Spring fever or I guess I should say Garden Fever hits and again at the most inappropriate time. Yup it's feeling like negative degrees and I am wrapped up in my robe dreaming of my Spring garden already! Hopeful thinking?
Either way, I have big plans for this year! Last year was almost perfect! I had a bumper crop of corn, tomatoes, peppers, strawberries and loads more!
The only issue... It was CROWDED. Plants were out growing their beds at a rapid rate, pumpkin vines were merging with the melon vines and most sad of all... my herbs were smothered. They made it until mid July until the roses grew their rapid and unexpected growth spurts. I was able to get a lot of herb but to know that I could have gone until October this year kills me.
Now that I use my oils, tinctures and dry herbs in my handmade products... so this can't happen again!
So, taking my already huge garden and making it bigger. This sounds great... in theory. Easy to write in the new beds and expand the fence line out. DOING it is another story completely! Bigger means pulling up fence posts, moving the soil already in the beds (because I use this thing I call the drop it method for seeds on to the next year, I will explain this later) and building new beds. You would think writing it all out would make it dread it... It doesn't!
I'm not one the the rich and famous here so my garden doesn't take a lot of money to build or maintain in order to have a successful bounty. I use untreated wood, again because my garden is organic. It does break down after a few years but any wood will so I don't worry about it much. Winterizing your garden beds can help because hey, that's 5-6months out of the weather! I don't do that... I should but I don't. You should, Dearest Reader, because you are smart! I don't buy special soil, that soil is plain top soil mixed with my organic compost! I use fermented compost, if you want a blog on it, lemme know in the comments!
I needed extra top soil for the water garden. Otherwise we have an old fenced in garden we use to put leaves and other compost. So I dig my own soil up every year! I call this my 'Getting ready for summer' workout! I get the garden done and I am sore for a good solid week, HAHA! We search all throughout the year for free untreated wood to use and anything else I may like to include! Where there is a will, there is a way.
I don't do raised beds with weed barriers because I have learnt that my plants are smaller sized and the weeds didn't seem any less. I do have border beds, I don't know what the gardening pro's call these exactly but just wooden frames with plant specific soil on the inside and mulch outside. This keeps the path clear between beds! I still weed but part of those plans are to use an organic on top of the soil weed barrier! I didn't want to use any plastics that can potentially leach into the plants and will break down by the element before the really bad weed season even begins anyway! I don't want to use newspaper because many would dispute that as organic gardening and again the breaking down before the real weed season even starts. I have had nothing but good results with my own religious weeding, leaves and mulch around the plants, so that's the plan.
As for the plants, I firmly believe anyone can have a hardy garden. It's just about knowing your plants. Where they like to live, the type of soil, the amount of sun, weeding, watering and making sure to keep the bugs away. Lavender, as an example, hates having wet feet. I use a blend of 30% moss, 30% sand and 40% soil, roughly guesstimated. Equal amounts of moss and sand with some soil may be more closely to what I actually do :) Lavender likes full sun and it quite picky, IMO. Roses are simple. Basic soil, mild pruning in the spring and watch out for mold! As long as they don't have any weak points where bugs may attack, they are King of the Garden. Soil is another thing to take in to account. Some plants do better in acidic soil and some like a more Alkaline soil. Know your soils and what your baby prefers! Research your plants before you waste your money on seeds or plants. If you don't know your plant, don't be shocked when it dies. Making your plants happy is the best way to get results, results being more produce! You don't have to grow them in another country to make them happy!
Bugs are always an issue in a garden, organic gardens are even more of an issue. Different bugs require different Blah blah. Let me tell you what I use for bugs and this has worked with aphids, zucchini bugs, slugs and flea aphid, which I think still counts as some scientific named aphid or maybe not even an aphid at all but again, not a garden pro on tv. I don't even get paid to do this soooo flea aphid it is! This secret recipe has kept all of them away! So shhhhh!
I use...water with homemade organic glycerin, tea tree oil, peppermint oil, oregano oil, garlic tincture and cayenne tincture! To make a DIY tincture, add the garlic and the cayenne to boiling water and let it seep for a week or two. All natural! I REALLY recommend doing this at night or evening and washing off in the morning. The soap can smother your plants and the soap and essential oil combo can cause sun burning and wilted plants! ANY recipe with soap and oils should be rinsed off in the morning, at least before the sun gets the hottest. Especially on baby plants, which seem to have the most damage when bugs come along for a little nibble. If I need to use a spray during the day I use water with peppermint oil and a tiny bit of the liquid glycerin. Peppermint and oregano both BURN so bugs hate it, the glycerin makes leaves slippery and aphids hate it PLUS it helps keep the stuff on longer!
I say I spray it every night but I don't ever actually keep my word on that one and I only spray it when I see a problem. It seems to work well enough. Don’t waste your time if you keep a good eye on your garden. Things to look out for are browning leaves, tiny holes in leaves, missing leaves... things of that such. Mold and Mildews can be easily taken care of with a few drops of tea tree oil in water and sprayed on!
Plants are most susceptible when they are little. So, if you start from seed, it's very important to check them often. It doesn't take slugs or flea aphids long to kill a tomato plant. Best part though, if you do save one the plant is so much stronger! I don't have scientific proof behind this but I do notice that the abused babies generally grow into hard to bully adults. This is good for the survival of the plant but plants that have the habit of over growing tend to use more energy growing and yield later bumper crops. Even store bought plants are often small enough to take a beating and buying from a store increases your risks for bringing in mold, insects and other things that aren't in your garden! Upcycle milk jugs, soda bottles and anything of the sort to cover. Cover the plant carefully and push into the dirt so the ornery little buggers can't find a way in!
On to my drop it planting. This works perfect for tomatoes, pumpkins, gourds, squash, zucchini and melons. I just drop the damaged fruit! I have this deal with the bugs in the end of summer, half for me and half for you! Normally at the end, I am just ready for pumpkins and I don't really mind sharing. Especially when I get 10 pounds of maters a day... sure, help yourselves! This always leads to FREE tomato plants popping up the next year!! I haven't bought my heirloom Chocolate or heirloom ivory pear tomatoes in YEARS just because of this one little thing! Use a pumpkin on Halloween? Simply dump the seeds in your garden and cover with a layer of dirt! Squash get a little bug has eaten on? Leave it there! Seriously it is this easy. Free Plants? SURE! I haven't tried this with my corn, usually because any corn we don't want, the squirrels are the ones who get to it first.
Did I miss anything? If you would like more info, please feel free to comment and I can make another blog about that!
This was quite a long one but worth it! I hope all of this info has helped someone out in this big ole world to have a more productive organic garden! It is more of a hassle to garden organic but the benefits more than out weigh the extra work! Let's help make the world and ourselves better!
Love and Green Growing things,
The Smart Girl in Pants
The Smart Girl in Pants