Our Organic Gardening Experiment -- PIC HEAVY

Discussion in 'Hobbies' started by HHandbasket, Aug 22, 2011.

  1. HHandbasket

    HHandbasket The Chickeneer

    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.

  2. cat1994

    cat1994 Songster

    Sep 12, 2010
    Southeast MO
    wow [​IMG] hope all gose well
  3. HHandbasket

    HHandbasket The Chickeneer

    Thank you! Today was supposed to be planting day, but this morning, we see that we don't have nearly enough dirt in the new raised bed, so we are bringing up more soil from the bottom of the hill today. Unfortunately, today's a work day for me, so my wonderful better half, Farmer Lew, will be bringing up the soil. We are gonna try to figure out a way to rig up the wheelbarrow to roll behind the truck so we don't have to push 3 wheelbarrows full of dirt all the way up the hill. We live on a REALLY steep hill. How steep, you may ask?

    Our hill is so steep that I have taken walks to the bottom of the driveway and had my ears pop on the way down.

    We pushed those wheelbarrows up the hill 4 times yesterday and are not in a big hurry to do it again. LOL.
  4. HHandbasket

    HHandbasket The Chickeneer

    Newest update: We have 24" deep tubs in which we planted radishes and carrots yesterday. Oh, and if you look in the pictures above, you can see my ginormous tomato plants right behind me to my right shoulder in the 3rd picture. Those plants were only 4 weeks old on Monday! Gotta love alpaca gold!

    So I have a question for my fellow gardeners: How many of you do your gardening in accordance with the farmer's almanac? Just curious. My grandmother SWORE by it, and she ALWAYS had high production in her garden. She also used to collect all her eggshells in a coffee can, and when the can got full, she'd just crush them up in a floursack dishtowel & sprinkle them directly into the garden. She swore it was the only reason her gardens (both flowers and veggies) didn't get snails and slugs. I do compost my eggshells, but I think I will try the direct-sprinkle method next year in part of my garden as an experiment to see how it goes.

    At this point in time, I use lava rock to protect my cruciferous plants from snails/slugs. They cannot crawl across the lava rocks, so a little ring of lava rocks gets put around the base of the plants when they start growing. Same concept as using DE... it shreds their undersides.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2011
  5. Kudzu

    Kudzu Songster

    Mar 27, 2011
    This all looks great, please keep posting your progress.
  6. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

    Aug 20, 2010
    I garden roughly according to the moon and have for many years. It really does seem to work better to, for instance, plant leafy greens before the moon is full, fruiting things during the second quarter, root crops in the 3rd quarter, and pulling weeds just before the new moon. I know farmers almanac follows this but they throw in sun signs as well. Those change every few days and I tend to do things as I feel like it so for my style, paying strict attention to "best days" on their charts is too much for me. I do give it credence though. I think those old guys were on to something.
  7. Shireshome

    Shireshome Chirping

    Mar 29, 2011
    Quote:Hmm perhaps this is a stupid question.....But why not put the dirt IN the truck and forget about the wheelbarrow? If you put a tarp down before and fill the back of the truck this will save tons of time and back work.

  8. HHandbasket

    HHandbasket The Chickeneer

    Well, I misspoke. It's not really a truck. It's an old SUV... I mean OLD, but she runs ok. Wouldn't try to drive her on a long trip or anything, but she runs good enough for now.

    But yeah, I can see where it sounded silly, the way I worded it. [​IMG] We have thought about lining the back end with a tarp & filling it with dirt that way, too. We may whine and groan and moan about it, but the exercise and lifestyle has been good for us & we are trying to reduce our carbon footprint... a little sweat equity goes a long way toward strengthening the heart muscle. [​IMG]
  9. muddstopper

    muddstopper Songster

    Aug 23, 2008
    Murphy NC
    Quote:Eggshells are almost pure calcium carbonate. I doubt the shells had very much effect on the slugs and snails, but am willing to bet the added calcium had much to do with her bountiful crop yields.

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