Our Mission

To live a self-sufficient and organic lifestyle for the next half century. With the Grace of God and the power of prayer, we will succeed. Nothing is impossible with His help. It wouldn't be us without laughter and joy at the Cockeyed Homestead.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Cockeyed Garden Philosophy

Here in northern Georgia we have a definite winter season unlike my previous homestead in south Georgia. This is much to my dismay. I've waited this whole cockeyed winter season for something to grow. Yes, we are still in the Y'all part of the country too, but there are three distinct growing areas in Georgia, and we  ain't that big of a state. I know I said we'd start seeds around Easter, but I want it now! Yes, I know we still have several more cold snaps to go before spring. I'm not talking about planting outside yet either.

The back porch is finally wrapped in plastic wrap. Nobody really wanted to be outside replacing screens and hanging plastic when it was 40 degrees outside, but we've had a spell of really nice days of late with daytime temperatures in the 60s and 70s. Of course, this warming spell had its days (weeks) of rainy weather too. As much as I wanted the porch enclosed, I didn't want Mel out when it was raining. It was bad enough that I had to get out in it going various medical places.

Now we have a cozy spot to grow in even if the night time temperatures drop near freezing. The great part is that the plastic can be rolled up out of the way during the warmer months to allow cooling breezes in. The plastic will also keep out the blowing rain. I like doing the work once the right way and not having to do it again. Now, it's just putting up the storage racks to hold the seedlings and plants. It has become my 18'x25' greenhouse.

Do you start you plants in trays? Do you actually purchase these? My question is why are you paying for it? Have you bought tomatoes or other vegetables in the winter? What are you doing with all those baskets and cardboard or foam bins? You aren't throwing them away are you? How could you! You might as well be throwing dollar bills in the garbage.

These are excellent seed starting trays. I also use  my homemade soil block maker, and paper towel cardboard rolls. The toilet paper rolls are used exclusively for rabbit treats and toys. The cardboard is thinner on toilet paper rolls and won't hold up for 6-12 weeks for growing plants.

As the days grow warmer I find myself getting more excited about the prospect of being in the garden again. My garden time is also my one on one time with God. He shows and teaches me all His wonders in the garden. Even through the weeding, disease management, and pest control, He is constantly showing me something new. I no longer try to eradicate all the pests in my garden. There really is no need. They are happy with their 1/3 and I am happy with the 2/3rds. If a fruit of my labor is a bit bug bitten, do I really care? Nope, it will still taste good. If the plant is healthy enough and produces a good yield, isn't that good enough for a few bugs?

I used to be almost anal about pest control in my garden. God showed me that the best plants will have the most pests. It stands to reason, right? Who honestly wants to eat substandard food? I'll spray my plants with a cayenne, garlic, oil, and soap water solution to hold the insect population to a dull roar. I'll do this a couple times a season. That's it for my organic bug spraying. The rest of the  time, I'm picking off caterpillars and larva for the chickens. I won't get every single one. That would almost be impossible, but I don't sweat it either. So long as the bugs don't take over their 1/3 share, I'm content to live with nature.

2 cups of poo to 1 gal rain water
By starting my plants indoors and then transplanting them into the garden, they have a chance to get a head start on growth. I look at it this way. Who is more susceptible to harm a newborn baby or an adult? The baby, right? Well my plant babies are protected from that which will harm them. Temperature variations and pest/diseases being the major threats. They receive abundant nutrients via the compost in their growing medium  and a couple waterings with rabbit poo tea during their first 6-12 weeks of life. While the temperatures may vary, it never falls below 50 degrees in my make shift growing area. The plants will also be watered in with rabbit poo tea when transplanted to prevent shock. By transplant time, they will have grown into teenagers and less susceptible to damage by temperature and pests.

To me, I think of plants like children growing up. I did raise five children.
I consider this babyhood- anytime before flowering
When the flowers start budding= teenage/puberty
It takes a lot of energy to grow a teenager to adulthood. Ask any mother of a teenager what their grocery bills are like. If you don't have children compare it to double the normal cost and amount.
Adulthood= produces fruit

I'll usually top/side dress the plants with additional rabbit poo when they start to flower and again after the first flush of harvesting. Your plants need food to keep producing great fruit. It takes hard work and energy to keep producing offspring (fruit). You consume a lot of calories when pregnant to grow healthy babies. If you garden like me, I grow several different plantings of seedlings a couple of weeks a part to have a continual harvest over the growing season. It seems like I'm always feeding my plants.

An entire growing/harvesting season for us starts in May and lasts until September most years.  Gone are the days of waiting for November to plant greens and other cooler weather crops. It will freeze before harvesting. I've had to rethink and reorganize my planting/harvesting charts for these more northern climates. It's been a heck of a learning curve. But with the addition of plastic on the porch, I can eek out a few more months of planting/harvesting. I'll also be able to grow citrus fruits that Mel and I love. An almost year around harvest of ginger, horseradish, and turmeric too. Three medicinal/culinary roots that I can't do without. I may even try propagating pineapples too. Mel loves her some pineapple.

I thought I'd update you on some of my general garden philosophies that I hold dear to my heart as we travel this homesteading path. Hopefully, I can implement it all this coming year.

Y'all have a blessed day.

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