Welcome to Home Shalom!

Welcome to Home Shalom and Shalom Farm. We pray your visit here be blessed. We are learning to walk in the Ways (Torah) of our Father YHWH and follow Y'shua, His Messiah until He returns to "set things straight". We call it a "Messi-Life". Our walk is neither tidy nor perfect, but it is filled with passion, devotion and desire to serve our King. We are learning to be humble servants, and to be good stewards of the things that He has entrusted to us: His Word, our marriage, our children, our family, our community, our health, and our farm. Hitch your horse and stay a while--our door is always open!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Preparing the Gardens

Last week we set up our cold frames to get some seeds started. We re not "on top of it" enough to have our spring cold crops in this year...but we hope to do that next year. We worked with what we had. These are some windows that the previous owner left in the barn for us. We have them propped up with hay bales at an angle facing south. This is the first time we have tried to start seeds ahead in a cold frame. We always just sowed them directly before. I still have some strawberry seeds in the freezer that should be ready to be started this week, and I want to start some rosemary yet too. We are using Heirloom and Organic Seeds. We hope to pick a few to save this year in the learning experience (that's another post!)

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
  • Seeds
  • 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:

  1. Tilling a sorghum patch
  2. Tilling a corn patch
  3. Preparing a Strawberry bed
  4. Setting up our rain collection system
  5. Installing the solar well pump system for the well we had dug last year
  6. Preping the Herb Garden
  7. 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.


Millie said...

Wonderful Pamela! Such a great space you have for your garden. I had to laugh at the 40 year old bodies. That is what gets me too at gardening time (that and lack of experience gardening in Wyoming).
I'd love to be down there and help you with your hay. We are really needing organic matter to improve our soil.

PaulaB52 said...

I trellis melons all the time. If your melons are getting really big and you're worried, take some old panty hose and make a sling for them.

I don't trellis the big watermelons, but the "personal sized" melons, I do. Works great.

Good luck with your new garden. I'm jealous of all that damp hay. Wish i could come and get some!

Mommy Set Free said...

Paula..Hmmm, I do have honey dew and cantaloup on my plan! Maybe will yet...I'll be sure to post it if I do. :-) However, I have not had an "old pair of panty hose" in my possesion for quite some time... so I will have to find an alternative. :-)

That is a long way to go for "free" hay!!! But you know my door is always open for you! ;-)

Andi said...

A wonderful post Pamela...and I am so excited to be learning with you ..as you go!

Moira said...

WOW! What a beautiful space you have!
Looks great, slow progress is still progress!!!

Anonymous said...

Your garden space is great! My kids say I would plow the entire yard, if I could. We have 5 acres and only 1/2 or less is flat! We planted lettuce, spinach, and radishes yesterday. We have been eating spinach from our winter garden and started fermenting cabbage from our garden today. We have left over turnips from the fall still in the ground that we are feeding to the animals. I trellis cukes, squash, and pumpkins too!

Our Cedar Cottage said...

I love what you did with the old windows! We have a couple dozen such windows behind our barn, left by the former owner. I will chat with my husband and father tomorrow about how we might use them, just as you have done!

I love the Homesteading Revival's Barn Hop. Finding your blog is a blessing.

Enid said...

Ohh wow I am loving this post so much...the hay bales gardening is a super great idea...Thanks for Sharing...! I am so inspired!

Michelle said...

Cool geodes... my 12 yo would love those. He is my rock hound.

I've read recently that tilling brings up weed seeds and disturbs the natural environment, so I have been looking into no-till gardening... giving it time to build back up was good... do you use weed block in your raised beds? I do, but thinking of using newspaper instead to encourage earthworms to inhabit the soil... otherwise, how do they get in the boxes? The no-weeds aspect is rather nice, though. :p

I need to make a what do we have list, too... I've not given my garden much though except for no-till and I am not even sure where that came from! I need to think about it soon, though!

Thanks for this post. :D

Mommy Set Free said...

Thanks Chelle,

We think they are cool too. :-)

Yes, no till is our ultimate goal too! We were so disapointed to find out that you actually have to have an initial tilling - the ground does need to be initially broken, but then you build from there. We hope to supplement ours with some red wigglers too. :-)

The newspaper is a wonderful idea and I can tell you (from our worm farming days) that worms love WET newspaper!

Traci said...

It looks like you have been very busy:) It is wonderful to be able to get outside...It's still a little cool here, but very soon!