Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Emus and gardens

Last Saturday, Madison came to spend the night at the farm. On our way, we saw two of these amazing creatures! They were tall like Madi, but they weren't ostriches. They were definitely birds, but weren't turkeys or peacocks. When we got to the farm we asked Grandpa what he thought they were, he said they sounded like Emus. We looked them up on the computer and sure enough, they were Emus! We had a GREAT weekend!

Happy Wednesday friends, are you feeling well today? I am! I have been working in my veggie garden for the last couple of weeks. WOW! That is great exercise! I have planted several things that grow best in cooler weather, and am planning and preparing for the big Spring rush. Thinking about planting a garden for the first time? Here are some FAQ for rookies:

Why should I grow vegetables when I can buy them at Safeway? HELLO! Economy, freshness, flavor, FUN! In many cases those “fresh” grocery store veggies are shipped in from all over the world. They cost fuel and pollution to get here. They are rated by their color, shininess, and keeping qualities rather than flavor. You want to eat the good stuff! AND it is better for the world. It is also a GREAT activity for children. Just ask my oldest Granddaughter Madison :)
How do I start? First you need a space with long hours of sun. You may plant right in the soil, or raised beds or even in large containers. You need access to water. Start small! Protect your veggie plot from critters. (My biggest challenge is keeping the hens from using my garden as an all-you-can-eat buffet.) As your interest grows, so can your garden.
How do I know what to plant? Make a list of the veggies you regularly buy. Do they include lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, radishes, squash, carrots, potatoes? You can grow all of those and more in your garden. Some things are best started from plants-- like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants. (It is a little too early to plant these favorites yet…) Squash, radishes beets, and carrots all do best from seed. Right now, you can also find seed potatoes in the nurseries (I planted mine last night after work….)
Won’t I get bugs? Sure! That’s part of the fun. But you won’t catch me recommending adding chemicals to your garden to get rid of a few bugs. There are too many other creative ways to control them that are healthier.
What about my soil? You can buy a few sacks of organic planting mix or compost to mix in with your soil. (Rule of thumb-one 2 cubic foot bag will cover about 12 square feet of soil at about four inches deep. Mix it in.) If you prefer to plant in pots, stick to a potting soil, it will hold more moisture.
How much do I water? The simple answer is “enough.” Ideally, your plants should not be allowed to go completely dry before you give them a good soaking. Don’t keep them soggy, they rot.
Where can I learn more? The local master nurserymen are a GREAT source of information for gardeners of all levels. They even offer free classes to the public. There is a great selection of garden books out there, but my favorite is called “Square Foot Gardening,” and the local nurseries and garden centers are also very helpful….And check out my website at to see where my FAVORITE compost originates.

It has taken several years to develop my garden and there is plenty more work to do, but when you love a thing, it is more like play :) My soul is sunshine in the garden!