Saturday, August 25, 2012

Good Bugs & Moon Signs

I have been organizing our seeds and planning our Fall/Winter garden  You know, just throwing seeds in the ground and waiting for produce just doesn't work.  This is our third year gardening, every year it gets a little better, BUT a little more complicated.

The more you know, the more you know you don't know.  Right?

Planning is crucial.  Pest control is right up there in the top of the list of factors to consider.  I'm planting more beneficial herbs and flowers to help draw in some of the "good bugs."  Many years ago I met a man in Hartford, TN on the Pigeon River who went on and on about good bugs.  I'm going to start researching that aspect more.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.   I'd much rather have some happy braconid wasps laying their eggs in those tomato hornworms then sprinkling poison on our food.  I'd really rather not have the hornworms to begin I've gotta get studying.  We also have flea beatles, pill-bugs (roly-poly), and other caterpillars.  I understand that pests are prone to attack the unhealthy plants versus healthy plants.

We are working on our soil too.  I'm leaving that up to hubby.  It fascinates him and bores me.  I'm much more into seeds and weeds.  We have some pretty dang good compost on hand.  B is working on a fish gut connection and the chickens help contribute.  I also want to get a worm box going.  I want to add some worms and worm castings.

Greenhouse is under construction, it's going to be a real treat.  We are repurposing - and I can't even type this without laughing- acrylic sheets from tanning beds.  B is framing up the structure now, and he's trying to finish by September 10.  Of course photos and details to come as it makes progress - or hits completion.  Added bonus * the greenhouse is going to have an outdoor shower. Sweet, right?

discarded tanning bed "glass"

I have been using the website Smart Gardener to layout plants and help me find which plants to plant based on the season.  I ordered seeds from Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden SupplySouthern Exposure Seed ExchangeBaker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and I already had some from Seed Savers Exchange.

At Bonnaroo 2010 B and I went to some classes hosted by Seed Savers Exchange in Planet Roo.  Our first bit of seed education came from there.  We went to 3 classes, and learned about heritage and heirloom seeds and everyone was given seeds.  I also went home with my first kombucha mother from a fermentation class. The goal of the Seed Savers Exchange folks was to get this thing going every year and for people to start saving and bring in their own seeds to share yearly.  Sadly I missed the last two Bonnaroos since then.  2011 I was very pregnant, 2012 Baby O was a little too pasty and helpless.  Bonnaroo 2013 we are all going as a family.  I'm super excited about that.  And we'd like to take a handful of seeds to share.

We have been harvesting okra.  That's about it. Pretty sad, this is our worst year for okra.  That's the one thing we have always had an abundance of in our garden.  I think I planted old seeds this time though.  I'm not sure if they were from our last years okra or from Bonnaroo three years ago.  Lesson learned is to throw away old seeds.  Or throw them in the compost and see what grows, that's always fun.  Fortunately, we received okra in our CSA baskets from Mae Grace Farm earlier in the summer.  WE LOVE FRIED OKRA.  I have some in the freezer.  I cut them up, battered them, and froze them ready to go. We are eating a fresh batch tonight from our garden and I'm going to use the buttermilk I've got sitting on the kitchen counter fermenting.  Let's hope it's better than the kefir.  You have to have buttermilk to fry okra or green tomatoes. I linked to the buttermilk recipe previously.  It's simple.  Make sure you have active cultured buttermilk as a starter.  Pour into a glass jar 1/4 cup of buttermilk and 3/4 cup of milk, let sit 24 hours, shake, done.  I'll share the outcome. Um, and now that I think about it, it might have been supposed to be a 1:4 ratio.  Hm.

We also got hooked up with some grass fed beef from our friends at Mae Grace, pretty excited about that.  It came from Hastings Farm which is about 20 miles or less north of us. We've had 2 pounds of the ground beef this week and it is quite tasty and not greasy at all.   I made beef stroganoff one night and browned some with kale, topped with feta last night.  Can't wait to try some steaks.
Speaking of meat, I also have some of the best bacon in the world in my freezer from Farm Fresh Meats in Robertsdale.  Those of you from around know.

We are utilizing the Old Farmer's Almanac and following the moon signs to do our planting and weeding this year.  We haven't really done this previously.  I'm anxious to see the results.  I laid out all of the seeds I ordered and looked up each specific vegetables' best time to plant.  I used notecards and a box to organize them.  I can't believe I didn't do this sooner.  I loved using index cards for study tools in college.  So every packet of seed has a date on it and whether to start indoors or sow directly.  I copied those dates down chronologically on a note card and then organized seed packets by date/season.  So far this is the only "method" I've ever implemented.  I think it's going to work great.  In the back I stuffed a copy of our garden plan and the moon calendar. Also here's a link to Farmer's Almanac Blog

organized seeds by season

subdivided by starting method

probably an unnecessary step, but now I know

lay the packs sideways, and they fit perfectly

I'm so proud of this task
Next post will probably be of the next step in our pear wine, or the greenhouse, or the chicken swap from last weekend! Can't believe I haven't posted that one yet.  We have new family members and I haven't introduced them yet.

Have a great rest of your weekend.  I've been spending a majority of mine loving on a teething baby and obviously all of the above.  Life is good!


  1. Talk to Sue about talking to the insects on you plants. Very interesting story.

    1. I heard someone talk about once donating a portion of your garden to the bugs with the agreement that they had to stay there and not eat the rest. Is that what you are talking about?