In this episode, we're discussing our tips and recommendations for starting a garden, whether you're a beginner gardening for the first time, or you're an experienced gardener who has been frustrated with past attempts.
We want to help you grow your own food this season, so we're talking about determining your planting zone, starting seeds, improving your garden soil, and understanding the aspects that make your garden unique. We believe you can grow food no matter where you live, and we want to show you ways to do it.
Links in this Episode:
USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
How to Test Seeds for Germination
Why Your Seeds Aren't Germinating
Danielle's Garden Journal
7 Ways to Improve Your Garden Soil
How to Improve Clay Soil
5 Little Known Ways to Find Cheap Compost
Composting 101 - How to Start Composting
Subscribe & Review Our Show
Because our podcast is new, we're asking listeners to write a review. We'll then select some of your reviews to read on our future episodes.
Review this podcast on Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/grounded-in-simplicity/id1502793179
starting a homestead and leading a self sufficient life is overwhelming. Where do you start? Can you even consider
yourself a homesteader?
We're here to pull back the curtain on self sufficient living and talk about what it really takes to live this life. The good, the bad and the crazy.
I'm Bonnie, a k a. The not so modern housewife, wife, mother and coffee addict who enjoys teaching others where their food comes from and enabling them to live more sustainably.
I'm Danielle from the rustic elk. Why mom to three farm girls and passionate about helping other stitch the consumer mindset and learn to become more self sufficient through foraging, hunting, growing and preserving their own food.
Join us as we put the simple back into old fashioned living and inspire you to produce organic food in your backyard no matter
where you live.
Welcome to the beyond the Homestead Podcast Day. We're talking about starting your garden in our tips. For those of you who may be gardening for the first time this season, we want to talk a little bit about gardens in getting them started and gardening zones so that you know when you can grow food and when you cannot.
You know the thing with gardening zones is it is almost more of a guideline because you're gonna find that there's certain things that work in your particular area that doesn't work in someone else's area and the same zone, Um, and vice versa. You're gonna find things that work for other people in yourself that don't work for you. So I tell a lot of folks, Florida is kind of its own beast when it comes to gardening zones. Because, um, our humidity plays a large factor in our actual abilities to grow during certain times of the year. But also we have so many different zones that cover the state. So if you go to North Florida, we've got zones eight and B. Central Florida is largely going to be zones nine A and B, but you have certain pockets that are actually Zone 10 A. Um, and then you get down to Southern Florida and we get into 10 a and B and even into 11 and the keys made 12. Um, I have to actually pull up the map and take a look, but it's such a long ST and then, you know, depending on where you are in relation to the water and everything else, it it all plays a part. The big thing for us is work were completely opposite just about everybody else. Uh, we do most of our growing in the winter. However, it's almost more like we have two short seasons rather than one long season. Because we have our chance of freeze is in January February, which is kind of dead smack in the middle of our growing season. So unless you have some way to cover protect your warm weather plants, you're not usually growing them in January February. You're really not starting the seeds during that time because it's not warm enough. The seeds even want to Germany usually, but just because of the chance of freeze. Like I, for instance, this year I was able to cover like my tomatoes and peppers and eggplants. Keep those from freezing, but my pumpkins took up such a large area. I wasn't able to cover the pumpkins, and so, um, I lost large portions of the pumpkin vine to the freezing temperatures. I congratulate them. Aiken like I could start them in August and I can start again now and then I get to shorter seasons. But that also determines what varieties I choose to grow because I can't. I can't grow something that needs a really long season unless I have some way to protect it. We
have the same problem up here. And then, of course, in the Indiana, unlike down there, a lot of our seeds have to be started inside. Where is I'm sure you startle of yours outside and the growing season, you know, use your seed packets when you're starting your own seeds. It'll tell you the days to maturity, and it'll tell you the day's determination, the day so maturity is gonna be based off of the days of germination. Wants your plant germinates, how long it's gonna be before it starts producing fruit. And then you have determinant varieties and you have indeterminant varieties. And most your seed packets should tell you that if it's too long, yes, well, but beans are also Yeah, but they're not labeled, but pull being our indeterminant, whereas bush beans or determine it
Well, OK, that's true. I just maybe I just think of the Miss Polin Bush.
Yeah, but a lot of people don't realize that, but they don't label them is such a mess. You also have, um when you're looking at your seed packets, a lot of them will tell you depending on where you purse receipts from when you should start them in relation to your last prostate. And it is you
grow based off frosting. It's Yeah,
yeah, it isyou know up here in Indiana, we typically do are growing season. Um, we're in zone five, be where I live. So are growing. Season is considered from May 5th 2 October 3rd. I believe so. I can use the seed packet to base when I'm gonna start a certain seat. If it says that I'm supposed to start it six weeks prior to last expected Frost State, then I'm gonna be starting here a couple weeks. Whereas it was eight weeks, then it's this week. If it was 10 weeks like onions, for instance, onions, you start 10 to 12 weeks before your last prostate up here. So I started those couple weeks ago. Was your seed packet contains a lot of information. And if if you learn how to read them because some of them are kind of cryptic. It can be helpful to know not on Lee when you can start a seed, how long it's gonna take to grow it and whether it's gonna work in your zone. Because if you have, like, a really long maturity date, then like up here or even down there, it's probably not gonna work out for you very well, because you're growing seasons. Not gonna be long enough even if you start the seeds inside and then a lot of them also have the germination, right. But I have a nifty posed to check that if it doesn't give you the germination rate. But, um, I could be helpful to know how many seeds you want to try to start in each pod, so that you should start usually 2 to 3, at least in each pod. But I know that if all three of them don't germinate, that's just normal. It's not necessarily anything that you did, if if none of them in a pod Germany. If none of them terminates, that's another ball game. But
so many factors that go into that
I don't have a post about that, too. 10 reasons. Yeah, 10 reasons Didn't Germany so that you can try to fix it. Um, most zones. You're still gonna have time to restart seeds. You know, it turned into an epic failure already this year and realized that all of us started somewhere we all started with very little or no knowledge, more than likely. And we kill more things than we grow. That's just part of gardening. Yes, you have to have a sense of humor and you have to be patient. And you have to learn that like I said, you're gonna You're definitely gonna probably kill more than you can actually grow. Especially the first few years.
Also kind of going back. Thio having trouble with germination. There's some things that one. There's some plans that are just flat out hard to to grow from seed and lavender. Yeah, or rosemary. Um, yeah, I'm all I'm almost a little annoyed with my seed company that they even bother to send me rosemary seeds because I'm like, Seriously, I have never been able to go rosemary from seed. And so I have a hard time recommending the seed to my customers when I don't love him to have trouble with either. So I'm probably gonna end up just trying to grow it all myself and hope for the best s O
many herbs have, you know, like stratification and different things that you have to have in place an order from even work, like lavender. For instance, you have stratify the scene, so you're gonna pay you put in your refrigerator for several weeks before you can even try to get us to germinate.
And, yeah, there's a lot of different seats that needs special preparations and hope fully your seed packet will tell you if it does require that like, for instance, I know Kat no needs to be scarred, is what they call it. And so, basically, you'll take like sandpaper and rub. Rub it on the scene, just scar the seed and that before you plant it, um, elderberry. The seeds actually need to be soaked overnight before you start them. I've
never but profit Kate propagate. It's so much easier. It
is so much easier. But like for me, I was trying to grow other varieties that, um, I didn't have here like growing while I still didn't have any success with the elder Very sick. It's that I'm gonna try again. And Miranda, like I know, um, people have said to stop Miranda and hot water because it's a hard seed and so that it makes it easier for it to Germany. But otherwise, being being seeds
or another that you should soak in.
See, I don't I don't usually soak my being seeds. I usually just directs. Um, I
always soaked Mind. I can never I've tried to direct, son. I could never get them tow Overlook I around. Yeah, I
just keep the soil moist, I guess because I'm starting so many seeds I don't liketo have to soak a bunch of them. Why? Because then I'm having to keep them all separate while they're soaking. So I really try to just put them directly in the soil as much as possible.
And if you're not sure or a proceed packet contains no information. I love Baker Creek. When their seed packets are the most, there's no information in it just tells you how pretty it is. I know it doesn't tell you how to start it when to start it with the germination rate is there's nothing in there And some of that information is in our catalogue. If you go back and look, but if you're like me, then you have a 1,000,000 bookmarks and you have no idea where that one is anyway. But, um, you know, if it doesn't contain the information like Baker Creek And if Baker Creek happens to be listening six i e. C. Company contains, you know, like the germination rate and when to start it and how to start it. All those things were all in the seed packets. So you know, that's what with
the times I really like about botanical interest is they have so much information on their seat packet and then even like I'm looking at some other seed packets right now, they
have all the
information as far as growing on the back cover, you could, even if you really wanted to. I haven't I have yet to actually do this. They have a thing that you can cut out and kind of like glue onto a Popsicle stick to uses a row marker that has days to emerge, Steve depth seats facing roast, basing, thinning maturity up and then you can even write down like the date you sewed it. But then if you open up the seed packet, there's more information, and a lot of times they'll even put a recipe in there for how you can use the vegetable off. You grow it. I'm not super who? Yeah, but if the seed packet doesn't
contain the information or you but you know you got seeds from an individual or whatever, you have saved seeds that have no idea what you didn't want to begin with. And you can google it. I mean, it's right, you know, we're all on the Internet. So this is also another reason why
it's a good idea to keep a garden journal because you write down what worked and what didn't you know from year to year. And I'll even write down like when I started to see pests emerge so that, like, if I know I'm gonna have a lot of toxic moth caterpillars in April, I can start spraying my Bt a week or two before I expect them to emerge so they don't turn around, just decimate my garden, because if I wait until I start to see them, that it's gonna take the Bt too long to take effect for me to be able to control them,
right? Yeah, I I also have three garden journals. Think this episode. I am, um but yeah, you know, I I write down, you know, like when I should start, like, popular seats I write down, you know, like 6 to 8 weeks were, you know, tomatoes or whatever it may be. And I write that down and then all right, when I started each seed and then I have another column were all right, how long it took them to emerge. And you know all those things, and you keep all that stuff that you can look back on it and you start to going to get into a routine. Whereas your first year to your kind of scatterbrained I write down on a calendar when I'm starting certain seeds and how many I'm starting. I'm an organization freak. But all that stuff helps me keep track of what I did so that I know if it worked and if it didn't work, then I need to change my strategy the following year.
Yeah, like I'll what I do. I just have, like, a notebook and so all right, down the date and then all right, down the list of all the seeds I started on that date, but for me, I mean one. I'm trying to grow all the things which I can't say that I recommend for most people to try to grow all the things. But don't Don't try to do the same thing you do. Maybe maybe do it if your own a nursery and you have an over abundance of seeds and you're getting them at a discount. No. Get overwhelmed. Ah, uh, where's the fun of that? So anyway, um, but well, and the thing, too, is for Florida. Variety is so important. The variety like that. You're growing. And so I'm really trying, Thio. I want to test everything so that I can then tell my customers what varieties actually work here. Um, because I was kind of a problem. We run into getting seeds from other parts of the country. Is we really have to trial and error to figure out if it works here. If you need special growing conditions and even and it comes like I said, we have to difference, you know, seasons, The stuff the varieties that do well in the fall may or may not be the same varieties that do well in this spring,
right? And if you have, like, a greenhouse, some varieties, you know, perform a lot better in a greenhouse, then they're going to, you know, in an open garden space or indoors even on you have, like you were mentioning earlier. You have micro climates. So even though we're in zone five B, that doesn't necessarily mean that somebody that's over in a different state in Zone five B is gonna have the same growing conditions that we have here as faras weather is concerned, right, Little oh, soil condition.
Yeah, and there's so many things that can go into your microclimate. Um, you know, it could be your topography. It can be, um you can literally be just in an area where, whether it's because the way the land slopes, the way the trees block the wind, whatever, where you're gonna be hotter or colder, then you know other areas. Even within your same town, your soil is gonna be different depending on where you're at where we're at. We do have very sandy pockets because I mean, it's Florida. We have a lot of sand, but we actually have a ribbon of very dense Rae clay that runs through our property. And then we have in probably because of that ribbon of clay. We have certain parts of our property that is, hold a lot of moisture. So where we can't even put animals on it because it just it never dries out, and it's always muddy. And then, of course, if you have land, you have soil that never dries out. It just breathes disease and things. But for a lot of folks in Florida, you know, I recommend that they actually do race beds because the soil is so poor and we can build it up over time. But it's gonna take a couple of years of building up that soul before you really start to see results and and you really get a good harvest. And a lot of people don't wanna wait that time. And so the nice thing with the race beds is then you know you could go ahead and amend it and like I'll do almost like a Google culture in the raised beds where I'll put down logs in the bit in the bed and then fill with soil so that I'm not having to fill the entire bed with soil. And then those logs and branches and things are gonna break down and helped tow amend it. I'll put you know, mulch over the top, but also like with our micro climate, I have noticed there are there are places south of me that because they don't have the tree cover that I have, they will actually freeze before I d'oh because the trees will protect us from some frost. But on the same side as we get into the summer months, they will get a lot hotter than I will, and so I can extend my growing season longer and further into the summer. Just because I'm staying 5 to 10 degrees cooler
right and talking about the soil. It's not difficult to get your soil tested, and it can be beneficial. Raised beds can benefit just about anyone. When we started our garden here on our current property, it was a slab of asphalt, so our neighbor helped us break up the asphalt and remove it into our driveway. But now it's all buried and it's covered with rock and gravel in the talk it but anyway, so for like, two years we had does huge chunks of asphalt over driveway. I'm glad I drive a truck weigh. So, um, we broke all that up and our soil is all clay, all of it. It does not drain well, but that was the best area to put a garden. And we're finally where I don't have water standing in the garden. It rained a bunch yesterday, and it's actually draining now. But we had to put three truckloads, four truckloads of leave compost and till it until it some more. And I'm not a huge tiller. But we had to work all that soil up and makes all that compost in and out from the dreams. So you have to, you know, learn how you can amend your soil if you don't want to do race beds because they can get expensive, Um, and depending on where you can source soil from it may or may not be good soil, and it could be costly and time consuming to, you know, move all that soil. I know it was really hard for us to me about compost, but it was free. So you know, you can find different ways to kind of make it less expensive. Been finding your site, you know, to begin with, you know, you want to find somewhere that's got a decent sunlight. But like you said in Florida, you might not wanna be directly in the heat of the day because it might kill your plants, depending on what you're growing.
Yeah, Yeah, that's one thing that I found, um, with Florida, as opposed to Ohio is we'll get longer daylight hours in the winter, and so it's not actually getting dark here until about six o'clock. But then in the summer time, we actually have shorter daylight hours because it's getting dark at nine, whereas in Ohio it was staying like to almost 10. So we have more daylight, four growing in the winter. But our son is just way too intense for a lot of plants that like full sun. So the way I set up my gardens is I will try to have morning sun and afternoon shades. They get a little bit of a break, which can also help to extend my growing season and then I also have, like my tomatoes, peppers and eggplants are in grow bags. So as the sun changes throughout the season, I can change where they're located so they can have the optimum son.
Right? Container gardening could definitely be helpful in that arena so that you could move stuff around. I'm gonna try strawberries up here and front in the north part of my house. Hopefully, because I've tried them out in the south part and the sun just obliterates them because it gets far too hot back there during the summer. So I'm hopeful that I can grow some stuff in up part of my yard where I related and thinks that I could, but I think it gets plenty of sun in the summer in order to grow things that don't like all hot heat helps, For instance, herbs like full sun. A lot of them do, but they don't like necessarily all the hot seat, depending on what kind of urban is.
Yeah, Yeah, they tend to be a little more on the tender side. Anyway, I know Rosemary likes a lot of sun. Um, they can kind of take a beating, and yet, somehow I still can't keep him alive. But I will. I will prevail one way or another. I will beat Rose. Married its own game. Um, yeah, actually, my strawberries. I have to have them in hanging baskets because we just get strawberries tend to be prone to a lot of fungal issues. And we get so much rain in the summer that that combined with the heat, they just rot friends. I have I have known of some folks who could get two years on strawberries down here. Most of your commercial growers will plant them. And then once the season is over, they tear them all up and plant something else and then replant the next year. The only way I've been able to keep strawberries from one year to the next isn't hanging baskets, Um, and probably be probably because they're able to say up off the ground, they don't get all of the snails eating them. Um, and then also the baskets probably drink a little bit better than like in the ground,
right? You definitely have to look at your where you're planning to put your garden as faras. How well it drains. So once you get your soil worked up. If it's not draining, well, then you're gonna have to amend it in some way and or or to drain well enough to not have fungal issues. Because almost any plant we'll have fungal issues if it doesn't drain well. And if you don't space them far enough apart so that they get plenty of air flow,
right? And I think now, granted, I probably plant my stuff a little too close together. I do, um, like square foot gardening since I'm doing the Reese beds. And so it does have a CE planting a little bit closer on some things. Um, and the knife probably still take it to the extreme, but it helps keep the past in the fungal issues down. If you do have some air flow there, uh, but going back to like, testing soil, I think a couple of things people don't realize is you need more than one soil sample. You need samples from multiple places in your garden because there they're going to kind of average out and the soil testing kits, I mean, you can get them, like at the big box stores and stuff. They may not be the most accurate. So a lot of your county extension offices will actually do a soil test for you? Um, it may or may not cost you anything. You have to actually talk to them to find out what the cost would be. But that's what I usually recommend, because they're gonna have a better quality test that they can do. And it's gonna be a lot more comprehensive. You're gonna get better information. So you know really what you need to amend for.
Yeah, Your county extension office could be a great resource for gardening and figuring out you know, what grows well doesn't grow well and your specific climate because their county based. So you're gonna have a better tying or easier time finding information about gardening specific to your area versus some big wide zone.
Right? Because I'll tell you, guarding in Florida, we cannot rely on C packets. Um, I mean, Bill, depending on the seed packet. Like I said, I like the botanical interest for the information they give, um, strictly medicinal xyz another one that they don't give us much information as botanical interest, but they will mention like companion planting that works well together, So I like them for that aspect. But, uh, down here we have, um, University of Florida puts out a monthly what to grow guide. And so it will actually tell us what scenes we can start what we can transplant month by month, which is a huge thing in Florida because, technically, yes, we can grow year round, But what we can grow or what we can start each month is, um, it varies so much even from, you know, nor for to South Florida. And so they break it down by where you are in this state as well as what you could grow. You may still need to do some experimenting to figure out which varieties work best, but it is a big help us faras, you know, getting started as a beginner in Florida
and then, you know, as faras your soil test. Once you find out what it looks like, you can start, you know, working to amend it and improve it. I actually opposed on different ways that you can amend your soil, but the information that your soil test gives you is gonna be a lot more specific on things that you can add to help improve it. If you have ah, clay soils simply, I have a specific post about that, too, because because it's something that we've dealt with personally. Compost. Adding compost to your garden is amazing. It doesn't matter what kind of soil you have. It will help it. It definitely will improve drainage, and it can improve the nutrients within your soil. And we try to add com, pose to our garden every year, the layer of compost on top of it every year.
Yeah, and that's and I've got a post on how to find cheap compost. Um, we're fortunate that we have the animals, and then we do have a lot of leaf litter for being in the woods. But a lot of our compost is the compost in the newer from the animals. And so we're able to use that we've mixed in ash from our burn pit as well. Just because you're amending the soil, it doesn't mean chemical fertilizers. There are so many natural things you can use and just the organic matter alone from the compost. Whether you have sandy soil or clay soil is going to help to improve it because you're adding organic matter, which is going to loosen the soil. It's gonna help it retain, um, moisture nutrients. And then it's gonna provide nutrients as well. So most of your compost, if it is, uh, brown matter, So leaves would mulch. You know, things like that that are better dry. And, um, like jai and cellulose, those were gonna break down to become phosphorus. And then if you have a lot of matures and things like that, even your your green compost so green leaves, kitchen scraps. A lot of that's gonna break down to become nitrogen ends. So obviously we need to make sure that we have a good balance between the two, and that's why it's so important. Like when I have seen now I can finally come contribute something I've opposed on how to make compost. But anyway, you wanna have a balance between your green matter and you're brown matter so that, um, your you have the proper moisture levels. You're properly feeding that good bacteria that's in the compost, which is raising the temperature and causing all this. You know, aerobic activity. That's what's going to then become really a like a perfect balance. Fertilizer for your plants,
right? The only thing I recommend is watch where you get your compost. Yes, um, manure compost, specifically because a lot of people don't realize that if that animal ate feed that was sprayed with a chemical Besides, it's very, very possible for it to continue on in the compost and it will kill your garden. I've actually talked to people that you completely destroyed all their plants with this beautiful looking compost because had weed killer in it. And farmers don't even realize that that's
yeah, and I know there's a specific one that's really become a becoming a problem, and I can't think of the name of it off the top my head. But it is a persistent herbicide, and the problem that is it does not break down in the digestive system. And so, um, horse manure in particular is being affected because horses are very, very picky. They don't like weeds in there. Hey, um, and of course, horse people are very picky about the hay that we get for our horses. And so you end up with a lot of hay growers that air thinking OK, I need to eliminate the weeds. I need to have just a grass Hey, for these horse people, because you can't have anything that might horses or that the horses won't eat. But then what ends up happening is it gets sprayed with this persistent herbicide, and then it goes through their digestive system. It doesn't break down when it's composted, and then you go and spread it on your garden and kills all of your seeds in your garden, all your plants in your garden, because you know they weren't that specific GMO that was designed to resist that herbicide. And and now you end up having to remove all of the soil from your garden because we still don't know how many years it's gonna take for that to break down. So it's no longer killing plants,
right? So other than that, you know, compost in general is a great we found leaf compost, which is amazing because typically that stuff's not sprayed. It's you know it came from leaves that fall tree, so you don't have to worry so much about persistent herbicides and provides your garden with tons of nutrients. But I think everyone, regardless of who you are, regardless of warrior. Put in your garden regardless of your soil, makeup can benefit from compost. Yes.
Um, well, I will say the only thing you wanna watch your compost is if you if you try to do too much straight compost, um, it may lower the pH enough that it's too acidic, and then you may have problems getting seeds and things to Germany s. Oh, that's the other thing is you're wanting to look at when you like, when you test your soil on anything you're using is looking at that Ph.
Right. And then once you mix it in, you know you can always mix that in a corner and right, if you have its test kit, you know, at least to test your pH so that you know whether or not it's at a level that's sustainable. To grow plants.
Beings tend to be the most sensitive to soil makeup. Um, and there, you know, it's relatively cheap to get being seeds, and so you could actually do a test run with beans and see how they come out, see how they germinate and held the actual plants look after they grow, and as long as they're coming up. Okay, then you're usually pretty safe to know that it's it's a good mix. Um, I've run into the problem where I tried to mix my own potting soil and went a little too compost heavy and ended up really, really poor germination rates and even the stuff that did come up ended up being stunted. So I had to go back and rework my picks
on Be okay with that. When you start gardening, you know, be okay with you. No mistakes and failures because, you know, it's part of the learning process that you don't try it. Then you're not gonna learn if you don't learn that you're not getting anywhere.
Yeah, and most of your stuff. You know, most seeds have a 7 to 10 day germination, so you can get results pretty quickly. And then if it's not growing the way you like, then you change something up or you do whatever you need to do and you try again in a couple weeks,
Ryan. And insofar as
assets will be fine that
way as faras starting your garden. We started ours in the spring, and we actually grew fruit in it. That same spring. So it is possible even now for people that don't grow stuff. You're around like money. You know, you said by your ardor. Yeah, but you can start your garden in the spring. You know, you still have time. We we didn't start digging our garden and breaking up that asphalt until right around now, and we're gonna be putting stuff in the ground, you know, farce, cold crops that are direct stove and stuff here in just a couple of weeks. So it's possible. Yeah. It might not be your best year. Ours wasn't, but, I mean, we did grow food. We didn't have a ton, but we had enough to feed ourselves and put a few jars away that very first season. And then the second season was better in every year. You know, you improve on that, this will be our worse. I think it's our fourth part, and I can't believe that. But, you know, we've made mistakes, and we messed things up, and we've, you know, tried to improve and learn from those and steaks. And like we said, you know, keeping a journal can help you remember what didn't work and what works the following year. And you know you can start small. Just a little itty bitty patch or a little levity raised Better even just a couple containers on your deck or your balcony or whatever. Start small and you can add to it. We just expanded our garden for the first time since we got here, and then I'm gonna be adding more containers. We've grown in containers before, but I'll be adding more this year. And the next year I'll probably expand things and some other form until we get to the point where we wanna be. But if you start small, you can add to it and you can learn and it not be so overwhelming.
Yeah, I mean, you could do a lot of gardening and containers, and I mean, like, I used these five gallon grow bags, and I even have trees in, um, and plan is that once, um, I use the the route pouch roll bags that will decompose over 3 to 5 years. So once I find a spot where I want to plant that tree, I could just bury it in the grow bag and that grow bags gonna break down Well, no, I mean, I've got I've got grow bags that are on their third season that are getting hold of him. So
I know they do break them. I mean, it's just it's recycled cotton, and then they do use, um They use some recycled plastic bottles and making the fabric, but there's no additional petroleum products into the bags. But the nice thing is because they do have a little bit of that plastic and it does help to retain moisture. I know a lot of other grow bags that dry out really fast, so I really I really do like their their pouch bags. But anyway, you know, and so if if you don't have, you know, a permanent spot where you can put a garden right now or you feel like you need to do some improvement to it, you can always do containers for a couple of years. Come and and I've also done, um, like the back to eating gardening where its layers of like, I used either cardboard or brown paper thing or what I have on hand and then compost. And I've done years where I've done wood chips. If you could get a nice big load of wood chips or have done years where I've just gotten a roll of hay. If you are buying the hey directly from the grower, you can ask them if it's been sprayed with persistent homicides. That's one nice thing about buying things. Locals. You could talk to your power, but you know, if you put a a thick enough layer of compost, even if you have four soil underneath it, you can grow. You know pretty much in that compost layer. Some of your roots are gonna extend down below the the paper in the cardboard. But the nice thing with that is that compost. As those roots go down, it's going to kind of bring some of those nutrients down that soil with it. That's gonna end up naturally, mixing it down and improving that soil underneath and then also your you know, your mulch layer on top is gonna break down. It's gonna help to improve it. Um, that and then yeah, the paper cardboard as well as the compost layer is gonna help to also invite in earth worms that are gonna help to break along that out. But improve the soil. Um, and you just add additional layers of accomplished and mulch every year, and it's just gonna continue to improve. And I've seen, you know, I've seen clay soil become nice and low me and soft, without leading tilling, using the back to Eden. And, of course, I do it with my sandy soil, and it's created a nice, like dark soil layer that really retains moisture and nutrients, and the plants do really, really well in it. Downside is, my dogs also really love the mulch, and so they end up laying in my garden. And that's why I had to go back to raise bets. That's
why we need a fence, because my dogs like harder.
Well, the dissents probably would have been, is your alternative, But whatever I'll get there eventually. I don't know
if I even start with with a small space or, you know, tried different techniques. Yeah, in different areas of your yard. Convenience, you know where it's located in your yard is always beneficial if you put it way out. If you have a big piece of property and you put it way out in the middle of clearing somewhere, and you never go there. Then that's probably not a good place for your garden, right? Keep keeping it close to your house is usually or wherever you are. I don't know why you wouldn't need a house, but, hey, you know, keep it close to your house particular, where your kitchen can be very beneficial because you're more likely to go out and visit it. And, um, harvest your plants and, you know, bring your food and actually use it to cook with
Yeah, well, and you want to make your garden's face an inviting place anyway, because you wanted to be someplace where you want to be, Um, so you know, whatever you need to do to make it more comfortable for you, You know, if you have trouble bending over and you don't want to be, you know, down your hands and he's pulling weeds, then I would definitely look at race beds. Um, you know, you may decide that you need to put down gravel or even pour concrete, so it's easier for you to access your beds. But you you know, you do what works best for you and what's gonna make it an enjoyable experience for you Because if you if you're not enjoying it, then you're not gonna want to be out there in the heat of summer. Um, you know, dealing with bugs and mosquitoes and pulling weeds and your entire garden is gonna get overrun, and then you're not gonna get to eat anything,
right. And, you know, maybe being inviting can be flowers. People think of vegetable gardens is Well, I can only put food out there. Well, number one, a lot of flowers, edible numbers. Who flowers? You're gonna invite a lot of beneficial insects and pollinators into your garden, and it can make it more inviting. I love flowers. So, um, our first property, that's all it was was a big, huge flower garden, and I thought it was amazing, but we don't usually implement a lot of floral stuff into our garden. But I definitely plan on implementing more of it this year, not only to invite the pollinators, but simply because they're pretty.
Yeah, I have a patch of lemon basil that I've let go to flower just because it brings in so many honeybees. Um and then I've got the honeysuckle because it brings in pollinators. Um, I need to get my songbird feeding stations set back up because the songbirds will actually eat a lot of the garden pests. And so I want them. I don't necessarily want them eating my tomatoes, but there are ways Way deter them from that, um, you can either page and your tomatoes so they can't access the tomatoes. Or I've even seen folks hang Christmas ornaments. And then, after trying to eat the Christmas ornaments a few times, they just assume all the tomatoes or Christmas ornaments in the tomatoes. Look,
but I've seen people use up pipe hands to tryto kind of.
Yeah, I've got, um I actually went to the grocery store and asked their bakery for, um They didn't have a pipe hands to give me, but they gave me. I don't even know what they are, but they're an aluminum pan and so right. I can I can hang those out in the garden and they reflect. Um, I've seen people use cds. Yes, I guess everyone has extra CDs now that everyone from the thumb drives. I don't have anything that that reflects it. Kind of scarce it off of it
and don't Don't assume, you know, if you see bugs your garden other necessarily bad books because a lot of power, a lot of ladybugs, for instance could be very beneficial. And ah, yes, and not boss. Well, yeah, well,
losses can, because there can help control the counter fellers, right? There's a lot of assassin bugs that look very similar to leaf footed bugs and stink bugs. The difference, I tell a lot of people is that, like the stink bugs and the leaf footed bought Boggs, especially asn imps, um, they will tend to congregate. So if you see a lot of film than those air usually a bad bug. Um, but if you see a single like your assassin, bugs tend to be more independent. So if you just see a single one hanging around, it's probably an assassin book. You look really closely there. Their mouth parts are different, too. But yeah, if I see especially like this leaf footed nips, and I see a lot of them, um, kind of swarming a tomato or something like that. Knock them all into a bucket of soapy water.
If you see a bunch of ah white butterflies, your cabbages. Probably gone. Probably I will put that out there.
There are some good companion plants you can use to deter them, but yeah,
Yeah, definitely. And, you know, you're you're gonna lose some of your stuff. Forget, you know, part of a beaten by past. It's it's just a given. But you can definitely companion plant and not just assume that if there's an insect crawling around on your plant that it's a bad insects. And as faras tomato worms go, a lot of people don't realize that if they have little white eggs on their back and get they're wasps because, yeah, so that tomato worm is gonna die, and it's gonna you know, I pick him off and I usually get into my ducks. Yeah, my chickens are
afraid of them. I don't have My chickens have broken.
Your chickens are
broken. But after those things, like they were the best thing since minors. Marshall Mine will oven eat mice, which is kind of gross, but it's kind of cool. I wish
I would do something about the rats, but that's another story. Um,
and don't let your chickens in your garden. No, don't lot unless you're ready
for Rex, Maybe, but yeah, chicken's skin, everything.
Yeah, my ducks can go in the garden because they don't have the beak, so they don't
packets. Yeah, well built dig holes, and they will eat some greens. But you're right, especially if they're going after snails. I like them for that aspect. Um, one thing that's interesting is I kind of freaked out a couple years ago because I found this giant snail and I swear the thing looked like a poking on. I don't have any like, it's a crazy looking and I've never seen anything like it before. And I posted in the gardening groups and come to find out it's a predatory snail. It eats little snails. Oh, so yeah, and it's, um, thing's gonna rose, snail, but really cool looking. I mean, they get big. Bye. Sure enough, when I find them in my garden, I also find a bunch of tiny, empty shells from the little snails that like to eat. All agreed.
Yeah, and and ducks can help weed a little bit geese here a little bit better about weeding than ducks. And you seem to know
everything out of your garden.
We've actually been considering adding some leader geese, and I just we were going to last year and things happened and we didn't. I actually had a pair bordered, and I ended up putting it off, but yeah, they can be beneficial depending on the goose. I'm actually scared of geese. So adding adding geese here probably isn't the best idea. I was attacked by a gander when I was little.
Okay? Yeah, yeah, yeah. I grew
up up north with all the Canadian case, and you definitely learned to give geese of wide berth. Yes, e can say like I was I I always had, um I can't say a fear of goats, but I had a dislike of goats because I was attacked by ago when I was little. But I've obviously gotten over my fear of goats, but, uh, I don't know. I want to get keys At some point, I actually had my eye on cotton patch geese and that they're really cool, and a friend of mine was raising them. And then she had a couple really bad years and pretty much lost all of her keys. So, um, look, I don't
know that we were looking at. I felt no greater down in Georgia, so they're not too far from you.
Yeah, well, I know several folks in Florida that raised different, reads a piece. I don't I can't think of one talked. My head has cotton patch, but I'm sure I could find some. Um, And I know enough folks that could point me in the right direction, but I wanna have a way to lock them up during breeding season.
Don't have that yet. So wait a little
bit. Yeah, that was another reason I'm like, you know, I don't think that I want them out with everything and everyone during your own season. So we should probably hold off on us for a while, but not jump the gun. But I have heard that the cotton patch the gander czar quite as aggressive a cz. Some of the other breeds are yeah, especially have pilgrims. I know pilgrims could be pretty.
Um, but she also had my friend had palm Iranians too. I thought those were pretty. I do know some heels as the primary in, but yeah, I know what having the little kids and stuff I wanted to make sure I had something that you know, I wasn't gonna bite your head off during breeding season.
Right? Or the UPS guy comes and the ups Larrier stop. Yeah, way
Have a box on the outside of the gate for the ups guy to leave our packages in. You know, I have my great pyramids. Thinks the trash guys, we're going to steal the garbage. So I'm sure nobody wants to come inside of our gate anyway.
But yeah, I don't know her. Don't let what your chickens in your garden. They will eat all of your food. Don't put any food in the chicken run that you do not want the chickens to completely decimate because, yeah, that goes for goats too. Yeah, but you can once you have your plants established. Once you know that they're big enough to kind of fend for themselves. You can let ducks and or geese into your garden supervised. I would not let any animal in my garden unsupervised
here very long. Well, but they can't help my Guineas. Don't touch my plants.
Yeah, we only have one left and she just squawks and everything.
We have five. She's pretty sure They're all boys, but they do. You
will. See, we had a pair. We had six and a meat. Got four of them because I could not get them cooped. Right. And then we ended up figure out how to get the other two to Coop and all was well, and it ended up a pair, which is awesome. And then the mail got in a fight with a mama hen, had a baby chick, and he broke his neck. Oh, he ran into our feed shed. And that's the only thing that I could decide. I had heard a ruckus out there earlier in the day, and I went out there and I was feeding everybody and my daughter, since you need to come look at this and there's my male guinea, and we figured out was a male because the female was stealing eggs,
right? Well, yeah, way had I was actually impressed with, um, our old Guineas ability to hatch eggs. I mean, she couldn't keep the chicks. She couldn't keep the key. It's alive. But she could hatch
him. Yeah, they're they're terrible.
I mean, she she did pretty well. The problem is, we have hawks And so just one by one, they get picked off. And I mean, the Great Pyramids did learn to team up with the Guineas to help run the Hawks off. But, yeah, there were There were very few babies that actually made it to adulthood. But then, ah, my neighbor decided to start shooting my Guineas, So Oh, we had to start over with Guineas.
Yeah, I considered it, But they drive my husband and saying so we just have the one
I need. Almost almost as soon as our last batch of Guineas died, the tics started to show up again and that, I mean, the ticks were so bad before we got Guineas that it's just I can't I can't not have. Um um because I was having nightmares about ticks. I mean, I had they were literally breeding in the house. I don't care. My anyone else says about ticks not being able to breathe inside the house, they were absolutely reading inside the house, we found nest in the sock drawers, and I don't know if it's because, you know, the humidity levels higher in Florida, but they were everywhere, So the ticks have been army the Guineas have been such a godson just for that alone. But I don't think they keep the pests in the garden lower as well.
Oh, definitely. Yeah. Arse. Yeah, Like it's like you said, They don't really eat anything. We had to until the end of last summer. So they've definitely kept down on the past. And the flies? Yeah, they're not. They're not quite as bad in the coop with the flies.
Um, my ducks even help with that. I mean, I think that the chickens probably due to with the flies, but especially like the ducks really help with the mosquitoes.
I tried telling my husband that might be why I just ordered several.
But that's that's that's your story. And you're sticking to it, right? He told me it was okay because, yeah, that's kind of that's one of the things that really gets me. Um, in the garden is especially a zit starts getting warmer, the mosquitoes gets so bad out in the garden and granted, where my garden is at is just on the other side of my fence. The neighbors have like a big pit that tends to collect water in the summer on eso eso. The mosquitoes tend to be a little bit worse on that side of the property anyway, but I have to look, I have citronella sticks that it's almost like a giant incense stick that I stick in the ground and I'll have, like, one on either side of me. And I'll burn those to keep mosquitos off me. Plus my books break.
Yeah, we, uh, actually planning to Central Ella's in containers last year, and we put them on the side of our debt that in the backyard. And it actually helped a lot. Just those two plants keeping them away way we get our probably not near is that as you were not the woods, but we're next to the woods, huh? We get quite a few, and we have moisture and look far corner of our yard where all the runoff goes. So if we have a particularly wet season, then it's like a perfect breeding ground for him right there in the corner of her yard.
Yeah, yeah, because I I don't know if people realize this unless they live in the woods, where the ground tends to stay wet, but you do not necessarily need standing water for mosquitoes. If there is moisture in the foliage, they could still breed
right. You know we have that problem. It's not standing water. It's just plenty moist right in the very back corner from the because of the way that our yard slopes and all of our perimeter drains go down there. And then the field runs off in the adjacent field, runs off into that same slope so well, and I was just what I
think that's where the ducks make. The biggest difference is eating the Lord out of the soil. You know, out of that, that lower layer of debris and stuff, because we're I mean, we have duck pools, you know, for the docks, obviously, like the water troughs and stuff like that. But we try to keep those cleaned out, especially if I start to notice larva swimming around in him and even like the pit next to us. If we notice it gets lost standing water, it will throw a couple of dunks in there. Yeah, and so we try. We try not to have a lot of standing water, but we still I mean all day long. It's not even just dusk and dawn. It's all day long. We have mosquitoes and it has to be the coming from the ground or
kind of moron your your garden. You know, if you're keeping your garden moister, you got all those plants in there, right? You know, it's well, good environment for them. Tow. Yeah, and
even keeping the weeds down. In fact, that something s so I should mention with the garden is you need to have a weed free buffer zone around your garden beds. Because if you allow those weeds to encroach on the garden, that provides an avenue for the pest to get in so they can just because they're they're trying to camouflage from, like, song birds and things. We're trying to eat them, and so they have a way to get directly in your garden without having to expose themselves. Then you're just inviting them in. And so you really want to try to create an environment that is not inviting to them or, you know, you can also create environments that are Maur inviting to them. And so that's where we have you know, as we get if you're talking about companion planting. You know you have the plants that you can plant with your vegetables that are going to detract the pests or, you know, keep the press away. But then you also has trapped crops that you can plant away from your garden that are gonna be Maur inviting to the pest. And I'm gonna draw them away from your garden because they want to
go beyond the borders important. We don't have one. We need one because all the weeds just get right into our gardens that we're trying to figure out how we wantto kind of border it in so that we don't have that problem. I could be a lot.
Yeah, right. I don't. I've been spraying the horticulture vinegar, the 30% vinegar to kill the foliage. But of course, if anything grows back because you're not while yelling the route, um, I want to get one of those torches and see if I could burn everything, especially like my fence lines and things like that
and see if I can keep stuff down that way because it, especially in the summer, I mean, I just can't keep up with the weeds.
Us either. It's It's awful.
Yeah, but you're supposed to be gardening in the summer. Yeah, it gets hot here too. I know, I know. I tend to take me more of a break in the summer. I mean, there's a lot less than I could grow, but if I focused on, um, you know, Yeah, but you can
take a break in the summer, whereas this is the only time that we're gonna be able to grow,
right? Exactly. So I have to
go out in the heat and we'd my garden. And it's not very fun, regardless of how inviting or in uninviting ISS True. Nobody likes to, you know, bend over and pull weeds when it's, you know, 100% humidity and 85 degrees. It's just not very enjoyable.
And that is one reason I, like the deep mulch, is it does help keep a lot of the weeds down. Um, there's certain things especially Unfortunately, the downside to using composted manure is it's not fully composted. I'm not doing a very good job in that arena. And so I get a lot of weed seeds that are coming through the manure. But we have this sawgrass that it comes up through everything. I mean, I'm I build these race beds. The rates beds are 12 inches tall. I'm put down cardboard. I fill the raised bed with compost, and I still have Sawgrass coming up through your cardboard and 12 inches of soil because it grows on runners. And so it doesn't even. It's not like it's choked out from a lack of light because somewhere else down the line, another saw grass is getting light. It's continuing to perpetuate
and right And as far as keeping the weeds out, um, you know, make sure that you try to keep us some kind of schedule and just go out and just pick, you know, weeds certain times a day or every couple of days or whatever it is. And if you try to stay on top of it because they'll take over, and if they take over, you're not gonna ever get back ahead. So you have to try to keep on top of it. If you see a weed, pull it, yeah, but if you see a past, a lot of them are easier to just pick off their fingers.
Yeah, I'll go out there with a bucket of soapy water and yeah, around them in the bucket of soapy water
and a lot of pests, whereas beneficial insects, they hide, you try their best to hide and camouflage, whereas beneficial insects don't hide.
No, they tend to say I dare you. Yes, yes. Um, yeah, it's Ah. And even with those, like you know it, it could be so easy for them to take over if if you even miss a day Uh huh. And you know, it's 11 reason why I like trying to create, like, a balanced environment, and it could take several years to really get a balanced environment. But if you are providing a good environment where Ben officials want to be there and you're trying to not attract the pests, then over time it's gonna balance itself out. And you're gonna find yourself having to do a lot less pest control by
and we control because I'm going to get us that that symbiotic relationship with the environment around you, Then you're not gonna have this big of a problem with it. Another thing that helps with weeds is intensive planting. But you have to be careful,
right? Because That's where we run into the air flow and impossible fungal issues. Right? And there's, you know, we're talking about organic gardening. We do have to be a little more preventative. I mean, one is, you know, we need first off, we need to get away from this idea that our garden needs to be this totally sterile environment. And that's part of the reason why we don't want to just blanket kill every pest. That's why we don't like systemic, um, insecticides that are gonna kill your Ben officials and things like, um, you know, seven dust and stuff like that and even, you know, I know a lot of people like Die Tenacious Earth, but it's also gonna harm your bed officials. And so that's why I really think you need thio. Identify what you're dealing with first and try to find something that's targeted specifically to that past.
And there are tons of organic options to target tests specific, past and even kind of more is a blanket treatment. There are organic options. Some of your organic options will kind of kill off the beneficial insects, but a lot of them, you know, you can target specific insects. If you know what you're dealing with, or even even specific diseases like fungal issues or whatever, there are ways to treat something. If you know what you're dealing with, there are ways to figure out what you're dealing with and treat it an organic fashion, as opposed to just using some, like seven dust or whatever,
right? Yeah, because I mean, there's a lot. You know, if we're talking preventative, you can make ah solution with, um three. I don't worry. I've done milk and water. I'm seeing people use baking soda and water, and you can spray that on things that are like prone to powdery mildew. And so it prevents those spores from attaching to the leaf and spreading. Um, you know, if you've got an existing issue that you need to treat, there's copper spray, you could even use hydrogen peroxide and sprayed on the plants. You do have a lot of organic options. It's just thing with the organics. Is there usually going to take a little more time and more treatments to be as effective? And you may have to do kind of a multilayered approach where you're doing some preventative, but then you're also doing some treatment, and then you're probably still out there, you know, picking bugs and throwing them in soapy water by by doing those different things, you're gonna end up with healthier soil and healthier plants in the long run, because you're not harming those beneficial insects that are been benefiting your plants and benefiting the soil.
So I think that you know the key here. The kind of recap is ah, starts small and, you know, have a sense of humor and be patient and, you know, take your time, learning how to do things. Um, and if you have to depend on something like seven dust or whatever, your first couple of years, it's not the end of the world. A lot of us didn't grow up knowing how to do things in organic fashion so automatically gravitate towards those you know, blanket products that are available of every store. No demand, Um, and if you have to kind of depend on those to start out with, you know, I don't necessarily think there's anything wrong with it. It can kind of mess up your soil if you overuse it and you do it too much and become too dependent on it, and I think you should learn other ways to use those things. But I don't think there's anything wrong with getting past that learning curve by kind of utilizing things that you already know how to use.
You start with where you're the most comfortable and if you have never even grown anything before, much less tried to start something from seed trying to do everything by the book or by what someone else deems as the perfect way to do it. You're going to get so overwhelmed. It's just it's gonna be information overload. That's where a lot of I think a lot of people get discouraged and they just quit is because they think that they can't do it right, and so they shouldn't even try
right or they try to do too much at once and they get overwhelmed. Or, like I said, you need to have a sense of humor. Start small, and if you don't, then it's very likely gonna get overwhelmed. If you get overwhelming, you might not want to do it and guarding its fun. I I like to play in the dirt. My kids like to play in the dirt. It's like therapy, but it's not fun if it's not fun. If you start trying to do all the things that once and trying to do everything the perfect way and getting upset. If you know all your tomatoes get destroyed by horn words or, you know you get powdery mildew on half your plants or whatever, learn from it. And you know you could garden start over every year, something that has to be permanent.
And there's always the possibility you can still restart that plant again. You know,
depending on how late in the year it
is, yeah, look at your seed packet. If it says that it's only 90 days to maturity and it's on Lee Joon, you still have plenty of time. And that's the thing, too, is gardening doesn't need to be complicated. You know, if your container gardening and all you can do right now is a bag, Mick, then go and get a bag mix I use. This is the first year that I've started even trying Thio make my own container mix, and it was an epic failure. The first time I only want to think about how many seeds are wasted, but anyway, but if you're using a bag soil mix, then it's already been tested. You already know what the levels are. PH is the appropriate level for everything to grow properly, so you don't need to worry about the testing. Just throw the the soil in, you know, in a little container. Put in some seeds and go for it. Give it a try. It really doesn't need to be difficult or complicated. Just enjoy yourself. Enjoy the process. And if it doesn't work, then you take notes of what worked. What didn't work and you try again next time. All right, so that is it. For today's episode, we will have links to the block post that were mentioned, as well as the USDA site for checking or growing zone in the show notes. And if you need any additional support with your gardening adventure this year, you can also check out our Facebook groups and we will get you guys next time