2016 is the year of many new gardening ventures. Using sheet composting I've planted five 50foot rows of strawberries, and have three 40ft rows ready to plant goji berries. Then 1/2 acre has been tilled and being made into 28 50ft rows with straw between them as permanent raised beds 30" wide and will have everything from eggplant, peppers, kale and so much more. Finally, in process are herb/flower beds to grow some interesting herbs for medicinal, culinary, and for dyes. This will be a busy year and a great learning year. I'm planning to sell at the Stratford Farmers Market on Saturdays from June 25th to September 9am to 2pm.
Today I'm presenting to the Early Childhood Development Association on gardening for daycare centres. I'll be showing the benefits for mental, physical and economic health of gardening plus offering a hands on 'how to make your own paper pots' from newspaper origami style. Should be fun!
Check out the presentation here.
Remembering my early years and my poppy's garden - he grew potatoes in tires. I can remember him throwing the tires off and potatoes cascading out - my memory as a 5 year old. Now as I'm older, I am amazed as the ease in which he threw those tires. I wish I had the foresight to grill him on growing veggies while he was alive! No blogs to refer back to then. :-) I'll plant potatoes in the field like normal but I'm dedicating a space to test the growing of potatoes in tires this year.
Pictures shown below - started with a base covering soil with grass or in this case black fabric. This is I hope to prevent wireworms from coming out of the soil into the tires. The put down a tire (pick them up from gas stations or recycle centre for free!), then add soil to fill just over half of the tire. Place four seed potatoes (certified if you live in PEI), and then cover to the top with remaining soil. I then covered with buckwheat again to the hopes to deter wireworms. In another few weeks I'll plant a bean plant in the centre of the tire to deter potato beetles (usually I surround my potatoes with beans and this works very well.)
As the potatoes grow I'll add tire with dirt, when the potato plant goes higher I'll do the same again. I think I'll probably get 4 or 5 tires. I'll post again later.
Update July 4th, 2016 - I've topped up the potatoes with soil and in another week or so will add the second tire. I've also picked 4 potato tires to use straw instead of soil to top them up to see if they grow the same. There were zero potato beetles on the plants.
A huge gamble I hope plays off - I planted my ever bearing Albion strawberry transplants Monday, May 2nd almost a full two weeks before the last frost date. I'm hoping using a different method of growing will give me the success I'm hoping for, with the good news being I only planted 500 strawberry plants.
Sheet composting - It has been around a while and I've previously used a similar method commonly called lasagna gardening - it worked very well for us on absolutely horrible soil. This time I followed the guide by Oregon Department of Extensions - Here is the article. Pictures below some of the process - I started with marking out a 50foot by 30inch bed and then times it by 5 for a total of 250 square feet. The I put down either wet newspaper in a good layer or cardboard. Then followed with either small pieces of bark, goat compost, or leaves depending what I had at the time. Next layer was straw. Followed by a mixed compost and lastly by soil....dug from our small treed area.
Strawberry Transplants - I ordered them in December 2015 for Late April delivery and to be planted according to the Farmers Almanac on May 1/2 but since May 1st was our Orthodox Easter....they were all transplanted May 2nd. Great customer service from G. W Allen Nursery in Nova Scotia who kindly called to politely ask if I was crazy to have them come in about 2 weeks earlier than everyone else. I explained my logic - truly hoping I'm right. Build sheet composting beds (so the ground isn't frozen), and covering with Agribon 19 with hoops to increase the temperature and protect from frost. Also I put straw around the strawberry transplants to keep the weeds down and to add a mulch. Then on the outside of the row covers we put more straw to help hold the row covers down and to keep the weeds down within the aisles.
Row Cover - The row covers were made of electrical conduit 1/2 ten feet long cut in two $4 each, and 12 inches of rebar pre-cut $2.19 each. The rebar is put into the ground 6 inches with 6 inches on top to bend the 5 foot pvc tubing into. Then all this is covered with agribon-19 (I ran out and used Dollar Store frost cover and it looks fine at a 1/3 of the cost). Finally, the cover is fastened onto the pvc tubing with clothes pins (wide at the bottom) purchased for .15cents a piece.
Below shows the 5 rows of strawberries in row cover and the field to be made into beds.
You have the choice to harvest in the late fall or in the spring when the ground thaws. Since we are harvesting a lot of other produce items in the fall, we chose to harvest our parsnips this spring. At left there is a picture of some of the harvest. Yum.
Recently I gave a gardening presentation for beginner gardeners. Great fun and lots of questions. I've uploaded that presentation to slideshare.net and hope it gives some information to people interested in gardening. In May I'll be doing three more workshops one for Early Childhood educators so focused on helping kids learn about gardening, a workshop on feeding the soil to feed yourself (making compost tea too) and then finishing the month with a Healthy Soil = Healthy Food workshop. Then June I'll be very busy with the gardens, depending on the production I might have some crops to sell. Strawberries is the only crop I do plan to sell and I'm hoping for a great crop.
Every year we to try to do something more to simplify and save. This year it will be limit our purchases to 'necessary' and this will be a hard one. We have purged and reduced in many ways but still fight the purchasing of 'things' not totally necessary, because lets face it we can justify just about anything. The reward in moving toward a simplify and save lifestyle is that we become more at peace and less stressed and that feels great! Mind, body and finances.
Purge (De-clutter more than things) and Reduce
Take a hard look at not just 'things' or objects but at all areas of your life.
Things - Go room by room for the things and be honest, do you use it? do you need it? does it add to your life or take away? Then it can be sold, given away or trashed (recycle where possible).
Mind Clutter - are you being 'pecked to death by ducks' "A steady stream of small, seemingly inconsequential or minor nuisances, which build up over a prolonged period of time and which, eventually, take their toll and exact a heavy price."? This could be the numerous memberships you have i.e. magazines you never read (I only have one print subscription now and I read it every month because it is that important to me.) or volunteering for non-profit organizations that all want a piece of you - they are all great causes but really focusing just on a few will benefit you and that organization. (I often offer to do a small project with a start and finish i.e. a press release for an event rather than sitting on a board for several years but I have made exceptions. Don't say yes to everything.)
Do you have a lot of mail or email? Each day take one item and really analyze it - does it add value to my life? do I really need it? etc. Create a process and start purging...the resulting reduction will likely not just free up time but reduce your mind clutter. Hundreds of emails a day isn't a badge of honour - it clutters your mind and exhausts you. Purge your emails to what you value most and de-clutter your mind. Find peace simply.
Review your bills - do you really need a landline anymore? I mean do you really need to pay a monthly bill to talk to telemarketers? and before you say it is part of my package, look at your package, do you really need it all? Can you combine bills to one? Really look what are you paying for and does it add value to your life? Do you need cable or would your time be better spent oh say gardening, time with kids, hiking/biking etc. free activities that promote your health and well being including your mental health?
Tip - take one area at a time say - each week focus on one area of your life, review, make resolutions to put into action or act on it and then move to the next area. Give yourself time to congratulate yourself on your accomplishment and likely freedom of time/money in the process. Share your story with others to encourage their simplifying their life.
Purchasing - The easiest way is to not shop regularly. Plan your purchases. Be focused when you shop and don't get caught up on the sales, unless the items are ones you use regularly and would be buying anyway...it is so hard, I feel your pain....but how many shoes do you really need? Many people use a one in and one out process - if you buy a new shirt an old one needs to be replaced. If you can meal plan that would be ideal. Start with your list of favourites and try to incorporate easy to adapt ones like stir-fries, soups, stews, etc where ingredients can change. Unsubscribe from online shopping sites and shop looking at kijiji and other used website for things you might need or find fun. Look only when you 'need' not 'want' something. Give yourself time to consider. Recently, I did up a seed order and then sat on it for several days - it changed and became more realistic and easier on the pocket book - it is so hard not to get caught up in the moment - be strong.
May 2016 be your year to move closer to simplifying and saving....know that we are all struggling with you.
Each year we reviewed what worked and what didn't work, sometimes we decide again to try while other times it just isn't worth the work. New crops this year were Jerusalem artichokes, French tarragon, fennel, cherry bomb peppers, shallots, and kohlrabi. We also grew - carrots, beets, various greens, potatoes, sweet potatoes, various fruits including goji, grapes, currants, strawberries, blueberries, haskaps, blackberries and rhubarb, onions, garlic, brussel sprouts, broccoli, turnip, cauliflower, parsnips, squash of various types. New preserves we did this year included pickled cherry bomb peppers, pickled jalapenos, Salvadorian sauerkraut. Regular preserves - bread and butter pickles, dill pickles, green tomato mincemeat and salsa.
It was a fun garden year and this coming year we will focus more on herbs, as always, our focus is to grow our own food etc. adding more herbs will allow us to again save from buying in the store. The big advantage besides the cost savings, which are huge, is that we know exactly where are food is from. We continue to work on storage methods.
Seeking homesteaders, small farms, niche farmers, urban farmers and all things in between. Please review interview questions here.
Pensioners are having trouble paying the bills due to increasing costs and decreasing pensions. I was asked by a senior if there were programs he could tap into to increase his pension amount which at the moment is only $800 a month. Below is a compilation of some resources I've found for Island (PEI) seniors.
What Every Senior Should Know about Income and Benefits from the Federal Government?
Income assistance - Everyone not just seniors
For Help contact: PEI Senior Federation
40 Enman Crescent, Suite 214, Charlottetown, PE C1E 1E6
Tel. 902-368-9008 Fax 902-368-9006 firstname.lastname@example.org
Tracey Allen loves to research, learn and write on all topics to do with gluten-free cooking, whole food cooking, saving, sustainable living and living life to the fullest.