To get the good dirt in our garden, we need to have some way of getting the good dirt into the garden. When you start turning the soil over, the dirt is hard and usually pretty light colored. One way of getting more nutrients into the soil is by adding compost. What compost is, is vegetables and weeds, grass and leaves. Stuff that we don’t want and usually the city won’t take away. It is very hard for me to bag up these type of things for the garbage to eventually fill landfills. I am taking all of the nutrients out of the soil and sending them somewhere else. Why can’t I harness this goodness and put it to use? Well, we can. What I started doing, several years ago, is storing leaves and grass behind my shed. This way, I can let it rot and not have to look at it. Every once in a while I will go back there and rake it and turn it over. By now it is a nice dark, moist soil that will make everything in the garden wonderful! Some people use left over vegetables and stuff from dinner. I wouldn’t recommend using meat products though, may attract animals and other undesirables…
To get a good compost you will need materials and time and effort. It needs to be compact, but not so much that there is no air. It should be able to get air to start decomposing. Then you turn it over and mix it up to get more air into the mix. Bacteria, fungus and worms will work their magic on this pile of refuse until it is ready to make your garden green. Mulching the larger stuff will also help speed up the process.
Steps for a good compost:
get a lot of yard waste and dinner leftovers and put them in a pile. (mulch the larger stuff)
Keep it wet and dark
Turn frequently to add air
mix up and spread on garden!
It’s that easy. You can buy compost machines or build bins, but I like to just make a pile.
Remember though, if you pile is next to a neighbors house, ask permission before starting. They may not appreciate the smell and look of a compost pile as much as you do! Thanks to the www.KitchenGardeners.org for this video. It is not like watching NASCAR, but it has a lot of good information! (It looks like he is talking at the beginning, but bear with it!)
Many have not enjoyed the benefits of eating vegetables right out of the garden. Not mass produced and weak, but the real stuff, full of flavor and nature! If you are like me, there is no other way. The next several entries will be all about making your home garden the best and most productive for your family!
Instructions for starting a garden part 1
Grow only those vegetables you enjoy eating. Give priority to those prized for incredible flavor when eaten fresh from the garden: sweet corn, beans and peas, tomatoes and young spinach, among others.
Prepare a plot of flat ground that gets full sun nearly all day. Break up and turn the soil and add compost or other organic material (See How to Buy Soil Amendments). A full day of blazing sunshine is especially important if you grow vegetables in the cool weather of early spring, early fall or winter.
Figure out how much growing space you have and plant accordingly. Lettuce, for example, can be grown in a solid mat, but tomatoes need to be spaced about 2 feet (60 cm) apart.
Give pumpkins at least 4 feet (120 cm) of growing room. Growing requirements are provided on seed packets, in catalogs, and on nursery tags, as well as in books on growing vegetables.
I was lucky enough to be helping our kids class at church on a Thursday night when we were showing them how to plant sunflower seeds. This went along with a discussion about planting seeds in people about the gospel of Jesus Christ. But then we are not only just to plant the seeds but we need to cultivate them and then harvest them. During this lesson we were going to plant the seeds and then only water two of the three rows. Hopefully they would see the difference it makes to cultivate and water and weed.
Children preparing the soil for planting
The seeds that germinated and were taken care of should grow healthier than the ones that were left alone. I found several tips evident after helping with this lesson:
Don’t, willy-nilly, hand out sharp pointy farming equipment to children who have been looking forward to the last day of school for weeks. They might not be as safe as we would expect them to be. I am surprised I didn’t make a trip to the hospital…
Do where good shoes for digging with shovels and such. Many of us had flip-flops and sandals and the ground was very hard. It made it tricky to get the dirt loosened up without getting hurt or falling down. If anyone has worked with kids, as an adult, that is the wrong thing to do. You never, never want to fall down in front of the kids!
Do have enough tools and jobs for all the kids. It is very important that everyone have something to do. Otherwise there is a lot of girls chasing boys and stuff and more opportunity for kids to get hurt. Most of the boys wanted to throw dirt clods and the girls wanted to stand around and talk, but we were able to get them all involved.
Watering the two good rows
Sunflower Seed Package
Don’t forget what you planted and where. It makes it easier for mowing and stuff if you remember where it was. Especially if someone else mows the yard or area.
Do always scope out the area you will be planting in to make sure that it will hold up well to the weather. You don’t want too much water to gather when it rains and you also don’t want it to dry out too quickly and leave the seeds too dry. As you can see in the picture we did not choose wisely. It will be a miracle if the seeds survive the huge amounts of rain that we have been getting lately!
Planting trees can be expensive and a lot of hard work, or we can do it the easy way. If you have access to a maple tree, you know that the seeds, or “helicopters”, are plentiful in the spring time. (Thanks to Wikipedia for the picture)
Maple seed or "helicopter"
These seeds are easy and fun to show the kids how one of God’s great creations work. It is really something to show exactly how a seed germinates as easy as one of these helicopters. The easiest way is to germinate the seed in a wet paper towel. Once it opens up, it can be placed in a cup of dirt. Which reminds me of a friends science fair project…
Keys to a successful tree:
Catch some helicopters falling from a maple tree
Germinate them, in the house, in a paper towel
Once the seeds have started plant them in a cup of dirt
Once the tree is started, and about 6 to 8″ tall, it can be transplanted to your favorite location outside.
Then get a comfortable chair or hammock and watch it grow!
Don’t mow over the tree by accident when mowing the lawn…
Maple Tree Grown from Seed
My tree has taken approximately five years to grow about 30 feet tall from a seed. You will need to trim the lower branches from the base of the tree as it is growing to get a good looking backyard tree. If it is in the woods you may not care about this as much.
A variation on tip number five is not necessarily sit in a chair for 5 years, but look out the windows every couple of months to see how the tree is coming.
For more tips on growing seeds in paper towels, be sure to watch the last video for some other planting tips!