I have been bombarded with tons of garden work. Trying to turn my backyard into a garden bliss of sweet tasting yum yum of heaven. Lucky for the rain we have had lately...those are the only days I have not worked in the garden. I have a small section left in the garden and I will be done. Then I can relax a bit and watch my garden go to work. When I wrote in September, I mentioned that I had 5 more raised beds to take down. Now, I only have two left. You have no idea how happy that makes me. I keep telling myself all this work will pay off soon. As I promised a few weeks ago, I said I would post more pictures of the progress in the backyard. So...... here it is! Go to my previous blog before this one and check out the pictures. You will be amazed at how much work has been done.
I decided to have a section with only herbs. I have rosemary, thyme and oregano in the boxes thus far.
We spent this past weekend working in the garden. My poor husband works five days a week and I put him to work on the weekends.
After we completed our dig!
This part right here is the last section of the garden that I have to turn into rows.
I will post next month of the full transformation!
Yard Make Over
It is now September and Fall is here. The weather has gotten cooler and I am loving it! I have decided to do a full make over in my backyard. This summer the weather was a lesson learned for me. As most of you know, my crops were destroyed due to all the rain we had a few months ago. In this area in Arkansas, we received over a foot of rain in just one of those months. My crops caught disease and it was ruined. I had to make adjustments in my garden. I decided to grow my food in the ground. I know your wondering why not just keep them in the raised beds? I did a lot of research and decided that It would be best in the ground. I was not utilizing my space very well. I have clay soil and that was another reason for the flooding in my back yard. Clay soil does not drain very well. So basically my raised beds were just sitting in water when we had a lot of rain.
I did measurements in my backyard. My backyard was almost 3,500 square feet. I was only using about 800 square feet. I knew the clay soil would be a challenge. I had to amend the soil. I used compost, vermiculite and peat moss so the soil could drain better. I looked into different methods of gardening. I looked into Lasagna Gardening, No Dig Gardening and the Bio-Intensive Gardening. I went with the Bio-Intensive Gardening instead. With the intensive gardening I had to do a "double dig". Double dig is when you dig down 2 feet deep. I was not happy about that but I knew it would be better for my clay soil situation. It's a lot of work but for me it was worth it. I wanted my veggies to have more room to grow with their roots. Instead of the roots spreading out, it would be better for the roots to grow deep down in the dirt because of more room for growing. This is why I went with this approach. I also read a book called "How To Grow More Vegetables. You can grow your veggies close together utilizing the growth space. It also cuts down on weeds.
I have also started a compost pile!!!! I am going to start a worm farm in a few more months. I want to have my own compost and fertilizer.
July Pictures of the Beginning
You won't believe this but the three rows you see here were all done by hand, shovel and broad fork. I had to come up with a better way to get this work done quicker and easier.
Here is a look into August!
I had some advice that I took from Green City Acres on Facebook. They said " If you're turning over your backyard into a garden, till the hell out of it at first. Don't do it by hand, you'll kill your back. Go and rent a sod cutter, and cut off all the grass. Get rid of it some how. Then rototill the dirt multiple times until you get a nice deep tilth. Then form out your beds with your tiller. This is why I use a tiller that is 30" wide, cause it's the width of my beds. Once your beds are formed out with your walkways, then you can broad fork or pitch fork your beds to get a deep lose soil into the subsoil". So I took their advice. I am so grateful for the advice. It totally moved things along very well and quickly. I also got a tiller. I won't be tilling my garden after this. After I get my garden settled I will be doing a "No Till" method going forward.
I called all over looking for a sod cutter. I was able to rent one from Ace Hardware store. No one else in this area had any at the time. It was almost $100.00 a day. We did the tilling in one day. It took me about a week to collect the grass in the yard and put it on the curb. I know the city workers were not happy about heavy sod for curb pick up.
Compost heaven right here!!!!!!!!! I used some of my old pallets to build a compost bin.
I still have more work to complete. I have to finish taking down the raised garden beds. I have 5 more of those to go. I will put up more pictures in October.
I was afraid to see the results. I knew I had all this rain that occurred in the recent weeks. My squashes were dead. My tomatoes caught diseases. My cucumbers leaves were turning colors and I knew the disease had hit them. My melons were on their way as well. I was dreading dumping my bags of potatoes to see the results. I have to say that I was disappointed in the results. Next year I will have to make some changes in my garden to handle the challenges I occurred this year. Per the newscaster, we got over a foot a rain here for Central Arkansas and is still counting.
Here are the before pictures.
I honestly didn't know what to think about this. On the right, I was just like....this can't be! I kept digging and digging in the bag. I dumped it out until I had no more to dump out. I was in total shock. On the right, some were split from all the rain we had. I had to throw them out. I had only two left.
These did not come to full size at all. As you can see I put a quarter up to them so you guys can see how big the potatoes got. I ate some the other day. They were pretty good. I sauteed them and seasoned them really well. Even baby girl ate them. I only wish they had come to regular size potatoes. I will put some of these in some stew or even put them with some roast. Potatoes and carrots are always great with a roast.
This is all the potatoes I got from my garbage bag of potatoes. This was my very first year growing pototoes. We will see how next year ends up. Hopefully not a lot of rain.
Seeing The Effects On My Garden
I am finally seeing the effects of all the rain we got here recently in Arkansas. One week we had nothing but rain. The week before that even more rain. This week there was no rain but there is rain in the forecast for next week. Last week we had rain with 60 miles an hour winds. I had to stake the sunflower, peppers and corn. I had to stake the corn because the wind had blown them over. I thought that my plants had made it through the storm but it doesn't seem to be the case. I was really hoping that being a first year gardener that I would succeed and profit from all the work I had put into the garden. Many hours doing seeds. Many nights going out in the cold to turn on the heater in the greenhouse. Its a lot of work and many hours spent growing food. The last few days have been hard for me and I have been down about it.
Here's the potato plants.
Cucumbers. The winds blew some of the cucumbers off the trellis I had set up. Some recovered but some not.
Again more yellowing from too much rain.
Going Into Saving Mode
I saw a video a few months ago on Youtube on saving time with growing tomatoes. Its way to late to start the tomatoes from seeds. I got some water bottles and cut it to fit the branch of the tomatoes plants. I put a slit or three in the tomato branch and then wrap the bottle and fill with dirt. I do this so the roots can start to form. Once they develop roots, I will plant them out in the garden. I have a few months left...why not try to get some more plants in due to the water ruining the plants I already have. I only did this on the healthy plants.
Next year, I will give it a go once again. I will not give up. I truly do LOVE gardening! I love it, I love it...I love it!
These pictures were taken on 5.19.14. I really hope that I get some potatoes. It has been seen that there were lots of flowers but hardly any potatoes. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
I wanted to share the process of what my garden looked like before the growth of the vegetables. There is a lot of work that goes into gardening. I had to get the soil ready and I also recycled my water jugs as a way to get water to the roots of the plants.
Here is my garden as of 03-10-2014
This is the garden as of 4-16-2014
I used many 18 gallon storage bins to grow tomatoes in. I wanted to be able to control disease. Heirlooms are more susceptible of getting disease. Planting the plants this ways keeps it at bay. Some are self watering and other just have plastic bottles buried near the roots so the plants can get it's water. It's more of an experiment. I want to see if self watering is better.
I went around the house to see what was taking up space. I found some old water coolers. I used those to plant peppers.
I used trash bags to grow my potatoes in. I was on a budget and figured that this might work. We will see at the end of the growing season.
This is what my garden looks like as of 5-21-14
Your probably wondering "why did she do that". Well.... I got to thinking. Tomatoes become top heavy when they start producing fruit. I tried many things but this seemed more efficient. We will see in the next coming weeks.
This will be my second year using these root pouches. The first year, I did not have good luck with these. When I watered the plants, the water would seep out on the sides and the plants were not getting enough water. The plants last year only produced one or two tomatoes at most. This year, I had to be smart about how the plants would get their water. I lined these root pouches with plastic black trash bags. Put holes in them and then filled it with dirt. The plants are doing way much better and now they have tons of flowers on them. We will see if I will be able to get a good yield from these root pouches.
I truly hope that I have inspired you to grow some food no matter the space.
It looks like the azomite and the pellets do make a difference when it is added to the compost. Just amazing! It does make a difference. I used the phosphate because potatoes loves phosphorous.
Left bag contents:
Organic rock phosphate
Right bag contents:
Organic rock phosphate
Here are some more pictures!
I will keep you all updated!
Planting In Anything
I am on a budget like most Americans. I walked about in my home to see what containers I could use. I looked at boxes....Heck I tried that last year with potatoes and that didn't work. I couldn't use boxes again. We had item sitting in the garage taking up space. I walked in my closet and saw bags I could use as well for gardening.
You can use anything to plant a garden in. You don't have to have that much space. Be creative!!!!!!! It can be done.
My mom gave me this treasure chest when I was 18 years old. I put things I wanted to buy for my very first apartment into this chest. My daughter has had her toys in this chest. Then....It was just sitting in the garage. Perfect for peppers.
We had previously used this to keep food cold while we traveled from Hope Arkansas. Again....I used this for peppers.
This is a small chest. We had two of these just sitting in the garage. This one was only able to hold one plant.
Large chest for two plants.
Used this a long time ago for my bras and socks. There were 4 in all. I laced the inside of it with plastic to hold some moister. I was able to fit one plant into it.
This small greenhouse was just sitting in the back yard taking up space. The wind would always blow off the tops. So I decided that it would be great to start growing tomatoes in this. I also included some basil along with 2 sunflowers.
Yes...I did use these...why not...? Again I used plastic bags inside to keep moister.
I am going to try these again this year. Last year, I had no luck. I had tomatoes growing in these. I had watering issues. When I watered the plants, water would seep out and not get water to the root of the plants. My tomato plants only had 1 to two tomatoes on them the entire growing season. This season....I am going to do things different. I laced the smart pots with plastic bags to hold in moister and more water. I also included water bottles. When it gets really hot in the south, it's really hard to get water to the roots. I put holes in the bottles. It will be easier to get water to the roots of the plants. I will keep you guys updated.
I used the 18 gallon containers. First year using these. We will see how it works out. It's all about experimenting.
Just look around and see what you have. See what is taking up space and see what it is that you are no longing using. You can plant basically in anything. Just be creative!!!!!
Making Kale Chips
My daughter will not eat kale as it is. I have to come up with creative ways for her to eat healthy foods. With zucchini and squash, the only way she will eat it... is when I make it look like curly fries. For some reason, she doesn't like the way leafy greens look. So mommy has to make the kale into chips.
Things you will need:
Few bunches of Kale
Olive Oil or Coconut Oil
Garlic powder or Garlic salt
1 or 2 lemon slices
I like to mix both of the oils together. I massage the oils on the kale leaves.
I put all my herbs, sea salt, chili powder and sprinkle unto the kale. ***Some people like it simple with only oil, salt and seasoning salt**** It's up to you!
Put all the ingredients together
Lastly squeeze fresh lemon juice on the kale.
Set oven temperature at 350 degrees. Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes.
Here it is!!!!!! Kale Chips! Enjoy!!!
Does It Really Make A Difference?
I have decided to do a test on my potato plants. I planted them the same day and used the same exact potatoes about 2 weeks ago. I am really surprised by the results so far.
Left side has azomite, pellets and organic phosphorus.
Right side only has organic phosphorus feed.
So far the left side is doing really well. I will keep you guys updated.
The future belongs to the few of us still willing to get our hands dirty.