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Monday, July 20, 2009

Getting reacquainted with the Earth


Its been an unusual Spring and Summer, and equally unusual growing season for gardeners. So if this has been one of your first efforts at
growing your own, please do not be disappointed. Its been tough on
all of us so far.

Victory gardens are coming back into style since the price of oil has raised the price of everything whether its been directly effected or not; it makes us yet once more in the position to be a bit more independent in our needs to find real wholesome food at a reasonable rate. Not so
much because of shortage but because of the cost. Plus farmers and
gardeners have been sold so many prepackaged items to supposedly
make the experience of gardening "easier" we tend to gravitate towards
that instead of learning the traditional ways, as it might not be so darn
convenient.

For many to get through the idea of using organic compost (decaying
food and plant matter!) they have to have it go to a recycling center
then go back to shovel it in bins to pick it up. Yet we still toss many
things such as coffee grounds and banana peels into the garbage can.
A very few have taken to putting the coffee grinds back into the original
container which is a great idea! But instead of tossing them away for
another giant land fill, they could go around the base of your flowers or
shrubs. Or even into the composter, or in a hole in the garden and then
cover back up with dirt. As it decomposes it feeds beneficial fungus that
roots need in the soil along with the release of nutrients.

If you had a difficult time to get anything to grow, consider working on your
planting beds. There are various methods which can at times make it seem
more difficult, but the best advice is to make sure the soil can stay loose,
but also have the right amount of "stuff" that makes plants want to grow no
matter what you put in that spot. Also never plant tomato plants in the same
soil as last year. If you have space limitations, this might mean sterilizing the
soil in your oven, or use freshly composted soil from a hot pile, or put your
tomatoes in planters. Just as long as a heavy rain doesn't wash out all the
good nutrients out of the soil and then it immediately dries out when the sun
comes back out. I did this more than once even with my experience. You
are then forced to keep watering the soil with tomato food plant food or any
plant food you might have available. If you feel a need to dump out the water
from the bottom tray, save it and pour it in your garden elsewhere, or save in
a jug and re-water the plant when it gets dry.

Another good tip is to either work on new beds before you go out and start
buying a bunch of plants, or try growing a few from seed each year till you
get that skill down. Even if your first few attempts seem failures, you have
to try again, for the experience.

If you have porch or patio space; try growing herbs like basil in a pot. Then
you can bring it in when the weather gets chillier. Usually soils topped with
peat moss keeps insects at bay. Also if the pots are elevated into a type
of window box or deck, they are less likely to get an aphid infestation. Yet
another method is to take cuttings and get them rooted and put into fresh
potting soil for indoors for the winter. The rooted cuttings can be brought in
and inspected for bugs if its a big problem in your area, though I have had
quite good luck just bringing in certain plants and saving them so I didn't
have to purchase them all again next season. Like geraniums. (that is a
story for another article)

If certain plants grow in your soil and others won't. Try to discern why certain
plants may or may not be doing well. It took a few tries to figure out that a
few different things could be affecting plants. Runoff from driveway, black
walnut trees, continued heavy rains on bare soils, or potted plants, growing
plants of the same type in the same place several years in a row. Large
population of squirrels in the area or deer. Soil infestations of nematodes
or cut worms that like to stump newly planted plants; or maybe even snails.

One problem that has sharply decreased is bug damage since I befriended
the toad population in my garden. If I run the sprinkler they come out to play
and also to gulp down their weight in bugs of all kinds..If it moves they eat it!
No deciding if its chocolate or vanilla - it's gone! Also remember worms in the
garden soil are needed to aerate and make worm castings. When you use a
product such as Roundup to kill weeds to save edging your boarders, you are
also poisoning the worms and the toads. So you are saving yourself a little
work but killing off other beneficial friends of the earth. If you have a weed that
attracts bees, you are also helping to kill off the world population of pollinators
and making it more difficult for food to grow. Anywhere.

So keep it as simple as possible. Try some test beds and keep a small journal
with weekly notes, and keep trying. If you had to grow your own food, or more
likely your grandchildren will have to grow their own food and you will be able
to pass your knowledge and experience on to them.

3 comments:

matthiasj said...

Good post Cherb. After the monsoon first of summer the growing season seems to be going good now.

matthiasj
Kentucky Preppers Network

Kymber said...

I agree with Matt - this is a good post Cher! Lots of tips and tricks in it! I especially like the point you make about pulling and killing all weeds and what that does to bees!!!

CherB said...

Thanks for the support! There are alot of programs out there that not only help educated about the environment while doing a little volunteer work, but gives us a chance to be in touch with the true nature of things. Cher

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