Friday Free For All – Gardening is the Gateway Drug to Prepping

 

Gardening is the gateway drug to prepping. Yes, I stole this phrase from Jack Spirko at The Survival Podcast. But isn’t it true? You always hear that marijuana is the gateway drug for other drugs like cocaine and heroin. It seems so innocent at first but, according to the experts, it often leads to harder drugs. I’m not going to debate whether or not that’s true. My point here is that gardening is the gateway drug for prepping. Before we discuss this point further, I want to explain what I mean by prepping.

gardening is the gateway drug to prepping

Here are some of the veggies that I dehydrated last year

Thanks to shows like Doomsday Preppers and what is put forth by mainstream media, prepping is looked upon as something that only freaks do. People who live in remote areas and live the life of a recluse. But in reality, prepping is preparing for everyday disasters. Those disasters can include your car breaking down, your spouse losing their job or a natural disaster. There is a much greater chance of these scenarios happening to you than there is a nuke being launched to wipe us all off the face of the Earth. To me, prepping is putting away food that you already eat so that you have backups. This used to be the norm in America…it’s still the norm in most other areas of the world. Why am I looked at as old-fashioned or backwards for making sure that my family has food to eat? My kids often go to “the store” to get food that we have run out of…that store is located in another room of our house. Prepping makes life so much easier too; it is a rare occasion that I have to run to the grocery store to make a meal. By having the most often used items in our “store” ready and waiting, there is little that I don’t have on hand. So how does this all relate back to gardening?

When you start a garden, chances are that you’ll have more produce ready at one time than you and your family can consume. What do you do with the extras? Sure, you give some to friends, family and co-workers but after awhile, they have taken all of the handouts that they can consume. What’s left can be preserved. By preserving the extras, you are ensuring that you have delicious, healthy vegetables available throughout the year. There are lots of ways to preserve food. Let’s take a quick look at some of the ways.

  1. Canning – this is probably what most people think of when they consider preserving food. I LOVE canning…it makes me feel like I am back in the olden days when canning was something that everyone did. And hearing the jars ping when the seal is successful…that’s music to my ears! Canning isn’t difficult to do but there are some guidelines that need to be followed. I can’t recommend the Ball Blue Book of Canning enough.
  2. Freezing – many people freeze their produce in convenient to use packages. If you can use the produce within a few months of freezing it, it is a viable option. You need to be certain that you have a means of backup power in case there is a power outage…otherwise your hard work will be ruined. One of my favorite things to freeze is shredded zucchini. If you freeze it in 2 cup portions, you can have delicious zucchini bread anytime you wish.
  3. Dehydrating – I first heard about the Excalibur dehydrator on The Survival Podcast. Jack and his listeners raved about how awesome they were. But with a price tag upwards of $200, I decided to use my brother’s dehydrator. After a failed attempt at dehydrating bananas, I decided to splurge on the Excalibur. What a difference! My dehydrator has nine racks that you can use and the fan is in the back of the unit instead of the bottom. I have dehydrated all sorts of things from the garden. I’ve also dehydrated frozen veggies from the grocer’s freezer…they take up a fraction of the space and I don’t have to worry if the power goes out. The best resource that I’ve found on dehydrating is Dehydrate2Store.

 

gardening is the gateway drug to prepping

Here is a picture of my 9 tray Excalibur Dehydrator

There are certainly other ways to preserve your harvest but these are the three that I use the most. It is such a gratifying feeling knowing that I have food put away for my family. No, it’s not enough to sustain us for an extended period of time but it is enough to allow me to rest easy. There have been times when the all of the vehicles break at once and our grocery money has to go to car bills. “The store” has helped us bridge the gap until we can get over that bump in the road. So my question to you is, do you think that gardening is the gateway drug to prepping? How has your garden helped you to be more prepared for the many bumps on the road of life? Who knew that a tiny seed planted in the ground could lead to a more sustainable lifestyle? It’s pretty fascinating if you ask me. Let me know what you think and if you have any tips for other Mid-Atlantic Gardening readers. Leave me a comment below or e-mail me at stacey@midatlanticgardening.com. Happy gardening!

March 23, 2012Permalink 4 Comments

Did You Know? Planting Cool Season Vegetables

 

Did You Know? that it’s almost time to plant cool season vegetables? March 17 (Happy St. Patrick’s Day) is a general guideline for planting cool season vegetables in the garden. With the winter we’re having, you could have planted cool season vegetables a week or two ago and been safe. But I like to use guidelines instead of hard and fast dates. I’ve learned in the past that holding Mother Nature to a specific date is a bad idea…you and your plants stand a chance of getting burned.

So what can go in the ground in March? Here’s a list of cool season veggies and whether they are best sown directly in the garden or planted as transplants:

  1. planting cool season vegetablesBeets – seed
  2. Broccoli – transplants
  3. Cabbage – transplants
  4. Carrots – seed
  5. Cauliflower – transplants
  6. Fava beans – seed
  7. Kale and collards – seed
  8. Lettuce – transplants
  9. Onions – transplants or sets
  10. Parsley – transplants
  11. Peas – seed
  12. Swiss chard – transplants

 

I have to put in a disclaimer here so that you won’t blame me if your veggies turn to mush in a cold snap: watch the weather forecast and if you see that temperatures are going to drop into the mid-20s or lower, make plans to protect your veggies. So what are your plans for getting your cool season vegetables in the ground? Have you started yours as transplants or will you be sowing them directly? Let me know what you have in mind for your cool season garden this year. Instead of imbibing a green tinted adult beverage this St. Patrick’s Day, perhaps you’ll be digging in the garden. Leave me a comment below or e-mail me at stacey@midatlanticgardening.com. Happy gardening!

March 12, 2012Permalink 4 Comments

Reader Question: Using Salt Treated Lumber in the Garden

 

Phillip from Hoboken, NJ writes:

I have access to salt treated lumber and I want to know if it’s safe to use in the garden. Most of it is leftover from tearing down a friend’s deck but I’ve also acquired bits and pieces over the years. I read your Square Foot Gardening post and I’d like to use it to make the sides of the beds.

Phillip, this is a common and very valid question. Many people have access to salt treated lumber, even if it’s the used type as you discuss. Much fear exists in the gardening world when it comes to growing food in beds built with salt treated lumber. The most prevalent fear involves using Copper Chromium Arsenate (CCA) treated wood. Up until late 2003, a great majority of the salt treated lumber was treated with CCA. The lumber industry changed their method of preserving wood and now uses Alkaline Copper Quat (ACQ) and other chemicals that don’t contain arsenic. Does that mean that it’s OK to use salt treated lumber in the garden?

salt treated lumber in the gardenIn my opinion, no. Placing wood in contact with high quality soil that is rich in organic matter will only speed up the leaching of chemicals into the soil. If you’re planting dahlias and daffodils, plant to your heart’s delight…you’re not eating the dahlias and daffodils. But if you plan on using the raised beds for vegetable gardening, there is too great a chance of the chemicals being taken up by the plants and ingested by you. I know that I sound like a Negative Nellie so far when it comes to using salt treated lumber in the garden. BUT, I have some options for you Phillip:

  1. Wrap the side of the wood that is in contact with the soil with plastic. Pick up a roll of vapor barrier from the home improvement store and you’ll save yourself a lot of guesswork when it’s time to dine on your harvest.
  2. Plant 6″ away from the edge of the bed; a foot would be even better. The chemicals that make up the preservatives don’t move readily in the soil so 6″-12″ is a sufficient barrier. With that being said, be sure not to mix the soil when you clean up the beds in the fall. Also, this may not be practical when you are planning a conventional 4’x4′ bed as every square inch is valuable.
  3. Consider the volume of chemicals you could be ingesting by eating conventionally grown produce. If you currently consume organic veggies, I don’t have an argument here. But if you buy your veggies from the produce department at the local Piggly Wiggly, you’re probably going to be better off eating your veggies from your beds built out of salt treated lumber.

 

The long and short of whether it’s safe to use salt treated lumber in the garden is no…with exceptions. If you have the time and energy to make a few modifications before you fill the beds with soil, you can repurpose that decking into something that produces delightful food for your family. I hope to hear from other Mid-Atlantic Gardening readers about their experience using salt treated lumber in the garden. Leave me a comment below or e-mail me at stacey@midatlanticgardening.com. Happy gardening!

Seed Starting 101 Part 4: A Week in the Life of a Seed

 

So last Sunday, February 26, I sowed my first flat of veggie seeds for the season. In Part 2 of Seed Starting 101, we looked at exactly how I did it, from washing the flats to prepping the Jiffy pellets to sowing the seeds. As a wrap-up to the week, I thought we would look at what the seeds have been up to since then. Here we go:

DAYS 1 & 2

Here is the flat just hanging out…nothing to see here…move along

seed starting

DAY 3

I’m not sure if you can make it out but there is a little white dot at the bottom of the seed. That is the radicle, the first part of the seed to emerge. These are all broccoli seeds by the way.

seed starting

DAY 4

Now we’re cooking with grease! The seedling’s first leaves are preparing to unfold.

seed starting

DAY 5

Imagine my surprise to come home from work and see these beauties waiting for me! It’s amazing how quickly a seed can grow in 24 hours.

seed starting

DAY 6

Here are the babies today. Still growing strong and ready for the world.

seed starting

Here is a picture of the cabbage babies that have really started coming around in the last 24 hours.

seed starting

And the onions are just starting to germinate.

seed starting

The eggplants, asparagus and cauliflower haven’t germinated yet but that’s OK…they will in due time. I hope that you have enjoyed this Mid-Atlantic Gardening seed tour today. Let me know what seeds you are growing this year by leaving me a comment below or e-mailing me at stacey@midatlanticgardening.com. Happy gardening!

 

Seed Starting 101 – Part 2: A Pictorial Guide

 

In yesterday’s post, we discussed the three basic requirements of starting seeds: temperature, water and light. Today we’ll be looking at the down and dirty (pun intended) of sowing your own seeds. It’s very important for your flats to be clean and sanitized so we’ll start there in our journey.

seed starting

You can see in this picture that I’ve used a large tub to sanitize the flats. I added a nice sized serving of bleach to the water; I like for the water to smell good and bleachy. The general rule of thumb is that you want a 10% bleach solution. If you want to measure, knock yourself out; I’m just not that kind of person.

seed starting

I then laid the flats out to dry in the sunshine. Sunlight is nature’s sanitizer.

seed starting

I still haven’t purchased any seed starting media and I had Jiffy pellets left over from last year so I used them. Here you can see them in the flats waiting for water.

seed starting

I added about a quart of water to the flat and allowed the pellets to absorb the moisture. I had to go back and add a little water over the top to make sure that the pellets were wet all the way through. Peat is sneaky in that it can look perfectly wet but when you scratch the surface it can be bone dry underneath. When it’s dry, it’s hydrophobic which means that it repels water…don’t let your peat dry out once it’s wet or it will revert to its hydrophobic nature.

seed starting

I like to take a toothpick and pull the netting back from the center of the pellets. In the past, I’ve had seeds try to germinate under the netting and then die from not being able to make it past the netting.

seed starting

I then sow at least two seeds in each pellet. If they both germinate, I can always cut the weakest one off at the soil line later. These are cabbage seeds…can you see them in there?

seed starting

I then use my finger to press the seeds down…it’s important to ensure that there is good seed to soil contact. Otherwise, your seeds may germinate but quickly die when there isn’t any soil around to grab hold to. I also cover them with a tiny bit of soil for good measure.

seed starting

The next step is to label everything. I used the craft-style tongue depressers broken into fourths. I wrote on them with a sharpie and stuck them in peat pellet themselves. I try to sow in groups of 6 or however many pellets form a line. I also had some larger peat pellets so I sowed those in rows of 5. Here are the 15 cabbage seedlings I’m starting.

seed starting

And I just continued on down the line and sowed broccoli, cauliflower, onions and asparagus. Yes, I even sowed asparagus. I know it’s easier to buy them bareroot but where’s the fun in that?

seed starting

Here is the final picture. The lights are set up and the seeds are waiting for the the combination of temperature, water and light to be met so that they can germinate.

Join us tomorrow for more Mid-Atlantic Gardening adventures in seed starting. We’ll talk about which types of lights to use and how you can get more light for less money. Leave me a comment below or e-mail me at stacey@midatlanticgardening.com. Happy gardening!

February 29, 2012Permalink 8 Comments

Seed Starting 101: Part 1

 

I know that Tuesday posts are supposed to be about Pests and Diseases but this week we are going to focus on starting seeds. Today is Part 1 of Seed Starting 101. Pull up a chair and imagine you’re back in school…we are going to take this back to the elementary level and also show lots of how-tos. The rest of the week will be about starting seeds and we’ll follow the progress of the ones I’ve planted.

WHAT DO SEEDS NEED TO GERMINATE?

Let’s think about how seeds germinate in nature; in the wild, many seeds are dropped in the fall and then they lay there dormant, waiting for the right conditions to come along. What those conditions are vary greatly from plant to plant but suffice it to say that they need the proper temperature, proper amount of moisture and the proper amount of light. When all of those conditions are met, the seed germinates. If the light is right and the water is right but the temperature is wrong, the seeds won’t germinate. And so it goes with any of the combinations…you must have all three conditions be met for a seed to germinate. So what does that mean for you and the seedlings you are trying to grow indoors in anything but a natural environment? It means that the temperature needs to be approximately 70-75 degrees, water has to be available to the seeds and in most cases, light needs to be available. I say most cases because there are a few seeds that prefer darkness to germinate. We’ll discuss those later in the week; I’d like to do a post about seeds that are difficult to germinate as they deserve further attention.

If you are starting your seeds in your house, the temperature requirements shouldn’t be a problem. If you are starting them in a cooler environment like your basement, you may want to invest in some bottom heating pads. There are special ones designed for seed starting that are made to tolerate a bit of moisture and I would recommend using them instead of a heating pad that you would use for your arthritic shoulder.

The next issue for seeds is water. If you are using a conventional soilless seed starting medium like peat moss or a peat moss blend, the soil needs to be wet all the way through. It is very easy to think that the media is wet when it really has dry pockets throughout. I recommend wetting the soil, stirring it thoroughly and then wetting it some more. If you are using peat pellets, wet them from the bottom and allow the pellets to absorb the water for 20 minutes or so. Then be sure to pour out the extra moisture before starting your seeds.

Lastly, and perhaps the most difficult part of starting seeds, is light. It is virtually impossible to replicate the big glowing orb in the sky inside your house. Sure, it’s possible but for the average gardener, the amount of money required to purchase and operate the lights would be prohibitive. I use standard fluorescent shop lights with a warm bulb and a cool bulb. Using the two different bulbs provides a broad spectrum of lightwaves that the plants need. Your seedlings will need 16 hours of light per day so it’s a wise idea to invest in a timer…you don’t want to feel that sense of panic rise in you while you’re at work and you realize that you forgot to turn the lights on before you left your house this morning.

Before you start sowing your seeds, figure out a way to identify what seeds you are growing once they are in the seed flats. A tomato is a tomato is a tomato after it germinates and it will be July before you can figure out whether you’ve planted a Green Zebra or an Amish Paste. I made that mistake last year and I wanted to kick myself all last summer. I could tell who was who when they were in the controlled setting of my house but once they went to the garden, I lost track of their names and I wasn’t able to figure out which ones they were, except for the most obvious ones. I grew about 15 types of tomatoes last year and I’m going to be doing the same this year and it’s my goal to be able to report back to you the characteristics of each. If Mid-Atlantic Gardening readers have any bright ideas for avoiding this confusion, I’m taking suggestions!

Tomorrow, I am going to be doing a picture tutorial of starting seeds. If you have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment below or e-mail me at stacey@midatlanticgardening.com. Happy gardening!

February 28, 2012Permalink 3 Comments

Did You Know? Mulching…for the Record

 

Today’s Did You Know? post is a simple one. My husband is a D.J. and he has tons of records lying around, including ones that he doesn’t need anymore. He is in the process of building shelving for them and that’s when we had the epiphany. Many of the record sleeves have holes in the center. He’ll be tossing many of the vinyl records but that leaves behind many of the cardboard sleeves. Why not use them for mulching in the veggie garden? You can plant right in the hole and then mulch over the whole thing.

Mulching

Mulching

I’m excited about using them this spring in the veggie garden. If you have any Ashford and Simpson records laying around, send the sleeves my way or use them in your garden! Leave me a comment below or e-mail me at stacey@midatlanticgardening.com. Happy gardening!

February 27, 2012Permalink Leave a comment

Did You Know? Daikon Radishes

 

Today’s Did You Know? isn’t so much about growing Daikon Radishes to eat as it is about growing them to improve the health of your soil. When you think of radishes, you’re probably like me and think of the little red blobs that are always left on a veggie tray virtually untouched. Or perhaps you eat them in salads. But did you know that a simple plant like a radish can improve the health of your soil?

daikon radishesDaikons are huge radishes, upwards of 18″ long, that grow down into your soil and mine for nutrients. As they descend their taproot into the soil, they are tapping into nutrients that aren’t available in the top few inches of topsoil. Perhaps more importantly, they are capable of penetrating all but the hardest of hardpan layers in the soil. In case you’re not sure what “hardpan” is, it’s a layer under the topsoil that inhibits moisture penetration and prevents plant roots from being able to access the soil beneath. It’s often formed from frequent tilling which is only able to fluff the top 8″-12″ of the topsoil. In suburban and urban areas, it’s often a consequence of construction and other earth moving activities. This is where the Daikon Radish is able to work its magic; the long taproot is able to break through the hardpan which allows moisture and nutrients to percolate downwards. So how does this build soil, you may be asking yourself?

Instead of harvesting the radishes to eat, you allow them to stay there and be killed by the fall frosts. What is left behind is a “carbon pathway”. I love that term…it’s such a great description for what roots can accomplish if left to their own devices. As the Daikon Radish roots decompose, they are adding organic matter to the soil as well as leaving a pathway for water and roots for the subsequent generations or other plants that you may plant the following year. And what happens to the green leafy tops? If they are left to decompose as the roots are, you have a rich mulch for the soil that is full of the nutrients that the taproot was able to mine. As the tops decompose, these nutrients are now available for the next plants that enter the system. Pretty cool how it comes full circle, huh?

If you have land that you would like to improve, consider a mass planting of Daikon Radishes. Or plant patches in your veggie garden that would otherwise go unused. Sure, they may compete with your tomatoes or cucumbers in the beginning but as they establish themselves and send their taproots deeper and deeper, they will be harvesting water from a depth far greater than your “desirable” veggies. If you are a fan of radishes, they certainly can be harvested for your dinner table…check out some ways to use them here. The seeds are available from various sources, including High Mowing Organic Seeds. I’m curious to know if any of the Mid-Atlantic Gardening readers have any experience with growing Daikon Radishes for soil building. Leave a comment below or e-mail me at stacey@midatlanticgardening.com. Happy gardening!

February 13, 2012Permalink 2 Comments

Reader Question: The Case for Growing Your Own Food

 

Happy Thursday to everyone! Today’s Reader Question deals with something that is very near and dear to my heart:

I am enjoying reading your daily gardening posts but I don’t understand why you put so much emphasis on growing your own food. I live very close to a grocery store and frequent my local farmers’ market. Perhaps if you can expand on your reasons, I may have a better understanding.

Delores in Northern Virginia

Delores, thank you for your question…it means a great deal that you would take the time to write in. I hope that my answer doesn’t come off condescending as that is definitely not my intention. [Stepping up on my soapbox] There are so many angles from which I would like to answer your question and I hope that I can articulate each one well.

  1. Just-in Time Delivery Systems. In the average American store, there are only 3 days worth of inventory. These stores are your local grocery store, the larger chains and all the way up to Walmart. The JIT delivery system is a very efficient beast and when there aren’t any disturbances in the process, everything clicks along at a happy pace. But what happens when one thing in that chain goes awry? I’m sure you remember when gas prices exceeded $4/gallon in late 2008 and the truckers were threatening to strike because their diesel prices were over $5/gallon. Think for a moment what would happen to the store shelves if that were to happen.
  2. Processed Food is Crap. Plain and simple, it’s crap. Think about what you eat daily and I’ll guarantee that over 75% of it comes from a box or a can. The food manufacturing business is a multi-billion dollar industry that profits from the mentality that everything can be purchased from the grocery store. Nutrition is compromised when foods are processed and God knows what is added to the food to keep it from spoiling or to keep the texture from being appalling.
  3. GMOs. I could go on and on about genetically modified organisms. Take a look at this post for more information on how companies like Monsanto are patenting life forms and calling it food.
  4. The Connection between People and the Earth. Don’t worry…I’m not going to go all hippie on you here but man was designed to tend the earth and its inhabitants. Those inhabitants include plants, animals and other humans. There is nothing more satisfying to the human soul than to eat from a garden that you have tended. To know that you are responsible for the transformation of a mere seed into a vegetable is an incredible and moving experience. I hear lots of people say that they don’t have time to tend a garden but then they spend countless hours plopped on the couch watching TV or liking things on Facebook. It’s really about priorities.
  5. Independence. While you may never be able to provide 100% of your needs from the backyard garden or chickens, taking control of even 10% of your family’s food consumption is very freeing. You begin to realize that eating seasonally is better for you and you don’t have to run to the grocery store for every little kitchen item. As my grandma always says, “you make do”.
  6. growing your own food

    My 5 year old son, Myles, loves to help water the garden

    Your Children. If you have a garden, your children will enjoy tending it with you. My two and five year old children loved going to the garden last summer. Granted, they weren’t much on pulling weeds but they loved harvesting the veggies. They remembered how small they were when we planted them and they have a connection with their food. They understand that food doesn’t just come from the grocery store…they see that it takes real people to produce the food that goes on their plates.

 

 

growing your own food

Here is my 2 year old, Maddie, digging in the garden and she is loving it!

I’m not sure exactly when we Americans went so far off course and let corporations take control of our food production. Perhaps it was when two-income households became the norm and Mom was busy working instead of preparing food. Perhaps it was when parents began signing little Johnny up for every extracurricular activity known to man and the family became so busy that no one ate dinner at the same table. I’m not sure when it happened but I am sure that it’s not normal. While I don’t claim to be an anthropologist, I feel confident stating that at no other time in human history has the common man been so disconnected from his food. I think it would be a fair wager to bet that your grandparents tended a garden and probably even had small livestock like chickens. I’m 36 years old and one of my grandfathers was a farmer who took care of his family by working the farm. I can imagine his satisfaction, knowing that no matter what was going on in the world outside of his farm, he was confident that he could provide his family with healthy, nutritious food. Can we say the same?

[stepping off my soapbox] I’d love to hear the opinion of other Mid-Atlantic Gardening readers…whether I’ve ruffled your feathers or you’re completely onboard, leave me a comment below or e-mail me at stacey@midatlanticgardening.com. Happy gardening!

February 9, 2012Permalink 3 Comments

Did You Know? Hugelkultur is a Way to Garden Without Watering

 

Happy Monday to everyone! I’m really excited about today’s post. It deals with hugelkultur, which is a way to garden without watering. Let me start this conversation by giving you two links that can provide a more thorough explanation regarding this way of gardening. The first is from Paul Wheaton (he’s hilarious by the way) at www.richsoil.com. You can find the direct link to his hugelkultur article here. The second link is from Jack Spirko at The Survival Podcast. Here is a link to a podcast that he did about hugelkultur. Without these two men, I would have never learned about this way to garden without the need for additional water.

The brief story of hugelkultur goes like this: you can either dig down and put logs in the ground or stack logs on top of the ground. Either way, you add soil and compost to the top and then plant…that’s it! The rotting logs hold moisture and keep it available for when the plants need it. Have you ever walked through the woods, even in a drought, and noticed a rotting log? It’s full of moisture and that’s the key to the success of hugelkultur. Sometimes the most difficult problems can be solved by the simplest methods and this is one of those times.

This weekend, my family partnered with the Taylor family to build two hugelkultur beds for our joint vegetable garden. This will be our third year gardening together and the Taylors are always willing to try new ways of gardening. Last year we built six 4’x4′ square foot gardens and they were a wonderful success. I just know that the hugelkultur beds will be a blessing this year! Let’s dive in to the pictures!

hugelkultur

This is how the bed looked before the sides were put on

 

hugelkultur

The beds are approximately 19" deep and they are 4' wide by 17' long

 

hugelkultur

Here's the construction zone where the men were constructing the sides and ends

 

 

hugelkultur

The kids thought that the area made a great place to ride bikes and play...who can blame them?

 

hugelkultur

Putting the sides on the bed

 

hugelkultur

And the ends...

 

hugelkultur

Here are the kids again...there's Maya, Maddie and Myles. Maddie and Myles are our two little dirt loving kids

 

hugelkultur

The first logs are getting ready to go in the bed...exciting!

 

hugelkultur

The bed is full of rotting logs that will provide moisture for the vegetables that will be growing there this summer

 

hugelkultur

Once the logs were in place, we covered them with a layer of garden soil

 

hugelkultur

The beds are ready for compost! We were fortunate enough to have access to horse manure from a neighbor

 

hugelkultur

Here is the bed with a full layer of compost

 

hugelkultur

We added a top layer of garden soil...we would have mixed the soil and compost but at this point it was raining

 

hugelkultur

Here is the finished product...for the day anyway. We completed two hugelkultur beds

 

hugelkultur

Here are the beds from another angle

 

I forgot to mention that the total depth of the beds is 3.5′. If I were a plant, I’d like to live there! I am very excited about the veggie garden for this summer. I want to thank Sean and Anna Taylor and my wonderful husband Ed for all of their hard work. Sean obtained all of the wood that we used for the beds from old horse fencing, him and Ed built the wooden bed frames and Anna watched the kids when it started raining. I also need to thank Tyler Shumate for helping us obtain the composted horse manure…if there was one earthworm in the compost there were a million! If we have a summer like last year where it seemed to rain every other day, we won’t be able to tell how effective the beds are. But something tells me that this summer will be a typical Mid-Atlantic gardening summer where drought prevails. If it does, I am hopeful that these two beds will be able to survive the season with no additional water. I’ll keep you posted! Let me know your thoughts by leaving me a comment below or e-mailing me at stacey@midatlanticgardening.com. Happy gardening!

 

February 6, 2012Permalink 8 Comments