Saturday, January 26, 2013

"Great Soil is a Gardens Foundation", Part 3

   Okay, you say, "there's more about soil"? There is probably more about soil than I can even mention. Remember soil preparation is probably one of the most important thing we can do as gardeners. Getting this stage of gardening right makes the rest of your season so much easier! Why is this?

#1 Three great reasons: 1) Moisture, if you keep the soil good and fluffy, not to sandy or hard. It will hold more water, which results in less watering and very helpful during the dry part of the season. 2) Micronutrients, these are all the great minerals and vitamins the plant needs to grow strong and healthy. This means less deceased plants and all that "Yummy Goodness" is passed onto you! 3) And having the right soil means more worms! They will keep those roots moving around with ease and they help keep your soil loss!
    Tip: Worm Tubes! Several people have been introducing, "worm tubes" in their gardens. It's kinda like a worm buffet, the thought is to have a place actually in the garden where you can put vegetable scraps; the worms then come into the bottom of the tube, eat through the scraps, and move out into the garden to deposit their castings. I learned this from my neighbor's garden. They are the white tubes in the corners!

#2 What if my soil drains to quickly? Well its probably way to sandy. So what you will need to do is add more organic matter to it, such as compost. Have you seen a trend, having a "Compost Bin" or access to it or other top soils will help and maintain just about any soil type!
#3 So we have talked about "Black Gold" compost being very important in the garden but one of the final things is called "Green Manure" or A Cover Crop.
  1) So what is a cover crop, its a crop for soil protection or enrichment, a crop planted between main crops to prevent erosion or to be plowed in to enrich the soil.
  2) What benefits do cover crops have?
      Cover crops: Improve soil health, Scavenging soil nitrogen, Improve yield potential over time, Improve weed control of winter annuals, Reduce erosion, Increase earthworm populations, Improve soil microbiology, Build Soil Organic Matter, Help you with manure management, Provide excellent grazing opportunities (if you have live stock)

      Cover crop roots, along with the additional earthworms: Increase soil organic matter, Increase soil porosity, Increase soil aeration, Increase “channels” for future row crop roots to follow, Reduce compaction, Increase nutrient recycling

Types of Cover Crops:
   Winter Rye is a common winter cover crop, sown after cash crops are harvested in the fall.
   Oats are used as a winter cover crop to protect the soil without requiring intensive management in the spring, because they are frost-killed.
   Annual Ryegrass is a low-growing cover crop that produces an extensive root system that is good at capturing leftover nitrogen.
   Sudangrass and Sorghum-sudangrass (Sudex) are fast-growing, warm season crops that require good fertility and moisture to perform well.
   Buckwheat is a fast-growing summer annual that can be used to protect the soil and suppress weeds for a month or two between spring and fall cash crops. It grows fairly well on acid and low phosphorus soils.
   Japanese Millet is an annual grass that grows about 4 ft tall and can provide good weed suppression.
   Brassica cover crops such as Oriental mustard have been associated with disease suppression in a subsequent cash crop.
   Red Clover is a short-lived perennial that is somewhat tolerant of acid or poorly drained soils.
   White Clover is a low-growing perennial, tolerant of shade and slightly acid soil. Ladino types are taller than the Dutch or wild types.
   Sweetclover is a biennial that is deep-rooted and adapted to a wide range of soils.
   Hairy Vetch has become increasingly popular as a cover crop.
   Alfalfa requires deep, well-drained soil with a pH near neutral for good growth.
   Tip: You can mix this together if you wish and you will get a longer growing season, if you wish to allow the soil to rest a year. If not at least have a good crop rotation each growing season.

  I think we can leave the soil topic now. Like I said, I'm sure there are more tips and topics we can discuss. If you remember one that wasn't covered leave a comment and I will do my best or hopefully its something I don't know about and you can teach me something, which isn't that hard to do, lol!

 "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up." James 4:10

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Lets ALL do our part for America's Laws and Squeak!

   I know this has NOTHING to do with gardening but there are a lot of big issues in the country right now. So many people are taking to the social media to try to change the minds of friends, family and acquaintances on subjects that effect our daily lives. Subjects such as Civil Right, Taxes, Gun Control, Human rights, Federal debt, just to name a few! But is using such things such as facebook, Twitter, ect really the way to go about it. Maybe? But why not contact your State Government, Your State Senator and Congressman, the White House and let them know where you stand on the topics important to you. I have and, now I leave you links to make it easy for you to find your person to make known you view. "But will my one voice be heard Clint?" Not if you don't contact them! My dad always said, "The squeakiest wheel always gets the oil first!" You have many rights as a U.S. Citizen, the right to vote and the right to tell the law makers in office your opinion are two of the easiest and most overlooked! Make your voice heard and contact them, contact them often and as you do it, be prayerful about it, God will always help you with the right things to say.
  Helpful Hint: Right your letter in Microsoft Word or an e-mail and save it to file. Then all you have to do is copy and paste, as many times as you want! Squeak,  Squeak!
Also Know your Constitutional Rights and Amendments, Read Your U.S. Constitution here. Read The Proclaimed Bill of Rights here.
squeak v. squeaked, squeak·ing, squeaks

1. To give forth a short, shrill cry or sound.
2. Slang To turn informer. To utter in a thin, shrill voice.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

"Great Soil is a Gardens Foundation", Part 2

   Okay, so now I am sure you have figured out what your soil pH is, what type of soil you have, if it has the right drainage and how your microorganisms are in your soil! Right? That is if you read part 1 last week?? So here are some tips and secrets to help your soil.

#1 If your soil isn't draining correctly, its probably because it's clay soil! So what can you do? Feed it lots of Organic Matter! Dig in lots of chunky like straw, pine needles, wood chips. You can also work in leaves, grass clippings, animal manure (not dog or cat), or my favorite thing, Compost. These will open up the soil so that nutrient and worms call move through the soil better.  
        Tip: Fresh organic matter uses lots of nitrogen during the break down process. But you can correct this if you will add one of these three things to each bushel of organic material you add to the soil.
         1 pound of nitrate of soda or (Ammonium sulfate, ammo-phos, cottonseed, soybean meal, or tankage)
      1/2 pound of ammonium nitrate
      1/2 pound of ammonium sulfate

#2 Dig in your Organic material in the fall,  the best way to do this is by Double Digging. 
         What is double-digging? Nothing more than loosening the soil more than 12 inches down to create conditions that your plants' roots can stretch their legs out in and soak up more nutrients and water!
         How do you double dig?  Begin at one end of the bed and dig a 1-foot-wide by 1-foot-deep trench across the bed's width, placing the excavated dirt in a wheelbarrow or tarp. Next, work a garden fork into the floor of the trench and slowly rock it back and forth to loosen the soil. Continue until the soil in the excavated area is loosened. Dig a second, similar-size trench next to the first, this time placing the excavated soil in the first trench. Loosen the soil at the bottom of the second trench with the garden fork. Dig another trench and back fill the second trench, loosen the bottom of the third trench, and continue this process until you reach the end of the bed. Fill the last trench with the soil excavated from the first.   Note: As you go remember to work in any and all Organic Material that you are going to use, this will work it deep into the soil.
          Tip: If its an existing bed or the middle of the growing season, you can use a garden fork to loosen the soil. Just push it in the ground as fare as you can, work it back and forth, pull the fork out, move the fork a few inches and repeat the first step. After you get done with the fork, spread lots of compost or smaller organic matter and it will works its way down into the fork holes.
              *  For larger fields like hay fields or lawns, uses a Lawn Aerator, Spiker, Plugger, Core Aerator, or Aerifier in place of a garden fork and spread lots of compost or smaller organic matter and it will works its way down into the fork holes. Most of the time with a hayfield it get's to acidic because of all the animal urine. So it will probably need more lime than anything to correct the problem.

#3 Back To Eden? There is another wonderful way to get larger and even smaller areas back to a most perfect way to grow and its rather simple! HURRY TELL ME! I knew you would ask, lol! Check out this video called "Back to Eden", its amazing how he prepared his site to garden. It is a 2 hour video but what else do you have to do on a cold winters evening! On-line video

#4 If you don't want to go through all that work, do like I do and build "Raised Beds" and garden in those. That way you can control the type of soil and its drainage.

  Here were just a few more tips for your soil. Remember more time spent here will be worth it in the long run. Playin in the dirt is a lot of fun, so dig in there! Next week we should finish our talk on soil.

"Grace is God giving us what we do not deserve and mercy is God not giving us what we do deserve."

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Change Ahead!

   In our garden or in our walk with Jesus, the growth in both always changes. Things get planted and sprout, they grow in an ever changing way. Things start to bloom and sometimes we have to prune the dead or bad stuff off. Eventually from those blooms fruit or veggies start to produce. Hopefully with both those that which is produced are very good to those who we share them with (our personal fruit and the veggies from our garden) and then they die. But from time to time we have to change both our garden and ourselves to better them. Either it's because of something we have learned about our garden (though research) or about ourselves through (God's Word), we are always in a state of change to make each perfect. But neither will ever be here in this life because of the outside nastiness that each face daily. We just have to trust God at His word that He will keep His many promises for both. I can grantee one thing, change will come, but it's what we keep focused on the  helps us make the right changing decisions in either place. I think you know what I mean?
  This was just a thought that I had to share as I introduces my new blog face lift. I hope your fruit is very good to those you share it with!

"Courage is the strength or choice to begin a change.  Determination is the persistence to continue that change."

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Saturday, January 12, 2013

"Great Soil is a Gardens Foundation", Part 1

   Good soil in the garden is like building your house on a Solid foundation or feeding your children a well balanced diet! Over the next few posts I will give tips and suggestions on how to get your garden soil to the best it can be. I have covered some of these things before and will link back to them as we go. I remember my dad and Grammie spending more time preparing the "dirt" in the garden more then anything. Not only would they spend time on the soil for the garden but they would test all the hay fields on the farms, so it must have been important! Plus that's where all those good vitamins and minerals come from that you want to put into your body!  So how to get it to it's best?
   #1 You want to do is test the pH of your soil, it doesn't matter if it is in the garden, lawn, hayfield or even your potted houseplants. Yes, I said potted houseplants, even the pH in them will change overtime. The ph (acidity level) of your soil has a large part to do with how well your plants grow, ph is tested on a scale of 0 to14, with 0 being very acidic and 14 being very alkaline. Most plants grow best in soil with a fairly neutral ph, between 6 and 7. When the ph level is lower than 5 or higher than 8, plants just won’t grow as well as they should, unless that is the area that they grow best in. Every Home and Garden store sells these kits or you can send your samples of to your local agriculture dept. to have professionally tested.
   Note: My new friend at "Let This Be in You" blog, has a wonderful in depth post on "Soil Testing", so please click the link to go read more about this!
  #2 You want to do a composition test or "the squeeze test" as Grammie called it. Soils are classified as clay soils, sandy soils, or loamy soils. Clay is nutrient rich, but slow draining. Sand is quick draining, but has trouble retaining nutrients and moisture. Loam is generally considered to be ideal soil because it retains moisture and nutrients but doesn’t stay soggy.
   To figure out your soil type, take a handful of moist (but not wet) soil from your garden, and give it a firm squeeze. Then, open your hand. One of three things will happen: 1) It will hold its shape, and when you give it a light poke, it crumbles. Lucky you—this means you have luxurious loam! 2) It will hold its shape, and, when poked, sits stubbornly in your hand. This means you have clay soil. 3) It will fall apart as soon as you open your hand. This means you have sandy soil.
   Now you can work on improving it, unless you are one of the Blessed ones with Loamy soil and you can just keep adding good Ol "Black Gold" Compost or you may have to work to improve it and we will talk about that a little later!
  #3 Next you can do the "Percolation Test", this determines the drainage of your soil. This is good to know because some plants grow much better in a well drained soil and some obviously do not! To test your soil’s drainage: 1) Dig a hole about six inches wide and one foot deep (Dad used a post hole digger, if you have one). 2) Fill the hole with water and let it drain completely. 3) Fill it with water again. 4) Keep track of how long it takes for the water to drain.
   If the water takes more than four hours to drain, you have poor drainage (Clay Soil) and if it drains right out within minutes that can be a problem as well (sandy soil)!
  #4 Finally, you want to do the "Garden Champion" test. You know check for your hardest workers, Worms, lol! Worms are great indicators of the overall health of your soil, especially in terms of biological activity. If you have earthworms, chances are that you also have all of the beneficial microbes and bacteria that make for healthy soil and strong plants.
   How to do the worm test? 1) Be sure the soil has warmed to at least 55 degrees, and that it is at least somewhat moist, but not soaking wet. 2) Dig a hole one foot across and one foot deep. Place the soil on a tarp or piece of cardboard. 3) Sift through the soil with your hands as you place it back into the hole, counting the earthworms as you go.
   If you find at least ten worms, your soil is in pretty good shape. Less than that indicates that there may not be enough organic matter in your soil to support a healthy worm population, or that your soil is too acidic or alkaline.Then you need to check the pH again!
    Tip: If you are lacking worms, you can either buy some to add or when you add fresh compost or maybe a friend has some good rich horse manure you can add. Any of these ways will bring a good host of them back to you garden! 
  This will get you started, now onto some other important soil tips in the next part!

For more reading:
 "Great Soil is a Gardens Foundation", Part 2
"Great Soil is a Gardens Foundation", Part 3

Matthew 13:3  "Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow.....8 But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

"TRG" had a featured post, that's me!

   I went to one of my favorite blogs this morning and had to take a double take on the blog feature list. When I ventured over to "The Backyard Farming Connection", what did i see but the post I had made a few weeks back, "Garden Tool Maintenance 101" . Its such a honor but must humbling when something that you have done has been chosen for such a wonderful thing. Thank you Gretchen from the bottom of my heart, may you be blessed richly with His love and grace!

  I would also like to invite all of you each week to "Backyard Farming Connection Hop", where you can share your ideas and read wonderful post by others like us. If being like us is a good thing, lol!

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Saturday, January 5, 2013

January Gardening Tips, "Pay now, Play Later!"

  Well, since we all harvested our bounty from our gardens in the fall and preserved it for our winter consumption, it has been a busy time, with the holidays and all. But I am sure everyone is starting to get seed catalog's in the mail and you are starting to plan what you are going to plant the quick coming planting season? Remember this is the time of the year that other things us "Urban Gardening" junkies can be doing to make our lives a little easier come spring! It's a new year, a new season, so learn from your trials and errors and make this season more enjoyable! Dad always said, "Pay now, Play Later!"
  Create and "Urban Garden" for less than $100.00!
  Last Years "January's To-Do List".
  1.  When salting to melt ice on walks and driveways, spread it carefully to avoid damage to nearby shrubs, trees and grass. You could use sand or sawdust instead.Using "Epsom Salts in the Garden".
  2.  Brush snow from evergreens as soon as possible after a storm. Use a broom to sweep off snow. Serious damage can be caused by heavy snow on the branches.
  3. Do your lawn mower maintenance!Make it easier to mow your yard, get rid of the hard to mow spaces. Eliminate angles in beds and borders. Combine single trees or shrubs into a large planting connected with ground cover. Put the bird bath in a flower bed or surround it with ground cover.
  4.  Try not to walk a lot on the dormant lawn. Dry grass is easily broken and the crown of the plant may be severely damaged or killed.
  5.  With the catalog's coming in, its time to review your vegetable garden plans. Perhaps a smaller garden with fewer weeds and insects will give you more produce or my favorite, "Raised Beds"
  6.  Do not wait until late in the winter to order seeds. Many varieties sell out early.
  7.  When looking at your garden catalogs for new vegetable varieties to try, an important consideration is improved insect and/or disease resistance, look also for drought-tolerant types.Also Heirlooms varieties!
  8.  If you all keep any, study last year's planting, fertilizing and spraying records. Make notes to reorder the successful varieties as well as those you wish to try again.
  9.  Check all of your stored fruits and vegetables such as potatoes and apples for bad spots which may cause decay. Remove or use those which show signs of spoiling.
  10.  Don't forget your house plants, Turn and prune house plants regularly to keep them shapely. Pinch back new growth to promote bushy plants, Check for insects, the most common is ants, here is a natural way to deal with them!
  11. Don't put your houseplant around hot electronics like T.V's, ect and give the an area with good outside light. Your house gets dry during the winter, so make sure to take a spray bottle of water and mist them or do like mom used to do and set them in the bathroom and turn a hot shower on, the steam will help them.
  12.  Clean all your pots, add one cup each of white vinegar OR household bleach to a gallon of warm water and soak the pots for about 12 hours. Another use for vinegar in the garden!
  13.  Move garden ornaments such as urns or jarsinside to prevent damage during the cold winter season.
  14.  Feed the birds regularly and see that they have water. Birds like suet, fruit, nuts, and bread crumbs as well as bird seed. Clean their homes or bird bottles!
  15. And don't forget, this is a great time to into the meat of the pages of God's Word, "The Bible". Spend lots of time with Him. He even gives you tips on "How To Garden", in His Word! 
2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new"

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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

"Top 10 for 2012 and Thanks"

 Happy New year to all you folks and I pray you have a prosperous 2013!  I thought it would be cool to list the "Top 10" Posts for 2012 for "The Redeemed Gardener" this year! It is really hard to believe that it has been 1 year since I first posted and started sharing. I couldn't imagine then how much it would have grown and the new friends that I would get to know along the way. I do want to thank you and invite each of you to always feel welcome here! Maybe you can remember your favorite post and would like to share it! May Good Bless you all and I hope your growing season is plentiful this season and many more to come!

1) "Hugelkulture", Raised Bed Experiment
2) "Back To Eden" Gardening God's Way!
3)  Killing Little Ants Naturally
4)  "Hatfield & McCoy" Mini-series Review
5)  Epsom Salts, In the Garden
6)  Using Ammonia in the Garden!
7)  "Dirt Cheap Compost Bin's"
8)  "Cool, Cheap, Mini Root Cellars" and Memories of Dad!
9)  Making A Rain Barrel
10)  "Black Gold and Other Soil Amendments"

And if you want to laugh hard and learn a little about me: "The Jethro Bodine Gardener!"

Also "The Best Part of Me".

  I couldn't leave without giving you the top Traffic sources to my blog (Other thank search engines and Pinterest)! Thank You to each of my friends at these wonderful blogs for everything. I encourage you all to visit their blogs to learn and have great fellowship!

1)  Homestead Revival
2)  The Prairie Homestead
3)  Funky Junk Interiors
4)  Hickory Holler Farms
5)  Daphne's Dandelions
6)  Learning the Frugal Life
7)  New Life on the Homestead
8)  Frugally Sustainable
9)  Deborah Jean's Dandelion House
10) My Simple Country Living
11) The Chicken Chick

Well, Again thank you and have fun reading and learning!