Category Archives: Garden

Wise Traditions

 

This past week we traveled to Waco Texas and went to visit the Homestead Heritage Community on the advice of a friend. I was very impressed with the quality of everything they had for sale and their structures. Particularly their structures! We were in the cheese making shop when I finally asked where they got all the large hand hewn beams that were pegged together (no nails or screws). The lady in that shop said those particular beams came from Canada where they had taken down a barn and brought it here to reconstruct it, carefully numbering everything so they could reassemble it the way it was.
Some of their cheese is aged 7 years.

I spent some time in the blacksmith’s shop talking to the craftsman there. They made all the railing and hooks and hardware for nearly all the buildings on the site and their work was really impressive.

They call themselves “an agrarian- and craft-based intentional Christian community”. They are definitely craftsmen! From the working waterwheel grist mill to the weaving shop to the wood working shop and the basket making shop it was all very impressive.

We also had lunch at the cafe where most of what they serve they produce right there on their farm and it was delicious!

The cafe was a cedar log structure that was cut from local trees I’m guessing from the looks of them.

If you are ever down that way it’s well worth the drive to go and visit. If you live in that area and you like to make things with your hands they offer classes to teach you lost ways and traditions they have nearly been forgotten. Here is a link to their website.

Work hard.
Have fun.
Make a difference!

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Winter for Your Garden

We got a freeze this week, a sure sign that fall is here. I had a few leftover tomatoes, okra, peppers, and pumpkins still growing but their demise was sure to come.

If you had leftover veggies growing in your garden that were killed by the frost, or died of natural causes, be sure you get them out. Leaving dead plants in your garden over winter can actually harbor insects and cause diseases. I know you weeded and watered and harvested and spent a lot of time out there this summer and you thought you were finished but don’t skip that last step of cleaning everything up. Set yourself up for a successful season next year by spending a few minutes getting your plots clean. Go do it right now!

The other thing I like to do is plant a cover crop that will stay green all winter and turn it under next spring for the green manure benefits. I planted Austrian winter peas this year which will put down nitrogen as the grow too. My bee yard is close so when the peas bloom the bees will enjoy them as well.

Work hard.
Have fun.
Make a difference!

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Is the Food We Eat Good for Us?

 

I’ve been looking into and learning about regenerating the soil, mainly farm ground, on our farms. What I am finding out is that most of what is considered “modern farming practices” is really bad for our soil health.

When I eat fresh vegetables from my own garden they do taste good, but the same produce grown in soil that has high organic matter, high carbon and high levels of micronutrients actually tastes a lot better. Those nutrients will then be in your body to bring health and healing to you as well. Our ancestors had some really wise traditions that we should consider getting back to.

Same thing with the cattle grazing, if they are eating plants that are grown in healthy soil not only are the cows more healthy but they produce more nutrient rich meat and milk. This is a picture of some full size cows that I turned out on a fresh meadow in late September.

This management style is going to be different for me and require me to get off the tractor more and look closely at the soil to see whats happening. Seems like I am starting to question everything to find out exactly why we do it that way.
Should make for an interesting year!

Work hard.
Have fun.
Make a difference!

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3 Steps to Start Growing Your Own Food

For those of you who are interested knowing where your food comes from and how its produced, you can raise at least some of it yourself. Following these three easy steps is a proven way to go about it.

1. Get to know someone who is doing it right.
Whether you choose chicken, pork, beef, gardening, or some combination find someone who is knowledgeable and see how they do it.
I used to haul my horse to an indoor arena to practice moving cows on him. Come to find out the owner of that arena was rally sharp about handling cattle. It didn’t matter if you were on foot or horseback, he had ways of doing things that were totally foreign to my thinking. That old man taught me more about low stress cattle handling than I could imagine and I thought I knew how to handle cattle! Turns out that even though I’d done it all my life that I didn’t really know what I was doing.

2. Make sure you have the resources.
You’ll want to have a plan about your endeavor before you start. Not only will you need to make sure you have enough money to fund it but you’ll want to be sure you have enough land and feed and time. If you are raising animals they will likely need to be cared for every day! Do you plan on being home every day, no vacation or weekends away? If not do you have a friend or helper who can step in and care for them while your gone? Do you have adequate facilities to house and protect your animals from predators or to keep them from getting out and endangering themselves? Take time plan it all out and you’ll set yourself up for success!

3. Buy your animals or plants from a quality supplier.
This is probably the most important step and it’s often overlooked. Say you’ve decided to buy a calf and feed it out so you can have your own beef. If you go to your local sale barn you are likely buying everything that calf has come in contact with from the auction. The calf may have been healthy when you bought him but was exposed to all kinds of sickness and viruses while he was at the yard. That is a recipe for disaster! Instead find a local cattleman in your area and buy a calf right off their farm. If you don’t have a trailer they will probably deliver it for you and the animal will likely remain healthy. Even with plants for your garden you’ll need to find a quality greenhouse and it will make a world of difference when its time to harvest.

Remember a little extra work going in to your project will really set you up for success and pay off greatly in the end. I hope this helps you and as always if you have a question contact me, I’d be happy to help.

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Time for Gardening

As the weather starts to warm up, it’s time to think about putting in your garden. I really like to get out and work in the garden, but time seems to always be an issue. So, I have a few tips that will make gardening much easier and less time consuming, and it will actually boost your yields. My garden is small, about 30 by 60 feet, and in addition to that we have 4 raised beds that are 4 by 8 feet. That is plenty of room to supply our family of 4 and allow us to preserve food for use all year round. Here is a picture of me taking the easy way out to work the soil.

100 HP tractor and a 14' chisel plow on a 30 by 60 garden.

100 HP tractor and a 14′ chisel plow on a 30 by 60 garden.

That is cowboy logic at its finest! Okay, so you may not have access to this kind of equipment, but working soil over 8 inches deep will really pay off for you. I recommend you find someone with a tractor or use a hand spade to work the soil deeply.

Another thing I started doing a few years ago was buying plastic film mulch for my plants. If you can see in the picture below, there is a drip line (small brown tubing) coming out from under the plastic. This is a drip tube that I lay under each row before the plastic film goes down. I install a timer on this and a water source, and this allows me to water as needed very efficiently and near the roots.

photo-54

With the hot Oklahoma summers that we have, you’ll want to cover the film with hay or a thin layer of dirt to block the direct sunlight and keep the soil from getting too hot. I use hay, and the film cuts my weeding down to almost nothing. Watering is automatic, so I can focus on caring for the plants instead of pulling weeds every time I go out.

Another thing that really prolongs the growing season is a greenhouse. I built a small lean-to greenhouse, and at the end of garden season I transplant tomatoes, peppers and herbs into tubs and put them in the greenhouse for use during winter.

10 by 12 greenhouse

10 by 12 greenhouse

It’s really nice to be able to go out when it’s 10 degrees outside and pick a fresh pepper for your salsa.

Peppers in the greenhouse in January

Peppers in the greenhouse in January

We also start most of our plants from seed and don’t use any rooting hormones, so the harvest is about as natural as you can get. There is a satisfaction that comes from preparing a dish for your family with food that you have grown in your own backyard, not to mention the added flavor. A little time and planning will give you a great garden regardless of whether you have land or not. From a flower pot to several acres, this can be a fun and rewarding experience and a great family activity.

 

 

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