Thursday, February 6, 2020

Recommended plants for garden balcony or allotment

Welcome to JimBo's 
Of all the plants in your garden, on your balcony, allotment, in your house or wherever your garden is, which would you most recommend to other people and why?

Without going into an in-depth list of plant names. Here is a basic answer useful for anyone would be this. Gardens and growing vegetables either in the ground, in pots and containers on balconies, or such all require labor and space as well as money. One should first determine the needs. For example is it for fun, food, health reasons, or to reduce food bill, or a hobby, etc.
Let’s take economics as an example. Here in Western North Carolina where I live, I can buy organic carrots for less than a dollar per pound. My gardening attempts with carrots have not produced enough on a regular base, nor are they as good as those from our local Whole Foods. I simply cannot grow them for the same price. So buying them is better.
Now, on the other hand, heirloom and organic tomatoes at Whole Foods [in Season] cost around $3.99 to $4.99 per pound. I say that the price is way too high. Why? Because I grow them cheaper and have a wide variety of tomatoes.
I also grow things that I like a lot and have great health benefits. Garlic, for example, we have not bought any from the store going on 5 years now. Here is my 2019 harvest. This supply will last up until my next harvest and it is the best garlic we have ever had.
Bottom line…grow what is the most expensive for you to purchase in the stores. This is one of the main reasons I grow food for us. Most folks try to grow a garden for the first time might not think of it as I mentioned. Grow what is easy like green beans that can grow in a container or pot on a trellis or in a garden setting. By the way, beans do not need full sun as many people will say. I have grown them in partial shade but with just a slightly lower harvest, yet same quality as full sun. The best tip is just to do it, reach down and get those beans planted. I say that you don’t need a “green thumb”, rather a brown thumb…one that has been out there digging in the soil and enjoying the hopes of a crop. Learn to grow with a garden and remember it is a growing season, you don’t throw it all in the ground on one weekend during early Spring and expect to harvest all Spring and Summer. No, you plant and harvest and plant and harvest right up through Fall and early Winter. God bless your garden and you.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2020

                     Composting made easy.
You do not need to dig a hole. In many years of gardening, all of my composting efforts have been the simplest and so far most productive with sheet composting.
When I cut the lawn simply rake clippings and layer them in the garden directly or compost area. Each layer is about 3 to 6 inches thick. This is alternating layers sandwiching each one as the sheet layer compost area is built up. The photo is that of my garden. To get the idea of how big and how deep this sheet compost bed is looking at the concrete block laying on the right half in the photo.
As you can see this is a raised bed and it is directly where the garden will grow. That way I do not need to move the compost into the garden since it is already in the garden. I have slopped land that is hard to cut. So it is allowed to grow very tall sometimes about 2 feet tall. This becomes my source of grass clippings.
Once all of the clippings are raked up I start building the sheet compost pile. When it is finished it goes all Fall and through Winter un-touched until the next Spring. When only a few areas of it might need to be turned over. For the most part, you plant directly without ever needing to turn the pile.
                                                            Building the compost pile
The sheet compost pile is like a big sandwich. You have bread on the top and bread on the bottom. What I used for “bread” is straw [not hey] while straw is not completely free of seeds it is more seed-free than hey. If you have rotted straw that is even better. Each layer alternates with different materials.
  • Straw
  • Green clippings
  • wood ashes
  • manure
  • soil
  • straw
If you have enough material make it a “double-decker” and build another sandwich right on top of the first one. That is basically a “double-decker” in the photo below.
Does this work? Yes, and it is easy because there is no need to turn it over. But you do need to let it sit unused for one to two seasons.
This is the same area where the sheet compost pile was two seasons afterward. 
These tomato plants never needed any additional fertilizers, I do not use it. The composting was all it needed. You do need to cover the soil around all of the vegetables that will be planted. This prevents soil runoff, it stops rain from splashing the soil back onto the plants and thereby reducing sick plants.
Here are potato growing

I hope that this helps with your composting.