Category Archives: Growing

Low-cost/No-Cost Food Production

This weekend up on Berry Mountain had Tim and I focused on two different methods to increasing the amount of food we can produce within our property: 1) Building and situating a game feeder (Him) and 2) Expanding and improving our test garden plot.(Me)

Tim researched building a low-cost game feeder to attract deer and wild turkey to an area on the property that we have identified as best for hunting. He used a construction tutorial he found on YouTube and the whole process only took about ten minutes with a handsaw and an appropriate drill bit. He spent about $30 dollars on the PVC supplies from Home Depot and $11 for a 50 pound bag of cracked corn bait from Southern States.



















I spent part of the morning adding another 24 square feet to the garden plot using free items on hand. First I put down a kill mulch layer of cardboard (graciously donated my parents who recently had their kitchen remodeled), then a layer of punky (rotten) firewood that did not make the grade to become woodstove fuel, then a thick layer of the plentiful oak leaves from around the cabin. These things will break down over the winter to become the basis of rich organic matter for spring planting.


As a warning to the deer who nibbled their way through my summer crops, I posted some of our found skulls on spikes in the garden plot. Ghoulish? Perhaps – but it’s close enough to Halloween to feel it appropriate to do so.




Speaking of deer – this week I had the opportunity to help some friends do some venison butchering. Our amazing bow-hunter friend Rick bagged two and his lovely wife Susan allowed me to come over and help with the final cutting process. I have a yummy backstrap venison tenderloin aging in the refrigerator as payment. It will become a tasty dinner later this week.




As a final note of the weekend, we added to our growing woodpile with the last batch from a downed oak. We now have at least a cord of gorgeous aging firewood that will easily see us through the winter as we are only visiting during the weekends, and with our woodstove having all new gaskets, it is burning far more efficiently than it has ever done.


Next weekend we welcome our turkey hunting nephew back up on the mountain to test his luck on the hunting ground.

Until then, be well my friends!

Father’s Day: A Gift of Sustainability

Shh. Don’t tell my Da – but he’s getting a perennial herb container garden for Father’s Day this Sunday.

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme…

(Except in this case, Parsley has been replaced by Lovage, since that will come back year after year, unlike Parsley.)

So: if you were wondering what to give your Dad for Fathers’ Day, perhaps you have enough time to build one these! Give the gift of Sustainability by giving him with the ability to Grow His Own!

Comme ca!

Father's Day Herb Garden

Suburb to Rural – Lesson in Readjusted Thinking #834

I inadvertently learned how to propagate perennial plants the other day.


While repotting one of my expensive, nursery-bought lavender plants, I broke off a tip of the one of the branches. Without giving it another thought, I shoved it in the dirt and went about my business.

Two weeks later, that little shoot has grown, and continues to grow, and I realize I just saved myself $4.95 because now I have one more lavender plant than I started with.

The Heavens Opened and A Chorus of Angels Sang From On High!

See, I have this idea that we will be using lavender plants to mark the septic lines when we have those installed at the cabin. That’s 100 feet of lavender I need, and honestly, the cost has been freaking me out (aside from the cost of installing a septic system, which really isn’t that awful.) $500 worth of lavender? Just to mark the lines and keep the field smelling sweet? (oy.)

But look! Now I can grow my own! For practically free! It’s like Christmas and Fourth of July all at once! God Bless America! Thank you Mother Nature!

Condo container garden - June 2013

Condo container garden – June 2013

Grow Your Own: Herb Spiral – perfect for small spaces

Reducing your carbon footprint means sourcing a lot of what you use on a daily basis within your own home. A perfect example are the herbs you use everyday. An herb spiral is a great way to maximize small spaces if your growing areas are compact, and they provide an excellent teaching opportunity for children and guests.

Below is a photo of a small herb spiral I planted today in one of my two community garden plots.

Herb Spiral in Nottoway Garden - April 2013

Herb Spiral in Nottoway Garden – April 2013

It is probably only about 2 and a half feet across – they can become quite a bit larger and higher as your space allows – permitting more varieties to be planted.

Personally, I can’t wait to bring my troop of Daisy scouts to the garden so they can smell all the different herbs planted there: dill, chives, cilantro, tarragon, thyme, oregano, sage and lavender.

Herb spirals are great teaching tools for kids and non-gardeners alike. The higher up the spiral you go, the hotter and drier the environment; the lower down the spiral, the moister and cooler the herb preferences become. Mediterranean herbs (like rosemary and lavender) prefer the hot/dry; while more delicate herbs (like dill, chives and cilantro) prefer cooler/moister. I say build herb spirals near the door closest to your kitchen or your outdoor grill so you have easy, ready access to fresh herbs whenever you want them!

There are a lot of theories on the proper construction methods for herb spirals. I recommend you Google the options and choose for yourself dependent on the space and resources available to you.

I will post a photo of the spiral in a few weeks to update you on its progress!

Let’s Save the World! Grow your own.