Defining Your Reason For Gardening

I have been contemplating, lately, the reason why I garden. I have always hoped to grow enough produce to have a booth at the Farmer’s Market and make a little money on the side, but have not been able to accomplish this goal. I get a few extras to share with family, but it is sporadic and hard to get consistency on what is coming in.

I have re-defined my reason for gardening. I have decided to grow my garden with the goal of producing as many healthy, nutrient-rich foods, for my husband, myself, and our extended family.

This year I did a trial of straw bale gardening. This is how they look today.

Cucumbers and marigolds in front bales, potatoes growing behind.

Cucumbers and marigolds in front bales, potatoes growing behind.

Lettuce going to seed in front bales, basil, and huge tomato plants in back bales.

Lettuce going to seed in front bales, basil, and huge tomato plants in back bales.

The green bean plants need to be removed from these bales. The bales are decomposing and the onions are sinking. I am interested to see how the onions turn out as they sink further down and are growing crooked.

The green bean plants need to be removed from these bales. The bales are decomposing and the onions are sinking. I am interested to see how the onions turn out as they sink further down and are growing crooked.

The straw bale experiment has been a success in that it has cut down on pest, and grown really big healthy plants, but I have decided not to use the straw bale method again. I had to use a lot of chemical fertilizer to condition the bales at the beginning, because organic fertilizer required huge amounts and was more expensive. Then I had to periodically spray them with miracle grow to keep the plants going. The straw bales were another big expense.

In studying various resources on nutrients in our food sources, I have found two areas of thought.

#1 Our soil is not depleted of nutrients like many people think, otherwise the vegetables wouldn’t even grow.

#2 Our soil is depleted of vital enzymes and nutrients that made people healthier years ago. We still get really big lush plants from chemical fertilizers, but the nutrients we need from the food is lacking in these chemical filled soils.

Regardless of which we believe to be true, I do find there is a strong evidence that we should garden as organically as possible to prevent adding incessant chemicals to our bodies and to produce foods that are richer in the nutrients our bodies need to prevent disease.

I plan to use my straw bales for compost after this year and continue to produce as much compost as possible via natural resources of leaves, grass clippings, and vegetable scraps which replenish the ground with the natural elements we need to have in our food supply.

On a happier note, I have been getting a lot of antioxident-rich blueberries, grown in chemical free soil, with only natural fertilizers.

Blueberries and other garden produce.

Blueberries and other garden produce.

Making beneficial changes takes strong discipline, especially when it may be a long time before we see results. I read recently that because our body cells are always renewing themselves, a year from now, 97% of our body will be composed of new cells. That means that it may take up to a year to see a benefit when we stop drinking sodas, drink more water, eat only healthy foods, and make our food supply more organic.

If we want healthier lives we have to start.

What are your gardening goals?

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” 1 Peter 3:15

 

 

A New Thing

The straw bale gardening saga continues…

Last week, I managed to move all thirty straw bales into the raised beds where I want to try this experimental gardening technique. It wasn’t a hard job. Since straw is in short supply this year, the bales were smaller and lighter. That was great!

The bad news is that they didn’t cover as much area as I had hoped. I was only able to fill three full 4×8 raised beds and one-half of two raised beds. The bales have to be placed on their sides, so they took up less space.

Straw bale gardening.

Straw bale gardening.

Another view.

Another view.

Just because of the way the bales stacked in the beds, I ended up with a corner that no bale would fit. I am saving these areas for planting flowers to add visual interest. I used re-bar and plumbing PVC hoops to hold the bales in place and separate them into planting sections.

I began the conditioning process. I am using regular lawn fertilizer (not herbicidal), to get the bales heated up fast. I emptied out a canister of black pepper in the garden to keep the cat out of the raised beds without straw. It came in handy for sprinkling the fertilizer on the bales. Day 1-9 of the conditioning process includes 1/2 cup of fertilizer sprinkled per bale alternating each day with “watering to saturation”.

Lawn fertilizer and empty pepper container for applying the fertilizer.

Lawn fertilizer and empty pepper container for applying the fertilizer.

Fertilized straw bale.

Fertilized straw bale.

I am on day five which requires 1/2 cup of fertilizer per bale. It is pouring rain at the moment, so that might have to wait.

Since I used one of my beds that I intended to turn into an herb bed, I switched to using big pots for my herbs.

Herb pot beginnings with rosemary in place.

Herb pot beginnings with rosemary in place.

Even though I didn’t have as many bale-filled beds as I would like, I am very excited to get them conditioned and planted. It is always fun to try something new in the garden:)

Are you trying anything new this year?

“A new commandment I give unto you. That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”  John 13:34

 

 

Straw Bale Gardening

I am soooo….. excited. I had 30 bales of straw delivered this week to begin my straw bale gardening experiment. This, apparently, was a bad year for straw production and there is a shortage. After calling several places with no luck, I called our local agricultural center. They referred me to a garden center in a near-by town, and they delivered for a good price.

It is recommended to have 5 straw bales per each family member to have an adequate supply of food, so 30 bales was the right amount to feed us, our children, children-in-laws, and Finn (grandbaby), doesn’t eat much.

Straw bales delivered.

Straw bales delivered.

Some of the family members that I didn’t need straw bales for… still managed to enjoy them. Scout (cat) decided to take a nap on the bales, and of course if the cat can get up on the bales, Jazz (dog) has to copy the cat.

Scout and Jazz hanging out on the straw bales.

Scout and Jazz hanging out on the straw bales.

Jazz guarding the cat in her pink sweater.

Jazz, in her pink sweater, guarding the cat.

Two character cards come to mine when I look at these sweet, funny, animals.

Diligence vs. Slothfulness

“Visualizing each task as an assignment from the Lord and using all my energies to accomplish it.” (Jazz guarding Scout.)

And

Tolerance vs. Prejudice

“Acceptance of others as unique expressions of specific character qualities in varying degrees of maturity.” (The tolerance of both Jazz and Scout for each other, even though they are so totally different.)

Have a great weekend in this beautiful weather!