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Topdressing, Growing In-Ground, Starting up Rat-Proof Container Garden and more

Salad with organic romaine lettuce and radicchio
Romaine and Radicchio Thanksgiving Salad

The southeast location of our home backs up against the mountains. When we first moved in, it had a large square sand pit from the prior residents who had children. Since ours are grown up now it was time to create another area to garden and raise some seedlings!

Here's what the area looked like before:

Back yard garden on a hillside with sand pit and clay terra cotta pots.
Old Existing SE Garden

Rather than growing in-ground here, we wanted a rat-proof garden that also was easy to garden in. We decided to use water troughs here since we've learned that the rats can't get up the slippery metal and they're too tall for all the rabbits to eat from. Those were our main concerns in this garden so far.

Also, although we have wonderful owls and owl boxes around our neighborhood, we don't have the luxury of letting some pests get our food these days. It is super costly in the grocery stores now and we seem to be the only ones growing food in the neighborhood.

So here's what we did a couple of months ago:

Back yard garden with new organic vegetable garden stock tanks surrounding a water fountain next to bags of potting soil.
Our New Rat-Proof SE Garden

We filled the beds with a couple of options:

Baby Bu's Potting Soil bags next to organic vegetable garden stock tanks.
About 75% of the beds were filled with Baby Bu's Potting Soil

Then the other 25% were filled with Randy's Special Mix: 1/3 native soil from tree plantings, 1/3 Bu's Blend Biodynamic Compost and 1/3 Baby Bu's Potting Soil. These plots will be for root crops since they love dense native soil that is amended.

Native soil next to bags of Bu's Blend Biodynamic Compost and Baby Bu's Potting Soil.
Randy's Special Mix for Root Crops

This past Thanksgiving weekend, we had the privilege of planting our cool season starts into this new garden. Note: we did not start seeds for this area, but plan to for the Spring. Here's what we planted: Arugula, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, swiss chard and kale. Some of our new seed potatoes will be planted in the plots with Randy's Special Mix.

Here's how we transplant veggie starts from the nursery:

  • We pull them out and remove all spent/ugly leaves.

  • We remove all the soil that comes off loosely that we possibly can since you never know what they start these seedlings in.

Then we plant them firmly into the soil.

We check all seedlings that have more than 1, and we either pinch off, separate soil into 2 or 3 plants, or tear them off. If this isn't done, then pests come and house themselves within the leaves and the plants compete for nutrients.

We watered each plot right after planting.

Watering organic vegetable garden with broccoli seedlings planted.
Watering New Broccoli Plot

Organic vegetable garden planted in Behlen stock tanks.
Kale and Swiss Chard Plot

Arugula planted in a Behlen stock tank with Baby Bu's Potting Soil.
Arugula Plot

These celery starts slipped right out and their roots were growing straight down beautifully. We didn't do anything to them but just plant them directly so that the roots just keep growing down.

After all that hard work, it was time for some Nachos, naturally! We make ours with avocado, tomatoes, red onion, black beans, cheese, lime, salt and pepper:

Nachos with tomato, avocado, red onion, black beans and chips.
Norma's Nachos

We have an area in-ground where we prepared a row of potatoes, but we wanted to expand it into more in-ground territory since we notice no rats or rabbits come at all!!

So we laid out some more rows and tilled that very hard soil.

Tilled soil with linear berms for future amended organic vegetable garden.

Next it was time to top dress our citrus container garden and some in-ground citrus that we never did in the fall with Bu's Blend Biodynamic Compost.

We bought some comfrey at the nursery this past week and we'll be planting it at the base of our other citrus on the SE of our garden.

Hand holding non GMO comfrey plant.

Our hope is for the 4 plants that we bought to be the feeders of the entire hillside as we divide and separate them over the years. Here are some benefits of comfrey!

  • Help break up heavy clay soil

  • Large leaves break down and feed and enrich the soil

  • Help aerate the soil

  • Help roots to grow deeper

  • Continues growing year after year

  • Great for Chopping and Dropping

  • Amazing as a liquid tea soil drench when added to water and left for two weeks or more.

  • It's a high nitrogen plant so it will help heat up a compost bin.

  • It's a living mulch and will insulate those bare tree trunks over the winter.

Thanks for staying with us as we grow our garden's soil and create a beautiful ecosystem on this new farm.

Sungold tomatoes growing on vine in organic vegetable garden.
Sungold's still growing

Organic broccoli plant with small broccoli starting to grow.
Our SW broccoli starting up

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