Tag Archives: mulch

Happy!…and Sad :(

August 13, 2015

This week has been pretty crazy! Some good things happened and some bad things. First the good:

#1 It RAINED! 😀

Gardening with a cover means this is not as important to me as other farmers/gardeners in the area but it was still nice! It cooled us down from high 90s to 80s all this week. And everything’s so pretty after it rains 🙂

#2 We got more mulch!

We had gotten down to our last two mounds of woodchips and were wondering what we were going to do when that was gone. I decided, since I don’t have many more woodchips, I would start covering my garden each fall with chicken compost, like Paul does.

Right about that time, our neighbors decided to cut down about a dozen pine trees so we got 8 or so loads of woodchips! I think (as long as the chickens make enough compost) we will still cover our garden area as Paul does and save the woodchips for garden expansion but what a blessing!!!Nieto Photography 2015#3 Our last broody hen of the year hatched out all of the eggs we gave her to sit on! That has yet to happen. Our young roosters are finally getting efficient 😉 The chicks hatched 3 days earlier than they were supposed to so one got away from the mother and was pecked in the head by another chicken – she did not make it. 😦 But we moved the mama and the four other chicks into the little coop for safety and they seem to be doing well.Nieto Photography 2015

That makes 16 chicks we hatched out this summer that survived. We are waiting for the older chicks to lay any day now. They are 20 weeks but their combs are not very red. All we can do is wait.

Now to the disheartening (hint: they all have to do with unwelcome animals):

#1 Racoons

We caged in our fruit to keep them safe from the groundhogs. That is not hard to do. However, the racoons decided they wanted the fruit. They can climb over fencing, move fencing out of their way that is not staked down, and even pull up stakes! Every day we go out and more and more watermelon and cantaloupes are eaten. I am so disheartened. My husband is off to find electric fencing.Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015(they lifted up the stake, dug, and got into one of our cages!)

#2 Deer

The deer have found our sweet potato patch (and all of our beans on the edges of the garden). They have not eaten it down to the nub YET but they are working hard! 😦 Last year we harvested enough sweet potatoes to last us until May. This year, I know that will not happen but I hope we are able to harvest some! Nieto Photography 2015I had issues with moles/voles (whichever eats veggies) and bunnies our first year gardening but as soon as we got a cat, that was taken care of. Other than that, we have never had any animal issues. This year…they found me! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: WE NEED A (well-trained) DOG!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am linking up with Green Thumb Thursdays for ideas and commiseration. 😉


What a Covering Has Done to My Soil

April 30, 2015

If you have read this blog for any amount of time, you know I cover the garden with woodchips. You may even know about the Back to Eden Film. If not, you should watch it!

Many people are realizing the benefits of covering the soil. There are many. However, in true American fashion, many are wondering why they are not having Paul’s results (from 30 years of gardening) in their first year or two. This post is to give you hope and encourage you to stick with it and trust the process!

We started our BTE (back to eden) garden 3 years ago when I was finally able to get up with some Asplundh folks. Our first year, we layered with aged cow manure. We got chickens 2 years ago and I am able to get horse manure about once a year so many times, our garden is covered with that along with woodchips. Sometimes, when we are expanding the garden, which we try to do as much as possible, all we have is cardboard and woodchips. As Paul would say, ‘use what you have’. So we do 🙂

For those of you new to Back to Eden or who are interested, I took some pictures of my soil to show you what a blessing a covering is and how it gets better and better each year.

Starting with our first ever BTE garden: Started 3 years ago, covered in newspapers, aged cow manure, then 6″ of woodchips. Each fall, it has been covered in a light layer of chicken manure (when I clean out the coop) and woodchips. You can see the woodchips are breaking down as you get further and further down. There is clay still about 6″ down.

Nieto Photography 2015This section of the garden was prepped by our young pullets 2 years ago in a chicken tractor. We then covered it with newspaper and woodchips. It has since been covered by horse manure and woodchips. Even 6″ down, NO clay. It is transitioning into rich, beautiful black soil. Nieto Photography 2015This patch is under our apple tree. It was covered 2 years ago with cardboard and mulch. It has been layered with horse manure and mulch for the past two winters. Everything seems to grow well under and around the apple tree. No clay to be found (at least 6″ down). Nieto Photography 2015 Here is a section that was covered with newspaper and woodchips 1 year ago. You do not see any clay; but that is because 6″ down, you are just getting to soil. Without manure, it takes longer to get good soil. It will still happen; it will just take longer. All you can see in this picture is woodchips…and not very broken down at that. Nieto Photography 2015The next section was prepped this past August (less than 12mo ago). All we had was cardboard and woodchips so that is what we used. Check out all that clay! I am not discouraged for two reasons. Number 1: I know it will get better in time. Number 2: See the next picture. Nieto Photography 2015This next picture is 15 feet away. It is part of the newly-expanded garden we worked on this past August. However, this part was covered lightly in chicken manure when I cleaned out the coop this winter. What a difference! (There is clay about 4″ down.) Nieto Photography 2015 As you can see:

  1. Covering your garden conditions and improves your soil more and more as time passes.
  2. Animal manure speeds up this process.
  3. If you do not have all the recommended materials, use what you have! It will get better and you can always add more later.

PS. NEVER till/work anything in. Just keep layering!

Sometimes, when I am raking back mulch to plant, I’ll drag the edge of my rake through the mulch to see if I have reached soil yet (PLANT IN THE SOIL!!!). My kids will chastise me for ’tilling’ and possibly killing worms and microbes 🙂 They are so brainwashed. ha! I love it!

Speaking of, at some point, I’ll do a post on how to plant in a BTE garden. You cannot plant like Paul does when you have 6-8″ of mulch to work through. If you have any questions or anything you would like for me to address regarding BTE gardening, let me know!

Until then, watch the film, watch the YouTube videos, and garden on! 🙂

Harvest Monday

December 1, 2014

BRRR. Another cold week. It also rained all.week.long. Amazingly, the rain started just as the temperature rose above freezing and stopped just as the temps dropped. Some hail, no snow.

I noticed some of my cloth-covered veggies were getting frost-bitten so I decided to cover everything a bit more heavily this week.

I was able to harvest a pitiful carrot (found all by itself in a forgotten patch)DSC_6291Some lettuceDSC_6294and the kids are inhaling all of the pecans. They are now littering the ground. The kids eat them all day long 🙂

Another unpictured item I have been harvesting quite a bit this week is onions. I have always pulled wild onions as I would any weed but I was asking some fellow gardeners and they said to leave them, especially around trees. We also discussed eating them. They are perfectly fine to eat so…one less thing to buy at the grocery store! I pull a couple and cook them instead of 1/2 of a grocery store onion. They have a stronger taste so that little bit goes a long way!

Other than covering parts of the garden, I worked on putting in a new pathway from our driveway to the brick walkway. Our other mulch pathway was washed away this past spring. It gets really muddy without one. I only had enough cardboard and newspaper for a partial walkway. I’ll finish it when I get more. For right now, it serves its purpose 🙂DSC_6279 DSC_6293I do have one more question for all of you. Anyone know what this berry is?DSC_6289 DSC_6290My neighbor has them growing in a hedge, along the woods. There are TONS of them. I would love to know what they are. Their leaves are elliptic and pretty small.

Check out what other gardeners are harvesting at Daphne’s Dandelions!

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! 🙂

Expansion Woes and Spring Plans

October 9, 2014

When we expanded the garden this summer, it was insanely hot and I still had a newborn that ate every 2hrs or so. Admittedly, I was not very diligent to make sure the cardboard covered all bare spots.

Where the garden edge and the grass came together, bermuda grass started coming through…with VENGEANCE! DSC_5598I tried numerous things but eventually, I had to move all of the mulch aside, cover again with cardboard (and newspaper, for good measure) and recover with more mulch. DSC_5597This is the area dug up, before it was covered with cardboard, etc.

Hopefully, that will take care of that pesky bermuda grass.

Plans for Spring

If you know me, you know aesthetics are just about as low on my priority list as anything can be. However, my girls love flowers so this year, I decided to order some perennial bulbs. Now to figure out where to plant them.

I thought they would look nice as a border to the garden. I also thought they would look nice bordering our brick walkway. I have to plant them when the daily temps are in the 60s. Right now, most days are still in the 70s/80s. While waiting, I prepped the edges of the brick path with newspaper and mulch.DSC_5569The next step is to weed the brick path. It got REALLY bad this summer. I have a feeling it will be an all-winter chore. You can see in the picture above the small section I have gotten done. The other winter chore is to expand the path (with mulch) to the driveway. We had a nice path but when we got a HUGE storm this spring, it washed away all of the mulch onto the brick, which helped the weeds tremendously.

This is what I ordered. That’s 244 bulbs. Who wants to come help me plant in a few weeks?

(photo credit)