Composting leaves

Our Fall Mulching Story

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This past week we finished off the garden for 2015.  We covered the garden with hay and a layer of turkey manure.  Both were partially decomposed.    Our goal is to bury the mulch in a winter bed.   This will help breakup the mulch for the soil's nutrition. heavyprecultivating

BEFORE CULTIVATION VIEW ONE: HAY

Precultivating

BEFORE CULTIVATION VIEW TWO:  TURKEY MANURE AND FALLING LEAVES ADDED TO LAYERS

A huge job!  I always second guess our doing this step because it takes so much time and labor.  Our goal is to avoid chemical fertilizers.  And, I think nature's way is better.  This step adds nutrition and great soil composition to our future garden.  Just look at the garden after we cultivate all that wonderful nutrition into the garden!   Almost pritty!!

Postcultivating

The winter snow fall will provide a blanket for the mulch.  In the spring the mulch continues to breakdown. The spring cultivating continues the mixing of various mulches. This is our story on helping nature provide the plants adequate nutrition.  We have just given it a little "nudge" to add richness to the soils.  Farming in the garden!   Talk about fun!!

 

 

Prepping the Garden for Winter

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What a pleasure!  To say we are done with the garden till spring!!  Or are We?  Not  until you prep the garden for NEXT SPRING!!  Yup!  Get the organic stuff down as well as any manures you prefer and work them in to the soil.Preping the garden with hayThe hay bales we put in piles this past spring are now spread as a top mulch.  Yes, it is a lot of work, but what a pleasure we will have next spring to see the mulch mixed in so well with your soils.  And it is all done without any chemicals.  Organic gardening!  I love it! Haul it awayBut Wait!!  What did we do with all those left overs??  Tomato plants, pepper plants, carrot tops and on and on? There is just too much chance of left over bugs and disease.  My vote is to haul it off the garden area and place in a pile away from the garden.  This winter when you want a little bonfire.  This will do the trick.

More to do?  Yes fellow gardeners..we do.  More in the next post on prepping the garden for a good toasty home for all those mulches.

 

Today in the Garden: August 2015 Update

tomato bushToday in the garden we were wow'd by the amount of growth that's taken place in the last few weeks! The Cabin Garden is flourishing with growth and luscious green plants.  It was too difficult for me to pick off tomato branches that had little produce advantages.  I let them grow in a sturdy home made cage.  Look at the size of this guy!    And there are lots of tomatoes on it.  I have 20 more that look very similar.  The plants had mulch and commercial mulches and the tomatoes are flourishing in this arena.

We also have a volunteer melon grow from last years seeds...what fun!!

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Milkweed and Wild Flowers

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 Garden July 28th

In an earlier post I reviewed our issues with weed control and the plan appears to be working.

Brush2There are still several areas where the weeds are dominating. As we looked at these wild uncontrolled areas we noticed a considerable amount of common milkweed plants. Which was brought to my attention by my granddaughter. I consider milkweed a weed and would have started figuring out how to get rid of them.

milkweed3 She explained to me that her science teacher has encouraged her students to promote the common milkweed in the wild because the monarch butterfly seeks out milkweed as a habitat and an eating station. The larvae hatch and continue to live off the milkweed plants.

There is concern that the monarch butterfly is losing their habitat to climate change.  So this felt like a good project to foster a home for monarch butterflies and the idea to develop this weed patch into a wild flower garden became a reality. My granddaughter was excited to participate and I welcomed her help.

DaisyyellowWe started looking over the area noting several colorful wild flowers flourishing in the dense weed area. Why not make this into a wild flower garden alongside our vegetable garden? The garden would also provide the monarch butterfly a natural habitat.  So, we needed to identify the flowers since most of them were not familiar. Actually, they were familiar. In my past, I considered them weeds.

Flower9I am now experiencing a whole new appreciation for flowering weeds!  Their beauty will be constant since most wild flowers act like perennials and return each year. They may also benefit companion gardening.  My granddaughter, and my son have taken pictures of some of the flowers. If you recognize any of them, please share their name and information on their growing patterns. Any information will help us on our journey to build a wild flower garden.

Flower2 (1)

 

 

Mulching Promotes

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Mulch Two Mulching promotes many benefits. Three significant benefits are stopping the growth of weeds, keeping moisture in the soil and maintaining a cool atmosphere for plants.

Weeds can slow down and stop healthy plants from producing. Using mulch to suppress weeds is a much easier method compared to pulling or hoeing all those weeds.

Tomato One

I use a layered system for mulching. I start with a covering of newspaper and than drop a layer of leaf compost, grass clippings or seedless straw or hay.

I have also utilized the commercial biodegradable as the first layer if I am not able to obtain newspaper.

It is much cheaper to use newspaper if available. Some commercial brands advertise their mulch adds to the productivity of the plants. We are trying the plastic type for some of the tomatoes to compare results. I will provide a report of the comparisons at the end of the summer.

Tomato TwoMulching provides a protective covering around the soils that surround plants. On hot dry summer days a lack of moisture can quickly affect the progress of your plants. The mulching layers keep moisture levels constant for feeding hungry plants.

The coverage of mulch also provides a cool bed for your vegetables to survive baked ground in mid summer.

Be aware, cool soil can slow down transplants from taking hold in the soil. Because of the cooling effect, be careful when distributing the mulch around “warm blooded” plants such as peppers and tomatoes.

 

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The need for warming mulch is an advantage some commercial mulch extols.  Check out these advantages. Given the cool temperatures this spring that might be something to consider.

In future posts we will review our distribution of various mulches this spring.

 

 

Mulching Leaves and Grasses

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compost pile_b photo credit:Uncomposting compost</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com"(license)

At the last entry I indicated i have Guilian-Barre Syndrome (link).  This nerve syndrome has limited my limbs strength for this upcoming garden season. As we figure out what will work for the garden production this year, the first issue is, making plans for items that must be done

photo 5 We must continue to feed our soils, unless the garden is left alone for the unforeseeable future.  At this point that is ”NOT IN THE PLANS”.  2015 is still questionable but for 2016 and beyond we must continue to “feed our soils”. One of the activities that is necessary to keep our soils rich and fruitful for future plantings is mulching.  This includes leaves, straw or similar grass items and vegetable composts

Fall Leaves

photo credit:>Autumn Leaves</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com"(license)

In my experience utilizing these mulching activities will provide a much stronger guarantee of quality soils in the coming gardening years. I use the following procedures for mulching leaves, straw and grasses, and vegetable composts. 1)  Keep those leaves and grass items. 2)  Have an area near the garden that has plenty of room to store the leaves in a pile. 3)  Turn the leaves and grass items often to help them breakdown. 4)  Weekly, take a wheel barrel or two of composting items to the garden area. Distribute evenly.  This will help provide breathing room for the soil as well as kill off those ever painful weeds. 5)  Make sure you turn the mulching items in your garden to avoid molds.  Turning compost continues the breakdown of the mulch to help enrich the soils. 6)  Doing this every summer will provide nutrients from the mulch, insects and it helps your soil breath.

Last Harvest 2In future post we will cover other activities we should continue.  The green manure method and ongoing cultivation strategies create great crops!!

Ask Jer Bear-Preparing Asparagus Patch

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I received a question from a the cabin garden reader regarding spring care for asparagus. How to "spring clean" an asparagus patch? Asparagus patches should be protected in the fall with a good mulch covering of leaves and other mulch debris.   As spring arrives I take the following steps to prepare the patch for the emerging asparagus spears.

Perennial Maintenance

1)  Carefully began removing the mulch directly around the emerging spears.  It is important to gently remove the mulch as these spears are your future meals.  They also are the lifeline of the future growth and strength of the patch.  The spears provide nutrients to the plant's growth.

2)  Keep the mulch you removed.  Once the spears are up and growing place the mulch  around the plants for nutrition.  it will also keep the soil moist around the plants as well.

3)  Sprinkle a light covering of an organic fertilizer for nutrition.

4)  Remove weeds and grasses from the patch.  Be careful not to disturb the spears. Also, asparagus plants from past years leave red berries in the fall containing  seeds for natural propagation.  Be aware of the toothpick size seedlings from the berries as you remove weeds.  I would suggest not digging more than an inch or two in depth to remove weeds.

5) As the asparagus spear picking begins, I leave at least 1/3 of the spears for the future.  Do not pick them all.

Asparagus Dish

photo credit: grilled asparagus photopin (license)

Constant maintenance of the asparagus patch is a must. Keep control of the weeds through out the summer and feed the seedlings that emerge with light sprinklings of organic fertilizers.  This care will pay off with years of delicious asparagus on your table.