Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Soil Test

Here in Utah we have alkaline soil, that is the opposite of acid soil. That means when you are looking at plants make sure they do well in alkaline soil, some like blueberries need acidic soil and will not do well here.

You can have your soil tested to see it's Ph and see what kinds of fertilizer you need to add. Go to the local extension center (at the county courthouse) and they will give you a soil testing kit with instructions, the kit itself is free. Then follow the instructions and send your soil sample along with I think $10.00 (it's on the instructions) to the lab and they will send you an analysis of your soil. It has been a couple years since we did ours but I believe it takes about two weeks to get back.



If you live in another state, check with your country extension service to see about soil testing.

Where to plant your garden

Most garden plants need full sun. This means they get sunlight most of the day, and are not in the shade of buildings, trees or fences. When you have selected the place for your garden, watch it on a sunny day to make sure it isn't shaded during different times of the day. If you plan adding other landscaping items like trees or sheds, draw out a plan for your yard and place those items on it to see if they will shade your garden.

Our backyard faces to the south and full sun is not really a problem for us (that's code for it's freakin' hot back there :). We chose to put our garden all the way in the back and then put our trees on the north side of the garden.

If you have selected a spot that is currently lawn you have two choices. You can cut out the sod (with a sod cutter or by hand), then till up the ground, be sure to add some organic material like leaves and compost and probably some fertilizer. You can also wait until the grass has greened up and is growing well and use Round up on it to kill it. You may have to apply that more that once. Round up only works on plants that are growing well. Be sure the grass is really dead, because it will be hard to get rid of once plants are growing. After the grass is dead till up the soil.

The KSL Garden show addressed this topic a couple of times this last Saturday, Podcasts of the show are available on their website, see the Garden Websites list on the side of my blog.

An important thing to know before you start any garden project is how are you going to water it. There are many different options and I will try and look at some in another blog post.

Monday, March 30, 2009


There are different ways to plant your garden. Our first year we purchased all seedlings from the nursery except for the corn. This is a good choice when you are just getting started. The next year I tried starting my own seedlings, but I don't have a good indoor natural light location, so I had to carry my plants in and out. I also did not start some of my plants like tomatoes and peppers early enough. I have a grow light on my wish list so that I can start plants more effectively.

I have discovered that most plants do best when they are planted as seeds right in the ground. Especially squash and melons. Plants like, peas, corn, and carrots need to be planted from seeds. I always purchase tomatoes and peppers, and although I plant broccoli from seed, I always end up buying started plants, maybe this will be my lucky broccoli year :)

I buy my seeds a year in advance, so I always have my year supply of seeds. I have read and heard that seeds last well for two years, after that you get fewer seeds germinating. Seeds should be kept in a cool, dark place while you store them.

I buy my seeds from my favorite local nursery. Buy your seeds early this year as many nurseries are seeing increased demand and are expecting to sell out of some seeds.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Grow a Garden!

I am not a master gardener nor am I a garden expert, but I have been planting, caring for and preserving the harvest of my garden now for 5 years. I've learned a lot and enjoy learning more and trying new ideas. I feel that a garden, whether large or small is an excellent way to be self-reliant and an important part of any food storage plan. It's also very trendy to be "green" right now, and you can't get any greener than a garden. :)

I plan to keep a record on this blog of this years garden. I will be planting my large row garden, I will be trying some square foot gardening and I will be trying strawberries and landscaping plants in some layered beds I made last year. We have also added chickens to our garden experiment this year and hope to be gathering eggs soon. As I harvest crops I will also blog about how I use and preserve my goods. I welcome any comments, suggestions or questions.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Getting Started

I love being prepared!! "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear," and I don't like to be afraid. When I taught school I would have my copies ready at least two terms in advance. So when I was able to stay home with my family, being prepared was very attractive. I believe in the importance of being self reliant. I think that we can improve our self reliance by preparing for things to come. This blog's goal is to share a little bit of what I have learned and to share new things as I learn them. I will be focusing on Food Storage and Gardening Ideas to help families become more self-reliant and prepare for unforeseen roadblocks in life.