Sunday, 11 November 2012

My First Gardening Experience

My First Gardening Experience

Ah, to this day I still remember my first gardening experience. It was
such a disaster that I didn’t think I would ever want to garden again. I
almost decided to turn my casual hobby into the most rage-inducing topic
you could possibly bring up to me.

It all started a few weeks after I moved in to my first house. I was
excited just to have my own grass to mow, since I had been living in a flat
for quite a while. In between plans to paint walls and renovate
the inside to exactly how I like, I thought it would be a good idea to
start a fruit garden so that I could have some fresh produce and put my
yard to use. At that point I didn’t really know anything at all about
gardening. But still in my spunky youthful years, I decided I didn’t need
help. How hard could it be to start a garden and grow stuff? After all, it
happens in nature all the time and nobody even has to do anything.
I already had a grassless patch in my yard where it looked like the
previous owner had attempted a garden. But any attempt they had made
turned out to be an utter travesty. The area was full of rocks and weeds,
with no signs of any agreeable plants. I spent several hours of work
spread over several days to clear out the entire area, leaving nothing but
dirt. At that point, however, I didn’t realize the difference between
“dirt” and “soil”. I was dealing with barren, hard, nutritionless, and
unforgiving land.

I made some attempt at making my garden look nice; although I think even
Martha Stewart would have had difficulties. I took some stained boards
that were sitting in my basement (quite convenient, no?) and used them as
a border for my garden, to keep out all the pests that couldn’t jump more
than a foot (I figured I would be safe from lawn gnomes). I used the pile
of rocks I had collected from the garden to make a creepy shrine looking
thing in front of it. I don’t know what I was thinking when I did that.
I went to the store that very day, and picked out whatever looked tasty.
Strawberries? Sure! Watermelon? Yeah! I hacked away a hole in the
rock-hard ground and poked the seed in. After that, I think I watered it
faithfully every day for several weeks before realizing that it was not
going to grow anything. But even after I had that realization, I continued
to water in hopes that my seeds would pull a last minute sprout on me. But
I knew there was no hope, and I was heartbroken. After all those hours of
pulling up weeds and tossing rocks into a pile, I had no fruit to show for
my labour.

So, feeling dejected and betrayed, I logged onto the internet and searched
for a guide to gardening. I quickly ran across a site that led me to
realize the true skill required for gardening. It was then I learned about
soil consistency, nutrients, ideal watering conditions, seasons, and all
those things. After I read up on my area and how to grow fruits, I learned
exactly what to do. I learned how to get the ideal soil, when to plant the
seeds, how much to water, etc. Just a night of browsing the internet and
printing off sources, and I was totally ready for the next planting season.
If you’re in the position I was, and you’re just itching to start a new
garden… I urge you to learn from my mistake. Make sure you do plenty of
proper research on the types of plants you’re trying to grow, along with
the climate. Spend money on good soil, good fertilizer, and good garden
tools. Hopefully you don’t have to go through the emotional disaster that
I went through.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

How To Make A Raised Bed

How To Make A Raised Bed

Following on from yesterdays post about container gardening I thought I would share some information on how to make a raised bed, please feel free to comment below.

If your current planting goals involve plants that require good water drainage,then you might want to consider a raised bed vegetable garden, I am sure you know how frustrating it is to have a garden that just won’t cooperate. Some plants can handle the excess water that comes about from being in an area that doesn’t drain properly. In fact, it might just cause them to bloom more lushly. However, other plants don’t cope as well, and it will cause them to die a gruesome, bloated death. You should always find out about the drainage required for every plant you buy, and make sure that it won’t conflict with any of the areas you are considering planting it in.

In order to test how much water your designated patch of soil will retain, dig a hole approximately ten inches deep. Fill it with water, and come back in a day when all the water had disappeared. Fill it back up again. If the 2nd hole full of water isn’t gone in 10 hours, your soil has a low saturation point. This means that when water soaks into it, it will stick around for a long time before dissipating. This is unacceptable for almost any plant, and you are going to have to do something to remedy it if you want your plants to survive.

The usual method for improving drainage in your garden is to create a raised bed. This involves creating a border for a small bed, and adding enough soil and compost to it to raise it above the rest of the yard by at least 5 inches. You’ll be amazed at how much your water drainage will be improved by this small modification. If you’re planning to build a raised bed, your prospective area is either on grass or on dirt. For each of these situations, you should build it slightly differently.

If you want to start a raised garden in a non grassy area, you won’t have much trouble. Just find some sort of border to retain the dirt you will be adding. I’ve found that there is nothing that works quite as well as a few two by fours. After you’ve created the wall, you must put in the proper amount soil and steer manure. Depending on how long you plan to wait before planting, you will want to adjust the ratio to allow for any deteriorating that may occur.

If you’re trying to install a raised bed where sod already exists, you will have a slightly more difficult time. You will need to cut the sod around the perimeter of the garden, and flip it over. This may sound simple, but you will need something with a very sharp edge to slice the edges of the sod and get under it. Once you have turned it all upside down, it is best to add a layer of straw to discourage the grass from growing back up. After the layer of straw, simply add all the soil and steer manure that a normal garden would need.

Planting your plants in your new area shouldn’t pose much difficulty. It is essentially the same process as your usual planting session. Just be sure that the roots don’t extent too far into the original ground level. The whole point of creating the raised bed is to keep the roots out of the soil which saturates easily. Having long roots that extend that far completely destroys the point.

Once you have plants in your new bed, you’ll notice an almost immediate improvement. The added soil facilitates better root development. At the same time, evaporation is prevented and decomposition is discouraged. All of these things added together makes for an ideal environment for almost any plant to grow in. So don’t be intimidated by the thought of adjusting the very topography of your yard. It is a simple process as I’m sure you’ve realized, and the long term results are worth every bit of work.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Getting Started In Container Gardening

Getting Started in Container Gardening

One of my great pastimes here on the smallholding is Container Gardening.
I love to grow both flowers, fruit & vegetables in containers so heres some
information for those that might want to give it a go.

Sometimes, the urge to garden might be stomped out by other circumstances,
such as living arrangements or space constrictions. If you live in an
apartment, you can’t really operate a full garden, just because you don’t
really have a yard! I think that one of the best solutions for this
problem is to grow plants in containers. You can hang these, or just
arrange them on your patio, window sill or balcony. Just a few baskets or
pots, and your whole living area will look much classier and nicer.
A benefit of growing in small containers is the fact that you can move
them around to suit your needs. If you rearrange your furniture and you
think that it would look nicer if it was in the other area, it’s no
trouble at all to scoot it over. As long as the lighting is about the
same, your plant shouldn’t mind the transition at all. Another benefit of
the containers’ versatility is the fact that you can adapt it to simulate
any environment depending on the type of soil you fill it with and where
you place it.

If you are trying to make an aesthetically pleasing arrangement of
containers and plants, you can adjust the containers to be at different
heights by hanging them from the ceiling or placing them on supports.
Hanging them will allow you to make the most of the space you have. This
is called “vertical gardening”. If you pull it off right, you can make a
very pleasing arrangement of plants while conserving your valuable space.
If you live in an apartment, you know how important it is to conserve
space! One method of vertical gardening is the use of a wooden step
ladder. If painted correctly, you can arrange all the plants on it in a
beautiful, stylish cascade of color.

The maintenance of container plants takes slightly more time, since you
have to water more often and go around to each individual container.
However, the square footage for container plants is much less than that of
an actual garden, so the time spent on maintenance and watering is more
balanced. It is important that you don’t over-water your container plants,
as this can be just as fatal to their health as under-watering.

When choosing containers for your plants, you’ll want to buy them all at
once along with some extras in case they break or you add more plants
later. You don’t want them to be all the same shape and size, but
definitely the same style so that the compliment each other. Plastic
containers are the best and require the least amount of watering, but if
you want to stick with clay or earthen pots then you should line the
inside with plastic. This helps it retain water more, as the clay will
soak up water.

Another thing to remember when buying pots is the fact that the size of
the pot will ultimately constrict the size of the plant. Make a careful
choice of pots according to what you wish to grow in each one. If you
search for the plant you chose on the internet, you should be able to find
specifications as to how much root space it should be given. This can even
be an advantage for you if you choose a plant that can grow very large. If
you only have a limited amount of space for it, you can constrict it by
choosing a pot that isn’t large enough to support huge amounts of growth.
If the benefits of container gardening sound appealing to you, then you
should start planning out your container garden today. If you write a list
of all the plants you desire to have, you can do the necessary research to
find out what size and shape of pots you should get. After that, it’s just
a matter of arranging them in a way that makes your home look the nicest.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

My Mico Pigs

Marks Micro Pigs

This is a short video i did earlier this year of my 2 pet micro pigs, actually we still have them but they are not so micro anymore they are now about the size of a Kune Kune Pig.

Hope you enjoy the video I will try and do another one at the weekend so you can see what they are like now.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Why Would Chickens Make Good Pets This Christmas

Why Chickens Would Make good Pets This Christmas

Looking to give your kids something fun but educational for Christmas? Mark Burrow’s aka the ‘Chicken King’ discusses how chickens would make a great unusual and family pet.

Although not always an obvious choice, chickens make great pets – they are friendly, fun and educational and are a great idea for an unusual Christmas gift this year. Keeping chickens as pets has become very popular over the last couple of years and more and more people are taking to having a few chickens in their back garden – here at our farm where we run Chickens For Sale we have already had several orders for chickens as Christmas presents. .

When considering a choice of pet for Christmas Mums and Dads are beginning to realise what great pets chickens make. They are inexpensive to keep and one of the few pets that give you something in return – a good supply of fresh eggs.  In addition to giving children an understanding where their food comes from (not from just a supermarket shelf!) you can be safe in the knowledge that eggs from your garden will be good healthy and nutritious as you have controlled what your chickens are fed on and know exactly what goes into each egg. Their poo is also great for the compost heap – a bonus if you are growing vegetables at home too!

Chickens by nature are very affectionate creatures and become a real part of the family it is often great to sit and watch them and their antics as they scratch around looking for grubs and worms. Each chicken has its own personality and will come to greet you when you enter their pen so a relationship can be formed but are less time consuming – they don’t need taking for a walk twice a day.

In a recent survey it has been shown that they can be of great benefit to people with disabilities and also children with behaviour problems – as they give children a great sense of responsibility.

Here at the farm it’s great to watch children’s’ faces when they arrive with their mum and dad to buy some chickens. Getting a chicken causes a great sense of excitement and it becomes a great experience to watch them choose which ones they want – many children have already picked out the names of the chickens beforehand.

Giving your child chickens for pets this Christmas will add to the magic. However, as with keeping any pet you need to be sure that you have done your homework first and you are fully prepared with what equipment is required and you or the person or child that they are for has some understanding of what is entailed to look after them properly. As the old saying goes “chickens are for life not just for Christmas”.

For more information on how to keep chickens Mark Burrows  Amazon No1 best selling book called So You Want to Start keeping Chickens/  gives you all the information you need in a simple, no-nonsense way and makes a great gift if considering chickens as pets this Christmas. It is also available for instant download straight to your Amazon Kindle .

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Our New Barnevelder Hens

Barnevelder hens lay lovely dark brown eggs and are also on the register of The Rare Breeds Survival Trust, so when we got the chance to buy these 3 hens we jumped at it.

They are still in quarentine at the moment but are doing very nicely and are in lovely condition.

She Who Must is going to start breeding Barnevelders next year and when we go to the national poultry show in a few weeks time we will be picking up a cockeral from the secretary of The Barnevelder Club so hopefully we should get some good hens next year.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Hen Boarding Hen Hotel

Here are some pics of our first chicken guests that we are looking after for one of our customers who is going abroad for a fortnight.
 We wernt going to start our "Hen Hotel" till next year so I suppose this is a trial run so to speak, hen boarding is becoming very popular here in the UK.
They will stay in their run for a few days before being let out into the enclosure. Hen paradise or what.