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Gardening Hints And Tips

June 20, 2011 by  

Gardening Hints And Tips

Gardening season is upon us, and the garden must be tended in order to have a successful harvest. Gardening is one of the more popular leisure activities in the United States. An average backyard garden will cost about $30 for seeds and about $50 for organic potting soil and fertilizers, yet it will yield more than $600 in fresh, organic produce. That is a great investment, not only for our finances but also for our health.

5 Reasons To Grow A Garden

  1. Health is the main reason people grow gardens. The food we plant, grow and prepare for our families is healthier than produce purchased from the grocery store. If we grow our own food, we know whether it is organic, since we control the fertilization, pest-control and harvesting methods. Gardening is great for mental health, too. Working hard in a garden gives us pleasure in accomplishing something wonderful.
  2. Stress relief occurs when we do something meaningful that makes us happy. Planting and digging in the dirt relieve stress and make us feel better.
  3. Connecting to the Earth slows us down and grounds us. The soil, the worms and the living plants are fascinating to watch. When we slow down long enough, we become aware of the miracle of life.
  4. Self-sufficiency is another great reason to grow a garden. With the cost of commodities rising rapidly, gardening can offset the high cost of food. This puts more money in our pockets to use for other necessities.
  5. We save money by going to the grocery store less often. It’s possible to save hundreds of dollars per growing season, which really helps with the food budget.

Location

If you live in a cramped space and have a small yard, you can still grow a garden. Look around and see if you have places to put tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, etc. Flower gardens are ideal, because you can plant vegetables between flowers. Some flowers help with bug control. For example, marigolds ward off some garden pests.

The location of your garden is important. It needs to be a sunny, well-drained location, rich in compost and soil texture. Plant taller plants on the north side of the yard or garden so they won’t shade shorter plants. Plants can be planted along fences, patios and corners of lots, even in the yard. A strip of grass can be removed from the lawn and worked to become a raised vegetable bed.

Raised Beds

PHOTO OF RAISED BEDS IN GARDENRaised beds are ideal for small areas.  You can either shape the dirt into a hill or use a wooden frame around the grow bed. The frame is made of 2-by-4 planks placed in a rectangular shape. Use two 2-by-4 planks stacked one on top of the other to make the bed 8 inches tall, or use two 2-by-8 planks stacked one on top of the other to make the bed 16 inches tall. Make the bed 3 feet wide and as long as your space allows. The soil in the raised beds can be added to and maintained even if the texture of the surrounding soil is poor and has bad drainage. Make your raised bed level even if your garden spot is on a slope, so the water will remain in the bed and the soil will not wash away. Cultivate the soil 2 inches deeper than the height of the grow bed. Add mulch, compost or organic matter, and then dig down and turn the soil. Use a pitchfork to break up dirt clots. Rake it into a nice, level bed. Once that’s done, it is ready for planting.

Continue to add more compost so the soil improves each year. My husband is in the process of putting wood chips between the rows to keep the moisture in and the weeds out.

Container Gardening

If you are an apartment dweller and long to have a garden, try container gardening. Herbs and vegetables are great for containers, because they can be moved indoors when the weather gets too cold. Onions, radishes and lettuce mixtures can be grown in containers. Tomatoes and sweet bell peppers can be grown in large pots on the balcony. Zucchini and cucumbers can be trained to grow up a trellis or wire fencing. This way, they grow in a smaller space and the vegetables can be picked easily.

Soil

Use organic, inexpensive material such as vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, tea leaves, manure, chicken droppings, mulch, potting soil, leaves, grass clippings, sawdust, wood shavings, straw or hay to make a nutrient-rich topsoil. Avoid using anything that might have weed seeds in it. Peat moss, perlite or vermiculite can be used in composting, but they are more expensive and have no nutritional value. The better the soil, the more worms will be attracted to it, which is a good thing. Worm castings and worm holes help develop nutrient-rich soil as well.

Every year, new compost made from all-organic materials must be added to the soil. It is good to mix the compost in a pile as you add to it and let it rest for the year before putting it on the garden — especially if it contains manure or chicken droppings. Manure is considered hot and can burn plants if it’s used fresh. That is why you mix it with compost and let it set for a year.

We have a compost pile near our chicken coop so when we clean out the coop we can add the droppings to the compost pile. Mixing it often allows it to decompose throughout the year.

Till the garden by hand

PHOTO OF U-BARMy husband prepares the soil by hand because he likes to break up dirt clots and rake out the beds before he plants. He likes to use a D-handled spading fork and a U-bar digger. A small tiller can also be used to till the soil and prepare it for planting.

Seeds

The best types of seeds to store are called non-hybrid or heirloom seeds. They can be saved from year to year and will be true to form each season. To learn more about non-hybrid garden seeds, refer to my article Growing A Backyard Garden Can Be Good For Your Health.

The hybrid- or regular-type seeds that can be found in most garden centers are good for only one season. You need to purchase seeds from year to year. The seeds cannot be saved because they are genetically altered. Their offspring the second year will look like a crossbred vegetable.

Keep garden seeds in a container with a lid so mice don’t get into the seeds and eat them. It is best to keep them in a cool, dry, dark container to avoid light exposure. The cooler the temperature, the longer the seeds will last. Seeds have a shelf life of up to five years. To extend the shelf life, keep them in the refrigerator or freezer.

Herbs can be started from seed or can be purchased from a nursery and planted in an herb garden or around decorative rocks and flower beds. Fresh herbs have great flavor, and they are good for your health.

Planting

Certain plants do well if started indoors or in a greenhouse first and then transplanted later. These plants include tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and onions. Some plants do just as well if started in the ground. These include corn, spinach, lettuce, squash, cucumbers, peas, radishes, Swiss chard, carrots, potatoes and garlic.

Corn, tomatoes, peppers, squash, and cucumbers need warm soil before germination can take place. Onions, spinach, lettuce, peas, cabbage, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower and Swiss chard may be planted early in the spring. A second crop can be planted in late July or early August to extend the growing season.

Watering

The frequency of watering depends on the texture of the soil. In dry climates, more frequent watering is very important. Gardens with sandy soil require more watering than those with clay-based soils. Sandy soil does not hold moisture so you will need to water more frequently. After the garden has been planted, it is really important to keep it moist so the seeds will germinate. Carrots are very touchy. They must be kept moist every day to germinate.

My husband puts finely chopped wood chips around our plants and grow beds to hold in the moisture. You could also lay black plastic or newspaper, covered with dirt or chips, around plants to hold in the moisture and keep weeds from growing. Because plastic is an inorganic material, it must be removed in the winter and replaced the next spring. Straw will hold moisture also. However; we tried using straw last year, and it had grain seed in it. As a result, we had an outbreak of oat grass and had to do a lot of extra weeding. If you are using straw, sift through it and use only the stems of the straw.

We have found that it’s best to water either early in the morning or just before dark. Whenever we watered the plants during the day, the leaves got burned from the sun reflecting on the water.

Metal Cages And Fencing Wire

PHOTO OF WIRE FENCING AND WIRE CAGESWhen we plant peas, we put tomato cages around them — at least three across — and as many as needed for the length. The peas grow straight up and cling to the metal for stability. As the peas reach the top of the metal cages, we put up a higher fence to support them as they grow taller. This makes it easier to pick the peas, and the plants do not fall over. (See the photo at the right.)

We put up metal fencing for the pole beans, cucumbers, melons and squash. They also climb straight up, which takes up less space. The plants cling to the fencing, which gives them stability and makes it easier to pick the vegetables. All the tomatoes and peppers have cages around them to protect them from the dogs and cats running through the garden. The tomato cages give the tomatoes stability as well.

I once heard that metal around a garden conducts electromagnetic energy during a rain or electrical storm, which stimulates the growth of the vegetables.

It is a good idea to put a fence around the entire garden to keep out deer and other animals. We live near the mountains, and many of my neighbors have a serious deer problem. At night the deer come from the mountains and graze on anything they can find. Many gardens have been completely eaten before they matured. It might be a good idea to have an outside dog near the garden to scare off the nighttime predators.

We lock up our chickens in their run during the months we are planting and harvesting our garden. The chickens will scratch the soil and find all the seeds we have planted. When the tomatoes are ripe, the chickens will peck at them and eat holes into the fruit.

Weeding

PHOTO OF WEEDING WITH A SMALL WEED RAKEWe get the baby weeds before they even have a chance to grow. A small rake made for weeding the garden is the best. It is small enough to go around the plants and loosen the dirt. This disrupts the root system of small weeds, and they die. We do a lot of weeding early on, which saves us many hours of weeding. Weeds use up the nutrients in the soil, so you want to stop them before they grow.

We put wood chips or sawdust on the walkways between the grow beds. This keeps the moisture in the garden, and the weeds don’t grow through it. Taking care of the weeds early on saves much frustration later.

Pest Control

Raising a completely organic garden means not using any chemicals in the soil or on the plants. There is always a problem with pests such as tomato hornworms, cutworms, aphids, whiteflies, ants, etc. To kill insects, mix a solution of water and a few drops of dish soap into a spray bottle or a large sprayer and spray the plants with it. When you spray it on the plant, make sure to spray the underside of the leaves where aphids hide. After spraying the plants with the mixture of dish soap and water, rinse the plants with warm water to remove the soap and the dead bugs.

Diatomaceous earth is used as a mildly abrasive insecticide that can be sprinkled onto and around the base of plants. Diatomaceous earth can be purchased in home-and-garden centers. Do not use the one for swimming pools. Get the one for plants and vegetables.

A friend of mine raises ducks to eat grasshoppers, earwigs, worms and other pests. Ducks will eat the insects and not necessarily the vegetables. Ducks are less harmful to produce than chickens. However, chickens will eat any insects they can find, so that might be an option if you can keep the chickens from getting into the vegetables.

We Love Having a Garden

I believe tending a garden is like therapy for the soul. We love the fresh, organic vegetables we get from the harvest. We feel happy that we do not have to depend on the grocery store for our fresh produce. And we know that our food is organic, with no sprays, chemical additives or preservatives in it, which is much better for our health.

Emergency Food Storage and Survival HandbookPeggy Layton is a freelance writer and the author of seven books on the subjects of food storage and emergency preparedness. She and her husband grow a backyard garden every year and live off the land during the growing season. Peggy bottles and dehydrates excess produce. Peggy and her husband keep winter vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, squash, onions and apples in a root cellar they built. During the winter when produce is less plentiful, they grow food in their greenhouse. And they gather fresh eggs daily from their chickens. Provident living is a way of life in their home.

If you would like to purchase emergency supplies, books written by Peggy Layton and a variety of heirloom garden seeds, click here.

Are you interested in emergency Food Storage Meals packaged in Mylar® pouches with a 15-year shelf life? They serve four people, are ready to just add water and cook, and are delicious, convenient and easy. Go to www.peggylayton.efoodsglobal.com.

 

 

Peggy Layton

a home economist and licensed nutritionist, holds a B.S. in Home Economics Education with a minor in Food Science and Nutrition from Brigham Young University. Peggy lives in Manti, Utah with her husband Scott. Together they have raised seven children. Peggy owns and operates two businesses: One called "The Therapy Center", where she is a licensed massage therapist and hypnotherapist, and the other an online cookbook and preparedness products business. She is nationally known for publishing a series of seven books on the subject of food storage and also lectures and teaches seminars about preparedness and using food storage products. Peggy practices what she preaches, has no debt, grows a huge garden, lives off the land, raises chickens, bottles and dehydrates food and has time left over to operate her businesses. To check out Peggy's cookbooks and self sufficiency products go to her website www.peggylayton.com. To get a free sample of three different storable meals that have a 15-year shelf life go here.

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  • meteorlady

    I started with containers to garden. They were those large livestock troughs and worked wonderful. They are industrial looking, but soften up when planted so they look great. Since I had sucess there, I am currently starting the bones of a real garden for next year. I found a spot in my yard that gets sun most of the day and is against the house. I have irrigation already there so it’s going to be easy to fix it for a garden. I can’t wait to plant this Spring.

  • Kelejan

    I know vermiculate has no nutritional value but it is great for loosening up the soil and retaining moisture.

    I use the Square Foot Gardening method and find it very easy and productive, especially for a single person. Gives me all the summer vegetables I need plus a bit more to share.

  • Christin

    Thanks for the article Peggy, always informative and encouraging.

    A few years ago my two young boys wanted to grow plants so I started with container pots in the suburbs as my spouse would not allow me to cut up the grass. It worked out very well and we actually got a lot of vegetables…cherry tomatoes, tomatoes, green bell peppers, banana peppers, jalapenos, onions, and strawberries. All the neighborhood kids marveled at the vegetables we were growing including my own. It was like they were deprived of the wonders of planting and seeing seeds, plants, and fruits and vegetables grow. My boys were so proud and would tell the kids look at the big green peppers and they would all come see.

    I was fortunate to grow up with parents who gardened and got to enjoy all that… so much we take for granted. Now we have a fruit orchard and two raised garden beds. We had hoped to add another bed this spring, but were not able with the move to our farm at that same time. It took the whole family working together last spring last year to build our two 8′ x 4′ lin seed oil stained beds with metal fencing on the bottom to keep out the moles and gophers. We filled with soil and manure that had set. My boys always help water and plant the fruit and vegetable plants and seeds after I make the rows. We have used organic and heirloom seeds. My spouse and I do most of the watering from then on, but the boys love to harvest the vegetables. And everyone enjoys eating the green beans, corn, acorn and butternut squash. I grew salad greens, tomatoes and radishes, too. Lettuce grows all winter here!

    We have spent more than Peggy’s costs on water, fencing, eight foot stakes and lumber and brackets for the raise bed boxes. It is very hot and dry here especially this summer and many plants are waning in the rainless heat (90 – 102). I don’t see that we can get an August crop going, but often if the plant can survive the temps they start thriving again in the fall and producing again. Next year, I would like to build a much larger fenced in area to accommodate five or six beds. We have raccoon, rabbits, armadillo, squirrels and deer as well to contend with. In fact, we suspect the squirrels took our peaches in May during the drought… even though we put up round metal cages to protect the young fruit trees from the deer. Sometimes it seems we can’t win for losing, but we will keep learning and trying. It is worth it.

    • independent thinker

      I keep the deer and rabbits out of my garden with a fence made of 18″ chicken wire along the ground and three equaly spaced strands of mono fishing line above the top strand is about 4 foot off the ground. I know it sounds crazy but it does work. Apparently the deer cannot see the fishing line (by the way I use 10-15 pound line) and it confuses them when they brush against it and as a result will not jump it. My garden is roughly 25X50 with a 4 foot space between the garden and fence. I do not know how large an area this would be practical for though. You do have to replace the mono every couple of years but if you use the cheap promo stuff the expense is negligable.

    • independent thinker

      One other thought. Use as much organic matter as you can in your raised beds as that helps the ground to retain moisture. My garden is raised and I compost my leaves and grass clippings along with vegie waste from the kitchen. One thing about composting though for any who do not know you should never put tomato plants, peelings, or other tomato waste in the compost pile as the diseases of tomatoes are not killed by composting.

      • Christin

        Thanks for the tips Independent. :)

        My in-laws have a compost pile (they had tomato plants growing in them… will have to pass on your info on that), but I’m afraid the compost pile will bring too many little critters… and as you can see we don’t need anymore.

        I planted potato plants last spring and dug ‘most’ of them up… so it was no surprise that when we moved here in the spring we found two potato plants growing as well as one lettuce, onion and watermelon. The potato plants have just died on top so I need to get out there and dig them up and see what we’ve got. Didn’t get too many last year. My brother-in-law also said to keep adding soil around the potato plant, but I din’t understand how much of the plant to leave uncovered.

        • independent thinker

          As long as the leaves at the top of the plant are exposed you can build up several inches of soil around the plants I would say as much as 6-8 inches.

        • independent thinker

          The only compost materials that might attract critters is your household kitchen waste leaves and grass shouldn’t attract any. I live in the country and do my composting is old shopping carts I have been able to get locally and have not had any problem with critters being attracted to them and I even put egg shells in my compost along with such things as corn cobs when we freeze corn and cantalope rinds and guts when we eat one (which is frequently in season).

  • independent thinker

    Before you mix flowers and vegetables read up on mixed planting. You can find articles on it in Mother Earth News, Almanacs, and other sources. The reason is compatibility. Some plants do well when mixed with different ones corn mixed with peas or green beans is one example of that while some plant combinations just do not do well when mixed together. Peggy mentioned Marigolds in the article and that is one plant that will mix with almost any other plant. I always plant them all around my garden and never have a problem.

    If you use a sprinkler to water you should always water early in the day if possible as you do not want water standing on the plants all night. Letting the water stand on the plants can encourage diseases on the leaves. If you use a soaker hose or run water between the rows instead of spraying the plants it doesn’t make much difference when you water.

    I may have missed her mentioning it but potatoes are one of the easiest thing to grow in containers.Fill bushel baskets or 5 gallon buckets 1/2 full of compost or soil and plant your potatoe pieces. When they come up add more dirt or compost leaving just the tops of the plant showing until the container is full. When the plants die back dump the containers and enjoy a bumper crop of new potatoes.

    • FreedomFighter

      Taters feed allot of people too.

      Laus Deo
      Semper Fi

  • BigBen

    This is 1 reason to get arrested. Growing food in my backyard and selling them is a no-no.
    ~BB

    • Christin

      Big Ben,
      No one said anything about ‘selling’ your garden vegetables.
      What state do you live in where it would be a crime to grow food and possible sell them in a Constitutional Free-Market society… oh, that’s right we aren’t free anymore.

      • BigBen

        Christin,
        LOL

        I know that no one said anything about selling it, but look at the profits. I would sell them.

        The article did not mention the cost to water them. How much would that be? I still think it would be profitable.

        ~BB

        • Christin

          Big Ben,
          I think you’d have to have a pretty big garden to be able to produce enough food for you and your family and have enough left over to sell. I’m sure the gov has rules about selling… like having a permit to sell and maybe inspectors to check that your produce isn’t contaminated. The gov is already over-regulating the Farmer’s Markets. Backyard gardens are next.

          The ‘staged’ out breaks of e-coli and salmonila here and abroad will be a result of such legislation… you can google food legislation and see all the EVIL bills congress has come up with, many that did not pass, but still they tried and that is sad. Also there are provisions in the obamacare bill about gardens… nice huh.

          We spent a lot of money to water our garden and fruit orchard… barely any rain down south. We have planned to have a well dug sometime, but have not gotten to that yet. But there are other things to consider like space, climate (too hot or too cold), soil, fertilizers, organic or not, seeds and plant usage (hybrid or not) and pests like insects and animals that might get in and damage your produce and crop.

          Best to you on your new enterprise… should you go for it. :) One makes the most money if they have a big production and fresh tasty produce.

          Why did you say it is “1 reason to get arrested”?

          • independent thinker

            I collect rainwater for irrigation from my gutters in used 300 gallon food grade tanks that I find localy. Currently I have two and plan to add more one or two at a time.

          • granny mae

            Big Ben,

            I think I read some where that some place in Georgia had a law against growing a garden in their back yard. I read that this man had turned his back yard into a beautiful garden and most of the produce he gave away to the needy as he didn’t need it all. He was fined and made to stop growing his garden ! That was the most rediculous thing I had ever heard ! Imagine that !

          • granny mae

            Christin,

            How old are your fruit trees? Most fruit trees don’t produce edible fruit for about 5 to 7 years ! There will be fruit come on but it won’t mature and in most cases will fall off the tree. Trees will also loose their fruit when it gets too hot ! My fruit trees are just beginning to hold their fruit this year and they were planted about 6 years ago. Also I have had fruit trees and nut trees that would produce real heavy one year and nothing the next ! This year my persimon tree produced nothing, last year it was loaded ! Go figure !

          • Christin

            Hi granny mae,

            I did not know that about the fruit trees, mae. Thanks for the info. I grew up around fruit trees in the north where it wasn’t so hot, so no one ever told me that.

            Our fruit trees are young and small. Some we bought and planted last spring and some we bought and planted this spring after we moved. Most are small, but a few are a little larger… I have a new dwarf red delicious apple tree that is heavy with fruit for being so young. I have been told by others to let it drop and that the Bible says to not pick the fruit until the 7th year, but I did not know why… guess God knew the fruit trees needed time to grow strong roots and a thick trunk and sturdy branches to produce good fruit.

            Last year my Pomegranate tree had only three flowers, no fruit, but this year it had over a dozen beautiful blooms, but still no fruit.
            Well, I guess I will have to be very patient, because I have many more years to go until the fruit trees mature and we can pick and enjoy the fruit; and even then we may not get much as it is very HOT here with little rain.

            I do have old wild muscadine grapes growing on the property, but many vines are not producing… did some studying up on that. We also have many old huckleberry trees which are full of the green berries which will ripen in fall… they seem to handle the high temps and low rains we are having here.

            I guess that dropping of fruit in the heat can apply to garden plants, too??? I have lost a lot of acorn squash in my garden… shriveling up and dropping off even though I water frequently.

          • Christin

            Independent,

            My brother-in-law just put in a tank to collect rain water draining off from his huge metal roof house, but one can not collect rain water if it doesn’t rain, but once every month or two. It’s been a dry one!

            Also we have two orchard sites one near the garden on both sides of the property… don’t know how we could get the water to them so far away. Can you hook up hoses? We have two hundred to two hundred-fifty feet of hoses going to both sides.

          • libertytrain

            Grannie – have a young plum tree like that, last year covered this year almost nothing – 5 or 6 plums – :)

          • independent thinker

            One more thought on collecting water from the roof. My gutter that I use to collect water from is only 25-30 feet long but even a small rain will give me half a tank. If you can use all the gutter on your house to collect your rain water you can collect a tank or two from almost any rain that is heavy enough to give roof run off. You would be suprised by how much water a roof will shed in a rain because remember basicly all the water that falls on the roof will run off because none is absorbed by the roof material.

            As long as the drain at the bottom of the tank is higher than the garden you can use waterhose to get the water to where you need it. Mine sit about 3 feet higher than my garden so it is no problem for me to use a sprinkler hose to water rows of plants. A 3 foot head doesn’t give me enough pressure to use a soaker hose though.

          • granny mae

            Christin,

            One of the most important things for new fruit trees the first year , especially is plenty of water. You should try to water them every day or so to give them a real good start. I understand the lack of water situation, but try to use your well to pump enough water in a couple buckets, then put a barier around the tree trunk . We used some big old plastic planters and cut the bottom out then placed them around the trees and shoved them down in the ground a ways so when we brought the water to them we could make sure that the water didn’t run off but went down in the ground around the roots. We also were going through a drought when we planted our trees. My husband also runs a hose to a couple of the trees from the washing machine and it drains to the trees. BUT ! I make sure I use only green laundry soap in that machine. ( I have 2 machines) I don’t use any bleach in that machine, that goes on the trees. Originally I had a problem with ants around the trees but when we started pumping the laundry water to them it took care of the ants ! Also don’t just collect water from your house roof, collect it from all the roofs on your property. Any out buildings will work as well. Another thing I did was I diapered my flower bushes !??? LOL ! I bought a box of generic disposible diapers and when I planted some of my flower bushes I placed the insides of the diapers in the bottom of the planting hole. I planted the bushes as usual and then watered well. The diapers hold the water for a little longer, as we have sand here. It has worked well for me. Anything that will help in a dry season. If you had enough diapers you could do the same thing with your garden, however my garden is way to big for that. I have seen a similar product in a garden catalog mad for gardens. If you can afford it. The diaper thing has been working well for a couple years for me but I suspect it will wear out as all things do !

          • granny mae

            I try to make use of all the available water I can. We even pump water on the roof of our garage to help cool it and then it runs off the roof and into the colection barrels. By the way that little trick cools the garage some 4 or 5 degrees. We also use it from time to time on our chicken coops when the weather is so hot ! Today 102.

          • Christin

            granny mae,

            It rained here finally sometime after mid-night until 8 AM!!!
            We prayed for rain not only to grow things on everyones’ farms but to put out the fires that are now a part of Texas.

            It was so cool out this morning… I got my two boys up and out to kick the ball around while I took them for a nature walk around the property… showed them the two pumpkins growing in the garden, one already orange.

            Then their neighborhood friend rode over on his bike after they drove by and saw us out… and they had fun riding down the big hills on our county road… walking their bike up the rest of the way.

            Back to your comments… We watered the fruit trees as much as we could the first year as we didn’t live here, but a couple weekends a month. That may be why we lost three fruit trees. Now that we are here I watered the trees every other day, but have tapered off watering about five gallons each a couple times a week and haven’t lost any trees. They are holding up pretty well, but we have had constant temps into the high 90′s and even into the low 100′s and are suppose to get more of that next week… ugh! We have sandy soil and clay mix.

            We haven’t had the well dug yet. We don’t have any other outbuildings either to collect rain water, but that is a good idea. We don’t even have a garage. We may end up making the garage pad into more house as our farm house is a bit too small. Even if we collected rain water in a tank, it would take some manuvering to get it to the garden and orchard areas a couple hundred feet away on either side of our house. If it doesn’t look aesthetically pleasing my spouse will not do it. Right now the run-off rain waters my spouses grass… he loves green pastures.

            Thanks for all your ideas… you are so creative.

          • granny mae

            Christin,
            I was just looking for a gardening catalog that I get that has some beautiful rain barrels in it! I mean these are really pretty and would sure look nice around your house. But wouldn’t you know I think I pitched them the other day. I will get another one of these days and I’ll post their name so you can reach them on the net and then have them send you one of their catalogs. You would not believe these barrels. They even have a fancy spigot for the hose when you want to use it and it turns on and off. Ours are located in the back of the house and we use a small pump to get the water out. When we truck water out to the garden or over to the trees we use our riding lawn mower with a little trailer hooked to the back. The hubby puts the water containers in the trailer and fills them and then trucks them to where he needs them with the riding mower; which is more like a small tractor. It took us a couple years to acquire the tools we needed to work this place but we checked the papers and adds in trader papers and stopped to check out things for sale along the road until we got what we needed. We are still working at it……The diaper idea came from one of those garden books I get. They make a product that you can sprinkle around the plants when you plant them in the garden and I knew it was the same thing they use in disposible diapers and I had a box of diapers left over from a visit of one of my sons with their little one and the little one out grew them so I decided to try using them around some of my bushes and it worked !!!!Instead of throwing them away I made use of them ! The only thing I haven’t conquerd yet is using my green house ! I put it in the wrong place for me and if I don’t see it I don’t use it. So it sits with a bunch of dead plants in it! We made it out of old sliding glass doors ! People had these doors and didn’t know where to dispose of them and so we would offer to take them off their hands for free ! My husband took the track and laid them out and put them together and we now have a small green house ! I have even used it as a brooder for my turkeys and chickens when they were chicks ! It worked perfect for both, but when fall came I put my beautiful potted plants in it to keep them over the winter and forgot they were in there. I guess you know I lost every one of them !………Sounds like you have the trees pretty much settled in. I know all about those fires ya’ll are having. We had several years of fires here in Florida. It takes a good rain to help put them out. Usually we had thunder storms and more lightening to make more fire ! At one time when we lived down state we were completely surrounded by fire, and boy you just can’t get rid of the smoke smell for ever so long ! At night time it settles to the ground level and just chokes you ! In fact the fires were where I got the idea of watering the roof to lower the temperature inside the building. Everyone we knew were putting sprinklers on their roofs to help protect the roofs from flying embers in the air. Those embers travel quite a ways; anyway we did that and I noticed that the house stayed a lot cooler when we ran the water so I told my husband to try putting the sprinklers on the roof of the garage to see if it brought the temp. down enough for him to work in there durring the day. It did. Then we started loosing chickens to the heat and I decided to do the same thing on the chicken coup. We also hung a box fan in the coup and between the two of them no more dead chickens ! So keep this stuff in mind and you will be able to use it when and if you ever need it ! I should start writing this stuff down so my kids can have it for themselves when they need it ! Sounds like a lot of work !

          • Christin

            granny mae,

            Thanks for the new info. Will look forward to the name of the barrel catalog when you come across it again.

            Your watering of your roof reminds me of what we did in the suburbs when the Fourth of July came around. Our subdivision would be so smoky and noisy and full of neighbors shooting off fireworks it was like a war zone… not so much a celebration of Freedom and Independence. Oddly and thankfully, often it would rain the night before or the morning of the fourth, but if not we would water our yard, trees and house!

            At the farm we have a four seater ATV Kubota with hydraulic bed that we bought last year to get around the property and pick up fallen limbs… our property was originally 95 percent forest, but we had some of it cleared with scattered trees. The bed was great to dump all our branches into the burn pit or carry tools about to cut or prune fallen trees, branches, tanglefoot weed and yopaun. This year we bought a small trailer to attach to the back and we do haul water in five gallon buckets and purchased a 35 gallon water tank as well that we fill.

            I am the one that does most of the watering so it has to be the easiest way. I told my spouse that it was faster and easier just to use hoses to reach the garden and the orchards, but we do still haul water to plants that are not near the two hose areas.

            Some day we might try putting up a large chicken coop in the back of our property, but I’ll have to talk with some folks and do a lot of research before I do that. I’d like to put them in a clearing with shade trees around so they wouldn’t die of the heat… but now that you bring up the fan to cool them we’ll need to get electricity to the back… ugh. I’d like to have fresh eggs to cook and bake with. Don’t know what you do if you have too many eggs at one time… need to check out how long they last when not washed… read an article some time ago. Don’t have the guts to kill a chicken to eat though. My mom said they had to do that when she was a girl. That’s were I am a wimp.

            We have a lot of predators and wild animals that wander around our property so safety is a necessity for them and us.
            Have a great day.

  • http://deleted Claire

    I know a number of people that sell produce from their gardens. They don’t have a problem in doing this. I have not sold any of my vegetables, etc. At this point in time, I keep my produce for myself and my family.

  • element man

    When I was a farmer, I was outstanding in my field.

    • Christin

      Thanks for the humor element man! :)

      [Hope you are not still out there standing in the field…)

      • independent thinker

        Here is another bit of humor based in fact. It is time to plant your corn when you can drop your coveralls and sit bare-assed in the field comfortably.

    • granny mae

      element man,

      I bet you grew nut trees, because you are a nut ! LOL ! Thanks for the humor !

  • http://clearcreekseeds.com Rick

    Biggest mistake I’ve seen with starting a backyard garden – thinking too big. Most people get overwhelmed and the weeds/grass take back over. Start small and enlarge as you learn.

  • http://WordPressPlug-inDevelopmentServices Hire Ajax Developer

    how do you find time to do all this

  • http://itp.nyu.edu/classes/lots-spring2011/2011/02/07/%e2%80%9cthis-smell-reminds-me-of-%e2%80%9d Elmo

    all the time i used to read smaller articles or reviews that also clear their motive,
    and that is also happening with this paragraph which I am reading now.

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