We lived on a small farm before this, with another family (we bought in together to get a farm, but then it turned *really* bad and we moved out). Now we're on our own and that's fine. We're dealing pretty well. So far, we've cut, hauled, bucked, and split all our own wood for this winter (split by hand I might add... we don't have a log splitter lol). The garden is what's getting me, though. We moved here in October, so it was too late to do much of anything to the ground. I decided on raised beds with the family's help and we know where they're going. I've yet to gather my materials for building the dang things, but they're going in regardless. What I *really* want to do is make raised beds out of big metal stock tanks, but we can't afford to get them yet (house poor, we are). Maybe next year, though. They make for a real pretty garden, and allow you to water from underneath, too!
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Herbs are funny things, in that some like wet soil, some dry... some like airy spots, others like shade. Some bright mind created the herb (or flower or whatever) spiral to address that! You start out by making a stone spiral that is no bigger from edge to center than the length of your arm (that allows you to reach into the center to weed or harvest). I have used field stones and bricks on two different occasions, and I like the bricks a lot because I can space them with the occasional hole which both allows water to come out if it's raining hard and you can plant pretties in it like snowdrops. You want the center to be higher (in other words, as the edge of the spiral works inward, make it higher and higher) so that you can put bigger herbs there.
You cover the grass under it with paper bags that are cut open, then throw down some good quality straw (not hay, as you don't want the seeds!). Soak it until it's *really* wet. Add dirt, then more straw, then more dirt. I used well composted dirt and aged manure mixed well together. When it's full, you let it sit for a day or two to allow it to settle, add more dirt if necessary, then plant your herbs (or flowers or whatever). I usually put things with big roots up at the top, and/or herbs that like drier soil. Things that like very wet soil go down at the bottom along with shade loving plants. Oregano does well at the middle level on the side that gets good but not full sun. Dill does great up top, or down on the sides, depending on if it's mammoth or not. Thyme can be up near the top as it tolerates the dry better. Rosemary goes near the bottom as it loves water. Basil can go near the top if you aren't growing too much of it (more than a couple of basil plants will overrun the spiral).
There's a GREAT video on youtube about it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcODj6vcles
This is wonderful! I am happy to have found a gardening forum here on SparkPeople. One of the things my family insists on doing is making as much of our own food as possible. This means growing things in our garden, making our own pasta, sometimes making our own bread (though this one has been tough lately), and even raising our own chickens for eggs and meat. It hasn't been easy, but it's sure been fulfilling!
I'm just starting to get my yearly glut of seed catalogs in the mail, which is very exciting. I'm not doing anything wild this year, as we're in a brand new house and I have to factor in the time it will take to build and maintain a "first year" raised bed garden. However, we plan on about 30' of tomatoes, 20' of bush beans, 10' of cucumbers, 4 zucchini plants, and a little bit of various salad greens, radishes, cabbage, etc. I also will be building an herb spiral as soon as it's warm enough (I'm in New England... it'll be April before I can seriously think about this *grin*). We have apple trees to purchase and put in (though we lucked out that this house came with one mature apple tree!) as well as pears, asparagus, strawberries, and rhubarb.
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