Since I seem to be on face book more than here I decided that it would be nice to do a group of sorts. Hope you all join me.
Okay, So this year I tried really hard to grow from seedlings I even started weeks ago. Yet, to my horror and anguish I lost the cheap little green house I was using that would have helped me out greatly. I lost many seeds, not just to the greenhouse blowing away but I also lost some to freezing temperatures(frost) and to my inexperience. I have had to buy my plants. And it is impossible to find plants that haven’t been treated with insecticide and/or fungicide and chemical fertilizer so I don’t try. I do plant seeds that are big like squash, watermelon, pumpkins, corn, beans, cucumbers, etc these seeds are really easily germinated and well I can do it with little fuss. I hope to try again with a green house but who knows when I will be able to get the money together to do so.
I do however practice companion planting. This is planting plants next to other plants that either attract beneficial insects or the bad bugs. Some can also sometimes kill harmful things such as nematodes (marigolds) or can actually kill the bug(pyrethrin flowers), or even attract bad bugs so as they stay off of the plant you want to keep. Many can enhance growing such as putting beans with corn the beans add nitorgen to the soil that the corn will need and adding pumpkins (the three sisters). The pumpkins shade the ground to keep out weeds making them easier to manage. You can also plant plants such as dill and parsley to attract butterflies (monarch to your garden). This takes a lot of research and I suggest people do this it helps with the balance of bag to good bugs. You must remember though not all plants like each other some will even cause the death or stunted growth of some plants. So experiment use info from others but try this out.
Sometimes though the bad bugs tend to eat everything in their site till there is nothing left. Which happened to be last year with a beetle I never encountered before. It was like all of a sudden they hatched and they hatched in such numbers that they where eating everything. I am still not sure what Type of bug they where and I could only make an educated guess as to them being a striped cucumber beetle. I had to get pyrethrin spray and kill as many as I could but they decimated my tomatoes and pepper crops with numbers over the night before I found them in the morning. This year I am more perpared since I also got tomato horn worms , cabbage lopers and such I am going to use Bacillus thuringiensis . Which is excellent for killing Caterpillars be careful when spraying so as not to spray other butterfly caterpillars in your garden and read the directions it works better overnight. I also get milky spores and beneficial nematodes to kill some bad beetles larva and beetles themselves.
I have thought about get certain types of beneficial insects and putting them in the garden from a catalog but I don’t think that would be a efficient use of my money being that insects are rather wandering and my garden is not enclosed to keep them in. Not to mention that during certain times of the year they may be without food.
Some helpful books are Rose love garlic, Carrots love tomatoes( my favorite), Great Garden Companions.
Some helpful websites with charts.
and many many others
Soil. Yes I said soil not dirt. We have to build up our soil so that it is healthy. Humm… What do I mean by healthy? This is something that has perplexed me for sometime, but knowing myself well I knew I was just making it hard and difficult. So I stepped back and analyzed this from a more observational stand point and broke it down so that I understood what most people wanted me to understand.
What is soil? It is Organic matter (leaves, grass clippings,), microorganisms (nematodes, worms, fungus, bacteria,) and minerals (calcium, metals, and so forth). In a base such as clay, silica(sand) and silt. When put together and not disturbed for a while it forms soil. Which is really healthy for plants. Oh I know there are some organisms that are not really healthy for plants but those can be beaten down in a way with planting certain plants such as Marigold(which kill certain nematodes), and other plants that help bring in nitrogen fixing organisms(BEANS).
I try to think of soil not being disturbed so how you might ask do I take care of the weeds. Well one I pull them I know that disturbs the top layers but not the under layers. I don’t till because not only does that compact the soil making it harder for plants to grow their roots out it disturbs the community I am building in the soil. I take the approach of the forest gardener or lasagna gardener. I heap more organic matter on top the soil add a few things to amend it like bone and blood meal(made from dead animals I know but it is more organic then most fertilizers and adds calcium and phosphorus that tend to leach out of soil that being used by plants at the moment. )
So what is a forest or lasagna garden you ask. Well to me it is Newspaper thickly applied to smother weeds (remember no tilling) then grass clippings, leaves, compost, more clippings and leaves newspaper over this and finally more leaves. This left to sit for a month or two to compact it down then I plant in it. No muss or fuss.
So stay tuned for more information on Organic Gardening.
Okay so lately I have been reading up on how to Garden organically. It really isn’t that hard until you realize like me you live in an area that weeds are hard to keep down. Crab grass grows rapidly and is hard to keep up with unless it is covered up with landscape fabric and/or cardboard boxes even then it will have to be pulled from the garden paths that are covered by wood chips in. Then there are the bugs. I don’t mind bugs there are good ones and bad ones but usually bad ones over take the garden. So I have been looking at the different ways to keep the bad bugs down and out of the garden and attract the beneficial bugs. So I have compiled my knowledge and that of many other people to tell everyone newbies and oldies about different ways to Garden Organically without pesticides/ chemical fertilizers. I am going to make this a segmented piece. So watch for posts.
I know I haven’t been keeping up with the gardening but I have to tell you I haven’t really done much and really should do more. So I am trying my best to get into the spring of things. In January I put up my 1st green house which isn’t much I bought it at Atwoods in Claremore. It is one of those little cheap $100 Push together pole and throw over the plastic sewn cover walk in types. Which I don’t think I would buy again. May not last very long one of the pieces already is broke and another is weak because of a hole in it that isn’t supposed to be there but I though I will fill it in with putty or something, it still had to be put someplace not load bearing. So far haven’t put any seeds in it too cold not enough heat at night for the seedlings to survive. It also needs a fan put in it. Have been filling containers of water to place in there to conserve heat and moved my potting soil and other tools inside so that I can get to them I think I will put a container in it to hold all my stuff that isn’t plants.
I started to go into the garden and fill in many beds. There was a bed I was going to use for a cold frame well I wasn’t able to finish it due to the fact that I didn’t have everything I needed on hand and the car kept breaking down so all the money went to that last fall. I think that next year I am going to try something that will make it a bit easier to handle using 4 bales of hay that I can move around to fit the windows I have. Also build a frame for those windows so that I can place one or more of those openers for greenhouses in it to let out the heat during the hotter days.
I went through all my seeds. Cataloging what I have and writing down my wants and needs. So here soon I am going to start the seed flats for the seedlings.
I have also started pulling everything off my compost pile to get at all the rich material underneath to put in my beds. Also last year we found a person whom had so many bags of leaves I though I was in heaven and I am placing those on top of the bed to bring in my lovely beneficials such as worms, and fungus and bacterial that will make the soil healthy. This may also help with some of the pests and it may not. I had such a problem last year with these little yellow and black beetles I just wanted to throw my hands up at everything. I actually had to bring in an organic based pesticide to kill them off they where eating everything from my tomatoes to the peppers, potatoes and other vegetable and even the marigold they wouldn’t touch the onions and I thought I had a way to combat them but no they just kept eating. I had them in such numbers that I was stepping on them and they decimated several plants that I had to pull out after trying hard to save them. Also did you know that the humming bird moth is actually the dreaded tomato horn worm Caterpillar . Such beautiful creatures and good pollinators to destroy a plant I want to eat. Having to go out there everymorning to find these things and pluck them off and kill them. I think this year I am going with a bacteria BT to be exact to get rid of them.
But I am going to keep everyone more informed about my garden. So watch for future posts and pictures.