How does your garden grow? - Page 3 - The Horse Forum
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post #21 of 616 Old 06-20-2012, 02:09 PM
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Wowie.. I'm behind here on posts. It's in the 90's today and humid so I have been busy hosing bellies to keep animals cool.

Ok everyone, are you sitting down and comfy? Good, here comes a novel....

FLY- OMG your cauliflower is beautiful!! So is the child.
I cannot for the life of me get good white cauliflower. One, Iím too lazy to tie up the leaves to blanch the heads, and two since Iím all organic the bugs eat them to bits before they are ready for picking.
I have to go green and purple if I want an actual head of cauliflower. The green tastes a lot like the white, but the purple is fab! I canít remember if I ordered from Burgess or Jungís seeds,
But Johnnyís is my favorite for hard to find stuff!

I like your garden and think you have done quite a bit in only two years! You are much farther along that I was at two years. Your beans look terrific and I love the little building with the little rock beds around it. Is it a well house?
And donít worry about the pics of your dry grass. Come August and September it will look much worse here, trust me.
One year it was so dry the alpacas pulled up the grass roots while trying to nibble, the earth was so scorched! Iíve still got bald spots from that year.

There was nothing at my place when I bought it but weeds. Not even a barn and I had hard clay and shale for dirt. Fun.
Thankfully alpaca poop is low in nitrogen and can be put in the garden almost immediately. It really added the organic matter that my soils lack, and I did what is called lasagna gardening because tilling here is a disaster. If it doesnít break the tines on your tiller, then you might as well put out a neon sign for every nasty weed that exists to come live on the tilled dirt, because grass wonít survive, let alone a veggie! LOL

Yeah, very poor soil for most things. My area was heavily strip mined in the 80ís and the companies never replaced the topsoil. There are actually grants to have the top oil replaced, but the problem is that there isnít any quality topsoil to be found here.

Anyway, I started really small with lots of layers of natural enhancementÖ alpaca poo, shredded paper, leaves, poo, grass clippings, some amendments I bought, and more poo! Took about two years to start resembling a rich humus type of dirt, but after that I was able to actually grow something. I just keep adding the layers and expanding as I go. Thank goodness I had the foresight to plant the trees the first summer I was here with some alpaca poo compost.

I donít have drip irrigation, so when things are really dry I have go around in the mornings and evenings with the hose to give things a little drink until some drops fall. I canít hook up anything because my well is not very strong and takes forever to refill if run down, so water has to be used sparingly.
Thankfully there is a natural spring about 3 miles away and I have been seen on many occasions hauling water in barrels.

Like your DH I used to not be into different varieties. I just stuck to the straightforward stuff. But when I started growing for farmerís markets I needed to do something that set me apart a little bit. I mean I couldnít charge more for the very same things so I experimented. The flavors and better growing ability actually surprised me and now I am a convert. Bok choi, yellow beans, purple beans, rainbow swiss chard, purple basil, red and yellow carrots, chiogga (bulls eye target striped) beets and anything that is unusual I will try.

And I have to admit, it sure looks pretty on my plate and that is important to me as in the deep of winter when we go for weeks or a whole month without seeing the sun (we have more cloudy days here than Portland, OR) I really need those colors to lift the gloom.

As for my picsÖ did ya notice only one was from a distance and the rest were very close up? Well that is for a reason. The far off one is the only one that looks good and isnít crowded with weeds!!

Like Corporal I am allergic to weed eaters too! (Darn %*#*&#!#*^ things!!)
It has taken many years and some back breaking work to get the garden to where it is and I still have a long way to go.
Better Homes and Gardens are definitely not knocking on my door and I gave up the notion years ago that they ever would. Cause, you knowÖ those magazines are only published to torment us and make us feel inadequate anyway. Just like most advertising.

Whatís important is not HOW the garden looks, but WHAT it can Grow!! Pretty gardens are not always healthy gardens.
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post #22 of 616 Old 06-20-2012, 02:37 PM
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I am ducks4you there...

Neem oil is the best thing to de-bug your fruit trees. It is derived from a plant that grows in India.
IMO, you should join TEG garden forum. There are some really good experts there.
The Easy Garden
Happy 2012 Summer Gardening!!
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post #23 of 616 Old 06-20-2012, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Corporal View Post
Great idea for a thread. As some of you know I am an avid member of "The Easy Garden" forum, too. I've harvested lettuce, radishes, sugar snap peas, Little Marvel peas, potatoes, beets, onions and spinach (planted last FAll) so far this year, along with a couple of turnips. I got into raised beds a few years back. I've been actively studying gardening for about 3-4 years now. My beds don't look garden-magazine pretty, BUT, I've learned a few things about avoiding monocultures, mulching, severe composting, double digging and companion planting.
Here are some pictures:
2011, eight garden beds after tilling

I spent one month after my DD's April 2, 2011 wedding, double digging 4 of my beds. I ran out of 2011 Spring "window" to do the other 4, SO...they'll have to wait until after this year's harvest. Here is the article that tells you how and why to do this, and the great advantages are that you do the work ONCE, add compost regularly and always have a deep bed that nobody compresses. My "raised beds" are double dug about 30 inches deep, below ground level, and run ~3 1/2' x 12'.
G6985 Raised-Bed Gardening | University of Missouri Extension
RE: bolded part- You GO girl!

We are like minded. I've put in many hours of study and research too. I'm too lazy to double dig, but I can sure pile stuff upreal well, so I decided to go the layered route. I have only certain walk areas in the established gardens and some of my beds are raised too. Whenever I expand or put in a new flower bed it sits about 2' high unitl it "cooks" down to about 6" to equal my raised bed.
In the winter everything that isn't planted gets topped again and I add compost too.
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post #24 of 616 Old 06-20-2012, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Corporal View Post
I thought I lost my grapes for the year but would have a good crop of my other fruit. INSTEAD, I lost all my apples (4 trees), all my pears (2 trees), all my peaches (1 tree), and most of my Montmorency cherries (2 trees.) I have possibly the best grape crop this year EVER--go figure. This is what it looked like after 2 frosts in April.

THIS is what it looked like last week.
Same thing happened to my grapes and tree blossoms this year too. Grapes survived and came back but the fruit trees are pretty sparse this year
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post #25 of 616 Old 06-20-2012, 03:11 PM
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Corporal your flowers are gorgeous and I really like the layout of your beds. Sounds like you have put a lot of hard work into things and it shows in your pretty pics.

Iíve had potatoes winter over well and since last winter was mild, many of the tomatoes that hit to ground (and were forgotten about) are now my tomatoes this year. Which is good, because I didnít have very good luck starting the seeds indoors this year.

I donít have any Ďmaters yet, but the flowers are just starting to bloom.
Iíve got the usuals, plus romas, beefsteaks, salads, cherry, and my favoritesÖ yellows and oranges.

Thanks for the good links too!

Come on Missy, I want to see your garden. There is no right or wrong way to have a garden. As long as it produces food, then is a great garden!
Iíve killed my fair share of gardens with my black thumb and it has only been recently that I was able to start growing things well and garden like.

You know, one of the best things I did was buy a dehydrator. I donít mean one of the rinky dink ones from wmart, but a big 9 tray monster.
Some of the food I grow is to barter to friends with for meat for the freezer, but the rest has to be put up and that is a whole lotta canniní! While I do fill my freezer with veggies too, I find canning to be a difficult thing when there is only one of you in a very small kitchen, so I looked into drying and have to say it has been working very well for me.

My house is very small so shelf space is at a premium.
I can some of my tomatoes, but I cook and puree the rest then spread in the dehydrator. Tomoato leather or powder needs hardly any room to store. I can take 2 gallons of cooked tomatoes or sauce and reduce it down to about a 1 quart jar.

It is great to add into soups, stews, reconstitute for sauce, or sprinkle the dry flakes into homemade cheeses (my fav.)
I also dry herbs, fruits, many other veggies, and flowers too. Just love my dehydrator! Anyone else have one?
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post #26 of 616 Old 06-20-2012, 03:57 PM
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Lockwood, it sounds like YOU'VE put a lot of hard work into your whole yard!!
RE: various composting methods, there are so many that IMO you try the ones that are easiest for you and stick with them. I tried the lasagne layering, but it wasn't as easy for ME as the other things I'm doing, but my garden forum friends who do it swear by it.
Here's a book that I love that you might want to buy on clearance (published in 2007.) would be an excellent winter read. The author is a little bit lefty-biased BUT his conclusions cannot be argued with. We are destroying our soil. BUT, when you have manure from horses, chickens, rabbits and alpacas, as you mentioned, and you add the "dry compost stuff", you can bring it back to life on your own property. The farmer's 50 acres behind me are in corn the 3rd year in a row, and the nitrogen fertilizer gets my DH sick every spring. I use almost NO herbicides and insecticides on my 5 acres, thank you very much!
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post #27 of 616 Old 06-20-2012, 04:08 PM
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No! No pics from me...I get anxiety when I am utterly and completely humilitated. :) I don't have a garden...its a "patch" of dirt raised above the rockbed ground. I am still crying over garden envy!

I spent many of my summers growing up in NC w family - they had/have garden's like you all's....ones that look like someone painted them into the scenery. Ugh. Its hard to do in the high desert. You can in the valley, but not w this ^^pics^^ type of variety and yield. Purple cauliflower...hmph. Who needs it? I like pickled cactus ears just fine!!

I do have worm castings out the yin-yang, though. To bad you guys aren't close...they will make anything grow.

Minor "positive", I don't have grass to mow! ha!

There is just as much horse sense as ever, but the horses have most of it.
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post #28 of 616 Old 06-20-2012, 04:08 PM Thread Starter
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Lockwood, I was in the same boat.
When we found this farm I fell in love, but the amount of work it's taken to get things up to snuff has completely exausted me.

It was started in 1900 by two brothers who cleared the mountain top and started a tomato farm. So we actually have good soil! Which is SHOCKING for the top of an Arkansas hill. They cleared all the rocks off and built fences with them which are mostly standing today, and helping to keep the horses in!

The house was a complete mess. It hadn't been touched in over 30 years, not lived in for 10. So it took us an entire year to gut and rehab the inside. We still have tons of work to do, missing some trim and still don't have kitchen doors, but whatever. I absolutely ADORE it, it's like it was made for us. Two bedrooms, a huge long kitchen, two bathrooms (kid got the master LOL!), rock floors, and I think there are hardwood floors in half of it but budget wouldn't allow risking tearing up the nice subfloors and "discovering" what was underneath! So we did cheap wood laminate stuff for now.

We scoured the yard and found what seems to be the old garden plot, hence nice soil, NOT A SINGLE ROCK!! So we ammended as much as possible, like you we are 100% organic, no pesticides. Rotate the crops and pile on new compost over the entire thing. It'll get there. "Problem" I'm having is the second owner was a major gardner and her flowers pop up everywhere in the yard and garden! Morning glories and some other ground cover infiltrated it, I kinda let it go because it's so pretty! The holly hocks you see are reclaimed from the yard, poor things kept getting mowed!
So funny you said that about the close ups! I was thinking DARN, when I saw those!

Our main well is so yummy, I've never had better water, but like yours it's sparse. It's only 135 ft. deep and the bottom of it is at 2,300+ feet! So our mountain and rain water is the only source. That building I posted is a smoke house/cellar/storm shelter. I've been in it once! It is in terrible shape. Not high on my list of priorities, but someday I want to get it going again. There is a hand dug well/building next to it that I've been pumping water out of, it's incredibly deep, but I haven't measured it yet.

I've used a dehydrator before but it was a cheapie from WM. I'll look into that because I use tons of tomato paste in our food. Blanching is so cathartic for me, I love it! It took FOREVER to put that cauliflower up because of the worms, but I let them be, clean the tar out of it, slice it, clean it again, then blanch. WM only charges 98 cents for a bag of GV frozen Cauli, I'm nuts but I know it's better!

I didn't grow up gardening, so everything is new to me. I'm learning, slowly. My dream is to do the farmers market in Fayetteville AR, like you do! I do art and LOVE doing hand painted children's furniture so my dream would be to combine those two. All in good time!

Love getting to talk about this stuff! Thanks!

Thanks for the links too Corporal! I'm all over it.
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You can get a lot further with a ladder than you can with crutches!!
What do you mean what do I mean?
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post #29 of 616 Old 06-20-2012, 04:17 PM Thread Starter
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Come on Missy! Who cares, and YES I WILL TAKE 5 BAGS OF WORM POOP!
I've been thinking about having some rabbits because I heard worms will compost their poop and break it down into MAGIC SUPER GARDEN DUNG! LOL!

MHF??? Where the photos be?

You can get a lot further with a ladder than you can with crutches!!
What do you mean what do I mean?
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post #30 of 616 Old 06-20-2012, 04:18 PM
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Great stuff ladies! Going to have to check out the garden forum. Our fruit trees got it bad too. Our Bartlett trees do have some fruit on but not a fraction of what they usually yield :( My mom lost all of her peaches too.

Going to the woods to pick raspberries with my kiddo in a bit. We've been hauling water back in a drum sprayer with the quad. We WILL beat the heat and have enough for pie darnit!
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