Micro Farmer

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Garden Planting Schedule Spring 2017


With the Winter season coming into its final month here in the southwest desert, it is that time of year to start planting again. I love planning my garden planting. At the bottom of this post you will find my garden planting schedule for Spring 2017.

Garden Planning Resources

Important components of a good garden plan include the schedule of when to plant which plants, the best days for planting each type seed, and the actual layout accounting for companion crops (that’s a whole ‘nother post). I use this FREE guide from Farmer’s Almanac determine best planting times for specific crops in my local area. They list counties and cities for every state. I’ve found this resource to also be highly accurate when combined with their Gardening by the Moon Calendar . This Free planting guide is based on the age-old wisdom of how the moon’s phase and position affects the growth of crops.

The theory behind gardening by the moon is that Earth is affected by the gravitational pull of the sun and the moon. The moon’s pull is greater because of it’s proximity to Earth, even though it’s mass is much smaller. This force affects the rising and falling of the tides, air currents on earth and the occurrence of thunderstorms. It is greatest when at Full Moon and New Moon phase. Interestingly, the water content of the earth follows the same tide cycle as the major bodies of water on earth. More water in the soil means seeds sprout and grow better, with a stronger start. So, it makes sense to follow the moon for key planting times. Direct experience over the last several years planting my garden confirms that this works. Last year I purposefully planted a few seeds on days that were considered poor for planting and while the plants did grow, the yield from these plants ranged from bleak to nothing at all.

Ute York, in her book “Living by the Moon” says:

“The old-time gardeners say, “With the waxing of the moon, the earth exhales. ” When the sap in the plants rise, the force first goes into the growth above ground. Thus, you should do all activities with plants that bear fruit above ground during a waxing moon. With the waning of the moon, the earth inhales. Then, the sap primarily goes down toward the roots. Thus, the waning moon is a good time for pruning, multiplying, fertilizing, watering, harvesting, and controlling parasites and weeds”
“Living by the Moon”, by Ute York. Bluestar Communications. Woodside, CA 1997

Now you know the method to my gardening madness. Below is my planting plan for the next two months. Succession planting of single-harvest items will keep your fridge or root cellar stocked as long as possible. I always plant garlic, carrots, celery, parsnips and onion sets in approximately two week intervals, Leafy greens in 3-4 week intervals. This staggers your harvest, and extends the life of those crops. Once these veggies get growing, we rarely have to purchase from the grocery store, and we get to eat organic produce for pennies. Another bonus is that my daughter will grow up knowing exactly where her food comes from and hopefully have respect for the effort that it takes to grow it! She’s already had a blast helping me plant peas this week!

Garden Planting Schedule Spring 2017

2nd & 3rd, & 26th: Sugar Snap Peas, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Celery
13th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 25th: Garlic, Onion, Beets, Carrots, Parsnips, Potatoes (not sweet)
16th, 17th & 26th: Kale, Lettuce, Spinach, Swiss Chard

2nd, 3rd, 29th, 30th: Above Ground Crops, Corn, Lettuce, Peppers, Tomato, Celery
6th, 7th, 25th, 26th: Beans, Cucumber, Summer Squash, Zucchini,
13th, 14th, 20th, 21st, 25th, 26th: Root Crops, Onion, Beets, Carrots, Leeks, Radish,
15th & 16th: Leafy Greens, Lettuce, Swiss Chard
25th, 26th: Watermelon, Eggplant, Melon, Strawberries

What garden planting schedule or planning resources have you found useful? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below. Happy planting!

Below are a few links to products that I’ve used and found to be great gardening tools for very little investment.

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Micro FarmerSoil

Winter Garden Prep: Eliminate Pests

Winter Garden Prep

Garden fresh green beans for Thanksgiving? Yes please. It’s been cool enough to start planting some things for our Fall/Winter garden. A few weeks ago I planted green beans, cucumbers and lettuce from seed. After a about a week I noticed that only a few plants came up. Then, a few days after that they vanished. Poof, gone! Not even so much as a tiny stem left. I suspected Grubs or Cutworms were the culprit, so I put on my gloves and got to work. Time to eliminate pests from the garden!

A little bit of digging produced these little jerks, who mistook my seedlings as a generous free lunch. Well, there is no free lunch in my yard, if you’re not contributing you’ve gotta go. I fed these little beggars to a few eager chickens. Ahhh, sweet revenge – who’s laughing now little grubs!? I’ve dealt with these pests before, and I knew just what to do.

These nasty little guys are white grubs, or the larvae of Japanese beetles, scarab beetles or striped beetles. They will decimate your plants before they even see the light of day. They will mow them down once they’ve just sprouted. They will also wreak havoc on your lawn, causing the infamous brown, dead patches wherever they are thriving.

Scarab Beetle Green

I got to work and turned up the soil and mixed in a generous helping of food grade diatomaceous earth (DE). First I dug down about 6-8 inches all over the bed where I planned to replant my seeds. I picked out all the grubs that I could find and fed them to the chickens. Then I sprinkled DE around the bed and mixed it into the soil.

Food-grade Diatomaceous Earth is an powerful friend of the organic gardner when used properly. This product is all natural, consisting of fossilized remains of diatoms. It is mined from FDA and EPA approved lake beds, then processed to remove dirt and unwanted minerals and then ground into a powder. The diatoms are very porous, so it readily absorbs moisture from any source around it. DE kills pests by slicing them up and dehydrating them, (as if they’d crawled through a bed of shards of glass).

Then I replanted my seeds. We won’t be grubbing on garden fresh green beans for Thanksgiving, thanks to our uninvited guests. I planted lettuce, spinach, brussel sprouts, and broccoli for now. I will plant root veggies in a week or so. I am testing my planting according to the Farmer’s Almanac this season, check out your local planting calendar. Or plant seeds according to moon phases.

Protect the bees and butterflies: Don’t spread it over flowering plants or leaves that bees may buzz. While you’re at it protect yourself! Wear gloves, a mask and protective eyewear. DE will irritate your lungs, eyes and dry out your skin, so be careful when applying it.

Note: that non-food-grade DE is harmful to humans and animals.

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Micro Farmer

Fresh Eggs – Raising Chickens: Pets Who Produce


What’s for breakfast you ask? The incredible edible egg! Thanks to our four backyard chickens we have enough farm fresh eggs to have breakfast, do all of our baking and share with our neighbors once in a while. We did some research before raising chickens and after talking to Aunt E, who has a gaggle of chickens, decided it was easier than we initially thought, so we went all in.

Here Is Why We’re Into Raising Chickens:

Backyard chickens are arguably one of the best pets you can own. Each chicken tends to have a unique personality. Once you are established as their caretaker, they will run over to greet you every time they see you, and may even follow you around the yard while you do your gardening.

One major reason we love keeping chickens is that in our house everyone pulls their own weight. We model that with our kids and age-appropriate chores, with pets who deliver tangible benefits, and our gardening where everything we water gives back to us in some form of food, shade or microclimate. Chickens are pretty low-maintenance, they eat your plant based kitchen scraps, bugs and spiders in your yard, and will clean up most weed problems in a few hours. Moreover, they reward you for providing these “treats” with tasty farm-fresh eggs (yum!) and rich manure for your compost bin (a big bonus for us gardeners).

The cost of raising chickens is relatively low when compared to other pets who give back fewer tangible rewards. It is true that you likely wouldn’t read a book with a chicken snuggled in your lap, however, I do know people who pick them up for a quick cuddle from time to time. For the four chickens we spend about $25 per month on feed, and only because I buy them the non-GMO, soy-free complete layer feed. If I bought regular feed it would cost even less. I bought a bale of straw for $10, of which i’ve only used 1/4 bale over the past six months. Cage-free, non-GMO, soy-free fed chicken eggs in the store sell for $7-9 a dozen, and we use more than 4 dozen eggs a month.  Raising chickens is a no-brainer.

I feed and check their water once per day, in the morning. Then we collect eggs in the morning as well. Once a week I empty a pull out pan from under their roost bars in the hen house and empty their poop into the compost bin. At the same time, I change the straw in their nesting box. The old straw goes into the compost bin as well.

Their hen house is a simple small wooden house we elevated on cinderblocks and wood to keep it out of the mud when it does rain. It roost bars inside and nest box off the side where they lay eggs. They have a long chicken run and military netting for shade where our trees don’t cover. When I have weeds for them to eat I let them into their chicken tractor I built out of PVC and chickenwire and position the tractor over the weeded area.

Each hen lays an egg almost every day, giving us about 20-24 eegs a week. What do you do with all those eggs??? Boil ‘em, fry ‘em, poach ‘em, pickle ‘em, blend ‘em in a shake, make egg salad sandwiches, egg pie (quiche). crustless egg pie, put them on a burger for extra protein, and – my favorite – bake yummy breads and desserts. Oh, yeah, we share them with the neighbors too from time to time.

<!–Check out some of the links above for our favorite recipes and –!>share your favorite egg recipe in the comments below.

Have I convinced you to get your own backyard chickens yet? If not, my last selling point on raising chickens is that they are kid friendly. Bug loves to chase them around the yard (good for getting out those wiggles before a drive across town) and the Rhode Island Red hen variety are non-aggressive, so they’ve never even attempted to peck at her or chase her back.

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