Friday, April 9, 2010

Visit with gardening author (and a give-away)

We have a visit today from Sheri Ann Richerson, one of the authors of The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Year-Round Gardening, as well as 101 Organic Gardening Tips, 101 Gardening For Beginners Tips, 101 Ways To Self-Sufficiency Through Your Garden Tips and 101 Tips For The Secret Life Of A Gardener.

Deborah: How did you get interested in gardening? Did you have a green thumb, or did you have to really work at it?

Sheri: My grandmother grew roses and various flowers. Both grandfathers raised vegetables. My parents also had a garden. I hated gardening because I hated the spiders that lived in the strawberry patch my mother made me weed!

When I got my own place, my mother kept bringing me flats of impatiens. I planted them simply to make her feel better. Then, about a year before she died, I discovered herbs. Not only were they useful, but they were so fragrant. I fell in love with candy mint!

From there I looked for fragrant, unusual plants to grow. I have grown cloves, nutmeg, chocolate (Theobroma cacao) and everything in between including impatiens which I have grown to enjoy in the shade garden!

I must have a green thumb because most of what I grow thrives.

Deborah: What are you doing right now in your garden or greenhouse?

Sheri: I'm planting early season crops outside, under cover - sugar snap peas, spinach, cabbage, potatoes, radish, etc. We are re-doing the greenhouse and considering adding ponds under the benches to grow catfish. I am working really hard this year to grow enough food to live on as well as add more crops to the winter garden so there is more fresh produce year-round.

Deborah: What inspired you to start writing about gardening?

Sheri: I was given a greenhouse as a gift. I was sent all kinds of seeds from all over the world through people I met online. I was writing about Harley-Davidson motorcycles when I saw a post for freelance writers on Suite101. I applied to be a writer for a topic called Tropicals and Exotics. I figured I might as well write about a topic I was researching anyway. I was accepted. The topic has been retired, but I am still a writer with them.

Deborah: What do you say to people who don't have a green thumb?

Sheri: Anyone can garden! Most people make one of two mistakes - they either over-water or under-water. Once they learn how to properly water, properly fertilize and give the plant the right amount of light, they will be amazed at what they can do!

Thanks for joining us today, Sheri!

If anyone has any questions for Sheri, just holler. She's agreed to check in a few times today to respond. And if you'd like a copy of Sheri's newest book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Year-Round Gardening, just make a comment, and you'll be automatically entered. The deadline is midnight central time Sunday.


Sheri Ann Richerson said...

Thank you for the wonderful post Deborah! I am looking forward to hearing from others!


Thank you Deborah and thank you Sheri for sharing your knowledge with us.

I have 3 raised beds. Last October I planted spinach, radishes, turnips and of course garlic.

Everything sprouted and had 3-4 real leaves before the snow came.

We had good snow cover. I think it only opened up once and then only for about a day.

The garlic is magnificent now. The spinach looks great. The radishes disappeared during the winter. I saw during the one day that there was no snow cover that the turnips all seemed to be almost out of the ground laying on their sides with only the tip of their root still in the ground. They were still green however.

Now they are upright again but some are bolting and all have only a small swelling where the bulb should be growing.

What happened?

Thanks in advance.

timandbrook said...


Sheri Ann Richerson said...

Hello Coneflower. Did you cover your vegetables with plastic or frost cover or use a cold frame?

This is a necessary part of winter gardening.

The turnips have gone to seed, that is why there is no bulb. The cold weather got to the radish.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Sheri for sharing and Deborah for having the Q&A and then the giveaway! We are trying a new garden layout this year while sticking to some dependable veggies that love the garden space. I am venturing into herbs and have found some that can survive our winters outdoors. Someday I hope to have a greenhouse. =)
Thank you again!

Michelle said...

I'd love to garden, but I live in a townhouse with a very small yard that gets almost no sun in an arid part of Canada, with a very short warm season. I think I might be out of luck, at least until we get a house with a yard that has some sun...are there any veggies or herbs that like dry soil and shade?

anna said...

Thanks for the interesting interview. You are right - once I get my watering just right, I will have more success here. doesn't seem so hard... :)

jessesgirl said...

Sheri is my neighbor, just across the river!!

Michelle said...

Thanks for more gardening encouragement; I'd love to be entered.

Hrist said...

How are you at blueberries? I bought a single bush this year to try them out, but since then I've read conflicting reports about requiring two varieties to actually get berries. What do you think?

Sheri Ann Richerson said...

Hi Wardhouse - remember a greenhouse does not have to be expensive to work. A little wood and some 6mil. plastic with a small heater does just as well - in fact, better, than a large greenhouse. No kidding! The larger the greenhouse, the more expensive and harder they are to heat. Think about what you want a greenhouse for. I had a small 8 x 10 that did wonderful here in Indiana. I used it for overwintering tropicals and seed starting.

Sheri Ann Richerson said...

HI Michelle - once established, some herbs may do ok in dry conditions.

Lettuce and other cool weather crops can tolerate shade, but need water. Is there anyway to hook up a soaker hose? If not, what about setting up a rain barrel to collect water that you can use to water the plants?

Depending on how deep the shade is, there are many herbs that will tolerate part shade.

Sheri Ann Richerson said...

Hi Hrist - it is always a good idea to plant two varieties of any fruit for better pollination.

Blueberries struggle here, but I have some that are doing ok. They like acidic soil, so I add coffee grounds, tea bags, pine needles and lots of straw to the area where they live.

Sheri Ann Richerson said...

Here is yet another chance to win a copy of the book:
1. Sign in on (if you don’t have an account, create one!)

2. Go to ‘Find People’ and search for Idiots Guides.... See More... See More... See More

3. FOLLOW @IdiotsGuides. This step is necessary so we can count your vote and contact you if you win.

4. On your ‘Home’ page, in the ‘What’s Happening’ box Tweet this:

“@IdiotsGuides My favorite Complete Idiots Guide is The Complete Idiot's Guide to Year-Round Gardening.”

5. Click Update

6. Check back April 19thth to see who won!

BJ Gingles said...

Hi Sheri,

I have raised beds and am also growing vertically. I have never had much success with pumpkins and would love to try again this year. I think I have been planting them too late. I live in Northwest Louisiana and would love to know when I should start my pumpkins from seed to have a chance with them.

Thanks in advance.

Sheri Ann Richerson said...

I would start them now. Use frost cover or a cold frame to help protect them from the remaining cold nights.

Come fall, if they have still not completed their growth cycle, simply cover them with frost cover or a cold frame to allow them to finish growing.

martha said...

LOL--I agree, it takes awhile to find balance between under-& over-watering! Thanks--I enjoy finding out more about your history.

Mary said...

You make it sound possible to know whether I'm over or under watering. I seem to do both quite well. I look forward to discovering how to do it just right. I'm inspired by your gardening and look forward to your books.

Sheri Ann Richerson said...

Thank you Mary! It is easy to know what you are doing by feeling the soil. It should not be wet and soggy nor should it be dry. It should be moist. Unless a plant needs lots of water, remove the water from the saucer underneath.

A good rule of thumb is to water about once a week. Offer just enough water so it begins to drain, then stop watering. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then pour off any remaining water.

You can also water by filling the saucer full and letting the plant take up the water it needs. Be sure to dump any excess.

claire said...

I would love to grow my own vegetables, herbs... but I live in a condo in Chicago without a yard. What would you recommend as the best way to get started and with what? I found a company on line last year which sends out a actual kit to grow things on roof of apartment/condos, but I didn't have the money for that, do you think that is a good idea ad if so do you have a company you would recomend to use?

Sheri Ann Richerson said...

Hi Claire, have you looked into an aerogarden? They are not very large, but will grow a variety of herbs and vegetables.

I have used hydroponic systems indoors too with good results.

I have not seen the kits you speak of.

It is possible to garden indoors in pots with grow lights. I would recommend you pick up a copy of my book "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Year-Round Gardening."

There is an entire chapter on gardening indoors as well as info on seed starting, etc. Much of the information in the book can be used indoors or out.

Begin with some of your favorite, most used herbs or vegetables. If you eat a lot of tomatoes, try a tomato plant. If you use a lot of herbs in your cooking, begin with those.

rachel whetzel said...

I would LOVE this book. I'm a HUGE fan of
1. complete idiot's guide books
2. Gardening
I haven't tried my hand at it year round tho... and that's why I think this book will ROCK!

Annemarie said...

What an interesting book! Would love to have it.

Sheri Ann Richerson said...

Remember - everyone who did not win can still vote in the Twitter contest until the 16th and get another chance to win a FREE copy of the book!
The full details are a few posts above this one!
My Twitter ID is SheriARicherson. Good luck!

Deborah @ Antiquity Oaks said...

Thanks again for visiting, Sheri! It was fun and educational. And in case everyone hasn't seen the post about the winner, wardhouse won the free book! Drop me an email with your address, and I'll forward it to Sheri, so she can send you your book.


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