Godless in the garden


Godless in the garden

Welcome to gardeners, growers of veggies, fruits, flowers, and trees, backyard hen enthusiasts, worm farmers, & composters!

Location: Planet Earth
Members: 181
Latest Activity: 9 hours ago

Welcome to Eden!

If you like to dig in the dirt, grow flowers, putter around the yard, dig in the kitchen garden, raise backyard hens, or just like daydreaming about the garden, this is the place.

Many topics have been discussed in the archive.  Revive a topic by adding your 2¢ or start a new topic.

Everyone likes photos of the garden, so if you like to share photos of your prize dahlia, your favorite hen, or your first tomato, go right ahead!

Comment Wall


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Comment by Daniel W on October 4, 2012 at 6:15pm

Annie, that's wonderful information!  Thank you!  Terroir.  Learning something new.  It's so cool!  

Comment by Annie Thomas on October 4, 2012 at 6:07pm

Sentient- The "weird thing" you think about is not weird at all, but actually a whole study of agriculture.  "Terroir" is a term used to describe a specific area of soil and all of the characteristics of it.  It includes the climate, the topography, the native vegetation, minerals in the soil, and many other things that are escaping me at the moment. ;-)  I always interpret it as the flavor of the land.  It is most commonly used when discussing wine, the terroir of an area also affects coffee, tomatoes, and a growing list of plants (some are even using it to describe and differentiate cheeses).  It is a French word, but the concept of terroir is now believed to date back as far as 3000 BC Egypt, as they understood the importance of the interaction between the environment and the grape vine.  If you google "terroir" you will get plenty of information, in case you are interested in further reading.

I wholeheartedly agree that the local soil gives a certain flavor to some harvests.

Comment by Daniel W on October 4, 2012 at 5:53pm

Season in Spokane is too short for me!  I would have to build a greenhouse!


I love my raised beds.  For me, the 4 X 8 size is perfect - I can reach to the middle without stepping into the bed, and the 1 ft tall height lets me pull weeds and tend the surface easily.  Amazing what a little elevation can do.  Since the boards are sold as 8 ft long, I can cut exactly in half for the ends.  If they were sold 6ft long, I might make them 3 X 6 which would also be fine.  


All of my cultivation is with shovel, hoe, garden rake, trowel, hands.  That's a good reason to put in a lot of compost, loosens it up very well.  Also very easy in the raised bed, much better than at normal "ground level".  


A weird thing I think, or like to think, but have no evidence is real.  I like the idea of growing in the local soil, even if heavily amended and enriched, rather than in an entirely artificial medium.  It's becuase I want to believe the local soil gives the food a local flavor.  I read somewhere that in Italy, the grape vines can't be irrigated, which means the grape roots grow deep into the local subsoil, giving the wine a local flavor.  True?  Myth?   But I love to think my tomatoes, and chilis, and onions, and garlic, and figs, and....  have a "local" flavor.  Probably my imagination.


Love your comments too.  I feel like we are neighbors.

Comment by Joan Denoo on October 4, 2012 at 1:44pm

No, I probably have just been at it longer. Maybe. Also, like you, I look to research to verify "old farmers' tales". Does clover feed grass? yes! Does soil need to be treated in healthy ways? Absolutely! Other than that, I just experiment, observe, record, ask questions, read research and then do what seems to make the most sense.
Raised beds make excellent sense if you don't use power cultivators, although there are small ones available. I like to get my hands and shovel into the dirt.
Your strategy to plant clover or beans in new raised beds is a good one. Crown vetch works too, but is pesky because it sticks to everything. Turning it in the spring is a big chore and I don't do it any more. I used to. Now, I plant peas or beans and just trowel them in or compost them in the spring. Not at all physically demanding like turning earth. I am doing more no-till gardening and get excellent results. Companion planting is a given. 
I love your comments, suggestions and shared pleasures of a garden. We had heavy frost in my garden but the Spokane weather reports stated overnight lows of 34. My garden definitely got below 32 degrees. My water pipes are scheduled to be blown out tomorrow ... hopefully before they freeze and break. I usually have at least one pipe explode when we turn water back on. It is a pretty sight, but requires immediate repair. 

Comment by Daniel W on October 4, 2012 at 11:58am

Joan, I think you are a more sophisticated gardener than I am.  You have a lot to share.

I have been thinking about planting clover or beans in my new raised beds, to turn over in the spring before planting.  That would give a good dose of "green manure".  Not sure if I will do that this year.

Comment by Joan Denoo on October 4, 2012 at 11:35am

On rethinking my first year of growing in boxes using corn, if I were to build them now, I would use legumes because they pull nitrogen out of the air into the soil. 
Discovery in Legumes Could Reduce Fertilizer Use, Aid Environment

Legumes Give Nitrogen-Supplying Bacteria Special Access Pass

plants themselves allow bacteria in. Once inside the right cells, bacteria take nitrogen from the air and supply it to legumes in a form they can use, ammonia.

Comment by Joan Denoo on October 4, 2012 at 11:18am

Yes, you correctly point out the flaws in this method; I don't use vermiculite and I have to add some gardening sand easily available along river and creek beds or purchased. When I start a new bed, I layer it much as described in the article. I start with a 2" layer of newspaper and that is freely acquired, then a layer of garden soil, which for me is almost pure peat, then a layer of well composted manure, and topped with compost from my compost bins and pile which contains earth worms. That complete, I have fertile soil in which to place seeds or seedlings, and with the proper amount of water, the roots grow down into the layers turning it into composted worm castings.  The first season I usually plant summer and winter squashes,  melons, legumes  and potatoes which thrive on these ingredients. After the first season, I have tillable soil; after two or three seasons, the entire pile is converted.
I had boxes built to make my raised beds, but as the photo shows, straw, pine needles, grassing clippings work to create a box into which "lasagna gardening" begins.

Thanks for the alert for those who are not familiar with building soils. I don't grow plants, I grow soils. I adjust pH for acid or alkaline preferences of plants and use a cheap pH meter, not the fancy, expensive types. I also use a cheap water meter. 
P.S. the first year I grew corn in the boxes, much to the dismay of my gardening friends, but I wanted to give the stack time to decompose and mature. It worked. 

Comment by Daniel W on October 4, 2012 at 10:28am

Joan, I'm skeptical about the practicality of that method. Maybe it will work, I don't know.  I was reading about Square Foot Gardening, which involved using a growth medium of peat moss (not environmentally friendly), Vermiculite (not easy to find in bulk) and compost (good stuff, gardener's black gold).  So basically it was potting soil.   The "no dig" looks like a raised bed with other materials in the place of the peat moss and vermiculite.  Well, it it works, great!  I'm still using top soil+compost for my raised beds, and adding some kitchen compost or composted manure to the top layer.

Comment by Joan Denoo on October 3, 2012 at 11:52pm

No Dig Gardens Clean, Green and Chemical Free,

raised bed gardens

Raised beds made out of timber, crates, straw bales, pine needles, cinder blocks, just about anything that will make a raised bed; put in newspapers, grass clippings, garden clippings, composted manure; plant seeds or plants and watch them grow. This site has ideas galore. 

Comment by Joan Denoo on September 30, 2012 at 1:11am

Sentient Biped, thank you for this information. I have never used a revolving drum yet have thought it made good sense. Now You tell me it works! Great! And I like your worm farm method as well. I started with the worm farm and found it too complicated so my worms went into the 2 compost bins and huge compost pile and they work overtime for me and I don't have to mess with the trays. 
Good information! Thanks. 


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