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The Inspiration Project


We’re embarking on something new here at MEG. I want to talk to people with a real life interesting or inspiring story to tell for a series of pieces I’m writing for My Earth Garden. It’s time to counteract all of the pervasive negativity we are bombarded with on a daily basis. This is my way of putting positive, uplifting, and inspiring stories out there for the world to see.

I’m not putting limitations on what the story might be, because I want to hear from people from all walks of life. Inspiration can often be found in the most surprising places, and it’s important that we don’t miss out because we’re not looking in the right direction!

Do you have a real life interesting or inspiring story to share? Want to nominate someone who inspires you? Send me email and tell me about it. You can send your stories and nominations to:


I look forward to hearing from you, and maybe sharing your story with the world!


Make Your Own Seed Tape

Seed TapeSeed tape is the OCD gardener’s dream. Not only does it nearly eliminate wasted seeds and thinning, it is an easy way to make sure that your rows are evenly spaced for a more neat and orderly appearance.

If you’re not the obsessive type, seed tape means you don’t have to fumble with those tiny seeds like carrots and radishes. Instead, you just lay out the tape where you want it, cover it with soil, water, and wait.

The problem with seed tape – at least my problem with seed tape – is that it is  expensive. A 15-foot strip of carrot seed tape, for example, will cost you around $5 for something you could easily do with a packet of inexpensive seed, and supplies you already have on hand. I briefly discussed how to make your own seed tape in my book I GARDEN: Urban Style, but I wanted to do a quick explainer here about how it’s done.

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This Week in the Garden: 1st Week of Spring 2016

Today is the first full day of Spring 2016, so this will be a week of final preparations for the growing season. Here’s what will be happening in the garden:

My Earth Garden - Potting Shed sketchNew Potting Shed
Later this week my new potting shed will be installed, so I am taking advantage of the cooler temperatures today to finish prepping the site for the builders. The area where the shed will sit has been invaded by English Ivy (Hedera helix) and Periwinkle (Vinca minor) for several years, so eradicating them isn’t a quick task, as many of you probably know. Once the ground has been cleared of vines, I will pin down a layer of 6 mil black plastic to ensure that I won’t have to deal with them coming back underneath the building later.

My Earth Garden - Solar Panel KitSolar Power
After construction, I will install a solar panel kit on the roof of the potting shed to provide for my minor power needs. Because of this, I am also cutting away part of a row of privet that runs the length of the property line. Eventually the entire row will be removed and replaced with a privacy fence. With that privet removed, the panels will receive a respectable amount of sun daily. I will write in more detail about the solar kit and the installation process in the future.

My Earth Garden - GuttersRainwater Collection
Gutters will be added to the potting shed to collect rainwater for use in the garden. I will do this myself in order to share the step-by-step process of installing gutters and connecting them to a rainwater harvesting system.

Even a small area of sloped rooftop can provide a substantial amount of water.

My Earth Garden - SeedlingsBuy Spring Vegetable Starts
I am very happy to have a local friend who owns a small business dedicated to encouraging people to grow their own food and flowers.  This week I will ‘buy local’ and get many of my spring and summer edible starts from my friend Nathan Strange of Strange and Co. It is still just a bit too early to put plants out, so these babies will live in the micro greenhouse for a few weeks while they mature. Not to worry, I will still direct sow edibles from seed this year, but due to space constraints I was unable to start indoor plants.

What are you doing in the garden this week?


The DIY free clothes folding tool that saved my sanity

folded tshirt

I am not a fan of folding clothes. That’s why I end up digging through a basket full of clean laundry to find socks before I take on the task of folding the last 4 loads that have accumulated. It isn’t laziness, it’s just not a chore I particularly find pleasure in. Until now.

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It’s Just Being Neighborly

To you, this may just be a pile of pine straw, but there is more to it than that.


“The duty of helping one’s self in the highest sense involves the helping of one’s neighbors.”   Samuel Smiles

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How to Make Your Own Kombucha

Make your own kombucha

Kombucha is a delicious, lightly-fermented beverage with proven anti-microbial benefits and naturally occurring probiotics. Thought it’s a trendy drink these days, kombucha has been used for centuries as a tasty health tonic.

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Michael’s Homemade Chai Recipe

Homemade Chai Tea Latte

I love chai, but for a long time I couldn’t drink them because every commercially-produced chai tea contains ginger, and I am one of the unlucky few who happen to be allergic to the delicious rhizome. After years of pitiful pouting, I had the idea to deconstruct an ingredient list and thus began my experimentation with homemade chai.

It took a few tries, but after some trial and error (and error, and error…) I came up with a recipe that I think is pretty damn good, and it takes less than 15 minutes.

One big mistake I made early on had to do with the spices I was using. As you probably know, the spices are what makes the chai. If you are using old, outdated crap out of the back of the cabinet, your chai is going to taste like that unwrapped mint you found in the bottom of your granny’s purse when you were four. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Get your butt to a store that carries a good selection of spices, and make sure they aren’t old. Trust your instincts; if you feel like you should ask a manager how old those cinnamon sticks are, just buy them somewhere else. And if you live in the middle of nowhere, you can find inexpensive spices online. I’ve had great service from Penzeys (and they’re not paying me anything to say that).

chai spices

Michael's Homemade Chai Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4 servings
  • 3 cups water
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 4 cardamom pods (green if you can find them)
  • 3 pieces of star anise
  • 2 small sticks of cinnamon, broken into pieces
  • 4 cloves
  • 1" piece of ginger, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbs of sugar
  • 3 tsp or 3 bags of black tea
  • 3 cups milk (I prefer soy, but do what makes you happy)
  1. In a large pot, bring water to boil. Add the peppercorns, cardamom, star anise, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger.
  2. Boil for 5 minutes and reduce heat to low.
  3. Add tea and sugar and simmer for 3 minutes.
  4. Add soy milk. Let simmer for another 2 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and strain.

You can either strain your chai right into a mug or do what I do and pour it into a French press. It’s more convenient and easier to strain that way, plus you can take the pot with you for refills.


White Bean and Basil Stew

The other night while out for dinner with my fiancé, I spotted a soup special on the menu board that intrigued me. The chef had combined chickpeas with tomatoes and basil. Sure, that sounds like a winning combo, but for some reason it had never occurred to me to combine them as a soup. I took this as a challenge.

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Lentils with Brown Rice

Beans & rice are a staple food for many around the world, and I can remember a time when a younger version of me practically lived off the stuff. They’re inexpensive and packed with nutritional benefits. Not to mention that legumes and rice together are a complete source of protein.

This is a more grown up version of beans and rice, using quick-to-cook lentils along with brown rice and Mexican-inspired spices to give it an out of this world flavor.

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Homemade Vegetable Barley Soup

Soup is easy to make, and it’s a great comfort food that can be made ahead and stored for several days in the refrigerator just waiting to be warmed up for a quick meal. This is a definite favorite in my house, and I love to use whatever vegetables I have on-hand to supplement the base ingredients.

Just use this as a starting point from which you can go anywhere you want to. Have some leftover zucchini? Dice it and toss it in at the final step!

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