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Posts Tagged ‘Gardening’

  
 Well everyone, it seems the groundhogs were right! Though it’s only the 15th of February, I can already tell that spring is, well springing into action! Three factors go into this reasoning; first, there is the dirt beneath my fingernails that refuses to be washed away, second, the mysterious nicks and cuts on my hands that always appear, and third the forgotten pack of seeds in my pants pocket that, every year inevitably gets washed with the laundry (for some reason it’s always radishes!). Ok, well maybe it’s four factors…Allergies have returned (early) to ruthlessly ravage my every waking moment! But I can’t pay attention to my pounding head, my stuffed nose that makes every  ‘N’ sound like a ‘D’, or even my watery eyes, No! whatever nature throws at me, there is one thing that must prevail….Gardening!  
So despite these achy muscles and ballon-like feeling in my head, Bear and I went Valentines day shopping, no, not for lingerie, for plants! (insert giddy excitement here) We finally found the time this weekend to build raised bed number two, this one six foot by four foot, and again, seventeen inches deep. Once again filled with a mixture of organic material (i.e. Grass clippings, shredded leaves, spoiled hay) and good garden soil. After two days of planning and configuring, this is what I managed to stuff into 24 square feet:

8 Georgia collard plants-12 inches apart
1 broccoli plant -12 inches 
15 spinach plants-6 inches apart
1 four foot long row of chives
2 four foot long rows of carrots
8 heading iceberg lettuce plants-8 inches apart
1 big beautiful purple Kale plant-15 inches is the spacing but I stuck it in a corner:)
13 onion sets, stuck between rows and wherever I could find room
4 pansies, also stuck in corners and wherever there was room
2 four foot long rows of radishes
1 four foot long row of sugar snap peas
Various Nasturtium seeds, stuck wherever there was room
California poppy seeds strewn around the broccoli plant.

The completed Raised Bed

Most of the spacing is taken from an intensive planting guide, I’m hoping that the plants are close enough together to shade out any weeds, though a thick layer of mulch will be applied, on top of the nourishing layer of compost spread yesterday. All of the flowers included in the mix are both insectory (meaning they will attract beneficial insects ) and edible. The nasturtiums will actually repel some leaf munching insects and I’m planning on adding some sweet alyssum as a living mulch later on. In other words, I’ve tried to pull out almost all the stops on the organic gardening pathway, including companion planting, which we will discuss on a later post. So hopefully, fingers crossed and prayers to agricultural gods everywhere, this garden wont have near the problems my others have had!

Iceberg lettuce

   Now it’s time to get back outside (hence the reason for my shortest post ever:). It’s a warm 63 degrees here in Georgia today with nice, sunny skies and a cooling gentle breeze…time to work on raised bed number three!

Gwenevere

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  Wow! What an eventful week! First of all, I would like to congratulate the Egyptian people for their victory over Oppression, and we all pray that the following days will be full of joy, freedom and positive change! You have a long road ahead of you, Egypt, but this victory is the stepping stone on the pathway to democracy and personal rights which I believe every human is entitled to. Yay Egypt!!!! Sorry, got a little carried away:). Anyway, we’ve been so busy, (building more raised beds:) I figured for this post I would extend to everyone some of the resources we have been using the past two years or so, hopefully you can garner the same knowledge, news, entertainment and great products we have had the privilege to find on our journey toward financial freedom and sustainability. Please enjoy the following links….it’s time to get click happy!

http://bearmedicineherbals.com/ -a wonderful guide to traditional herbal medicine with insights into the everyday life of a medicine woman. Highly recommended for wild and regional herbal medicine. The very knowledgeable Kiva Rose brings to life the wild and often mysterious valley in which she resides with her family and friends. She, along with her colleagues, have produced a treasure trove of knowledge in publishing the new online herbalist’s ‘Plant Healer Magazine’, which I have yet to have the opportunity to read:(.

http://www.greenlittlecat.com/ -a great site my friend Jess found for  the cat lover in all of us. All about the different ways we can “green” our feline friend’s lifestyle. How to make your own cat litter, natural foods and holistic kitty medicine.

http://www.horizonherbs.com/ -the number one site to go to for hard to find herb plants and seeds, the owner Richo Cech also writes some extraordinary guides to growing and using medicinal herbs. Every plant I’ve ordered from them has been a prolific producer and I highly recommend them.

http://agrigirl.wordpress.com/ -a wonderful blog about friends, family and community supported agriculture, she will surprise you with the wit and wisdom of her posts.

http://www.bountifulgardens.org/ -a great source for untreated and organic vegetable seed. You will truly get your money’s worth at this site, the proceeds go to a great cause; teaching people all over the world how to grow and provide food for their communities, and finding new and improved techniques of growing the most food in in-hospitable areas! I order my veggie seeds from this company because Jesus said it best; give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime…(along with feed his family, neighbors, and perhaps his entire village:)

http://www.gardenweb.com/ -a forum for all regions of gardening. Ask a question and it will be answered by gardeners in your state.

http://urbanhomestead.org/ -for the ultimate in inspiration, this is what your small city lot could provide if given half a chance. As just a small example, the total in produce for January alone was over two hundred pounds! Plus the pictures of the gardens alone is enough to strive for greater production!

http://beyondthebluebin.com/ -a diary of one person’s trash, and thoughts on how to reduce, reuse and recycle that trash. It invites us all to take a look at what really goes into our trash cans!

http://www.wholesalesolar.com/ – we bought our solar panels (and a refrigerator, and inverter) from these guys, their prices are very reasonable, their reps are knowledgable and their equipment is reliable! If you have any questions about future solar projects, or even just want to understand more about how the systems work, don’t hesitate to give them a call! (Hint, hint, Wholesale solar, Winding Road Farm is advertising for you!;)

http://www.motherearthnews.com/ -when I found out we would be moving to a ten acre farm, living in a tiney outbuilding, and with no running water or electricity, the first thing I did, was order a subscription to this magazine. I grew up reading Mother Earth News, my mom has almost every issue. It’s pages beg to be book marked, it’s passages underlined and every issue kept safe for future generations! If you can find anyone who is willing to part with the older issues, they are well worth the price. Every issue is packed with homesteading tips and tricks, gardening ideas, environmental news and personal accounts from the sustainability front!

http://survivalfarm.wordpress.com/ -all about gardening and how much humanity will soon need the small farmer, and the backyard veggie plot.

http://www.gardenfork.tv/ -A very entertaining site! Eric’s videos are informative, funny and his Labradors are downright adorable! I love the fact that they appear completely unscripted, I think his favorite saying is “and, well, we’ll just see what happens!”. How-To videos, Cooking, Bee-keeping and random Cute Puppy shots makes for a great show!

http://wastefreehome.wordpress.com/ -another household that has vowed to reduce and even eliminate the trash that makes up their portion of the landfill, I was very glad to find that we’re not the only ones!

http://wooddogs3.wordpress.com/ – another urbanite’s experiences with farming on a small city lot. Look for the great book recommendations!

http://herbanlifestyle.wordpress.com/ – and finally, just looking at the site makes my mouth water! Full of good news and good recipes, the writer also owns an Etsy shop selling hand crafted all natural bath and body care products, which have garnered some great reviews!

   Thanks to all who read about our adventures and let’s hope we can get this garden going soon, I got my local Georgia Farmers and Consumers Market Bulletin and according to the planting guide, I should have stuff in the ground already! You see, this is why we call our kind of procrastination an extreme sport!

Gwenevere

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During my work in the garden today, my mind began to wander,(as it normally tends to do during garden work), and I began to formulate a list. Now many of you may not yet know my love of lists, but a single quote from a magazine pretty much sums it up; “I love lists…creating them, looking at them, and every once in a while crossing something off!” I can’t for the life of me remember who said this, but it has stuck with me. This particular list is called ‘Rules to Live by on the Farm’, a compendium of advice from  our experiences thus far.

1: Possibly the most important piece of advice, Always laugh in the face of failure, even if it happens again, and again, and again…..eventually you’ll get it right.

2: When you think you’ve got enough (hay, soil, compost, grass clippings, firewood…etc.) in your wheelbarrow, pile in more. Because you don’t have enough, believe me!

3: Never send hungry children to the berry patch with the intentions of baking a pie. What you will get instead of a full basket, is ten berries at the bottom of it and very sticky children with red, blue or black faces depending on the berry being picked.

4: The same goes for hungry adults, though they may try to wash away the evidence;)!

5: Always dress in many layers if work is to be done outside in the winter, Especially if you live in the south!

6: Never plant mint directly in the ground unless you really want a Minty fresh lawn (which smells wonderful when you walk on it, or mow it). One option is to bury a terra cotta pot in the ground to plant it in.

7: Celebrate the small accomplishments, they add up in the long run!

8: Always thank your cats for the disgusting offering left at your door step, it’s just common courtesy. If you chastise them, they’ll probably pee on your bed…they know which side you sleep on!

9: If you can’t afford a leaf shredder,  instead gather together a giant pile of leaves and several children given copious amounts of Halloween candy. This was my mom’s tried and true technique!

10: Never say, “well this should be easy!”.

11: Always make sure the goat pen (or chicken coop) is secure before you go to bed, otherwise you will be chasing goats and/or chickens for the remainder of the night.

12: Never leave rakes face up on the ground, and if you do, buy a video camera.

13: Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Old wisdom usually holds true. (had to include this one)

14: Smile and wave at your neighbors whenever you see them, they’ll probably be your best customers!

15: And last but certainly one least, Never underestimate the power of pizza (or cookies) as payment! We renovated our house this way! Throw in a bonfire and some beer at the end of the night and your friends will work harder than if you paid them with money!

  As I said before, all of this comes from true experience. We really do have a Minty fresh lawn, we have been up all hours chasing chickens and goats, and the only way we stayed sane throughout the house building experience was by celebrating such small accomplishments as erecting one single wall. Though I’m sure this list will grow as our experience grows, I think were off to a pretty decent start! Does anyone else have any tried and true advice to contribute? Were always up for some tips!

Gwenevere

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The other day I had one of those “well duh!” moments. I was sitting at our favorite little truck stop bar and grill, talking to a very burly, very southern gentleman-truck driver about starting a small farm. He mentioned that he had just purchased twenty acres right down the road so that he could feed his entire family with home grown goodness. Wow! What a great idea, I thought. Then the gears began turning in my head, slowly bringing up every little tid-bit of sustainable agricultural knowledge I had gleaned in the past two and a half years, up from the recesses of my brain and straight out of my mouth, directed toward this poor man in the form of “very useful advice”. I began with soil building practices like cover cropping and manure and continued on toward the more obscure terms like Swales and permaculture until finally, exasperated, the man looked at me and said, in an extremely southern drawl, “ma’am, I’m very grateful for all this here advice and such, but I think I’ll just do it! You know, like my grandpappy taught me.” Needless to say my mouth snapped shut immediately, right before I formed the words ‘Grey water system’, and I began to think about those words…”I’ll just do it!”.  Now, I know that knowledge is power, and information is enlightenment but there comes a point in life when you need to put the gardening, permaculture and ‘History of the sunflower’ books down, and…well, just do it! You know, like the Nike commercial!

That day I went straight home and began working on the garden plot I had been staring at for the past two weeks! I was going to take all that book knowledge and turn it into a beautiful, prosperous cottage/kitchen garden. Hopefully all you readers out there know of my seemingly cursed situation regarding garden machinery such as a tiller, a lawnmower, or any other wondrous human invention meant to make life just a tiny bit easier. In other words, a tiller is out of the question. But, All of those hours Sitting on my behind, reading about sustainable agriculture were about to come in handy, it seems those environmentalists just so happen to despise tillers and have come up with some pretty inventive ways not to use them! Enter the raised bed!

My beautiful 17 inch deep raised bed, ready to be filled with organic goodness!

 

The corner of the raised bed, dont make fun of my carpentry, and yes, I used leftover drywall screws!

I built this two foot by seven foot frame out of scrap pieces of lumber pulled down from the roof, a couple of pieces of pallets used for shipping, and these two awesomely heavy seven foot boards I found lying around. Now for anyone other than me, building this would probably have taken about an hour…..it took me all day to complete. O.k, so I’m not the greatest carpenter on the homesteading block!  Oh well, at least I did it! The plan is (oh no! I used the bad word!), what I meant to say is: the Idea is to pile all sorts of organic matter, along with newspaper at the bottom as a weed barrier. On top of that I’ll stick some soil mixed with finished compost, then put my two little bunnies right on top of that to help me turn it all in (rabbits like to dig) and add a little of their manure as well. The compostables at the bottom will not only break down into super amazing garden soil, but in the process will keep my little bunnie’s toes warm while they work. Every day I’ll add straw and or grass to help absorb their nitrogen rich urine, along with all the weeds I pull up in the process of creating another raised bed. What a beautiful closed cycle this will create! The rabbits will have a fresh place to play, I’ll keep feeding them the weeds I pull up, and they’ll keep turning those weeds into fertile soil until I have all of my raised beds completed and planted! the rabbits, of course, will be rewarded with juicy carrots and radishes from the garden for all of their hard work!
Now I want to hear a little from my friends and fellow bloggers out there. What kind of gardening techniques have you employed successfully? What about those horrible failures, like my own herb garden that is so overgrown with Bermuda grass you can’t even see the plants? It’s ok, we’ve all been there, and if I can post a picture of this disaster:

The Yarrow is the only thing that has flourished. This happened on a particularly rainy week, since I didnt get a chance to weed it, the Bermuda Grass completely took over!

So can you! So go ahead and comment below, let’s hear your successes and failures…who knows, maybe we can all learn something!

Gwenevere

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