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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Name that Hen

Hey everyone - I need your help! This is my 7 week old pullet(young female chicken) that I still haven't figured out a name for. We have named our other babies but still couldn't come up with any fitting for her. Which is bad because I have to say things like, "Come here, you!" instead of something cute so I'm not bonding with her as much as the others. So I thought I could turn to you guys for help!

This little lady is a Black Langshan and will be quite tall for a chicken - like to your knees! Langshans are a rare heirloom breed originally from China that lay dark brown eggs. They have feathers around their feet and are said to be calm and self-possessed. She will eventually look something like this:
Her breed has a pretty classic look and maybe that's why it's been hard for me to choose a name. So tell me your name idea(s) and why you think it fits my little hen. I'm open to all suggestions whether it has to do with what she looks like or just because it's a cute name for a chicken! After a week I'll look at all of the suggestions and pick my favorite. Now get naming!


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Square-foot gardening

It’s hip to be square.

I recently read about an intriguing concept calledsquare-foot gardening. Its founder, Mel Bartholomew, believes that growing vegetables in a square-foot grid produces a large harvest for the least amount of work.

The system’s mainstay is boxed garden beds that are 4x 4 feet, a size that allows you to tend your plants from all sides without ever having to step inside the box. Garden boxes can be longer, but not wider than, four feet.

To maximize efficiency, Bartholomew promotes precise placing of individual crops within each square. Large crops, like broccoli, go one plant per square. Others may be spaced four, nine or 16 per square depending on size. This, and other information about the system, can be found at www.squarefootgardening.com .

The method employs using a soil mixture of equal parts peat moss, vermiculite and blended compost. Bartholomew says most crops require only six inches of soil, allowing his method to be adapted to containers -- anywhere you want them.

Many of square-foot gardening’s ideals – such as not wasting space with rows; not trampling your soil; and growing up, not out – make a lot of sense to me. Not having done a square-foot garden before, I cannot endorse the system, but am excited to give it a go. I’d love to hear from any of you that have experience with this.

I admit that the thought of using Bartholomew’s recommended soil mixture in my entire garden makes my wallet clench, as large amounts of peat moss and vermiculite can be pricey. I can’t justify the cost of changing out my already-established garden bed just for the sake of experimentation. Plus, I’d already prepared my plot before learning about this.

I do want to try the square-foot crop placement, however, so I made a grid in my 4 x 8 foot bed.
Bartholomew recommends using wood or vinyl slats (such as from leftover blinds) for the grid. I simply put nails in my wooden planter box to anchor lines of yarn.

My 4 x 8 bed gives 32 squares for different crops. I can’t wait to see the patchwork quilt my veggies will create.

I acknowledge that soil is a critical factor to a garden’s success. I feel OK about the soil I’ve prepared in my planter box. But so that I can more fully embrace the square-foot gardening method and evaluate how well it works, I also will make a smaller box and fill it with Bartholomew’s recommended mix.

Bartholomew’s website is mainly an introduction to the subject of square-foot gardening; his book provides a lot more information. I also found a video at my library.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Happy Arbor Day

It all started with one man, and his love for trees. Arbor Day dates back to April 10, 1872 and can be attributed to Julius Morton, he and his wife moved to Nebraska, but their 'roots' were in Michigan. They noticed the lack of trees in Nebraska and observed it to be "The Great American Desert". Both were nature lovers and began to immediately plant trees and orchards, they encouraged their friends and neighbors to do the same. Not only do trees make the land more beautiful, but they are and were useful as well. They act as a windbreak, keep soil in place, supply fuel for burning, can be used for building materials, and provide shade.

Morton was a journalist and became the editor of Nebraska's first newspaper making him influential within the community. He inspired many readers to plant trees as well as numerous civic organizations. His popularity rose and later became Secretary of the Nebraska Territories. During this time he purposed Nebraska's first Arbor Day, a day set aside dedicated to planting trees. Prizes were offered to counties and individuals for planting the largest number of trees. It is reported that over one million trees were planted on that very first Arbor Day back in April 1872. The idea has spread, and 50 states and many countries are now celebrating Arbor Day.

It is amazing the difference that just one person can make in this world.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Don't Forget Arbor Day

Arbor day? My second grade son recently came home with a list of 100 questions to answer. Boy, I don't think I could be on the show "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader" because I couldn't even answer some of the 2nd grade questions. Question number 59, What is Arbor Day? Thank goodness for the internet, with a quick search on google I found out that it is a day designated for planting trees. Well, don't I feel dumb, this is a holiday I should know about. So, from this day forward we will always be celebrating Arbor Day, and we hope that you will too.

National Arbor Day is April 25th. Some states observe Arbor Day on different dates according to their best tree-planting times. Click here to find out when your state arbor day is.

We will be planting a Walnut tree and a Hybrid Poplar.

What are you doing to celebrate Arbor Day?


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Reader's Question~Whiskey Barrel Garden

Dear Backyardfarming,
I came across your blog on another blog and had a question about gardening. I noticed you had planted certain veggies in whiskey barrels? We are also renting and was wondering about the success of it. I am in CA and so we are putting in our garden this weekend, was wondering about plants (like tomato) you can put in one whisky barrel? Just curious if you could help me with this.
Thanks, Sow Seeker

Dear Sow Seeker,

The whiskey barrel garden is super simple and super successful.

1. How to fill the whiskey barrel (wb):

You will need to drill some holes in the bottom for proper drainage. Then you will want to add some rock or hummus. This helps promote drainage as well as consume space so you don't spend your whole paycheck on DIRT! If you don't want to go organic and just want to go easy you can buy a few bags of miracle grow garden soil. This year we went organic and used a mixture of manure, organic garden soil and compost. Fill your wb full because as you water your plants throughout the season the soil will settle.

2. What to plant:

We have had great success with tomatoes and green beans. But i don't see any reason why you couldn't grow cucumbers, squash, or any number of veggies!

3. Spacing:

In general we have put one vigorous tomato plant, with some marigolds and a few stalks of basil or cilantro in one wb. I think you could put two cherry tomato plants in one wb. Cherry tomatoes are fun because you get lots of fruit to harvest. Plus you can usually get them before the squirrels or birds. If you are planting from seeds, make sure to read the info packet because it will tell you important spacing and growth information.

4. In general:

I think keeping it watered and using good soil with proper drainage is the key. You should have great success!


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Project: Terrarium Gardens

This time of year inspires all of us to want to get our hands in the dirt and get something growing. You can't even go to the grocery store anymore without passing pots, soil, & plants for sale. But for those who have little time, a tiny yard, or no yard at all - a terrarium might be the perfect fit. The kids love them and they look totally chic on your coffee table. Terrariums require little care but bring the green indoors and add a little sunshine to any space. I love looking at my terrariums imagining they are little worlds of happiness and wonder. And adding a pretty rock or garden troll increases their charm.

1. For starters you'll need a container. I had so much fun looking through some of the glass containers I had already and perusing the local thrift store for more. The containers can be tiny or large - just choose something that fits your style and your space. Mason jars, fish bowls, & potpourri containers work perfectly.2. Next you 'll need some plants. Depending on the container you choose - ground covers, succulents, and many types of moss will work and each brings a different feeling to your little world. But remember that all of the plants you put in must require the same conditions for moisture and light since they will all be sharing a small space. 3. It's time to plant! We found this great video from eHow that leads you step by step through the process of planting. Check it out:

I started with a dry climate since the succulents were so darn pretty but those instructions will work for any plant. Once I finished that I went on to make three others. They are all pictured below except my favorite which is the first image in this post. Happy planting!


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Plotting your plot

The English language is – dare I say it? – ripe with gardening expressions. There’s good reason that the phrases “laying the groundwork” and “starting from the ground up” ring true. They both emphasize the need for preparation and order.

So it is with growing vegetables. A little planning about garden placement will help make the most of your efforts. This post mainly addresses forming a garden plot in your yard, but the principles also can be helpful to container gardening.

Cameron already gave us great information about soil, including the importance of using lots of organic matter. But where to put that soil? Here now are some plot points about that all-important matter of location, location, location.


• Sunlight is the most critical factor to consider when staking out a garden site. Vegetables require a MINIMUM of six hours of full sun a day to grow. You can compensate for poor soil by amending it, you can deliver water to make up for little rainfall, you can even protect from harsh weather. Unless you’re a magician, though, there’s no way you can substitute
for the sun’s power.

Choose, then, the sunniest part of your yard for your garden site. Not sure where this is? Since the summer sun shines high in the south, a good spot is anywhere with good southern exposure (faces south). This may be the north end of your yard or another spot unblocked by trees or other structures. (You want large, shadow-casting objects to be north of your garden area). Gauge the light before you go to the trouble of digging.

Light meters are available at garden stores; you leave them in the ground for a day, and they’ll tell you the number of sunlight hours. Another (no-cost) tactic is through simple observation. If you have a site in mind, note what time of day you first see sun there. Then check every hour throughout the day. Take into account that any trees currently not in leaf will cast more shade by summer. Also keep in mind that the sun’s orientation will change slightly with the
seasons (more to the south, as mentioned).

Morning sun is preferable to the intense, scorching heat of afternoon light.

•You don’t need to have your entire garden in one rectangle. Place pockets throughout your yard where the plants’ needs are best met. Group water-guzzling watermelons in one spot, for instance, and less thirsty herbs in another. Also, use any structures in your yard to your advantage. My main garden bed is against the north fence in my yard, against which we’ve placed our bean trellis. I have a stair railing in another part of my yard. That’s where I’ve planted my peas, so they can climb it.

• Another consideration to garden placement is water accessibility. Will hoses or sprinklers reach? Will you need to water by hand? This applies, too, to where you set up your containers.

• Lastly, abandon the notion that a vegetable garden needs to be placed on the fringes of your yard, out of sight. On the contrary, vegetable gardens can be beautiful. Plus you’re much more likely to tend a garden that you see and pass by all the time.


•With a good site selected, there are several ways to form your plot. One is to dig up any grass,
vegetation, rocks, etc., and dig in good soil amendments. Another is to build raised beds out of
lumber. They can be open-bottomed to sit on the existing soil or lined with a barrier like plastic. The latter option allows you to start a garden bed without the need to tear up any ground beneath – simply set up on top. Raised beds are great for carving out level spots on a slope, too.

Whichever method, make sure soil is loosened to a depth of about 12 inches or deeper.

• When it comes to sizing your plot, think INSIDE the box. We’re so ingrained with the image of rows upon rows in a vast rectangle, that it’s hard to think of a vegetable garden as anything but. Yet why go to the trouble of loosening and aerating your soil only to compact it as soon as you tread on a row? This is counter-productive and also wastes space and water.

Instead, consider forming your garden in multiple pieces or beds only as wide as your arm can reach in. This allows you to tend and harvest your garden without having to step on (and compromise) its life-sustaining soil.


• Growing up, instead of out, is a great way to garden. Beans and peas aren’t the only climbers. Cucumbers, squash, melons and pumpkins can be trained upward, leaving more ground space. I’ve even heard of pole beans being trained up corn stalks.

• Light also influences the placement of your crops within the plot or pot. Plant tall ones, such as corn or pole beans on the north end so they won’t block the sun to other plants.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Contest: Egg Recipes

We are always looking for good egg recipes round these parts and decided it was high time for a contest. Do you make some amazing deviled eggs, or is your potato salad with eggs to die for? What about a custard or some other eggy dessert? And don't forget all of those quiche and omelet recipes! If you've got one - we want it! So send us your egg recipes at backyardfarmingblog@gmail.com between now and May 15th, 2008. Anything using eggs is admissible but here are how the points will be awarded:

1. Number of eggs used - the more the merrier! (10 - 15 pts.)
2. Flavor - OBVIOUSLY! (5-20 pts.)
3. Usability - was it easy to make and did our family want to eat it? (5-10 pts)
4. *Presentation - yes, pictures please! (5-10 pts.)* No longer required - bonus point only!
5. Egginess - were eggs just a supporting role or did your farm fresh eggs get to shine? (1-5 pts.)

Highest possible total - 50 points(unless you take a picture and get bonus points!)

Then a few of us contributors will make each and every recipe round the country in our own kitchens, eat them with our families, and compare notes.

The winner will receive:

A fun egg timer:

This cute little painted metal chick:A 5"x7" print of this image taken by Marisa:
My favorite thing to eat with eggs on a Saturday morning - Pioneer Brand pancake mix:And an apron made by Sarah at Jedidiah's Novelties:
The winner will be announced June 1st. The other recipes will be posted in groups - depending on the number entered - every Monday through the month of June.

*Image of the Knorpp Family's German Pancakes with blackberry jam & maple syrup(yes, they're REALLY good...recipe coming soon!)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Wheat Grass

Wheat grass has been traced back as far as ancient Egypt. Ancient Egyptians held wheat grass as sacred due to the positive affect on health and vitality. Legend claims that the goddess Isis brought wheat and barley grains to the people of Egypt from Lebanon.

Charles Schnabel in 1930 was experimenting with food mixtures in attempt to increase chicken health and egg production for winter months. He was unsuccessful in his attempts until he noticed the hens searching and consuming cereal grasses when they were available. He was amazed to find out when he had included wheat grass and oat grass in the chicken feed their health boosted significantly as well as egg production went up 150% per chicken. Further research shows that wheat grass improves reproductive ability and milk production in cows. Human infants with mothers drinking milk from wheat grass fed cows developed faster than infants with mothers not drinking wheat grass fed cow milk.

“15 lbs of wheat grass is equal in overall nutritional value to over 350 lbs of ordinary vegetables.”
–Charles F. Schnabel

Wheat grass is believed to have many unexplained natural healing qualities. It is well known that wheat grass contains large amounts of chlorophyll (the “blood” of plants), which is very similar to hemoglobin, the molecule that carries oxygen in the blood. Most of us can agree that 'nature made' is better than 'man made'. Vitamins and minerals are absorbed easier when they occur naturally in foods as opposed to vitamins.

You too can have all the benefits of wheat grass in your very own home. You don't need a large garden plot or even a back patio. All you need is a container, some soil, some fresh wheat, and a bit of sunlight. Wheat grass is very easy to grow, even if you don't have a green thumb. This is a great activity to get your kids involved in as well because there is a very high success rate. Wheat grass can be grown on a large or small scale, for this article, we will demonstrate how to start a small crop of Wheat Grass.

Step 1: Select a suitable container for your wheat grass. It is best to choose a container that is capable of draining excess water to prevent your wheat grass from getting moldy.

Step 2: Fill your container with organic soil.Step 3: Sprinkle rinsed wheat on top of the soil and thoroughly moisten. Remember to water each day making sure to keep the soil moist.

Step 4: Place your container in indirect sunlight and wait for some sprouts.

At first, it is pretty sparse.
But with time it will fill out.
When the grass is around 6-8 inches tall it is time for a haircut, regular scissors will do just fine! (do not attempt cutting your wheat grass with hair clippers) As long as you keep the grass watered and add some nutrients to the soil, you will get many crops of wheat grass. Not only can you enjoy the beautiful lush green grass indoors, but you can benefit from it nutritionally as well. Here are just a few of the ways you can use it.

  • Add it to your bread or muffins
  • Include it in your smoothies
  • Try adding it into your pizza dough
  • Feed it to your chickens to help with egg production

Experiment with it where ever you want!

Have you ever grown wheat grass and what do you use it for?


* first image of wheat grass is from

Saturday, April 12, 2008

My backyard chickens

We talk about having chickens a lot on this blog but I know to some of you chickens seem strange and difficult animals to have. So I decided to share the story of how I got chickens to take some of the mystery out of it.

Last September I got four little chicks at the feed store - they were one week old and cute. At the feed store they told us exactly what kind of food to get, which waterer, and told us what temperature they needed to be at over the next few weeks. I got the supplies but of course I forgot everything else. That's ok though since there are sooo many sites which explain everything you need to know in complete detail. We put them in a box in our pantry and watched them grow. I was a little worried - I had no idea how to take care of chickens. I'd think, "Who am I kidding? I'm a suburbanite! "An old neighbor of ours offered us an tattered doghouse and then I spent the next few weeks drawing and designing our coop. Ever since I was a kid I've loved drawing and making plans but usually they never materialized so this was like a dream come true! Since at about 5 weeks the chicks are ready to be outside my husband Mike took my amateur plans and turned them into a real live coop. I was ecstatic!Here's our simple coop. It's nothing fancy but the chickens love it. We were able to free our 5 week old pullets(or adolescent hens) into our backyard. I was glad to get them out there - they were getting stinky. And they loved it - roaming around our backyard, scratching at bugs and munching on grass. Much to our dismay though, within a few weeks we had lost two pullets to a hawk. And then on Christmas morning two months later we lost a third to a raccoon. I was devastated. I wondered if perhaps I wasn't cut out for this whole farming thing - something I had dreamed of since childhood. I kept going though because we still had one hen left and I didn't want her to be alone. But I also didn't want to start with chicks and have to wait five weeks before I could get them outside. I had recently joined a group supporting "pet chicken" owners and at the first meeting I attended I found out about a local poultry auction that just might have some older hens for sale. We went to that auction and got her some friends. Most of the hens we got only cost us around 3 or 4 dollars. We put in extra measures for security and we were finally able to just enjoy our birds and wait for our first egg. I waited very impatiently and was finally awarded our first egg in February of this year. Hens typically start laying around 20-22 weeks. Since then we have gotten over a dozen a week from three hens. Much more than my small family could ever eat! Like Marisa said, it's a fun thing to be able to share with friends and neighbors.

I always wanted chickens but I never knew how satisfying it would be. And I certainly never expected them to be such a low maintenance pet with such great rewards. I love being able to walk by the eggs at the grocery store with a sort of snootiness because I have my own free range chicken eggs coming from my own backyard.

So in the end what I know now is that:

One - chickens are cheap. Chicks cost about from a dollar or two and their starter feed, which lasts for months if you only have a few chicks, is about six dollars. The feed, especially if you are letting them also free range on bugs, lasts forever and is much less expensive than cat or dog food.

Two - They are low maintenance animals. I kind of hate having animals underfoot - needy and smelly. Chickens are independent animals. Thought they may like you they won't stare at you with needy eyes as you finish your lunch. And they don't make much noise at all - I'd be surprised if any of my neighbors ever heard them at all. Their waste degrades very quickly and can actually be a really good addition to a compost pile.

Three - They have big personalities and are a lot of fun to watch. People say that fish are relaxing to watch but in my mind - they've got nothing on hens. I love to sit out back and watch the hens peck around, take dirt baths, or sun themselves lazily in the grass. I also think it's funny to watch them get broody and moody and get into little squabbles with each other.

Four - They're beautiful animals and a sort of pride comes in owning pretty birds. I had a friend who told me that her brother got a pet chicken and on a whim entered it into a local contest and eventually took state for such a being such a nice looking hen! If you're not careful you can start to look at all of the rare and beautiful breeds and pine over them!

Five - There are great support groups out there for chicken owners. From websites to forums to local clubs. Even the local feed store can be a lot of help answering any questions you may have. Not to mention this site...

So, if you thought chickens might be too far from your reality you may want to consider it again. It's the easy, fun, and cheap way to get out of buying eggs from those terrible factories full of chickens. Your kids will have a lot of fun and learn quite a bit about where our food comes from and the life cycle. Not to mention that your neighbors and friends will all think you're so cool!


*Something I forgot to mention is about how sanitary chickens are or are not. It's not the chickens you need to worry about but the person who is taking care of them. Large factories where thousands of birds are housed together in confined spaces are disease spreaders - not backyards. If one of my chickens were acting funny I'd notice it immediately and take action. Chickens are clean animals and if they were starting to get really dirty that would be a sign that something is wrong - which a backyard chicken owner would notice when a factory worker might not. They aren't complicated animals and they don't come into contact with other chickens so they are pretty safe and healthy. Also, when I first got chickens I was worried about the bird flu until I read an article on whether or not backyard chicken owners should worry about bird flu. It's an informative and actually pretty funny read. Click here to go to that article. And as for other sanitary conditions - my birds are clean - there are only three of them with plenty of space to roam around. I think you'll find that cleaning out the hen house when it starts to smell - maybe every few weeks around here - is all you'll need to worry about.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

My Neighborly Gift

One of my favorite things about having backyard chickens is getting a surplus of eggs. I collect empty egg cartons from friends and neighbors to hold the eggs I give away. At first, my friends and neighbors were a little apprehensive about my eggs, but things have changed. I have frequent requests for them, they love the rich yellowish orange colored yolk and the way they fluff when beaten.

What are your favorite things that you have given or received from a backyard farm???


Monday, April 7, 2008

My Texas Container Garden

Here are the Moyar's green beans sprouting. Aren't they pretty? They are Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans. I checked them today and they have started climbing up the poles. We made the tee-pee for the green beans to climb. It was very simple. We had some extra quarter round in the garage. We cut four long pieces and tied them together at the top. We planted three green beans around each pole, and now they can grow up to the top! It will also provide a cool place to grow lettuce in the hot summer like we have here in Texas!

A little FYI about green beans we learned through trial and error. The first year we tried green beans we had a bumper crop, but shortly thereafter they all died. We were so bummed, and being novice gardeners we ripped them all up. The next year we tried again. The same thing happened, but we never got around to ripping them up after they died, and then a few months later they came back. I don't know if this is supposed to happen, but we will try it again this year and see if it works again.

Here are our tomatoes. These are the Sweet 100's. They are growing so quickly. You can see we have 3 flowers, soon to be, God willing, 3 yummy cherry tomatoes. We also have an Heirloom Hillbilly growing. Completely inspired by this post, we tried an heirloom this year. He is growing much slower, but he seems healthy.

I'm getting a bit nervous because the sun has shifted and the leaves are starting to fill out on the trees and all my (hopeful) sunny spots in the backyard are disappearing. I don't know if this backyard will have enough sun for a full garden????

Just a gardening update,


P.S. Look how cute for the kiddos.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Keep that soil healthy...

I am currently taking a Soil Science class and also a corresponding Soil Science lab...
We have done some pretty fun things that may be good for you to try in deter
mining what to do with your soil for this spring/ summer planting. Many of the experiments require hazardous chemicals, sweet lab goggles and machinery that few to none have at home... so I will just tell you about one of the more simple experiments.. maybe something to be done with your kids or family.

Soil texture is defined by the proportionate quantity of sand, silt and clay in the soil. These three components make up soil, and determining their percentages will tell you what kind of soil you are working with. Sand particles are the largest of the 3 ranging from 2.0- .05 mm. Silt particles span from .05- .002 mm and finally clay particles are anything smaller than .002 mm. But none of us have a microscope to measure such sizes... so I will show you how to do what is called "Soil Ribbons".

1. Go into your yard and find a sample of soil that doesn't have any pebbles, rocks, roots, mulching, etc.
You will want ab
out a handful to give yourself enough to work with.
2. Moisten and knead an amount of soil about the size of a golf ball into a moldable condition.
3. Feed the soil between your thumb and forefinger to form a ribbon. Allow the ribbon to be suspended over the forefinger until it breaks off.
4. Measure the length of the broken ribbon pieces.

5. Repeat to confirm results.

The length of the ribbon depends on the clay content of the soil.

Using the soil texture diagram you can find different combinations of the three factors (sand, silt, clay).
-A loam soil will produce ribbons less than 1 inch.
-A clay loam will make ribbons between 1 and 2 inches.
-Clay soils will produce ribbons longer than 2 inches.

Another more simple experiment to do is to find the texture by feel.
1. Again you will want to get a small amount of soil in your hand and some water in a cup.
2. Moisten the soil until it is easily movable and quite wet.
3. With the wet soil in your palm, use your finger from your other hand and stir it up gently.
4. Pay attention to how the soil feels. You are looking for one of 3 feelings.

A. Gritty feel- sandy soil
B. Smooth feel- Silty soil
C. Sticky feel- Clayey soil

Now what do I do?
Once you have discovered what kind of soil you have, you need to determine whether to leave it, or how to enhance it. Many different diagnosis can be done, if you live near a university or a large soil lab (and you are very serious about your yard), you can get a soil analysis done which will give you results of many different categories, followed by specific recommendations.

We often laugh in class because we
always know the right answer... to be honest... almost every answer when it comes to "how can i improve my soil?" is "ADD ORGANIC MATTER". As simple as it may sound, organic matter brings life to your soil and is a cure-all-remedy.

Organic matter will improve:
-soil texture- giving you more pore space for leaching of harmful elements, also allowing more air filled space to bring oxygen to your roots. Better drainage will result as well, keeping your plants from having root rot.
-soil pH will balance to a healthy and stable level
-available nutrients- organic matter is full of them

How do I get organic matter?
Dead and decaying life- Compost is a great way to get nutrients into your soil. Keep fruit/ vegetable scraps in a container and periodically empty it into your soil and be sure to stir it in very well mixing it with the existing soil. The
more surface area you can get to touch your addition, the faster it will decompose. Also be sure that the soil will receive sunlight or some form of heat, this speeds up the process as well.
-Living organisms- Bring in the worms. If you have little boys, they might love this project if you are scared of them. Worms are a great way to get your soil to improve. They move around
and keep the soil aerated, they bring life to your soil and help slow erosion.
-Other additions- Is your husband/ are you a woodworker? Sawdust is an excellent way to add organic matter. Run to a local hardware store and see if you can round up their collected sawdust. Sprinkle it over your soil and mix it in. Being so finely ground, this is a great addition that decomposes very rapidly. You all know the color of potting soil for potted plants.... that rich dark brown/ black color is what you are searching for. If your budget is large, you can always load wheelbarrows full of rich soil and spread it throughout.
-Ask someone locally- Soils vary throughout the world extensively. Alkaline, acidic, sandy, clayey, etc. A local professional will be able to diagnose your soil just from some basic information provided through the experiments above.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.