Archive for Garden

Compost Is Gold!

We’re learning about compost this week (What We Learned Wednesday)! What kinds of systems are there and how much work is involved in each?

What I’ve Learned So Far

You could use a tumbler. You put your compostable scraps in and turn the handle a few times. I’ve heard they’re not too bad as far as work required, but they’re small, expensive, and look to me like they would overheat easily. However, if you only have a small space to work with then they might be the perfect match.

You could make a pile and use a stick turner. There are manual ones that you turn using your muscles and also ones that attach to drills.

If you have the space and time, you could just make a new pile each year and leave the previous ones to rot into whatever state you are happy with.

You could try using worms to do your composting in a worm bin. I haven’t yet been able to quite figure mine out; my worms die and I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. I think I might be keeping it too wet. I have an older model of the Worm Factory.

Me, I’m a lazy gardener. I do not want to spend time every week/month/year turning compost. I want the glorious bacteria and worms to make compost for me! I like lasagna gardening for this reason. You just make layers of compostable stuff directly on your garden, put a mulch layer on top to help retain water, and let it break down in place. Easy-peasy!

For making larger amounts to amend large areas, I think I like the idea of multiple piles that are turned less frequently, such as in this video:

Regardless of the method you choose, your plants are sure to reward you with healthier plants and higher yields! Do you use a method not discussed above? Let me know about it in the comments!

Even The Smallest Yard A Homestead Garden

Most people probably think that you need acres to homestead–space for cattle or goats, chickens, pigs, large garden, etc. Not so! You can start to homestead in surprisingly small spaces!

This video by John at Learn Organic Gardening at GrowingYourGreens showcases a suburban homestead garden on only 1/10th of an acre! You can do this! Careful planning and starting as soon as possible (trees take a while to get going) are key. Enjoy! This is inspiring!

P.S. The Self-Improvement Giveaway 11 is still going on. You can get hundreds of free self-help resources all in one place. Don’t miss it!

Today’s post is for Day 10 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. #blogboost

What I Want To Be When I Grow Up

image360

Every kid hears the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Like we’re all supposed to know, magically, what’s going to be really interesting to us in the next 10-15 years that’s going to stay interesting for the following 30-40 years. And let’s face it, it seems like most adults don’t know what they want to be when they grow up!

Neither did I. In college, I had been in the following majors (in order): genetics, biological resources engineering, aerospace engineering, astronomy, physics, and psychology. I’ve worked in retail, at a horse barn, in an office (hated it!), and in child care. I have been all over the map, but I’ve found out some things about myself along the way.

I’ve found out that I can think more clearly while working outside. I found out that I hate being pinned down to a desk. I found out that I really don’t mind retail horribly. Yes, some people are jerks, but you just roll along. They’re just passing through anyway. I found out that I like to build things. I found out that I like teaching. I found out that I like learning about plants. I found out that I like to see food grow in my backyard.

So how could I combine these things: outside, building stuff, gardening, teaching (at least teaching my own child, at first), and maybe a little retail? A friend of mine sent me a YouTube video called “How to Make $100,000 Farming 1/2 Acre You Don’t Own” by Learn Organic Gardening at GrowingYourGreens where he interviews Curtis Stone about urban farming. Viola! An idea was born.

I have 4 acres. Sure the goats need a lot of it, but they don’t need all of it! Marketing gardening will theurbanfarmerdefinitely get me outside, gardening, and a little bit of retail. And Curtis Stone talked about making $100,000 from his small plots? Sold! I ordered his book, “The Urban Farmer“,”The Market Gardener” by Jean-Martin Fortier, “Mini-Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre” by Brett L. Markham, and “Homegrown Herbs: A Complete Guide to Growing, Using, and Enjoying More than 100 Herbs” by Tammi Hartung.

I know there’s a farmer’s market about 20 minutes from us. My plan going forward is to go to the farmer’s market a few times before they close for the season to see what kind of things are there and then learn the heck out growing food for others!

In a country where only about 2% of the population farms and the average age of farmers is roughly 60 years old (and about 1/3 of farmers are over 65 while only 16% are under 45), seems to me there’s plenty of space for noobs in this field! Anyone else consider going into small-acreage farming? I’d love to hear of your experience!

Got Food?

In light of the situation in California, please start growing some of your own food if you don’t already. Not consider it, do it! Pick a method you like–conventional tilling, raised beds, square food, Back to Eden, whatever–just do something. Even if it’s just growing something in containers, it’ll help.

California is going into its third year of drought and news reports are already talking about prices on things like melons being affected. According to this article on bloomberg.com, prices on artichokes, celery, broccoli, and cauliflower could rise at least 10 percent. It’s even worse according to this article on modernfarmer.com. They list several types of produce that are only grown in the USA in California: almonds, dates, figs, plums, raisin grapes, olives, clingstone peaches, pistachios, pomegranates, sweet rice, walnuts and kiwis.

If you’re just learning or would like to check out a different style, check out some of the following books:

(Or you could skip the garden and buy food already stored at eat-today-and-tomorrow.com.)

What kind of garden are you going to work on (because you are going to work on a garden, right?)?

 

Perennial starts – or not.

I got a bunch of perennial fruit starts from Sam’s Club and Tractor Supply several weeks ago. I got several varieties each of: grape, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries.

I wrote down each varieties name, space required, sun requirements, harvest times and any special notes. I then used grid paper to do an outline of my inside yard (i.e. not planting out in the pasture) to decide where I wanted to plant everything. I had my fencer come out to put in wires and posts to hold up the grapes, which I planted 6′ away from the fence line so that the horses wouldn’t be able to eat the whole things to the ground.

So far, some raspberries and grapes have started growing. Only one of the blueberries have started growing and I can only see stems on two other blueberries. I cannot even find the stems on the rest of the blueberries and the blackberries had not started yet. I think that only about half of what I’ve already planted has started growing and that pretty much all of the blueberries (with the exception of that lone one) are hopeless. My strawberry plants are patiently waiting on the porch, green leaves and all, to be planted – still.

I bought them when it should have been time for spring but then couldn’t plant them when spring didn’t come. Lesson learned – wait for the weather, not the calendar!

Have you planted your fruit bushes yet?