Gardening in the Golden Years – Columbia Metropolitan Magazine

Gardening in the Golden Years - Columbia Metropolitan Magazine
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My garden is in its second year and I have learned two secrets to be more successful. The most important is the chicken litter. I was fortunate to have a patient who has large henhouses and therefore a lot of chicken litter. Last fall I had a trailer full of trash, took it to the yard, held my nose, and started spreading over a large area and covering it with hay. The litter must sit for five to six months or it will be too strong for your plants. I then plowed it and planted my tomatoes, zinnias and sunflowers. I had half of my tomato plants, around 25, in the chicken litter box and half in regular soil. The difference was incredible. In the litter area, all of my plants were double in size, and the tomatoes were both double in number and double in size. The flowers were also much more prolific. It can be a problem in town for any downwind neighbor, but the chicken litter really works.

The other thing that I have tried this year with great success is to use black plastic instead of black garden fabric. Garden fabric allows water to pass through but allows weeds to grow through the mesh, making weeds difficult to pull out. I cut slits in the plastic where each plant was planted, then covered the entire area with hay so that the plastic wouldn’t absorb the sun and make the garden too hot. The water made its way through the slits in the plastic, so the plants were doing quite well and had very few weeds.

Growing plants from seeds is a great pleasure in gardening. I started mine in an upstairs bathroom with grow lights (they have a reddish glow out the window all night – waited for the marijuana police to knock on my door), moving plants in a small greenhouse on the farm in early spring, then in the ground around Easter. Watching the plants grow and mature to produce excellent fruits, vegetables and flowers is incredibly rewarding. When the tomatoes and sweet corn are ready to be picked, you also find yourself very popular with friends who kindly offer to help you harvest. Hopefully they will also remember to offer their help next year with the planting.

Growing fruits and vegetables has a real learning curve, and little worries go hand in hand with little successes. How to plant correctly, how much to water, what type of fertilizer to use and how much and when to use, and when to prune. Oh, it’s hard to prune the limbs you’ve worked so hard to grow, but pruning is important for trees or plants to produce.

Two other projects on the farm were fun and productive in a more mechanical sense: building blue bird houses and restoring a small barn. I have 21 blue bird houses around the Forest Lake golf course and six on the farm. I thought the golf course would have fewer snakes. Twenty-seven boxes with five eggs per box and two nests each season lead to at least 200 baby bluebirds each year. They stay in the area all year round, so it’s funny to think that some of the ones I see are from boxes I’ve built.

The small barn on the farm was on the verge of collapse, so its restoration was quite a fun project. It was interesting to see that the old building materials were real 2×4 boards nailed with dime nails. They really don’t build things the way they used to. Even though the barn was built with such good materials, the roof sank for years causing a lot of rotten wood. With the hammer and the crowbar in hand, I tore off some old wood and put in new. The good thing about a project like this is that I have the rest of my life to do it.

Are any of these companies of the utmost importance? Of course not. The beauty of retirement is letting go of those big, worrying jobs and being happy and content with the smaller, more enjoyable activities, knowing that while they aren’t that important, they give you a lot of fun and a feeling of life. accomplishment. Would I turn back time and go back to work if I found a genie in a bottle and had a wish? Not for nothing in the world.

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