Updated Pages - DIY Projects for the Garden, Worm Test!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Keeping a Garden Journal

Keeping a garden journal, is so useful, I can"t even tell you! I had started mine many many moons ago, and really should start to update it again, because since then, i have spent 5 years adding more plants to my land that i even care to count. I find myself going back to this journal in search if info I had marked down on a specific plant, that i had long forgotten about.

Your journal doesn't have to be fancy smancy, mine is just an old document folder, with paper in it and a few pockets. You can add or remove papers as you see fit. Kinda like a garden grimoire.

In my journal I have pictures of specific plants in my garden, and on the next page a few pieces of paper with the information i have observed about this plant growing in my garden, such as, when it blooms in my garden, how much sun it gets in a particular spot, and if I moved it, i mark down why i did, (maybe it wasn't getting enough sun or moisture in a certain spot, etc), where I got it from or who, if it can be divided or.....you get the idea!

I will rip out any inspirational pages from garden books, that I like. i might use the idea, or run with that idea into something else for my garden. Maybe I just like the way they planted their hostas...whatever...anything. Like that rickety ole arbor made from fallen branches, rip it out and save it for your journal, now you have a way to go back to it, if you decide you want to make one for your yard!

I also like to save the plant markers, that come with plants I have purchased. Just a handy dandy thing to have when your plant doesn't survive the winter and you cant remember the name of it!

So get those creative juices flowing and start that garden journal!


Friday, April 15, 2011

Biennial in Review - Foxglove

(pictures from my foxglove, in my garden 2 seasons ago)

Digitalis Purpurea

I would have called the title to this post "perennial in review" But in all actuality, that would have been false. Foxglove is really a Biennial. Growing in it's first year, and flowering, then setting seed the following year.

This year I await a new batch of my foxglove to come up and flower again. There are also hybrids that will grow and flower in the same season, but my experience is, they just don't get as big and tall as the old cottage garden variety. So I stick to what I know works for me. I have the pink and white. Here is a little info on foxglove if you wish to give it a try and grow this old favorite cottage garden flower in your garden.

Care and Cultivation: Sun to part shade is best (mine get morning and noon sun, shade the rest of the day)
Fertile, compost rich soil, slightly acid. Plentiful moisture. Zones 4- 9

Plant container grown plants in spring, spacing about a foot apart (they do spread out and get quite leafy and big)
Start seeds indoors about 6 weeks before last frost date. Seeds need a chilling in the fridge before sowing, otherwise they wont sprout.

When done flowering, cut off stalks of ripened seed pods and sprinkle or shake out the seeds where you want them to grow the next season. Or allow to self sow. However i find it useful to just shake them out onto the soil. Make sure you mark where they are so as not to disturb the soil the next season until you see the sprouts emerging. (speaking from experience here, you may think you'll remember where they are, but chances are, you wont...LOL)

Don't let foxglove dry out completely when growing, they don't like it at all. Most foxglove will get anywhere between 3- to 5 feet tall, if your soil is 'the bomb', even taller. So it's best to put them in the back of the garden bed, or plant them solo to show off their beauty.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

DIY Project - Earthworm Test

Ever heard the ole saying, "If you have alot of earthworms in your garden, you have good soil"? Well it's true. Earthworms are a great indicator of the structure of your soil. Just one earthworm can swallow and process between 20 - 200 tons of soil per acre. That's alot of dirt!

Here's a little project you can do yourself to determine how your soil adds up.

Dig a 1 foot square hole in your garden about 6 inches deep, and place the soil into a shallow tray. (this is a fun project for the kids too!)

Next count the number of earthworms in the tray of soil.

1 earthworm means your garden soil needs work.
5 to 9 means it's almost there, but still needs more compost.
10 or more means happy soil life.

Use this above scale to asses the amount of organic matter in your garden soil, earthworms are great indicators to soil life.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Paper or Plastic?

Nothing IRKS me more than being asked this question. I rarely go to our local grocery store, but when I absolutely have to, I stand in line, my cash in hand with a few items of necessity, and wait patiently for the lady with 5 kids to stop gabbing about everything under the sun, and approach the checkout only to be asked this question, "paper or plastic?"

Which wouldn't really bother me. It shouldn't right? A simple question to which a simple answer is given. Although 99.9% of the time, my answer falls on deaf ears. I bring my own machine washable fabric bags along with me, plenty of them if need be, only to have 1 fabric bag filled with 3 stinking items and the rest of my items put into plastic bags.....(cringes, bites lip, eye twitches, face beat red). Why? Because either they are to lazy too, it's more convenient for "them", or they assume my produce needs to be wrapped for some reason).

Frankly I have know clue, nor do I care anymore. This was the last straw, that broke the camels back per say, and I let the poor bag girl hear it. (Or the whole friggin store) I told her what part of that answer, did you not hear?  "I have my OWN bags"? I proceeded to take everything out of the plastic bags and put them into my own. This has happened just about every time i have went to the store. Their answer to my question, well we didn't want it to leak.....Um...that's why I have a washing machine? Ooooh my gosh, my vinegar bottle might leak, and do what? Pickle my whole wheat saltine crackers?

Honestly........It bugs me to no end! I do not like to bring plastic home...period, if I don't have to. I try and buy either glass or recycled paper when possible...yes i am a label reader. Both I can recycle, and yes i know most plastics are recyclable, but some are not, and frankly plastic bags are not, at least here they aren't recyclable. I cannot begin to tell you the many reasons to NOT use them. But I won't get preachy here.

I am by no means a tree hugging hippy as they like to call it up here, but I try and instill into my lil one that recycling and reusing, reducing, is far better for mother earth than we could possibly imagine. I know my gripe may seem trivial to most, but it makes my efforts, however small they may be, futile, when my words fall on deaf ears....uuuggghhhhh!

Plastics are the bane of human kind and the earth herself, among other things. So next time, the cashier and bag girl/guy ask you this question 

Enough said and my rant is over...hehehehe I will politely step off my soap box now.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Vegetable in Review - Onion

Allium Cepa

MMMMMMMMMmmmmmm mmm. Onions, gotta love'm! I use these in just about every meal I make. I have also grown just about every available variety there is. But only a handful I care to keep. I have grown the big reds, walla wallas, Egyptian walking onions, bunching etc. They are all great, but only a few really hold up to the good ol'e Wisconsin weather, and store well for me here. I am quite finicky about the storage part. I needed an onion that wasn't going to turn to mush within a few months of storage. For that I chose an onion called Copra. I am still using them, and I put them in storage around the end of September/beginning of November. Granted some of them are starting to sprout, but that is a long time to keep in storage. They have done well. Most are still very firm, even the ones with sprouts.

 On to the info!

Onions are a warm season vegetable. In Mid spring, when fairly warm plant your seedling that you may have started, or sets outdoors. Space them about 2- 5 inches apart, (I found this give them room to spread out). Harvest is anywhere between 75 to 100 hundred days depending on the variety you have gone with. (However some onions are cold hardy and will come back up in your garden next year if you have covered them, Egyptian walking onions are good for this, so are bunching onions) Onions are ready to harvest when the tops turn yellow and fall over.

Feed at planting time and once again during the growing season. Grow onions in full sun, which they appreciate, and soil heavy in compost doesn't hurt either. I had absolutely huge onions last fall, because I amended the bed before my onions were planted. Thrips and maggots are a few pests that effect onions, but can e avoided if crop rotation is used.

Harvesting : When I harvest my onions, I let the tops turn yellow and fall over. They are still fairly easy to pull out, but use a pitch fork to lightly lift them if need be. Have a place that you can set all your onions on, such as a picnic table, out of the scorching sun, perferably a fairly shady spot with some air movement. I lay my onions on the table to dry, leaving the dirt on them, as it is easier to brush the dirt off when it is completely dry. Let them dry for about a week, the skins will begin to get papery, the dirt will dry, the tops will dry up and look like leather shoestrings. (please keep in mind you might have to move them indoors if it rains, before the week drying time is over!)

Preparing them for storage: When they are dry, I have a bunch of plastic milk crates I got from the local market, that i will use to put the onions in after I have wiped them down and trimmed them up.

You can find them on the Internet fairly easy, or if you know a grocery store you can get them from, they might be happy to sell you some. Or you can find some here:


The reason I use these crates is because they have lots of room for air movement. The last thing you need is to have all of your beautiful onion go rotton within a month because you didnt store them in the right container. Anything that has slats on all 4 sides will work.

I use a little pot scrubber with a handle, it has plastic bristles, you know the kind....I use this to brush the dirt off the onions to clean them, which works quite well. After I have cleaned all, I move to the trimming. I trim the roots off fairly close and the top of the onion stalk. I trim it to about and inch or so, leaving room for shrinkage. (I will be doing a how to video this fall on harvesting and keeping root vegetables and onions. So keep on a look out for that!)

I then throw the onions into the milk crates, and bring them into my basement, which is fairly cool, and put them into a room that is fairly dark as well. That's it...that's how you store onions. However, if you don't have a cool place such as a basement, you can also use a garage, as long as they are kept from freezing. and old working fridge can also be used, if you don't have space in your regular fridge for storing. This fridge can be used "just" for this purpose.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

DIY Projects - Growing potatoes in containers

This is a great idea I will be experimenting with this year in my garden. I usually plant my potatoes in my raised beds, then cover them with black ground cover after they reach about 5 inches or so, then in fall I remove the liner and dig my taters. However with this, it would seem easier, just because you tip over the barrel and gather them. Easy! I am also thinking that I might get a higher yeild this way. Something to try anyways.

Not to mention if your limited for space, this would be great for patio gardening! If you try this, please let me know your results this fall, would love to here how they turned out! I will be posting my results too.

1. You'll need a plastic trash can. Drill 8 holes in the base and 8 more around the can about 8 inches from the bottom for drainage.

2. Pour 12 inches of all purpose potting soil into the can. Mix it with a shovelful of garden compost and some well rotted manure (but not to much, as potatoes are prone to scab if to much manure is used)

3. Place 2 seed potatoes on top and cover them with more compost and soil. (Just use seed potatoes to start, as your sprouting buds from the grocerie store doesn't produce great crops). Water daily except in really rainy weather. (but not wet or soggy or your potatoes will rot!)

4. When their shoots are about 8 inches above the compost, add another layer of compost and soil to just cover them. Keep doing this until you have reached the top of you container. (the potatoes will continue to push their way, thru the soil and produce potatoes from the sides of the plant)

5. When the plants flowers stop blooming and the plant starts to turn yellow in the fall, it is time to harvest. Just dump over your barrel and reap your rewards!


Monday, March 28, 2011

Post - it Note Mondays

I decided it would be kinda fun to do post it note mondays here at garden witchery.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring Cleaning

I started it.....but not in the house yet...LOL I feel there's no point in spring cleaning indoors if I cannot open my windows to let out that stale air. And it certainly isn't warm enough here to do that yet. However it was warm enough out to get a jump start on my spring cleaning outside. Since I was to lazy, and frankly burnt out last fall from summer projects, to even clean out the beds, I get the lovely privledge of doing them in the spring. Yay!

However, I only had got the grapes, raspberries and half of my strawberry bed cleaned and pruned when we got a foot or more of snow dumped on us yet again. Just when everything was drying out nicely and the daffodils and crocus were peaking out from their winter slumber...BAM! Mother nature, was PMSing.

You know it's like I say....SNOW.... it's like the attractive guy across the bar, at first mysterious and interesting. But when you get acquainted.... you realize.... it's just a big inconvenience. Pretty much sums it up.

Nothing is getting done as of yet......Our greenhouse sits idle, because it's just to damn chilly and windy out to even atempt to put the greenhouse cover on to get it going....(sigh) bah!

However...there is one thing my daughter and I had fun doing this past week, and that was getting our seeds ready. we spent the better part of the day making our newspaper cups and filling them with soil and planting our seeds. At least we are getting a jump start on that! Broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, and peppers so far.

Finally, new life emerging! I love it, I have been devoid of the color green waaayyy to long!!!!!


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Vegetable in Review - Okra

Abelmoscbus esculentus


I personally have never grown Okra in my garden, and actually have never even eaten any. However my husbands aunt, grows it, and prepares it. Apparently it is a quite the yummy veggie from what she has told me, although, I have seen her prepare it, and I have noted that when cutting raw okra, it is very slimy. Not sure why, but it is.!

I think this year I am going to give it a shot though. I like to try new and different varieties, if I like them, i continue to grow them, if not, they don't make into my garden again. LOL
So here is a little research I have done for you so that if you wish to grow this unique veggie, you'll know how to!

Okra is a warm season vegetable, meaning it has to have fairly warm  temperatures (both soil temps and air temps) to germinate and grow.

Plant okra in the soil after all danger of frost has gone, because okra does not transplant well at all.
Plant in deeply dug soil, amended with compost, and plant seeds about 18 inches apart. Feed 3 times during the growing season with any organic fertilizer, such as compost tea, or fertilizer made with bat guano, earthworm castings or your own homemade brew.

Water occasionally during the season, and it grows well in full sun. Harvest is in 55 to 70 days when the pods are 3 to 5 inches long.

Pests of okra are earworms and cabbageworms.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Eat Dirt

Here's an interesting article I found, and it definatly holds some truth to it.

By Melissa Breyer, Senior Editor

When my kids were toddlers, one of my old-time Brooklyn neighbors said that we all need to eat a pound of dirt during our lives, which sounded somehow right to me. After all, I was an avid grubber in my childhood backyard and gave my older sisters no end of disgusted delight when I would eat dirt-crumbed slugs. (I can only think I was channeling my French ancestors.) I’m sure I got my full pound of dirt in before the age of 3.
In the circle of moms I know, there are two types. There are the ones with the quick-draw, holstered hand-sanitizer and a zero-second rule for fallen snacks; and then there are the ones who with the two-second rule, or sometimes the three- or four-second rule, or heck, if no one’s looking, who cares how long the snack was on the floor–go ahead and eat it. It somehow feels wrong to let a kid pick something up off the ground and eat it, but why is it that so many kids instinctively put things in their mouths? Not just dropped crackers, but dirty twigs, germy toys, and slugs too! What could be the evolutionary advantage behind this instinct?
Well, in an article in The New York Times this week, reporter Jane E. Brody writes about the “hygiene hypothesis,” in which researchers are concluding that “the millions of bacteria, viruses and especially worms that enter the body along with ‘dirt’ spur the development of a healthy immune system.”

Mary Ruebush, a microbiology and immunology instructor, and author of the book, “Why Dirt Is Good” (Kaplan), says that when kids put things in their mouths, “Not only does it allow for “practice” of immune responses, which will be necessary for protection, but it also plays a critical role in teaching the immature immune response what is best ignored.” She deplores the current fetish for the hundreds of antibacterial products that convey a false sense of security and may actually foster the development of antibiotic-resistant, disease-causing bacteria. Plain soap and water are all that are needed to become clean. “I certainly recommend washing your hands after using the bathroom, before eating, after changing a diaper, before and after handling food, and whenever they’re visibly soiled,” she wrote. When no running water is available and cleaning hands is essential, she suggests an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

It seems to me there has been such a wide swing of the spectrum–from the disease-thriving filth and squalor of centuries past to the obsession with cleanliness and hardcore hygiene that we see in industrialized countries today. Given the plagues and epidemics of our past it makes sense that we strive for sterile environments, but it looks possible that we’re swinging too far.  Part of me wonders how much of that is due to marketing. In 2008, Americans spent over $5 billion on household cleaning products–imagine how much of that money went right back into advertising departments to dream and scheme new ways to subtly scare people into really needing those germ-slaughtering scrubbing bubbles and disinfecting sprays and wipes. Not to mention anti-bacterial soaps and other triclosan products.

As far as I can tell, the solution seems to be, as is so often the case, moderation and common sense. Wash your hands with plain soap and hot water, don’t let your kids eat things that seem blatantly dangerous (slugs: OK–but stay away from anything that has had contact with pesticides or chemicals), and start working on that pound of dirt.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cold......so cold.

I cannot believe how damn cold it is outside today. We had about 8 degrees, seemed colder with the wind whipping over the field in front of our house. (sigh) Spring is defiently not coming fast enough...hurry hurry!

I decided to take a very (brisk walk) around my yard, just for sh*** & giggles. Everything is still quietly sleeping, covered in snow. Hard to believe that anything can survive such a deep freeze for months here in Wisconsin. But yet it does. Quite a miracle of nature I think. Mother earth has it in the bag  so to speak.... Still patience is not my virtue when it comes to the seasons.

Only one more month before i start my seeds....(jumping up and down) I can't wait! his year I have to plant just about everything. Last season I didn't plants beans or carrots, because I had so much canned from the previous season, I didn't need anymore. But this season, I need to refresh the pantry, so my garden will be jam packed once again. Here's what I'm growing

Beans, carrots, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, radishes, onions, corn, peas, tomatoes, peppers, rosemary, oregano, basil, bay laurel, fennel, also this year I will be growing tobacco....yes, I said it, tobacco...(eye roll) my husbands grand idea, so we'll see how that goes...!

Anyways, some of the stuff I'll be growing, I will be putting in the garden, and other stuff, in containers, to open up the main garden for more potatoes, broccoli, etc. The stuff we eat ALOT of during the winter months.

So....that's my little rant for the day......supposedly there is warmer air moving our way, and then spring fever will hit me hard again!


Monday, February 7, 2011

Growing your own - Seeds that need special attention

So we have touched upon some of the basics of soil, and what types of seeds there are to choose from. Now, once you have decided on what you wish to plant, whether it be heirloom or hybrid vegetables or flowers, the next step is to plant them...correct? Well, wait one minute. Did you know, that some seeds require special attention before they go into the soil? Yep, some do. I learned the hard way, and wasted nearly 5 packs of seeds this way one year when I first started growing. I was young, and thought I knew everything and didn't ask anyone for advice. LOL I should have, would have saved me a hell of a lot of trouble and grief.

I didn't know what the hell I was doing wrong, and chocked it up to bad seeds. But, after much research and advice (when I finally asked) That some of my seeds needed a brief spell in the fridge before i planted them in the soil.....go figure....makes sense.

The seeds I was planting, were perennials, which meant that for my zone anyways, that they needed to be tricked into coming out of their winter sleep. This mimics mother natures cold spell and thaw in the spring. The seed falls to the ground in fall, freezes, then warm weather thaws and warms them, coaxing them to sprout. Well, DUH! Why didn't I think of this......lesson learned.

Not only that, but some seeds need light to germinate, and some complete darkness, some need to be "nicked", meaning there seed coats are to tuff, and need to be nicked a bit in order for the sprout to push thru, (or a good soaking in water to soften the seed coat overnight in warm water) The list goes on and on. So I will give you some info, to better help you with this. Granted I am just giving a handful of samples here, but to give you a general idea.

Most are flowers, but some herbs & a few veggies are in here to.

Seeds that need light to germinate

(meaning either a very thin, thin, layer of soil covering them, or just sprinkled on top of the soil and gently pressed in, usually these are very fine, powdery looking seeds, such as snapdragons and the like.)

ageratum, balloon flower, basket of gold, beefsteak tomatoes, begonia, bell flower, blanket flower, coleus, columbine, coreopsis, creeping zinnia, dill, flowering tobacco, fuchsia, gerbera, impatiens, lettuce, mexican sunflower, ornamental cabbage, ornamental pepper, petunia, poppy, shasta daisy, snap dragons, sweet alyssum, and yarrow.

Seeds that need darkness to germinate

(meaning that these seeds need to be completely covered by soil)

bachelor's button, borage, calendula, coriander, delphinium, fennel, forget me nots, larkspur, nasturium, pansy, phlox, sweet pea, verbena, vinca, and viola.

Seeds that require soaking or nicking

(meaning that the seed coats need to be softened or nicked with a file, prior to planting)

asparagus, canna, hibiscus, lupine, morning glory, okra, parsley, parsnip, and sweet pea.

Seeds that need chilling before sowing

(meaning they need a brief spell in the fridge, usually about 2 - 3 weeks, before sown into the soil)

Angelica, bleeding heart, delphinium, columbine, day lily, tiger lily, gas plant, globe flower, lavender, lobelia, ornamental cabbage, pansy, phlox, primrose, trillium, and viola.

Seeds that need cool temperatures to germinate

(meaning: not the same as above........these seeds when planted IN the soil, like the soil temperatures to be cool, in order to germinate)

baby blue eyes, beard tongue, california poppy, candy tuft, chamomile, coral bells, gas plant, phlox, poppy, rosemary, sweet pea, thyme, wall flower, garden peas, broccoli, cauliflower.

You'll notice that some seeds are repeated in each category, some seeds such as asparagus, need to be chilled for a brief spell in the fridge, then soaked, because their seed coat is tuff. Also delphinium is this way also.
It takes some practice, but once you know what to do with what seeds, you'll be a pro in no time!!!!!


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Growing your own - Which Seed?

I love starting my own veggies and flowers from seed. Either I have purchased them, saved them from my own plants, or they were traded or given to me. I have some seeds that I have been saving from season to season for about 10 yrs. They were taken from my very first garden, and every year I would take the biggest and best plants, and save the seeds from them to use the next season.

Now I am sure you have gotten a slew of the “spring” garden catalogs in the mail….I’m sooooo guilty of this. I get tons, all of which I have subscribed to. LOL But in all honestly I always only order from a handful of them. Once I find a seed I like, I usually stick with it.

Now, there are a couple different types of seeds. Those of Hybrids, and those of heirloom. Usually…..(usually) hybrids, when you save seeds from them, your not going to get the same plant. Why, because they are crossed with a number of different plants to get the one your currently growing. They pick plants based on disease resistance, fruit yields, and the like. So if your going to save seeds from these, don’t bother, you’ll probably get an inferior plant.

Heirlooms- and I am saying (usually here) can and will be true. Meaning, that if you save the seeds from an heirloom, more often than not, you’ll get the same plant, as the one your currently growing. There are some heirloom hybrids however.

I have grown both. However, with heirlooms, it takes some trial and error to find the ones you want. I grew some broccoli and cauliflower of heirloom variety and didn’t care for them. Probably because I was used to those hybrid seeds all those years. But that’s not to say If I tried a different variety, that I wouldn’t like them.

So heirloom vs. hybrid,……your choice, its all personal preference.

When I start seeds, I have a rack with fluorescent lights, that my dear hubby made me. It fits 4 flats, 2 on top, 2 on bottom. Works great. But I have and still do, grow seeds on my windowsills (for lack of room).

I can fit a lot of seeds  of different variety into one flat. But I usually mark them, so I know which is which. As I am absent minded most days.  Here are a few links, that I have ordered from in the past and continue to do so. I have had good experiences with them, and they have reasonable prices.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Growing your own - It starts with the dirt!!!!


I cannot stress enough, when growing anything, whether it’s in the ground itself, or in containers, the dirt is where it’s at!
There is no other way, other than having a good base to start in, in order to have great success in growing anything!

When people come to my garden, I always get the same comment…”well, how come mine don’t look like that?, and I even started mine earlier than yours?”  My reply “Do you religiously amend your soil either in the fall or spring, every planting season?” Their reply.”no”. I then chuckle, well that’s why yours look the way they do, and also, you now know, why your yields are so low each year as well.

No amount of “miracle Gro garden fertilizer” will make your plants grow into robust, bushy, healthy plants that they show on TV. Well maybe it will a little bit, but think of it this way…..think if you had to live on just the bare minimum, having only the barest essentials, enough to keep you alive. You wouldn’t thrive, you wouldn’t be really exceptionally fit. That’s the way our plants feel also! Plopping them into crappy soil, and pumping them full of fertilizer, expecting them to do their best, is well, silly.

I amend my raised beds, every single planting season. Usually with a bucket or 2 of good plain ole’ composted horse poo. The stuff works wonders and gives my plants what they need every year, for optimum growth.  I also rotate my crops from one bed to another, which helps for preventing disease, and keeps the crop from depleting to much of the nitrogen in the soil. Corn is a good one for this. However any kind of legumes, I.e. such as peas and beans will actually fix nitrogen into the soil on their own.

Either way, I still add some more compost to the beds to keep ahead of things. I also do not add any chemical fertilizers to my gardens, EVER! I don’t need to. Compost is the ONLY and the BEST way to get those veggies and flowers to grow. I never spray pesticides and the like, I would rather pick a few pesky bugs off the plants than to spray, besides, this is another reason why you should rotate your crops, always planting them in a different location each season. Helps prevent disease as well.

Weed prevention is another bane of gardeners. A good heaping helping of mulch does the trick. Plants don’t have to compete with the weeds for nutrients in the soil this way.

So in short…..good soil is the building blocks for good crops. There are many natural amendments you can add to your soil to give it that light fluffy texture chocked full of nutrients.

Here is a list of organic ingredients that can be added in the fall after the harvest is done, and you are putting everything to bed.  This way, it sits in the soil and “ages“ or “rots” even more until spring arrives when you till it in even further before planting time again.(With the exception of the compost which can be added at any time. Compost can be even added as a side dressing for your plants, and acts as a mulch.)

Organic soil amendments

Moisture retention - Good
Nutrient retention - excellent
PH - usually acidic
And it’s easy to make at home

Cow manure (dry, not fresh)
Moisture retention - Good
Nutrient retention - good
PH - usually alkaline
Best used dry

Leaf mold
Moisture retention - excellent
Nutrient retention - excellent
PH - slightly acidic
Oak leaves are best, shred or chop before use

Horse manure
Moisture retention -good
Nutrient retention - good
PH - usually alkaline
Best used dry

Sphagnum peat moss
Moisture retention - excellent
Nutrient retention - excellent
PH -  acidic
Moisten before in cooperating into soil

Steer manure
Moisture retention - good
Nutrient retention - good
PH - usually alkaline
May contain weed seeds and salt

Tree bark
Moisture retention - good
Nutrient retention - good
PH - slightly acidic
Use only shred or ground bark for soil amending

Wood ashes
Moisture retention - good
Nutrient retention - good
PH - highly alkaline
Use only in sandy soils

Chicken manure
Moisture retention - good
Nutrient retention - good
PH - alkaline
Use only very dry and old chicken manure (aged), as it will burn plants if put onto them “green”

Soil for containers is another story,  I usually mix my own, since plants in containers need that extra “fluffy” soil for good drainage. I take the container than the plants will be in, add a little less than half  full of regular garden soil, then add 1 part of compost, and then add  horticultural perlite and vermiculite for added drainage and moisture retention, I add enough of both until I have a light and fluffy mixture. Experiment, with mixing your own potting soil, and you’ll get it just right.

During the spring this year, I will be adding some how to videos on soil building, and seed planting, etc.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Growing your own

 Yes, Growing your own vegetables is far better, than buying the stuff from the local commercial grocery store. A couple reasons I will discuss. A commercial grocery store, get their food in fast and cheap. There is not much thought on whether or not it has been sprayed or pumped full of chemicals of just about every kind you can think of, and ones you can't.

When grocery stores get their shipments in of fresh fruits and veggies in, they aren't really as fresh as you may think. Or if they are, they haven't been pick at "the peak of freshness" or ripeness for that matter, more often than not, the food is picked very green. What do I mean? LOL for example, tomatoes are picked still green and very hard. they are loaded onto the trucks for shipment, and a shot of ethylene is added to the truck as it is closed up and ready to go, once to it's destination, the tomatoes have ripen (albeit, artificially), hence that "unnatural, creamy orange" color you find with so many tomatoes at the grocery store.

Anyone who has grown tomatoes knows what they are suppose to look like, and taste like, and the ones from the store, are nothing like this. Homegrown anything, is far superior to anything bought at the store. Hands down.
Same goes for anything else, from lettuce to cukes, onions, and asparagus. My philosophy is, if you cant grow it, at least go to the farmers markets in your area and by from them. I am sure you can find farmers that grow their veggies without the use of pesticides and artificial means. The food tastes better, and lasts waaayyyy longer. 

Another reason is the pride. Yes, pride in your work as a gardener. A tiller of the soil, working with your hands, caring for things and reaping what you have sown.

So, say you have no area for gardening, and cant grow veggies in ground, so what! If you have a small porch and windowsill, a patio, or maybe just a small patch of grass, utilize what you have! Almost any vegetable and fruits can be grown in containers. I have used buckets, old shoes (believe it or not) that I planted bunching onions in, and something as simple as buying a bag of potting soil, laying the bag down, poking holes in the bottom for drainage, then making slits in the top and planted my seeds right in the bag. Whatever works I say! If it can get you some garden greens from dirt to table.....so be it!

Later, in another post I will be covering many ways to utilize space for growing herbs and veggies, even if you don't have the space to do so.

I hope you stick around for more lengthy discussion on the topics I have planned for this blog. More new an exciting things to come!


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Welcome to Garden Witchery

This is a place for me to share all of my thoughts on being self sufficient. That is, doing things yourself and not being dependant on anyone else to get things done! LOL That includes growing your own food, to DIY projects to better improve the quality of life for you, and your family.

Relying on Mother nature to sustain a way of life, is NOT as hard as it seems. People do it all the time. To be in harmony as much as it is possible, with mother earth, is the greatest feeling in the world. She gives us what we need to survive, it is up to us as humans, to open our eyes and hearts to accept her many gifts. Always giving back to her,as She has provided us with so much.