Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I just wanted to post a quick Hello and say Thanks for stopping by today and all through the year!
I hope your holiday is exactly the way you like it, filled with family and food or just a few friends and snacks. Thanksgiving means something different to everyone.

No matter what kind of meal you sit down to today from Carnivore to Herbivore I ask that you say a Thank You to the farmers that ensure that we have the feast before us. While we are definitely on the small side (maybe mirco side) of farming we know exactly what it takes to get up and get it done every day and they are the unsung heroes of the food cycle.

 To all Farmers, big and small we send out an extra special Thanks for keeping the farming traditions alive and well here and abroad. We appreciate your hard work and wish you a Happy Holiday season!

Move along nothing to see here.. just a chicken hiding from the poultry centered holiday...

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Garden Tip Thursday- Compost Basics

Hey, I know as gardeners we are always talking about compost and the benefits of it. I know there are lots of people who are interested in composting and have little or no experience with it, other than buying it in a bag at the big box stores. Others think that they don't have the time, area, or expertise to make a great compost. Or you've tried it and it just didn't work out the way you hoped.

I thought it would be a good idea break down the whole idea of composting. From where and how to compost to what can be composted, and them of course how to use it effectively in your garden.

So you want to compost but it seems more complicated than you originally thought. You love the idea that your kitchen waste won't be going to the landfill but it's so much more than that! You don't want to end up with a mess that you can't use or that just seems  to not be breaking down and you're left with a horrible buggy mess. I've seen it at friend's houses, they have great intentions and it's not a difficult process but to get a good result you have to follow a few guidelines.

 There are tons of sites telling you what to do and what not to do but how about kinds of compost to start with. Then you can figure out what actually suits your space and your waste.

Composting at it's main point is about recycling, turning waste into a great soil additive. Nature does it every day.  Organic materials in forest and our yards are processed everyday by the weather, fungus, bacteria and insects, and is turned into a beneficial component of soil.

Aerobic or Anaerobic Composting, which works best? Aerobic composting is done with oxygen, generally above ground or in a holding container that has air circulation. Anaerobic is done by microorganisms that don't need oxygen to survive and is generally considered as pit composting.

Determining which is best for you depends on what you have available and how quickly you want to be able to use your compost.

 Are you working on a new garden space, have plenty of time, or can't leave a pile of what could be smelly scraps next to your neighbors fence? Then a Anaerobic or pit compost would work best for you. And if you have the time to wait it's the easiest option. Dig a pit or trench in the area that can be left alone and dump in your kitchen scraps, leaves or garden wastes and cover back up with a good layer of soil. And that's it.

If you are constantly composting scraps and waste, looking for a quicker turn around or have the area to keep a pile Aerobic is the choice for you. This can be done just as a pile, confined in an area or with a tumbler. The catch is that the organisms that work this way need oxygen, so to keep the process moving at a good rate you will have to put in a bit of work. Turning the pile completely or stirring often is necessary to keep the air flow into the pile. Also to get air to the bottom you can build your pile on a pallet, this will ensure a steady aeration from the bottom. Another benefit of the Aerobic is the heat that it generates, which will often kill weed seeds before they can sprout or transfer to your garden in the soil.

When a compost pile is ready it should look like and have the consistency of dark brown soil.

Neither way is right or wrong, and both are benefits to your garden, your community and the environment. So pick a type and star composting!

In the next few weeks I'll be talking about types of composters available, what should and should not be composted, different composting methods and getting the right mix to get the best out of your compost. I hope you'll stop by and share your composting knowledge and stories with us!

We are still working on our fall garden, creating plenty of compost and thinking ahead to spring seed starting in the green house!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Garden Tip Thursday- Leave the Leaves (for a bit anyway)

Yeah, I said it and I know lots of you are going "What?!" I can't just leave those leaves laying all over the yard! I know that we all want a nice lawn and in some places you don't have much of a choice.
There really is a good reason behind me saying that leaves on your lawn isn't such a bad thing and I'll give you a few reasons as to why that is;

1. Let them stay for a bit, until they are crunchy and mow them into little bits and then leave them. Really it is great mulch for your lawn. It will help keep weed growth down and add natural nutrients back into the soil. It's way better than the expensive bagged stuff.

2. Rake them whole into flower beds and around trees as mulch, as little as two to three inches can do wonders for over wintering bulbs and protecting native plants. The insulation it gives might make a difference for new plants, too. It also gives a home to overwintering insects (I hear ya but some are good bugs too) and small animals. Birds and squirrels often use these areas for foraging too.

3. They are also great to put them into your compost.. Not a composter, many others are, place a listing on craigslist or your community facebook page for free leaves. You'll be surprised how many responses you might get! Don't want strangers coming to your house wandering around , never fear lots of communities will pick up leaves for community projects and composting. Check with your local community garden they often welcome leaves for composting.

4. Do you have an area that you'd like to make into a garden next year or raised beds? Rake those leaves into that area and layer them with paper bags, newspaper and cardboard. Then walk away. Come spring you'll have a nice grass free area to work with, and ready made mulch!

5. And of course if you have a garden make use of the leaves by working them into the soil. Again leave a few inches on top for weed control. Earthworms will quickly move and work the soil for you!

6. Don't forget to pick up a few interesting ones for art projects while your out there too!

7. The  main thing is that they don't end up in plastic in a landfill! If you can't use them please pass the bounty on to someone who can! They aren't doing any good being buried in trash..

We have had the strangest weather this year, not much color in our leaves. Most are still hanging on and I can tell you that I won't be doing anything with them until they are all

Have a great Fall and don't be too hard on those leaves!

We've finally gotten some blue skies but not much else in the leave color scheme this year..

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Weather and Old Wives

I've been privy to lots of advise from old wives and I can tell you that there are nuggets of wisdom in some of those tales. Yes, I ran around barefoot for years as a child in the mud and the muck and I never got "ground itch", still no shoes and I haven't gotten it yet as an adult either. What is it you ask, I have no idea but it was a general threat/warning to me as a child. And personally I'm glad it never caught up to me.

My Grandmother always said that collards are best after they have been frosted on, hold off a bit and I think you'll agree. Ours are moving right along and should be ready for Thanksgiving, hopefully we'll have a good frost by then and they'll be just right. I'm making myself a note to post our awesome vegan collard green recipe for you guys!

Another common comment was if it Thunders in the winter, expect snow in seven to ten days. Sometimes it works out and other times  it doesn't. Thankfully we don't get much of either around here. Maybe the scarcity of both works for the tale.

I know there are  lots of tales about watching the birds, wasps and the sky to determine if it will be a cold or mild winter . My personal favorite weatherman is the Woolly Worm , (we call them woolly bears in our family) and we just happened to run across a few this weekend while cleaning up the garden. Isn't he cute? And he's got good news for us too!

Not from the south? Never fear I'll explain. The woolly worm tale says that the color bands predict the length and the temperature outlook for the winter. A larger area of brown as compared to the black should forecast a milder winter. A smaller band of brown, you guessed it, a harsh winter. So we should be in for a milder winter in our neck of the woods, as you can see the larger brown section on our friend here. Here's hoping he's right, we had an unusual amount of ice and snow last year.

I wanted to check and make sure I was right about the markings and I found out this little guy is so popular that he, well maybe his relatives, are the theme for a festival in Banner Elk, North Carolina.
As well as forecasting the weather they also have  Caterpillar races, that's different!

Just for you scientific sort, I'll let you know that this little guy spins a  fuzzy cocoon in the spring and comes out as a Isabella Tiger Moth. I guess I'll be on the look out for them come spring and then we can have a discussion on just how accurate he was!