Thursday, May 23, 2013

Wow!  It's been exactly ten months since I've written anything on here.  It isn't because nothing is going on.  I've been very busy with adding jobs and leaving jobs.  I am now working 50+ hours a week between my own business, a full-time pca job and three bookkeeping jobs.  We've decided to homeschool Lilyana and I've begun a straw bale garden.

For the rest of the summer I will be updating this as my garden progresses.  I'll post any day that I do something and around the first of every month I'll post a picture of how the garden looks.  I hope to keep track of how much I've spent and how much yield I get.  But for now enjoy the beginnings of my garden.

Early in May I was bemoaning the fact that having a “normal” garden is too hard for me.  Our soil is full of clay which makes it very hard to till and weed.  I have a lot of pain from various disorders and just cannot do the stooping or sitting or kneeling required to maintain the garden.  I work more than full time so I knew I wouldn't have the time to commit to a traditional garden.  In addition, a group of people came and cut wood for us in March and about five dump truck loads of wood are on top of my garden area right now. 

We didn’t have one last year (2012) and I was resigned to the fact that we wouldn’t have one this year (2013) either. Then a friend of mine posted about her straw bale garden.  So I did a little research and posted on FB that I was thinking about doing it.  Then another friend pointed me to her friend's site.  This friend of hers has been doing a straw bale garden since 2009.  So I read and reread and reread her site.  So much good information.  I emailed her and she has given me so much more and answered all my questions.

And now I thought I’d record, as a sort of journal, in detail what I’ve done this year so I can go back and remember for next year.  I’ll know how to change things if I need to.  I’m going to keep track of each day that I do something and take pictures on the first of each month (or close to it as we will be gone the first three weekends in June).

It all began by us contacting a local farmer in May to get some bales.  He charged us $3 each and we got 7 bales.  I decided smaller is better for my first year.  I chose to use all blood meal as my main conditioning fertilizer and after researching on Amazon and other sources on the internet decided to go to the local feed mill in Gaylord.  They had 50 lb bags of blood meal for $41.  It slightly beat Amazon’s price, I supported a local business and was assured that it could be kept from year to year.

With bales, blood meal and water in hand we put out the bales and started the conditioning.  These pictures are of the bales after we set them out and before we started conditioning.  We put some old carpeting in the center to keep the grass/weeds down.  Next year I'll probably spread the bales from this year as a weed free bedding.

The recipe I followed is the same as Carrie’s.
Day one (May 11):  ½ cup blood meal and water – I also ordered my fertilizer for day ten (Dr. Earth 5-7-3 and Dr. Earth 6-4-6). 
Day two (May 12):  water
Day three (May 13):  ½ cup blood meal and water
(May 14):  we were gone all day and didn’t get back until late so I skipped this day
Day four (May 15):  water
Day five (May 16):  ½ cup blood meal and water
Day six (May 17):  water
Day seven, eight and nine (May 18, 19, 20):  ¼ cup blood meal and water each day
(May 21 and 22):  I was super busy and it rained for 1 ½ days.  On Tuesday, May 22 I got the package from Amazon which had been damaged in transit and it was one box of fertilizer short.  I chatted online with Amazon and they next day shipped me the item at no charge.
Day ten (May 23):  1 cup 10-10-10 fertilizer and water – I combined four cups of each of the Dr. Earth fertilizers and put one cup on each bale. 

And these are the pictures after I finished day ten.   

Now any day I’m ready to put up stakes and wire and plant.  I plan to take pictures after I’m done with the planting and will post it at that time.

Stay tuned to see how this first time garden experiment goes...

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