April 30, 2013

Adventures in Gardening: Seeds and Soil!

It's been a little while since I last posted about our garden, so I'm going to take a moment to see if I can catch up...the previous posts talked about timing, planning and choosing what you want in your garden.
Today I'm going to talk about the seeds but mostly the soil we use.

gardening soil and seeds

As I said before, we choose to use Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds for our garden. They offer an incredibly diverse collection (THOUSANDS!) of non-GMO seeds and so we had a blast picking out what we wanted for our garden. I've had them set aside and sorted so that I could know what I had and how soon I could plant it.

When we finally got the right weather, my husband came through and got our soil ready. Last year we didn't clean up our garden before the end of the fall, nor did we plant a cover crop to keep the soil in good condition. We also decided we were going to move it around a little bit and totally change our corn location--so we gave up part of our pasture to be the corn patch this year.
This was part of our pasture--but now it's the new corn patch! We had to move our corn so that it will be able to blow with the winds--instead of getting blown over! We lost a bunch because of a bad windstorm last season!
We choose to follow the guidance that is given in the fabulous--simply amazing video--Back to Eden. If you garden, and have not watched this video yet, I wholeheartedly encourage you to! We watched it last year before we did our garden and put into practice what was suggested and we were stunned at how well our garden did through the horrible drought our area suffered last year.

If you have a chance, set aside the time to watch it. It is a good film even if you don't garden!

Basically, the primary principle is that soil needs a covering...something to keep it protected from the elements. We choose to use hay/straw for the covering of our garden--simply because we can have it for free! LOL! And we have found we don't need fertilizer when we keep it covered up...because you are helping it stay at it's most optimal state that way! Keeping the nutrition in!

We planted our first seeds at the beginning of the week--two rows of potato starts (from last years crop!), 3 rows of bush beans (3 different kinds), a row of peas, a 1 foot wide x 15 ft long row of various salad greens, 2 rows of carrots, a row of onion sets, a row of chives, a row of beets...that's our first round of garden planting.
In the far upper left is our long potato patch...the stick you see in the ground is where the regular garden starts. In between the potatoes and regular garden will be our "salsa" garden of peppers and tomatoes. This garden is on a creek bank. If you went over by the trees you see here, you'd look down and see our creek. This is why the soil is so incredibly rich!
But---we weren't able to get a covering on the soil right after it was turned over...not until three days later. And the soil changed! It went from being so rich, dark and fertile to being dry, light and hard! Thankfully I was able to get it covered by that third day...and within ONE DAY, the soil went back to what it had been before. Yeah--coverings work THAT good.

So we sprinkled a light covering of hay over the rows themselves and then laid down thick hay between the rows to choke out the weeds. As we need more ground, we simply rake back the hay and plant. The soil will be soft and no hoe-ing will be necessary. In fact, we can dig it with our fingers!

I love learning "easy" gardening tips!

One of the best finds this season, was an old stump that had decomposed creating fabulous "stump soil". Boy. Talk about rich dirt! We used this soil for all the seeds we started in containers...here is a little photo diary of our use of that soil--the boys enjoyed discovering it and helping me.

Little Britches and Baby Britches finding the stump soil
Digging it out with their shovels--and finding worms and bugs along the way!
A container of dirt is the ULTIMATE sensory bin for little hands...especially when there are bugs, snails, worms and sticks included!
Baby Britches filling up his egg carton with soil--see his lips? He's making heavy equipment noises as he dumps.
Both boys hard at work willing up their egg cartons
Poking holes for the seeds
Learning how to use a squirt bottle to water his freshly planted tomato seeds.
We brought these inside to the dining room which gets full morning sun...plants love the windows on that side of the house and it's the perfect spot for newly planted seeds!
The last thing I planted were my flower beds around the house as well as my big planters for the porch. I put my first herb seeds in those as well as turning two of them into lettuce containers. I love lettuce seeds because they grow so fast! See how big they are after just 3 days!
Now to keep little hands and the cat out of the containers on the porch...

So there you have my update--I will have new pictures of our garden to take tomorrow...we have a lot of things popping their heads up now, making them picture worthy for sure!


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