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.
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.