Monday, January 26, 2015

Shovelling POO!

Ok, for most people they use a figure of speech that they are shoveling POO... Some use a different term for POO, but you get the idea.  Well to most it has a very negative meaning...

But that is exactly what I was doing this morning... Filling and dressing garden beds with manure I loaded up yesterday.  Half of my beds are still frozen and full of snow and ice, but the other half that is exposed to the sun are already clear and I was able to begin filling and dressing the beds with manure.  This i really aged horse manure so it is pretty good stuff.  I am piling it on about 6 inches deep in my existing beds that already had a good layer of soil in them that I grew in last year.  However I had one bed I built last year that I didn't get done until late in the growing season so I didn't get anything planted in there.  So I am putting cardboard down in the bottom of that bed and then putting 8-10" deep manure in there.  I have some rock dust that I will be putting in there for a boost in minerals to get it started.   Next I will by laying about 6-8 inches of wood chips over the top of that and will be trying some of the Back to Eden Garden ideas with heavy wood chip mulches this year and we are going to see how long we can go between watering the garden or if I have to water at all.  Paul from the Back to Eden documentary lives in a place that gets 16 inches of rain a year and he doesn't water.   Only watering is during the first week he puts seeds in the ground then once they have germinated he stops watering. 

Now Paul has something that I don't.  He has garden beds that have been worked like this for many years and each year you work the soil like this the better it gets.  So I don't expect right out of the gate this year to get the fantastic results he is getting, but I at least now have an idea that growing food can be done in the semi-arid high plains desert.  We get approximately the same amount of moisture that Paul does here at my urban homestead.  I have been spending a lot of time and money on water and drip irrigation systems.  If this works like Paul's works then it might be possible that I won't have to water and that would be a huge savings in water costs and irrigation costs.  It is one of the biggest irritations for the garden is the ongoing maintenance of the drip irrigation system.  The plastic connectors and heads break or stop functioning.  You then have to make repairs and try to keep an eye on your plants for signs they are not getting the water and go investigate what is happening.  

The goal this year is to get my rainwater catchment tank up and use the rain water to water once a week if needed from the water we have captured.  And again if it doesn't need it I am not going to water them.  I have most of my garden beds dug down into the ground on the side of a hill to catch any rainwater runoff from the land and I have tried to redirect rain gutters to send the water where I want it when we get it.  All of that combined with the deep manure and wood chip mulch should make a big difference in how my garden grows this year.  I am excited to see how it goes. 

I also have some raised beds as well and I will be taking some of the dirt out of those beds to make room for the deep woodchip mulch that I will be applying there also.  I am not sure they are going to work as well as building beds on the ground.  So I will see how it goes this year and if I think the on the ground beds are doing better than the raised beds I will consider converting these beds to on the ground beds so that I can work with the material better.  So the jury is out on how well that is going to work given how deep I need to mulch. 

So while most people would definitely not be looking forward to shoveling poo... I very much was and am... I found a family with horses close by that was looking for a place to get rid of their horse manure.  So they are happy to give it away, but I have to go and load it and bring it back myself.  It takes a couple of hours with a shovel to load up a pickup truck with manure and it is a lot of work.  But when you get to put it out in the garden beds like I did this morning it looks great and it really gets you excited about what is going to come from all of this. 

Each year you garden you learn a lot.  Ways to do things better, more efficiently, what grows well, what doesn't.  You have pests show up, and make a meal out of your garden.  You have challenges with weather, and learning how things really work.  It takes time, patience, hard work, and a willingness to learn.  I hope your gardening now.  Anyone who thinks they are going to just pull some seeds out of their "emergency seed bank" and have an instant garden and supermarket really are fooling themselves.  They are going to be some seriously HUNGRY PILGRIMS!  Don't be a hungry Pilgrim, begin planning your garden now.

No tilling needed, no turning the soil is required.  Get yourself some newspaper or cardboard, some manure(look around on Craigslist or look for anyone with large animals and ask them about manure), and look around for a source of wood chips.  You will also need a source of fertilizer.  Paul in his video has chickens.  I don't want to setup chickens in our urban homestead when I plan to move and really don't want to try and move the birds.  So my alternative for soil manufacturing is going to be worms.   Vermicomposting is basically building a worm farm and feed them your table scraps, garden waste, yard waste and turn it into incredible soil to feed your plants.  So moving worms is doable from here to our off grid place so I will be setting up a worm farm very soon.  We also compost in bins as well, but we really don't have the space we want for that so by having the worms compost some of our waste immediately we don't have to wait for the compost bins to produce the soil we need in our beds.  So we are expanding our composting operations here out of need for more space.  I will post more about these projects soon as I am on a dead run to get all of it going as fast as I can to make this growing season the best one yet. 

I hope your having a great day and are thinking about, and working on your preps.  Don't overlook taking some time to pray about this also.  Meditate and take this to God.  He has provided great abundance all around us if we will just look and are willing to be his hands and feet.  As we act we see creation happen right in front of our eyes!

Have an awesome day, and God Bless,

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