Cool (Black Turtle) Beans

Save money by buying your Black Turtle bean seeds at the grocery store.


The Snarky Gardener was perusing the local health food store when a thought occurred to him, “Those organic beans and peas would work well as seed”.  A little research revealed that Black Turtle beans are a bush heirloom variety that goes back into the 1700’s (and probably much earlier).  I grew Jacob’s Cattle beans last year but wanted to add another dry bean to my collection.  The nice part about buying them at the store is that they are $1.99 a pound versus a lot more from seed companies (including shipping, etc).  And you can eat any you don’t plant.  The down side is that you won’t know exactly what sub-variety of Black Turtle beans you have nor will you know how old the seed is, but I don’t think it matters if they grow well and taste good.


Permaculture at George Jones Farm

The Snarky Gardener is learning something new.

Letting plants go to seed to attract beneficial insects and create edible “weeds” is a permaculture concept

The Snarky Gardener saw a Facebook posting for a 12 week permaculture college class and decided to just jump in. The course costs $10 for materials and will have “get your hands dirty” training. It’s being held in Oberlin (about an hour or so from my house) at a local farm. Not a bad drive unless it’s snowing (which it has been a lot this winter). The SG is probably the oldest person in the class (including the instructor) but what I lack in youth I gain in snarkiness. It’s nice to see a room full of undergrads so excited about such a transformative subject as permaculture.

In case you are wondering what permaculture is, I’ll give it the old college try (pun intended) to explain it. Permaculture is an ecological design framework that strives to use natural processes to produce human needed resources. The question I ask myself to get into right frame of mind is “What would society look like if gasoline cost double, triple, or even quadruple of today’s prices?” Shipping anything would be a lot more expensive so we would need to have systems that were local and sustainable without much (if any) oil. So we’d want to be able to provide for our needs from our own area as much as possible (think fruit trees, perennial gardens, chickens, and bicycles for example).

What really attracts me to this discipline is its systems design approach. Professionally I’m a software developer, so I think of systems and design every day. I’ve tried to incorporate some permaculture concepts into my garden and yard (like perennial food plants, no tilling, rain barrels, and using my dog River to dig planting holes) but I want to understand it on a deeper level. I’ve read quite a few books on the subject, but nothing beats instructor-lead hands-on learning.

So every week over the next few months, I will be writing about my experiences at this permaculture farm. Hopefully I don’t pull a back muscle or fall on my face (I’m not the most graceful person).

The Great Indoor Tomato Experiment Ripens

Chocolate Cherry tomatoes getting ripe.  They will be very dark brown when ready to eat.

In only a few short days, the Snarky Gardener will be eating homegrown cherry tomatoes in February. Of course there are only 6, so it won’t be much of a feast, but still, pretty cool. The Snarky Orange Cherry tomato plant is finally getting flowers. It had others a few weeks ago, but they grew into the lights and were burnt off (so sad). A cutting was also taken off the Chocolate Cherry to start a potted tomato plant. Not sure what I’m going to with it yet, but I’m sure I’ll think of something.

The Snarky Orange Cherry Tomatoes are flowering – finally

Food Not Lawns Cleveland Seed Swap – 2/22/2014


Saturday, February 22, 2014 – 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Grace Lutheran Church

13001 Cedar Rd, Cleveland Heights, OH

If you are interested in gardening, community, food security, permaculture, seed saving and sharing, this is the place for you!  Bring seeds (purchased or saved) if you have them, or consider what you might swap for seeds in goods or service, but come anyway.  We have a good collection and lots of information to share.  This year, we have signed the Safe Seed Pledge and will not knowing share GMO/Monsanto owned seed.

Joining us will be: Elle Addams of City Rising Farm, Judi Strauss, of The Charmed Kitchen, with herbs, books and more for sample and sale, Chris McClellan, of Natural Cottage Project, will demonstrate a rocket stove, gardeners of the Grace Lutheran Community Garden, and many more.

Refreshments are potluck.  Please bring a dish to share.  Also, collecting non perishable food donation for Hts’ Emergency Food Bank.  There will be a Freecycle table available to bring or take useful items.  Residue will be donated.

If you bring saved seeds, please label them with as much pertinent info as possible.  We will have envelopes and labels available.  New this year:  Seed Savers, who are willing, will be with their seeds at tables, to discuss traits, growing conditions, stories about them, and aspects of seed saving.  Donated seed will be available and asked to be considered a “loan” to be returned, if possible, the fooling swap.  The completed Saved Seed Inventory will be available for perusal, or check it out online at:

Freecycle info:   Please bring gently used ( or new) items to donate/swap.  If you have items left at the end of the day, take them home or leave them for donation pick­up Monday morning.

This event is free (donations gratefully accepted), child­friendly, on a bus­line and handicapped accessible.

Volunteers are needed to help set up and clean up.

Please contact Mari Keating @ for more information

and visit and the Food Not Lawns, Cleveland  Facebook group

A Snarky Groundhog Story

The Snarky Gardener’s love/hate relationship with groundhogs

Caught me a groundhog

Last year, the Snarky Gardener was telling his co-workers about how groundhogs kept getting into his garden, even with a fence. The consensus answer was that it wasn’t a problem a small caliber gun couldn’t solve. Then I had to explain how the Snarky Girlfriend just loves groundhogs. She thinks they are the cutest things ever – even making this high pitched “Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” sound whenever she sees one.  The response was, “Oh, you’re screwed”.  Yep, pretty much.

Groundhogs are a lot faster than they look

I ended up hiring Critter Control to come trap them, but it wasn’t cheap. The hard part was convincing the SGF that they were being released at a groundhog sanctuary upstate. I don’t think she believed me, but it did solve the problem, except one did elude capture.  I’m just hoping he doesn’t come back to enjoy the garden buffet this year.

Broccoli picked clean by a groundhog
Why did God make groundhogs so cute?