Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It's All In The Straw--

Last year I embarked on an adventurous style of gardening. The Strawbale gardening technique. The outcome was satisfactory enough (aside from the little chewing pests) , that I decided to give it another try this year. I think it worth it just in fact that you don't have to dig so much like a traditional garden. I also like arranging the bales and having a built in weed deterrent. The little rascals have to make it up and over the bales to plant themselves amongst my vegetables. Not to mention that the weeds have to get through the loose straw I have around the plants to be able to embed in my garden, so I have very little weed problems.

My first attempt I had more prep work (seasoning the bales) as I've talked about in previous posts. This year I plan on only soaking the bales for a few days and the last day spraying them with miracle grow. Also my bales are far more broken down this year so I intend on filling them in with compost, topsoil, bloodworm, manure instead of just layering across the very top of the bales. When you begin with new bales the straw is very tightly packed and it can be difficult to separate enough to get your plants in, but not impossible. You just have to hack out or use a spatula to separate the top of the bale like a book, insert your plant or seed and close the bale back together. My bales this year are second season bales and after this year I will compost them <---------waste NOT want NOT !!! Here are a few pictures of the second season bales and the process of prepping the center area.

I already had my rectangle shape set out from last year

I used the center of the Straw bale garden all winter as a compost area

First I raked all the compost out and layered it with newspaper, cardboard, topsoil, bloodworm, manure, and more compost from the store.

Then raked back in my Compost.

Soon I will PREP the outer bales again, and post pics!

In the meantime the center area is ready!!!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I see Asparagus !!!!

A few days ago I was turning my compost and found beautiful black dirt at the bottom. I was so excited and anxious to get using it.

I ended up grabbing a few shovels full and putting it on my Asparagus patch; today lo and behold I have shoots of Asparagus. I had one shoot a few days ago but today I have a least five more! I don't know if it's due to my compost feeding them well or not but I'd like to think so.

I am overjoyed and looking forward to this year's garden. I also have seedlings emerging of radishes and lettuce. All winter I have rented books from the library and have taken notes on what like what ie: what type of soil do tomatoes like etc...

Also off the top of my head, because I had so many cardboard boxes that I had stored up to use on the No-dig style gardens I do...I was wondering what else I could do with cardboard boxes and so I planted a few with cantaloupe seed and watermelon seed. After doing this later I had the thought that maybe someone has planted in cardboard boxes and went on the internet to see. Sure enough! some people swear by growing their potatoes in cardboard boxes they get a better crop and less risk of disease. I was very excited to see this and plan to experiment and have the back yard full of cardboard boxes! I am going to try all types of veggies and have already started! One thing I thought of was to tape the outside of the box to give it more stability from the rain etc..to get it through this growing season. It should last a few short months as long as I don't move it!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Early Spring Planting--

If your itching to get that garden started and can't stand to wait much longer than your in luck. Sooner than later is the time to start those early spring loving plants. Here in Ohio maybe even a few weeks ago you and I could have started, but today I started my cool weather plants.

I ended up squeezing a lot of seeds and variety into a little space. I plan on thinning them out and transplanting them elsewhere once they get to a viable size. I used my No dig Lasagna style garden area. One end has Asparagus plants from last year and I expect them to do well this year and give me more stalks. On the opposite side I have started lettuce, peas, radishes, beans, cauliflower, and broccoli. The lettuce you can cut and replant into late fall, giving yourself fresh lettuce constantly. The variety of early spring veggies is pretty good. Besides what I mentioned above you can start potatoes, cabbage, kale even before the last frost.

The No dig Lasagna style is built with cinder blocks as it's border. The inside is layered with old newspaper, cardboard etc and straw. Then it is covered with topsoil, compost, manure etc..that way you don't have to dig or pull weeds. This is my second year of lasagna style and straw bale gardening and I really love it. It's easy and convenient to do rather than a chore and in my opinion a lot faster process. In just a few hours I had it layered with all the components and the seeds planted and watered. I didn't have to till up the ground and pull rocks and weeds all day. This makes my garden experience much more enjoyable.

Now that the lasagna style garden is done I am back to dreaming about what I want to do with the straw bale garden area. I am even thinking about expanding or adding another straw bale garden area. In the meantime I am anxious to see sprouting in my cool weather, Lasagna style garden and deciding what herbs to plant in the cinder block holes. My Rosemary, Thyme and parsley all came back this year. My other herbs like Basil are seasonal and need to be planted every year.