Dear Readers,

It is crazy busy here at Misfit Gardening at the moment!  I mentioned that I have a lot of plants and seeds on the way ready for spring and moving some more established plants.

I’m resetting the garden by planting biodynamically so I have my biodynamic preparations on order so hopefully they arrive soon so I can get started. I order my biodynamic preparations from Josephine Porter Institute for Applied Bio-Dynamics because I cannot make my own where I live; I have not yet gotten friendly with local cattle farmers to be able to get cow manure from a lactating cow to make the horn manure preparation. If you happen to be a cattle farmer, let me know!

Some of the other preparations based on herbs such as valerian, yarrow and stinging nettle I am going to be growing this year so I can make them myself but there will always be preparations I have to order like the European oak preparation.

I have seen lots of articles around Pinterest about using cinnamon in the garden so I abandoned my usual biodynamic method to try starting seeds with cinnamon powder to help prevent dampening off.

You can read a great article about cinnamon in the garden at Feathers In The Woods Spice It Up Why Plants Love Cinnamon.

My usual method of seed starting involves treating the sowing medium with valerian tea then the biodynamic horn manure preparation at sowing and I usually have extremely good germination rates but this year I’ve had a pretty miserable start to the seeds; out of more than 300 seeds sown, less than 100 have germinated so far and the majority of those are in the featured image at the top of this post!

Now I’m not putting this down to using cinnamon, in fact the mold is non existent and the seedlings that did germinate are doing great. I believe that it is because I’m using old seeds that have not been stored properly; they were in a hot storage container for a couple of months and even after cold shocking the seeds I’m still not having any luck.  Unfortunately, I need to buy all my seeds again in the hope I can get things going in time to make sure I can have all my veggies this year from the garden.

It is a good lesson learned: keep seeds appropriately!

Burpee Gardening

I bought seeds online and from my local nursery and I will be purchasing some more online before the month ends because my local nursery just didn’t have a good selection available.  I did manage to pick up onion sets at $1.99 a bag.

I have trees on order from a couple of places online although I left it a bit late to be able to get the trees I really wanted such as perry pears for making perry (an old type of pear cider, once favored by European Medieval aristocracy) and heritage or heirloom apples, damsons and gages.  My local nursery had a poor selection in so I ended up purchasing two multi grafted trees from Home Depot that had come from a nursery a few towns away.

I wanted lots of new trees for the new orchards and I am having some difficulty in finding one year whips to be able to train into espaliers locally and online.  Most places have two year maiden trees for sale which isn’t ideal for the training I want to do on them.

I have a wine grape collection on the way and 6 hops rhizomes coming too for the brewing garden and I purchased the hardware needed to build the tension fencing for training the vines and cider apple trees on.

The soft fruit bushes and strawberry plants are scheduled to be arriving soon and I’m keen to get the borders created in the back yard so the new plants can go straight into their new home but, Rome wasn’t built in a day and taking the time now to plan out the garden and slowly create the beds will be more rewarding later when I don’t need to try and move established plants.

For those of you which follow me on Pinterest, you will know that I have been pinning a lot of permaculture and forest gardens recently and I’d like to try more of this type of gardening.  I started over the weekend by moving the established apple tree on the gas line to it’s new home and underplanted it with some strawberry crowns I found hidden under some leaves I didn’t pick up in autumn.  Fingers crossed the tree will make the move, it was brutal to dig out then pull out with a car.  I sprayed the  ground with valerian (507 biodynamic preparation) and horn manure (500 biodynamic preparation), added manure and compost then sprayed that with the horn manure preparation.  Once planted, I mulched the ground with some straw which is decomposing and planted in the strawberries.  It  is now just a matter of waiting now to see if it will take.

I had a Bartlett pear tree when I moved that was looking rather listless and weak we found that it didn’t survive the winter here and was dug up to make space for the peach tree which needed to be moved from the gas line.  During the moving process we discovered roots from the Cornelian cherry or the aspen tree which previous owners had planted.  I suspect that the pear died because the other tree robbed the ground of nutrients.

During all of this tree moving I made an interesting discovery about the soil; I saw no earthworms at all.  Not one.

There is only about six inches of topsoil here then river rocks and pebbles then sand from many many thousands of years ago when Utah lay under the waters of giant Lake Bonneville.

sand and rock

You can see the soil I’m working with; rocky, sandy and void of typical soil fauna.

I was told by my neighbors that you need to water lots and lots out here to grow vegetables and now I can see why!  The soil is completely lacking humus and life in this garden and luckily, I know how I can fix that.

I have a definite lack of compost to add to the new beds and I’m working on renting a garden shredder to make mulch from the pruning waste we have created. To combat the lack of compost I’m trying to find inventive ways to help build the pile and make more because buying compost in is very expensive. So far I have collected all the old paperwork and junk mail to shred and add to the compost heap and wormery. I didn’t realize quite how much paper waste I had and the amount adding to the compost pile is definitely going to make the heap more carbon than nitrogen (or more browns than greens) so I need to get more manure to help break down the paper because manure is rich in nitrogen.

Once spring arrives properly and the warm weather stays the lawn is cut and the clippings go in the compost.  The paper waste will be great to mix in to speed up composting and help reduce the slimy mess that too many grass clippings can make. Until then, all my kitchen waste dutifully lands in the heap to provide some nitrogen sources.

My neighbors have asked me when I will be tilling in all the leaves on the vegetable garden and were surprised to hear that I wasn’t going to.  I have found that because of the soil structure, tilling in the leaves won’t create the humus and water retention I am looking for.  Nutrients will be quickly lost into the subsoil (or sand in my case).  I am using a no-till or lasagna gardening method where layers of mulch, compost, manure are placed on the soil.  This will help the plants become established in the compost layer and the roots work down through the layers which help retain moisture and suppress weeds.  It will take a while to build up matter and compost, sowing green manures such as buckwheat can help provide more organic matter as well as feeding the bees.

The park strip is in need of planting up to prevent the onslaught of goat heads and other weeds growing and I purchased a few packets of wildflower seeds to sow in the park strip as a low water and bee friendly alternative to river rock and gravel but first, I need to remove those pesky weeds that are already growing in there.  It is going to be a busy summer!