Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
This is a guest post and entry in Round 1 of the Farm Dreams writing contest. The prizes for this round include: First Prize: A $300 gift certificate toward any purch
This is a guest post and entry in Round 1 of the Farm Dreams writing contest. The prizes for this round include:
First Prize: A $300 gift certificate toward any purchase of Featherman Poultry Processing Equipment, including pluckers, knives and more!
Second Prize: A 164' roll of electric poultry netting from Kencovevalued at $140!
Third Prize: A large heirloom pack of assorted seeds from Baker Creek (northern or southern region) plus a copy of Jere and Emilee Gettle's recently published book The Heirloom Life Gardener.Valued at $125!
Fourth Prize: A $55 gift certificate good toward any purchase at Lehman's!
Round 1 ends began January 15 and ends March 15 so GET BUSY WRITING and email your entry to us today!
When I was learning Russian, I learned there are many words for “Garden” (the noun and verb). In English there is only one. (Or there is one with some prefix nouns or prefix verbs but basically we think of all Gardening as Gardening.)
For the Vegetable Garden (unless you are lucky enough to live in zone 8 and higher) and basically for the Flower Garden, Spring is the time for planting. The only exception I can think of for Vegetables is planting garlic in the fall for the next year’s harvest. In Flowers you always buy your “Spring” bulbs (tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, crocuses etc.) in the fall, and plant before the ground is frozen.
Landscaping items, fruit trees, berry patches (except strawberries) etc. are like Spring Bulbs, and do much better planted in the fall. Not only do they do better, they are a lot less work for you too. And better yet, you can find good deals on plants to buy and transplant.
During that part of the year the plant is dormant above the ground, its sending roots out. The more feeder roots it has come that hot summer, the better chance it has of surviving. Most plants you buy say to water them anytime you don’t have an inch of rain a week with 5 gallons or more of water. You very seldom have to water plants in the winter! I’ve also noticed my ponds only get more water in them in the winter… not like the summer with the evaporation taking its 6 inches of month. If you’re not losing water in the pond, you’re not losing water in the ground.
As I said many nurseries (either mail order or, if you live in or near a big city the “Nursery” or even Lowes / Home Depot and even Wal-Mart) have sales on plants in the fall. Can you see what they look like… probably not. You can’t even see what they might look like (but you have the ability to look at the structure of the plant – something you can’t see when it’s leafed). However, you’ve spent the previous winter looking at catalogs, surfing the net to look at various things you might want, etc., and have a great idea what they will do. Buy now at the 20 percent to 75 percent savings. That plant you buy in the spring needs a serious haircut (pruning), but you won’t do it, the one you buy in the fall… let it be until February’s pruning sign for increasing growth, and prune it back. It’s bare, and at least for me, easier to prune. (Even though I know full well that plant I bought with leaves needs a severe haircut…just can’t seem to make myself cut it… it’s going to bloom there, or it’s got little fruit there.)
The only thing I do with “local” (and better discounts) nurseries is check if its root bound. The odds are it’s either moderately or worse root bound. (Root bound means the roots are circling around and around when you take it out of the container.) The odds are it is. After I take it out of the container, I take my pocketknife (or a larger one depending on the size of the container) and cut at least 4 slashes with my knife to the middle of the root ball. (east west north and south or at 90 degrees from the last one). If it’s a tree, and I see a big (healthy) root, I’ll try and untangle it.
I was taught as a boy to make a 5 dollar hole for a 1 dollar plant, guess now it would be a 100 dollar hole for a 20 dollar plant. You only get to make the hole (and amend it) once. Make the best hole you can for your new plant. I was taught to make circular holes, but have learned the plants do better in square or rectangular ones. The circular hole will cause the roots to circle and get root bound again. For some reason, when the root hits a straight side, they will work their way into it. Another thing I now do is use a pry bar and make 10 or 15 holes straight down, and to the side. I’ll try and put some of the roots into these holes (gives them the idea on where to grow). I was taught again as a boy to amend the soil, while now days most people say to only put the original dirt back in the whole. Again, as I said earlier, you only get one chance on that hole for the new plant, and I amend the soil for it. We some of our compost (some of our leaves with the chicken litter from the coop, the muck out the corral area with the spilled hay ((mixed in with their other excretions)), some of our harvested top soil (either from the cleaning out of a stock pond or from the “duck pond” ((a little settling pond in front of the main drainage for one of our ponds)), and if it needs a little acidic soil (example blueberries) some peat moss. I’ll then use our Mathis cultivator to mix it all up.
When I’m planting, I’ll use a hand trowel (unless I really missed judging how deep the roots are, and use a shovel to take out enough for the proper depth ((when I do use the shovel, I put the amended soil in our garden dump cart so I don’t “waste” it))) to dig the hole for the central root. I then back fill until the hole is about half full. Then I pour in 2 – 3 gallons of water (from our ponds – I feel rain water is better than well water especially for planting). I then fill the hole to the original depth (and try and leave a small cup in the dirt close to the plant). I’ll step on the filled hole to pack it down (and remove any air pockets… the watering at halfway point took care of the major air pockets.). I then will add another 2 -3 gallons of water. I try and leave a little cup around the plant. That way when it rains or when I have to water, the water stays and soaks in.
We free range all our poultry for insect control. We can’t mulch anything! They will have it away from the plants before I’ve added to the 5th plant. I do recommend mulching. It reduces the water evaporation, and keeps the roots cooler in the summer time. I recommend ground up wood chips. Around here when the electric or telephone companies are cleaning up their right a ways they will have a truck load of it. They will readily give it to you.