Happy April! Just a few weeks away from LAST FROST DATE for us patient folks in zone 7b! Yippee! There were many different challenges this month: from starting seed to building trellises to pest management ideas to growing food for your flock.
And since none were really that difficult, i figured i could fit them all in.
First challenge :: Start Something New from Northwest Edibles
What isn't new to me this year? The whole "greenhouse growing on an honest to goodness farm" is keeping us extremely busy, yet perplexingly happy. Unfortunately, most of the land was used for alpaca rearing, so it will be a quite a few years before the soils are healthy enough to plant in again. Thanks to intrusive maps provided by The Google, we have been able to deduce where the garden has been on this property in previous years and are concentrating efforts in that area first--with a bigger project i'll talk about in the upcoming weeks. (You know me...always full of big ideas, this one.) :)
In the spirit of fairness however, i picked up a couple packet of seeds that produce new to me squash: Austrailan Butter Squash, a seed from Azure Husbandry, and Jarrahdale heirloom pumpkins from Botanical Interests.
These babies are potted up right now in the greenhouse, waiting to emerge from the soil still.
Looking forward to next year, when we will hopefully have enough soil in the raised beds in the Abominal Growman that we can just direct seed these types of plants.
Second Challenge :: Trellis Building from DigginFood.com
By fortuitous chance, we cut down all the bamboo that the previous owners planted here at the farm. Who knew we could grow bamboo in places that receive a fair helping of freezing temps during the winter? While wondering what we'd do with such a heaping mass of yard waste, and pondering ideas of eradicating it from the property, we had an epiphany--home grown garden stakes! In doing a little research on line, i found that bamboo canes should be cured before using. Apparently, there isn't a risk of them re-rooting, as i had previously thought, since they only spread by rhizomes. Curing is basically so that they will harden up and not crumble after a year. Recommendations i read from bamboo crafters forums were to cure for 4 years!! I will leave some of the canes Moose harvested to dry for a year or two under our shaded hoophouse, however since we have an endless supply, i am going to use most for the peas and beans this year. Eventually, if i find that we can reuse canes year after year, i may add this "trellis products" to our future farmstand. :)
Third Challenge :: Pest Management by Seattle Urban Farm Co.
What could be better than a list of ways to curb those pesky critters in your garden?!? And thanks to the gents from Seattle Urban Farm Co., they've shared a few ways to fight back against those unfortunate critters known as pests that chow our gardens to bits as if they were at an All You Could Eat Seafood Buffet. (e.g.: "The gardener called...they're running out of brassica starts!")
I decided i would start a bunch of beneficial flowers from seed and use these to try to curb the pests this year. It worked in previous years in my former garden. Starting things like zinnas, sunflowers, cosmos, and alyssum...with a little Honey Bee Mix from Territorial thrown in for good measure. Was thinking of nasturtiums too, but i am too chicken to try trap cropping aphids in the greenhouse--especially when it looks like we'll be leaving the doors open for ventilation during the summer. (Can you believe the temp in our little greenhouse, where all the starts are, was a whopping 101 degrees F on Saturday?? Sheesh...our greenhouse hit the hundreds the same day Arizona did!!)
Fourth Challenge :: Grow a Row For Your Flock by N.W. Blooms
This challenge is multifaceted. Since we already source our chicken feed locally and they are now free-ranging throughout a portion of our property with access to our composted kitchen scraps, the challenge that was left of creating space to grow food for your flock. Another interestingly timed challenge, because i am designing a garden bed out in the front of the house and while i was scheming, i thought it would be cool to include some grains to use as treats for the chickens and birds.
Another thing i don't like about this many roses is that their proximity to one another and sheer mass quantity limit anyone to really stop and smell them. There are thorns GALORE out there! A problem that became painfully evident when we were planning an Easter Egg hunt of our neices and nephew. I prefer that people be able to wander my garden...without giving a pint of blood.
I was thinkin' if i remove some the roses, then the space behind the rose garden could be spruced up a bit too. You can see it's all chick weed now, which does provide a healthy treat for the Chicas.
But i want more.
Could you see amaranth weeping over the white picket fence?
How about a healthy stand of majestic sunflowers?
Maybe some enchinacaes, hollyhocks, and currants thrown in for good measure?
And a smattering of self-seeding annuals like poppies and calendula thrown in?
I am researching flowers now to create my own "seed mix".
There are a couple trees in the area...one is staying there due to the sheer mass of it, however this one in the picture above may be a ginko...i am uncertain. The former owners seemed to have an affinity for ginkos and apples. :) Was thinking eventually maybe a nut or fruit tree would look devine out here and would help eventually shade the west side of the house.
The front garden sweeps around to the north and is planted with an enormus amount of lavander (hooray!) and lilacs. This totally stays...the bees will be so happy!
Another visitor in the garden has me thinking....
|Barn Kitters :: The Meow-er! We call her the Walkie-Talkie|
How are your gardening projects coming along?
Have you heard about the Urban Farm Handbook Challenges? PNW authours Annette Cottrelle and Joshua McNichols have designed an ingenious series of monthly challenges, related to topics in their awesome book, that draw each of us closer to self-sufficiency. There are varying degrees of participation, yet much to be learned from not only the authours, but the participants as well. If you are interested in learning more about a more sustainable way of life, please visit Annette's website, Sustainable Eats , and sign up for the challenge. Or just follow along.