Thursday, May 29, 2014

How to Deep Mulch Your Garden with Hay | The Prairie Homestead

How to Deep Mulch Your Garden with Hay | The Prairie Homestead

I've been searching for an answer to our gardening problems. A good fence has helped a lot, but I really think our biggest problem is that this is the desert. Our land is 1 1/3 acres of rocks held together by sagebrush and clay, watered by and "average" of 14" or rain a year ("average" meaning every ten years we get 30"; the rest of the time we get less than 10"). I am beginning to think that every property needs it's own method and you just have to experiment until you find the best for your land.

If I had unlimited money to put into our garden/orchard (both enclosed by the same fence):

  • I would build a wall of either straw bales or rock around the perimeter and plant a producing vine of some sort all along it (grapes? berries?) Such a structure is supposed to alter the micro climate for the length of its height x 4 (a 4' wall will reduce wind and our intense sun for 16' inside the garden.) This should drastically reduce the need for watering and the just plain loss from our blow-dryer winds (honestly, in August you can stand out watering the plants and watch them wilt as the wind dries them faster than we can water them). 
  • I would build better beds throughout the whole area, including one that goes around the whole perimeter. 
  • I would fill all the beds (new and old) with high quality potting soil. Not the organic way I know, But it would give us a jumpstart we desperately need.
  • I would probably mulch all the planting areas with straw and the paths with pine needles, except the one area with a table and chairs which I would plant in a nice grass. This area also needs more chairs.
  • I would install automatic waterers on timers for the whole area, plus add a storage shed.
  • I would need some sort of compost scheme. The one that attracts me the most is a run around the garden with chickens in it (which would require us moving the chicken coop). Then garden waste would just be dumped over the main garden fence into the run, kitchen scraps added, and the chickens do the rest. Once a year we rake up all the compost and add it to the garden.
  • Lets add miniature greenhouse covers to each bed to extend the growing season (Our last frost is in June, first is in September, and I've seen it snow in July here). I would also make it so these could be covered with screens to keep the sparrows and quail out. The trees need nets over then too, as we are already losing our cherry crop to the sparrows this yeas and they aren't even ripe yet!
This is a lot of work and though some of it can be done without money, too much of it needs some investment, which I just don't have.

I would also like to hire someone to come over once a week and teach us how to get the most out of our land. I simply don't know enough about gardening to not feel overwhelmed every time I go out there. I don't even know where to start:-(

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