Saturday, August 30, 2014

Florida Survival Gardening Celebrates Its Two-Year Anniversary!!!

Can you believe it? Florida Survival Gardening is celebrating its two-year anniversary!

What a great day to stand outside with a machete in the amaranth patch and look really serious!

 

I've now posted every weekday for two years on this blog. Sometimes more.

There's a reason for that. One of the things I always hated about blogs was their variable output.

Sometimes you'll discover a cool homesteading blog and start following it... and then you won't see a post for a month... or two... or a year... and you think, "Guess that thing is dead... too bad" - and you never visit again.

When I started this site back in 2012, it was an attempt to do something I'd never done: stick to a long-term project and make it big. To create a site that would actually give real advice and help for Florida gardeners wishing to grow their own food.

Whereas I can't say Florida Survival Gardening has gotten "big," per se, it does get a good number of visitors on a daily basis. I get around 40,000 pageviews a month and roughly 1200+ per day. I took some screenshots of my stats on August 20th:



Right now, as you can see, we've about closed in on 500,000 all-time pageviews. The drop-off in the middle of August is just the weird way Blogger draws its graph - that's up near 40,000  at this point. I should've taken another screen capture, but hey... I'm busy!

Anyhow, enough about the stats. Let's talk about this year's progress.

Thus far, I've created over 700 posts and 22 Survival Plant Profiles. I've also posted roughly 150 articles over at The Prepper Project, plus created a really good survival gardening audiobook.

Since starting this site, we've also meticulously tracked our harvests in the garden so you can see what's possible in a small space. (The weight of the produce harvested thus far this year is now over 350lbs - not as good as last year thanks to the high level of writing work I undertook... plus we had a  baby).

Enjoy a fluorescent pineapple!
Last year we also had access to a wonderful field plot which we used for corn, beans and cassava. Unfortunately we had a major falling out with the landowner and can no longer use that space. Hopefully I'll secure another spot in the future for my irrigation-free field crop experiments and tool testing.

Additionally this year, I posted about a dozen videos, including a few amazing "Crash Gardening" episodes. (I hired the very talented Jeff Greene to have those produced. He gives me an unbelievable deal on the filming and editing, but I'm really busy so the production schedule keeps getting bumped).

To celebrate this year of success, I'm going to fill the next two weeks by re-publishing some of my favorite posts from the last year. Many of my new readers may not have seen them.

I truly appreciate you all for joining me here. I love that I can post an unknown flower and have you guys ID it for me... or talk about chickens and get suggestions on flock management... or share my experiences and in turn hear yours.

God bless you and your gardening efforts this fall.

Thank you for making Florida Survival Gardening a success.


Friday, August 29, 2014

Chalcophora virginiensis

I spotted this guy in a prairie while foraging:


I've always liked beetles, though this one is apparently a big of a pest, since its larvae bore into pine trees.

One of these days I'm going to start an insect collection, 'cause I'm nerdy like that. 

For now I'll let my finds live, uncaptured by anything but my trusty Nikon.

More about this beetle can be found here.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Today at the 326 Community Market!

It's time to plant your fall gardens! Come on down and see what I have!

If you haven't stopped by the 326 Community Market yet... what are you waiting for?


I still have hot peppers at $2.00 a pot - come and pick some up for your fall garden and learn to grind your own red pepper. The taste of homegrown peppers is unbelievable!

I also have small Illinois Everbearing trees for $12.00 each. Don't worry about the size... mulberries grow FAST! I also have some dwarf ones back in stock for $8.00 a pot. Plant a mulberry hedge!

Chinese Water Chestnuts

Do you have a pond? A swampy spot? A kiddie pool? Chinese water chestnuts are a delicious root crop that loves the heat and will produce abundantly. It's also perennial! Give 'em a try!

Japanese Persimmons

Simply one of the best fruit trees for this area. Sweet, luscious, non-astringent fruit... and my price of $29 per tree is really hard to beat.

Cassava

I've sold out of potted Indian cassava plants again, but I've got a few of the pretty variegated type... you'll love the way they look, plus the leaves are edible boiled... even if their roots aren't anything to write home about.

Visit the 326 Market in Ocala today and go shopping. There's a lot going on in the nursery and I'm finding more rare edibles each week.

Some of my wonderful selections include:

LONGEVITY SPINACH: $4.00

HOT PEPPERS: $2.00

CELOSIA ARGENTEA (great green/amaranth-type grain): $3.00 a pot

SURINAME SPINACH: $3.00 for small pots, $6.00 for large

GINGERS (Various): $6.00

CHAYA: $5.00

ROSEMARY: $2.00 a small pot 

LAVENDER: $2.00 a small pot

BABY COFFEE TREES: $6.00

FIGS (Various): $20.00

JAPANESE PERSIMMONS (Various non-astringent): $29.00


I'll also bring a limited number of other rare edible/perennial vegetable and fruit from the tropics and beyond!

The 326 Community Market runs every Thursday from 3 - 7PM and is really easy to find.

Google map is here. Their Facebook page is here (with lots more photos and info):

My prices are good and my gardening advice is free.

Beyond what I carry, there are also folks selling melt-in-your-mouth Florida peaches, goat milk cheese and soap, handcrafts, recycled pallet wood furniture, fresh lemonade, chickens, delicious ice cream (from actual hand-milked cows), crafts, vegetables, baked goods, homemade jams and jellies (really good), local raw honey, ornamental plants, homemade birdhouses and more.

It's a great group of people and very friendly... the way a local market should be.

Come on down!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Speaking of colorful fruit...

Mom just sent me a picture of a few carambola she just picked in the Great South Florida Food Forest Project:


If you haven't had fresh, fully ripe starfruit, you're missing out!

You can't buy fruit this bright



That's fresh off one of my pineapple plants. 

The funny thing: these plants were started with the tops of standard store-bought pineapples, yet the flavor of the fruit they produce is far superior to the fruit we originally bought. They're also a lot less acid.

Bonus: Bright, fully ripe, fresh fruit is a lot better for you than the dull, under-ripe, aging produce you find in the store.

I recently got a whole bunch of improved commercial pineapple plants for my nursery. When you plant tops, you get smaller fruit than when you plant a vegetatively propagated variety... but if you pick up one of these, you'll get big fruit. Either way, plant some pineapples!

If I'm growing pineapple up here in North Florida with almost no work... what's stopping you folks further south? Stick a few dozen around your yard and wait. They'll fruit - I can almost guarantee it. 

Pineapples are a boon for lazy gardeners... and they're simply amazing to eat fresh.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Unknown Tree: Identified!

A few weeks ago, my friend Fred the Master Gardener brought me some samples of a tree to identify:




The leaves initially made me wonder if this tree was some kind of a sumac, but the encapsulated fruit you see in the third picture above disallowed that identification. Sumac trees possess berries in either red or white, the former being edible, the latter being very toxic.

Anyhow, this tree stumped me. I came across it here and there in the wild for a few years but never really looked it up.

After Fred asked me about his specimen, I did some googling and nailed it down with relative certainty as the "Hercules' Club" tree, a Florida native.

A week or two after Fred's question, I led a wild foraging class at Pear Park in Leesburg. There I came across another specimen of this tree and took a picture up through the canopy:


Then I looked down and saw this sign...


Okay, that clinches it. I have a Latin name. Whew.

Not only is this tree an interesting native, it also has some good medicinal uses.

I think I'll add one to the food forest in case I get a toothache!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Adding Fungi To Your Garden

Among gardeners, fungi don’t get a lot of love. They usually range in a gardener’s mind from being a minor curiosity (“hey, look at that weird slime mold!”) to being a threat (“what the heck is making these things rot???”).

Rare is the gardener who raises his own mushrooms. Rarer still is the gardener who sees the ground beneath his feet as a vast network of teeming fungal life. Rarest is the gardener who deliberately feeds that fungal network.
Yet without fungi, life on planet earth would grind to a painful halt… and your fruit and nut trees? Kaput.
Today let’s take a quick look at the great things fungi accomplish for your plants – and then talk about adding more of them to your homestead!

Fungi bust up lignin

Lignin is part of the cell walls of plants and is partially responsible for the long length of time it takes wood to decompose. When decomposed, it forms a significant amount of the humus in the soil. Since many decomposer organisms find lignin indigestible, it’s up to fungi to break it down.
Without fungi, we’d have lots and lots of wood lying around.

Fungi dispose of dead things

Ever pull a mold-covered plate of unidentifiable food from your refrigerator? (No? Never? It’s just me, then?)
Mold is fungi. Just as fungi break down wood, they also happily break down spaghetti noodles, tomatoes, Chinese take-out, etc.
The digestion process allows plants to use the nutrients that might forever be bound up in a stale tuna sandwich and put them to better use.

Fungi help plants feed themselves

Beyond just breaking down dead things, some fungi actually connect to tree roots and greatly extend their ability to take up nutrients.
Imagine connecting a great big antennae to your radio: that’s what fungi do for a tree’s ability to reach out and take what it needs. The tree gives the fungi sugars; the fungi in turns reaches out for minerals and brings them back to the tree. They’re particularly good at making phosphates available, which means you have less fertilizing to do in a fungi-rich environment.

Fungi connect the root systems of divergent species

Now this is really weird. Remember the film Avatar? That movie with the giant blue New Age Indian tribe and that huge tree that gets knocked down by a rather silly caricature of the Evil Military-Industrial Complex? Fungi are the interconnectors of nature. They join different tree and plant species together and even allow them to communicate on a rudimentary level. I don’t understand how it works, but somehow when one tree gets injured or attacked by a pest, some fungi are able to transmit its distress to other trees in the vicinity. Those trees can then jack themselves up with alkaloids, etc., so they become less palatable to critters...
(CLICK HERE to keep reading over at The Prepper Project!)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

From the Inbox: Problems with Sweet Potatoes - Help!

Anyone have any advice for Lyda?

She writes:

"I started growing sweet potatoes a few years ago. My first experiment was a rather successful one. I purchased an oriental sweet potato from an Organic Farmers Market and just put it in the ground and watered it. Once it started to sprout I clipped off some cuttings ( I didn't understand what slips were at that point),  took off most of the leaves and  dug those cuttings into the soil in a corner of my yard covered in mulch. 5-6 months later I had a 5 gallong bucket full of Sweet potatoes. I thought I was in heaven and couldn't believe everyone wasn't growing sweet potatoes. Since that time I have been plagued with bad crops. After that first crop I dug some home compost into that corner of the yard and started again. The vines grew like crazy but eventually became infested with white flies. When it came time to harvest there really wasn't much in the ground. Just tiny little  or long skinny ones on the root. Last Spring I used some of those same small sweet potatoes to start slips from a jar. The slips grew great. The first ones were put into a grow bag in March, which in South Florida is pretty warm as you know. I also have some planted in raised beds and they are now completely infested with white flies. It was from that first bag that I harvested today. 

I have a few theories/ideas:

1. I have been told to start with Certified Seed Potatoes to get a good crop and mine were not. That same person said that you may get a good first crop but then successive generations from those potatoes will be small. This describes what happened to me. The first crop was good but then when I continued to use the potatoes grown from that original the crops were smaller and less bountiful. Maybe I should have ordered slips or purchased a new potato from the market to grow slips?

2. Starting from small potatoes....would that have anything to do with it. I just figured it didn't matter as long as I had a slip or cutting to start with.

3. I thought my 2nd crop was so small because I had mixed in compost that had Chicken Manure in it and the nitrogen caused me to get alot of vine growth but little potato growth. This would not be true of this year's crop because I got rid of the chickens 18 months ago and there is no longer any chicken manure in the compost that was added to the grow bags.

4. Does pruning the vines cause less potato growth. I have been trimming them back when they grow into walk ways etc. and adding the cuttings to the compost bin. I did not do that for the 2nd crop though and had the same result.

Any thoughts or knowledge would be appreciated. Feeling frustrated after waiting 6 months and thinking there were potatoes growing in there."

On #1, I've never worried about "certified seed" on sweet potatoes. I believe that's usually a white potato issue. My guess is that soil nutrition has decreased.

#2: It's never mattered for me. They're regularly started from slips without issue.

#3: Nitrogen could perhaps lower  root production, but I'm not sure why that would be a continuing issue this far in. Hard to know without an idea of how much nitrogen is still available. You could always plant a crop of corn to soak up some of what's left, if there is too much left.

#4: Yes. Cutting back growth lowers the photosynthesizing power of the plant. Less area for light gathering; less stored in the roots.

Whiteflies have never been an issue for me in N. FL, but they're definitely an issue down south.

Anyone else have ideas for Lyda?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Put Your Chickens To Work With a Simple Chicken Tractor!

ChickensAreBack1
Chickens aren’t just for meat and eggs.


If you’re used to buying bland, factory-farmed eggs squeezed out of sick, de-beaked chickens in tiny cages, the price of good eggs can be a bit startling.
If you’re used to buying big, gross bags of cheap Tyson bird parts from Walmart, the price of good pastured chicken meat is definitely startling.
There are many reasons why homesteaders raise their own birds. In some cases it’s for the superior eggs and meat, in other cases it’s to ensure food security in case of a crisis, and in still other cases, it’s because there’s a simply satisfaction in raising your own food.
Of course, if you run the numbers on what it costs to water, feed, house and care for a flock, the economics don’t always line up. In some cases you’ll be paying MORE for your eggs than if you bought them from a local farmer.
That’s okay with me, though. I’m not just raising chickens for omelets and wings: I’m raising them for their tertiary benefits.
Like what?
How about fertilizing, composting, insect control, ground clearing and tilling?
All those benefits more than make up for the cost of chickens.
My problem in the past is that I wasn’t managing my birds as well as I could have. I actually gave my previous flock to a friend when I got overwhelmed with predator issues and the time involved with my writing and my nursery business.
Then I got talking with Chet about chicken tractors and went back to the drawing board.
My previous chicken tractor designs were too bulky, so I’d ditched them and put chickens in a run with a closed-in coop. I was also dealing with too many chickens at that point, making it difficult to have them mobile.
I knew, however, that incorporating birds into my food forest would greatly help the soil fertility, particularly in the lousy sandy area where nothing has wanted to grow well.
I mused on chickens for a time… then got an offer I couldn’t refuse. A friend of mineraises and sells livestock of all kinds. I stopped by her booth at the local farmer’s market to ask a few hypothetical questions about raising Muscovy ducks and then she popped the question.
“Do you want some chickens?”
“Chickens? I replied. “I got rid of my chickens a while back… but… how old are they…?
“Six or seven months. They just started laying. Look, I got seven hens. I can trade you for fruit trees…”
“I’m low on fruit trees right now. What if I just buy them?”
I looked at the birds. They were beautiful and healthy.
“How much each?” I asked.
“$10 work?” she replied.
“I’ll take them.”
The funny thing is, when I went to the farmer’s market that afternoon, my wife told me to come home with eggs. So, in a way, I did. They were just inside the hens. This is why it’s really important for you ladies to be completely specific when you send your husband shopping. Hehhehhehheh.
Now that I had the birds, it was time to house them. I had disassembled my previous run and turned the space into a 
junkyard spare materials repository for the homestead. I had also pulled apart the clunky chicken tractors I used to drag painfully around the yard.
It was time to build a new chicken tractor. A simple chicken tractor.
Rather than wood, I decided to make the frame with PVC. For the sides I used various repurposed wire from around the homestead. It took me about three hours to construct and about $60.00 in materials (thanks to my scavenging).
Here it is (without the tarp I use to cover one side):
ChickensAreBack2
(CLICK HERE to keep reading over at The Prepper Project)


Friday, August 22, 2014

Growing Citrus In Georgia

I know... Georgia isn't a place you think about when someone mentions growing citrus, but I have a feeling we're going to pull it off.

How so?

I'm using the Key Lime trick. Remember this tree?


That tree is now huge. In fact, I really need to post an updated image - the thing is loaded with Key limes right now and I don't even cover it.

Since it worked so well with a Key lime tree, which is a true USDA Zone 10 citrus, I thought to myself, "Hey, self. What if you tried planting a cold-hardier Zone 9 citrus tree right up against the south wall of a house in USDA Zone 8 Georgia?"

So I did:


That's a young kumquat tree. Kumquats are one of the hardier citrus species - and I got it on sale at Lowes World for $14.00. If the experiment fails, that's not a huge loss.

If it succeeds? You'll be hearing about it here!

My main worry is that the ground will be too cold and mucky in the winter, since the tree is planted in clay. Still, I give this puppy a better than 50% chance of survival since it's right flat against a south wall and it's in front of a window that will be leaking heat from the house on cold nights. If my sister manages to cover it, that chance goes up (in my mind) to a 75% chance or better.

We shall see. The first couple of years are the riskiest since the tree is so small. 

If you live in Georgia or another Zone 8 state, try the same trick and let me know how it goes. For science!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Today at the 326 Community Market! LOTS of Vegetables!

Despite a couple bouts of pounding Florida rain, last week was still wonderful. I got to see a few of my readers, plus got to meet the Wannabe Homesteader family in person. 



Stephanie (in the middle) sent me this photo even though she claims her hair looks terrible in it. Maybe she needs a fedora? Heheheheh.

Great folks with wonderful children. Check out their blog when you get a chance - hopefully we'll see many more posts from Stephanie in the future.

So - if you haven't stopped by the market yet... what are you waiting for?

SURINAME SPINACH

In my last newsletter I mentioned this exciting vegetable. In Latin it's known as Talinum fruticosum... on our homestead, it's known as delicious. Small pots are $3.00 each... larger pots are $6.00.

HOT PEPPERS! 

I started a bunch of hot peppers for everyone's fall gardens. They're $2.00 a pot - come and pick some up for your fall garden and learn to grind your own red pepper. The taste of homegrown peppers is unbelievable!

Let's see what else I have today at the 326 Community Market...

Peaches

I've got JUST one peach trees left at $20.

Olives

I picked up some olive trees this week - come on down and get your own Arbequina olive and plan on some tasty Mediterranean dishes. Only 1 left!!!

Goji Berries

I still have some. Small goji berries are $4.00 a pot... pick up a few and discover this weirdly flavored lycopene-loaded superfruit.

Mulberries

I have small Illinois Everbearing trees for $12.00 each. Don't worry about the size... mulberries grow FAST! I also have some dwarf ones back in stock for $8.00 a pot. Plant a mulberry hedge!

Chinese Water Chestnuts

Do you have a pond? A swampy spot? A kiddie pool? Chinese water chestnuts are a delicious root crop that loves the heat and will produce abundantly. It's also perennial! Give 'em a try!

Japanese Persimmons

Simply one of the best fruit trees for this area. Sweet, luscious, non-astringent fruit... and my price of $29 per tree is really hard to beat.

Cassava

I've sold out of potted Indian cassava plants again, but I've got a few of the pretty variegated type... you'll love the way they look, plus the leaves are edible boiled... even if their roots aren't anything to write home about.

Visit the 326 Market in Ocala today and go shopping. There's a lot going on in the nursery and I'm finding more rare edibles each week.

Some of my wonderful selections include:

LONGEVITY SPINACH: $4.00

HOT PEPPERS: $2.00

CELOSIA ARGENTEA (great green/amaranth-type grain): $3.00 a pot

SURINAME SPINACH: $3.00 for small pots, $6.00 for large

GINGERS (Various): $6.00

CHAYA: $5.00

ROSEMARY: $2.00 a small pot 

LAVENDER: $2.00 a small pot

BABY COFFEE TREES: $6.00

FIGS (Various): $20.00

JAPANESE PERSIMMONS (Various non-astringent): $29.00


I'll also bring a limited number of other rare edible/perennial vegetable and fruit from the tropics and beyond!

The 326 Community Market runs every Thursday from 3 - 7PM and is really easy to find.

Google map is here. Their Facebook page is here (with lots more photos and info):

My prices are good and my gardening advice is free.

Beyond what I carry, there are also folks selling melt-in-your-mouth Florida peaches, goat milk cheese and soap, handcrafts, recycled pallet wood furniture, fresh lemonade, chickens, delicious ice cream (from actual hand-milked cows), crafts, vegetables, baked goods, homemade jams and jellies (really good), local raw honey, ornamental plants, homemade birdhouses and more.

It's a great group of people and very friendly... the way a local market should be.

Come on down!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A good-looking cane machete

This model looks a LOT like the good one I use:

IMACASA 22" Imacasa Sugar Cane Machete

If you buy through that link, I get a few pennies. My favorite machete style for Florida is the cane machete. I find myself using the hook on the back all the time; a feature unfortunately not included with the Cold Steel version of the knife. The Cold Steel cane machete is also too heavy for regular use.


I also prefer the style of the handle as shown on the Imacasa. Standard wood handles with rivets have never held up as well as the complete cast polymer type.

At $22.26 with free shipping, the price ain't bad. Not as low as the cheapo machetes you see elsewhere on Amazon, but that's probably a good thing.

I may have to buy one myself to see how it compares with the no-name thrift store cane machete I've preferred for years.

Planting Fruit Trees in a Georgia Backyard

Yesterday I showed you the little bean patch I dug in Georgia; today we'll look at the fruit trees I planted.

Parts of Georgia share some climate similarities with North Florida. My relatives live on the west side of the state in some rough pine land that's prone to drought. I'd say they're a pretty solid USDA Growing Zone 8, meaning it's too far north for citrus (with the exception of trifoliate orange) and it's too far south for most really good cherries, apples and pears.

Fortunately, I stock a few plants in my nursery that can handle the cold and the heat. I didn't have any higher chill-hour peach trees (mine are UF selections) and I only had one small pecan tree in stock (you need two types for pollination), so I brought two of my favorite trees: a Japanese persimmon and two Illinois Everbearing mulberries.


In the middle of the picture is the persimmon; on the left and right edges are two small mulberries. You can also see the bean bed we dug, marked off by some reclaimed blocks I found at the edge of the yard.

Here's a close-up of the persimmon in its new home:


Since I didn't have any mulch or leaves, I cut up some brush and tree limbs that were hanging over the fences from the neighbor's yards. Beneath that I put a layer of cardboard as weed block. The organic matter of this soil is really low and there's basically nothing to harvest and use in the yard, other than clippings from the grass.

Fortunately for the trees, there's also a Starbucks nearby and my youngest sister (whose car I rode up in) is a coffee addict. She picked up a bag of grounds along with her iced coffee (they provide the grounds for free as compost for gardeners: kudos to Starbucks!) and I dumped those around the trees after planting.

Here's one of the mulberry trees:


That's one of the $12.00-sized trees I sell from my nursery booth on Thursdays. Mulberries grow really quickly, so don't think this baby is going to stay small for long. My bet is that it will hit 8' by the end of next year, provided it gets enough water and doesn't mind the hard ground. The year after that, my nieces and nephew will be eating themselves purple.

Next time I go up, I hope to bring a pair of pecan trees, a fig and perhaps some chestnuts and also see if we can find a local nursery with appropriate varieties of pears, peaches and plums and maybe even some sour cherries. It all depends on how much stuff my dear sister and brother-in-law will let me jam in their yard. Hehhehheh.

If you have a backyard... why not use it to grow your own organic delicious fruit?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tools for Digging in Georgia Clay

One thing that's really been nice about being back in Florida: sand!

I know... people complain about the sand here. However, it's truly a boon for the impatient gardener. You can dig a LOT in a short period of time, making getting to China that much easier than it is in clay soils.

Even awesome tools can fail. Ow.
When I used to live in Tennessee, I had hard and rocky clay. I had almost forgotten the pain. Sure, clay has its own advantages. It holds moisture and minerals, plus allows you to line ponds and dye all your clothing rust-red. But still... it's hard to dig.

This last week when I was in Georgia, I decided to put in a small garden with my young niece and nephew. I had brought beans to plant, I had my Clarington Forge spade and fork, and there was a good sunny spot... so all was well.

Or so I thought.

Once I started trying to dig, I realized we were in trouble. Even with forged heads and sharpened blades, the tools literally bounced off the ground.

I don't mean figuratively: I DO mean literally.

The tools... bounced... off... the... ground.

The soil there was harder than it was in Tennessee. My guess is because it was a concrete-like mixture of clay and sand together. Another problem: beneath the top inch or two of wet ground after a rain, the ground beneath was hard and dry. Not good.

Since I didn't have any dynamite, I decided it was time to take a trip to Lowes World to see if I could find something to chop at the ground.

As a side note: before leaving Florida, I tried to pack my amazing Easy Digging grub hoe but it wouldn't fit in the back of the car. I think it would have done wonderfully (and its long handle was more ergonomic than what I ended up buying) but there was no way to pack it without letting it hang out of the side of the car.

The police hate things like that, so instead I bought one of these:


After sharpening the blade and putting in about two hours of hard labor with that pickaxe, I finished digging a 14" or so deep bed for planting beans. The entire bed was about a 3' x 7' and it definitely gave me a workout, plus some good blisters. The tool came through like a champ.

All's well that ends well, however. My niece and I had a great time planting beans.


Tomorrow I'll show you what else we planted. This small suburban backyard will never be the same.

Monday, August 18, 2014

How I spent last week

I stepped away from gardening (well, not completely: I did plant three fruit trees and dig a small bed at my sister's house... but I digress) for a week and painted a mural instead.


If you're interested, you can see more pictures over at my art blog.

Tomorrow I'll talk about how danged hard it is to double-dig a garden bed in hard and gritty Georgia clay... and let you know which tool finally came through for me.
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