June Monthly Moos {Welcome To My Garden}

Saturday, June 28, 2014

My garden is growing by leaps and bounds and starting to produce.  I thought I would tell you a little bit about how I choose to prep, plant and care for my garden!

(If you are a new reader, or haven't read the story of my garden you can read about it here.)

We started back in the middle of March getting the soil prepped and ready.  Eldon has a tiller he can pull behind the tractor and that takes the hard work out of turning the soil.  Then I plot it all out on paper and figure out where I want everything to go.  I try to rotate the vegetables around each year.  

I have a trick that I use for weed control.  Here it is.  After I form my rows, but before I plant, I purchase a roll of "end roll" paper from our local newspaper office.  (It is what is left on the end of the roll after printing.  It has no ink on it and is just simply paper.  And it is very cheap.  This 30# roll was $6.00.)  I roll this out over each row and then cover the paper with straw.

It is a really huge, back breaking job.  BUT, it saves me hours and hours of hoeing and weeding all summer.  It does not completely stop the weeds and Johnson grass from pushing their way through the paper and straw, but it certainly limits it.  And because the straw absorbs the rain and dew, the ground is always moist underneath so any weeds that do make it through are just a quick pull to remove.  

I love that the straw and paper is just naturally absorbed back into the soil by summer's end.  It isn't a plastic product that has to be removed and disposed of, or a product that adds things to the soil that are undesirable.  The draw back is that in order for the soil to break down the straw it uses nitrogen to do that, so nitrogen must be added back to the soil in the spring, which we do in the form of cow manure.  One of the advantages, besides the weed control, is that since the straw absorbs any moisture, the plants always have moisture underneath the straw.  And the ground is full of earth worms!

I plant the seeds by just poking through the straw, paper and into the soil.  It is actually quite easy.  The above picture was back in the middles of May when things were just starting to take hold.

I love that the straw gives the garden a very neat and tidy look.  

This is what my garden looks like from the top of the hill.  I think I mentioned before that we have the garden down in our bottom pasture because the soil is rich and fairly rock free.   (The above picture was my garden just a month ago.)

This is my garden today, about 8 weeks since laying the straw.  You can see that I keep a center walkway that I don't lay straw down, the grass grows and I just use my wonderful string trimmer (weed whacker!) and keep it mowed down.  You can see bits of grass and weeds coming through the straw; about once a week I spend an hour or so going through and pulling them out.  

I'm super excited about our corn.  It is heirloom, non GMO corn and it is gorgeous.  Some of it must be over eight feet tall.  

The first ears are starting to form.  I'm a little worried about the raccoons getting to the corn.  We think we will put our dog Belle in the garden at night when the ears are getting ready to pick!  She'll keep those raccoons away!

My tomato plants seems a little delayed but they are starting to produce now. 

And there is my cucumber patch.  I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I got quite carried away.  I happen to love cucumbers.  Last year I didn't end up with even enough cucumbers to make very many pickles, so you can be sure I planted enough this year!!!  (I actually planted three different Heirloom varieties and love them all.)

Jillian and Rosetta spent the night with us last night and we had baths and were in pajamas ready to play a game of monopoly before bed when the girls asked Gramps for a ride in the Ranger.  So off we went for our Ranger ride and stopped off at the garden.  Jillian was picking cucumbers like a pro.  (She's the official cucumber and green bean picker in her Momma's garden.)

Rosy was happy to be in charge of the bucket!  (See those round yellow squash, they are an Heirloom squash called Lemon Squash - shaped like a lemon and taste just like the crooked neck but are supposed to be resistant to squash bugs.  I'll let you know if they really are!)

And tonight I made my first 10 pints of pickles.  I have a feeling that my pantry will be full of pickles at the end of the summer!

And here it is... the end of June already.  I realized that I started my Monthly Moos Posts exactly a year ago this month and I'm a little sad to look back at how quickly the time has gone.  

(If you've missed any of those and want to read them, they are all located here.  They seem to generate the most amount of traffic on my blog, so I will continue them as long as I have something from the farm to write about!)

I hope your summer is hot and wonderful like ours is.   I am very happy to admit that I have completely adapted to the humidity and I honestly love it!  I've had quite a few people ask if I miss the dry heat of the desert where we were from out West and the answer is NO.  I do not miss it one bit.  I just love the rain, the dew every morning, the green grass... and yes, the cucumbers!

Hopping over to the FarmGirl Blog Hop - join me!


  1. Oh Dori it is gorgeous. I'm trying hard to not be jealous!! Your view from the top of the hill is amazing! I used to make homemade pickles from our garden when the kids were growing up. They still ask for them. I'm hoping to have my own garden next year. I do have about 4 tomato plants that are huge growing out of my compost pile....does that count I wonder?

    1. When you get back from your trip and we get together I'll give you JARS of pickles and BUCKETS of cucumbers!!! :-) XOXO

  2. Ok Dori, I'm laughing at your comment about not missing the desert! Suppose to be 112 this week & perhaps the start of the monsoon on the 4th. Oh joy! Yes, the humidity in Tenn is a lot different than in Az. Dang, those jars of pickles looks like something my husband would love to snack on. No GMOs? envious. Looking forward to more posts on your FarmFresh blog. Kathleen in Az

  3. Dori,
    I am so envious of all those cucumbers! We are having a crazy, cool summer here in Nebraska, but I'm not going to complain. I just discovered your blog two weeks ago and I have LOVED reading all of your archived posts. You do such an excellent job of writing about your life that you ALMOST make farm life look fun (but I know better!) Ha! Have a wonderful weekend. :-)

  4. LOVE your blog (along with your daughter's). I finally found the the magazine you were featured in. Every time I passed a magazine stand I was looking. Finally found it at CVS. Great article. I get a lot of ideas for my garden and home from your blog. Keep it up!!

  5. I love cucumbers too...my favorite thing to make is cucumber salad. I have to depend on the farmer's market though! Your garden is amazing and it seems to truly be a labor of love. Enjoy those pickles!

  6. Dori, thanks for sharing your beautiful life in the heartland of Tennessee. I can almost taste the crisp tangy taste of your cukes just by gazing at the jar. What a joyful and peaceful life you have and those little girls are about the cutest ever. They are so blessed to be a part of your day by day chapter of life.

  7. The garden is beautiful. I learned a lot from reading this. I had noticed the straw in Andrea's garden and had wondered about it. And one can never have too many cucumbers!

  8. Love your pictures of your garden! Thank you for the tip about the paper and straw. This winter you will love having those pickles on your table and think of the memories of growing and preparing them this year.

    Take care.

  9. Absolutely love your blogs Dori! Yes, the tip about the paper and straw! I never knew! Lovely..thank so much. Absolutely fun, beautiful..

    Love to you all
    Lisa V.

  10. Looks great... so much fresh goodness there... love the pickles too....:) So much room on your property... glad it is going well. :)