Edible Landscaping

Organic & Natural Gardening Options

Creating A Healthy Ecosystem In Your Own Backyard
Is your organic garden the real thing? True organic gardening requires more than removing synthetic fertilizers and pesticides from the growing process. It means exploring natural and organic options in which the soil, plants, and surrounding wildlife live in balance.

That’s how we do things at Fresh Roots. Our specialty is designing and installing decorative and raised vegetable gardens in a natural and sustainable way. The result? Nature’s beauty and bounty in your own backyard. So, let’s get started and talk about a few natural and organic gardening options.

Organic Soil Support
The foundation of any garden is fertile, productive soil. Using organic matter to enrich the soil is the way to go. It improves soil structure, provides nutrients, holds moisture in the soil, and stores important nutrients for plant growth. Best of all, when your soil is free of toxic chemicals, the food you grow will be as well.

How do you accomplish this in a natural way? In short, rotting organic matter makes for rich soil and happy plants. For instance, most gardening retailers will carry organic mushroom compost or cow manure compost. That said, if you’ve got a vegetable garden or large yard then you’ve got plenty of material to make your own compost. Simply pile up organic refuse, and let it rot. This includes grass clippings, vegetable remnants, leaves, yard debris, and kitchen scraps. To keep things neat and make your neighbors happy, store the organic matter in a bin and let nature do the rest.

Additional Organic Garden Goodies
In addition to composting your soil, it’s important to know your organic fertilizers. Look for manure, bone meal, blood meal, worm castings, fish emulsion, and liquid seaweed.

Some people ask if food waste such as eggshells is good for plant growth. Eggshells are chock full of calcium carbonate, which is great for your plants. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, broccoli, and spinach thrive on eggshells. Crunch them up and put them in the soil. For house plants, make tea with eggshells and hot water.

Try banana skins too. Chop up the potassium-rich peels into quarter-inch pieces. This kickstarts decomposition and makes the nutrients more bioavailable. Then bury them anywhere from just under the soil to 4 inches down. You can also fertilize your plants with a banana spray. Fill a jar with bananas and water. Let it sit for a few days. Then spray away.

Buy Organic Seeds
Not all seeds are created equal. If you want an organic garden that is set up to thrive, then start with organic seeds. It’s a straightforward concept. Organic seeds are produced by organic gardening and farming methods. The seed farmer weeds out weak plants hit by pests and disease. That means you are planting the byproduct of only the healthiest plants that make it all the way to seed maturity. You can purchase organic seeds online or at your local garden center. Even big-box stores carry organic

Natural And Organic Pest Control Options
There are several things you can do intending to your garden that will help control pests and disease. For instance, thin out your plants. Small, weak seedlings are more likely to host disease and spread it to healthier plants. Water your plants in the early morning. A damp plant in the evening is an invitation to fungus and other diseases. Weed your garden like crazy. Weeds harbor insects and parasites.

Also, consider homemade solutions for controlling garden pests. Garlic Oil spray is a natural repellent, just don’t spray it on a sunny day or the oil can burn foliage. A hot pepper spray will irritate insects and keep them at bay. Beer is great for slug control. Add a few inches of beer to a small can or pie plate. Slugs are attracted to the yeast in the beer. One happy hour and they’re done.

Contact Us For A Beautiful Garden
At Fresh Roots, our mission is to strengthen the community and environment by connecting people to their food through sustainable and organic gardening. Our services carry you from start to finish. From garden consultation to design, prepping soil to planting, and maintaining your garden to seasonal clean-ups. Contact us, for a beautiful summer garden with a bounty of flowers and vegetables in your own backyard.

Edible Landscaping

Designing An Eco-Friendly Garden

Create Environmental Synergy Through Permaculture
When you get ready to plant a sustainable garden, think permaculture. The idea is not new, but it’s getting a lot of attention. Why? Because it sums up eco-friendly agriculture and provides a great framework for designing your garden.

First, let’s explain what permaculture means. Permaculture is a sustainable design system that creates a positive synergy between people, plants, wildlife, and the soil. In effect, it teaches us how to work with, not against nature. This includes your bountiful, sustainable, eco-friendly garden.

Second, let’s apply the concepts of permaculture to every choice you make. Whether you are planting in your yard or on your patio, your choices impact the soil, animals, and water. Now that we are thinking along the sustainable lines, let’s get started!

No Waste for Quality Soil
How is it that plants in a field or forest flourish without our help? It’s the cycle of life. Nutrients from decomposing matter feed new life. For a strong foundation of soil find new value in waste. With this in mind: Start a bin for grass clippings, leaves, and what you prune from bushes and trees. If you haven’t tried composting, this will be your first step toward your new, eco-friendly garden. Even kitchen scraps will help provide nutrients for next year’s healthy soil.

Make Eco-Friendly Perennials the Stars of Your Garden
You will want a mix of flowers and vegetables to create a sustainable ecosystem. That said, consider perennials a garden star. They return year after year, with no disruption to the topsoil. In addition, their penetrating root systems return carbon and other nutrients to the soil below.

Next, choose native plants. They will be in balance with the local environment. For instance, native plants provide nectar for wildlife. This may include hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, and moths. At the same time, these pollinators help proliferate the plants. Additionally, native plants prove to be harder and require less watering.

Include Plants That Are Pleasing to The Eye and Palate
You will want to create a garden that is both beautiful and bountiful. In other words, find bright blooms for visual interest and great herbs and vegetables for the dinner table.

A few ideas for flowering plants include Asiatic lily, aster, black-eyed Susan or rudbeckia, and clematis. For vegetables, you might want to put beans, beets, corn, cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes, and peppers on your list. Ecofriendly perennial herbs include mint, oregano, thyme, and sage rosemary. And we’re just getting started!

Plant Good Bedfellows in Your Eco-Friendly Garden
Certain plants make good bedfellows with other plants. We call them “companion plants”. Did you know that cabbage, broccoli, and onions grow well near beets? In fact, Onions can improve the flavor of nearby plants and deter aphids, beetles, and rabbits. Just don’t plant onions near peas and asparagus. They don’t like each other and won’t grow well together.

Keep It Organic Without Any Chemicals
If you want a truly eco-friendly garden, don’t use chemicals. To design and grow a sustainable garden, plant in soil that is enriched with naturally derived nutrients. Next, place your plants in an area where they will get the right amount of sunlight or shade, water, and eco-support. There are several ways to create eco-friendly pest control. For instance, most wildlife won’t like the scent of mint, basil, lavender, and rosemary. Cinnamon, black pepper, turmeric, and some other seasonings deter pests as well.

Contact Fresh Roots for Eco-Friendly Answers
At Fresh Roots, permaculture is where it’s at. Our passion is designing planting and maintaining eco-friendly landscapes. Whether you are starting from scratch or adding to your current yard, contact us for a free consultation.

Fresh Roots is in Waukesha, providing the Greater Milwaukee area with sustainable gardening services. From garden design and planting to maintenance and clean-up, we’re here to help turn your garden green.


Easy to Grow Vegetables in Containers

Ecofriendly Porch to Table Ideas
If you can’t wait for summer to arrive, start thinking of fresh vegetables right out your back door! That should lighten your mood. And here’s even better news: You don’t need a big yard or garden to do it. Growing vegetables in containers is a viable option. You’ve heard of Farm to Table. Today we are talking patio or porch to the table!

Next, if you are wondering what vegetables will grow well in smaller spaces we can help. At Fresh Roots, our gardening services include designing and growing sustainable, eco-friendly gardens and landscapes. That includes growing vegetables in containers when you’ve got limited outdoor space. With that in mind, let’s get started!

When To Plant in The Upper Midwest
With normal weather patterns in the upper Midwest, it is generally best to hold off planting until after Memorial Day. Most vegetable plants don’t like cold weather or even worse frost!

If you are planting seeds, get them started now inside of your home. You can take the seedlings outside once it warms up. There is nothing wrong with transplanting a smaller plant to a larger pot. That’s something you will need to wait to do. Let it warm up first.

Let’s Grow Lettuce in a Container
Nothing says summer in the garden like fresh lettuce! This is a cool-weather crop and can be planted a little earlier than other vegetables. You will need a 2-gallon pot or bigger. If you want to grow several lettuce plants together, consider a wide planter.

Next up, place your container in a place that gets full sun to partial shade. When summer temps soar, move the container into the shade. Use loamy soil that drains well. If you are growing leaf lettuce space the plants about 4 inches apart. If you are growing romaine or heads of lettuce, double the spacing.

Let’s Grow Beans in a Container
It’s difficult to mess up growing beans. You won’t need a trestle if you grow the bush variety. But you will need a container that is at least a foot deep and 15 inches wide. Pole beans are a little more work and produce a later harvest, but it’s worth the wait. You will need a container that’s a bit bigger and a trellis for the growing vine.

A super sunny spot is your best bet for beans. Plant them in a loamy, soil that drains well. Place your bean plants about 3 inches apart.

Let’s Grow Radishes in a Container
Don’t you love the peppery, bright taste of a fresh radish? This is another plant that grows well in a container. Even better, radishes grow fast. Find a container that is wide and at least 6 to 10 inches deep.

Place your pot of radishes in a spot that gets full sun to partial shade. Radishes grow best in light, well-drained soil.

Let’s Grow Carrots in a Container
Carrots do well in containers. Like lettuce, carrots are a cool-weather crop and can be planted a little earlier than other vegetables. Remember, it’s the root that we are interested in here. That said, make sure your pot is big and at least a foot deep. With a 5-gallon container, you’ll have room for about two dozen carrots.

Carrots like a lot of sun. The soil should be loamy, light, and drain well. You can even add some sand to loosen it up. Plant your carrots about 2 to 3 inches apart. It’s fun growing carrots, especially with different varieties. The orange carrots are a little sweeter. The purple and white carrots taste a little earthier.

Let’s Grow Tomatoes in a Container
Tomatoes are a very popular choice for containers, but they are a little more challenging to grow. First, use a container that is at least a foot wide, 2 feet is even better.

Place your container of tomatoes in a sunny spot. Once established they will thrive in full sun. Just watch the younger plants. They won’t do well with excessive sun or wind. Tomatoes like water, but not too much. Check every day to make sure the soil is moist. Just make sure the soil isn’t soggy or your tomatoes will suffer root rot.

The big payoff comes when you pick your bright red beauties and put them in a fresh, summer salad!

Contact Fresh Roots for Eco-Friendly Answers
At Fresh Roots, our passion is designing planting and maintaining eco-friendly landscapes. Contact us for a free consultation, whether you are starting from scratch, adding to your yard, or making a container garden. Fresh Roots is a sustainable gardening service located in Waukesha and serving Greater Milwaukee. From garden design and planting to maintenance and clean-up, we’re here to turn your world a beautiful green!

Edible Landscaping

What is Edible Landscaping?

More and more people are jumping on the bandwagon and integrating edibles into their gardens. While some consider it a newer trend, the idea is as old as…the Earth! 

The term “Edible Landscaping” is now what we call the practical integration of food plants into a decorative garden scape. Not only can we consume what we grow in our edible landscapes, but herbs, fruits, and vegetable plants add variety to your garden. In doing so, you are enhancing the beauty of your garden, improving the soil, and integrating certain plant protectors into the landscape. For example, the strong scent of onion, or garlic may ward off critters who may want to snack on its neighboring spinach.

At Fresh Roots, we specialize in edible landscaping services. Our passion is grounded in landscape design, organic gardening, edible gardens, and sustainability. We can help you plan, plant, and maintain an edible garden perfect for your space and budget.

Learn From Public Edible Landscapes

You may not even realize it, but there are edible landscapes all around us. Did you know that more than 100 edible plant species are growing in New York’s Central Park? 

Some other cities, like Detroit, are developing public edible food parks or gardens. And in Milwaukee, several urban and edible gardens are open to the public. To give you an idea, at Alice’s Garden Urban Farm you can walk among the growing fruits, vegetables and flowers, learn how to prepare and preserve what you grow, take a yoga class, enjoy live entertainment, and the list goes on. 

Not only are these cities and organizations teaching the public about holistic gardening, they are turning edible landscapes into a place to gather, and enjoy cultural and healthy lifestyle experiences.

Where do You Start with Edible Landscaping?

There are several things you should consider before planting your first edible roots. Here are a few:

Where will you plant your edible garden? You don’t necessarily need a lot of space. You may want to start by simply potting herbs or integrating greens, or a fruit bush into your present garden. Whether your edible garden is small or large, you will want to research where to plant your garden for maximum growth.

What plants will thrive near one another? A garden is a small ecosystem. Some herbs, fruits or vegetables grow better near others. For instance, did you know that basil will be more flavorful, when growing near flowering herbs like chives or oregano? And rosemary should be considered a loner. Other herbs will not grow well near rosemary. Neither will potatoes and carrots.   

What wildlife will want to snack on your plants? Speaking of an ecosystem, animals are very much a part of the picture. The last thing you want is to grow a beautiful bed of lettuce, and find it destroyed by rabbits. Other grazers include voles, deer, chipmunks, squirrels, and various birds. Therefore, include a way to protect your plants in your edible landscape design.

Ideas for Growing Edibles in Pots and Containers

If you are light on space, that doesn’t mean you can’t dabble in edible landscape. Consider pots, window boxes, and even hanging baskets. It’s important, though, to match the container size with how big the plant will be when it’s fully grown.

That said, a few examples of smaller herbs would be chives, oregano, and parsley. You’ll need a bigger container for basil, dill, or rosemary.

Believe it or not, salad greens can be grown in a container. Most have shallow roots, and this way they can be a star near your patio instead of a low-lying plant among others.

Consider Fresh Roots Your Resource for Edible Landscaping

There is something about picking the first pepper from your garden or harvesting a head of lettuce and serving it at dinner. But getting to that point can be a tricky process. It takes a lot of research to get it right.    

At Fresh Roots, our passion is to help individuals and communities design landscapes that look gorgeous and put home grown food on your family’s table.
Located in Waukesha, Fresh Roots provides the Greater Milwaukee area with extraordinary gardening services. Whether you are adding to your garden, or starting from scratch, we consult, design landscapes, plant, and maintain gardens that fit your space and budget. Together, let’s make things grow!


6 Steps to Prep Your Garden for Spring

The calendar may say late winter, but spring is around the corner and that means it’s time to gear up for gardening season. Planning and prepping your garden for spring now, will help everything go smoothly when the sun warms our yards, and the growing begins! 

At Fresh Roots, we specialize in landscape design, organic gardening, edible gardens, and sustainability. You can hire us to do the work for you or learn from us and do it yourself. Either way, it’s always great to have your fingers in the soil with your green thumbs up. 

Tip #1: Clean Your Gardening Tools 

Who thinks of cleaning their gardening tools in the winter? We do! Before you head out to your gardens in the spring, thoroughly clean and sterilize your tools, from pruning shears to shovels. Dirt, debris, and plant sap on your gardening tools are a haven for bacteria and mold spores. Both are detrimental to a healthy, and sustainable garden. 

To disinfect your tools, soak them in a solution of water and 10% bleach. After a half hour, you should be good to go. You can create a diluted solution using vinegar or an organic cleaning product, as well. 

Tip #2: Get Rid Of Yard Weeds And Debris 

Once you think the snow is done for the season and it is all but melted, get outside and start your outdoor spring cleanup. Remove weeds, and debris until you hit the soil. You can haul away the debris or make the most of it and add it to your compost pile. If you have wood mulch in your garden move it aside for planting and add new material as needed. Leaf mulch added in fall can be tilled into the soil or removed and composted. 

Tip #3: Trim & Prune In Early Spring 

Late winter and early spring are good times to get rid of wood on a tree or shrub that will hinder its growth during warmer months. That includes dead, dying, diseased, or damaged wood. Cut the twigs and branches back to where the wood looks healthy.

If you’ve got a spring-blooming shrub, leave it alone for now. Summer-bloomers like butterfly bush, Annabelle, spirea and potentilla can be trimmed during dormant months. 

The best time to prune fruit trees is while they are dormant. You will want to leave sturdy branches to support the fruit, while creating space for light and air in the canopy. 

Late winter and early spring are good times to cut back ornamental grasses. Trimming them down will allow the grasses to flourish during warmer growing months. 

Tip #4: Plan Your Garden & List Your Preferences 

When it’s cold outside, why not warm your thoughts with a vision of your summer-time garden? We believe a beautiful and sustainable garden has several elements that complement one another, just as they would in a natural ecosystem. So, let’s think out of the box.

Do you want a food forest with perennials like raspberry bushes and mushroom beds? Why not consider including edible plants mixed in with the rest of your garden? For example, try mixing leafy greens or herbs in with your flowers. Or maybe you would like to build a raised bed for your vegetables. Now is the time to start making your plans. 

Tip #5: Start Thinking About Soil Testing 

Like most things in life, a strong foundation is necessary for health and beauty. In the gardening world, we think of this as soil. You’ll want to ready your soil with the appropriate nutrients. The only way to really know what mother nature has given you, is to test it. You can send a soil sample to your local agriculture extension to test for nutrients and pH, or you can contact us at Fresh Roots, and we can take care of testing your soil. 

Tip #6: Soil Amending 

One of the best things for your garden is soil amending. Once all the debris is cleaned up and you have your garden planed out it’s time for some compost. Good organic compost is the number one amendment for the garden and it is best to add a 2 inch layer to your planting area in spring and fall. This feeds the soil and creates a healthy environment for your plants to thrive. If you do test your soil, now is the time to add any

recommended amendments to your soil. This can be done in an organic manner so be sure to dig into how each amendment can be added. 

Consider Fresh Roots Your Premier Garden Resource It’s exciting to see a garden grow, especially when you include beautiful flowers, herbs, fresh fruits and vegetables. At Fresh Roots, our passion is to help individuals and communities design landscaping that looks gorgeous and puts home grown food at your family’s fingertips. Located in Waukesha, Fresh Roots provides the Greater Milwaukee area with extraordinary gardening services. Whether you are adding to your garden, or starting from scratch, we consult, design edible landscapes, plant, and maintain gardens that fit your space and budget. So don’t be a stranger. Together, let’s make things grow!