Tag Archives: Mother Earth News Fair

No-Till Permanent Beds & SESE at the Mother Earth News Fair

Less work, better production is every gardener’s dream. One method that can help you to achieve this dream is to use a minimal or no-till permanent bed system.

More Production

Permanent beds perform better because the soil is never compacted and rarely disturbed. By using no-till practices on permanent beds beneficial insects, microbes, and fungi are allowed to thrive in the soil making for healthier more productive plants.

The pathways between permanent beds also encourage beneficial insects. They can be mulched to provide habitat for species like predatory insects or cover cropped with something like white clover that can be kept fairly short and still attract pollinators. Additionally cover cropped pathways can be mowed and the clippings can be used to add organic matter to the beds.

Permanent beds especially with pathways in cover crop helps reduce erosion keeping more nutrients in the beds for your plants.

Less Work

Unless you’ve got a tractor rototilling is usually a very time consuming spring project. Obviously no-till agriculture eliminates this need but it also reduces the amount of space that you have to carefully maintain. Mulch or mow where you walk rather than worrying about keeping it weed free.

Permanent beds can also help you plan out plantings for easy rotation and maintenance. You can easily keep track of what was where each year and space plantings to allow for easy cultivation with hand tools like a wheel how or stirrup hoe. They also make it easier to set up drip irrigation systems which are more efficient than overhead watering.

Finally, they make it easier to integrate perennials and self sowing plants into your garden plan. These plants make productive low maintenance additions.

Less Money

Tillers can be a costly expense for farmers and gardeners alike. Avoiding the initial cost of a tiller plus the fuel that goes into running a it at least once a year is a great way to save money in the garden.

As permanent no-till beds also keep your beds healthier they’ll reduce the need for costly outside inputs.

Mother Earth News Fair

June 2-3 Southern Exposure will be putting on a few workshops at the Maryland Mother Earth News Fair! If you’re in the area be sure to check out SESE’s workshops for some excellent gardening advice.

Grow More, Work Less: Expert tips for your vegetable garden with Ira Wallace

Available in: Maryland – North Carolina

Maryland Time: Sunday – 10:00-11:00 a.m.

Stage: Heirloom Gardener Stage

Simple tips and techniques for adding self-sowing annual, perennial, and biennial vegetables to your garden. Learn how to save time and money in your edible landscape, permaculture beds, or any vegetable garden.

Sun Growing Common and Uncommon Greens for Summer Salads and More

Available in: Maryland – North Carolina

Maryland Time: Sunday – 1:00-1:30 p.m.

Stage: Heirloom Gardener Stage

Salad greens are some of the most satisfying plants a gardener can grow. What else can you sow a little of in a bare patch and start harvesting just four weeks later? If you’ve mastered the basic greens (such as romaine, leaf lettuces, and spinach) and you’re looking for something a little different, or if your salad patch looks a little peaked in mid-summer, Ira Wallace has a few adventurous ideas for you as well as tips, varieties, and timing to keep the ordinary greens coming. Learn about 10 out-of-the-ordinary greens to try this year, including some that bridge the mid-summer gap between the cool, prolific spring and fall salad seasons.

Turmeric and Ginger: Growing for medicinal and culinary use

Available in: Maryland – North Carolina

Maryland Time: Saturday – 10:00-11:00 a.m.

Stage: Mother Earth Living Stage

There’s nothing fresher than turmeric and ginger you grow yourself! Learn the fundamentals of planting turmeric and ginger for a bountiful harvest. Ann Codrington shares her tips and tricks to get the moisture, timing, and temperature just right for sprouting, and shows participants how to care for plants as they go through their natural phases of growth.

Hands-on: Seed-Cleaning Techniques and Tips  Irena Hollowell, Gryphon Corpus, and Sappho Heavey

Available in: Maryland

Maryland Time: Saturday – 11:30-12:30 p.m.

Stage: Hands-On Demonstrations

Irena Hollowell, Gryphon Corpus, and Sappho Heavey show you how to clean seeds you’ve harvested in your garden for good germination rates and shelf life. This workshop focuses on the threshing, winnowing, and screening of seeds that mature in dry pods or seedheads (such as beans, okra, and lettuce), and participants can try their own hand at winnowing. Hollowell also briefly touches on the fermentation of seeds that mature wet. These methods are applicable to seeds of flowers and herbs, as well as vegetables. Take home handouts and seed samples. Note: An extra pass is required for this workshop. Space is limited, get your passes today.

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SESE co-manager presenting at the Mother Earth News Fair in Albany, OR

For you self-sufficiency enthusiasts out there, you may be interested in my presentation using the recently constructed SESE seed office as a case study for DIY green and natural building at the Mother Earth News Fair in Albany, OR.  Hope to see you there!

Celebrations of Sun and Soil

Keeping Up with SESE

Recently, we here at Southern Exposure have had the pleasure of participating in two lovely, sustainability-focused events: our 4th annual Heritage Harvest Festival, held at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello right here in Virginia, and the inaugural Mother Earth News Fair at the Seven Springs Resort southeast of Pittsburgh.

Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello

Our booth at HHF with Monticello in the background

Thomas Jefferson was an avid gardener and agriculturalist and, if alive today, would surely be a passionate advocate of the organic food movement. In honor of this, Monticello and Southern Exposure have been co-hosting the Heritage Harvest Festival (HHF)–a celebration of local food, gardening and sustainable agriculture.

Our wire seed rack on display at HHF

On Saturday, September 11th, 3,000 people flooded Monticello’s West Lawn to attend workshops and hands-on demonstrations as well as to admire Jefferson’s beautifully-restored gardens.

Experts from around the country shared their knowledge with participants at a variety of wonderful lectures. Among these master gardeners were our very own Ira Wallace and Ken Bezilla. Ira educated listeners about heirloom garlic and later, she threw a tea party! At her workshop Herbal “High” Tea, Ira served fancy herbal teas and delicious anise cookies while teaching participants how to grow the herbs needed to make such sweet and savory delights.

At Ken’s lecture, he delved into fall and winter gardening for Zone 6. Besides recommending winter greens and roots that participants could begin growing as well as naming crops such as garlic and onion that could be started for next year, Ken talked about frost preparation for summer crops, row cover, and what to do for your plants when it snows.

Andros putting out tomatoes samples

Over at our Southern Exposure booth, we hosted pepper, melon and tomato tastings that enveloped us in a flurry of activity all day long. The continuous stream of people wanting to try our numerous heirloom tomato varieties kept our ex-line cook Andros chopping tomatoes at lightening speed for hours.

Mother Earth News Fair

The first ever Mother Earth News Fair, held at the Seven Springs Resort in Pennsylvania, was a huge success, with over 9,000 participants and nearly 200 workshops. The fair was a hands-on sustainable lifestyle event that featured an eco-friendly marketplace, organic and local food tastings, and lectures by leading authorities on gardening, green building and renewable energy. We’re glad we got to be there and that we were asked to be a Supporting Partner of the event.

River and Gordon at our Mother Earth News Fair booth
Mmmm, garlic tasting!

An entire table of our booth was dedicated to seed swapping. We happily looked on as friends of Southern Exposure exchanged all sorts of seeds, from passion fruit to wildflowers, amongst each other.

People perusing our booth could also sample squash, tomato, pepper and garlic varieties–all of which we grew in our garden.

And Ira, ever a fountain of useful information, gave four lectures.

Ira's lecture "Growing Great Garlic and Perennial Onions"

When she wasn’t teaching attendees how to grow garlic, perennial onions, herbs and heirloom tomatoes, she was instructing people on how to eat fresh from their gardens all winter long.

If you missed the fun in Pennsylvania, come visit our booth next year! We’ll definitely be back, and with even more Southern Exposure goodness.

If you’ll be on the West Coast in June or September next year, you can also find us at these Mother Earth News Fairs:

June 4-5, 2011 – Seattle Metro Area, Puyallup Fairgrounds, Puyallup, Wash.
Sept. 3-5, 2011 – San Francisco Metro Area, Marin Center, San Rafael, Calif.

Upcoming Events: Where to Find Us This Winter

We’re donating ten percent of our sales from winter events to the Organic Seed Alliance, so come on out and celebrate seeds with us!

Dec 3-5 Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s 25th Sustainable Agriculture Conference in Winston-Salem, NC
Dec 12 Appalachian Seed Swap in Bristol, TN
Jan 19-22 Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG) in Chattanooga, TN
Feb 10 Organic Seed Intensive in Portland, OR
Feb 11-12 Organicology in Portland, OR
Feb 11-12 Virginia Association for Biological Farming (VABF) in Danville, VA
Mar 5-6 Organic Growers School in Asheville, NC
Mar 10-12 Georgia Organics in Savannah, GA