Sunday, May 4, 2014

Results Of Lasagna Gardening Over Winter

In the fall, after I harvested just about everything, I spent a chunk of time prepping my garden allotment for the following year.  I decided to try out the lasagna gardening method to see if it would benefit my soil and also keep out weeds.

My garden plot when I first took over spring 2013.  FULL of weeds!

When I first took hold of my garden in the spring of 2013, it was a solid field of weeds.  It seems the previous owner abandoned ship and the space had been over-run in weeds for nearly two years.  It took endless hours in the hot sun with the help of my father {that's what dads are for!} to de-weed the place.  We nearly broke our backs in the process.  And I was determined to make that a one time deal!

After days of back-breaking weeding spring 2013.

So after reading, reading and more reading on various methods, here's what I came up with.

First I laid down a very thick layer of newspaper.  I'm talking cardboard thick.  In fact, cardboard would have been perfectly acceptable.  As I am an avid couponer though, I simply saved my newspapers {I usually buy four per week} out of the recycle bin for a few weeks.  Cover every square inch.  Then I added a layer of green compost.  For about two weeks I saved scraps in my fridge for this purpose.  I used some of the pulled out plants, banana peels, egg shells, etc.  I also dusted everything with a nice layer of Azomite/ Rock Dust.  Then I added a really thick layer of brown compost.  In this case it was tree leaves that were all over the outside of the garden fence.  {This year though I now have a source for organic grass fed cow manure from a family friend that will be mixed in, too.} And finally, I topped it all off with a thick layer of straw {not hay...I can't say that not use hay}.

Lasagna Gardening fall 2013

This left my space looking like a clean canvas.  But I wondered how it would hold up over the winter months.  I knew many things in the various compost layers wouldn't actually break down until this spring and summer when the heat got to work.

I am so pleased that I took the time {which was fairly minimal in the grand scheme of things} in the fall to prep my garden space.  Most gardeners simply pulled out their plants and left for six months.  But that means that they are now coming back to spaces that are once again solid weeds.  The only places I have to deal with weeds are along the edges that touch neighbors who have weeds overflowing in their allotments!  On top of that, as everything continues to break down, it will feed the worms {a gardener's best friend} and build up the soil.

This is how my garden looked before I set foot in it this spring.   Weed free!

I plan this year to either plant right over the mulch {for example my beans and lettuce} by simply adding a layer of good soil on top or dig right through it {for example tomato plants that need to be buried very deep}.  I will remove nothing and just let it do its thing this year.  The straw mulch will continue to keep the weeds away and as it heats up, it will help to keep the soil moist so I will need to water less often.

Tomato Man vs. Preppy Pink Crocodile

For comparison, here is my neighbor's spot {last year I called him Tomato Man and will again refer to him as that this year} vs. mine on May 01, 2014 just after I planted my beans.  His is weed-tastic and will require a ton of work before a single seed or plant can go into that soil.  Mine is ready for planting on day one without doing a single thing first.

Do you have a favorite mulching method?  Is it different than mine?  I'm still in the experimenting phase so I am very open to new suggestions.  Have you ever tried the lasagna gardening method?  What did you think of it?

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Ballet Flats: The Look For Less

I am a ballet flat hoarder.  I wear them almost daily and just feel most like myself in a cute flat.  I wish I could be a heel girl.  I dabbled in my 20's.  But that's just not my jam.  I am all flats all the time and I make no excuses for it.

As much as I love cute designer shoes though, a good deal is more my speed most days.  So when I was drooling over these cute Tory Burch flats, I decided to track down a more affordable twin.

Enter the tan with a black cap toe ballet flat spend and splurge episode...

Tory Burch Bridgette $225

Just as cute for a fraction of the price!

Vince Camuto Elisee $73.46

Friday, May 2, 2014

It's Officially Gardening Season Again

Garden Overview May 01

Well that was a long and painful winter.  I had a serious case of SAD this year which was compounded by a bunch of other yucky stuff going on.  I missed gardening.  I missed being outside and sweating out the crazies.  I missed eating home grown goodness.  I really, really missed my tiny plot of land in the middle of the city.

The good news is that gardening season is back!

This is how I found my plot after winter.  Almost no weeds!

After adding my squash house and stakes for my Florida Weave tomato method.

We still have a solid month up here before we can plant most things in the ground.  So my tomatoes and peppers and everything else under the sun will have to hang out under my super awesome grow light for 29 more days.  Because even if we have a hot week in May, we can easily have a snow storm two days later.  That's just how we roll here in the North Pole.

Loving my grow light!

But it doesn't mean there aren't a few things that can't be planted now.

Things like peas and beans and lettuce all love cooler weather.  So they get planted now and then again closer to fall, hopefully avoiding altogether the hottest months as they don't love heat.  This year I made seed tape for the first time, which is a super simple process.  Simply make a thick paste with flour and a bit of water.  Then glue down your seeds to strips of toilet paper or newspaper.  Roll up when dry and unroll to plant.  I was thrilled with how simple it made planting my beans and lettuce yesterday!

Unroll seed tape, cover with soil, water.  That's it!

I'm so excited to get growing this year!  Some things I will be repeating, like my Florida Weave tomato method and the Squash House.  I will again be planting ground cherries and artichokes and of course the old standards like peppers and herbs.  In the second and third photos at the top of the post, do you see the tall dead things?  Those are the brussels sprouts that I never got to enjoy because a hard frost came.  And that's OK and even makes them sweeter as long as a thaw follows.  Sadly the thaw didn't follow until April.  For the second year in a row I spent seven months growing something I never tasted.  So this year my goal is to actually eat my home grown brussels sprouts.  Third time's the charm...right?  I've planted significantly more in the way of peas and beans this year.  I just didn't realize last year that in order to make an actual meal size portion, you need to have more planted.  As peas and beans are a favorite, especially sugar snap peas, I am going heavy on planting those things.

I have a few other new-to-me things in the works.  I also have lots of lessons learned from last year, such as organic pest control methods and what to look for regarding my nemesis, the squash bug!

So if the weather can just please repeat itself from last summer, things will be greening up around here in no time!

What's growing in your neck of the woods this year?  Do you have any vegetable garden plans?  If so, what are you most looking forward to eating?  {for me it's a tie between tomatoes and ground cherries}


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