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Personal blatherings, living simply, gardening, cooking, canning, dehydrating, knitting, spinning and more.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

What got me started on this path and the beds are laid (Black Thumb of Death Gardening)

Edit: I have imported this from my The Black Thumb of Death Gardening Blog to my regular blog...  

The high cost of food, (organic being almost the same prices now!), brought me to this path. I realized we are not very self-sufficient in this area.

My daughter managed to grow a lovely food garden under pines and oaks in the High Sierras. I can grow old roses, (they prefer full abuse), and did well with African violets. Other items? I have murdered many a plant in my lifetime. To overcome this and make sure we have plenty of good, organic foods on hand and in storage, I am going to ignore my black thumb of death and give it a good try.

I ordered organic and heirloom seed catalogues a few months ago. I also read a lot- Mother Earth News (including their 40+ year DVD I ordered), various organic gardening sites, and a few books. My favorite books are The Contrary Farmer by Gene Logsdon and Patricia Lanza's various offerings, especially her "lasagna gardening" books. I also going to use companion gardening, square-foot gardening and my planting by the moon book to see how they help a green horn like myself.

With all I read, I realized I am getting my knickers in a twist over things I have no need to worry about. Soil samples? Why? Our ancestors did not use them.

I laid out my 3-foot by 3-foot beds, 15 of them, with newspaper (photo below). The newspaper kills the grass and weeds underneath them. If they are still under the dirt, the roots will still grow though them.

I realized I had not bought my soil, compost or peat moss, eek! We laid pine needles over the papers to hold them down while we drove down to the nursery. (photo below)

The woman at the nursery said to not mulch yet. It was too early. Mulching is a great way to keep weeds away. The following photos are of the beds, so far. Each has a layer of peat moss, compost and soil, then the same layers were repeated.

The photo above is the very first layer of peat moss. 

These are the beds so far. We need to go down to the nursery for a truckload of more soil, plus more peat moss and compost. 
Raised beds does not mean one has sides to the beds! I learned that in all my reading. The sides are expensive and you have to be careful they are not toxic. When a field is tilled, you get something similar to what I have now. I do want to add more layers to add depth.

We still need to lay out cardboard or plastic between and around the garden beds to kill the grass that is already popping up. We may put stakes around the whole thing for either a fence or string fishing line. Huh? One writer to Mother Earth News magazine said he strings fishing line around his beds to deter deer. He thinks they hit it, it freaks them out because it is invisible and they leave. It had been successful, so I am going to try that. We also have a whole host of other nibblers around here. Those will take other means to keep away. There will be no pie-zons applied around or in the garden. For now, if a man widdles around the beds, it is a repellent to the deer. I had successfully kept deer out of my roses for years with that repellent. I have no clue about elk and moose. Never try human female urine. Oh yes, I tried it once. It pissed off the does. they tore apart my roses when they came across that scent.

Though I am not over-weight, a day of deep knee-bends was not a good thing. I must get walking again. My thighs hurt so much, it is hard to move around.

I will start germinating my first batch of seeds today or tomorrow. Our growing season is short and the last frost is not until June sometimes. They will be germinated in batches in little peat buttons or pots, according to the time frame for each vegetable. I am only planting one fruit, watermelon. Yum...

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