As we’re just starting out (with baby steps) on our gardening journey, we aren’t expecting an outstanding harvest from the garden this season. So far, it’s more of a learning experience for us – we want to find out what grows well in our area, what works, what doesn’t, how to deal with pests, how often and how much to water, etc. And of course, we’re having a lot of fun – and learning loads – along the way.
We have very heavy, dense clay soil, so we splurged and bought some bags of garden soil which is lovely, but expensive. In the meantime, I have started a compost pile using kitchen scraps, garden clippings and manure from the chicken coop. It’s small, but I’m adding to it constantly and hope that in a few months, it will provide us with some valuable fertilizer. I know I should probably water and turn it more often, but hey, it’s organic material. It will break down, right?
We also have tons of rocks, so clearing even a bit of space for planting involves lots of rock-picking. I’ve utilized some of the larger, prettier ones for garden beds, as you can see below.
My little cherry tomato and pepper seedlings are now outside, and growing like weeds with plenty of water and sunshine. I do provide shade for them during the hottest hours of the day, from about midday till 3 PM. I do it simply by pulling an old sheet over their wire cages (I put the cages in to discourage cats and chickens from digging around the plants) and holding it down with rocks. I expect the need for that will be over once the plants mature a bit and put in deeper roots.
Our pepper plants (thriving and putting out flowers!), cherry tomato seedlings, and sage.
We’ve also planted more herbs: sage, rosemary and spearmint. I love the smell of mint when I water it at the end of a long, hot day. And I have some coriander started in pots. We use a lot of coriander in cooking and it loses its freshness very quickly, so it’s really something that pays off to grow ourselves.
Gardening is more enjoyable than I ever thought it would be!
8 thoughts on “Garden update”
We used to have trouble with the raccoons and foxes carrying off anything they thought was edible from our compost pile, which covered a lot more territory than I thought possible. Now I put my compost scraps in the blender, add some water, and make a sort of slurry, which I pour over the plants in the morning before the sun hits them. This waters the plants at the same time it fertilizes them, and by evening any enticing aroma is pretty much gone.
Wow, that sure is an interesting method of fertilizing plants! Personally, so far I haven’t encountered this problem with foxes or stray cats. I sure wish they were interested in my compost pile and not in my chickens! I only put veggie peels (that my chickens won’t eat), garden clippings and chicken poo in the compost pile, so I guess the smell isn’t very enticing.
I don’t know if these would be available to you, but where I live in the US has very dense, sticky, red clay. We do something called straw bale gardening. You buy straw bales from a garden center, farm store, or a farmer, condition them with fertilizer to start them composting, and then plant in them. It works wonderfully here, though you would have to water more than me, most likely. Our air is so humid it feels like breathing through a sponge, so there’s only so much evaporation that can happen, haha.
That is very interesting! I’ll have to look into straw bale gardening and see how practical it would be in a dry climate like ours.
Composted horse manure makes a great soil amendment. It adds some nutrients, but, more importantly, it adds texture to clay, allowing more pores in the soil, giving the plant roots better access to the nutrients. Any stables in your area? They usually are happy to let you have all you want.
Tim, we do have a stable nearby but don’t know the owner. We’ll have to ask. A friend of ours has a sheep barn, though. Is sheep manure good as well?
Ruminants, like sheep, goats, cattle, do a better job of digestion, so their manure is less fibrous than that of horses. It’s the “carbon content” (really the undigested, fibrous cellulose) that is important. Herbivores in general have less nitrogen, usually the most precious nutrient, than that of carnivores/omnivores. That’s why chicken droppings are so good as fertilizer.
If the sheep barn uses wood shavings as bedding, that would serve the purpose well. The urine soaked shavings would provide fiber and nitrogen.
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That is very interesting. I wasn’t aware of this difference between horse and goat/sheep manure. Thanks!