In the previous Growing your own article I covered some very generic ideas. In this article, my goal is to provide some more specific information regarding some of the plants that we grow and how we raise them.
I mentioned some of these in the last article, primarily focusing on providing links for each. Now I want to provide my definition and use for these.
Vertical growing –
Some plants like it better and perform better when they have the ability to reach out and grow up the trellis or string (cucumbers, peas). The ability to grow vertically reduces the ground usage footprint and opens that ground under them for other growth opportunities.
Utilizing all available space for growing increases your growing potential and production dramatically.
Companion planting –
Certain plants do poorly when planted in proximity to each other, others thrive. Knowing which works with which can increase your production yield dramatically. Some plants can grow in the same space as others because they grow faster and can be harvested before the other comes into its own. Companion planting can in some cases enhance the flavors produced among fruits and vegetables (tomatoes and basil for instance).
Square foot gardening –
By far the most critical of our planting process. Knowing and understanding how many plants can be planted in a square foot to produce the highest yields possible along with ensuring no garden space goes to waste. This can reduce weed growth and build a better garden.
HugelKultur gardening –
When building the raised garden beds, utilizing natural wood scraps (tree limbs, small trunks) to fill the base of the beds. This will provide a great nutrient resource as they decompose under your garden bed. This is a more natural process (similar to what happens in the forests) over store bought soil enhancements to provide nutrient-rich soil.
Let’s start off with some of the vegetables that we grow. I have added growing guide links to each of the items to help point you in the right direction.
Moving on to some fruits.
Apples – will be newly planting a couple of trees this year, so not expecting anything
Peaches – will be newly planting a tree this year, so not expecting anything
Leaving off with some herbs.
Once your plants have sprouted in determined locations, you should mulch around them. This will dwindle the weed growth, retain the moisture in the soil and as the mulch breaks down it will provide additional nutrients.
Epson salts are really the only soil enhancements that I prefer to use. A little goes a long way, but can be used in water, or directly into the soil when transplanting. Helps multiple plants grow better and stronger.
My favorite is rabbit manure hands down. Natural, organic, easy to work with, space contained and great for all of the plants that we grow. This one of the few manures that can be added directly into a live garden, no compost time necessary. It breaks down into the soil in a short amount of time and produces high yields of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium which helps most of the plants we grow to thrive.
Another benefit is that rabbit manure attracts beneficial worms into your garden. They chew through the manure, leaving worm castings behind. This process opens up the soil, provides valuable nutrients for the plants and increases overall garden health.
From there we mix in our own compost mix to further add essential nutrients.
We make our own compost mix with the following –
- Brown cardboard (no stickers or tape)
- Crushed eggs shells – calcium builder
- Banana peels – calcium, magnesium, sulfur, phosphates, potassium and sodium builder
- Tea bags – decomposition speed builder (use just the tea leaves not the bags)
- Coffee grounds – nitrogen builder
- Green vegetable leftovers or scraps – nitrogen builder (except for onions and peppers)
- Cutting from other plants
- A bit more rabbit manure
Start by breaking the cardboard down to 12″ size pieces (makes it easier to work with depending on the size of your compost bin). Place the cardboard on the bottom of your compost bin. Add all of the other materials on top. The glue used to hold the corrugated cardboard together will attract red worms. They will chew through the glue only to realize there is other goodies up above that they can feed on. As they move through your pile, they will leave wonderful, beneficial nutrient-rich worm castings behind them. This is not an overnight process, more like 9-12 month process. Once it gets established and you continually add the above items to it, your compost pile will thrive.
I know this is a lot to take in. I hope this helps to further your growing process or provides you with some new ideas for your gardening plans.
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