Monday, February 28, 2011

Where to Put Your Raised Bed Garden

Where to Put Your Raised Bed Garden
There are several factors to consider when setting up a raised bed: How much space do I need?, How many hours of daylight will my plants get on average?, How well can I protect my garden from unwanted visitors (dogs, deer, cats, birds, squirrels, etc.)?

One of the advantages of a raised bed is that you have greater control over these factors. Using a raised bed, you can garden in places that might restrict you otherwise. For instance, my mom gets great sunlight on a side of her house where a trench is in place for drainage. With a planter which is raised above the ground she can take advantage of that light. A friend has her garden ravaged by deer every summer. By moving her garden to her deck, she will not only outsmart the deer, but she will also be able to enjoy her beautiful garden right outside of her kitchen.

Gardening on the deck is great but there are probably many options throughout your yard where you can utilize a small space to reap a big return. Remember you are looking for a 3x3, 3x6, even as small as 18"x3ft. Many with a yard will choose to place beds in various locations. In the summer it is so enjoyable to look over a yard with lush produce growing everywhere.

Gardener's Supply has some good quality, easy to assemble grow beds at a great price. Using the link on my website will give you free shipping on any order over $75 or use this link Gardener's Supply Company
You can line them so that you can use them on your deck. You can even pay extra and get them in periwinkle. They come in 3 sizes. Another neat solution that I am going to try this year is their potato bags. Growing potatoes successfully in the ground has its challenges. You have to dig very deep and you have to go bag throughout the summer and "hill" up the dirt. These inexpensive bags make it very easy. It is such fun to watch the kids dig up the potatoes.

Indoor Worm Composting

Another composting option is an indoor worm composter. You can put this in your garage or pantry. The advantages are significant. Let me start by saying there is no smell. Here are the advantages: Worms convert most kitchen scraps into finished compost in less than two weeks, make compost year round, and worm castings are rich in nutrients. Worm compost has ten times the nutrient levels of regular compost. You will get better results with this and it is totally organic. In an indoor worm composter, worms start at the bottom and migrate upwards as they go, leaving behind tray after tray of rich compost. A reservoir at the bottom captures "worm tea" — an ideal, odor-free liquid fertilizer. Go to the link below from Gardener's Supply to order the indoor worm composter. The kit includes an instructional dvd, compost thermometer, rake, scraper and bedding material (worms sold seperately).Indoor Worm Composter
By using the link below, you will save even more!
Gardener's Supply Company
You can also find great deals on a indoor worm composter at Free shipping at

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Composting - A Key to Sustainable Living

Composting is one of the easist, cheapest, and best things that you can do to move towards a sustainable lifestyle. It is the ultimate in recycling, taking what we once thought of as garbage and using using it to create something new, valuable, and edible. Compost is valuable. Your vegetable garden will come alive as a result of your scraps, chicken droppings, used paper, old newpapers, etc. Simply throwing your refuse in your bin creates a magic mixture for your garden. It could not be easier.

There some myths about composting that probably need to be cleared up: composting is smelly and compost attracts vermin. Neither of these are true. It is only true if you compost incorrectly. You just want to be sure to keep meat and dairy products out of your compost.
Here is what you can compost:
Paper towels, cardboard rolls, cereal boxes, brown paper bags, shredded newspapers, etc
Fruits and vegetables
Coffee grounds and filters, tea and tea bags
Dryer and vacuum cleaner lint
Crushed eggshells (but not eggs)
Fireplace ashes
Grass clippings, yard trimmings, leaves, hay and straw
Hair and fur
Nut shells
Wood chips, sawdust, etc.
Animal manure (not pet waste)

Do not compost:
Meat, fish, egg or poultry scraps
Fats, grease, or oils
Dairy products
Coal or charcoal ash
Diseased plants
Anything treated with pesticides

A word about composting chicken droppings. There is no manure more desired for the vegetable garden than chicken manure. But, is important to let your chicken droppings compost for 6-9 months. Chicken droppings are very high in nitrogen and need to be fully composted or the nitrogen will burn your plants. Don't let this scare you away. The high nitrogen and other nutrients are the reason that chicken manure compost is the best kind of manure to use. Composting chicken manure will mellow the nitrogen. To compost it is easy. Use the bedding from your own chickens. Take the used bedding and put it into a compost bin. Water it thoroughly and turn it every few weeks to get air into the pile. Once composted, this is indeed a miracle growing mixture.

You probably want to invest in a composter. I found a great deal on a composter (link below). You can pay more, but it really is not necessary. The reviews on this one are good and you want to keep your expenses down at first. Great, reasonably priced composters can also be found at Gardener's Supply, using the link below will save you money!!
Gardener's Supply Company

Great composters deals can also be found at Save big at

Thursday, February 24, 2011


One of the fun things about chickens is discovering the different breeds. There are several questions that you must answer to choose your chickens.
How much space do I have to dedicate to chickens?
Bantams, miniature chickens, are a good choice for those with limited space. Although the eggs are smaler, three bantam eggs are equivalent to two large eggs. They are also very cute.

What color would I like my eggs to be?
Many people are suprised to discover that eggs do not come in just brown and white. Egg color is breed specific. Many people enjoy auracana and ameraucana chickens, also known as Easter eggers. They lay beautiful pastel eggs (pink, blue and green). There are also the maran breeds, also know as Chocolate eggers. Marans lay deep brown, almost mahogany, eggs. We raise marans and will be happy to sell you eggs or chicks. You can read more about them at the Black Copper Marans link on my website,

Why do I want chickens?
Are you raising them for eggs or meat? Some breeds are better layers. Other breeds are better for meat. Most people new to chickens will be interested in good layers. These are some popular laying breeds: Ameraucana, Aurancanas, Plymouth Barred Rocks, Marans, Australorp, Wyandotte, and Rhode Island Reds.

Once you have decided on your breed and established your housing, you are ready to get your chickens. At this point, you must decide if you want to start with chicks or hens. Although chicks are fun and cute, there are some disadvantages. They must be kept warm for the first four weeks. It is difficult to determine gender when they are chicks no matter what you are told by the seller. Then, you usually will want to get rid of your roosters, which is often easier said than done. You also wil not see eggs for a year.

If you do decide to get chicks, you probably want to purchase locally. If you purchase them online, you will usually have to purchase many more chicks than you want to fulfill an order.

I suggest starting with hens. You can find hens through Craigslist and, in Georgia, through the Market Bulletin, which is published by the Georgia Department of Agriculture. You can view the classifieds in the Market Bulletin at Other states have similar publications. If you would like more assistance, contact us and we will be happy to assist you.
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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Getting Ahead of Myself

Today it was beautiful, mid 60s and sunny.  I was tempted to go to the feed store, get some seeds, and start the garden.  But, I had to remember February is not gone and more winter is ahead of us.  I have never had much tolerance for the little paper cups that my mom and grandmother all over the kitchen to start seedlings.  How I wish I had a greenhouse.
I decided to look on line and found a great idea, a small one to go over a raised bed.  I talked to a neighbor that said he has used one and when it is 30 degrees outside, it was mid 70s in his little greenhouse.  I think I will give it a try.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


By putting aside the things that at one time I called garbage, with a little time, God turns into a nutrient rich material often referred to as "black gold."   There is nothing like it to produce an abundant harvest.  

The most disgusting things go into the compost bin.  Not only do I save the kitchen and yard scraps, but also the droppings from the hen house.  It is a odd concept to keep the disgusting things that you hope your friends won't see laying around, and worse yet, step in.  But somehow, God transforms it into one of the basic building blocks for new life.  Organic compost is one of the best things for your garden.  This "garbage" is a key ingredient in bringing forth abundant, new life.

Similarly, the very things that I would have rather swept under the rug, put on the side of the road in a black plastic bag for someone else to take away, God has, with time, taken and used to bring forth new life.  Thinking on this helps me to put the "messes" of today in perspective.  The very things that I would like to make quickly go away may actually be the "black gold" that I need to ensure tomorrow's new, abundant life.

New Beginnings

I love Spring.  It is filled with reminders of New Life, New Beginnings.  Although we are not in Spring quite yet, the warmth of the past few days have held out the promise of brighter days.  As I watch the new kids play in the yard with their mothers and each other, I think of planting and baby chicks, and the joy of New Life.

My mother has always referred to gardening as therapeutic.  For a great portion of my life, I did not have any clue as to what she meant.  But for the past few years, God has tended to my soul as I have played in the dirt, tended to hens, fed the goats, and held piglets. 

It is hard to explain.  Participating in the most basic things of life feeds my soul.  Maybe it goes all the way back to Genesis.  In Genesis 2:15 "The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it."  In Genesis 1, He gave man dominion over the animals.  I wonder if that is why I feel especially close to God when I am doing those things.  When I feel disconnected and out of sorts, I can always head out to the barn and God is there, waiting for me.  It is there that I can imagine walking with the Lord God in the cool of the day.

I am glad that Spring is just around the corner.