Monday, May 7, 2012

Raised Bed Gardening, Plant Container Ideas, Yummy Savory Garden Cornmeal Pancakes and more...

Raised Bed Gardening, Plant Container Ideas, Yummy Savory Garden Cornmeal Pancakes and more...

"We do not see nature with our eyes, but with our understandings and our hearts."  William Hazlitt

I got the new raised bed garden over by our barn hill with Kyle & Ethan's help... They brought over all the plastic ground cover and helped me get it all down; then they hauled over all 20 of the 4x8 raised beds; they brought wheel barrows of straw to put in each one; then got some well rotted manure and topped that off; and now we got the dirt in- Neil helped too, he shoveled some dirt when my elbow started to hurt. This will be specifically for Neil's sausages! We will grown all the herbs and peppers for them. I am so excited about growing and drying all the herbs and raised beds are such an easy way to go for anyone, especially if you don't have a large area.   If you want to have a no fuss, no muss garden try raised beds, they require very little maintenance and can grow almost everything! 

Raised Bed tips on how to make & grow!*The lumber you use should be at least 10" high or higher if you want it. Although for proper root growth this is the minimum. 
*Do NOT use old rail road ties, no matter how many you get for free- they contain a poison called Creosote that will leach out into your soil, be taken up by the roots of your plants, nourish the plant and you get all the by-product in the fruit that it bears when YOU eat it! Yuck!  Stay away from treated lumber for the same reasons.  (this pertains only to those who want to grow organically!)
*Your raised beds can be as long as you want them to be, but the best width is 4' wide.  With this width you can easily 'reach' in from both sides.  You never want to 'step in' your RB, this compacts the soil, which makes proper root growth more difficult.  My farms RB's are either 4'x4' or 4'x8', these work best for me.
*Find a sunny location in your yard and decide how many you would like, or should I say how many would fit!  I would not have a stitch of grass if I didn't have boys that need 'play space'!
*Fill your box with from the bottom up with a mixture of well rotted manure, compost, old grass clippings, hay or straw and top with a rich, loamy soil. 
*After you have your box filled with all the plants you want to grow, put a layer of newspaper (NOT colored print sections) about 3-4 sections thick between your plants, top with a layer of grass clippings or straw to act as a mulch. You will have virtually NO weeding!
*Water thoroughly and enjoy your hard work! 
For a very concise book on Raised Bed gardening I always recommend 'Lasagna Gardening' by Patricia Lanza.  I also recommend companion planting with all your growing ventures. I use Louise Riotte's, 'Carrots Love Tomatoes'.  Both these books will give you a great start to your gardening ventures.

Other nifty ideas for plant containers:1.  Old galvanized chicken feeder or waterer's, tin buckets, watering cans, old metal double burner caners (see picture) enamel ware anything... be sure to put drainage holes on the bottom- unless there it is well rusted and has time worn ones, even better!
2.  Wheel barrow's or old wagons can be found at any flea market or garage sale.  You can either put the plant pots directly in the containers or fill em' with dirt and direct plant.  Either way, totally adorable!
3.  Barrels or metal wash tubs are great as well.  I have a old half barrel at my back door with a bleeding heart in it.  When it is in full bloom it is simply stunning. 
4. Old drawers, crates or even an old wooden trough (yes I have had one).  These work great in your garden's to add depth and interest.  You can plant anything in them. 
The idea's are endless, if it has a hole to put dirt in you can plant it, just depends on your taste!  The key to successful container gardening is proper drainage.
*One more tip- to save on dirt when filling very large containers, recycle packing peanuts, old broken Terra cotta pots, small plastic pots, etc.  Put these in the bottom of your container until about half filled, then pour on the dirt!  They will also be much lighter if you need to move them!

Here's a yummy recipe using Taylor's Cornmeal Pancake Mix!
Taylor's Savory Garden Cornmeal Pancakes1 Pkg. Taylor's Bake Shoppe Cornmeal Pancake Mix - follow instructions and add to batter:
1 cup niblet corn, drained                                                    
1/4 cup diced bell pepper (any color)
1/2 cup diced red onion, from Garden Gate                         
1 small peeled & shredded
1/2 tsp Taco Seasoning
1/4 oil

1. Stir together all ingredients except oil. 
2. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.  Drop batter by 1/3 cupfuls into hot oil.  Cook 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown.
Garnish with fresh chopped Cilantro, sour & cream salsa !

Happy Day,

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