Sus­tain­abil­ity Tips

Catron Courier - - News -

Gar­den­ing is not just a great way to get some ex­er­cise—it’s also a great way to put fresh veg­eta­bles on the ta­ble for a very low cost. Now you may be think­ing Au­gust is far too late in the grow­ing sea­son to get a gar­den grow­ing, but there are ways to ex­tend the fresh food you grow. And just think how won­der­ful it would be to have let­tuce in De­cem­ber, plucked from your gar­den.

Now you don’t need to in­vest in an ex­pen­sive green­house for this ei­ther. You want to be think­ing about us­ing straw as your helper.

The first op­tion is to cre­ate some­thing called a ‘cold frame’. This is sim­ple since it uses straw bales and win­dows plucked from Habi­tat for Hu­man­i­ties Re­store or even from that pile of win­dow headed for the land­fill. Ar­range the straw bales in a square. Put the win­dows over it, and you have an in­stant cold frame that will al­low you to grow car­rots, let­tuce and spinach, as well as other veg­eta­bles all win­ter.

The other way to keep grow­ing even when it gets cold and snow starts to fall is to set up some con­tain­ers to keep your plants warm.

A straw bale is a ba­sic con­tainer; the bale re­leases heat as the straw de­com­poses, so that keep plants warmer. You just may need to cover plants with a tarp for any re­ally cold nights.

To get a straw bale gar­den go­ing, buy a few bales. You can set them up in a row, or an even bet­ter way is put them into a square and use the cen­ter to com­post. Put some red wig­gler worms into the com­post pile and the worms will turn your kitchen scraps into great soil.

Con­di­tion your bales over two weeks with about 2 cups of blood meal per bale (or about 3 pounds to­tal for each bale), and wash the blood meal into the bale so wa­ter comes out from the bot­tom of the bale. Af­ter 2 weeks, you can plant seeds or seedlings. Wa­ter on the days there is no rain.

Old metal drinkers that have holes in the bot­tom also make great con­tain­ers Or use lick tubs, clean them out, and drill holes in the bot­tom.

If you’re us­ing a con­tainer, add wood to the bot­tom, and news­pa­per soaked in bone meal. The wood will de­com­pose over time, but it will also help re­tain wa­ter, so you will have to wa­ter less.

Now is the time to col­lect rain wa­ter, or sim­ply put your con­tain­ers un­der your roof line to have your gar­den wa­tered with the mon­soon rains. And then you can look for­ward to fresh greens this sum­mer and fall.

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