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Archive for the ‘Organic Gardening’ Category

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bush beans planted by Uncle Keith and rows of peppers and tomatoes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cabbage, Black Berry Bush and Chickens love Watermelon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cucumbers and Zucchini

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s always time to take a break and find a dragonfly resting or watch the kids canoe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Pepper Plant, Manure in the Wheel Barrow and a long garden shot of the pepper rows. Of course I like to plant a couple of cherry tomato plants on the corner. That way I can grab a snack as soon as I walk in the garden.

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Chickens are getting big, should start laying any day now. They’re about 22 Weeks Old. Chickens usually start laying (depending on the breed) around 20-24 Weeks.

Spreading the manure with the neighbors Bobcat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rained all week but afterwards the sun came out and flowers bloomed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was able to get the fields disced again after the manure was spread. It supposed to rain again tomorrow so hopefully I can get some seed and plants into the ground before it does.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a nice day for a swim in the pond as Max and Moose showed their talents off chasing the ball.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lemon Balm is blowing up……and finally Max Photobombing and the plow after use (all shiny)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day to All.

 

 

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It’s been a while since I updated everyone on what we’ve been up to and we’ve been busy! [Click on any image to see a larger version.]

The chickens are doing well, I finally captured the mutilator. It wasn’t a coyote it was a raccoon. He’s moved on to greener pastures. Think chickens are dumb and didn’t know a monster was coming at darkness to kill them? Look at the pic below, they were roosting all the way on the very top on an electrical cord. So sad….

    

We got a tractor! A 1949 Ford 9N. Runs great. I can’t wait to restore it to its old glory. Still need to buy a plow and disc (it came with an auger, Woods mower and a plow for snow). It’s durable, long lasting and easy-to-fix. It’s basically an engine and transmission on a drive shaft with a PTO on the back. Ain’t she a beaut? Thanks Dad!

  

Built the greenhouse and planted lots of vegetables. Thanks Carrie!

  

On the non-profit front, Project Garden Share had a seed giveaway at Kent Social Services and it was a huge success. Thanks Dave!

  

We gave away over 500 Heirloom (Non GMO) seed packets thanks to our friends at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds who donated over $1,000 worth of seed to us. Through my work with PGS, I’ve never dealt with a more generous, friendly and fast acting company. If you need seeds, go straight to Baker and place an order with them. You will be happy you did and their catalog is gorgeous and fun to read.

All of their seed is non-hybrid, non-GMO, non-treated and non-patented.

Through my work with PGS, I’ve never dealt with a more generous, friendly and fast acting company. I ask you that if you need seeds, go straight to Baker and place an order with them. You will be happy you did and their catalog is gorgeous and fun to read.

Baker does not buy seed from Monsanto-owned Seminis. They boycott all gene-altering companies. They’re not members of the pro-GMO American Seed Trade Organization! Baker works with a network of about 100 small farmers, gardeners and seed growers.

And they offer over 1300 fine varieties!

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It’s my pleasure to introduce Denise Ellsworth honey bee and native pollinator education from The Ohio State University Department of Entomology. She’s doing a very special Guest Blog today. Please leave any comments or questions for her below and sign up for her blog at the bottom of this piece. Take it away Denise……

in bloom at Toledo Botanical Garden

March days with temperatures in the 80’s brought many of our native bees out of their winter hiding places. On a visit to the Toledo Botanical Garden a few weeks ago to teach a class of new OSU Master Gardener recruits, I was lucky enough to find an area with hundreds of soil mounds created by ground nesting native bees.

hundreds of native bee nests under oak tree

At first glance, the soil mounds resemble ant hills. but they are larger and have a hole in the center about a half-inch in diameter. As I crouched down to observe the mounds, I saw dozens of adult bees flying across the area from one hole to another. These solitary bees aren’t aggressive and rarely sting (unless handled), so I spent several minutes crouched over the nests to capture the bees on film. When I could keep very still, a bee head would slowly start to emerge from the hole at the center of each mound. Once I moved or created a shadow, the individual bee would quickly pull back into the soil nest.

Digger bees, plasterer bees and polyester bees are all native solitary bees that make this kind of soil mound in spring. Typically found in sandy soils on south-facing slopes, the nests are made by the adult bee. She removes sandy soil particles from the nest as she excavates new chambers for her young to grow. The soil is piled up around the nest exit, forming chimney-like mounds. On sunny, warm spring days, the bees are active, emerging from their nests to mate.

ground bee nest, with acorn for scale

chimney-like soil mound from ground bee

Females fly off to forage on blooming plants (lamium, crocus, azaleas, magnolias and cornelian-cherry dogwood were in bloom that day at the Botanical Garden), then bring the pollen and nectar back to the nest. She lays an egg in the chamber she’s excavated and leaves a loaf of pollen and nectar food (also called bee bread) behind for her yet-to-emerge larva to eat. As a solitary bee, this adult doesn’t tend the nest, but instead provisions the chamber with enough food to bring her offspring from egg to adult.

willow flower offers early food source

These ground-nesting bees aren’t the only bees active in early spring. Carpenter bees have just emerged from their tunnels in wood, and will be starting this year’s generation of baby bees. On a visit to the Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, OH, last week, I witnessed dozens of carpenter bees foraging on flowers of the three-flowered maple. This native bee is large like a bumble bee, but has a shiny abdomen. The male carpenter bee buzzes menacingly around the nest opening, but can’t harm you because he doesn’t have a stinger. The female can sting, but she’s reclusive and non-aggressive. Instead, she’s busy chewing out galleries in wood for this year’s brood. Like the ground nesting bee, this mother bee will gather pollen and nectar, then bring it back to the chamber she’s chewed with her strong jaws. She lays a single egg in each chamber and provisions the egg with bee bread.

carpenter bee on three-flower maple

The larval carpenter bees develop inside the wood galleries until late summer, when they emerge as adults. Their mother and father have already died; this new generation will spend the winter in the galleries, emerging to mate next spring. Carpenter bees can cause significant structural damage to wood structures, and can be difficult to evict. Adults return to the same galleries from which they emerged, and will continue to tunnel and cause damage. I once had carpenter bees take up residence in a porch area — they were still a problem even after I added vinyl siding to the home. Read more about carpenter bees, and how to keep them from damaging decks, porches and lawn furniture.

adult bee near nest

Even though they can cause damage to wood, carpenter bees are important pollinators. By leaving dead trees standing or providing brushy habitat, our landscapes can be a haven for native bees. These bees play an important role in pollination of garden crops and native plants. Encourage native bees by planting flowers to bloom from spring through fall and reducing or eliminating pesticide use. Early bloomers, like maples and willows, can be especially helpful to emerging spring bees. Gardeners and homeowners can make a big difference in the conservation of these vital insects.

Cornus mas -- corneliancherry dogwood in bloom

Bee fans are invited to join the OSU BeeLab contact list for updates and workshop offerings. Follow my bee blog at www.OSUpollination.com
Denise Ellsworth
honey bee and native pollinator education
OSU Department of Entomology

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Step by Step Instructions on how to build your very own Worm Composting Bin. This is a 5 minute project. I completed it in 3 minutes with a cold beer in one hand. You can buy worms locally or from several sources online. I purchased 2lbs of Red Wigglers online for $29.99.

Here’s all you need:
2 Rubbermaid  tubs (or cheap knock-off like these) or some old 5 gal buckets.
2 blocks (in this case a couple 2×4 pieces)
Shredded Paper (I find that worms like bill  collection letters the best)
Kitchen Scraps (no meat or dairy products just veggies)
Crushed egg shells (provide calcium)
Cheerios and coffee grounds (with filter)
Worms (Red Wigglers or Eisenia foetida, are the best compost worms)
Drill (2 bits 1/8″ and 1/4″)

Step 1: Drill 1/8″ holes in the top (for oxygen) and 1/4″ holes in the bottom for worm juices. In 1 tub.

  

Step 2: Place a couple of 2×4’s (as spaces) in the bottom of the nu-drilled tub. Place Drilled tub on to the spacers, fill drilled tub about a third with shredded paper.

     

Step 3: Add crushed egg shells (great source of slow release calcium and can also act as a buffer, essentially helping to prevent excessively acidic conditions from developing.) and Cheerios (Worms like Cheerios).

   

Step 4: Add kitchen scraps (no meat, nothing greasy, no citrus,) veggie scraps and worms.

  

Step 5: Add some water. Worms like it moist and dark. Drill holes in top and leave em alone. In 90 Days you’ll have the best organic fertilizer and your plants will love you for it.

  

Interesting Worm Facts:

  • There are over 4,000 species of earthworms.
  • There are only about 6 species that are used for vermicomposting.
  • Earthworms don’t have lungs, but instead breathe through their skin as long as it stays moist.
  • Red Wigglers can consume up to 50% of their body weight per day
  • Earthworms are hermaphrodites yet it still takes two worms to reproduce.
  • Worms don’t have eyes , but are sensitive to light.
  • Worms have no teeth for chewing food. They grind food in their gizzard by muscle action.
  • A worm’s mouth is in the first anterior segment. There is a small protruding lip just over the mouth, called prostomium. When the worm is foraging, this lip is stretching out. The prostomium is for sensing food.
  • You’ll be able to compost your kitchen scraps 10 times faster when compared to composting without them.
  • One pound (16 ounces) of worms equals about 1,000 worms
  • One pound of Red Wiggler worms can eat about half pound of organic matter every day.

Why should you start a Worm Farm?

  • Remove excess waste from landfills & reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Worms produce the best organic fertilizer
  • Worm castings are five times richer in nutrients than the best topsoil and worm castings are pH neutral.
  • Great treats for chickens and great for fishing.
  • Worms make great friends. They just listen to you all day and never interrupt.
  • If you’ve read this far, you’re crazy enough to do it.

What is Vermicomposting?
Worms and microorganisms convert organic materials to a beneficial soil amendment. The worms breakdown food scraps into nutrient rich compost.

Feed Worms:

  • Vegetable scraps
  • Fruit scraps and peels (mold/rot is fine)
  • Bread and grains
  • Coffee grounds (+ filters) and tea bags
  • Crushed egg shells
  • Napkins, paper towels

Don’t Feed Worms:

  • Citrus
  • Meats, fish
  • Greasy foods
  • Dairy products
  • Twigs and branches
  • Dog/cat feces, cat litter

You can leave the bin inside your house (there’s no smell) or you can build up a small army of worms and take over the world or just add them to your compost pile mid-summer. Or even better, start a Worm Farm (like Harry and Lloyd in ‘Dumb & Dumber‘) and call it I Got Worms.

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I braved the frigid cold ( windchill) to stroll around the farm this morning and take some pictures. Jake couldn’t make it out back, the snow was too high. I guess that’s a problem when you’re only 7″ tall. A lot of people complain about the winter but I love it. Everyone needs a break and It’s so quiet and serene and so close to heaven I should pass around a collection basket.

 

 

 

Hang in the gardening friends! Soon it will all be green and overflowing with life, so enjoy the cold calmness of winter.

Next Blog: Starting Seeds Inside.

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I would like to thank Formecology’s owner John Gishnock for providing me with this valuable information on Composting and I’d like to give them a plug!

Formecology is born from the idea of combining art and nature – bringing natural elements together with cultural art forms to create landscapes that are appropriate both to the built and natural environment. Formecology is a full service design, build and care firm focusing on environmentally beneficial & regionally inspired landscapes for residential & commercial settings located in Evansville, WI. Please visit their site at: www.formecology.com

What is Compost?
Composting is the biological decomposition of organic material into a humus-like substance called compost. The process occurs naturally, but can be accelerated and improved by controlling environmental factors.

Why Compost?
•Compost is good for plant health
•Preserving nutrients from plant or grass clippings, food scraps and leaves onsite is much better than land filling or allowing them to wash into lakes
•Enhancing texture & water holding ability and adds beneficial microorganisms
•Add slow release nutrients
•Composting can destroy weed seeds & pathogens
•Can be used for erosion control/stabilization too

Each year half of the root system dies and is composted in the soil – Nature working itself!

Where should I put a compost site?

•Have a landscape plan !
•Keep it in your garden (you’re more likely to use it if it’s close by)
•Site to avoid views/smells
•Consider screening from neighbor’s
•Proximity to a water source (rain barrel perhaps)

•Proximity to application area (gardens/lawn)
•Keep close to kitchen for kitchen scraps (or store in smaller container to bring out periodically)
•Have some storage space available for extra materials (leaves, straw, etc)

Choose a level area with :
•Access to rainfall
•Good drainage & airflow
•Indirect sunlight (full sun can dry the pile and some sun helps dry a wet pile)
•Shelter from drying winds

What size should a compost pile be?
•The perfect size for a compost pile is one that is at least 3′ x 3′ x 3′. It’s not only a manageable size to turn, but it’s ideal for retaining heat while still allowing air flow.
•Plan for 10 square feet or more

•Smaller compost piles will still decompose material, but they may not heat up as well, and decomposition is likely to take longer

To create good compost you need:

•Ingredients (carbon source, nitrogen source, oxygen, water)
•Microorganisms – bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes, rotifers, protozoa
•Macro-organisms (worms, insects, etc) can help aerate, break down materials, etc.. (These both generally come on there own)
•Heat (generated by decomposition)
•A thermometer (20” compost or kitchen thermometer )
•Pitch fork or shovel

Components include proper ratio of:

•Nitrogen-rich items – Green/multi-colored, wet Lawn clippings, veggie scraps, etc
•Carbon-rich Items
• Brown in color, dry Leaves, straw, etc
•Water
•Oxygen
•Heat
•Soil and fertilizer/ inoculants (if desired)

Carbon & Nitrogen Ratio

•Ideal ratio is about 25 -30 parts Carbon to 1 part Nitrogen.
•If too much carbon, decomposition will be very slow.
•If too much nitrogen it will smell.

Do not include:

•Fats/oils. (meat, dairy, grease etc)
•Potential pathogens (pet droppings)
•Potential toxins / pesticide residue
•Ashes or other strongly acidic/ basic materials
• Large materials (branches, chunks of sod, etc)
• Plants that have been treated with pesticides and/or herbicides (weeds and lawn clippings) should be avoided.
Layers like lasagna
The Heat is On or The H is O

•Proper heat (135-160 degrees) is important to speed the process and kill weed seeds/ pathogens
•If temperatures get too high the beneficial microorganisms are killed.
•Measure temperature at center of pile using a thermometer (20“ composting thermometer or just a turkey thermometer)
•When the temperature reaches 155°F, turn pile to mix & aerate

•Turn again in a day or two when pile reaches 155°F again
•Plan on turning the pile every day or two when it reaches 155° to keep temperatures in appropriate range
•After the first week to 10 days temperatures will moderate & pile should be turned less than 1x per week.
•After 15-20 weeks the compost will be done.
•The center of the pile will be slightly warm and original ingredients will be indistinguishable.

Compost Tips:

•Shredding materials provides more surface area and encourages faster decomposition.
•Mixing/Aerating the pile with a pitchfork or using a tumbling system ensures adequate oxygen.

•Adequate moisture is important- you should be able to squeeze a small amt. of moisture out but it shouldn’t be wet.
•Let the microorganisms & macrorganisms do the work
•Worms love coffee grounds!
•Compost piles should remain damp but not too wet. As you build your compost pile, make sure that each layer is moist as it is added. The surface should also remain damp (think of a wrung out sponge), especially during the summer months.
•Soak finished compost in water to “brew” compost “tea,” a nutrient-rich liquid that can be used for foliar feeding or for watering plants in your garden, backyard, or houseplants.
•For faster results, use a compost turner every two weeks to aerate your pile.

Thanks again:

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