Wednesday, March 21, 2012
The New Garden. Chicken Proof.
I have such a wonderful soul mate. I asked, and he delivered. He already built me a big garden on the side of the house but I just had to have more. You know how us women are. I had this stretch between two trees that is just perfect for more plants. Since he just loves to serve me, he made this beautiful, chicken proof, garden yielding 16 X 4.5 feet of precious growing potential. I just love it. It is much prettier than the non-edible plants that filled the space. I can't wait to plant the whole thing. Almost time. Besides the labor, the cost was cheap. Here's the details in case you want to copy it:
The logs come from Home Depot in the gardening section. They come in a redwood color. I am sure Lowe's carries the same thing. I think they were around $3 a piece. They are flat on two sides so you can stack them. They come in 8 feet lengths. Stacking 3 high, you get 14 "'s . Perfect for a grow box. He drilled holes in the ends and skewered them with re bar. He then pounded the re bar into the ground a few feet. It is steady as can be. No nailing needed.
The dirt came from Pioneer Landscaping. They have a few valley locations. It is about $30 per cubic yard. We only needed about 2 1/4 cubic yards. Cost extra if they deliver. We bought the sandy loam mixture for gardens. We used free teenage labor to unload it.
The chicken proof cages are made from 1" X 2" boards and chicken wire.
I did the beautiful stain work. I didn't stain the insides or bottoms of the cages so that it won't contaminate the soil. The stain is a sealer to help protect the wood from the rain and sun.
My large garden is doing beautifully. In fact, the best ever. Last year was horrible. I decided to get all fancy in the fertilizer department. I have always been a minimalist with the fertilizer. It has always worked for me. I started adding all sorts of things like bone meal, fish emulsion, epsom salt, etc. Totally overdid it. Not a good result. This year, I went back to simple with a few additions.
Cow manure is the bomb along with good mulch. I added lots and lots of mulch and manure this year. The soil is beautiful. All I do now is add the Blue Bonnet fertilizer that I get from The Backyard Farmer once a month. In addition, I spray the plants with a Fish emulsion, Seaweed/kelp mixture every two weeks. I bought a gallon of it from Summer Winds nursery in mesa. The gallon contains both emulsion and kelp together. It is organic and you just mix about 1 T. in a 32 oz. spray bottle, shake and spray when the sun isn't directly on the plants. It feeds the plants directly giving them a power boost. Be careful not to spray directly on the blossoms so they don't dry out. A little mist is fine. Drench the rest of the plant. One spray bottle did all my plants. I didn't do the leafy greens that are ready to harvest. I don't want a fishy taste to my smoothies! Other than that, I just water a good soaking every other day. They are all smiling and happy. My new garden isn't quite as good yet since the soil isn't as rich as my 10 year old garden. We will get there.
I just came in from playing in the dirt. Honestly, it is my favorite thing to do. Here is part of today's harvest:
Celery, peas, spinach, radishes, collards and Kale. A salad and smoothies are on tap. My peas are going hog wild right now.
We ate some up in a delicious coconut Korma the other night. I always hated peas until I grew them. 26 out of 27 of my preschoolers beg to go pick peas. They love them. They are so very sweet and so fun to snap and eat. Their parents can't believe they actually eat them. There is a big difference between store bought and home grown.
I am going to miss these plants when it gets too hot. I love the spinach the most so I am very happy to have found a summer variety of spinach. It will actually produce all year! I bought some heirloom New Zealand Spinach seeds from Sweet Corn Nursery (see my sidebar). I am hoping that they are growing when my current spinach plant bolts. Fingers crossed.
My celery is amazing right now. Thanks to my friend, Terri, she told me that if you just cut the stocks off leaving 3 inches above soil, they will keep growing. Sure enough they are. In the summer, they will get bitter but you can still make soup with them. I am going to see how long I can keep them going. Most people tell me that their celery is always bitter. I keep mine in a shadier location with lots of water. As with cucumbers, if they are bitter, you need more water.
I am so happy to hear of all you new gardeners out there! I think people are really catching on that we need to grow food ourselves. Spread the word. Send me a picture of your garden and I will do a post showing what others are doing. A sort of show and tell episode!
Many ask what to plant. Here is what I have going on this crop:
Green Bush Beans
Yellow Bush Beans
Yellow Crookneck Squash
Yellow Straight neck Squash
Some other weird squash
5 Varieties of chili peppers
8 varieties of tomatoes, about 15 plants
4 varieties of bell peppers, about 10 plants
Carrots (too late to start now)
New Zealand Spinach
Sage, Basil, Mint and Cilantro
My fruit trees/bushes are:
Let's hope for a good crop this year!
Did I inspire anyone to start? That was my point. Oh, and to brag a little. I am so proud. A special thanks to the love of my life for making all my dreams come true! (We just celebrated 20 years, I think I will keep him a little longer.)
If you don't have a garden and still want good, home grown produce, try out The Backyard Farmer! All local. Super delicious. They now have homemade bread in addition to farm eggs, local, raw honey, local olive oil, fertilizers, chicken feed and bedding, organic meats, and more and more. They deliver right to you for free! Can't beat it. It is like a present on my doorstep each Wednesday. I even got a present from them today. Thanks, guys! They also tolerate my many, many emails for advice from plants to chickens. I love having such knowledgeable sources!