Sunday, February 06, 2005

Garden Idea

I've made up my mind. This years garden is going to be different. Time for an experiment of sorts. This will be the first year up on top of the hill. If you know anything about the hills of Nanti-choke, you know that they are real light on topsoil. The growing season is pretty short as well. A guy down the road who dose alot of organic gardening was telling me about his garden. At first I was skeptical, but after seeing it........I'm sold. Its the best soil building idea I've ever seen. You have to ask, "why didn't I ever think of this". He started with layers of old hay, kitchen scraps, leaves, manure, anything that you would use to make compost. Year after year he just keeps layering this stuff. The top layer is old hay and straw. He plants the plants right in there and leaves the hay on top for a mulch. No weeds...... and it holds in the moisture. Planting seeds......just scrape away the hay and plant them. You no longer have to till the dirt at all. He has the best vegetables in town. I should have started the layering last fall. I didn't, so I'm going to start this year with a layer of 3 year old rotted manure from a pile I had to make when the snow was to deep to spread it in the field. I'll put a small layer of topsoil on it and then start rolling the round bales of hay on it. I think this will get us out on it sooner in the spring. I'll keep you all posted on how it works.


At 2/08/2005 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Scott,
Be careful before you get caught up in any organic gardening scheme, I know all to well these are not the best ventures to undertake. I am quite convienced you would be farther ahead to take a part time job and buy your groceries in town. The fact is you live on top of Mount HUNGER, which has a long history of starvation, therefore the air must be as thin as the soil to make you believe it is good gardening ground. Your blog is much to entertaining to read to have it ruined by a Donner Party-type thing next spring

At 2/08/2005 6:47 PM, Blogger Chad said...

I'm interested in hearing if it works out. Do you have to worry about pH or anything like that when it comes to the ingredients of your mulch? I guess you can adjust as you go. Oh, and don't forget to let me know how the beer turned out! Hopefully it was better than mine.

At 2/09/2005 4:58 AM, Blogger reformed farmer said...


We tasted the beer in its 'green' state before we bottled it. It was great! We still have to wait a bit before we can open the bottles. The secret Irish moss, just a dab will do it. We were gonna start a batch last night, but we ended up putting foam insulation under the new place to keep pipes thawed. We were under there till midnight! I should have the water hooked up this week.

At 2/12/2005 1:35 PM, Blogger Todd said...

Hey Scott -

Man, you guys keep talking about your beer, and you'll tempt me right into some 10th commandment violations! There is literally nobody in the area around here who home-brews (and I haven't done it since grad school 10 years ago) and certainly no Reformed home-brewers! Ugh.

Oh, by the way - I just noticed that you have Seed Savers on your sidebar... that's a riot! They're just up the road, and I know a couple of the folks there... :)

At 2/14/2005 5:04 PM, Blogger reformed farmer said...


I hope you find some reformed homebrewers soon! We are gonna start cooking up a new batch tuesday. I just had a fine beer from Germany the other day. It was brewed by monks. It was one of the best beers a have ever had. Some one gave it to me for my birthday. They had been in Germany visiting family, saw beer and thought of me. If the Owens have figured out who it was.....don't tell you know who, the person wants to remain in good standing in their baptist world. I hope you find yourself back out here sometime Todd. We would love to have you out to the ranch for Beer and such.

At 2/15/2005 3:06 PM, Anonymous Chuck said...

Keep us up dated on how your garden goes this summer it sound interesting. It might be what we need at our place where the top is pretty thin.

At 2/26/2005 8:15 PM, Blogger The BadgerMum said...

I just found your blog through a link at Polemics, and I'm really enjoying reading it. We are a military family and will be retiring soon and moving back to my father-in-law's land in Alabama, but we've had a vegetable garden everywhere we've lived for the last 10 years.

In spite of the ten years, I'm still a beginning gardener since we've never had a garden at the same home more than two years in a row, so I'm always starting over and never feel like I'm learning from my mistakes!

We've always gardened organicly and first used the layering method you mention two seasons ago with great results so far. We're moving again this spring, so I'll be beginning a garden for the fifth time!

At 3/04/2005 3:47 AM, Blogger reformed farmer said...

Mrs. Cumbee

Thanks for the input. How soon did you plant on that layered garden?


At 3/07/2005 1:00 PM, Anonymous evermoor said...

I strarted a modified system like this, since the deep Iowa black gold is to good to bury under moldy hay. I was to cheap to rent a tiller so I hand dug the hole for veggies and the mulched the heck out of it with that stemmy hay the cows don't eat and old bedding. For once You could actually tell it was a garden and not a weed plot, and it took less water. The next year I threw out some potatoes and rake the old straw mix over them and repeated last years. Potatoes yield well, minus the cows kept tromping over the garden, other stuff did OK. MOre bugs and a couple big old snakes made it home. Did keep the weeds down minus that bale of foxtail seed I "planted"

At 3/09/2005 9:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The technique that you describe is well established and was originally popularized by Ruth Stout.Jeff

At 3/09/2005 3:07 PM, Blogger The BadgerMum said...

The best result we had was when we layered it in the fall and then planted in the spring. We've also gotten decent results with planting right after building the bed, and of course, the more finished compost we put into it the better it turns out.

I've always used raised beds because circumstances required it. When we lived in military housing, we had to plant our veggies so that appeared to be ornamental, so I put plenty of marigolds around the tomato beds, for instance. Here in Texas, our soil is really heavy clay and doesn't drain well.

Another method we've used is French intensive gardening. I think there's a book called Square Foot Gardening that explains this method. The idea is to plant things very close together to shade out weeds, and to use companion planting (putting plants that work well together, like the corn-beans-squash combo the native americans used, in the same bed) to discourage problems.

At 3/19/2005 12:50 PM, Blogger Jeff said...

Personally, I think that the best all around method out there is the double digging, biointensive method as is expounded by John Jeavons.

I recommend his book How to Grow More Vegetables

I further recommend the seeds sold by Bountiful Gardens.The prices are very reasonable for open pollinated, organic seeds and I have had good success with their seeds here in Kentucky.



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