Re-Grow Roots

Learning to live harmoniously in Missouri.


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Naturally Prepare Your Spring Garden This Fall

Get a head start on your Spring garden by preparing great soil now! For many plants and animals, the winter is a time for rest and rejuvenation, but there is lots of action happening under ground even beneath a blanket of snow.

oak 001Let’s think for a moment about the way a forest functions naturally… In the fall, Oak leaves on Oak trees begin turning beautiful red and orange colors and the acorns drop off. Squirrels and other little forest friends will come along and pick up many of the acorns, but those that don’t get picked up will accumulate and rest under piles of leaves and sticks. The Oak seeds are planted. In the Spring they have the possibility of sprouting and turning into Oak trees themselves! The preparation was done in the fall and the results can be seen in the Spring and in years to come.

the forest floor

the forest floor

The first thing you can do to prepare your garden now is create compost. Take your leftover plant debris from last season and throw it in your compost heap. Need some composting help? http://blog.ecoetsy.com/2012/10/food-gardening-fall-composting-tips/html

Instead of digging and tilling which breaks up and destroys the structure and habitat of soil, try adding organic matter to the surface and let it rest until the Spring as nature intended. People who practice permaculture, a lifestyle of natural gardening, call this sheet mulching. Others call it lasagna gardening. It’s a very simple practice and in my opinion is way more fun than digging and tilling!

Sheet Mulching –

The possibilities are plentiful and abundant when it comes to sheet mulching. Most recently, I have been working on building an organic garden on a 1/4 acre of grass lawn. I have a vision for the whole thing to be covered with an edible food forest, and to accomplish this I have been smothering out the grass using supplies that are free and available locally.

Don’t be scared to use what you have and be open to any new ideas because they might work out perfectly! I started off by collecting cardboard from the restaurant my dad works at. We took off the tape, broke them down, and laid them out flat. Then we collected piles of leaves and covered the cardboard with that.

On top of the leaves, we added coffee grounds, manure, dirt, and wood chip mulch. Go into your local coffee shops (like Starbucks) and ask them for their spent, or used, coffee grounds. More info on coffee grounds in the garden – http://groundtoground.org/ For free manure, try searching craigslist.org for “manure” and you may be surprised at how many farmers give away livestock waste free of charge.

lasagna garden

lasagna garden

In my first sheet mulch / lasagna garden I used newspaper, hay, and manure and it turned out super rich. We grew abundant broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, tomatoes, bell peppers, basil, green onions, and a few other herbs. It was fantastic!

food

It’s wonderful to add soil enriching extras to your fall garden preparation. Scatter some seaweed or kelp powder, bone meal, compost, and anything else you like and may have experience with. I like to use perlite for moisture retention and because I got it in bulk from a guy on Craigslist which leads me back to…

Use local supplies!

I have grown food in California, Texas, Oregon, Washington, and Missouri and no matter where I go, there are so many amazing resourcesThe possibilities are endless!

 


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Raised Beds at the Garden

In my last post where I talked all about our new community garden project, I mentioned that we set up some raised beds. I know that a lot of people are into building raised beds so I wanted get a little more detailed about it. A lot of the time, especially in cities and suburban areas, the soil needs some initial help. Instead of spending hours upon hours with shovel, pick axe, and hoes or even worse – tractors *gasp*… I like to build on top of the soil! It’s super easy, VERY fun, and a lot of the time most things that you need are local and free! Here’s a picture of the raised beds we set up –

ImageOne of them is actually an old shelf that I found sitting next the dumpster at the apartment complex we live at. I took the shelves out and the back off, then just left the frame. A lot of people keep a bottom on their raised beds to keep out moles and other unwanted friends. I like them without a bottom so it is truly connected with the earth. To me, it seems nicer that way. 🙂

Carlos dug out the grass, we set down newspaper, and then we put the shelf down on top of that and filled it. For fill dirt we used aged manure from a local lady with horses and donkeys, a real sweet gal. We also mixed in some perlite for moisture retention, which we picked up on craigslist. $10 for a bag of it that’s bigger than I am! Next time I go I will add in some composted grass and more manure… then it’s ready to sit and mature and will be ready for the spring!

Please leave comments, questions, thoughts, and ideas below! I LOVE to hear from readers! 🙂


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Building a CommUNITY Garden

Starting a garden bed

I have recently been working with a group called Homegrown Missouri that I totally resonate with. The goals of the group that stand out in my heart are localizing food and localizing the community by building relationships and connections with our environment, ourselves, and eachother. Everyone has their own ideas in the group and I totally honor and respect each individual, as they do me. 🙂 It’s a beautiful thing. The group has meetings every month and in November we are having a workshop about fermented foods where members of the group will be teaching what they know. I am sharing beet kvass and Carlos, my partner / soul mate, is going to be teaching sauerkraut. Check out my last blog that features the flyer I made – https://regrowroots.wordpress.com/2012/10/25/free-fermented-foods-workshop/

I would like to share my newest endeavor that is going incredibly well and will one day become everything I dream of… a COMMUNITY GARDEN! It is located in my dear friend JoAnna’s backyard. I’m sure you will hear much more about JoAnna in future posts, as she is an amazing woman in my life. Her backyard is mostly grass with wild onions and dandelions growing here and there, as well as a pear tree, an elm, and a couple other little trees. My vision is to shift the entire yard into a food forest / community space where people can share food, potlucks, community, music, love, and growth!

Alpine Strawberries and Echinacea

We picked up some Alpine Strawberry starts from a friend and put them in the ground. I cut off the tops of them so all the energy will go to the roots and build a strong plant that will pop up in the Spring! 🙂 I also planted a bunch of echinacea Purpurea seeds that will come up in the Spring.

Huuuge backyard space!

This is the view from the deck. It is north of the house so that will be something to keep in mind. The beginning veggie patch is in the back by a big tree and an elderberry patch. Right now there are kale, cabbages, jerusalem artichokes, elephant garlic, and one lovely marigold.

Closer view of the garden beginnings

To the left of the photo are 2 raised beds that Carlos set up and we have some buckets waiting to be relocated and filled with dirt. Carlos actually dug the grass out for the raised bed. For most of our future beds, we will place down cardboard to suffocate the grass and build on top of that. That way, we will get lots of beds done before planting time in the spring!