composting smart (including in a pit!), with ‘the new gardener’s handbook’ author daryl beyers

composting smart (including in a pit!), with ‘the new gardener’s handbook’ author daryl beyers

“The New Gardener’s Handbook” (affiliate link).

It was in its pages that I picked up some new-to-me tips on better composting and more—including the right way to water as you plant trees and shrubs; how to choose which limbs to prune off or keep when shaping and thinning; and how to rejuvenate overgrown shrubs (all at once, or in stages?).

Read along as you listen to the March 16, 2020 edition of my public-radio show and podcast using the player below. You can subscribe to all future editions on Apple Podcasts (iTunes) or Spotify or Stitcher (and browse my archive of podcasts here).

Margaret Roach: So for a number of years you’ve taught the Fundamentals of Gardening course, as I just said, at NYBG.

Daryl Beyers: Oh, yes.

Margaret: And I wonder if in that class, as in the intro to “The New Gardener’s Handbook,”whether you also tell students when they’re beginning that you see gardening as part art and part science—which I totally agree with, by the way.

Daryl: I do, I do. Really within the first 10 minutes, the way that I’m trying to explain things to my new gardening students, and sort of the same reason why I talk about it in the introduction of “The New Gardener’s Handbook,” is the idea that gardening isn’t just science, but it’s also not just guessing. And so there’s a combination of strategies that you have to kind of put together. And what I try to do is build people’s confidence by giving them the background scientific information that they need to garden smart, and to go out there and sort of feel comfortable, and to have a good time with it.

And what happens then is once you’ve sort of understand what somebody once mentioned to me is “the how-do’s of the why to’s.” That’s sort of the thinking of it. I stole that from Joe Lamp’l, who I talked to recently and…

Margaret: Love Joe; Joe’s a good friend. Yes.

Daryl: Yes. That was his line. I like to give credit to anybody who comes up with a good one. If you understand the reasons why you’re doing what people may have said that you should do to garden, what happens is you go out there and you become much more confident, and you have a little bit more fun with it. And then basically what happens is you get better at it, because you’re doing it because that’s how you learn how to garden is by doing it.

And bringing the idea of the science and also the art and craft of it together is what, to me, makes a complete gardener and somebody who can get things done out in the garden and have fun with it, too.

Margaret: So you want to help us develop our intuition by first giving us the knowledge, the solid knowledge.

Daryl: Exactly. I’m a firm believer in the fact—although, I don’t know if it… I believe it’s a fact, but maybe it’s not—that we are all gardeners inside. We can all be a gardener. It’s this genetic sort of… a genetic inheritance that we have. And I think we really, if we tap into it, we can all do it. There’s no such thing as a green thumb or no green thumb. I think everybody can do it. And so if you just want to do it, and start connecting to nature in those ways, it’ll work out for you. But you do need to have the basic science background to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. I think that’s what’s important.

Margaret: Yes. So before we get into composting and your amazing pit composting system most of all, which I just totally loved, there were so many other ahas in the book. And even though I’m not a new gardener, I got a lot out of it I want to say. Thank you.

Daryl: Great.

“The New Gardener’s Handbook” by Daryl Beyers for one lucky reader. All you have to do to enter is answer this question in the comments box at the very bottom of the page:

What is your composting method, and how’s it going? Planning on making any changes?

No answer or feeling shy? Just say something like, “count me in” and I will, but an answer is even better. I’ll pick a random winner after entries close at midnight Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Good luck to all.

(Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

(Photo credits: All photos and illustrations from “The New Gardener’s Handbook,” except photo of Margaret’s compost pile. Used with permission.)

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