Building Rich Soil | Volunteer Gardener


– [Annette] When we
first start to garden our first consideration
should be the soil. Let’s meet a gardener who
utilizes several methods to build soil. All pretty simple and all
using natural resources that most overlook. This is just not
ordinary logs is it? – [Tom] Well, yes,
it’s just a cedar logs and things I got to frame this. It’s called a hugelkultur bed
and I built this about close to five years ago. So this bed is about a little
better than three foot deep. Even though the logs look like they just 18 to 20
inches deep, the ground– – Comes down.
– Yeah. When you do lasagna gardening
or hugelkultur garden, or hugelkultur gardening after a couple of years the
ground loosens underneath and the ground will loosen. You’ll go on down where
it was hard ground and it’ll just keep
getting better and better. And this soil here
is just like that. – [Annette] I’m envious. – [Tom] And you put
aged logs in here and then cover it with
a soil and compost. And those logs hold moisture
so this bed never gets watered except when the
good Lord waters it. – [Annette] That’s
exactly right, it’s just a replica of
our trees and our forest. They fall on the ground and– – [Tom] Exactly, I garden
and try to grow things just like nature provided. I grow as organic as I can. I don’t use any commercial
fertilizers, no chemicals. – Fascinating, so you’ve
actually done some study. It just doesn’t happen
overnight that– – I’ve got a library. – That’s exactly right. And you know, we
talk about lasagna and we think that’s food. It is, this lasagna is
food for plants. Isn’t it? – That’s right. The first thing, my motto
is: you feed your soil, your soil will feed the plants. – That’s true. I know that you have a variety
of summer, spring-summer, and now you’re into fall
with your gardening. – Yes, we’ve got the
turnip greens over here. See the beds of turnip greens. I’m still growing
beans, green beans. – [Annette] I’m a amazed
at what I’ve already seen. – [Tom] We’ve got
carrots over here. We’ve got celery, we’re
just about gone on that. Of course we got the knuckle
hull purple peas here. – [Annette] Look at that. – [Tom] That’s called a
knuckle hull purple pea. – [Annette] That is
very interesting. Knuckle hull. Okay, now then. – [Tom] This is another type
of green bean right here. – [Annette] Oh, is
that the Italian bean? – [Tom] No, it’s called,
let’s see which one I’ve got. I grow so many beans
I gotta keep them… Uh, this is a soldier bean. – [Annette] A soldier bean? – [Tom] That’s what they call
it because when you break them open the inside of the bean will look like a
little toy soldier. – [Annette] Tom, give
us a rundown on what
you have planted, starting at the marigolds. – [Tom] Okay, we
got the marigolds, right on this side we
have a row of two beans. Green beans, that’s a second
crop of those this year. Come right on up we got the
dragon’s tongue green beans. – [Annette] That’s new to me. – [Tom] They’re a beautiful
real good tasting bean. Then we come back down
I got Swiss chard, and then we got the
Henderson small limas. – [Annette] My favorite. And then all these peppers. – [Tom] And then the peppers. Of course the winds
kind of hurt them but we got these sweet peppers. These sweet banana peppers
and red bell peppers, green bell peppers. – [Annette] Yes, and
then you’ve got… – [Tom] And here are
my second or third crop of summer squash. – And you know what? I see not one insect. It’s just beautiful. And I really love how you put
this red dahlia down here. It’s just so bright
and the green of this squash is just
aesthetically pleasing. – [Tom] And it helps
for beneficial insects. – Yes, and now we’re getting
into to something I can say I don’t really know that
I’ve ever seen a crop of red potatoes in the fall. – [Tom] I do this every year. – [Annette] Okay, now
when did you plant these? – [Tom] In June, about
the middle of June. – [Annette] Okay, and
you’re gonna harvest soon? Can you gravel for them now? – [Tom] Probably, well, they’ll
have little small potatoes in there now. You’ll have a little
that you can cook with your green beans. – [Annette] Yeah, and
are they blooming? – [Tom] They have been blooming. – [Annette] That’s a
good sign isn’t it? – [Tom] When you have blooms
you got small potatoes. – [Annette] Okay, now,
you got all this richness going in here. How are you feeding the soil? – [Tom] I don’t
use any chemicals. I use no commercial fertilizer. I do use blood meal, I use
bone meal, and cottonseed meal. – I know all about it. – Okay, and I do use
a lot of Epsom salt. – Okay, then you
do some trenching? – Trench composting. That’s where I’ll take
my food scraps that I use from the house, no meat,
it’s gotta be all veggies and I just make
a trench in here. You don’t have to
have a big trench. I might have a four
foot long trench and I’ll put all this
in and cover it up. In two weeks time you can dig
down and it’s done and dirt. You’ll have millions of worms. I have tons of worms. – [Annette] And
nothing like that type, the worm castings
for fertilizer. – [Tom] I’ll show you
that in a little bit. I do worm farming too. – [Annette] Okay, all right. And I know why you’re gonna
have successful carrots and potatoes because
you’ve got nice loose soil. This right here looks to
me like sweet potatoes. – [Tom] That’s
just sweet potatoes and they’re about soon to be
ready to dig here pretty soon. – [Annette] How do
you store yours? – [Tom] I dry them and
I got an inside store. I like to wrap them in
newspaper, each one. – Each potato in newspaper? – Yeah, each one. It don’t take that long
and it keeps them dry. – [Annette] Well, I see
you’re a master of grapes. – Yeah, we like,
that’s concord grapes and down towards the end
I’ve got red seedless grapes. – [Annette] Yeah, okay. You know, I can’t help
but notice the spotlight in this garden. Do you take that plant
in the wintertime? – [Tom] No, when I cut it down I’ll take cuttings
and give to people because they like, you know, you can grow them from cuttings. I cut it all the way down to
the ground and I’ll mulch it about six-eight inches
of mulch on it or straw or anything like that
and it’s been there for about four or
five years now. – [Annette] Do butterflies
and bees like that? – [Tom] Yeah, they love it. – [Annette] Okay. – [Tom] The wood chips I
get from the power company when they trim trees
and everything and
I use a lot of them. That’s what I put
in the pathways. I don’t want to use
it on these beds because they’re still green
and they’ll pull nitrogen out. So I use them on the pathways. All here and all in the back of my permaculture
garden back here. And then in a year’s
time I can take this and put it up on the
beds because it’ll be– – That’s right. You know, you got
an advantage here. A lot of people when it rains they can’t get in their garden. You are a very frugal gardener. – Well, I try to be. – You’re taking
everything from nature, putting it back into your garden
and I see that feeding you. – This is all kale. I’ve got two kinds of kale. I’ve got spinach
right here coming up. Mustard green. Now mustard greens, I grow,
we like mustard greens. We mix them in with
our turnip greens and we cook them a lot of times. – [Annette] That’s good. – [Tom] But mustard greens
is a real good green crop. All this I grow, I try to
grow so many greens and beans because it’s good for your soil. It feeds the soil because
it draws nitrogen out and this here’s a green crop. Your beans will have nitrogen
and puts it in the soil. – I see you have
these nice wires. Will you cover this
with a cloth for winter? – I might if it gets down so
cold but after these gets up, I had this on here
because I put shade. I also got shade cloths
that I use, you know, mesh. I put that on when I first
sow something to keep birds and squirrels from scratching
around in them. See? – Is this all
lasagna or you have? – [Tom] It’s all lasagna
beds with logs underneath it. This bed is probably
about 30 inches deep. – [Annette] Do you
mind if I take my hand and go down into your soil? – [Tom] Go right ahead. – [Annette] I wanna just
see because they say that… – [Tom] It’s like
chocolate cake. – [Annette] That’s
exactly right. When you got your soil right, all you gotta do is just take
your hand and dig a hole. That is just black dirt, black
gold, that is just beautiful. – [Tom] I never use
a rotary tiller. I own a rotary tiller but I
only bought it when I bought this lot back behind me to
break it up the first time. I got some hand tools I like to use a
Korean hoe that I use. – I’ve seen one of those. – I got two of them. See, you can dig, I never, see? – [Annette] Oh, I see. Can I take some home with me? – [Tom] Sure you can. – [Annette] Tom,
before me what is this? – This is my worm farming. – How many worms can
you get in this farm? – [Tom] Oh, you can get
probably a thousand or more. And there’s probably
that many in there. They make worm poop. – [Annette] Yeah, I
know, worm castings. – [Tom] Worm castings. And it’s just full of young
worms and hard to catch them sometimes, they’ll go
all the way to the bottom. You can see them right in here. – [Annette] Let me ask you this. After you can see them, do you take them and
put them in your garden? – [Tom] No, I just leave them
in here to make castings. I use, of course I got a
lot of worms in the garden that’s making their own castings
but I just like doing this. I will use this when
I plant my tomatoes. I’ll take a handful and
put it in the tomato hole. – [Annette] This just kind
of decomposes doesn’t it? – [Tom] Yeah, they love old
newspapers and stuff like that. And I use coffee grounds in it. And when I do my juicing in
the mornings with my vegetables I take the remains of that
and it goes right in there. – [Annette] Well,
let me ask you this. Is this something
that you made up because it’s riddled with holes. – [Tom] Yeah. – [Annette] And it’s just
a container for storage. – [Tom] That’s right. I bought that at Walmart. – [Annette] And you just put
all those holes in there. – [Tom] Put little
holes in there. One eighth inch. – [Annette] So you
put those same holes. – [Tom] Yeah, put the
holes around the edge, about an inch or
so below the lid. These are one eighth inch. Now, I put quarter inch
holes in the bottom. – [Annette] And then,
like today it’s raining. – Yeah, I put this over it. But they can breathe. The worms got to breathe. So they can breathe in that. And they like dark. That’s why you
want to get a dark. – And you leave it
right here all the time or do you move it? – In the wintertime I move it
in where it’s a little warmer. They like 60 to 70 degrees. They told me that. – [Annette] We’re centered
in the middle of… – [Tom] A permaculture garden. – [Annette] Okay, explain that. – [Tom] Okay, permaculture
is where you grow just like nature provides you or you grow a lot of
different plants here. I have celery coming up here. I grow potatoes back over here. – I see raspberries right here. – Yeah, I got
raspberries over here. Back in here and you grow just a lot of different
varieties of everything. Flowers, plants, and everything. Just like you was out in
the woods, right here. – [Annette] So the permaculture, you don’t really come
in here and weed? – [Tom] Yes, I have
to do some weeding. – [Annette] Because if
you don’t then the weeds will take over your plants. – [Tom] This hasn’t
been weeded yet but I will be weeding it. – So you’re kind of saying let
everything take its course. – There’s always a lot of birds. We have raccoons in here. We had deer in here. They like my blackberry
plants over here. – [Annette] I’m sure. – [Tom] We have all
kind of of animals. – [Annette] It’s a diverse. – That’s right. They stay out of my main garden
so I built this for them. Of course I have roses here. We’ve got blueberries
back over here. Blueberry bushes
right behind here. – [Annette] And I just
see Buddleias, everything, I can’t tell you what my
eyes feasting on the candy of your garden. – [Tom] Spring and summer
this really looks good. A lot of color back here. – [Annette] Right here,
who could miss this. – [Tom] The autumn joy. – [Annette] And I love when
the bumblebees sit on that. You have several of these
huge beautiful Buddleias here. They’re wonderful for your
winged friends aren’t they? – [Tom] That’s your
butterfly bushes right here. – [Annette] Right. Today, I have learned
so much from you and it’s just, I know how
much more we haven’t learned that you do know and I thank
you because you are preserving your ground, your
seeds, and yourself. – Thank you. – And thank you
for your knowledge. – Thank you. – [Narrator] For inspiring
garden tours, growing tips, and garden projects, visit our website at
volunteergardener.org or on YouTube at the
Volunteer Gardener channel and like us on Facebook.

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