Thursday, March 29, 2012

Have Garter Snakes? Yeah for you!

Question asked by member: 

I was over at the property we are buying and noticed that there were a lot of garden (garter) snakes coming out. I don't know if it was because of the rain we had at the first of the week or not. I don't mind a few but do you know how to control the population of snakes and how do you have chickens with them. Won't they eat the chicks?

Answer by Caleb Warnock:

Garden snakes, also called garter snakes, are a wonderful organic pest control, and a lot of fun too. We have three at our house and we see at least one of them everyday now that it is spring. Like everything else, they are out early this year because it is unusually warm. Garter snakes feed primarily on slugs in the garden and are very beneficial -- they can eat a huge amount of slugs. Garter snakes never have teeth, and don't bite. Our three garter snakes (we've named them all Henry because we can't tell them apart and we call them "the Henries") wander free-range around our yard, garden, and pasture. The kids pick them up and play with them, as do I. They are also a great way to teach kids (and nervous parents) about the benefits of natural wildlife. Part of the reason we keep a pond in our backyard is to attract wildlife, including the snakes. Garter snakes also eat squash bugs and tomato worms. They are a blessing in the garden.

Monday, March 26, 2012

March 17 Caleb Warnock class: Garden Planning

The notes from the 2nd class are ready for viewing under PAGES.  Also see the Vegetable Families PAGE.

Tomatoes - Tomato and Potato Leaf Varieties

View the PAGE of the same title on the right to see a picture of a regular tomato leaf variety, and potato leaf variety.  The potato leaf variety is not self pollinating and will cross with other tomato varieties.

The following link is to a list of many types of tomatoes, look under leaf type.  This is not a comprehensive list, but the largest I could find.  If anyone does the research on more of the varieties, please email it to me and I will share it, thanks.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Film on Organic, No Till Gardening

This link will take to you a great film on organic, no till gardening.  WARNING:  DO NOT WATCH WHEN HUNGRY!

If you need newspaper, you should ask around your neighborhood, I've had many stacks given to me by people who don't make it to the recycle bin often.   Remember, don't use the shiny advertising pages, they have been treated with things you don't want to eat!
Please note that you will want to put aged manure, compost, or soil under the wood chip compost the first year, or you will need to plant down into the dirt below the wood chips.  After it decomposes in future years, it will not horde nitrogen from you plants and you'll be able to plant right in it.    Pay special attention to the wood chip demonstration garden in the second half of the film that was started from scratch.

Also, you will need to water more frequently here in Utah (than in Washington) because we are a dry climate.  You will not need to water as much as you would without the wood chips, but be sure to check the moisture level under the chips frequently.  I have noticed that it stays moist under the chips for a few days longer than areas that don't have the chips.  

My fruit trees have seen the most water benefit, only needing to be watered once a month.   
It has saved my peas from burning up in this extraordinary hot spring we're having. 


Seeds and plants on the Forum

There are plants and seeds listed on the forum that available to share, I currently see Chives, Potatoes and quite a few seeds.  There are also some requests.  Thank you to those of you that are posting on the forum and getting our community exchange going!

You will find the forum n the right side of this page, click on the forum found under Link.

How to Make a Hotbed for Winter Greens

One very easy method of winter gardening is to create a simple hotbed and grow winter-hardy greens in it. To do so, simply dig a pit about a foot and a half deep; fill it with about 12″ of green manure or any green material, even weeds; top with about 4″ of soil or compost, leaving the top slightly below ground level; and cover the indentation with glass or any solar box. The hotbed doesn’t need to be big to produce greens you can eat all winter.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

8 Ways to Get Rid of Weeds

Connect to this article under Pages on the right side to learn how to manage your weeds.