Tag Archives: horse manure

Garden Prep — Weeding and Mulching

November 14, 2014

I spent most of this week spreading horse manure and mulch, preparing the garden for next season. A friend brought over some horse manure. Each planting section got a layer of horse manure and a layer of mulch.

Sweet Potato Patch #1:

DSC_6086Sweet Potato Patch #2 (with kids’ garden at the end): DSC_6085Boxes: DSC_6087Here is the tomato patch as an example of what everything looked like before being covered with mulch. It is amazing what a thin layer of mulch does for the smell as well! The tomato patch was covered with mulch after I took pictures 🙂 DSC_6089She is going to bring me more manure as she is able. In the meantime, I am systematically going through the garden, pulling weeds and layering on more mulch. The NC heat breaks down the mulch pretty quickly. Great for the plants and soil but it means you have to add more mulch each year to make sure the weeds don’t take over.

I had already weeded and mulched around the apple tree when the friend came with the horse manure.DSC_6048(dark mulch is the new mulch)

So I just put the manure on top. DSC_6088Even though it will be stinky while it decomposes, it is worth it. The compost/manure tea the soil will be getting all winter will show in our beautiful broccoli this spring (what I am planning on planting there). 🙂

That is the main chore for the rest of the year. At least, I hope I can get it done by the end of December! It certainly is a tall order!

Do you prepare your garden in the fall for next spring? It makes the spring a lot more enjoyable — no fertilizing and very little weeding as well! Love BTE gardening! 🙂


Mid-February Update

February 24, 2014

All of you bloggers who diligently post each week, come lovely or not so lovely weather, one day I will join you. Until then, when it snows and I cannot do anything in the garden, I am less likely to post, hence my silence last week.

Nieto Family - February 13 14 - 0422 Nieto Family - February 13 14 - 0426(up close of the milk jug greenhouses)

This past week, however, we were in the 60s many days! Such is life in North Carolina, snow one week, spring weather the next.

Some things accomplished this week:

  • We were able to cover the rest of the garden and blueberry patch with mulch (where chickens had made holes or rain had washed it away).
  • Planted the rest of my warm-weather seeds in greenhouses.
  • Planted some carrots, lettuce, and kale in the ground (I read they sprout in weather as low as 32 degrees (our lows this week) so we will see)
  • Put out some tunnels and the tractor so the chickens could graze on some grass, since it is starting to grow again.
  • Picked up a load of horse manure and spread it (a dusting) around the garden.

Katys Blog(1)Potato patch and tomato/pepper patch on far left, not in the picture. Blueberry bushes lined in back.

*All sections that are lighter are those with horse manure. It also helps distinguish planting areas from pathways.

Back row (L to R): sweet potato patch, raised beds will have a variety of crops (broccoli, cabbage, snaps, celery, onions, beets, sunflowers, and melons, lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, beans), strawberry patch

Front (L to R): 3 sister’s garden (corn, cucs/spaghetti squash, beans), next long bed will have peas and then snaps & celery, final section around 2 apple trees will have a variety of crops

Section around apple trees: We put cardboard down last summer and LOTS of mulch to suppress the weeds. I noticed this winter as I was digging out some weeds around the tree base that the soil under the mulch is fluffy so I decided to attempt to make this new garden area this year.

The plan is to plant crops that like partial shade on the North side of the apple tree and heat loving crops on the South and West side of the tree. I am planning on planting things such as melons, cucumbers (lots of room to ‘roam’), onions on the border, lettuce, kale, carrots, broccoli, and carrots.

You can see a row has already been made and we planted lettuce, carrots and kale. The issue right away with this spot is how much mulch needs to be moved out of the way before we plant. We added MANY inches in order to suppress weeds. I am cautiously excited about being able to grow crops in that area 🙂

Nieto Family - February 19 14 - 0333I would have preferred to spread the manure in the fall so it had all winter to break down but it just did not work out that way. Now, all of the garden patches/boxes/areas are covered in mulch and manure!

The next dilemma was: what to do with the poop and wood shavings when I clean out the coop? I watched the Back to Eden Film again this week (I like to do that every once in a while for fun and because I tend to learn something new each time) and got the idea to put the coop cleanings in the chicken run so it could break down some more. The goal is — the next time I put manure on the garden (next fall), I will just use what is in the run and it will be fine, beautiful compost, as Paul’s is (shown in the film).

Even though I have plenty of greenhouses, people keep giving me milk jugs (I am NOT complaining!) so I think I will go ahead and plant some spring seeds in the last batch of greenhouses so they will get a little jump start and we will get to eat greens SOONER! Lettuce, spinach, kale, broccoli, cabbage, mmmmm 🙂

We finally finished all of our winter chores by mid-February! Not to shabby 🙂 Now, the only thing that needs to be done in the garden is planting seeds! And, of course harvesting 🙂 That will come soon enough. Right now, we are still getting 3-6 eggs/day. I am hoping the chickens will start ramping up production soon!

The only other thing we want to work on the next time we have energy (this week wore us out!) is expanding the mulched area out to our other fruit trees. The bermuda grass is relentless so even a large circle around each tree with mulch does basically nothing. The only thing that even pretends to keep the bermuda grass away is to cover EVERYTHING with newspaper, cardboard, or plastic tarps and then mulch (and even then some bermuda grass finds its way in — craziness!)

We are collecting a lot of cardboard right now so whenever the mood hits, we can work on expanding. Pictures to come!

Are you harvesting anything or are you still under a couple feet of snow? Check out what everyone else is doing at Daphne’s Dandelions 🙂

Harvest Monday and a Sweet Potato Question

February 10, 2014

I harvested the last of the carrots this week. I have started some more but it will be awhile, that’s for sure. They were all pretty pitiful; one was eaten up pretty badly and some were pulled up completely.

Nieto Family - January 27 14 - 0136-2 Nieto Family - January 27 14 - 0135-2One day this week, my daughter forgot to lock the gate of the run and the chickens got out and ate most of my kale 😦 I am hoping, as long as we can keep the chickens away, the kale will bounce back when it warms up.

Our only harvest these days are our eggs. As the days grew longer in January, we were getting about 16 eggs/day from 19 chickens! And then it got really cold for a couple of weeks, snowed, etc. This, apparently, put the chickens in shock and we are down to three a day again 😦 The weather has warmed up slightly (staying above freezing at night) but we still are not getting very many eggs.

(frozen egg — gave it to the kitty) (trying to get the chickens out of the coop. putting down hay later really helped) Nieto Family - January 22 14 - 0371(only harvest for the next couple of months)

Working on the February TO DO LIST:

  • Picked up some horse manure from the stables and spread it in a couple of places (hopefully one more load will be enough to cover the rest of the garden)
  • Made our last Square Foot Garden bed into a BTE bed (cut out 4 layers of tarp & weed cloth). whew!
  • Continuing to make greenhouses. Planted some warm-weather seeds in half of them one day when it got into the 50s but still have some more planting to do!
  • Any day the wind dies down and it is at least in the 40s, I spread some more mulch around the blueberry plants & garden. Because the mulch in the walkways and between the blueberry plants is on top of tarps (to keep the bermuda grass at bay), the rain tends to wash some away every year.


I was going to go ahead and start some sweet potato slips indoors but as I did more research, I am now thinking I may wait and start the slips outside. The only way I had ever heard about starting slips was in a glass jar, in a window. I have never had success growing things in our windows because ours are energy efficient windows but I was going to try anyway this year.

While researching, to make sure I had all of my information together, I ran across a blog post in which this lady grows her slips right in the ground. Then, I was looking in Rodale’s All New Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening for information on when to transplant the slips (how long they need to be) and I saw they recommended starting sweet potato slips in the ground as well.

Has anyone ever heard of this? Has anyone every tried it? What do you think? I definitely love the simplicity of it and the fact that everything stays outside (we don’t have a lot of extra room in the house). The ‘scary’ part is, you put the roots in the ground later (warmer weather), which means if it doesn’t work, it’s too late to grow the slips the other way — so I am putting a lot of faith in a method I have essentially never heard of.

Any insight is more than welcome! And check out what others are harvesting this winter over at Daphne’s Dandelions 🙂

Free Resources for the Garden

September 12, 2013

I am planning on adding two new crops to the garden next year. Strawberries and sweet potatoes. I prepared the beds by covering them with manure when I cleaned out the chicken coop this summer.

I am planting in the sweet potato bed right now for lack of room but I was able to find a free source of horse manure recently and went ahead and covered the strawberry patch and the newly prepared potato patch.

DSC_2926(strawberry patch covered in chicken and horse manure)

DSC_2923(potato patch covered in horse & chicken manure)

I am always watching L2Survive’s YouTube videos where he goes and talks to Paul Gautcshi. I love learning from him! One thing I learned recently is that he uses wood shavings (about 6 inches) in his coop. It soaks up the ammonia smell and makes a fine, very rich compost. He says to spread it very finely over the garden. Truthfully, I’m just looking forward to the lack of smell 🙂 Our coop doesn’t smell horribly but I love the smell of the wood shavings! I’ll post a pic when I get it all spread out 🙂

I saw an Asplundh truck the other day & they said they would be more than happy to bring by some mulch. They never showed up 😦 I guess they were not able to find our house. We don’t need any more mulch but I was excited anyway.

It hurts me to spend money in general so buying things for the garden tends to be put on the back burner. Especially since I’m saving up for expensive crops like strawberry sets and sweet potatoes! Are you getting any free things for your garden?

I am linking up to Simple Lives Thursday. Check out what other people are doing to save money (among other things)!

Back to Eden Garden Update

April 18, 2013

This post is an update from the ‘Early Spring Back to Eden Garden Update‘ post, from the beginning of March.

I had just planted a LARGE potato patch. Even after a month, nothing had come through and since it has been raining quite a bit, I assumed they had rotted. Thankfully, I was wrong! We have potato plants! I am giddy 🙂 I am trying not to get my hopes up because a lot can happen from now until harvest time but I am excited to see the sprouts, nonetheless.

April 12 13 - 0120April 17 13 - 0056The potatoes were planted in composted chicken manure, then layered with 8″ mulch, and then we put horse manure on top of the mulch…partially because we were given the horse manure after we had already planted but it turns out to be a good thing – the potatoes get manure tea (aka. fertilizer, free and organic) every time it rains 🙂

Do you remember the greenhouses I started? I have not posted on them since the beginning because nothing seemed to be coming up…but kale.

April 13 13 - 0140

Of the 5 jugs I planted seeds in, only one came up. I left them though and planted a second round. Turns out, the seeds were not sprouting yet because it was not warm enough but as soon as it warmed up, the warm-weather seeds did, indeed, sprout…just like the blogger said. I am very excited that I have pepper and tomato plants sprouted because the indoor ones flopped. Big time.

Katy Blog2(top; L to R: lettuce, cantaloupe, pumpkin bottom; L to R: two kinds of tomatoes & more lettuce)

All but the kale is still really small but the I transplanted the kale and it is doing really well so I have hope that these will continue growing so they can be transplanted into the garden soon!

Speaking of the transplanted kale…in the first picture, look at the bottom middle. That itty bitty thing is a kale transplant in a bed I have yet to layer with mulch. (The other plants are those I planted straight into the bed in January had have been covered since then.)

April 16 13 - 0037 April 16 13 - 0033(This picture is the other transplanted kale. It is hard to tell the difference (sorry) but this one, in mulch, has weathered the transplanting MUCH better.)

Some other Back to Eden Garden updates…

I planted some carrots and peas. It will likely get too hot too soon because of how our ‘springs’ go in NC, but it is old seed so I wanted to throw it out there to see what would come of it. The peas (older seed) are giving me spotty germination but the carrots are coming up strong.

April 16 13 - 0030

Remember the raspberry plants we got as a Christmas present? Some of them have already ‘greened up’. I am not expecting fruit this year but seeing the green gives me hope for next year!

April 16 13 - 0042

The last update from the early March post concerns the chicks. They roost during the day but at night they still huddle up in the same corner where the heat lamp used to be. They are 6 weeks old. I certainly don’t want any of them to die from being smushed but I didn’t think a heat lamp was necessary since they are fully feathered. Hmmm. We may have to put one out there again. We’ll see.

They are LOVING the run, not so much the tractor. They eat our kitchen scraps. They especially love the juice pulp, probably because it is already in little bits. They lay out in the sun in the mornings and they all lay together in a big group under a cluster of trees in the afternoons. They are some happy birds.

How are your Back to Eden gardens coming along? If you have a blog, I would love to see some pics!

I am linking up to Simple Lives Thursday