Fall Garden and Spring Planning

Alex and I have done some back-breaking, brow-sweating work these past couple of weekends trying to get the spring garden bed in place. We choose to create a new garden bed in a place more conveniently located behind the house. We got two loads of beautiful, black, compost which we laid on top of newspaper. We then covered the compost with our lovely woodchips, about 6 inches deep. We plan to get some manure and sprinkle that on top and let the bed rest until spring. Many have questioned our “No-Till” gardening method, and while I am very new to it all, I genuinely feel like this is how we are going to heal this land. There are some great articles online that talk about this no-till philosophy and permaculture.  Anyways, not to bore you. Someday, when I am more skilled I will post a more informative post on that!

In the meantime, we built an 18 x 30 ft garden bed, which ends up about 540 square feet. This is more than double what we did this year! So, I am excited about that. Obviously, in comparison to the land, this is still a very small bed but it took over 10 hours of work just to get that. Any bigger and we’re going to need some serious equipment. Not to mention all this while pregnant! I am pretty sure this baby is coming out with a pitchfork in hand! Lol!

photo 3 (22)Here’s the progress..as you can see the difference between compost and woodchips.

photo 5 (5)Elyse is checking out the new garden! Kids love this!

photo 2 (30)Good rich earth. Man, I love the smell of it! So excited for next spring!

In my current garden, I harvested all of the sweet potatoes last week. I am not sure exactly how many I got, but my guess is around 30-40 pounds. Not entirely sure. I’d say it was worth the 6 dollars I spent on the plant slips!

My tomato plants are still producing, but most of the tomatoes are only turning slightly orangish- not getting to red. If I put them on the counter they turn redder over the week. So, overall guess the tomatoes weren’t a total flop. I’ve got some lettuce planted and it is growing very nicely. I also have some collards, but they don’t seem to be taking off as much. Hmm. They’re not dead yet though! Let’s see what else. Oh! I have a couple of snap pea plants that are doing well. I am sad that I literally only have like 4 plants of those growing, but oh well. This weather has been very confusing for plants lately.

photo 4 (9)So overall, with this last years garden, I am not thrilled with the results but I am not entirely disappointed. I got some great harvests of some things, like my sweet potatoes and squash. The pest issue was pretty significant and I need to come up with some better ways to help with that. I plan to be much more intentional with companion planting and using herbs and flowers in the garden next year. Hopefully, that will help some.

So what’s next for the MonroePost homestead? I am not sure exactly what’s in the lineup next but here’s a few projects we’re eyeing and trying to budget for!

  • Power to Alex’s garage
  • Finish garage organization
  • Build chicken/duck coop
  • Build a more sophisticated compost pile
  • Start a vermicompost system
  • Prepare old garden bed area to become the small orchard in the spring

We will keep you posted!

3 Replies to “Fall Garden and Spring Planning”

  1. Erica, how exciting for you all! Congrats on the new baby too! What sort of orchard are you planning? Just so you know, vermicomposting is so easy that I would not wait to start. The girls will love it too. When L and A were over one weekend last August, Tom and I ran up to PetSmart and bought some red wigglers (50 for $5). L helped me drill holes in a big plastic bin that we had left over from some long-forgotten project. Both kids helped me shred up some newspaper, and we added cardboard on the bottom, the newspaper, a bit of potting soil, sprinkled water on top to moisten, and buried some kitchen scraps for them to eat. Next, A placed the 50 worms in the bin, and they quickly disappeared. The bin has been in the garage for several months now. I feed them weekly and make sure the bedding is damp, but not wet, every couple of days. (more bedding — shredded paper — if its too wet, more water if its too dry. It should be no wetter than a wrung out sponge.) When the kids are here, they check on the worms and feed them scraps. And, there are lots of babies! I think one source said that 8 healthy adults can have 1,500 babies in 6 months! They have a very simple existence: eat, excrete lovely castings for my garden, and reproduce. As such, I plan to harvest next spring. They love melon rinds, crushed egg shells, and even coffee grounds. One forum said to throw a small handful of corn meal in weekly to encourage reproduction, so I put small containers of water and corn meal nearby to remember to water and feed them, along with their weekly kitchen scraps. On the other hand, some onion trimmings that I threw in there sprouted, so I planted them in with my roses, good companions, and they have been growing just fine. I guess the worms were not fond of onions. There are a couple of Youtube videos out there to show you how to get started. Worms are also a treat for ducks and chickens! So, I intend to compost some of the chicken manure and feed the excess worm population to the chickens. We are planning on picking up some chicks the next time the kids are in town so that they can be a part of this whole grand adventure. As always, I love keeping up with your progress!

    1. That’s amazing! What temperature would you say your worms stay at? I was considering having them under a counter in the house because our outside garage is not insulated at all. My issue right at the moment is finding the perfect size bin to fit under the utility room cabinet. I really want to make some vermicompost tea as well! And yes, chickens! Ah cannot wait for those!

  2. Looks great ! I know how rough it is to prepare the land. I did our last garden in Carolina by myself and it took pretty much all day.lol Wasnt as big as yours. The fresh earth is a wonderful smell and feeling the cool dirt between the fingers is nice too…cant wait to come take a wiff!;-)

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