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Sunday, December 2, 2018

Beautiful Fall Day

I am not the type of person who enjoys the cold... seriously. When our area was hit with some colder than normal temperatures I was ready to mentally prepare myself for the winter blues.  I know many in the Northern areas have already had SNOW so feel free to chuckle a little at me. 

This weekend we had some lovely temps though. I was so pumped and then the rain came and stayed Friday and Saturday. Sunday, however, was truly wonderdul. 

The air was crisp and cool. The sky was so bright and blue with little wispy clouds. The sun was bright and warm. It has rejuvenated me!! I was able to get out and finish up some Fall chores that I had pretty much given up on doing in comfort.  

Tonight (Tuesday) it is cold and spitting out a few snow flurries. December in Tennessee shorts one day and a coat the next. 

I hope that wherever you are safe and warm surrounded by love. Happy gardening everyone

Monday, October 1, 2018

Lasagna Gardening

     So, I have tried the lasagna garden method before. It was more of a low key attempt to turn my horrid clay soil into something less clay like. I gathered materials like some newspapers, veggie peelings, egg shells, tea grounds and piles of leaves. My layers were not very thick, but it did help. 

     Then along came little E and I abandoned anything that took time. My garden became much smaller (and was non existent that first year). I simply had to pause that hobby (source of sanity) because between work and family I had little time and pretty much no energy. In fact the first six month to a year are a little fuzzy. Any full time working parents in the crowd? Little E was a horrible sleeper (honestly she still gets up and she is almost 4, but thankfully I get more like 5 to 6 hours instead of 3 to 4) so I was running on fumes most days.

     Now that things have settled and she is interested in taking part in the garden process I have more time and energy to devote towards gardening. She is actually pretty helpful in most aspects from planting, picking, and watering to composting. I decided the soil needed another pick me up so began hoarding materials this Spring and Summer in preparation for the lasagna garden. 

     So, you may be thinking-what is a lasagna garden? Essentially it is you creating dirt the old fashioned way... you know like Mother Nature does it. It is similar to a cold or slow compost. Be warned this method takes months (if a lot of material it could take up to almost a year). It has worked for me before, but I have ramped it up to see how much of a difference that makes. Essentially you layer your materials (much like a lasagna) alternating green and brown materials. 

     Green materials consist of items such as vegetable peelings, grass clippings, pulled up plants (most people do so without seeds but sometimes I throw them in so I can hopefully get some volunteers), coffee/tea grounds and manure. 

     Brown materials include cardboard, newspapers, word chips, wood ash, raked leaves, straw, or sawdust.

     As far as I can tell as long as you alternate green and brown you are good to go. It can be a few layers or a lot of layers. Theoretically the more layers the more dirt (compost) you will have as a final product. To help you understand (and see- I know I  am not the only visual person here) I took pictures of the process as I created my lasagna garden the other day.

     I did forget to get a pic of the layer of cardboard by itself, but as long as you overlap either cardboard or newspapers it will help make a nice weed barrier and set the stage. Then water it down well to keep it from flying away. If using newspapers make them several layers thick and water throughout or they can try your patience by flying away-more so than the cardboard. Also, pick a fairly non windy day to save yourself some frustration.

     Next put on a green layer. We used dried grass clippings and then laid some cornstalks on top that we had pulled up awhile back (kind of helps keep the layer from blowing away). 

     Next we went for more cardboard (but broken up so it will break down faster). We want the bottom layer to go slower so it should be thicker, but this one isn't a weed barrier. At this point it looked kind of like... well a trash bin, but I promise it will get better. Also, remember it could be any of the brown ingredients... I just happen to have hoarded a lot of cardboard. 

     Then, you guessed it- more greens. Though this time it was all the plants I had pulled up clearing the space. So, my wonderful veggie plants can produce one more time just in a different way. 

     I worried that it would be too thin of a layer once it broke down so I threw some more grass on there. Don't forget that you need to water between each layer. 

     Note that I put sticks on top because I was done for the time being and they help it settle and stay together. I figured I would wait until enough leaves fell and add them on later. Then I looked out a few days later and saw it was time to rake a bit. So I added a final brown layer.

     As you can see it has been piled well above the garden bed, but remember these are loose layers (like it should be as it composts better loose than when it is packed down hard) and when they break down it will shrink considerably. 

     I want to take a little moment to let you know that method can be used for other reasons than just to build up new (rich) soil. Some people do this exclusively to accomplish a no dig no till garden. Others use it to build a new garden bed and will plant directly into it typically after putting some soil down (usually just under the top layer or as the top layer ). Also, like I plan to do, they may add more to it over time. I will probably lay down some veggie peelings, dried grass, and coffee or tea grounds and then some more leaves. There are also some people who will add layers around plants as they grow. Remember it is up to you.

     Put down a few layers or several, keep adding on or do it one time and let it sit, use it immediately or wait for it to break down, it is your garden and your choice. 

     Have you ever tried a lasagna garden method? If so drop a comment and tell me about your experience. 

Happy Gardening Everyone!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Sweet Potato Update- End of September




 Our sweet potato slips that we got last month in an amazing sale are still growing. As you can see we have had some bugs eating at the leaves, but overall the plants are still doing well. I don't think we have any potatoes yet, and am not sure if we will before it gets too cold, but the leaves are spreading everywhere! So far I think that using cloth shopping bags as worked well. The roots have starting going through the bottom, which I guess isn't a bad thing.  I will continue to update as Fall progresses and the plants grow. I am working on developing a system to keep the plants alive (hopefully) through the cooler weather in the hopes we will indeed get some sweet potatoes. If you have any suggestions or ideas feel free to leave them in the comment section.

Happy Gardening Everyone!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

What is still growing- Late September




As you can see there are still several things growing in the garden. It seems like just as some plants have finally made their way through their growing cycle others are getting a second wind. Usually, the strawberry foliage stays until it gets very cold, but we don't really get more strawberries. This year however, we have some putting forth a handful of strawberries every so often. It is a very rewarding surprise for the kids as freshly picked always tastes so much better!



Our cilantro has went to seed, but our thyme keeps spreading and our basil is growing so well! I need to pick it again and make some more pesto. We have been able to make several batches of pesto from the basil and other herbs. I love the lemon thyme and think that I am going to try and dry some of the herbs soon and see how that goes. I will update and let everyone know. 
  


Our green pepper plant has just exploded. We had been able to get a few peppers here and there previously, but now it has a lot growing. I am hoping that they can get to a decent size before the coolness of fall comes around. We are excited because everyone in the house loves green peppers and I use them in cooking a lot. This may be the plant that I bring in and try to grow in the dining room over the winter.


We have one last little pumpkin growing that is about ready to be harvested. Once it is harvested then we will pull up the pumpkin vine, the beans in that area, and cut back the grapevine. This to me signals that beginning of the end of the spring/summer garden.



If  you still have things growing in the garden feel free to share with us below in the comments.
Happy Gardening Everyone!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Mid September harvest

We have been a little quieter on here the last few weeks and to be honest the next few might be a little spaced out as well. It is a busy time at work and as Fall is approaching we don't harvest as much. We did get some Fall garden sections planted and we have been hoarding up some supplies for when we pull up the Spring plants and put those garden spots to bed. There will be updates on those soon. 

For now we are mostly harvesting a few cucumbers as well as small batches of tomatoes and beans. I love that we still have a wide variety of tomatoes because they all have their own taste and purpose.

Mr. Stripey is a wonderf sandwich or burger tomato, the yellow and pink Brandywine are great to chop and put in salads or on tacos. I also like to cook with them. The small ones are great for a little snack or to put in tuna salad. For us our small harvests are great. There is just enough to eat, but it isn't overwhelming. 

We hope you gardens are still giving you a little produce. 

Happy gardening everyone!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

How does your garden grow?

Mine grows as it wishes. Completely chaotic and charming at the same time. I like to think that this is more akin to nature. Nature doesn't spread her beauty in nice perfect rows (not that I have anything against it), but rather mixed up all together in a splendid show of color and bounty. She likes to put in a lot of green with spots of color and plenty of food for wild animals and nectar for bees. She keeps evolving and changing with new growth to replace the old. I like to think she also puts in a lot of love. Ours, this year, is full of all of this. 

Color.

Food.

New growth.

And love.

Happy gardening everyone. 

Back Garden Update-August

We will start with the grapevine area. I had taken off several leaves that just didn't look good and may need to do so again soon. We will be moving this guy to another space before next year. We will put up a nice support so he can grow better. This year, though he has just been growing all willy nilly. 

If you look close you will see his friends Mr. Pumpkin and beans. There is also a little new pumpkin growing away on the sidewalk. 

Then we have the bed that is ready for Fall. I put a few transplants in that we had started from seeds. We also have an onion in there that sprouted in the onion drawer. Some of the transplants didn't make it. 

That is ok. We have more that we can stick in once they get bigger.

We have a lot of lettuce plants growing. The plan is to let them get bigger and then move them to the corn and beans bed once it is cleared.

We have a lot of beets started that we need to transplant into pots soon. They will grow there because we haven't had good success with in the ground beets. If the tomato plant in the side bed planter ever gives up they will go there since it is big enough to be a home for them all and easy to cover. 

There are a few spinach plants growing. We have added a few more seeds to the pot in the hope that we get more. They will later go with the lettuce in the corn and beans area. We just put out some kale seeds which will also go there. We are hoping to put a few of each and see how long they survive the winter as it is a small space that will be easy to cover when it gets cold. 

You can see the pumpkin vines that are growing in the pathway. Once the little guy finishes up we plan to pull these up.

Now to the corn. And beans. As you can see the corn is pretty much done but some beans live on. We hope we can pull it all up soon to make way for fall, but it has been a joy letting Emmalee pick beans from the porch. 

We hope you enjoyed this little update. We will do a new round of updates once we get things switched over for Fall. If the garden continues producing well we may have one more round of harvests to show. 

Happy gardening everyone!