summer 2013

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Last year, we did not use the soil we had to fill my raised beds.  It's very telling that there is a brick factory a few miles down the road.   I had 9 yards of top soil delivered and dumped.  We had a lot of composted horse manure from my daughter's 5 horses.  I also bought a couple bales of peat moss and a few bags of perlite and vermiculite just to help loosen up the soil.  My husband used a tractor and skid loader to mix everything together and spread into the raised beds.  I have one bed 5ft x16 ft and 3 more 4ft x16 ft.  Each bed is 2 ft. high.

In two of the beds we placed t-posts and nylon mesh fencing to have a trellis for support for tomatoes and peas.  These I will move around so I can rotate my crops.  That really helps cut down on spreading disease and depleting nutrients,   As you can see, everything is kind of ugly right now, but there is some sign of life!

The crimson clover I planted as a cover crop is starting to peek through.  The purpose of a cover crop is to curb erosion and replace nutrients in the soil.  When the clover blooms in spring, you dig it into the soil. It increases the nitrogen, so you can use less fertilizer.

The garlic I planted last fall  is starting to emerge too.

  This is our spring house  It is hard to see now, but in a few months you will see a spectacular poison ivy crop.

These are my sunflowers from last summer.  They are the remains of the sunflowers that are seen in the picture in my introduction page of this blog.  I left them standing for the birds.

  Most of the seeds are eaten now.

More about dirt.   I had my soil tested at Southern States last summer.  PH was close to 6.5, lead and arsenic were very low.  The delivered soil was an unknown and I wanted to be sure it was safe.  The animals we get the manure from are ours.  They are healthy and fed hay that we grow.  The straw and manure removed from the stalls  sat around for months.  On cold days you could see steam coming off the pile.

Future Compost
Horses and hayfield in the background

Well, that is all that is going on this week.  Still haven't gotten my indoor lights yet.  Will really need them by the second week in March.  I want to start a lot of perennials this year.  It is still too cold for my ladybug garden clogs.  I hope to put these boots away soon!

Saturday, February 19, 2011


At my workplace, a lot of people use a pod coffee maker.  Instead of throwing away the pods, I have asked  everyone to just throw them into a bowl so I can take them home.  One co-worker even brings hers in from home.  Thanks,  Renee!

What I do is remove the grounds from the pods and clean the containers.  The coffee grounds and tea leaves go into my compost bin and the containers will be used when I start my seeds soon.  The coffee maker punctures the bottom of the pod, so there is already a drainage hole.

Now before you all say  EWWW,  let me assure you,   COMPOSTING IS AWESOME!

You can prevent  13% yard waste,  12% food waste, and 34% paper waste from ending up in the landfill,  which is full by the way.  Most of Frederick County's garbage is sent out of state at a huge cost to us all.

  This is the bin in my back yard.  I have a wooden 3 bin system at the farm for my garden waste.  I save raked leaves and pine needles to add to the food waste we generate.  Only vegetable & fruit waste, along with egg shells go into my pile.  No meat, dairy, bones or fat.  Never add cat or dog waste, but horse manure is fine.  I add shredded newspaper if the pile is too soggy, or starts to smell.

Add water when it is dry, turn with a pitchfork every now and then and you have a wonderful product to add to your garden or spread on your lawn.

Compost adds nutrients and microorganisms to your soil.  It improves soil tilth (that means the soil is nice and loose for seeds to germinate), and water-holding capacity.

You can compost leaves, grass clippings, untreated sawdust, sod, hay, straw, weeds, chopped corn stalks and cobs, shredded newspaper, cardboard, hedge clippings, dead flowers, coffee grounds with the filters.

Along with no meat, fat and dairy,  I also avoid glossy paper (newspaper inserts, magazines and the plastic windows in envelopes.)   All that goes into the recycle bin.

Speaking of starting seeds,  My wonderful husband Michael is going to help me build a shelf system with hanging lights.  I learned last year that a sunny southern window is not enough light for seedlings.

We are heading to Lowe's right now!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Little Background

4 years ago, my husband Mike and I were looking for a tax deduction.  Kids were grown, mortgage was low.  We had almost no deductions and were giving a lot of money to Uncle Sam in taxes.  After looking around for rental properties, we decided they would always make more townhouses, but they weren't making any more land.  Soooo,  we bought a 32 acre farm with a disgusting house and creepy barn.

After lots of money and sweat (on Mike, Wesley, and Bailey's part),  our farm has turned into a lively, working farm with a very livable house and beautiful barn.

I got to take over the front yard to build a garden of my dreams.  Mike was able to acquire a lot of free, untreated 2x12x16 wood.  (You always want untreated for vegetable gardens so the chemicals aren't picked up by your food.)

I will be taking pictures of my garden in the next week or so.  Right now all the work will be indoors.  Alice (my cat) and I were going through my box of seeds to see what I have and what I need to order.

I was able to christen my new garden clogs this weekend while I was out pruning a Japanese Maple tree in my back yard.

Monday, February 14, 2011

February 2011

The snow is starting to melt, which has me breaking out the catalogs to plan my garden this year.  After last year's searing heat and bumper crop of stink bugs, I know who my survivors and weaklings are.

Last year was my first year with several large raised beds.  After they were built  and planted, I enrolled in the University of Maryland Master Gardener program.  I passed my final test August 28 2010 and am fulfilling my 40 hours of volunteer work.

This is my first experience with blogging.  I now own a great camera and plan to take lots of pictures this year!