Posts Tagged ‘garden’

Better and Cheaper Potting Soil

I’ve always found any potting soil bought at the store seemed to be a rip off. Well, it is. With a little bit of work, you can have a better mixture at half the cost. This recipe will yield you about 8 cubic feet of potting soil for $30. The same quantity of Miracle-Gro potting soil will cost double without any of the added benefits.

Here’s the recipe:

~3 cu ft block of Sphagnum Peat Moss

1 – 8 qt bag of Perlite

1 – 8 qt bag of Vermiculite

4 – 40lb bags of Compost/Manure

Mix this together, half at a time in a wheelbarrow. It will overflow a bit so use a bucket to portion it off to help in the mixing process. While mixing, add in your choice of organic fertilizer. My preference is Espoma Garden Tone. And add a little lime if your concerned about acidity as peat moss will cause this mixture to lean in that direction.

The added benefits I mentioned are the compost and vermiculite. While the benefits of compost are rather known, the use of vermiculite is not so common. Using vermiculite is the equivalent of using Miracle-Gro moisture control potting soil, but without needing to use a wetting agent. Similar to how perlite holds air to prevent compaction, vermiculite will also absorb water to moderate wetness as well as retain nutrients. The air, water, and nutrients will then be released as they are demanded by the plant.

Pre-mixed potting soil is good in a pinch, but with a little time you can save some cash and come out with a better product.

~Farmer T

frozen strawbs

i never thought the day would come that i would be wondering what to do with all of the strawberries i have growing amongst the flowers in the bed out front! what started as an experiment with three tiny plants when we first moved in has turned into an almost 8′ by 8′ spread of plants that keep expanding their presence every year – gotta love those strawberry runners, huh?!

 fighting off the birds hasn’t been too big of a problem this year – knock on wood – so i have been picking about this much every couple of days

and since we can’t consume them at the rate they are ripening, i devised a way to savor the ruby goodness for months to come

give them a rinse, cut off the stem, slice into quarters and toss them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet in the freezer overnight

in the morning, slide them into a freezer bag and viola! instant preservation

they can be thawed out in the fridge, put in yogurt so they thaw out on the way to work and keep the yogurt cooled, pop them in the blender to make a smoothie – so many possibilities!

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Buddy and Lexi are about to embark on their FIRST camping adventure – more pictures to come!

~Mel

Garden in Review: What do May flowers bring? Pilgrims.

CHANGE IS IN THE AIR

i am very excited to introduce you to Hungry For Living’s newest member!!
~*Farmer-T*~

i have mentioned him in numerous posts in the past, but starting today he is going to be making his very own contributions to the BLOG

to get started, he’s updating us on HIS garden… hopefully we’ll be hearing from him LOTS more – beer reviews, recipes, and other bits of the craftiness he is up to

take it away NEWb!

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This year’s predominant theme is a combination of intense companion planting in combination with the methodologies (or lack thereof) I’ve studied over the winter developed by Masanobu Fukuoka. Throughout my reviews you’ll notice I don’t regularly weed or regularly till. Things may look in disarray, but there is a methodless method to it all.

A couple noticeable improvements have been made since last year. The size has almost doubled to include a field for various grains, popcorn/sorghum in the summer and barley in the winter. But more importantly, this field will employ the Three Sisters approach of companion planting (corn, beans, squash). Also, an 8 ft tall cattle fence trellis for pole beans, melon, and cucumber has been installed to replaced the previous nylon trellis netting.

Using the PlanGarden, I was able to better get an idea of what should go where based on the complex companion planting relationships. Here is a look at my overall plan…My Garden Design:

Here is the video review of my current set up:

Here are some pictures of onions from last year, this one is going to be huge and is also about to flower. After its done flowering, I’ll pull it and make it into a tasty treat:
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The cauliflower from last year is starting to come to a head. This plant takes so very long to grow, I’m wondering how anyone gets a crop in one season since it’s a cold weather crop:
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Lots of blueberries are almost ready to be picked. The type I have are Bluecrop, Chippewa, and Elliot. This is their third year, once they have fully matured I should expect to pull a pint a day from the eight plants during their peak:
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Here is some rutabaga, not having so much luck with the cabbage moths murdering them. But it is interesting to see how some plants prosper, but others don’t. Perhaps I will let this one go to seed since obviously something is going on that makes it better than the rest:
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Last year’s attempt at potatoes wasn’t so impressive, but I learned a few things since then. Looking very healthy this year. Better seed stock, starting with deeper soil, and planting at the right depth. The plan here is to start with two tires high, then when they are strong and ready to be hilled, add the next tire, then fill with more soil. I expect to yield 25 lbs per stack. Here I have Red Norland, Yukon Gold, and Austrian Crescent Fingerlings:
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First year for peas. Last year I started them indoors, not a good idea. Then planted them too late and they burned up. Recently, at the base of these I planted cucumber, melon, radish, carrots, and pole beans. This year I found an interesting pole bean cultivar called Cherokee Trail of Tears, supposedly it is the same bean the Indians carried with them during that historical trek. They are good fresh and also dry, so we shall see:
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~Farmer-T

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THANKS for dropping a line BRO!
we are all interested in what’s to come. welcome to the blogging world!

~Mel

how’s it growin?

i was going to put an “as of week #” in the post title… do i start with when the seedlings got started in the greenhouse or the actual date i put plants in the ground? im erring on the side of vagueness and keeping the weekly updates to a “how’s it growin” theme instead :-P

change is in the air for the Hungry for Living blog – more exciting new-ness to come – stay TUNED!

anyways… back to garden talk – my initial plan to keep the crimson clover growing in the raised beds amidst the seedlings didn’t quite go as i had planned. i pulled some out of the way to get the beets, scallions and carrot seeds started a couple of weeks ago, and MAN were those babies’ roots thick and deep. no matter how well you think you made a nice little clearing for your seeds to begin germinating, the clover creeps its way back up with vengeance!

after doing some clipping and tugging i decided to just rip it all out. SO happy i did too! i was left with the fluffiest soil i could dream of, perfectly nutrient-tized from all of the work the clover did over the wintertime. i DEF plan on sowing more of the same seeds in the fall… but on to what’s cooking now:

in this bed last year i had corn. with such a small plot to work with and the area needed to properly grow corn, it just didn’t make sense to me to do it again – especially since my two bro’s are growing it too. i smell a midnight garden raid in my future :0) THIS YEAR it’s tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, beets, carrots and scallions – companion growing anyone?! i think i ended up with about 4 different tomato types, some determinate, some indeterminate.

in these beds i have the rest of the crew growing along. zucchini, yellow squash, bush beans, onions, cucumbers, butternut squash and spaghetti squash.

im keeping the field green lechuga in pots and so far they’re doing really well. i do a big clipping about once a week and it just keeps coming back up. so SOOO tasty to dig into a big ol’ bowl of fresh greens, that will never get old in my book! pots = being able to move them into the shade when i know it’s going to be a scorcher of a day. the head lettuces are planted under the tomato plants in hopes of them providing the shade they will need in the summer… experiment much?!

notice the black snakes weaved through the beds this year? yeah – soaker hoses… what a concept!! i think i thanked the person who invented them about 500 times while i was setting them up. WHY did i not think of doing this last year?! you live and learn.

the fruit department is EVERYWHERE! i don’t judge when it comes to where a garden can be grown. i have strawberry plants blowing up at a rapid rate amidst my wildflower garden in the front yard. it’s so exciting to come home after work and pop those little red gems off their vines! raspberries and grapes are growing along the fence in the back yard. blackberries, watermelon and blueberries are in the side yard. no product from any of them yet, but i’m sure once i hit max capacity on my strawberry intake, they’ll start fruiting up!

how’s it growin

things are coming along in the greenhouse

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not really sure what went wrong with the tomato and pepper plants :-/ at least the squashes and lechugas are doing well tho!

tackle box planter

one man’s junk is another man’s treasure

check out what i made this weekend with a little inspiration from THIS SITE and an old tackle box

this took less than an hour to put together, including shopping for the perfect plants to fill it up

i started with this

after assessing the project, i started out with laying out how and where i wanted the plants to go. succulents on the two trays since it was pretty shallow and any other plant would probably dry up pretty quickly – succulents on the other hand thrive on that sort of environment. the lower level is strawberries that produce fruit from June until the first frost. by bringing this inside during the winter, it will ensure the berries will be back again next year!

next i drilled holes for drainage and use tin snips to cut down the tray dividers as much as i could – giving me a little bit more playing space for plant placement

then i added about 1/2″ to an 1″ of small gravel for more drainage under the soil

and the last step was filling the trays with soil and placing the plants. i used a cactus/succulent mix on the two top trays (for obvious reasons) and a regular potting mix on the bottom one. some decorative rocks for a little but of fun and there you have it

what was old, now is new
~*HAPPY SPRING TIME*~

how’s it growin?

one of my favorite things about this blog is that i can use it as a reference tool… looking back at how things were growing along at this point last year and being able to see what changes i could make or keep the same because they worked. so, in sticking to the garden updates i started last year, here’s a lil peak on my progress so far:

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pepper plants getting big and strong in the greenhouse

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lettuce blend started out in the greenhouse

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romaine and butterhead lettuce in the greenhouse

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morning glory - a little gardening/science experiment with my 10 year old farming buddy!

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under the grow lights - peppers and tomatoes

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the crimson clover 'living mulch' in the raised beds and along the fence, plus the greenhouse operation - its so much more convenient having it right off of the garage this year, where all of my gardening supplies are usually stashed!

i was going to trim down the crimson clover weeks ago to turn it over into the beds… but a little bee – ahem Farmer T – advised me otherwise from his research of Fukuoka. so, the way it’s hopefully going down this year, i’ll make a little clearing in the clover to place the seedlings and seeds, and leave it growing as it is (a little may have to be trimmed depending on how much sunlight is getting to the plants) to stay true to the ‘living mulch’ concept. the clover will keep the soil weed free and it won’t dry out as quickly!

what do you have cookin’ in your garden this year?!