Geodes!! We have some very rocky soil being tilled for the first time in forty years (if I get the hand me down story right). In addition to wheel barrels and wheel barrels of rocks we have removed so far...we also came across many of these little beauties. The bucket on the left is what geodes look like when they are unearthed - like a bunch of ugly rocks, right? Not right. When they are cleaned up and split open what is revealed are beautiful rocks liked what is pictured on the right. (I borrowed these photos. My kids are sick and in bed as I type...maybe we'll to a post on our own geodes one day. Can you homeschool mommas smell a science project??) We have these all over our property. We often find them laying about. The sun which catch them as just the right angle and you will get a glimpse of a sparkle and there one is, that has been unearthed, opened and sparkling... we think that's pretty cool. :-) YHVH's Creation never ceases to amaze me.
Next, pictured here, are our garden rows that we have prepared. What you are looking at is 5 rows 125 feet in length (there is a break in the middle) beds that are 3 feet wide. They have been tilled, rocks pulled, hoed, covered with a thick (decomposing) hay mulched then wet it down. Before that, we laid out tin roofing (that's what we had to work with) to kill the grass and weeds before we tilled it. It seems to have worked very well. This garden is behind the house. Now in a few weeks, as it warms up the soil should be getting rich with micro organisms and worms (WE HOPE!), and the straw will have settled in a little more. We are gleaning techniques from the Square Foot Gardening method that we have done in the past in creating these 3 ft beds. We have put 6ft between each row. This allows our mower to to pass by with the bulky bagger attachment without disturbing the precious plants in the beds. We are going to do some "aggressive composting" this year (yet another post!) and our collected clippings are part of that project.
Pictured above is on the left (facing) side of the house. We have four rows that are 40 feet long and 4 ft wide. Last year we realized how hard our ground was going to be to prepare...we have never done a project of this scale before, we have only manual equipment (we do not own a tiller or tractor), and we got thinking like homesteaders. Instead of getting uptight about what we don't have or doing something financially irresponsible to get something we think we need. We started thinking...what DO we have? The list looked something like this:
- Little to no experience
- 40 year old bodies
- 4 small + 2 medium children
- Very limited money
- Faith in YHVH (knowing He has called us to do this)
- Space and full sun
- City water (chlorinated and fluoridated!!!!!!)
- The willingness to work
- Hand tools and the ability to get more
- LOTS and LOTS or book knowledge and research skills
- LOTS and LOTS of hay from our empty fields
- Our health (as long as we keep those back injuries in check!!)
- Flexible employment
- Not afraid of failure
So we decided to research Hay Bale Gardening (yet ANOTHER post). The picture above is of some hay bales we layed out at the end of the fall cutting of hay. We let them sit in the weather to decompose. We will empty our previous compost from our raised beds on a portion of them, and as a small amount of top soil and the others we will enrich with nitrogen (hoping to finish that though process this week on exactly what we will use for that). One of the BEST things you can use ironically, is urine. We are all about, off the grid living and sustainability..but we haven't quite reached THAT place yet! (Thats a big garden!) Although I wouldn't be at all surprised if my husband has made a trip or two out there during his star gazing and moon observations on nice evenings. I am sure my beagle has hit it more than once...lifting his leg is his trade mark move that drive my husband crazy!! Needless to say...we are still searching for an alternative.
My DH trellised one of the rows when we set it up last year. and it is one of the finest I have ever seen! However, I forgot that when I went through the seeds and planned the garden. The only thing I have to trellis this year is cukes. I might get adventurous and try melons...SFG shows that is can be done....but not likely.
Lastly, pictured above, are our beloved raised beds. We brought them with us from PA. These things are wonderful for small spaces and raised bed gardening. They are made of recycled plastic and are solid as can be. I think they had a 50 year guarantee if I remember correctly! They are 8x4 ft (although planting space inside is a little smaller). We warped wood beds in the first year we tried them...maybe we didn't make them right??? But these have "done us right". Anyway, they are now designated for our new winter greenhouse, planned for the fall as we hope to follow Elliot Cole's method of harvesting cold winter crops all winter long in an unheated simple cold frame/green house. They will also play an important role in our aggressive composting plan this summer. We will move these boxes in the back, by the main back garden and set it up there. The space you see in the bottom picture(before the little "road" that runs behind it) is where we are planning to place our perennial herb garden (ANOTHER POST). It is roughly and 80 ft square space.
Preparations we have not yet completed in regards to gardening this year, but HOPE too:
- Tilling a sorghum patch
- Tilling a corn patch
- Preparing a Strawberry bed
- Setting up our rain collection system
- Installing the solar well pump system for the well we had dug last year
- Preping the Herb Garden
- Planting our 18 fruit trees we got this week!!!
That's all that comes comes to the top of my head. :-)
This post was shared at Barn Hop #5
Blessings to you and yours!
p.s. If any of our local friends are reading this (Middle Southern TN) ...when I said we have lots of hay...I mean LOTS. A lot of it is damp/wet and will make wonderful mulch for your gardens and trees. If you would like to bring a truck or trailer by to load some up and take it home....please please do! (Before we got our trailer we used to take the seats out of our caravan and fill totes up with compost from our community compost pile back in PA. That is how we filled our raised beds at the last house!) We are trying to clear that space beside the barn. It is free for the taking! We have more coming this year...until we have more animals....and our storage solutions worked out...we have LOTS to share.