We are so grateful for our beautiful, tiny (for us) garden!! We have already harvested lots of healthy dark green kale, butter crunch lettuce, romaine,cucumbers, cabbage and our first big, juicy red tomato!!! Our watermelon vine, nasturtiums, applemint, and batchler buttons are beauty to the eye, but even better they will taste so good! The applemint tea is so refreshing on hot summer Tennessee days.
We have a few pictures to give you a picture of some of the things that are keeping us busy this spring. We started this garden in a field of johnson grass. It's awful y'all. Well, I guess its good for something, but it is very hard to deal with in a garden. This stuff can't be totally eradicated by hand in one season. It's rhizome roots can grow as far as two feet under the ground and as thick as my thumb!
We also found that certain plants don't do well if you use johnson grass hay to mulch. Tomatoes, peppers, as far as we know- and even growing these veggies in the same dirt where johnson grass is can be hard on the plants because it robs nutrition from the soil.
We did have another slight challenge, chickens.
Yes, we do love the farm fowl, but as many of y'all know they can tear a garden up, especially a mostly mulched garden! So Jasmine and Cecilia went into the woods, found a few saplings that needed to be thinned out and proceeded to cut them down to be fence posts. While the girls were working on the fence, I worked on the raised beds. We put down cardboard over the whole area which is about a 50' x 50' plot. When any one would make a run to town, they would also get free boxes from stores that would be throwing it away. The cardboard has helped a lot for keeping the dreaded johnson grass down. We put our first layer down in March and of course did pull a few escapees that snuck through the cracks! We just now are putting on the second layer and if we had to do it over I believe we would put two to three layers down to begin with! But one doesn't always have that much cardboard at one time.
So when the fence and raised beds were ready, we planted starts from our tiny greenhouse! Our dear Grandpa Mike gave us the greenhouse. It came in a box and Jasmine was able to assemble it in just a few minutes. I will have to say we couldn't figure out how we were gonna fit all that we usually raise from seedlings in that tiny little thing! And of course there was no way a wood stove would fit to keep plants warm !
Well it turned out to work for us, we used row cover over the top of the greenhouse and over the little seedlings we had started. This helped for the cooler nights. Jasmine had come up with a great idea when temps went way down she would pack up small seed trays in a large cooler to keep them insulated better and it worked! When it was very cold for days we would bring many "babies" into the cabin. We were able to raise in that tiny greenhouse, 130 tomato plants, 60 basil plants, 30 sage plants, lots of squash, rosemary, thyme and more. What a blessing! Jasmine also had made a cold frame and a hot bed- she sowed watermelon, zucchini, cilantro, yellow squash and more. We were also blessed to be close to a greenhouse where we bought cabbage starts and a few other plant starts. Now we are in the month of June and our cabbage is getting nice and round. Cucumbers are vining, and our early tomato plant has many green tomatoes on it and the smaller tomato plants are doing great planted along with beautiful basil we seeded. There are straw flowers, cosmos, little gourds, beets, peppers and dill in our little garden spot as well. Surrounding much of this small but full garden, grows comfrey, sage, rosemary, mint, fennel, catnip, yarrow. Out side the fence we did dare to grow our green beans and zinnias, which we will be pulling johnson grass from around. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could find a way to eat it?! We do know that animals can eat the johnson grass fresh and some as hay but not all the time!!! The grass contains levels of cyanide and can be very dangerous for cows, sheep and other herbivores if it has dried up from drought, been heavily bit by frost or freeze and at times of cutting. Our Amish neighbor once said that he was using johnson grass hay to mulch tomatoes and the hay, he believes, caused his tomatoes to die.
It has been a lot of work starting all over with a new garden spot and raised beds. But the work is a good work, a sweat of your brow thing!! When that breeze hits your sweaty face there's nothing better 'cept maybe a jump in the swimming hole or eating the amazing fruits of your labor!!!!!
We are truly blessed by our tiny garden.
Blessings from our Homestead,
This flower is also edible and makes great salad toppings.