Friday, March 27, 2015

GARDEN WOES. MISTAKES WE WON'T MAKE TWICE.

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Gardening is my favorite spring/summer past time.

I even get a little sad and dreary in the winter without my hands in the warm soil. I usually supplement my urge with buying a new house plant or cloning one of my existing ones over the winter, and I love to see the progress. Even in the winter house plants do amazing and I have quite a few. Just to keep me sane!

Just this month I was able to weed my raised beds and feel the radiant heat from the already warming soil, ah the promise of Spring! And then there's the occasional mornings waking up to snow.

I've been able to put out starts already; Scarlet Runners, Bush Beans, Sugar Pees, and a little Red leaf lettuce that I sprouted under our kitchen lights.


SEE these beans??? They're surviving!

Trays and trays of SSE seeds are sprouting inside the laundry room under lights as I type. Ok well the lights currently turned off for the night, you get what I'm saying.

There's something about the dirt under my fingernails that I just cannot resist. Being able to start seeds has been so therapeutic. Evening planting in a few of my garden beds these last couple days has been more than I could ask for this time of year.

Gardening is a love I've committed to for a few years now, my mom instilled a love for God's green thumb in my heart early in my childhood. I used to love picking the flowers from her garden and soaking in all the wonderful smells. Though gardening is a passion I have enjoyed my entire life, it is no easy task to find a technique or style that works consistently in our high desert climate. Up until last summer I thought I had it made and that I was a star gardener.... I was a little ahead of myself. When we moved to Tumalo I assumed I could take all the skills I thought I had learned and apply them to our new property...

I thought it would be easy... Fuh-get abad it! I'm an amateur to say the most!

In just the say 12 miles we moved from my home town where I had a successful garden to our new place, I had a disaster garden last year.

Here I will now breakdown every mislead path I followed... Just kidding but really, looking back I was so mislead...

1. WE RENTED A TILLER.

FYI if you want to spend all your days weeding and all your money on weed killers then sure use a tiller.

(normally I would never, but I was so far beyond annoyed, the weeds got so far away from me, I have already made a promise to myself, "no more weed killers," because using them totally ruins our whole purpose of growing organic produce in the first place)

Till that ground 6 inches deep and enjoy that wonderful smell of the fresh churned soil...

Just look at how beautiful it is....



Looking back at this beautiful dream I remember why I was so delusional to want to till. I wish I had been brave enough to take during/after photos, when the weeds made their first attack... 

And second...

Third, when I cut the garden perimeter in half because I just couldnt keep up...

Then the fourth.... Garden gets cut in half again....

Updated pics of this years garden (2015) to come! Stay tuned...

2. YOUR GARDEN DOES NOT NEED TO BE 1200 SQ FEET TO SUSTAIN YOUR VEGGIES.

It really didn't help that the main line for our property's irrigation ran right down the middle of this huge expanse, forever adding to the vitality off all those hellish weeds! (Side note: I found later that most of these "weeds" are actually edible and sustainable food sources!!! Like naturally growing salad greens! And weeds that can be used for healing ailments! Weeds that can be used for making natural paints, just like Native Americans! Holy cow! A whole post on that to come this spring!)

SECOND most important lesson learned.... bigger is not better when it comes to a garden, if its too big it will get away from you. Use only the space you need or you may end up like me, with a garden 1/5 the size it was to begin with. When in lack of space or trying to minimize, companion plant, companion plant, companion plant!!!

3. LISTEN TO THE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR SECOND PLANTINGS AND SO ON.

I only planted once on many of our varieties, simply because I forgot or was just too busy WEEDING to even care about planting more. If you want a successful harvest keep on planting to your hearts content. Most root varieties tell you to replant every 2-3 weeks. The only veggie I did this with was radishes, what can I say? Mama loves her some radishes!

If you don't keep up on the soil and your planting this is just another way that weeds can infiltrate your beds. Another good recommendation is companion planting! 

4. LEAVING YOUR BEDS OPEN TO AIR, WATER, AND SUN. WEEDS WILL GROW!

The biggest mistake I made last year was leaving my beds unprotected and exposed to the elements. Well I learned my lesson, this year I will, without a doubt be MULCHING every one of my garden beds. Mulching is the most efficient way to prevent weeds, preserve water, and keep the ground warm. A full post on mulching yet to come! Stay tuned :)

5. HAVE FUN. DONT GET OVERWHELMED, BUT MAKE A PLAN!

I bet you, like myself and so many other gardeners our there do the same thing every spring. We get so dang excited about seeds and the coming harvest, that when it comes time to buy seeds we go completely insane, lose our self control, and end up with 50 or so little packs of seeds. With such promise and determination in those packets, we rarely think over the logistics.

Where will all these seeds make a home?

Do I have enough space?

Is the lighting in that area right for these varieties?

Will I have enough time to harvest them all when the time comes?

Will I have enough space to preserve and/or store the harvest?

Is supplying water to that location easy or painstaking?

Take some time before you splurge on seeds to write down some things about yourself and your garden set up that you already know. Here are a few examples:

- What you want to grow?
- Your families favorites/ most eaten?
- What you grows well in your region? What does not?
- What you're already experienced at growing?
- When can you start seeds?
- Is your growing season long enough?
- What you can fit in your spaces, do you need more garden space?
- What you want to grow for preservation vs. fresh produce?
- Will I even have time to harvest all this produce???

Really taking a few minutes to sit down and decide what works well for you, you family, and your homestead can be such a life/time saving task. Making sure to include those heavy yielders in categories of favorite foods is a must for us. For example, green beans, I cannot say enough about how much my family loves them. We eat green beans A LOT! So, justly we have 2 varieties of bush green beans, and 2 varieties of pole green beans. Of course that is in addition to the 4 storage varieties of dry bush beans we've already started. What can I say? We love us some legumes here at the homestead.

Next, try to lay out a plan of where everything will go. This way you'll have a better idea of how much space you actually have when it comes time to execute planting in the coming weeks. I love rearranging and designing where every special wonderful plant should go. It's even better if you're familiar with the ground you're working. Last year we were new to Tumalo, so we winged it, improvised, and made due. This year, we can use our knowledge from all those previous trial and errors. 

Above all this should be fun. I myself enjoy very much drawing pictures of what I want my garden to look like. I love involving my family in my planting plans as well, making this into a family affair is important for any homesteader, after all this food will be feeding our family come fall. I find it a huge priority that my children have a desire to participate from an early age, in planting and harvesting our food.  I am a nerd for gardening through and through! I only hope Ireland remains as excited and intrigued as she is right now, always wanting to help mama whenever the chance arises. 

The fulfillment of successfully raising a garden, from planting to harvest, invigorates the spirit and connects us to a practice centuries old. I am proud to say that I have been invigorating my soul full as of late. Just today I transplanted the first of my bush bean starts. I planted oh so many seeds! dwarf blue curled Kale, dragon carrots, chiogga beets, red leaf lettuce, Grandpa Admire's lettuce, and the SSE lettuce mixture. We also have broccoli, corn, cucumber, pole bean, black bush bean, sunflower, MORE lettuce, a few pepper, a Bunch of tomato, and some cilantro starts waiting for transplanting into larger containers for now or to go outside. Much of it will be going outside to our gardens come Monday. Yeesh! Lots of baby plants! 

Not to mention the two goslings, four ducklings, 20 broiler chicks, and 7 pullets... I would say we've got a lot on our hands. I know, I know no self control to be had on the homestead in the bird department this Spring.


Did I mention the newest homestead babies??? Hey guys they're built in mouse deterrent!
Those pesky rodents can start packing their bags now, these two barn babies will be seeing you in a few weeks!




Happy Gardening! 


Q