Archive for November, 2015

Integrated composting system

Monday, November 30th, 2015

I used to have a few different sources of fertility for the garden. One compost pile for fall leaves, one for kitchen scraps, and then the every-so-often cleanout of the chicken coop. I’d have to fill them all individually, only to later re-harvest them and mix them together before spreading them on the garden. What a chore. […]


Thursday, November 26th, 2015

When I first started gardening on Backfill Hill, I was in such a hurry that I didn’t give a thought to layout. I didn’t take into account Maryland’s torrential rains, or the packed rock-like soil, or the steep slope.  I should have – native to California’s hard-baked desert clay soils, I was well acquainted with washout, […]

Money kind of does grow on trees

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Each spring I’m taken aback by the prices that seed companies are charging for their seeds nowadays. I mean I’m pretty young, but I can still remember when seed packets were like $3 instead of $6-8, and had twice the number of seeds in them. I was really miffed this year when I dropped $8.50 on […]

Solar winter waterer

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

Keeping the birds supplied with fresh water in the winter has always been a problem. In past years I’ve only had chickens, so I didn’t need all that much water. I tried putting various pond and tank heaters into a hanging bucket, but those heaters inevitably broke after about a month. Besides, it made me really […]

A castle made of trash

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

The duck house is nearly finished. I started building it a couple weeks ago because it suddenly dawned on me that a) winter is coming and the old duck coop had no shelter, and b) winter vacations are coming up and the ducks really need to be somewhere more secure than under a single flimsy layer of […]

Beyond the worksheet – trace minerals and biological soil remediation

Saturday, November 21st, 2015

In the past two blog posts I’ve gone over the methods with which to figure out not only what is needed by your soil to attain the ideal ratios between its minerals, but also how to apply that information to real life and find fertilizers you can actually buy in a store. So that’s great – […]

Remineralization worksheet download, part 2

Friday, November 20th, 2015

So now that you know exactly how much of each individual element you need to remineralize your particular square footage, it should be easy, right? Wrong. Coming up with the proper ratios of elements in natural form is just mind boggling, a labrynthine math problem that used to take me weeks to figure out. It’s […]

Remineralization worksheet 1 – free download

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

I first became acquainted with the theory of remineralization back in 2013 after reading Steve Solomon’s The Intelligent Gardener. It’s a very good book for anyone interested in soil science, and a fun read if you’re at all interested interested in the geeky side of things. And his main point makes a whole lot of sense. Anyone familiar […]

Cleanup crew

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

The chickens love getting into the garden every Fall once the main harvest is over. So many leftover greens to eat, and by that time it’s usually just full of little beetles and caterpillars for them to eat, too. While I regularly feed them alfalfa and omega 3 supplements, the yolks are never quite as bright […]

Bees need a drink too; or, how I got back my swimming pool this summer.

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

This was a really dry summer. I mean really dry. I’m not big into watering, more of a cross-my-fingers-and-hope-it-rains kind of gal, but even I had to give in a few times to save most of the plants on Backfill Hill. And even with the livestock waterers hooked up to 55 gallon water containers, I was […]