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Learning in Freedom

Welcome to Learning in Freedom, a blog all about the learning adventures (and mishaps) of the Allen family. My four children are unschooled, following their interests and passions every day and living the lives of their choosing. The purpose of this blog is to share our every day lives (and my not-so-humble opinons) with anyone interested in stopping by. We hope this will give a glimpse of how natural learning unfolds from day to day......

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Dirt issues

Or maybe it's more accurate to say clay issues, because we don't seem to have much dirt at all!
the area I had planned to grow a sunflower house and morning glories seems to be hard clumps of clay with a bit of dirt mixed in. I'm tempted to haul it off and throw a pile of compost down.

In spite of the hard lumps, there were many earthworms. Not sure how they survived in the rock hard soil...many got moved over to our compost bed that sports a hollyhock, some strawberries and oregeno.

Sierra helped me with the worm re-habitation while Jalen picked wildflowers.

In the end, we have a plot of lumps. It doesn't look as bad as it really is in this pic!

The tomatoes and peppers are doing well in their bins full of rich soil and compost.

We even managed to harvest quite a bit of lettuce from one raised bed down the hill,

which made a lovely salad that night. Jalen and Sierra had a great time chopping accoutrements...even Jared chopped a few carrots just for fun.:) The salad was really fantastic with lettuce from both my garden and Mary's and a spot of homemade olive oil dressing on top. Yuummmmmm!


Blogger Deanne said...

Your lettuce looks yummy! And your dirt might be really good for making these mud balls! http://www.dorodango.com/about.html
I just read about these the other day and really want to try, but I think our soil will be too sandy. We'll see.

9:54 AM  
Blogger zamozo said...

Love those "bins." Where'd you get them?

10:55 AM  
Blogger Snavleys said...

Oh, reminds me how I probably won't have anything green this year. I have one plant of cilantro planted and one plant of parsley........that's it! I'm running out of time quickly. Too many projects!

1:42 PM  
Blogger the Contrary Goddess said...

Don't sniff at southern clay soil too quickly -- it is actually good fertile soil. Sure, it needs organic material (lots) added to it, and it needs to be loosened up (which the organic material will do). Our favorite method to create new and fertile beds is to grow potatoes and mulch the bejeezus out of them. The next year it is a good bed.

Soil science is so interesting.

5:48 PM  
Blogger Ren said...

You know, I was going to research what kind of plants might help enrich the soil but hadn't gotten around to it. So THANK YOU CG!!:)

I really think part of the problem is the builders in this case. They haul in all the clay for building the house upon, because the further I get from the house, the less clay I find. It's there, but not the solid layer I find near the house. Argh.

Since there are worms, it can't be all bad eh? So you don't loosen the soil with any kind of tool before you plant the taters and mulch it well? I keep eyeing some tools from Lehmans (cuz I'm damn sure not buying some gas powered thing-a-ma-jig at this point) but not sure what is most useful for our wee attempt at gardening.

I know I'll learn as I go, but sometimes it's nice to have a voice of wisdom giving pointers. Thank you again.

9:56 PM  
Blogger the Contrary Goddess said...

The potatoes don't actually "enrich" the soil at least in the way I think about it -- legumes do that (fix nitrogen) -- but they help break it up, and the organic material of the mulch along with the earthworms loosens it too.

I'm sure construction unearthed subsoil. But pretty much all soil can be improved. Find a barn around there and clean it out. Put all the grass clippings on it. Etc. Our garden area was quite clay-y and used to clump when dug but now is loose and rich because of tons of organic material added over the years.

And yes, experience is the best teacher. We change stuff every year because of what we've learned the previous year

10:02 PM  
Blogger Ren said...

Sorry I missed your question somehow Z! I bought the bins at Bed, Bath and Beyond. They were intended to be plastic summer carry-alls.

They were a bere $5 each, much less than any of the garden store choices. They've worked great so far!

10:57 PM  

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