Joe Foster

Hello!  A little bit about me.  I’ve been growing Native Plants and designing flower beds since 2013, and have been a vegetable gardener since 2012. My wife and I started website and Youtube channel in 2018 in response to our feeling that there was a general lack of good information on native plant gardening, and in particular how to grow native plants from seed. Over the years we’ve expanded our efforts to vegetable gardens, showing how well we improve our soil via leaf mulch and easy backyard composting. And our mission statement is to bring solid, reliable information on how to grow plants from seed, and improve soil, by sharing our own experience and showing you exactly how to do it from our own photos and process.

I’ve had articles adapted for use in books such as The Good Garden by Chris McLaughlin where she used our soil mason jar test to show people how to determine what kind of soil they have. I’ve also been interviewed on Erupt and the Finding Genius Podcast discussing various aspects of growing your own food and native plants. And I’ve also been featured in other publications showing how to improve landscape design using native plants.

Earlier in life….I grew up out in the Midwest and spent countless hours in nature and stomping through creeks, fishing, and hiking.  In high school I worked in a garden center and did some landscaping on the side.  This is where I first began to learn in detail about plants and how to care for them. 

But it wasn’t until I moved out East and began hiking through the Appalachian Mountains where I truly began to appreciate the complete ecosystem, and all the wildflowers I would encounter.

In fact it was a hike with some buddies in Shenandoah National Park in 2012 where I was really wowed by the power of flowers.  We came around a bend while hiking near Little Stony Man and I came upon a scene of hundreds and hundreds of butterflies. 

They were all feeding on various wildflowers that were in bloom such as thistle, Mountain Laurel, and others.  As we hiked through it I had large Yellow Swallowtail butterflies landing on me – I almost felt like some kind of angel descended from heaven!  I thought to myself – I can recreate this in my backyard!  So I got started learning about the different plants, when they bloomed, and what/how they attracted the various pollinators to visit. 

Since that experience I’ve grown hundreds of different plants/species – mainly from seed.  I prefer growing from seed because you learn to appreciate the total life cycle of the plant and gain some insight as to how mother nature has truly balanced our ecosystem. It also is the most economical way to get flowers. And, it allows you to get any species you want because many native species are not sold in stores.

In 2016 we upgraded from a small town house to a larger home with a large backyard.  That first winter I winter-sowed dozens of species of native plants to begin what would become our backyard micro-prairie.  I am always trying new species to grow, and when I do it successfully, I tell you how to do it.  I’ve learned some neat tricks and best practices along the way.  Be it trial and error or a more controlled experiment, I’m always looking to expand our gardens and attract more wildlife.  Not just pollinators either, in that I love to view birds picking out the seeds on Echinacea and the occasional turkey browsing for Partridge Pea seeds in our backyard micro-prairie. You can find many plants documented

An additional hobby I like to share is a passion for wood working and DIY.  We’ve made a number of improvements to our home, from small scale scrap wood projects to a couple larger pieces of furniture.  Because I work strange hours (I get up for work between 3-4 am 5 days a week), I generally do my woodworking in our basement in the morning on the weekends.  That means I most often use hand tools so that I don’t wake up my wife and two kids! 

Doing this has given me a real appreciation for ‘the old ways’ and just how fast one can become proficient with hand tools.  Don’t get me wrong, I do own a few power tools and will use them when in ‘mass production mode’.  But I’ve learned that if one becomes proficient with hand tools then you don’t necessarily need to go buy a table saw or jointer.  In fact, had I been proficient with hand planes a couple of years ago I would have never bought my palm sander.

As part of the woodworking journey, I also learned how to restore old tools to their former glory. You can frequently find 50-100 year old planes, chisels, and saws that go for just a few dollars. And I’ve learned some tricks to efficiently removing rust and setting them up to perform as good as any newly bought tool. So, learn from me as I continue!