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.
My Garden looks horrible. The weeds have taken over, the striped beetles have eaten the tomato(more than the horn Caterpillars which I can kill easily), and pepper plants.
I will have to take cuttings from the tomatoes, lavender, and any other plant I want more of. The drought is just kicking my gardens butt.
I have a plan though to get it all under control. Starting today one step at a time.
Okay So I am an avid layer Gardener. I have only been using this method for about 2 years and so far I have to say I love it. I have been using Manure from the cows and horses in the area, grass clippings (mostly), leaves found at a neighbors yard, newspaper ( about 20 sheets cover well and then layered over each other to smother weeds), compost, then another layer of either leaves or grass. Sometimes it is just newspaper and grass clippings to which I then punch a hole in pat down the grass clippings and plant my plant works really well when bone and blood meal are added for nutrients.
I am still trying to figure out the crab grass and how to get rid of it but otherwise it works (mostly because It comes in from the sides of the yard or walk ways I haven’t covered yet).
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
Black Gardeners Gold. Composed of everything Vegetable, herbivore manure(horse, cow, etc.) and minerals. This is all your kitchen scraps, excluding meat and fats(including vegetable oils), and all yard waste except sticks and branches that haven’t been chipped plus if you have cows and such they add their nice pooh. Many books and people suggest it be a combination of green and brown or as I say fresh and not fresh(dried out) Me I don’t really care about how much of each I put in there as long as it all gets in there. Some say that it needs to be air aided by poking holes it it with a tine or turning it you can do that too. I think it is just more work for the same result although It may make it decompose faster. Me I just throw everything in it during the spring and summer months and right before I get ready to plant I pull everything off the top of a portion of an area ( mind you my compost pile is really large about 6 feet by 8 feet) and dig right in all the rich brown compost underneath that looks a lot like soil(which if you think about it is except it has a little extra organic matter and mineral matter from the egg shells and other stuff you throw in). Then I will put down a thick layer of either cardboard or newpaper (which keeps out the crabgrass which if it gets half a chance will over run the compost pile and then you have weeds in you beautiful Compost) and pull the uncomposted stuff back on top.
Compost should never smell bad so if it does add more brown matter. This will cut the smell making more of a balanced pile. I know I wouldn’t want to work in my garden if all I smelled was something rotten it would turn me off to even want to be there. SO if you have this problem most likely you have a lot of fresh ingredient such as cow manure fresh from the cow. Or sometimes it is just really soggy because you placed you pile in a area that floods during the rains and doesn’t drain all the way which means you probably need to fill that area with dirt from another area or need to build up the area by putting down bricks, a small concrete slab or rocks to help with this problem.
Native Worms love this stuff I always find babies in the compost. They also contribute there manure to the pile and contribute to the decomposing community that is trying to establish itself inside all that matter..
In April my pile has been know to heat up which I think is because of the rain and if you are like me because of all the grass clippings. Sometimes I wonder if the pile will burst into flames it gets so hot in the middle from all the microorganisms breaking down the matter added to the compost.
So just remember to add all organic matter except meats and fats and your compost, water it occasionally during dry months. And you too will have a rich and beautiful compost to be used in the garden either as compost tea or around your vegetables and plants.
I hope you will stay tuned to my next segment on Organic Gardening. And don’t hesitate to ask questions. I will do my best to answer them, because this a simple version of what you can do.
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.
and yes I have to repair my porch. The fact that I live in a 40 foot travel trailer is a bit of embarrassing, but it can’t be helped we are house poor. We can’t afford to rent or buy so we live on my dads land. He says he is going to give me 5 acres. All I can I say is that we have a good family poor but good family. The bottom of my greenhouse is full of stuff, I am a bit of a clutter bug, but it also has a purpose which is to keep it from blowing away in Oklahomas massive thunderstorms. As you can see in many places there are already areas duct taped. I hate the cover on this thing the next cover I am going to put together using some greenhouse plastic its much sturder then this stuff I mean after the first wind storm we had there where holes in the roof. I have half a mind to take it back but the other half is telling me no no no no no where are you going to find such a deal only $100 dollars for the thing. So I throw up my hands like I said I am poor so for right now this will do.
Look at my herb pots I planted. Soon hopefully I will have some herbs popping up.
Here is bamboo (I THINK) that my husband got for me I am not really sure what it is it didn’t have a
tag and well it was my valentines gift which came in a little ceramic jar with stones so I planted it. I hope it pulls through the planting.
As you can see in this picture the lettuce didn’t stay in the bed it is growing along the outside of the bed and what is funny is that is from seed done last year. At least here soon I will be able to pull it up for salads.
Here is my compost pile I know right now it probably looks a bit strange, but I have to pull it all out so that I can get to the good stuff underneath to put into the beds with the newspaper, grass and leaves I put in them also then I place more leaves on top( this is to control weeds that are in the compost out here it is hard to keep the weed seeds from blowing into the compost bin not to mention the crab grass I have to put more newspaper down when I am done to control it all as much as possible. All the big stems and stuff are going to be pulverized in a chipper and then placed back in to the compost.
Here is the side with all my lovelies that are coming up. My daffodils and tiger lilies. But you also see a bale of hay that needs to be burned it has a ton of string throughout the whole thing and isn’t good for anything but burning to get rid of the string horrible but true. I also stash all my leaves behind the compost heap that I got from some guy that cleaned his yard up after his pecan tree lost all its leaves. Yay for me All that black gold waiting for the worms to eat it.
I moved all my pots to the greenhouse. Went out and looked around for a good seed mix to start seeds in and could not find that coco stuff which is sad but oh well and used Peat instead. I know it isn’t very green of me, but I have a hard time with dampening off and I am not sticking compost into my oven it makes my whole house smell bad not to mention that I have to use a lot of compost and usually can’t cook enough for my needs so peat it is. I usually use peat and composted cow manure mix to plant seeds in. usually about 1/3 of a big cube of peat (this will last me 3 years about sometimes less if I am planting a lot of flowers also.) I went out and got some reusable flats, and planted broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, herbs various kinds but this is my little pots of herbs for the kitchen, several varieties tomatoes, bell peppers and jalapeno. Most of these will take a week to 10 days to germinate.
Next week I am going out to the garden to plant carrots, lettuce (which I found many growing from seeds sown last year), kale, collards, swiss chard, radishes, spinach and peas( I am a little late planting these but hope they will produce before it gets to warm). I am also going to start some flowers to companion plant with the vegetables.
I also need to finish a few more beds. Putting down news paper to suppress the weeds and then leaves, manure, grass and then compost on top of that and then more leaves. The worms love my beds and the soil becomes so conditioned and perfect to grow things in. When I start to plant the vegetable this year I will remove the leaves put them aside plant the plants and put it back, or if direct seeding place to the side and then wait till they are growing and replace so that the water is retained I find this works really well. I always have to go around and find leaves for this project though and it is good to do so all year round.
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.