Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Vegetables

This is my third year growing food, and I learn a lot every year. For instance, I learned last year that vegetables need much better soil than the natives. We worked all last fall hauling leaf mulch and horse manure along with anything else that we thought would help the soil and that we could get for free. One thing we are determined to do is get the best soil for as little cost as possible. Hopefully, soon we will be able to add nutrients to the soil just using the compost generated from the garden waste coming from the property along with composted chicken manure. That would be the most sustainable way, and our goal. However, our soil has been depleted for too long and needs some outside help at first. Plus, we are not ready to add chickens to the site, so we haul what we can find for free to our little plot of land. 

You may be surprised at how easy it is to find free resources for improving your soil.  Many of the St. Louis municipalities offer free leaf and wood mulch if you are willing to haul it away. We got plenty of both last fall and I suspect will continue to need to add more for a few more years. You can also find people with horses in the St. Louis area who are happy to have you haul off as much soiled bedding as you would like. Another opportunity we have found is from garden nurseries who use straw bales for decoration in the fall. These bales become wet and moldy and perfect to cover those freshly made garden beds. This past fall we were able to build raised beds that included layers of leaf mulch, garden compost and horse bedding and then covered them with a thick layer of moldy straw. The straw helped to insulate the new bed during the winter and the earthworms and other soil organisms had a party all winter. This spring when I started to plant the veggies, I found beautifully composted soil full of worms. The work we did in the fall and the work the soil detritivores and decomposers did in the winter is paying off big time this summer. Things are looking way better than last year's sorry crop. 

 Most of our seeds this year came from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. in Mansfield MO.  We used them last year too and had good success. We enjoy supporting a more local seed supplier and using heirloom seeds.  For more information you can go to their website at

While I'm thinking about it, another local supplier is Morgan County Seeds,  They are located in Barnett, MO and have great prices. Their site isn't as pretty as Baker Creek, and I often have to go elsewhere to get more details on a product they are offering, but most of the time the price is worth the extra effort. A word of warning though, they are a small business and during the busy times of year ship REALLY slowly. They'll tell you this, but if you aren't prepared and need something right away, it's a bit of a bummer. Be sure you plan ahead when ordering from them.  

1 comment:

  1. Those veggies look great! I think your efforts for feeding the soil have paid off. I had NO idea all the places that offer free mulch etc. I didn't realize that was a possibility. I've thought about mulching my flowerbeds but I know very little about mulching. I should probably read up on it first ;)