It is March! Around here, March means mud, mud, and more mud! It also means the snow melts and my yard changes from a mountain of white to something that resembles grass and a garden.
Gardening is my favorite summer activity. I have had many obstacles here on our little farm-insects, rabbits, chickens, and weeds with an unnatural power to reappear after being pulled.
In an effort to overcome my obstacles, I am making some changes this year which I am excited about. I will take you on my journey this summer with the hopes that my new ideas do not flop.
First, I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned over the past three years.
Fertilize that soil!
We grow veggies to provide nutrients for our bodies. Many of those nutrients come from the soil so it’s important to put back what the plants use.
During my garden’s first year, the plants grew beautifully and my bounty was overflowing. The second year I didn’t add to the soil, but fertilized with liquid fertilizer. Again, I had a lovely harvest. Last summer was rough as I’d just had baby number five and spent a great deal of time taking care of him while running older kids to activities. I did not add to the soil nor use liquid fertilizer. My harvest was awful!
Start with good seeds.
My favorite place to order seeds is https://www.anniesheirloomseeds.com
They have an abundant selection of almost every veggie and herb you would like to grow. Heirloom seeds means their varieties have been around for many years and have not been genetically modified. Their descriptions are accurate and helpful and they have lovely pictures. Paging through their catalog and making plans is just as much fun as the planting itself. I have been very successful with them.
Chickens will destroy a young garden.
I love my hens! We allow them to free range. They scratch through the yard and nearby fields in search of insects and seeds. They are happy and healthy and provide us with a steady supply of eggs. Unfortunately, they also enjoy that wonderful plot of freshly tilled dirt and will eat my new seeds and seedlings in 2.5 minutes. Several times they have scratched to the point that I no longer have rows, but plants sprouting up randomly where they’ve been kicked. Please, don’t let this discourage you from having chickens. This post tells how much we enjoy them.
Rabbits can munch an entire row of green beans or young broccoli plants in one night.
I have tried many different home remedies to deter my furry neighbors. Garlic, chili powder, a strategically placed snake skin- nothing has protected my tasty greens. I now buy a product called “Liquid Fence”. Many people use it to keep deer from eating their flowers. It works well with the rabbits also. The only downside is that it has to be applied fairly often and can become expensive.
Cardboard makes an excellent weed block.
The weeds here have unnatural strength. They have managed to outlive all of my attempts to rid my beautiful garden from them. I have applied mulch a foot thick and those darn blades still poke through. Spending hours pulling them has not helped not has a layer of weed block. It is beyond annoying! I have found that they cannot get through cardboard and while it might not be practical for large spaces, it does work well in short rows.
Perhaps I should’ve come up with 10 things I’ve learned over the past three years because I haven’t even mentioned my insect issues, but I will save that for another time. For now, I will embrace the mud that the kids and dog drag into the house and keep dreaming as I flip through my seed catalogs.