Tag Archives: Fall Garden

The Herb Spiral and Farm updates

                We have been very busy lately. As the colder weather approaches, there just doesn’t seem enough time to get it all done before winter.

 

                I completed the 1st of the herb spirals this weekend. I know it won’t get planted this year, but getting it installed now will allow the ground to settle over the winter, and I can add more soil before actually planting. This spiral cost me noting to make. The walls are made from old concrete field tile that has accumulated out at the farm. The soil is from an excavated area and soil had been piled up. It only took about two full days to complete, and most of that was hauling dirt. I had the layout done in about an hour. Not only can I plant in the bed area, but because I used hollow building materials I can plant in them too. I haven’t yet decided what to plant into the tiles. But while building this I discovered about 6 other larger tiles. About 1 ½ feet across. We are now going to use these as large planter pots. Nothing goes to waste.

Started with a stake, and one tile.

Started with a stake, and one tile.

 

I placed the tiles where I thought it would go adjusting as I needed. Dry fitting.

I placed the tiles where I thought it would go adjusting as I needed. Dry fitting.

 

After I was happy with the design, I started adding soil from the outside first.

After I was happy with the design, I started adding soil from the outside first.

This is what I ended up with. Both my wife and myself can reach the center from any side. The 2 year old calls it her castle and likes to run up the ramp to the top. It helped compact some of the soil and set the tiles, so she helped with this project too.

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      Speaking of nothing to waste, my wife’s grandfather is tickled and laughs almost daily at the stories we tell him of repurposing materials. The tiles were just one example. We found an old door that was repurposed in the chicken house for ease of getting into the laying boxes. Several months ago we found some old aluminum wiring of some sort in a junk pile. We repurposed it to use as a trellis for the blackberry garden. Now it is much easier to harvest the berries when in season. Old fencing, has become used for growing peas and tomatoes. Old bricks will be used for a forge. Old 55 gal drums will be used for water barrels and about 100 uses for old pallets. We have uses or repurpose for just about everything we come across on the farm.

Here is the hay and straw repurposed into fall garden, and the reused fencing in the center as a trellis.

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We have come to the realization, that nothing is junk unless it absolutely cannot be used. Old bailing wire has a million purposes. Junk mail, I shred it and feed it to my worms to make compost, compost tea, new soil, and bait for fishing. Old barn wood has a new life as a dining room table. Old tires, potato vertical growing bins. If I don’t have an immediate use for it, it will go into one of the piles/barns and find a new purpose when one is discovered. Not all the repurposing ideas are my own, but most of the “functional” uses have been developed on demand. The creative are about 1/3 mine 1/3 wife and 1/3 I find online. In my pinterest account you can see some things I stumbled upon.

http://www.pinterest.com/rikkrack/boards/

                We have been cleaning out old garden beds, adding chicken area to keep them safe from predators, and reorganizing materials. 6 new chicken tractors are on the list to build before February. Again these will be repurposed from old materials as much as possible. The build of the tractors will be a post on its own.  Every time we are up there we come up with new projects. We have roughly 45 min to an hour one way drive time from our Indianapolis home. On the way up to the property we discuss what we are going to do, would like to accomplish, and plan for attaching. We have 4 pages of projects, tasks, and wish lists. On the way back we mark off what we accomplished and lists for what we saw that needed to be added or new projects. This week I decided to add a pond to the rose garden that will be build either this fall or next spring. We are repurposing a preformed pond we had here in Indy, which was repurposed from another project. I decided to take all the field stone we have come across during the cleaning phase and make a large waterfall water feature in the pond. This will not only aerate the water for when we stock, but keep some of the unwanted slime and moss growth down. It will be a nice feature to see, and hear. We would eventually like to make the pond into a natural swimming pool so this fits nicely with that plan. Adding a sauna, hand pump for the well, tree nursery, hoop house and the list goes on.

Edible landscaping for fall

        Fall is a great way to put out some additional color and harvest more vegetables. While many plants are starting to go dormant or die off there are several varieties you can plant now that can give color and life to your landscape.

ornamental-cabbage-plant-2961292421436aN2 Raw-Kale

Kale – Kale comes in a few varieties and is cold tolerant. We planted a blue green variety and a purple variety in our front yard. This is mixed in with all the “pretty” flowers. While some varieties are listed as an ornamental you can still eat it. Some studies have shown the more color a plant has the better it is for you. I have heard that you can turn kale into a chip for snacking. It is also good for juicing, cooked, raw, in salads and is really good for you. This is my first year growing kale. Someone told me about making them into chips as a healthy snack so I thought I would give it a try. If nothing else it can go into the juice mix.

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Broccoli – While some of our lawn conscious neighbors shudder at planting broccoli in their front yards where all can see, I have no problem.  We planted some in the midst of our roses. The bold blue-green leaves I think will be a nice addition to the browns and yellows as other plants pack up for winter. They get about 2-3 feet tall and cover around 2-3 feet in diameter. Bonus we get to eat not only the crowns, but also the leaves AND you can re-harvest over and over. Broccoli is a crop that once you cut will return with another fruit. In this case it is the flowers trying to germinate and spread seeds. Once you harvest additional shoots will come up from the cutting. Cut several inches below the crown, at the leaf junction. The next set of crowns will be smaller but still edible. You can do this three or four times during the season. I recently discovered you can eat the broccoli leaves. I added them to my recent batch of V12. It’s like V8 juice but I added whatever I had handy. The 12 ingredients didn’t even cover any herbs I added.

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Cabbage –I am not a big fan of cabbage. The wife wanted it. I think ever since I tried the fad diet of cabbage soup, I may have burnt myself out on it. She loves coleslaw, and having it raw on occasion isn’t too bad. I may even try my hand ad making my own sauerkraut. Fall cabbage can come in several different colors. We chose the purple variety and again a dark blue-green.  We planted this in our front yard as well intermingled between lily’s and roses.

strawberry

Strawberries – Strawberries are a fall crop? Yep, the everbearing variety will give you additional fruit into fall. We planted ours as groundcover in our front yard. They stay green almost the year, and produce fruit. They do well in almost any light condition. When fruiting our youngest ,2, races out each morning to see if any have turned red overnight. Sadly, as a result I only got a handful of strawberries this year. Between 4 kids I am surprised I got that many. Looks like I will be planting more in addition to the 300 plants this year. One of the nice thing about establishing strawberries as ground cover is you can get about 100 plants for $20. Wait until spring to plant. Your first year will not have much fruit. The years after that they will do well. Many varieties will spread on their own. Within a few years you can have a blanket of plants and they will choke out any weed species.

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Sugar snap peas – We had to put a line around our front garden to keep kids from running through while our strawberries got established. While planting a fall garden we thought, why not use that for sugar snap peas? It will give them something to climb up. So we will have a wall of peas surrounding one garden this year. Edible straight off the vine, super sweet, or we put them in stir-fry, and even cooked alone.

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Beans – With the ravenous hoard (our chicken flock) in the back yard we have become creative where to plant things. There is a chicken fence to keep them out of the vegetable garden but we decided to try planting some beans along the front of the house. This was a new experiment and see what would come of it. In between the hostas and the cherry bushes we threw in some bush beans. I chose a variety that yields a purple pod. These should go nice with the purple cabbage and purple kale. It will bring additional nitrogen to the soil at least and hopefully some additional color.

While we have many other edible species of plants in our front yard, which is what the neighbors see, this is about all we have this year for our fall crop up there. People often ask “What do your neighbors think of you doing all this?” The answer is, I don’t know. I have never stopped to ask them if it is OK to plant in my OWN yard. I think it looks nice, it helps reduce the grocery bill, and they usually they get some overage if we have any. But the bottom line is they don’t pay my mortgage, they don’t put food on our table, and we don’t live in a restrictive HOA. You don’t see me complaining to them about spraying their lawn for weeds, or fertilizing their lawn with toxic chemicals. That is their choice, and this is mine.