January 25, 2014

Third Year Organic Gardener, Seventh Year Worm Wrangler

Happy New Year, wiggly ones!

2014 will be my third year as an organic gardener, and my seventh as a worm wrangler- we all know how they go hand in hand!

I've learned so much, I thought I'd revisit a post from last year where I reviewed what I learned from my first year to do differently during my second. Now with TWO whole seasons to draw from, here's some of the plans for the third organic-y year of growing goodness.

Starter Planters

2012- Peat pots

I used biodegradable containers that got transferred right into the garden when it came time to plant:
They were convenient, and they held up well throughout the starter growth of the plants. They didn't grow mold or fall apart early (some of them were still intact halfway through the growing season after being planted into the actual garden).

2013- Free & green cardboard roll pots
My environmentally friendliness kicked in and I used the FREE cardboard rolls leftover at the end of toilet paper and paper towels.These little planters were easy to make.
recycled seed starter planters
recycled seed starter planters
recycled seed starter planters
HOWEVER....not so sturdy! Once the seedlings were watered, things got ugly with these cardboard planters.
They got mushy. They grew mold. By the time they were going to be planted in the garden, it was a bit of mess. The bottoms were falling out, so the dirt in them wasn't solid. The roots of the tiny plants seemed weak and exposed because the dirt and container were so flimsy.

Give me extra points for being free and green, but minus points for being ineffective in growing strong plants with good roots to start the season.

2014 Decision- Peat Pots! Lesson learned! Back to the peat pots. It's so important to start good, strong seedlings- and I have such a great soil formula, using about 1/3 vermicompost and 2/3 garden dirt, to cultivate them. Time to return to the sturdier, more dependable peat pots.

Dirt & Fertilizer
2012- Chop and leave the remnants

When I put the garden to bed in 2012,  it looked like this:
organic garden
2013- Pick out the remnants

When it reopened for 2013, it looked like this:
organic garden
A bit of a mess. Although I was thrilled that the strawberries were on their way back early, I had to sift out all the stems and sticks I thought would compost up all nice over the winter (clearly false!). After doing that (and adding a serious dose of vermicompost!), it all worked out.

So I learned another lesson- don't chop everything up at the end of the season, mix in the first few inches of soil, and hope for the best- because you'll be sifting out stems and sticks come spring.

2014 Decision- Start Fresh!

This past season, I cleared out all the debris before putting the garden to bed:
organic garden


2012- Buy seeds

In 2012, I bought my seeds at the local home improvement store. Everything turned out OK, except the onions were a little harsh.

2013- Buy seeds
Last year, I bought a new red raspberry plant, plus bought seeds from the local home improvement store for tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers, spinach, and onions again. The strawberries were multiplying from the year before, so no need to buy any more of those. (I blame my poor starting pots, not the seeds, on the less sturdy crops I yielded last year.)

2014 Decision: Buy seeds
I enjoy the process of starting seeds and getting to see the effects of vermicompost up close and personal, so I'm going to continue to purchase seeds and start them on my own.


2012- The perfect garden stake

You may have read my absolute amazement at finding the perfect garden stakes in various sizes last year.

2013- Recycle and reuse

I reused the stakes from last year with no problems.

2014 Decision- If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
The stakes are still in great shape, so they'll be re-used for the third time. 


2012- Creative berry fencing

We constructed our very own berry protection from the birds, using PVC pipe and chicken wire.
garden fencing

2013- Recycle and reuse

We pulled that gem right out of the garage and re-used it in 2013.
organic garden fencing
2014 Decision- Third time's a charm
It works so well, and looks so interesting. Another organic garden item that will be in circulation again for 2014. 

Rain Barrel

2012- Investment year
We invested in this beauty in 2012:

2013- Re-connect!

We reconnected it from it's winter nap on the side of the house.

2014 Decision- Re-Connect!The rain barrel is a huge water saver- as in we never saw it go below halfway full all summer. It's also positioned so conveniently close to the garden that we probably water even more often than needed.

One great thing kicking off 2014 is that I have worms and vermicompost practically come out of my basement. The worms have had a stellar off season- getting plenty of scraps and eating their way through the holidays....and pooping out some great organic fertilizer.

Let OG2014 begin! 

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