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Start Small!

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  • Sheryl Simons
    The Simple Life Gardening – Start Small! When my kids were young, I gardened as much as I could. I tried not to worry about every weed, and often had pretty
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 4, 2006
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      The Simple Life



      Gardening – Start Small!



      When my kids were young, I gardened as much as I could. I
      tried not to worry about every weed, and often had pretty good crops
      anyways. Now my husband Richard and I have a large garden every year.
      We give a lot away, and can a lot. Richard loves to can, right along
      with me. He peels the tomatoes and puts them in the jars, while I keep
      the jars washed and put on the lids. In no time, the canner is
      bubbling. It definitely goes a lot faster with someone who likes to
      work with you, and the greatest reward is to go to the pantry and find
      colorful jars of fresh-smelling veggies, and even venison, right there
      on your shelves. A soup from these veggies can't be beat in the
      middle of winter.

      But if you are new to gardening, maybe you have your first
      home, where do you start? Start small.

      Pick a couple of your favorite vegetables. Don't try to
      go all-out the first year. You might have failures, but some things
      will work out great. If you have a very small back yard, or even an
      apartment with a sunny patio, you might want some large planters.
      Almost any container will do, but you must have holes on the bottom, for
      drainage.

      Or, you can plant right in a good bag of soil! Just put some
      drainage holes on one side, flip it over, and cut X's where you will
      plant your plants. Water the bag well, until water runs out the bottom.
      You want all the soil in the bag very moist. Plant your plants and
      fertilize as needed unless you bought soil with time-release fertilizer.

      If you do have enough room for a small garden, pick an area
      that doesn't get too wet in a rainstorm. You know those areas that
      you always watch out for during the spring? Okay, if you have a
      rototiller, you can till it, but you are just chopping up the weeds and
      spreading them around, not killing them. I recommend, unless you have a
      tractor, (and if you do, you don't need to read this!), shoveling
      off the grassy top layer, as shallow as possible. Shake as much dirt
      off the roots as you can, right back into your garden area. Then, use a
      pitchfork to dig out any deeper roots. We just did this for a
      strawberry patch, and found weed roots that were 2-3 feet long! We hand
      picked as many of them as we could. (Lay these weeds in the hot sun, or
      burn.) Now we had fluffy light soil that actually was higher than the
      original soil, even after taking the top layer of grass off.

      Plant your plants, water well, and mulch. Mulch can be plastic grocery
      sacks, 6-10 layers of newspapers, to more expensive landscape fabric
      (but not necessary). These will keep the weeds from crowding the
      plants, and black plastic around tomatoes will eliminate blossom end
      rot, which can be a problem some years with infrequent rain. Mulch also
      helps warm the soil. Pepper plants with a plastic grocery sack for
      mulch will amaze you with numerous peppers. They are great in pots and
      high in vitamin C.

      The initial investment of time is done. Now it is just up to you to
      water weekly unless there is a good rain. In good soil, you won't
      even have to fertilize.

      If you want to get the kids interested in gardening, grow at least one
      plant of pumpkins, or something they will enjoy. Involve the kids in
      the fun as much as possible. They will learn to love vegetables too,
      when they taste sweet carrots or snowpeas. They're better than
      candy!

      After your first year of small success, try one or two more items. If
      you plan ahead, you can prepare the bed ahead of time. Also, if you
      really want to keep the weeds out, you can put a border around the bed,
      or those sneaky weeds will try to crawl right back in. If landscape
      edging is not in your budget, try old boards, rocks, leftover vinyl
      siding cut in strips, or old carpeting cut in strips. Look around your
      property and see what you can come up with.

      The biggest key to gardening is watering. A dry garden cannot produce.
      Watering only takes minutes a few times a week, but it must be done.
      Watering late in the evening or early in the morning is best to prevent
      evaporation.

      * * *

      "Forget about style; worry about results." ~~Bobby Orr



      "The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions--the little,
      soon-forgotten charities of a kiss or smile, a kind look or heartfelt
      compliment." ~~Samuel Taylor Coleridge



      * * *

      Simple and Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

      1 c (2 sticks) margarine or butter, softened,1 c brown sugar, 1/2 c
      sugar, 2 eggs, 1 t vanilla, 1-1/2 c all-purpose flour, 1 t baking soda,1
      t ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 3 c oats (quick or old fashioned,
      uncooked), 1cup raisins

      Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat margarine and sugars until
      creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking
      soda, cinnamon and salt;
      mix well. Add oats and raisins; mix well. Drop dough by rounded
      tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or
      until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire
      rack. Cool
      completely. Store tightly covered. ABOUT 4 DOZEN13 x 9-inch baking pan.
      Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely in
      pan on wire rack.
      Cut into bars. Store tightly covered. 24 BARS

      VARIATIONS:
      Stir in 1 cup chopped nuts. Substitute 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
      or candy-coated chocolate pieces for raisins; omit cinnamon. Substitute
      1 cup diced dried mixed fruit.

      To copy and paste and print out these recipes or articles, go to
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/thesimple_life/



      Keeping it Simple,

      Sheryl



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