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Semi-urban Homesteading

I’ve been too busy for several months than to do anything but the occasional lurk here. I’m sure nobody missed me because I was a newb to begin with.

Chaos and upheaval here, through the grace of God we made it through the last 9 months. Near fatal car accident for the teenager, forced retirement for the husband a 200 mile move and one emergency appendicitis just for fun.

Meanwhile this year’s garden is what I can with what I got. I started my seeds in trays before we were all the way out of boxes back in March.

April 10th it was a expansive St Augustine lawn in our new house. I took this picture this morning:

I know, I know I need to hoe and get the reemerging grass out of the way.

It is roughly 1800 sq ft. My Dad came for a visit and he and my dear husband roto-tilled it and then we hoed and planted, and by we I mean me.

Cukes, lemon squash and tomatoes (watermelons in the bottom corner):

I know, I know the grass.

And a squash blossom, because it’s pretty:

I’ve got:
several varieties of tomato
Lemon squash
Dragon’s tongue beans
Golden midget watermelon
Pimento peppers
Bell peppers
I have an assortment of other things in containers:
Purple artichokes
Hot peppers
My pomegranates are going into their second year
Grapes that will go into the ground later this year
Raspberries also due to go into the ground
Strawberries waiting on the raised bed to be finished.

We also inherited 7 mature pecan trees and I made friends with the new neighbor just in time to get the last of the mulberries off her tree to make one batch of jam.

Everything is heirloom, if all goes well I should have some seed to share this year. I’ve already spread plants throughout the community to any one who is interested. (The water guy came to read the meter and left with pepper and tomato plants.)

The lemon squash, true to billing, has yet to show a single sign of the borer bugs and I should be picking the first ones later this week. I got my first cuke this morning and I intend to eat it all by myself with some fresh dill and feta.

I’m already planning the fall/winter garden and my husband is giving me the evil eye every time I go into the yard because he knows I’m planning to rip up more sod.

Keep you posted.

Edit to reflect the fact that I couldn't make the pictures appear, I linked instead.

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Nice Garden spot, or G-Spot for short

Ever think about doin a lil earthwork going downhill away from the house and carving out some swales in it. You can layer the bottom with river rocks.. throw some paper or carboard on top of that and wet it… throw some top soil for a couple feet and interchange topsoil with compost and then a layer of straw then worm compost/soil at the top… nutes will be everywhere.. you could also probably grow a lot more species your neighbors can’t grow if you carve out some edge to that sweet garden you’ve got.

A true flower can not blossom without sunlight and a true man can not live without love.

I'm in the old downtown

I'm in the old downtown historic district in Demopolis, Al. I'm probably 1/4 of a mile from one of the bends in the River. We're sitting on top of a large chalk deposit.

I'm about a 1/2 mile from this, on the same street: http://www.flickr.com/photos/will-jac/sets/72157625336320138/

I'm actually shocked that the roto-tiller didn't hit the chalk. A few years back I lived one block over and we hit chalk trying to put in shrubs.

I haven't yet done enough research on soil content, to formulate long term plans on what to be done about that, or even if it has any bearing. As I said, we're doing this year's garden on a "what we can with what we've got" basis.

We are in the process of turning the old "dog yard" into a compost area and thinking about mushrooms back there as well.

Long term we are thinking raised beds. Put in as many as we can each year, as we go.

Well id say you know your bioregion…

remember to encourage The right birds in the area to come gobble up your pests. Seems like you know the deal, I am stoked for you this looks like a good setup. Definitely do the mushies fosho.. I have been growing mushrooms for years so if you need any advice just message me.

A true flower can not blossom without sunlight and a true man can not live without love.

Very nice garden!

Very nice garden! I'm envious! I haven't gotten my plants into the ground yet, except for some green bean plants that sprouted & grew up quicker than I had expected, so I put them at the far end of the flower garden! I usually don't put anything outside until the last couple days of May, which leads me to a question I have for you. When you say you "rip up the sod", what do you mean? My son was telling me about a technique he heard about, where you use a sturdy knife to cut out strips of sod, then roll them back to expose the soil. I thought I'd try that this year, instead of digging it up with a shovel, which can be so back breaking & time consuming. We've just been in our new home for a few months, so the ground hasn't been worked yet. The son said he'd do it for me, but he's always so busy, so I'll probably do it myself. Otherwise, it might not get done until the middle of June! Lol!! I've only got 8 more green bean plants, 6 tomato plants, 6 mild banana pepper plants, and 8 cucumber vines, so I'm not going to need more than a couple of 2' strips of sod taken up across the backyard, I don't think. Anyway - have you ever heard of taking up the sod this way, or do you have a better technique? I'm going to get out there this week & get-er-done - that is, if it evvveeer quits raining! I know - I'll probably be praying for rain in a month or so! Lol!! Thanks for any tips you may have. And good luck with yours!
BTW, does anybody have any good pickle recipes? Bread & butter pickles are my favorite!

"Stand up for what you believe in. Even if you stand alone."
~ Sophie Magdalena Scholl
"Let it not be said that we did nothing."
~ Ron Paul
"You must be the change you want to see in the world."
~ Mahatma Gandhi

Katherine, I’ve seen the roll

Katherine, I’ve seen the roll up sod method done, I can’t say that it is any more or less back breaking than just using a shovel because you still have to turn the soil underneath. Which is why I prefer a roto-tiller run by men folk.

I know that I have a trusted Bread and butter recipe some where, I’ll find it and post it as soon as I can.

I’m in Alabama so my growing season is fairly long, hence the earlier start. The old wives tale around here is to have planting done by Good Friday. What I learned from last year is that as far as tomatoes go in the Deep South that means some fairly established transplants by Good Friday. I learned too late that tiny transplants or sowing seed near Good Friday gets you a plant that hits prime bloom in the heat of summer. Tomatoes will blossom but not set fruit if it is too hot at night. I had blooms galore, but precious little fruit set.

I will start spring transplants even earlier next year, I just couldn’t this year because of the move.

back breaking...

We used to turn over ground, but we've found that building up on whatever you've got is a better plan, and less work. Disturbing the subsoil actually seems to disrupt growth in some complicated sense which I don't understand. In the deep South (I don't know where you are Katherine---but in Alabama, for example) there is an explanation. Our climate is so hot and humid, that turning organic matter into the soil results in too much decomposition and release of nitrogen into the air. Instead you want slow release in the soil where it can be used by plants. You actually want to inhibit decay. Solution: don't till. Layer the top with compost and stick to mild harrowing.

This is kind of a long term answer in a sense, and you'll still have to get some grass and weeds out of the way. That will undoubtedly take some work, but if you have the resources (i.e., enough black gold), grass can sometimes be covered and smothered as well. St. Augustine maybe not so much. For the grass, calling in the men folk with their machines---or better yet their big muscles---might be the best bet. Then when the grass is clear, build up, mild harrow, and let something like vetch do the deep work.

P.S. Again, I don't know where you are/your climate, Katherine, so you'll have to figure out what is best for your place.

P.P.S. Beautiful garden pics. Thanks.

Farmer, are you saying that

Farmer, are you saying that you're from Bama? If so where ya'll at?

It's fun to see

what other people like to eat!

Very interesting plaster work

on the wall. I've never before seen how that is done.

The growing season in North Central Idaho is just commencing. It's about 10 degrees cooler than normal, and with more cloud covering, so warm weather plants like squash are growing very slowly. The only crop we can harvest yet is dandelions.

Gorgeous garden!

I had to peruse the other pics and you do beautiful art work too.


Buttering up the water meter reader could go a long ways when you have a garden like this,LOL! Great job with the garden!

Unconstitutional War - "The story you are about to hear is true; the names and places are being changed to protect the guilty."


grass is very hard to eradicate--

I've tried mulching; straw (if it's thick enough) can help--

but if you're getting produce, perhaps that is all that matters!

it's hard to be awake; it's easier to dream--

Wow, wow, wow

what an awesome garden! We have a tiny yard and my husband just put in a raised 8x8 bed. We have one tomato plant, two green pepper plants and some red and romaine lettuce and a couple other things, can't remember what they are.

Thanks for sharing your wonderful gardening effort with us.

"We can see with our eyes, hear with our ears and feel with our touch, but we understand with our hearts."

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