Planting Sun Chokes and Cutting Comfrey

So I decided to give Sun Chokes or Jerusalem Artichokes a try this year.  Even if I don’t like them they will make good feed for my chickens.  I have a 4′ x 8′ bed I made last year that I filled with compost from our township composting center.  Even though we are still getting cold nights (it even snowed a little today) there were plenty of weeds growing in the bed, including stinging nettles.  So I pulled them all out, raked the bed and planted the tubers I got from Amazon in the north half of the bed.  Since I have such a problem with weeds growing up I over seeded the whole bed with Dutch White Clover.  When I get vegetables to plant I will just cut a plug out of the clover and plant them in the opening.

The comfrey I have planted is doing very well.  I’ve already started cutting it to feed to the chickens and the chicks.  This was planted two years ago and the plants keep getting bushier so I they are in a space that is good for them.  There was a crew clearing trees for a road project last fall and I got them to dump a full truck of wood ships up at the front of my property, I just need to start moving them back to mulch around what is going to be my kitchen garden, if I get time to put it in this year.

 

So You Want To Start A Garden

Believe it or not now is a good time to get started on gardening in that you can prep that gardening area and let is set over winter and be ready to go in the spring. If you have not gardened before I recommend that you start with Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening. Once you get some experience you can modify the methods in Square Foot Gardening and the garden bed you build will still be useful to you.

Step 1 – Build and Fill A Raised Bed
I recommend building the bed out of regular 2×6 construction lumber and make the bed either 4′ square or 4’x8′. Two 8′ 2×6’s will give you the 4′ square bed and three of them will build a 4’x8′ bed. The book describes “Mel’s Mix” that you can use to fill the bed or you can do what I did and just get compost.

Step 2 – Decide What To Grow
Looking at a seed catalog can be overwhelming and I would almost recommend that you not do so for your first year or two. In reality as a beginner you will probably just want to go to a local green house that will have vegetable starts and seeds. Pick 5-10 that you like to eat and get them. Greens like lettuces will grow quickly and can be harvested and replanted. Broccoli is a good one also as you can cut the main head and smaller heads will grow back. Also there is nothing like a home-grown tomato. Some taller or climbing plants will need support or a trellis on the north side of the bed. You plant your tallest plants to the north and the shorter ones to the south.

Step 3 – Plant
You need to know what your last frost date is and different plants are planted outside based on that last frost date. Check the instructions on each plant.

Step 4 – Enjoy

One thing I need to caution all new gardeners is to start small so you do not get overwhelmed. You will be surprised how much you can get from one 4’x8′ bed. Also something large like corn or pumpkins are not really a raised bed type of plant, they take up too much space

Lastly I believe everyone should have a garden even if it is just a small one. It is something that will reconnect you to what is real and help you deal with the stress of modern-day life as well as provide you with the best quality food there is.

 

Square Foot Gardening Book

How to grow your own Shiitake mushrooms

Growing Shiitake mushrooms seems to be one project where a little bit of effort has a huge payoff. For a one time investment in some minimal equipment, a bit of foraging for wood, and a small amount of time you can have your own Shiitake mushrooms for years to come.

Unlike a lot of mushrooms, Shiitake’s dehydrate exceptionally well, which make them ideal for long term storage. In fact this is the most common way I see them sold.

I learned that most Shiitake Mushrooms available for purchase at stores are grown in a sawdust mix. This method of growing mushrooms diminishes both the taste and medicinal qualities of the mushroom, furthermore sun dried Shiitake mushrooms can yield up to 20,000 international units of vitamin D per serving vs 100 units if a dehydrator is used.

Again we see how growing your own food is not only an economical choice, but is also a higher quality end product.

I posted this article about how to grow Shiitake mushrooms to Jason Akers website at theselfsufficientgardener.com. Jason has been a great contributor to save our skills with his great article on how to build a low budget top bar bee hive and his $10 cheese press.

Link How to grow shiitake mushrooms

How to build a PVC green house

I just finished listening to Episode 526 – Time for fall garden overdrive of The Survival Podcast. Personally I have been slacking BIG TIME on my fall garden. I’m still harvesting Kentucky wonder pole beans like it’s my job, but that’s about all that is left of my garden except for a few tomatoes.

Well that was just the kick in the pants I needed. I’ve got all the materials laying around to build myself a nice little green house. This will be the subject of a series of upcoming videos so I hope you will stay tuned.

Here is a great PVC greenhouse I found on youtube and just based on the search results there are just a TON of other designs out there. Do you have a favorite low budget greenhouse design? Post it in the comments.

Here is a link to a great resource I found on this topic:

PVC Hoophouse/Greenhouse