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I couldn’t believe it when I read it.  Durham county library is loaning seeds to home gardeners.  Ironic that my buddy in California had to point it out to me (Thanks @AmyBuck!)! This is a win-win for me.  Innovative and Impactful! Shout out to Durham Digging Seeds Library!


According to, Durham libraries are filling their old card catalog files with seeds to loan local gardeners to plant and return the following season. WOW, I heart NC!

When the libraries in Durham, N.C., open tomorrow, patrons at three of the city’s seven branches will find that something from the book-hunting days of yore has reappeared: old-school card catalogs.

But these familiar drawers aren’t coming back to guide visitors to the Dewey decimal numbers of the books they’re searching for. Rather, the drawers will house packets of seeds that can be checked out and planted in a home garden. Come fall, when the generous loan period is up, those free plants will be “returned” in the form of saved seeds, which will stock the card-catalog drawers once again the following spring.

Check out the full article for all the details.

What an innovative concept for a library!  And you just thought libraries were for books… I can’t wait to check it out. Limit 4 packs per person, so choose wisely!


Has anyone tried it yet? Do tell!

Happy Gardening!



This fall has been outrageous in color.  I thought I would share some of my favorite fall foliage and why the leaf color is so intense this year.

Why are the leaf colors so intense this year as compared to others? 

Short answer: Weather.

Longer answer:  Temperature, light and water…not rocket science since those, plus sunlight, are the most important parameters in all gardening. We had a wet summer, a moderate fall and a late frost.  These factors allowed some intense yellow, orange and red.  As I was researching this phenomenon, I noticed that some of the intense color is a bit of an optical illusion, which this season has certainly created for us.  Leaf color looks brighter on overcast days…and since we have had our fair share that has also made the colors appear to be super bright.

Happy leaf peeping!


While we are a rare breed, I am a native Tarheel.  Yes, born and bread…and yes, my blood is Carolina blue too(hehehe).  And anyone who knows the slightest bit of NC history knows that 3/4s of the state was built on tobacco. Yep, I have heard a many of stories of hard labor teens “barnin’ tobacca.” Now, with the infinite amount of research about the dangers of smoking, the NC cash crop for centuries has now garnered a horrific reputation.

Well I am hear to put a new spin on a different variety of tobacco..the flowering kind: Nicotiana. That’s right– a “must have” for a Carolina gardener and frankly, anywhere traditional tobacco grows. It is an annual plant that has been bred for its ornamental value and comes from seed. They come in an array of colors including white, yellow, pink, lavendar…The plant produces dainty little florets that sort of dangle on the top of the plant.

Nouvea Tobacco: Nicotiana--A great beginner plant

This is a must have for any beginner.  It is sure to produce, but here are some growing tips for this nouveau tobacco:

1) It will take partial shade to full sun.  I think the more sun the happier(except you do have to water more in full sun).

2)It prefers well-drainded soil with rich organic matter…although I did throw some seeds in my clay mess of a bed and some did grow, but they were far smaller than the ones I have this year in a 2:1 top soil-compost mix. Plant it about 8-12 inches apart…those leaves do expand quickly.  I had to move a few this because I didn’t give them enough room to grow.

3)You can plant the seeds after the risk of frost is over up until mid June(if the weather is normal), otherwise they have a hard time starting out with the brutal summer temps.  Once established they will grow like a weed–approximately 3 ft tall. I planted mine a little late this year, but luckily I had a week of mild weather and some good rain.

That’s the dirt on flowering tobacco.  Perhaps this new version will give tobacco the makeover it needs to still be enjoyed by North Carolinians and Americans alike.

Happy Gardening.


Get your dig on!

So January is a great month to test your soil.  Why…cause there is nothing better to do in the garden during January, HA.  No, it is because you want to have time to submit your soil sample, receive your recommendations and put them in action to prepare you soil for the major spring and summer growing seasons.

Why test…do yourself a favor. Don’t try to guess what your soil needs, find out.  It is inexpensive (practically FREE, just shipping cost) and will save you a lot of headaches.  I can almost guarantee you that your soil sucks.  Mine is full of that bright orange Carolina clay.  More than likely, you will need to create some raised beds and replace that clunky, no good, poor draining clay. Another post perhaps….

I am going to test my soil, so you should do it too. Here is how to do it:

Before you start:

1. Go to your local cooperative extension office to pick up soil sample boxes (never thought I would use extension services..but here I am).

2. Be sure the soil is not frozen or too wet (how do you know it is not too wet…if you wouldn’t till it cause all the is too wet).

3. Get a shovel (wash is off, don’t want any lingering contaminants). Yeah, Yeah…they talk about the fancy core tools..who needs it…in the words of one my favorite TV chefs, Alton Brown–“go for the multi-tasker.”

4. Download and print the soil sample forms you will need.

5. If you want to read more in-depth, feel free to check out Extension Sampling page…WARNING: lots of PDFs you have to download and wade through lots of information and revolving links…not the most user-friendly site, but comprehensive for sure.

Start Collecting:

1. Collect 6-8 samples in places you want to plant. Samples should be 4-6 inches deep.

2. Put each sample in a Cooperative Extension provided sample box and label with permanent marker (this helps you remember where each comes from and how to apply the recommendations).

3. Put all samples in a sturdy cardboard shipping box.  Fill out forms. Click here to get bar code shipping labels to track and send to testing center.

Wait about a week or so and you should get access to the report with some recommendations on fertilizer, etc ..I am checking the box about online access to my report.

Stay tuned for a follow up post with my report and to do list following to prep my soil.  Spring in only a couple of months away.  Oohh…I can’t wait…

Share your sampling success by leaving a comment below!

Happy Gardening!


A long-time gardener and a passionate beginner share the dirt on their NC gardens-

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