Spring is definitely in the air! You may have noticed my lack of blog posts recently, and it's because the gorgeous weather has been luring me outside every possible chance i can get. We are gearing up for garden season, which means cleaning out the garden beds, supplementing our soil with composted horse manure, and turning it all up.
We have a local hook up for free unlimited horse manure that has composted for several years. We added some to the garden in the fall, and added another load this spring. The benefit of adding composted horse manure is that it builds good soil structure and texture, increasing the amount of air that can infiltrate and the amount of water it can hold. We have heavy clay soils, so adding compost really helps to loosen the packed soil. In composted Horse manure, nitrogen has been converted to a much more stable form and will be slowly released, allowing plants to use it over a longer period of time. It releases nutrients slowly when plants are small and at greater rates as soil temperatures warm up and the major growth period begins. It also supports essential soil bacteria; feeds earthworms and allows them to multiply; and gradually changes soil pH levels that are either too low (acidic) or too high (alkaline).
The downside of adding the horse manure, is that it tends to be full of weed seeds. So before we till it in, we let the chickens loose in the garden to scratch up and eat as many of the seeds as they can. They will also pluck up the fresh green weed sprouts as they begin to grow. They don't completely prevent weeds, but do help to keep it from becoming completely unmanageable.
We also have a hook up for free pine mulch. So the husband has gotten several loads of it, to mulch the kids play area. We also use it on our blueberry bushes and acid loving shrubs.
Garden season means garden planning, and seed organizing and ordering. i have never been an organized person, but i try! One of the ways i organize my seeds is with a trading card album. The pages contain 9 pockets, and it's in a 3 ring binder and is very inexpensive. When i plant a new flower i keep the seed package and place it in one of the pockets ( cut it down to fit). Then at the end of the season, when i collect the seeds i place them in small bags that are dated. Then i can store them in the pocket with the picture and growing info. i've been using this system for several years to organize my flower seeds, and it works quite well for me.
This year, i ordered the majority of my seeds from Seeds of change, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and Seed savers exchange. i've been really focusing on growing mainly heirloom and non-GMO seeds. Although i do have a few hybrids...like that fabulous Redbor kale!! You can find a list of safe seed companies here.
i received this awesome little indoor greenhouse from my folks, and am super excited that i can actually start my seeds inside this year. In the past i have tried starting sees inside, but we have very limited space, and very curious kitties....that always find a way to dump over all of my seed trays. So far, so good. Although my cats like to nose around the greenhouse (there is a catnip plant in there) They haven't managed to dump it over yet. So i'm feeling pretty optimistic. :)
So far i have broccoli, cauliflower, kale, lettuce and a couple of tomatoes started along with a few herbs.
Another handy little tool i recently came across is SproutRobot.com. You plug in your zipcode and it creates a personalized planting calender that tells you what seeds you can start inside, or plant in your garden week by week. You can even sign up for the free email notifications of what can planted each week. Pretty cool eh? This is great for people like me...who don't know what month it is most of the time..lol.
Have you started planning/planting your garden yet?