September Ramblings, 2019

September has been such a busy month. I feel like I am flying by the seat of my pants most times – the farm is in the beginning stages of winding down so instead of just maintaining, we are now harvesting plus winterizing on top of maintaining. Our children are back to school – we homeschool, so that means lesson planning and teaching 6 of the 8 who are school aged. My kids are not the only ones learning though – this momma has found a new passion of her own: the soil food web.

You know when you find something that unlocks a whole new world for you – maybe it’s a phrase, maybe it’s an inspirational speaker who speaks about something in a different light, whatever it is, but it is life changing even though it deals with a topic you are already passionate about? I experienced that. Soil health has always been a focus of mine in my garden. I have always understood that I want to keep my garden as natural as possible. I want to protect the soil with a mulch, I want to treat problems with natural solutions that won’t kill more than my intended subject, I wanted to encourage beneficial insects and earthworms and snakes and spiders. Happily, all of the things I had been doing all these years had me on the right track – but I was able to unlock a whole new level of understanding that kept me up for hours nearly every night studying. I was studying the soil food web, and more detailed information on composting, and how to assess your soil with a microscope. I have tied up so many loose ends, answered so many questions I had lingering in my mind, and understand soil health as a whole on a whole new level. The way I think about my garden isn’t changed much, but my passion has grown tremendously! There is so much we can do to encourage microorganisms, make plant food available to plants, and change and understand the dynamics of how and why things grow the way they do!

My moms present to the kids this year for their birthdays was a nice microscope. Once I learned I could assess my own soil with our own microscope, I was so excited for its arrival! I took samples from a few beds and looked at them under the microscope right away. I was amazed to actually see things moving. My soil was alive! And it should be. I am so encouraged and inspired by all I have learned I cannot wait to share it with you! The microscope came with a camera, so I hope to share pictures of the things I have learned about.

Aside from the exciting, new revelations, we began putting parts of the garden to bed for the year. As crops are harvested, the weeds and plants are pulled up. A new layer of compost is spread on the beds, then we will begin laying mulch over the beds. Not all of my beds are no-dig, but the majority are transitioning. The sunflowers are done being beautiful, so I have my boys going out and cutting the stalks down, then removing the heads. They will probably use the stalks as spears of some sort – hopefully not on each other – and we will make some bee hotels out of them. The seeds are dried and most are fed back to the livestock we keep, and a portion are kept back to plant again next year.

The strawberry beds are being thinned and new beds are being made. Raspberries are being pruned. Okra and other vine-ripening seeds for saving are being let go now to mature for seed saving. I built a large compost bin out of fence posts for the storage of aged compost and leaves, and am creating compost cages out of fencing to do the job of making compost. I will post all about that probably next month once the cages are completed and put to use.

What kind of jobs did you find yourself doing during September?

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