Garden Update 7/5/16

Hello!  Happy July, Everyone!  I hope you all had a lovely Independence Day!  I know I did :). We hosted a party for family and friends, ate too much and had a good time.  We had my whole family there, which including, Scott, the kids and me, is 24 people, Scott’s parents, and another 4 friends to boot.  There were a few no-show, but it works out okay, because now I don’t have to make any meals for a few days!  We have enough brats, burgers and hot dogs to last awhile.

Last fall, my father-in-law gave us his old aluminum boat for the pond, and yesterday it had it’s first test run!  The pond is shallow and mucky, but it worked, and I had fun.  My grandpa had one on his pond that he would take us out in, so it brings back memories for me.  The kids were all fascinated…it was quite an adventure. They said we were pirates, so you know it was fun!  By the way, I think you need to click on the pics for the captions…still trying to figure this all out!

But on to gardens!  I think that I shared with you all that we use the Back to Eden gardening method…well, mostly just the mulch this year.  Basically, if you are beginning a new garden, you lay down a thick layer of newspaper or newspaper like material to help kill all of the grass and weeds below, then add a thick layer of compost, topped by a thick layer of mulch, and throw in the occasional extra fertilizer such as blood meal or well-rotted manure.  Like I said, we mostly just used mulch this year…there was already an established garden bed using that system, so the other components weren’t so crucial.  Plus we had a new baby and didn’t get prepared soon enough, and it was a race to get our garden planted!

In addition to topping the garden off with mulch, we had plowed the pumpkin patch (a huge area that was not plowed in years, if ever), and topped it with mulch, and in the watermelon patch we just cut the grass, cut out squares of black plastic to act as mulch, and planted our seeds in  a small square cut in the middle.  Well it’s been about a month now, and we have barely touched any of those areas at all.  In fact, aside from watering the main garden when I planted, I have not watered anything until last night when I was emptying water bottles out into the garden.  That might sound like a terrible confession to most, and it probably leaves you wondering just how everything is doing.  I mean, how can anything grow under those circumstances?

Apparently, surprisingly well!  Now, we have had enough rain to help out, and had it not rained, I would have been out there watering to get the plants going.  If it weren’t for the mulch, there is no way anything would have grown without me watering.  We do have weeds, and that reason is two-fold.  Reason number one is that we did not do enough maintenance last year, or enough prep work this year.  Had we taken certain steps to begin with, most of the weeds that are growing would just not be there.  The second reason is that I haven’t been keeping up on maintenance quite as much as I should be.  I never weed much the first few weeks after planting, because it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between certain weeds and plants, and sometimes it is actually easier to pull the weeds once they reach a certain height.  I am taking certain steps to significantly reduce the weed population in the main garden, but that is something I will share in another post sometime soon.

So, without further ado, I will now share pictures of the gardens!

Volunteers in the main garden.

The pumpkin patch.

The watermelon patch.  (You can see that we have not kept the surrounding grass short like we wanted to, but the black plastic is working perfectly!)

Our fruit plants.

It should be noted that we have been blessed with our results.  With the little care we have given the plants they are doing surprisingly well.  If we would be watering the gardens more, our results would probably be even better.  As for the fruit plants, trees or otherwise, they have been neglected since before we were here, so they are just in need of maintenance.  Scott was able to prune trees since moving, but in order to get the trees to produce the healthiest fruit, they will need more heavy pruning the next two year.  The grape vines need a little attention, but not too badly, but the ever-bearing red raspberries have not been tended to in quite some time.  I have done some work clearing out old canes and removing weedy undergrowth, so I have hopes that the fall harvest will produce better and less maintenance will need to be done in the future.

One of the hurdles that we faced this year was in not knowing what was all growing on the property to begin with.  The general recommendation is to wait until you’ve seen the land in all 4 seasons before trying to do anything to it.  It can cause you to ruin good plants, or work against the natural course of the land.  We saw the land in three of the four seasons before really doing any work around the property, but we had to be cautious not to do too much.  Now that I know where things grow and when their general harvest seasons are, I can handle the plants more appropriately.

Soon I will share how and why we are using cardboard to help us battle the weeds in the main garden, and how we are going to trellis the tomatoes, peas and cucumbers…but those projects need to be finished first!  Pray that I am able to wake early now that the baby sleeps through the night, and then I should be able to keep on top of the garden maintenance and caring for our fruit plants.  We also have broiler chicks coming tomorrow, so we will have more of that to share as well.  The past few weeks have been party planning, catching up on housework, and yet another new way (for us) that we are saving money.

So, if I can find time to write, there will be a few extra posts coming up in Spring Lake Homestead, so be sure to check in andsee what we are working on!

Oh, and for those of you that have not heard about the Back to Eden gardens, you should check out the documentary at  I don’t get paid to tell you about it, I just thought it was really interesting, and it was what finally convinced me I could handle having a vegetable garden!  How are your gardens doing this year?  Have any of you done the Back to Eden method before, or used mulch, and if so, what did/do you think?


P.S.  Don’t forget to leave a comment or give us your feedback, we love hearing from you!

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