Monday, November 27, 2006

Garden mulch and other digressions

Here are some pictures of part of our garden area we will use next year to plant all our vegetables. Originally when we first moved here we put beds in this area and planted all the plants I brought from our other home (peonies, roses and clematis). The areas up by the house were you normally would put flowering plants were overgrown with shrubs, weeds and poison ivy. We have cleaned up most of it around the house, driveway and backyard in the 3 summers we have been here but still have a bit to do-- in between the million other things we need to accomplish. We will move the last of the plants out of here this winter and hopefully be ready to plant peas and other cold lovers by early early spring. When we put in the plants I originally brought with me we also tilled and put in 4 rows (about 100' long) of lavender plants--all purchased as liners so they weren't very expensive. Unfortunately 3 summers were all we got from them. I am not disappointed at all, they were wonderful to pick and have in the house and I would plant them again --but three summers of Georgia weather were all they could stand since it is usually so rainy and humid here. By this summer all were pretty much dead. Most died last year since we had so much rain-- unlike this summer which was dry dry dry and they would have lived lived lived.
Anyways we have started collecting leaves from our own and others yards for mulch and fertilizer. The bags are from the leaves we collect from other people throwing them away--I am definitely not finished collecting but Thanksgiving side tracked me. I have mixed feelings about people bagging leaves. On the one hand it makes it extremely easy for me to drive up and throw them in my car or truck, but on the other hand---the use of plastic bags to throw away a completely beneficial product bothers me. At first I laid all our leaves from our maples and the bagged leaves we collected on top of the beds that are there in nice NEAT rows. I wanted to try and smother out the grass that had grown into the beds with our lack of care from the end of the summer. BUT when I put temporary fencing around the area and let in the sheep to graze---they messed it all up (bad goats) hence the disorganized look to it. As a matter of fact---one ewe found an open bag and decided "hey--there's some good munchies in here" and proceeded to teach the others that not only the open bags but the closed ones too had good stuff. So now none of the bags are reusable (we reuse them for our trash if they are in o.k. shape---you know: recycle as much as you can) The sheep have pawed all of them open, even the untied ones, and proceeded to dig through and eat what trimmings they found and liked. They just "pop" a hole into it with their hoof and then gingerly dig around to find what they want. No, I am not worried about them finding something poisonous in there, though at first I did worry they might accidentally eat the plastic--which thankfully hasn't happened. Later today or tomorrow I will make a point of emptying all the bags and getting rid of them though--just in case.
The sheep have done a great job of eating down most of the grass and of course "fertilizing" it for me. The cows are adding their leftovers to this project too of course---I just have to bring it in instead of them helpfully depositing it there for me like the sheep are :-) The soil in this area of our property was one of the best but is still not very fertile or well drained in spots. We have added leaves and compost every year we have been here but we need to take a soil sample to decide exactly what and how much of other amendments we may need---kelp will be one we definitely use since we love it. We are pretty sure not only will the soil test say we desperately need lime but we may also be low in selenium and some other minerals. We have had our pastures tested (but never this area of the property) so we imagine it will be similar anyways. I am so convinced of the benefit of yearly soil testing and it's impact on animal health that I will blog about that when we retest everything in Feb.
My goal---BIG ONE---is to can/freeze most all of the veggies we eat next year. We have canned, frozen, and dried our produce before, but mostly the basics. You know--the standard tomato sauce, grean beans, applesauce----but not an entire years worth or the whole cornucopia of produce. I understand some things will have to be grown under cold frames to eat during the year or that we will have to "root cellar" them but.... we will see how this works out. It is a lofty goal (for me personally) and maybe by blogging I will stick with it since others will be expecting to see how this worked out. Hopefully I will be able to fill our pantry with a years worth of better tasting food. If nothing else we will have more healthy produce for part of the year, even if I end up not able grow/store enough to eat for the entire year. Other people do it so I am sure I will eventually be able to accomplish this---practice makes perfect they always say. The problem will be the days when its already 85 degrees at 8 in the morning---that's when the lofty goals have a tendency to get thrown to the wayside :-)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Them sheeps aint right!