All posts filed under: Hay Bale Gardening

Garden Project 2014 – The Unconsoled

For all the planning, prepping, and planting done last year, the 2013 Garden Project was a bust. The cooler than normal – wetter than normal – stranger than normal Spring wreaked havoc with the layout and the Only things that produced like I expected were the eggplants and peppers. I tried these nifty looking potato cages, where you layer mulch and slips into a hay-lined cage… and Voila! (supposedly) you get a bounty of taters. this was my “bounty”…   Don’t get excited… it was 187  potatoes ranging in size from a golf ball to a cat’s eye marble…. heavy on the marble. So, I’ve let the failures knock a bit of the stream out of my rhubarb this year, but only a bit. Once again we’re doing without the hay bales. I think 4 years of  hay much worked into the soil, along with composted cow manure and a healthy compliment of mushroom compost will bolster the soil perfectly well for anything I plan to grow this year. And what is that? you ask…   …

Garden Project 2013 – Children of the Hay

As with all living things, our offspring and progeny  begin flexing their muscles, testing the waters and moving out on their own… even the Hay Garden has not been spared. Through the past three seasons, I’ve poked and prodded the limits of the bales, trying to coax out the best possible production from this unorthodox medium… with mixed results. Courgettes, tomatoes, and cucumbers – all perform beautifully producing ample stock for the summer growing season. The okra, while it never ceases to amaze me how well it does, But with 8′ plants it really strains the ability of the hay bales. By mid summer I’m already augmenting the medium with additional garden soil just to keep the root system cool and moist. Greens and Root vegetables… not so much. I’ve been awash in lackluster, affected plants with little to no production So things must change. Tomato Bales: Judging by my past season notes, I’m sticking with Pink Brandywine, Parks Whopper, and Better Bush. I know, only one of those is an heirloom. Here’s the thing – Trying to …

2013 Hay Garden – Get them bales ready

Since it’s time to start thinking about the garden, I’ve decided to re-issue the Hay Bale Garden instructions and post from when it first started. Up here in the hills – unless you’re living on the eastern side of Dahlonega, or down in one of those picturesque, lush farming valleys heading out Hwy 52 towards Ellijay – you don’t have a lot of options for gardening or growing anything…..  except rocks. The result of the clear cut logging in the Appalachians back in the 30’s has left most of the surrounding areas completely devoid of any really usable topsoil. Our property isn’t any different. 99.999% of our land is scrub forest and DR (Decomposed Rock), dispersed with intermittent layers of that good ol’ sticky Georgia Red Clay. …. needless to say, gardening is a challenge. In 2009, we attempted to container garden. It was lackluster at best. Even with drip lines and composted manure, the containers were just no match for the hot summer heat, and the diminutive bounty was the proof. Opposed to previous …

Baleful Bounty – Dairy-Free Cheesy Enchiladas Verdes

You know, it’s funny how something so seemingly insignificant can set things in motion… The other day I was just window shopping the canned food aisle at the market….  really..  okay,  I was after a can of Pork and Beans,  but it was for research, you know… o–kay,  I wanted beans on toast… but that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, there was a girl rifling around in the ethnic section, shoving cans around and digging to the back of the stack, when she knocked a can on the floor. I casually picked it up and looked at the label as I replaced it on the shelf. It was a can of Green Enchilada Sauce… “huh”, I thought. “Enchilada Sauce.” Then, in a split of a split second. as I passed the end cap, I remembered I had bought a package of this : the other day, thinking I could use it as a substitute for Pepper Jack on a sandwich.  (FYI) You can’t. It’s too sticky, and too much like garlicky , peppery paste – and …

Baleful Bounty – Frittering My Life Away

For those of you keeping vigil… Yes, I did an okra fritter back early last February. But –  With the bounty of okra I snagged from the Okra Man, and my own voluminous production… we need to repeat some things.. and the okra fritters were / are something that warrant a second look. The first time around, being winter and all, I used frozen okra. Which in the grand scope of things has a few benefits over fresh. (a) The freezing breaks down the cell structure a bit and allows for quicker cooking, and (b), freezing seems to cut back on all that slime production and general liquid some.  And while still the best fritter thingy I’ve made to date, I wanted to see how fresh out of the garden okra would fare. First off, I’ve sliced the okra THIN – 1/8″, which offsets the concern of cooking time. I’ve also cut back the original liquids by 1/4 cup to account for the ever present slime, and added extra flavors – (Not everyone loves the taste of okra …

Baleful Bounty – A whole lotta somethin’ going on…

Whether it’s been the ungodly heat, the unpredictable rainy spells, bugs, fungi, bugs, vermin in the bales or bugs… I know – I said that 3 times.. But, I’m really trying to grow organically – and the bugs are carrying  the garden away… Passive insecticides and things made out of marigolds just isn’t doing the job. Anyway –  I’ve lost 2 tomato plants. I should restate that… I lost two tomato plants AFTER they were full of green tomatoes. Which meant I had to harvest a 1/2 bushel of green tomatoes. In the narrow scheme of things, it doesn’t exactly sound like such a bad thing… except this week they all started to ripen – concurrently. On top of that, the 2 remaining healthy plants are also kicking out the red globes eight to the bar. I’m awash in maters… and unfortunately… okra… This is 1/2 (half) of the okra I got from the Okra Man I’ve told you guys about the Okra Man before. Out on a drive with Jane today, we headed towards Ellijay …

Baleful Bounty – Straw Bale Garden Update

Ju-ly… freakin’ hot, sweaty, sweltering July…  and we’re so far behind last year in the garden. At least it feels that way. Maybe it was the late start with the redesign;  maybe I just have nothing else going on right now so I’m obsessing out in the garden – over watering everything, measuring the okra stalks daily with my trusty ruler, counting the cucumber blooms…  and I don’t know – maybe the garden gods just weren’t on my team this year, but it sure feels like things have been progressing unnecessarily slowly. So, where are we… exactly… The okra is up and looking healthy. There are even a couple of tender pods and an occasional bloom. The upside is that there are a multitude of buds in the wings just waiting to do their thing – it’s going to be a good season.. eventually. The tomatoes have finally worked the kinks out adjusting to the new location at the southern side of the garden and have laid claim to the re-purposed gazebo/trellis that was constructed. Sadly, the hybrids are far …

Makin’ Hay III – Bride of Straw Bale

Building a Better Monster… You know in the Frankenstein franchise where  the good doctor tried to fix all those iggy little problems with bolt head, and made a beautiful wife for him…? Well…I did the same thing to the straw bale garden this year… and consequently, got more than I bargained for. **Note: I wont be going into the Straw Bale Gardening set up this time – If you would like the instructions to create your very own hay bale garden – Click HERE and get the preparation instructions for the bales. You can also search Hay on the site and get all the previous years gardening updates and outcomes. Timing ended up being my big issue. I expected to be complete with the renovations by the 1st of May, and now at the end of the month, I’m still not finished. There is  still a couple of loads of gravel to haul and spread… a potting shed to construct… and the last of the bed retainers. I think I’ll be through by September at this …

Sufferin’ Succotash !

If I were any more of a geek, that – in fact, would be my preferred cursing exclamation. It expels the appropriate amount of exasperation… it’s food related… and when you say Sufferin’ Succotash… people know you mean business… Over the years sitting on my grandmother’s porch, I became a pro at shelling limas, or butter beans (as my family refers to them). We’d sit for hours picking the tough little strings off both seams. Then with a quick squeeze and a flick of the thumb, the liberated disks would tumble into the waiting battered aluminum pot we were given to hold our bounty. A summer visit to my grandmother’s invariably ended with a large brown paper bag of bean pods and a quick shooing to the side porch. After a failed start with Fort Hook limas earlier this spring, we finally got up and running with a pack of Baby Lima Beans. Although smaller and much more tender than the Fava-esque Fort Hook, the Lima bushes are really starting to produce the bean pods. …

The Intruder in the Sprouts

I’s been inhumanly hot in the garden, the white flies are devastating everything with a leaf, and I scream like a little girl every time a Japanese Colossal Hornet gets within twenty feet of me (believe me, I have every right). So, needless to say, the garden is suffering. My tidy produce spot has become unkept. I leave the water hoses trailing about the walkways, whatever plants haven’t wilted from the insectile assault have a perma-dusting of Sevins and my lack of diligence has allowed the crab grass to start reclaiming the once pristine gravel paths. It’s a sight. So my plan this morning, shake ‘n bake heat or not, was to get things back to square inside the walled garden. Since I had dropped the hose where it lay during the last hornet attack…really, they’re frightening…. Doesn’t look that scary? “normal” Hornet (left)  Colossal Hornet (right) Just so you know….. Colossal Hornets grow to about 3″ in length, are perpetually in a “pissed off” mood and toxins in their sting can deteriorate flesh at …