As some of you know, we had to move this spring right in the middle of planting our spring/summer garden, so now I am getting my fall garden ready. For now, I only have a small area I can use as a garden (when we moved here, we were told we could plant whatever we wanted anywhere on the property... that has turned out to not be true, and everytime I have tried to start a garden, I've been told no, that they are using my chosen space for something else). We are completely redoing the space that is designated as our yard, however, and we are expanding the chicken coops and will be landscaping an "edible yard". In the meantime, we are putting in a few small raised beds up at the top of the property, literally in our driveway. We first had a small tiny triangle of space. Couldn't get anything to grow in the soil here... it's mostly decomposed granite. But.. being on an alpaca ranch, we have access to an entire mountain of "alpaca gold" (poop) which makes a great soil augment and is very nutrient rich without burning plants or roots (they are complete herbivores). I had 3 tomato plants, 6 jalapeno plants that were nearly dead, and one sweet bell pepper plant. They were all pretty useless until we augmented the soil with "alpaca gold". The plants literally did NOTHING in 2 weeks, then all of a sudden... boom! We got 3-foot-tall tomato plants COVERED in 'maters, and the pepper plants are thriving and covered in little baby peppers. It's very exciting to have found something that works! So we are expanding into another raised bed. We have issues here with gophers and moles and lots of weeds, but we didn't have any money for weed block. However, our landlady (an alpaca rancher) tells us that some people take the alpaca fiber thirds (i.e., low quality alpaca fiber that cannot be spun into yarn) and felt it out and use it for natural weed block. Well, I didn't have the time or resources to felt it out, but we lined the bottom of our proposed raised bed area with chicken wire, then loosely wove in and packed on the alpaca fiber thirds. We have had a busy morning of garden prep, and I am so excited! This is what the alpaca fiber thirds look like: This is the alpaca fiber spread out in the raised bed area. This is me wetting down the alpaca fiber to "felt" it (makes like a layer of felt fabric): Then I covered it with a layer of "alpaca gold" (fertilizer/poo). Then some dirt from the property (mostly decomposed granite, rich with minerals but not much else). Then a layer of our own wonderful homemade compost, some of which has been in our composting tumbler since last Christmas. So now we have a couple layers of fertilizer, dirt, compost, and some organic garden soil I picked up at our local Ace Hardware gardening center. We are now letting it rest, and I'll be planting lettuce, spinach, beans, and snow peas tomorrow.