It’s the middle of winter, cold, dreary, but something I start receiving in my mailbox makes me long for the warm days of spring, the seed catalogs. Those shiny, colorful pages full of picture of ripe fruit and veggies and herbs. I have already started buying some things, a week ago, while on one of my rare trips to town (it’s a 3+ hour drive to town), I was in a Sam’s Club store, I was about to start heading for the check out lanes when I spotted something green and leafy sticking out from an odd aisle.
It was boxes of blueberry plants, grapevines and other goodies. I will always bypass the flowers and such, I refuse to grow something that isn’t edible or medicinal or in some other way useful, a pretty face just doesn’t do it for me, it has to actually DO SOMETHING, it has to taste good or be useful in some other way.
I purchased a box that had 4 blueberry bushes growing, these are not the blueberry twigs I received in the mail last year, these actually had roots, stems and leaves, and at $16 for all four plants, I couldn’t go wrong. I still haven’t planted them though, right after coming home, I promptly developed a cold, or something, I’ve been down for a week. I did purchase a soil tester, the kind with the probe, you stick it in the dirt and it tells you the PH of the soil, something that is pretty handy when planting more persnickety plants.
I would guess that my soil is on the acidic side because of all the pines and oak trees in my area, but the only way to know for sure is to test it, I’ll be doing that either tomorrow or Monday, then I’ll either amend the soil or I’ll be planting those blueberries.
I also purchased a bag that contained four different kinds of onions, shallots, garlic and one horseradish root. I’m not crazy about horseradish, but since I have it, I’ll plant it and decide what to do with it later. The bag says it has 200 bulbs, so I’ll have lots of onions, garlic and shallots. While in the store, I also grabbed a head of elephant garlic, I’ve always wanted to grow those…
Last year, my garden really flopped, it was a combination of having not enough time to properly work it, I was working way too much and had so little time or energy left over, the other problem was a lack of moisture, we essentially didn’t have a rainy season, I rely heavily on captured rain water to water my garden and we just didn’t get it, not even one good rain, that would have filled my 1000 gallon rain barrel, but it just didn’t happen, and I didn’t have the time or energy to water my garden with 5 gallon buckets.
I have high hopes for my garden this year, with all the mulch I put down last season, I expect my garden soil to be pretty easy to work, I follow the Ruth Stout method of growing, it really does work, it’s basically laying down a mega-thick layer of mulch, straw or hay or whatever you have that will be at least 6 inches thick, 12 inches is better. It keeps down the weeds, it helps keep the soil moist and you don’t get all the splashing of mud onto your plants when it does rain. It really does keep your soil light too, it keeps it from compacting so you don’t have to dig or till each year. The book I have, The Ruth Stout No-Work Garden Book has been out of print for a long time, but it’s still available, if you have a chance to snag one, I highly recommend it. Here are some of her other books:
Gardening Without Work: For the Aging, the Busy & the Indolent
How to Have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back: A New Method of Mulch Gardening
The second one is a bit pricey, again probably worth it if you can catch a used one at a decent price… I’ll be keeping my eye out for both of those.
Oh I almost forgot, when I purchased the soil tester, I purchased a bag of water crystals, you add these to your soil before planting, when you water the crystals soak up the water and slowly release the water over time. The trick is not to add too much, otherwise when they soak up the water, they will push your plants right up out of the ground (ask me how I know this…). You just dig down a bit, add the crystals, mix them with the soil and cover with more soil, you don’t want them at the surface, you want them below the soil line. Between the water crystals and the mulch, I have high hopes for my garden this year, if nothing else, I’ll have the blueberry plants to rely on for years to come.
I’ll be writing another article soon about the need to purchase heirloom seeds, and saving these seeds, not just for us now but for the generations to come, if we don’t take action now, we risk losing our ability to grow plants on our own terms, we will essentially become slaves to companies like Monsanto.
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