Container Gardening

Gardening in containers can be a fun way to produce an abundance of vegetables, flowers, herbs, and even trees and shrubs.  Container plants add beauty to all kinds of areas and flourish on windowsills, patios, balconies, doorways, steps, decks or anywhere else you may have a spot outside.

Lots of you have mentioned that you’d like to plant a garden but do not have space…

Check out:  Container Gardening Guru

Goat Salad Anyone?

GOAT SALAD
Is a bit of a misnomer because the pigs, chickens and lambs love all of this stuff as well… but it ALL started out for the goats at the Colchester Farm.
All of the animals will come a-running to get fruits and vegetables.  It has to be fairly fresh though, not more than one or two days since you peeled and ate that banana. 

What Other Stuff???
Table scraps consisting of vegetable and fruit – peelings, seeds, and cores – apples are a big hit with all!
Banana and orange peels…
Lettuce and other veggies from your fridge that aren’t quite fresh enough for your family, but not quite ready to start decomposing
Corn husks and cobs
The chickens will cheerfully peck at cucumber, carrots, and other veggie and fruit peelings and cores, especially melon rinds, and…
when pumpkin time arrives, ALL of the animals like to munch on the seeds, innards and gone-by pumpkins.  In fact we have pumpkin carving days at the farm in late October so you can carve your jack-o-lantern and leave the mess with us.
If you are clearing brush, they will eat most scrubby bushes, the leaves from rose bushes, poison ivy, large thorned brambles, etc…

A few exceptions: raw potato and peels are a no-no for the animals – cherry, peach, plum, azalea, and rhododendron branches and leaves are toxic especially when dried

More toxins: milkweed (even if it is offered, they won’t eat it), mountain laurel and European hemlock (although they love most evergreens) – our first year here, we sold Christmas trees, and the goats actually jumped their fence to get at the balsam / Fraser fir trees.

Got an oak tree in your yard?  Pigs LOVE acorns.
Bring ‘em by for them but leave some in your yard for the chipmunks and squirrels. 

COMPOST
If you can’t get to the farm while your table scraps are fresh, you can still participate in the earth-friendly activity of adding to our organic compost.  Your trash won’t be nearly as smelly or bulky & messy.
Tall weeds and grasses from your yard, even dandelion greens and the flowers… are all welcome.
We’ll gladly and gratefully take grass clippings (chemical -free, of course) eggshells and coffee grounds; they are all valuable in the compost.  Please separate from the goat salad! 

Leaves:
When doing your fall raking of oak, maple, birch, etc… bag ’em and instead of bringing them to the dump, bring ’em  to the farm.
We discovered that the first year we tilled the soil, there were no earth worms to be found, after adding this stuff for 4 years we noticed a few.  Now, there are lots and lots of beautiful earthworms in Colchester Neighborhood Farm ground… a sign of a healthy and happy soil.
We have learned that it takes about 10 years to build up a strong organic soil so, we need all of this matter to add the nutrients. 

Pine needles are great mulch for berries!

Work, work, work.

We have been BUSY on the farm over the past couple of weekends.  With the weather warming up there has been much to do and too few hours, as always happens this time of year.

We’re working on catching the blog up to the progress, but we wanted to share a big step with you that we finished yesterday.  If you’ve been by the farm any time over the past few months, you’ve probably noticed that the main garden in the front has been fallow and covered with big trash bags.  Those trash bags were actually bags of leaves that have been collected from farm boxers, friends, and cheerful neighbors of Colchester Farm.

Those leaves get spread out onto the soil and then ground in using the tractor.  Decomposing leaves are one of the best soil additives in the world.  Not only do they add vital nutrients, but earthworms also love them.  Any garden with happy earthworms is a good garden!  If you’ve ever had a chance to observe the soil at Colchester, you can’t help but notice how rich and beautiful it is.  Tha’ts because every year hundreds of pounds of fallen leaves are incorporated in, building the excellent soil that nourishes our veggies.

It’s a sure sign of the coming season that this garden is now prepared.  Once the weather warms up just a touch more, we’ll be able to start planting in there.  We can’t wait!

First the bags were opened and dumped into the beds:

spreading-leaves

Second, the leaves were spread to an even thickness (this is the fun part!):  kicking-leaves

Next, Ron came in and dumped several loads of compost into the beds, then went over them with the tiller a few times to incorporate all the added goodies into the soil:

ron tilling

Taylor even got a lesson on the Kubota!

Taylor on the tractor

The final step was evening out the beds, which was done in a snap.  With all the helpers, it was finished in just a few short, fun hours.  Now the beds will sit for a few weeks while the worms go to work breaking down all those leaves and getting it ready for us to work in.