Gaige Goes Granola

Hey, I’m not exactly Ms. Granola, but I’ve decided to take the leap anyway (wearing gloves at all times – let’s not kid ourselves).

Heaven forbid, I break a nail!

Heaven forbid, I break a nail!

In keeping with my “let’s try eating more local food” I’m giving urban gardening a shot and am pretty excited about it. Pretty much completely in the dark, but excited none the less!

My goal is to be as environmentally friendly as possible (i.e. organic pest solutions and reclaimed materials) and as cheap as possible – if we want everyone to do it, it can’t break the bank. I’m asking you, my friends, for help with tips, materials, insight, and encouragement in the process.

What I’ve identified so far as stuff I need to do/use:

  • Ideas for a seed starter tray – I want to get creative in putting one together (I’d use old milk cartons, but I don’t drink milk) or find a used one
  • Compost bin – picking it up from the city transfer depot next weekend
  • Rain barrel – ditto
  • Soil test kit – anyone done this before?
  • Advice on where to borrow or cheaply rent a rotatiller
  • Recommended reading for when/what to plant in this climate
  • Materials to border the garden – I’m doing in-ground rather than raised bed and would like a border, i.e. reclaimed wood or maybe old bricks
  • Free/cheap used canning stuff – I’ll be scouring spring lawn sales for jars and lids, canners, etc. suggestions and donations welcome
  • Info on good recipes, how-to resources, companion planting info, etc. also welcome!

I’ll keep you posted on the play-by-play, which should be interesting. (Blind leading the blind?) First step is to see if the soil is any good or whether we’ll be trucking in a load…

5 thoughts on “Gaige Goes Granola

  1. Tracy Tai

    Liz, Good luck with your gardening efforts. It’s all part of the creative process of living and learning! TT

  2. Candrina Bailey

    I watched an episode of Recreating Eden a while back that featured the author of this funky book, “You Grow Girl: The Groundbreaking Guide To Gardening”, Gayla Trail. While I haven’t personally read it yet (it’s on the list), I feel it might suit your personality and level of expertise! Let me know how it goes. BTW, she writes a blog as well.

  3. liz Post author

    Thanks for the tip, at this point I can use all the resources I can get. I’ve been pouring over Geoff Hamilton’s Organic Gardening and learning tons. The many beautiful pictures really help.

  4. Peg

    This comment is long, but just my three cents…

    I’ve used a variety of things for seed trays, but 1/2 eggshells are one of the best. Just bury the shell when it comes time to plant. The degrading shell is often a good amendment for our West Coast acidic soil.

    I’ve never done a soil test kit. It’s usually enough to see what the soil needs with a close examination in your hand. Peat or sand for clay / wet soil, organic matter such as compost for dry sandy / dusty soil. (If you suspect chemical contamination, that’s different, and then by all means send it to a lab.)

    I know some people swear by a test kit, but it’s usually for specific varieties of plants, such as Hydrangeas, which are more sensitive than things like vegetables or native hardy plants. When planting a small tree or shrub, I usually replace most or all of the soil in the planting hole, which makes testing useless anyway. I use a varying combination of purchased potting soil, peat, bone meal, and possibly fish compost. (For roses I may also add a handful of Osmocote, a slow-release – but not organic – fertilizer.) When the roots grow beyond the hole, the plant is established enough that it will adapt.

    In my experience, a rototiller is only really necessary in extreme cases or when re-landscaping. Each year, I simply top-dress plants in-ground and in pots with a compost mixture which feeds and makes it look tidy. I just scratch it into the first couple of inches (2-3 centimeters for pots) of the soil with my little 3-prong hand tool or my Korean hoe. This even goes for veggies which I plant directly in the ground. Unless the ground is rock-hard, I do not double-dig.

    When do we get pics of your progress?

  5. liz Post author

    Wow, you are clearly a mondo gardener! As a newbie, I’m still stuck on the cool factor of using 1/2 egg shells. Since I’m trying to use as much reclaimed material as possible, this is a great tip.

    As for the soil test kit, you are clearly not gardening with The Scientist! I have the pleasure of being on this gardening adventure with he who researches and examines all data before proceeding full bore with next steps. (More to follow on that…) We purchased a test kit and he has determined the pH, etc. and will doubtless check in on a reasonably regular basis. This somehow gives me comfort, even if we don’t do a single thing differently.

    Pics to follow soon!

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