Grow-It-Organically Blog

Photo of Steve in the Tomato Temple

The Grow-It-Organically Blog will keep you up to date on:

  • Additions to this Site
  • Seasonal Gardening Tips
  • Photos of Gardens in Progress
  • Suggestions for What to Do with Garden Abundance, Including Recipes
  • Organic Gardening in the News

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Feb 04, 2014

Best of Houzz 2014 Award for Customer Satisfaction

Remodeling and Home Design

I just won a "Best of Houzz 2014" award for Customer Satisfaction! Thanks to all my clients, especially those who wrote reviews for me.

Dec 22, 2013

"Balancing" a Carrot Bed

Balancing a carrot bed, before, seedlings clumped together
Balancing a carrot bed, after, seedlings spread out evenly over the bed
Carrot Seedlings 5 Weeks after Planting
"Balancing" a Carrot Bed© Steve Masley
(Click IMAGE to Enlarge)

Just added some photos on "balancing" a carrot bed to my Growing Carrots page. Carrot beds tend to be "clumpy", with knots of dense seedlings, and wide gaps in between. While the seedlings are still small, you can carefully "prick out" clusters of seedlings with a fork, to thin them out and fill in gaps in the bed. See Growing Carrots for more information.

Dec 18, 2013

New Broccoli Photos, 'Blue Wind' and 'Arcadia' Side Shoots

Click Any Image to See a Larger Version
Broccoli Varieties—'Blue Wind' 2
This 'Arcadia' Broccoli Produced Side Shoots Almost as Large as Regular Broccoli Heads 3

I just added a couple photos from a client's garden to my Growing Broccoli page.

The photo on the left is 'Blue Wind', a very early broccoli variety with good side shoot production.

It remains to be seen if its side shoot production can match that of 'Arcadia', the photo on the right. The main head was harvested 3 weeks ago, and this plant produced 9 side shoots, each the size of a small broccoli head on its own.

Jul 25, 2013

Growing Tomatoes in Containers, Growing Tomatoes in Pots, Container Tomatoes

Growing tomatoes in containers is often the only option for apartment-dwellers, but container tomatoes have advantages even when you have space for a garden.

Continue reading "Growing Tomatoes in Containers, Growing Tomatoes in Pots, Container Tomatoes"

Apr 04, 2013

Dragonflies as Garden Predators

Red Dragonfly on Water Reed.
Dragonflies, Nature's Most Efficient Predators
© Photo from the New York Times

There was a great article on dragonflies as predators in the New York Times yesterday: . They're probably the most efficient predators in the animal kingdom, capturing up to 95% of the prey they pursue. If you live near water, you'll find them patrolling your garden in lazy figure-8's, zigging and zagging to snag flying insects or chase rivals or mates. You can encourage their presence in the garden by adding a water element.

Continue reading "Dragonflies as Garden Predators"

Jan 24, 2013

Tomato Diseases

Tomato Diseases–Western Yellows (Curly Top)
'Western Yellows', a.k.a, 'Curly Top'
© Steve Masley...Click IMAGE to Enlarge

I just put up one of the ugliest pages on my site, a new page on Tomato Diseases. This is one of the only pages on my site where most of the photos are not mine.

As a gardener and photographer, ugly is hard for me to do. Brown is the color of failure in a garden. When I've seen tomato diseases in the past, I've identified them, then done what I could (if anything) to help the plant recover. Usually, I just yank the plant and throw it in the trash.

Fortunately, University extension services are good at ugly photos. So for this page, I reviewed several publications on each of the main tomato diseases. Under each disease, I used photos from the best publication on that disease, then linked to the publication from my site.

This page should be useful for gardeners looking to diagnose sick tomato plants. It has photos of the main tomato diseases, all in one place, with links out to detailed information on each disease.

One disadvantage of extension services is that they usually recommend chemical fungicides to deal with tomato diseases. That's where my section on organic solutions to tomato diseases comes in.

Jan 18, 2013

Now You Can Purchase Photos from

We get a lot of requests for prints of photos from, so now you can purchase prints of our best pictures. You can get canvas, acrylic, metal, and art prints, in sizes ranging from 8" x 5" (gift cards) to 30" x 20" and larger. You can order without frames, or select from a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes of frames.

The images are perfect for brightening up a kitchen, dining room, outdoor dining area, or office. If you order a frame that matches your window casings and delete the mat, it will look like you've added a window looking out on a garden.

This is a great resource for interior designers and people staging properties for sale. A sure way to make a space pop is with high-quality, clear, stunning images. If you know an interior designer or real estate stager, send them a link to this page.

Here's a slideshow of some of the available images, with a link to the site to see the full gallery:

Art Prints

Check out All the Available Images

Jan 06, 2013

New Pepper Photos from 2012 Garden

I'm just getting around to posting photos of last summer's peppers. Here's a gallery featuring 'Carmen', a red Italian bull's horn (Corno di Toro) pepper I tried for the first time this summer. I'll be growing this one every summer from now on! You can see other recent additions at my Pepper Varieties page.

'Carmen' Bull's Horn Peppers: Click Any Image to See a Larger Version
'Carmen' Bull's Horn (Corno di Toro) Pepper
'Carmen' Bull's Horn (Corno di Toro) Pepper, hand
'Carmen' Bull's Horn (Corno di Toro) Pepper

Jan 02, 2013

Worm Farms in the News--New York Times Article

Fresh Worm Castings with Red Compost Worms
Fresh Worm Castings with
Red Compost Worms
© Steve
…Click IMAGE to Enlarge

Jim Robbins had a piece in the New York Times about worm farms and the benefits of vermicompost. As I've said for years, the worm gut is loaded with beneficial bacteria and fungi, and the castings are inoculated with these microbes as they pass through into the soil.

These beneficial microbes enchance plant immunity and outcompete pathogens in the soil. I've used fresh worm castings in my salad tray flats, potting mixes, and seed starting mixes for years, it's part of why my plants are so robust and healthy.

The only disadvantage of worm castings is they're expensive to buy. If you use a lot of them, like I do, you'll want to set up your own Worm Composting System. That way, you can turn kitchen scraps and shredded paper into worm castings, a probiotic for your soil. Fresh worm castings are even better than bagged castings, because you get a few worms with them, and the worms help cycle nutrients in container vegetable gardens.

The link below goes to Jim Robbins' New York Times article on worm farms:

Continue reading "Worm Farms in the News--New York Times Article"

Jan 01, 2013

Harvesting Broccoli, How to Harvest Broccoli

Harvesting broccoli is all about timing. You want the heads to grow as large as possible, but harvest before the florets swell too much.

Continue reading "Harvesting Broccoli, How to Harvest Broccoli"

Dec 24, 2012

Starting Tomatoes from Seed, Growing Tomatoes from Seed

Starting tomatoes from seed is the best way to explore new tomato varieties, and the cheapest way to grow a lot of tomatoes. Here are three keys to success.

Continue reading "Starting Tomatoes from Seed, Growing Tomatoes from Seed"

Dec 18, 2012

Tomato Hornworm, Tomato Worms, Tomato Horn Worms

The tomato hornworm is the most visible insect pest of tomatoes. Tomato worm infestations may start small, but quickly become damaging as the tomato worms–and their appetities–grow.

Continue reading "Tomato Hornworm, Tomato Worms, Tomato Horn Worms"

Dec 06, 2012

Growing Basil in Containers

Growing basil in containers is a no-brainer for most gardeners.

Continue reading "Growing Basil in Containers"

May 24, 2012

Best Watering Wand

Seedbeds and delicate seedlings need gentle watering the first couple weeks. The Gardena Soft Spray Wand is the best tool for the job. It has a soft, rain-like spray that doesn't blast leaves or disturb roots. I've had mine 12 years, including 2 years of abuse in the student garden at Stanford.

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