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STORIES FROM PATINA MEADOW
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STORIES FROM PATINA MEADOW

GROWING WITH NATURE IN THE BLOOMERIE GREENHOUSES

Over the past couple of months, I have been very busy in the greenhouses — starting a wide array of plants so that they were ready to be tucked outside once our frost-free days arrived. 



Well, as long as the weather doesn’t throw us a curve ball (which is very possible), that time is here. But before I start transplanting these plants into their final spots in the soil of the Bloomerie and I begin sowing the next round of seeds, I thought I would share what I’ve been growing, how I’ve been growing it, and the why behind it all. 




WHAT’S GROWING IN THE GREENHOUSES?


The greenhouses are currently bursting with a diverse range of seedlings and potted-up transplants, including, but not limited to: heirloom tomatoes, spicy & sweet peppers, crisp cucumbers, Floret dahlias & zinnias, and basil. 



I have also been experimenting with growing in the ground in these covered spaces. In one of the greenhouses, I have been focusing on medicinal herbs, growing yarrow, feverfew, lemon balm, and some arugula that I have let bolt so that I can harvest the flowers. 



In the other greenhouse, we planted beets, carrots, fennel, and romanesco.



I also experimented with growing clover between the fennel and romanesco in order to keep the ground covered to retain moisture, as well as to have more roots in the ground feeding the beneficial microorganisms in the soil (more on them later!)



HOW AM I GROWING? 


In the Bloomerie, I am avoiding the plastic that has become ubiquitous in the gardening industry over the past decades where I can. All of our plants are started in soil blocks with organic compost-based potting soil and placed into wooden trays. Along with limiting our dependency on plastic, soil blocks also improve root growth and limit transplant shock.



Seedlings that outgrow their blocks before they can be planted outside, like our tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers, are potted up into CowPots, biodegradable pots that are made of cow manure. 


While seeds contain everything a plant needs to thrive for the first couple weeks of their life, once they develop their true leaves, they benefit from an application of nutrients. We feed our plants with Sustane Natural Fertilizer, made with composted turkey manure, feather meal, and sulfate of potash, as well as bunny manure from Gardener Grove Family Farms. We use organic fertilizers as opposed to chemical fertilizers which are often derived from petroleum products and do not contain the trace elements that are found in organic material. 



Along with forgoing chemical fertilizers, I am also not using herbicides or inorganic pesticides in our greenhouses or anywhere on our property. While these products can solve the problem of weeds or pest pressure in the short term, they have detrimental impacts on all living things that come in contact with them — plants, animals, humans, and beneficial microbes alike. 


WHY ARE WE GROWING THE WAY WE ARE?


To tell you why we are growing in the manner that we are, I would like to tell you about one of chemicals that has been applied to hundreds of millions of acres of cropland in the United States alone — glyphosate. 


Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Round-Up Weed Killer, which is sprayed on cropland and residential lawns alike. If you live in a rural area, and over the past few weeks you've noticed that a field that was once a vibrant green is now yellow, it is most likely glyphosate or an even harsher herbicide, that is the cause. 



The reason that this sea of green has faded to yellow is that the herbicide has killed the "weeds" by attacking their shikimate acid enzyme pathway, a system that is essential for the plant to grow.  Since the human body does not have this pathway, they say it is safe to use. 


But the issue is, we are not just a human body. We are a host to billions of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and other microorganisms that are imperative for our health. They support our immune systems, aid digestion, and impact our mental health. Microorganisms also live in the soil and are necessary for the health of plants. They are what feed our food, transforming the nutrients in minerals and organic matter into plant-available forms that crops can uptake and eventually pass on to us. 


While we may not have this pathway, many of those microorganisms do. 


By growing crops with compost and organic fertilizers — and without the chemicals that have become commonplace in "conventional". agriculture, we are supporting the microbiome of the soil, rather than attacking it. This all leads to everything down the line being healthier and happier — including all of us. 


WHY ARE WE GROWING SO MANY PLANTS?


Now, you may be saying to yourself, “That seems like an awful lot of vegetables and flowers for just your family?” And you would be right.



Starting this season, we are going to be stocking our Farm Shop at Patina Home and Garden with the produce and flowers from the Bloomerie here at Patina Meadow. 



I wanted to do this because food is not just food and flowers are not just flowers. If grown with respect for the soil they sprout out of, they can be so much more. They can bring us into a closer relationship with our community and the land that we are irrevocably intertwined with, they can be medicine, they can allow us to live a fuller life. 



If you have any questions, please let me know. I would be more than happy to answer them. Thank you for reading.


Love,

Leila







11 Comments


This is a great post. Saving it! Where do you find your wooden trays for soil blocks?

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Replying to

Thank you! We made them! Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1dOuw5aS24

Happy growing :)

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Thank you so much for sharing your gardening secrets! lol

I look forward to reading and seeing more of Patina Meadows!

Have a great weekend & happy Friday! :)

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Thank you for writing about this!! I have recently begun researching the use of roundup and other chemical products and the horrible effects they have on our land and bodies. I have started the process of switching out products to organic, this is not easy or inexpensive! Would you share what you use for herbicide and pesticide?

It is also quite expensive to eat organic and I hope that one day as more people like yourselves promote better living, the cost will go down as it will become more mainstream. So once again, thank you for this post!

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Thank you for all the wonderful insight! It did cross my mind that part of this process might be accepting a few weeds. It’s a lot like life, right?! We strive to be perfect, and of course never are…..the best laid plans and all….acceptance of things we cannot control…like a few weeds….is the more peaceful path.

:)

Thank you!!

Tara

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Thank you for sharing your knowledge with such ease and eloquence!

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Great post, Leila! The Bloomerie looks like paradise!

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