Hello, and welcome! I got quite a few requests for an "About Me" page, so here goes: my name is Lorraine Ayre, and I am... well... passionate about vegetable gardening. (I also grow tons of flowers, but that’s another story). I’ve grown things ever since I was a child in the 60s in California, but it wasn’t until early adulthood that I really became a committed vegetable gardener.
When I started my first organic garden in 1985, I made a bunch of mistakes. I wasted money on tools that didn't work, made compost that smelled so bad the neighbors complained, and grew corn with empty ears. I harvested zucchinis the size of small cars (not a good thing). I tilled until the soil was fluffy - but the worms and soil ecosystem were pretty well dead. I've learned a lot in the last 35 years, from experience and from studying cutting-edge regenerative agriculture. I started this site to share what I've learned, so you can learn from my mistakes and grow an abundant, nutritionally-superior vegetable garden.
I majored in botany at Oregon State University and later at University of Montana. My first venture into organic gardening came after visiting the now-famous French intensive gardens at UC Santa Cruz, and for 20 years I used that method. My soil is now so loose, friable and teeming with good microbes and earthworms that they do most of the work for me, and I don't have to dig at all anymore. I just scratch a bit of compost and appropriate minerals into the surface in the spring, and the rich soil life serves up the minerals to the plants, like waiters at a fine restaurant.
For a period of years I led the organic horticulture program at Naropa University, and from that experience, I learned how much I love to teach vegetable gardening to others, which is how this website was born.
Over the years, life challenges caused me to move a lot, so I got lots of experience breaking new ground, building up a beautiful soil base, and then moving.
So I can relate to those who are just starting out vegetable gardening. I understand how daunting it can be to look at a baked-hard field of weeds and dream of a verdant garden overflowing with red chard, freckled romaine, carrots, beans, heirloom tomatoes and basil.
But I want to encourage you, because underneath that scruffy surface - with a bit of digging, some compost, a few minerals and a dose of love - lies that garden of your dreams. It will be worth every drop of sweat that first year.
I live in Colorado now, with my sweetie and cameraman Tito, where we have a garden that we don’t have to leave. It just gets better and better every year. I also keep seven Welsh Harlequin ducks that provide us with eggs, manure, pest control and endless entertainment.
I can grow some awesome chard, collards and tomatoes. But the crops I am most proud of are my compost and microbial teas, which really help me feel part of the cycle of life, feeding the soil microbes and the plants as they feed me.
A few other things about me: I have a gardening cat, named Angel. (Update: Angel left her body behind at age 16, but will reside always in my heart). Jackson Get Down! is my current gardening/duck-food-stealing/mousing resident cat, who drools when I hold him upside down and rub his belly. I wear purple Keens almost everywhere - well, when I can't go barefoot - because I have short, wide hobbit feet that won't fit into ordinary shoes. I guess they don't have to be purple. I love Irish, salsa, folk and classical music, and I'm a devoted student of David R. Hawkins, MD.
In the 70's I read Sir Albert Howard, Edward Faulkner, Masanobu Fukuoka and Ruth Stout. I read and read and read all that was known at the time about what has now grown to be "regenerative agriculture". I highly recommend these still-relevant farmer/visionaries, as well as their more recent compatriots Gabe Brown, Paul Stamets, Bryan O'hara, and Steve Solomon. I'm working on a book-review page to help spread the word about growing healthy and healthful food, in soil that is alive, by honoring and working with - instead of at war with - the indescribable brilliance of nature.
So dig in! Dig around on this site, and unearth the information you need. From Aphids to Zucchini, Companion Planting to Worm Composting, you’ll find it here.
Oh, and on the topic of "changing the world", I believe that growing a vegetable garden can be a profoundly beneficial and transformative activity, when done in harmony with nature. It can put nutrients in our bodies, pull carbon out of the atmosphere and put it back in the soil, and can help support the pollinators and other insects that are the base of many ecosystem food chains.
Keeping our hands in the dirt while lifting our heads to the Light is a
deceptively powerful act that will improve our health, our family's
health, and the planet's health. Let's change the world together, one garden at a time...
May God bless your own beautiful, bountiful vegetable garden (and compost bin)!