The 10 essential tools no gardener should be without
Garden of Eatin'

The 10 Essential Gardening Tools No Gardener Should Be Without

This post is in collaboration with our friends at 3-IN-ONE® Brand and Lava® Soap. All thoughts and words are our own.

Every gardener has a favorite gardening tool — the one they always keep within arm’s reach, use over and over again, or stash near the door on the way out.

These are the must-have gardening tools that make planting, weeding, pruning, and harvesting better for the back and more soothing for the soul.

I’m not talking about shovels and hoes and hoses and nozzles. Yes, you need those, but the tools I’m sharing here are the ones I recommend from years of experience, the things that do double (or triple or quadruple) duty in the garden, the essentials that don’t often make it into a novice gardener’s toolkit the first season — but they should.

It took a few years for me to figure out what I really needed in the garden and what brands were most reliable. I don’t mind spending a little more money for a quality item that will pay for itself in a few short seasons; at the same time, I don’t like spending money needlessly on things I only use once or twice a year.

I’ve added to, picked through, and curated my gardening toolkit over time and have found that these 10 items are the best gardening tools that every gardener needs.

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Fall garden cleanup: a robot is mowing my lawn
Garden of Eatin'

Fall Garden Cleanup: A Robot Is Mowing My Lawn!

This post is in collaboration with our friends at WORX. All thoughts and words are our own.

In the decade that I’ve had a garden, I’ve never actually had a lawn until two years ago. Never had grass to cut or weeds to whack, and never even knew that raking leaves served a practical purpose besides keeping your yard neat and tidy. (More on that later.)

Even now, in the house we’re currently renting, lawn care is handled by our landscaper and the only time we even see grass clippings is when he dumps that day’s collection into our compost pile.

We’ve had it pretty easy for a while, but since becoming the owners of 1.5 acres of irrigated land, we’ve realized that we really need to step up our lawn care game.

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Organic pest control 101: 7 easy solutions for getting rid of aphids
Garden of Eatin', Pests & Diseases

Organic Pest Control 101: 7 Easy Solutions for Getting Rid of Aphids

Of all the pests that plague gardens throughout the season, aphids are among the most destructive, overwhelming, and frustrating. They seem to multiply overnight and can quickly invade a garden, leaving you with sticky, stunted plants that struggle to survive.

Not ones to be particularly picky, aphids are voracious feeders and descend on both indoor and outdoor plants, including ornamentals and edibles.

Though we tend to view them in a negative light, we should really be thinking of aphids as nature’s indicator that something is out of balance in the garden. Aphids usually show up on plants that are under some sort of stress — perhaps drought, or overwatering, or over-fertilizing.

Luckily, aphids are one of the easier pests to manage if you catch them early, before their colonies grow too large.

And just how large? you may be wondering. Well, under optimal environmental conditions without any predators, parasites, or diseases, a female aphid hatched in spring can theoretically produce up to 600 billion descendants, or up to 41 generations of females in a single season!

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Welcome home, Ember Luna
Parenthood

Welcome Home, Ember Luna

It’s hard to believe the newest addition to our family is now one month old. Our adorable Ember Luna made her entrance into the world on September 15, 2019, on a warm and beautiful summer night, just as the Harvest Moon was starting to wane.

(Fun fact: The Harvest Moon is the name for the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, and it’s associated with the time farmers would bring in their harvest. I love how Ember’s birth coincided with this agricultural — and very Garden Betty-esque — event, just as big sister Gemma’s birth landed on March 20, the first day of spring.)

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Organic pest control 101: how to get rid of fig beetles naturally
Garden of Eatin', Pests & Diseases

Organic Pest Control 101: How to Get Rid of Fig Beetles Naturally

I like to call them the “bumbling pilots of the garden,” and every summer, those loud, buzzy, clumsy fig beetles are quite an amusing sight to see.

If they’re not, ahem, getting down to business, they’re firmly planted on fruit trees, sucking the juice of not only their namesake figs, but other soft-skinned, rotting fruits like peaches, plums, apricots, and berries.

Fig beetles aren’t harmful to the garden the way other pests are; they won’t spread diseases, kill your trees, or attract more pests. But, they can be a nuisance if they’re feeding on your crop before you get around to harvesting it. Learn how to get rid of fig beetles organically and control their populations in the garden.

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Save the harvest: how to fix blossom end rot
Garden of Eatin', How-To, Vegetables

Save the Harvest: How to Fix Blossom End Rot

At some point in the season as you inspect your tomato crop, you may have noticed a rotten, sunken spot on the end of the fruit. It looks like a yellow or brown water-soaked spot where the blossom used to be, and over time, it turns into a hard, decaying, dark brown or black patch.

This anomaly isn’t a disease or insect damage, and its cause came long before you discovered what was happening. It’s called blossom end rot (also known as BER) and it frequently affects tomatoes, as well as peppers, cucumbers, melons, and eggplant. It appears on green or ripening fruit, especially with the first flush of the season.

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The decision to build our home
Garden Betty Builds a House, House & Home

The Decision to Build Our Home

Before we lucked out on finding our land, my husband Will and I went back and forth endlessly between building or renovating a house.

For him, there’s a bit of nostalgia to it. His parents found a pristine plot of land in the 60s and spent the next 10 years building their dream home, much of it with their own hands (and it’s still going strong today). He grew up remembering all the sacrifices, hard work, and rewards that came with a solidly built house that involved your own sweat and tears.

On the other hand, I never thought that my first home purchase (especially as I’m nearing 40 years old) would be a teardown-come-new-construction. Renovations, DIY, and working within the confines of an old home with character were things I’d just assumed would be in my future. So while Will was familiar with what it took to start from scratch, home building was uncharted territory for me.

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Behind the scenes of The Backyard Fire Cookbook
Makings of a Book, Work

Behind the Scenes of The Backyard Fire Cookbook

It’s been a little over two months since the release of The Backyard Fire Cookbook, and summer is in full swing around here. For us, that means lazy days on the river and lakes, the ever-present smell of sunscreen in the air, and the savory, smoky scent of barbecue and bonfires outside our door.

I’ve been having a lot of fun revisiting the recipes in my book as we plan our weekly grocery shopping and prepare for camping trips. (We’ve actually been making them more in camp than at home, so this is a book that also travels well!)

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Adventures in parenting: camping with a newborn
Parenthood

Adventures in Parenthood: Camping With a Newborn Baby

This post is in partnership with Baby Deedee. All thoughts and words are my own. Keep reading for a special discount offered exclusively for Garden Betty friends!

When I was pregnant, the notion of camping with a newborn baby was appealing and a little intimidating. But no matter how many naysayers I came across, and in spite of how many parents laughed at me, insisting, “Oh, you’ll see,” I knew I wasn’t going to wait years for my child to be “ready.”

My thinking was, better to break the kid in sooner than later… get her used to long car rides, simple pleasures, and strange and exciting environments. I didn’t know if there was an “appropriate” age to take a baby camping, but I didn’t want to get too comfortable with the assumption that it was too hard, or too risky, or this, or that… and if I didn’t at least try, I’d never know if it was possible.

So my husband and I set off for one of our favorite summertime destinations, Kern River in Southern California, when Gemma was nine weeks old. Just the three of us. Into the great unknown: sharing a tent with a newborn.

How did we do?

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