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Episode 21: Nola Rhodes Master Gardener and Organic House Plant Enthusiast
13th March 2015 • GREEN Organic Garden Podcast • Jackie Marie Beyer
00:00:00 00:37:44

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So before I start today’s show, I just want to tell you about some technical difficulties I had at the beginning of the interview today. There maybe some parts where my voice didn’t record at all and so it’s a little bit bumpy to start, but Nola has some great answers to share so I left it all in as much as I could. Thank you so much for bearing with me today and hope you enjoy the conversation!

Nola Rhodes master gardener shares her experience growing vegetables, flowers and house plants including African Violets in Montana.

Tell me about your first gardening experience?

Never really knew anyone who garden in family, but told an aunt in Holland had huge gardens.

Got first African Violet in 1974, as a teenager and grew mostly house plants.

Early 20s, lived next door to a neighbor in Eugene, OR

What does organic gardening/earth friendly mean to you?

Not to harm the earth in any way, disturbing the ecosystem that is thriving under the ground and depleting the soil. Organic gardening would be using chicken & cow manure and grass clippings to enrich the soil.

Who or what inspired you to start using organic techniques?

Friend who went to high school, Julie and Tom Johns of Territorial Seed Company in Cottage Grove, OR.

How did you learn how to garden organically?

Trial and error.

First raised bed garden was made out of creosote beams.

Using chemicals etc, like 16 – 16 – 16 told it’s natural but don’t think it is, has burned things up in flower beds.

Living in Eugene, OR neighbor had a house full of organic houseplants, had 3 greenhouses. Smelling the jasmine and gardenia when you walked into one of the greenhouses was amazing. Used fish manure tea to help them grow. (really inexpensive). Would buy her plants from Logees back east that sells all sorts of exotic house plants, they send you little starts in mail. She would feed her little plants especially ones that were distressed, the Bach flower essences rescue remedy in the water.

Tell us about something that grew well this year.

Berries were phenomenal – the year of the berry – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries.

Is there something you would do different next year or want to try/new?

Planting only heirloom so I can save the seed. Jicama – tastes like a cross between a potato and an apple and also planted currants in the fall to work with this year.

Tell me about something that didn’t work so well last season.

Hybrid Petunias – always plant 15 baskets of petunias. This year planted some Hybrid petunias that reverted back to all different ones, possibly some bad seeds?

Something that you find is easy to grow and is generally successful every-time.

Tomatoes. Celery. Peppers. Celery want to start inside although have sowed seeds directly in the garden, but just need to keep an eye on them. They do attract aphid and ants in the green house so need to keep washed off.

Something you would steer new gardeners away from that you find is typically challenging to grow in your climate.

Buy seeds that are adapted to this area and buy heirlooms, stay away from GMO seeds etc. Do your homework because you want good seeds that are treated well and grown without stress and with lots of care. Once you get it, it will adapt to your own garden giving you a good strain.

Which activity is your least favorite activity to do in the garden.


What is your favorite activity to do in the garden.

Going out with some tea and honey and sitting and looking at the garden. Do that everyday. Like to water and deadhead and visiting the garden.

A favorite tool that you like to use? If you had to move and could only take one tool with you what would could you not live without.

Handle with straight forked end (Hand weeder?) Chickens. Don’t let into vegetable garden.

Eating or harvesting vegetables or fruit on time? 

Make sure you write it down and keep it in your pocket and add to your garden notes.

Start a new row every two weeks. One cabbage and then two weeks later another cabbage.

If you have chickens you can let them eat your extra lettuce so your not wasting.

Juicing lets you use lots of vegetables in one glass.

Do you have any secrets for preserving food-making it last? 

Steam juicer that’s like a double broiler with 3 baskets you set on stove. About $129. Makes apple sauce as well. Natural apple juice, grapes as well. Valiant Dark blue grape with a thicker shell, have made wine. Need to be protected from wind in a warm spot. Different local nurseries.

A favorite recipe you like to cook from the garden?

Make a big stir fry of fresh vegetables etc.

A favorite internet resource?

Belong to local garden club in town and get advice from that group “the Weedettes.”

A favorite reading material-book, mag, blog/website etc you can 

Better Homes and Gardens – Complete Gardening Guide. 

Garden Secrets – The Harrow Smith Country Life 

If you have a business to you have any advice for our listeners about how to sell extra produce or get started in the industry?

Mom and mother-in-law had African Violets. Joined African Violet Society immediately and always got their magazine. There’s boys and girls, fluted leafs, lots of different names for leaves and flowers … Don’t follow rules, water from top, give a bath under the sink with sprayer. Made a mistake cleaning one and put in sink and put under warm water with a toothbrush. Don’t put back in the window in the sun. Like the same temperature that you like, don’t like a draft can kill them quickly. Need fed on a regular basis. Feed African Food, and there is African Violet

Final question- if there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be? For example is there a charity or organization your passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the earth either in your local area or on a national or global scale?

GMO seeds come to a screeching halt!

Do u have an inspiration tip or quote to help motivate our listeners to reach into that dirt and start their own garden?

If you can afford it put in some raised beds, watering is easier. Will reap benefits will

Soil stays loose cause your not walking on it. Need to quit watering beets or potatoes a while before you harvest for them to harden up.

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