Buttercrunch lettuce
The final dates to order are as follows:
Feb. 21 - Early spring seedlings (lettuce, kale, collards, broccoli raab, Brussels sprouts, mustard, kohlrabi, etc.)
March 14 - Herbs, annual flowers and groundcovers
March 28 - Native perennials
March 28 - Summer crop seedlings (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant)

We also have a new section on the site - bulk orders. These are especially well suited for those who are establishing a groundcover in a large space or trying to fill in a bare slope. Please place bulk orders by March 14.

We will contact you when your plants are ready and arrange a pickup time. You will have a chance to inspect the plants and address any concerns before taking your plants home. We have a high standard for quality, offering discounts, exchanges or returns if we’re not satisfied with the plant.

If you bring your washed plant containers, we give you a promo code to subtract 50 cents off each plant from your next order.  We’re currently taking: 4-inch or 5-inch square, half-gallon, gallon and two-gallon containers. To help avoid spread of disease from old soil, we can only take them if they're scrubbed free of dirt.

We also offer a “Tell a Friend” discount. If a new customer orders online and puts in the memo that they heard about M R Gardens from you, we’ll send you a promo code for a free plant.

At M R Gardens, we strive for as sustainable as possible. That includes:
v Growing in a one-of-a-kind passive solar greenhouse, heating the house entirely with solar gain;
v Incorporating potting mix materials that are by-products of other manufacturing processes;
v Limiting the use of plastic with innovations and promotions such as our recycled pots discount;
v Using organic practices for all plants grown from seed at our greenhouse (which is almost all of our offering unless otherwise noted in the item descriptions);
v Diversifying our farm’s income streams to alleviate pressure on the nursery to produce more than what is sustainable.

We’ve created a sustainable business in a holistic manner, growing slowly but surely over many years, ensuring we have a strong foundation before making grand leaps.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact megan@mrgardens.net or 828.333.4151.

We look forward to seeing you at the farm - and handing off healthy, sustainably grown plants!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

You can still sign up for Grow

Our new group gardening programs, "Grow" and "Emergence" have started, and we're having a great time so far!

Part of our group: Mike, Ali, Courtney and Megan

Each day starts out with a lesson about native or edible landscaping before we start our hands on activity.

Building beds for lavender, which we'll plant in late spring.

Re-establishing beds taken over by invasive vegetation, which we've solarized with plastic.

Preparing a bed for native perennials.

Composting area and vegetable beds are in the background.
We added several new vegetable beds, surrounded by mulched pathways with a plastic base for weed control.

"Sheet mulching" new orchard area, which means layering cardboard and organic materials for decomposition over winter.

Through Emergence, Flint is moving from years of working in conventional landscaping to more healing aspects of gardening.

A peek behind the chestnut tree

We wrap up the day with a harvest.

Gigantic parsnips and salsify!

Chinese cabbage and collards
Wash station

Weekly basket - Fall offering

Grow participants cut their own bouquets of cooked greens.
Wrapping up - packing salad mix
If you're interested in applying, set up an appointment with Megan by calling 828.333.4151. If you sign up by mid-January, we can catch you up on all that you missed during fall and winter. After January, we'll consider accepting new applicants on a revolving basis, carrying into the 2018-19 season. We currently meet Tuesdays at 3:00 or 4:00, depending on sunset time, for two and a half hours. Read more about the program in Laurel of Asheville and Mountain Xpress.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Intrigued by Grow? Go for it.

I’m excited that “Grow,” our year-long gardening program held here at the farm starting October 24, is half-full with a great mix of people of all ages and backgrounds. A few others have expressed interest, but are concerned that they won’t have the time or the funds. This is my advice based on years of focusing on creating a lifestyle that deeply fulfills me:

If Grow is something you really wish to do, then go for it. You may feel like you don’t have time at the moment, but if you set your priorities, then events and logistics rearrange so that what you truly want slides into your life.

M R Gardens
If you’re worried about the cost (a total of $600 for 36 sessions), consider that you are essentially paying up-front for your produce for a full year. I can’t guarantee the weekly basket of veggies, herbs and/or flowers will supply all your needs, but certainly much will be met during the key growing months. And all with high quality organically grown foods that you helped grow.

If we factor in the investment it takes for a program like this to get started—the established gardens, greenhouses, equipment, tools, land, not to mention what the teacher (that’s me) brings—16 years of experience, education, and lessons learned through trial-and-error—the value of this program is immense. But I’ve kept the program at a cost similar to a CSA share because I really want people to give this model a try. I understand your life is packed, and I am very appreciative when you can prioritize being a part of growing your own food.

When determining if your budget can handle something you love, it’s often best to ask—“Is it feeding my soul?” If it is, then usually no monetary value can adequately illustrate the amount of joy, health, education and motivation it brings into your life. Proactive, positive energy carries over to other parts of your life, providing fuel that you didn’t have before.

And remember—if financial limitation is honestly the only barrier holding you back from participating, please inquire about scholarships because funding may be available.

What is Grow?

M R Gardens is offering a new opportunity for clients to be involved with the growing of their own food at our two-acre farm in the Oakley community. Called “Grow,” the program meets for a full year on a nearly weekly basis, starting October 24 with building the soil for the following spring. Grow participants learn how to cultivate food in diversified, ecologically sound gardens, and then take home the bounty, dividing up the harvest of vegetables, fruit, flowers and/or herbs.

M R Gardens is now interviewing potential students. To confirm that the program is the right fit, applicants go through a simple application process. Candidates can contact me (Megan) at 828.333.4151 to set up a meeting at the farm. The main requirements are an interest in a unique ecological way of landscaping, excitement about the work of gardening, the ability to help create a conducive learning environment for all in the group, and acceptance to others of different backgrounds and belief systems. Applicants should express interest as soon as possible, and the first payment is due October 20.

Grow offers education not only in the specifics of growing each particular vegetable and fruit, but also in creating a healthy system to support the crops. That includes beneficial microbes that convert the nutrients in the soil into a form that plants can uptake; beneficial flowers that attract pollinators as well as predators of garden pests; and native plants that are key elements of the food web. Participants also learn about naturalized landscaping, ground covers in place of grass, medicinal herbs, and seed starting in M R Gardens’ passive solar greenhouse, which is climate controlled by design with no additional heating or cooling.

The goal is to create ease and fun in growing food. When farming is concentrated in the hands of a few, it can become drudgery. On the other side of the coin, home gardening can be frustrating if the knowledge and the group structure isn’t in place.

Early September harvest
The Grow program is an exceptionally sustainable model of growing food. While there are a lot of promising advancements in all scales of organic and sustainable agriculture ventures, I gravitate to a farm size in which I can create the healthiest soil ecosystem possible. For me that means limited mechanization and more hands helping in the garden. I also give attention to the diversity of plants, insects and microbes—to all that surround the vegetables to help them grow—rather than solely concentrating on food crops.

Similar to a Community Supported Agriculture model, Grow offers residents an opportunity to essentially pay up-front for their produce for the coming year, therefore sharing in the risk inherent in farming. The difference is that the emphasis for Grow is on education and participation. While Grow students might not go home with quite as much produce as a CSA basket, they get to harvest unique, nutrient-dense fruits such as goumi berries and chokeberries, along with the typical vegetables that are in season. For some participants, it may be a relief to only take the amount of food they know they can handle that week.

Because of the structure of the Grow program, the weekly gathering in the gardens is something members look forward to. The education is hands-on, so most of the learning is through activities, such as preparing garden beds, planting, and tending the plants, rather than in memorization of facts and terms. While participants are physically active and are given opportunities to bustle if they so choose, most of the work is relaxing and meditative—or lends itself to conversation with others in the group.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Fall plants for your garden

M R Gardens in the Oakley community opens its greenhouse to the public on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. September through October 21 or until supplies last.

We're now offering fall plants for half-off! 

Three types of kale: Vates, Winter Red and Lacinato
Fall plants that are available include broccoli raab, Chinese cabbage, cilantro, collards, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard greens, pak choi, as well as herbs and native perennials. Most varieties are pictured here: https://squareup.com/store/m-r-gardens/

You can reserve your plants on the Square site, and you only pay the upfront deposit rather than full price. If you can’t pick up your plants Saturday, we can arrange another time.

We aim for as sustainable as possible, which means not only using organic growing methods but also growing in a passive solar greenhouse heated entirely by solar gain and cooled with manual vents.

The greenhouse is at 441 Onteora Blvd. Contact Megan at 828.333.4151 or megan@mrgardens.net with questions.