Posts Tagged ‘garden’

And the garden gets bigger…Raised Beds

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What does the farmers wife want for her birthday?  Well, raised veggie beds of course!  And my awesome husband delivered…and even helped me put together 2 of the 3!  Next spring I’m planning on planting medicinal herbs in one, tea herbs in the second one and carrots and sweet potatoes and onions in the other one.  Right now we are lasagna composting in them, and they should be nice and ready in the spring.

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The kids were lots of help!  They love to garden.

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   After we had our blocks stacked we layered the bottom of our floor with cardboard, then potting soil, our dry corn stalks, peat moss, rabbit manure and more potting soil.  I cleaned out the chicken coop and threw it in, wood shavings and all and proceeded to layer.

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All summer I threw in the by-products of our canning.  Any raw veggie trimmings will do.  Carrot and potato peelings are great!  All the hulls for our purple hull peas and butterbeans went in as well.

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Right now the beds are about half full.  I am planning on cleaning out the chicken coop and under the rabbit pens, so I’ll throw that in with a bag or two of potting mix and cover it all with a bale or two of hay.  The hay will help with compaction from rain.  This will keep our dirt nice and fluffy :)

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Another Tip:  Keep it moist.  Composting requires heat and moisture.  Every time I walk by with the water hose I give them a little drenching. You should also allow your Lasagna compost to “cook” 4 to 6 months before planting in it (Especially when using horse or chicken manure).

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And that’s it!  You can lasagna garden anywhere, It doesn’t have to be in raised beds.  Its not a real science, you are just stacking compostable materials like you would stack a lasagna casserole.

And the garden gets bigger…Planting Grapes

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Since we have blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries we thought we might try our hand at grapes!  I love to look at pictures of grape vines growing on dewy hillsides the thought is so romantic!  We don’t have hills, but there is still lots of romance, even with 6 kids, and now we will have lovely grape vines too!

First, a little about grapes…

Choosing Cultivars

Choose a variety that is suited to your temperate zone.

Site/Soil

Grapes grow best in a sunny location, but will tolerate partial shade.  Well-drained soil is essential, but grapes do not do well in extremely fertile soils. Plants grown in fertile soils produce lots of leaves and low-quality grapes. Poor soils tend to produce moderate crops of grapes with excellent flavor.

Planting

Plant grapes 6 feet on center, with a 36 inch buffer on each side of the plant to allow for mulching. Planting holes should be dug wide enough to accommodate all the roots, and deep enough so that you can cover the uppermost roots with 3 to 4 inches of soil. Adding peat moss will aid in water retention, and increase the water holding capability of the hair root structure.

Mulching

Mulch to aid in water retention and weed prevention.  Add more as needed.

Weed Control

Prevent weed growth around grapes by mulching, or cultivating. reduce root injury due to cultivation, a mulch within the rows is highly recommended to keep weeds down.

Pruning and Trellising

Right now our plants are first year.  We have a main trunk vine attached to a stabilizer post and a vine on either side.  We are planning on putting in our big posts and wire system this winter and we will share how to do that along with proper pruning as we go.

Fertilization

For young vines, apply ¼ cup 10-10-10 fertilizer around each plant. Repeat at 6-week intervals until mid-July. On 2 year old vines, double the first year rates and use the same interval. Bearing vines will need 2 ½ pounds of fertilizer per plant applied in March.

Magnesium deficiency, a yellowing between the leaf veins on older leaves, may become noticeable in midsummer. For young plants, apply 2 ounces of magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) around each vine, watering it afterward. Apply 4-8 ounces per mature, bearing vine. 2-3 years may be required to bring the magnesium levels up for the best plant performance.

Watering/Irrigation

Soil moisture content should not be allowed to become excessively dry.  Water frequently enough to keep the soil moist but not saturated. Drip systems deliver water under low pressure through small emitters. In this method, water is applied only within the rooting area. Since only the row area is wetted, foliage remains dry during irrigation, and weed development between rows is reduced. Mulching will help reduce the frequency of watering.

 

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What we did on our little farm…

These are the supplies you will need for a 30 ft. row (minus the trellis system we will put in this winter)

4 grape vines

1 bag of peat moss

shovel and hoe

4 wood steaks

garden ties

1 bale of hay

 

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DIRECTIONS:

  1. Work your ground so it is loose and free of weeds.
  2. Dig your trench 30 ft long and about 2 1/2 foot wide.
  3. Dump out and spread evenly your peat moss where you will be planting your grapes.
  4. Cover your peat moss with the dirt you pulled out of the trench.
  5. Evenly space your grapes and plant them.
  6. Cover with the straw mulch.
  7. Water and WAIT!!! :)

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And the garden gets bigger…Planting Blueberries

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One good thing about starting out your homestead with a clean slate, is you get to plan where you want things.  We have been here almost a year now and its just now starting to look different with each new addition.  The one bad thing about starting a homestead out of nothing, is all the HARD WORK!  Good thing we have a few helpers :)   We have a black berry patch we put in last fall and a strawberry patch we put in last spring and we have been enjoying the “fruits” of our labour in the form of jam all summer.  We thought we needed to expand on this venture a little further with a blueberry row and grapes in our garden.  More about grapes another day.

First a little about blueberries…

Choosing Cultivars

Choose a variety recommended for your hardiness zone!!!

Site/Soil

Blueberry bushes grow best in a sunny location, but will tolerate partial shade. Blueberries like  loose, well-drained soil.They require acidic soil conditions. A pH reading of 5.0 is optimal. In heavy clay soils plant in a raised bed.

Planting

Plant 3 to 4 feet on center, with a 36 inch buffer on each side of the plant to allow for mulching. Plants should be at the same level that they were in the container.

Mulching

Mulch will significantly increase blueberry bush growth and yield. Decomposing mulch not only helps improve soil structure, but also aids in the nutrient uptake of a blueberry bushes root system. Mulching maintains uniform soil moisture, reduces soil temperature, and control weeds. Always keep mulch around 4 to 5 inches away from the plant itself at least until the plant is rooted well.

Pruning

A good-sized, healthy canopy is needed to support the growth of fruit. Pruning encourages production of large, high-quality fruit, and encourages earlier blooming. Fruit is produced on one-year-old wood. The largest berries are produced on the most vigorous wood, so a good supply of strong, one-year-old wood is desirable. When pruning shape the bush by removing dead and diseased wood. Pruning new bushes is recommended to increase ” production area” of the plants. Shape  of the top of the bush should remind umbrella.  You can do it easily pruning plants in about 2 weeks after picking last berry. Find the tallest wooden branch, measure about 8 inches of the green part of the branch and prune the whole plant flat on this level. Prune the bushes annually. You can stop pruning after You plants are over 7-8 years old, then you just prune dead or damaged branches.

Fertilization

Generally one application in the spring of an acid-producing fertilizer each year will be sufficient. Do not fertilize after the blooming period, late fertilizing will encourage late growth in the fall, which in turn can cause winter injury. Nitrogen usually gives blueberries the greatest growth response. Nitrogen fertilizer requirements increase as the bushes grow older and yields increase.

Watering/Irrigation

Water the blueberry bush frequently enough to keep the soil moist but not saturated. Blueberry bushes need at least 1 to 2 inches of water per week, do not apply water after early September unless soil is very dry. Mulching will help reduce the frequency of watering.

 

Now that you are an expert and excited about putting in you own blueberries, here’s what we did!

These supplies are needed for a 30 ft row of blueberries:

2 bags of Peat Moss

Hoe and Shovel

6 Blueberry plants

1 Bale of hay

1 25 ft. soaker hose.

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Work your ground so it is loose and free of weeds.
  2. Dig your trench 30 ft long and about 2 1/2 foot wide.
  3. Dump out and spread evenly your peat moss.
  4. Cover your peat moss with the dirt you pulled out of the trench.
  5. Evenly space your berry plants and plant them.
  6. Cover with the straw mulch.
  7. Hook up your soaker hose and turn it on!!!
  8. Next June you will be rewarded for all your hard work :)

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Family Garden

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Pardon me while I share pictures of seeds busting out of the ground.  We just love spring!  And the Farmers Wife just loves gardening!!!  We are so excited the last few weeks have been warm.  School is winding down and much of the days have been spent outside.  We have 8 mouths to feed now, so our garden grew considerably this year.  We have 1/4 acre patch in our backyard and aprox. and acre of sweet corn.

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I just love to see little sprouts popping out of the ground!

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Just look how strong they are!!!

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First tomato!!!!  Get the salt shaker ready!  We have 36 tomato plants, but we are planning for a lot of salsa and spaghetti sauce.  I hope we will have enough! :)

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The Littlest Gardeners.  They like to help with their machinery.

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Pretty little cucumbers…we LOVE pickles around here!

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Last but not least, STRAWBERRIES.  We need a much larger patch!  I had hopes of canning jams and jellies, but they are eaten just as soon as they turn red.  The kids have a race every day to search for ripe berries. iphone pics2 105

Junior, the guardian of the strawberries.  He insures no mice in our strawberry patch!

Until next time, HAPPY GARDENING!

 

Future Farmers

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Yesterday we started our tomato plants, pepper plants, and a few flowers.  We did this with the big boys a few years ago and they loved it.  Its always exciting watching things grow, especially when you planted it.  This time we found some real ingenious trays from Burpee.  They have a little cork shaped ball of soil that expands when warm water is poured on it.  There was little if any mess…even with kids!   There was even a lesson on liquid measure, since we needed 13 1/2 cups of water!

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We sorted our varieties and each child got to pick and plant their own variety.  We labeled them and covered our trays.  Hopefully they will sprout in 10 to 14 days. 

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This year we are planning a much bigger garden and the kids will be expected to help more.  Don is going to cut off some hoes and each kid will be responsible for a row in the garden to keep weeded, watered, and picked.  We can’t hardly wait another month to get started planting potatoes!  They are excited about the new responsibilities and getting to be farmers like daddy.

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