Talisman

talisman

My farm is a wondrous and enchanting place that has fast become my magical talisman. Like a romantic fantasy-land come to life, complete with bewitching fawna, otherworldly creatures and an energy running through it that both captivates and mesmerizes. She is beautiful, so vibrant and full of life. With every caress of wind on my skin, every soothing rain shower, each misty morning and the constant trilling song of crickets, She has seduced me.

Maine’s Bigelow Mountain Range lies just outside my backdoor, and Black Hill looms out the front. Runamuk’s forever-farm lays in a valley that Gilman Stream runs through on it’s way to meet the scenic Carrabassett River─maybe a mile away as the crow flies. Numerous white-tailed deer and a flock of wild turkeys frequent the back field, and I’ve seen turkey vultures, eagles, hawks and a variety of songbirds on the property too. This part of Maine is decidedly more rural than the southern and eastern part of the state; vast swaths of wilderness still exist here and it makes my heart sing to be immersed in such a wonderland.

As a single woman, the sense of permanence and security that comes with home-ownership is tremendously liberating. I feel as though a huge weight has been lifted from me; finally I have the chance to be the master of my own life, Queen of my own empire. I have been waiting my whole life for this chance, and now that it’s here I am giving myself over to it wholeheartedly.

talisman

Something has shifted inside me─the old sense of sad longing has gone, replaced by nothing more than simple, unadulterated happiness. What’s more, my confidence level has been boosted. I accomplished this monumental thing, and while I had help along the way, it’s my name and mine alone on that FSA mortgage. Happy + Confident: that’s a powerful combination that I fully intend to make use of. Watch out world! Here comes Sam!

I’m Writing a Book!

It’s been a month since my last post. Life is a little hectic; I feel as though I am always running from one project or activity to the next (that’s not a complaint-I absolutely love having projects to do). Not only am I busy settling Runamuk in here: establishing next year’s garden, building compost bins, setting up work-spaces, and constructing a winter chicken coop. I’m also working on─not 1, but 3 books!

That’s right! I’m super inspired, and with my talisman and this newfound sense of security I’m more motivated and determined than ever to take the next step as a writer. This fall is all about cranking out the words, so if you see me posting a little less, know that everything is going well; I’m just dedicating more time to writing these stories that I want to share with the world.

And because I know you’re curious lol, I’ll even tell you what I’m working on….

Book #1: Memoirs of a Landless Farmer

At first I was apprehensive about the idea of writing a memoir─no one wants to come off as conceited. Yet this is the story I’m most inspired to write and it’s my own story of how I became a farmer and the journey my life took to make my own dream of farm-ownership come true. You may have followed the blog the whole way, but this book will be much more in depth and personal. I’ve been reviewing my old journals (I knew I kept them all these years for a reason!!!) and mapping out the storyline, researching how to write a good memoir and how to make it really meaningful and compelling for readers.

old journals
My old journals─spanning 1997, when I was a senior in high school─to the present day. What a long strange trip it’s been!

It’s definitely scary to think about sharing the full story behind some of my experiences and to reveal how they shaped my farming journey. I’ll be brave though, and put it into words because I truly believe this story will inspire others to either: a) follow my lead and take up an agrarian lifestyle in some form or fashion, or b) follow their hearts to pursue their dreams in spite of the obstacles in their way. Both of which I believe we need more of in this world.

The ultimate goal for this book is to have it professionally published by Chelsea Green, an American publishing company which specializes in non-fiction books on progressive politics and sustainable living. I’m planning to have the first draft of this manuscript finished by New Years’.

Book #2: How to Buy a Farm With the FSA

After going through the process of buying a farm using the FSA’s loan programs for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers, it only makes sense that I should share that experience and all that I learned through that process. In hopes of helping other beginning farmers find their way to farm-ownership, this will be a non-fiction, how-to eBook covering topics like:

  • Benefits & disadvantages of working with the FSA.
  • Building your income from farming (in order to justify investment in real estate).
  • Preparations: recordkeeping, taxes, writing a business plan, etc.
  • The Farm-Search: things to consider and look for in your potential farm-property.
  • Making an Offer: getting the landowner on-board.
  • Working with the FSA: the loan application, forms, and the lengthy process.

This one won’t be finished til sometime next year. It will be available as an eBook for purchase at Amazon.com, and here on the Runamuk website as well.

Note: I’m looking for a few farmers who have also purchased their farms using the FSA’s farm-loan programs. If you or someone you know went that route and would like to be interviewed to be included in this book, feel free to reach out to me by email or by direct message on social media.

Book #3: Farmer-Smut Story

Long-time followers might remember the “So You Think You Can Write” contest I entered back in 2014. If you’re new here─I was a top 25 finalist is Harlequin’s international writing competition that year, but because my father died in the midst of the competition I didn’t finish the manuscript and I definitely didn’t win the prize. *If you’re interested you can check out the story of “Sheep in the Garden & a Writing Contest” here.

Yup! I write fictional romance stories. Not just any romance─but agricultural and environmentally themed romance. My girlfriends and I have laughingly dubbed this the “Farmer-Smut” genre.

That aspect of my writing life has been sitting on the back burner while I’ve been focused on gaining farm-ownership these last few years. Now that I have some stability in my life, and this amazing muse in the form of my very own farm to inspire me─the ideas and possibilities are flowing and I am once again inspired to write about love and farming, nature and environmental stewardship.

It’s always been a fantasy of mine to have one of my romance stories published by Harlequin. 70% of romance stories are now sold as eBooks, so I’m leaning towards self-publishing in electronic format initially, in hopes that my story will get picked up later on by a professional publishing house like Harlequin, who wants to put it into print. I plan to have a manuscript ready within the next 2 years.

Check Back Soon!

Right now it’s the farm that’s taking up the majority of my time, but I’ve managed to make time for writing by burning the candle at both ends: up by 3:30 or 4 each day most days, and working til 10 or 11 writing at night. I’m really excited about publishing my first book, but I definitely have some articles in the works for the blog. I intend to bring back the Winter Growing Challenge too, so check back here soon! Jf you’re really missing me however (that’s really sweet of you by the way), you should follow our Instagram feed. I’ve been making a point to post there daily, sometimes multiple times a day, with glimpses into what #farmlife looks like at Runamuk now that we have a #foreverfarm home. Check it out!

Thanks so much for following along! I hope you’ll continue to join me on this new leg of our farming-journey! Be sure to subscribe to receive the latest posts from Runamuk directly to your in-box!

Strawberries on the GreenStalk

greenstalk project

This season my 11 year old son is growing strawberries on the GreenStalk garden planter for our family. It’s important to me to teach my children how to produce their own food, and the GreenStalk tower planter is a fun, and easy to use introduction to growing.

greenstalk projectFood Production is Essential

My boys are 15 and 11 now. They’ve been around the garden their entire lives, and I’ve made it a point to include them  in food-related chores to expose them to real food and where that food comes from─how it’s grown, prepared and cooked. Now that they’re getting older though, I want food production to be a bigger part of their lives─a necessary part of every-day life, like brushing your teeth─but more rewarding.

I believe that feeding ourselves and the people we care about is an essential component to life and living. Food and cooking makes us who we are: feeding families, traditions and every culture on the face of the planet. And yet studies show that many people don’t even know how to cook the variety of foods available to them; in America people spend just 6.5 hours per week prepping meals─compared to 13.2 and 13.1 hours spent on the task in India and the Ukraine.

Since the advent of the industrialized food system, we’ve increasingly allowed food production to be outsourced and as a result we’ve witnessed a tragic loss of skills, tradition and community, that goes hand in hand with food. I want to nurture those skills, preserve traditions and support the community I love and serve, and so I start with myself and with my own home. Be the change you want to see in the world, right?

Note: To learn more about our food system check out this article I wrote a while back: Vote With Your Fork to Save our Broken Food System.

The GreenStalk Strawberry Project

To step-up the level of responsibility I’m asking from my sons William (15) and BraeTek (11 – pronounced: Bray-tek), I decided to give them more authority over the food production. This year they each have a garden project geared toward their own individual interests. William loves to eat dill pickles, so he’ll be growing a “Pickle Garden” and learning to make pickled foods: dill pickles, dilly beans, pickled beets, etc. while BraeTek wanted to grow raspberries and blackberries to make into smoothies.

With Runamuk’s impending #foreverfarm purchase and the #GreatFarmMove #finalchapter just weeks away, I initially thought I would have to steer BraeTek in another direction─putting in perennial berry plants is not on the list for this year. However, when Ashley Skeen with GreenStalk Gardens invited me to trial their vertical garden planter and participate in their affiliate program, I saw it as an opportunity for BraeTek to be able to grow berries even in the face of the upcoming transition. I told Ashley I was “in” and ordered 25 units of Seascape bare-root strawberry plants from Johnny’s Selected Seeds─a variety that performs well in containers.

The GreenStalk is a series of 4 or 5 planters that are stackable, so it doesn’t take up much space. It has a unique system designed to conserve water, with a slow-drip method that applies the water directly to the roots of your plants. The planters are made of BPA-free plastic right here in the USA, and are very rugged, gauranteed to last at least 5 years.

Note: Did I mention GreenStalk has issued me a coupon code to share with Runamuk readers??? Get $10 off your very own GreenStalk! Click on the GreenStalk image in the sidebar to learn more!

Preparing the GreenStalk

Using the GreenStalk is super easy. Together BraeTek and I filled the 4 tiers with potting mix─as a rule I use “ProMix”, which I buy annually as a bale at my local Campbell’s True Value hardware and garden center in Madison, Maine. It’s a mix of peat moss, vermiculite and mycorrhyzae that has always served me well.

growing with greenstalk
BraeTek and I filled the four tiers with potting soil.

Add Fertilizer

Because the ProMix does not contain any added fertilizers we added our own to the planters. I have rabbit manure on hand, so I filled a bucket with that and let BraeTek apply a thick layer over the potting mix, and then mixed it into the top six inches of soil.

rabbit poop
Add a healthy helping of rabbit-poop fertilizer!

Make it Fun!

Life is hard enough. I’m a big advocate for looking for the light, and for sharing love and positivity whenever and wherever you can. Make it fun and savor the moment because ultimately this is your life and you only get one. Make it a good one.

greenstalk project with braetek
Crack some jokes along the way!

Planting!

GreenStalk sent a guide along with the planter offering recommendations on how many plants to put in each pocket. I helped BraeTek put one strawberry plant in each of the 6 pockets on all 4 tiers.

greenstalk planting
Then add the strawberry plants!

Stack ’em Up!

Once we had the 4 tiers filled, fertilized and planted I stacked them up. The individual tiers were not super heavy, and they lock easily into place, with a reservoir in between each level, and a reservoir on top. These reservoirs are what make watering the GreenStalk so easy! Check out this page on the GreenStalk website to see a fun animation of how their unique watering system works!

greenstalk easy watering
BraeTek liked watering the tower!

Strawberries Outside the Front Door

That’s all there was to it, folks─I now have a tower of strawberry plants growing outside the front door. I had hoped to be moved before BraeTek’s strawberries came, but with the delay in Closing that wasn’t possible; Ashley at GreenStalk however, was kind enough to send along one of their custom “GreenStalk Movers” to help with the transition. I’ll be sure to take a couple pictures of that in-use during the #GreatFarmMove and post them to Runamuk’s Instagram feed, but there will be subsequent updates on our GreenStalk Strawberry Project as well, so check back over the course of the summer for more about this unique vertical growing system!

Food Adds Spice to Life

I totally believe that there are certain things that are the “Spice of Life”. I imagine them in little glass spice jars, neatly labeled on a rack in the proverbial kitchen of your life, and you can add these “spices” to your life to add flavor, value and meaning to your existence. Spices like music, friendship, family, experiences, nature…and food.

Food not only has the power to feed us, but also to connect us. Food draws us together─it fosters love and a sense of community. Through food we are able to nurture ourselves and those we care about. We all have powerful memories of being cooked for, and those acts of generosity and love run deep within us.

Personally, even though it’s more work to do it myself, I don’t want to allow the Industry to provide all of my food for me. I don’t like the ingredients they have to use to be able to keep their food products on the shelves at the store. I don’t agree with the values the industry supports and I oppose many of their methods. It’s a small act of resistance, but I’d rather give the Food Industry as little of my money as possible, and I choose to vote with my fork for food that doesn’t make me feel guilty to eat.

What’s more, growing and cooking my own food adds meaning and spice to my life that I might otherwise miss out on. Food allows me to express my love─I can express my love for nature by growing food using methods that are friendly to the Earth. By cooking real, wholesome food I can shower my family with love, and nurture relationships and traditions, even honor loved ones who have passed on. And food is universal, it can extend beyond the home and I can express my love for extended family, friends, and even my community by sharing food.

Food is a powerful ingredient in the “Spice of Life” cabinet. Don’t outsource it to Industry, because ultimately it’s your life that loses flavor. It’s never to late to learn to cook a new dish, or to learn how to grow your own strawberries. Join me and start today!

Feel free to share your thoughts, questions and feedback regarding the GreenStalk and food as a “Spice of Life” in the Comments section below! We can all learn together! Be sure to follow Runamuk on Instagram and Twitter for daily behind-the-scenes updates from the farm!

Grow Your Own Potatoes With the Trench & Hill Method

potatoes

Potatoes are one of the easiest crops to produce and gardeners can grow their own potatoes using the trench and hill method, even in a first-year garden.

grow your own potatoes
Potatoes growing at Runamuk!

I don’t know about your household, but for ours potatoes are a staple in the pantry, and we go through a LOT of potatoes! Thankfully they’re easy to grow, mercifully reliable, and they keep well through the winter. Every year I make sure to dedicate a fair amount of space to potato production. If you’ve never tried it, I’d strongly encourage you to grow your own potatoes and see for yourself!

Step 1: Purchase “Seed Potatoes”

potato eyes
The eyes of a potato grow up to be potato plants!

Potatoes are grown from potatoes, not from seed as with most other crops in the garden. The spuds intended for growing are kept in a state of dormancy until the planting season draws nigh, then they are brought out of refrigeration and allowed to start sprouting. Those eyes you pick and peel away from your taters when preparing dinner? Those are what become your potato plants.

If you’ve only ever seen the selection of potatoes offered by your local grocery store you’ve been missing out on some really fantastic varieties of potato. Seed companies like Johnny’s Selected Seeds and The Maine Potato Lady offer all the traditional varieties you’d find at the supermarket: the Yukon Gold and Red Norland, but also purple taters, fingerling taters, and many more. And if you don’t want to pay to have them shipped, most local garden centers offer at least a couple of basic varieties of seed potato─go see what they’ve got available.

Some varieties mature earlier, and other mature later. The early varieties such as the Red Norland and the fingerling varieties are great for fresh-eating through the summer, while the later maturing varieties like the Kennebec and the Russets tend to be better for storing through the winter.

Step 2: Chit Your Potatoes

Essentially chitting is pre-sprouting your seed potatoes. In my experience this has already happened by the time you receive your seed-potatoes, so you shouldn’t have to worry about it. However, on the off chance that you were to get your hands on some un-sprouted spuds, all you would need to do is lay the tubers out in a spot that is 50-degrees and sunny. The eyes will begin to sprout, and once they have reached 3/4 to and inch long they are ready.

Note: Avoid planting leftover potatoes brought home from the grocery store. Usually these have been sprayed with some kind of retardant to prevent them from sprouting eyes, and you will not have the best of luck trying to grow a crop with them.

Step 3: Cut and Cure

curing seed potatoes
I cut my seed potatoes a few days prior to planting.

Not everyone does this, but cutting the potatoes a few days prior to planting allows the potato flesh to cure─effectively drying the skin─which helps to prevent rot or fungal issues. Cut them into pieces so that there are at least 1-2 eyes per piece, and then spread them out to cure for 2-3 days.

I’ve always cut and cured my taters in advance and have had good luck with it; but if time is short and you need to get this crop in the ground, it’s not the end of the world if you skip the curing.

Step 4: Site Preparation

Potatoes prefer a sandy loam soil, but are a forgiving crop and will produce a harvest in just about any type of soil. The trenching, hoeing and digging involved in potato production is especially helpful in a first-year garden. To prepare for planting of your seed potatoes, hoe a trench 6-12 inches deep, mounding the soil on either side of the trench.

Step 5: Planting

planting seed potatoes
We measured a stick to 12-inches and used it as a guide when planting our seed potatoes.

 

Lay your cut and cured potato pieces in the trench about 12-inches apart, with the eyes pointing up to the sky. These will grow up through the soil to become your potato plants.

Standing on one side of your trench, use your hoe to pull the mounded soil from the opposite side of the trench onto the seed potatoes. Ideally you’ll be covering them with about 6-inches of material. For now, leave the mounded soil on the second side of the trench for hilling later on.

Step 6: Hill the Potato Plants

When the potato plants have grown to be 8-12 inches tall take your hoe and pull the remaining mounded soil onto the potato plants, covering the lower 4-6 inches of the plant and creating a rounded hill all the way down the potato bed.

Step 7: Watch Out for the Potato Beetles!

potato beetle larvae
Potato beetle larvae.

Potatoes can suffer from leafhoppers and aphids, but mostly it’s the Colorado potato beetle that you need to watch out for. These are yellow and black striped beetles that lay their eggs on the underside of your potato leaves, and when the larvae hatches a few days later it begins to feed upon the leaves. Depending upon the degree of infestation, the larvae can cause significant damage to your crop if left unchecked.

Vigilant home gardeners can watch for the beetles and handpick them, drowning them in soapy water. Watch for yellow-orange eggs on the underside of potato leaves─usually laid in batches of 30. Eliminate the eggs by squishing them or scraping them away with your thumb-nail, or just tear that piece of the leaf off and crush it under the heel of your shoe. If you miss some eggs and find larvae eating your plants, pick these off and either feed them to your chickens or drown the larvae in soapy water.

Commercial growers hoping for a crop to sell at market may want to consider using some kind of pesticide for heavy infestations. Johnny’s Selected Seeds carries several products that are approved for use in organic production, such as the Monterey Garden Insect Spray. I’ve used this product myself in the past to knock-down an infestation and save my plants and crop. Just keep in mind that the beetles can develop a tolerance to it and reserve it for emergencies only.

Growers can also use Agribon (also known as row-cover) to keep insects off their plants and avoid the need for pesticides altogether. If you’re not familiar with Agribon or the concept of covering your rows, check out this article I wrote about using Agribon in the Garden.

Step 8: Harvest

fresh-dug-potatoes
Freshly dug spuds at Runamuk.

Potatoes are ready to harvest once they reach a usable size─about 50 days for the earlier maturing varieties. Scratch at the side of the bed, and remove a few tubers without disturbing the plant. Be sure to replace the soil when you’re done, so that the potatoes can continue to grow.

potatoes
Red Norland and Adirondak Blue potatoes, fresh from the garden!

Those first spuds of the season will be crisp and juicy; their skin so tender that it tears easily. I like nothing better than to cut the fresh taters into chunks, boil them up, and when they’re done cooking I drain them and toss them with plenty of butter and fresh chopped parsley (another staple in my garden). It’s a favorite summer dish that I learned from Linda, my farming mentor, and I think of her whenever I make it.

Typically mature potatoes are harvested in the fall. The plants will begin to brown and die back. Wait a couple of weeks once the plants have died before harvesting, in order to allow the tuber to develop their skins.

Harvest your crop using a spading fork and lifting the entire root system out of the soil. Try to avoid spearing too many of your spuds, and handle the fresh potatoes carefully to avoid tearing their skins, which are delicate at this stage. Potatoes that accidentally get pierced or cut in the harvesting should be eaten first.

Don’t wash the potatoes─simply brush loose soil off and set them in a well-ventilated spot out of the sun for a couple of days to allow the skins to dry and firm up before you trundle them off to storage.

Grow Your Own!

If your family eats potatoes you should definitely consider growing some. They really are one of the easiest crops to produce, and if the trench and hill method doesn’t sound like the right approach for you and the property where you live, there are many other methods you can try to grow your own potatoes.

Be sure to subscribe to the Runamuk blog by email to receive all the latest updates directly in your in-box! Or follow us on social media for behind-the-scenes peeks at the goings-ons at the  Runamuk Acres Farm & Apiary!

grow your own potatoes

Feeding bees pollen-patties in early spring

feeding bees in early spring

Each winter, as we work to grow our apiary to the goal of 100 hives, I closely monitor the condition of our hives throughout the course of the long winter.  After each big snow, I make this trek out across pastures to ensure the entrances are clear for my girls.  I take advantage of the rare warm days to pop open the hives briefly, adding my sugar cakes if a colony is low on stores, and sometime in March, I reward my girls with a pollen patty.

feeding bees pollen patties in early springI won’t breathe a sigh of relief, however, until the dandelion bloom is underway.  February through May is the most difficult time of year for honeybees in our part of the world.  Even if a colony has sufficient stores going into the winter, there’s always the possibility that they may eat themselves into a corner and not be able to reach the other honey stores due to the freezing temperatures, and their own instinctual reluctance to break their winter cluster.

Typically colonies that die of starvation are those that are the most populous, but the nature of each individual winter can have an impact on the condition of the hive, too.  Warmer winter temperatures can cause more activity in the hive, resulting in quicker consumption of the colony’s stores.  Extreme cold, such as 2014’s “Polar Vortex” can cause a fatal chill among the bees.  Trusting in nature, I know that the strongest colonies will survive the long Maine winter, and as they begin to build up in population, growing into summer, I will again make my splits and Nucs to grow the Runamuk apiary just a little more.

And so, in anticipation of the spring season, I feed my bees pollen-patties.

What are pollen patties?

These are are a mixture of ingredients, including pollen, sugar, vitamins, lemon juice or citric acid, dried egg, oil, yeast, and honey, designed to stimulate brood production.  There are many different recipes out there, and so far there has not proven to be one that stands out above all others, and experiences among beekeepers will vary.

Pollen patties are stiff and thick and are designed to lay across the top of the frames inside the hive, directly above the brood nest, so that they are immediately accessible to the bees, even in frigid temperatures.

Why feed bees pollen patties?

stimulating brood production through supplemental feeding of pollen patties
This is a nice frame of capped brood, soon the young bees will emerge and be ready to get to work.

Not every beekeeper needs to do this.  The larger commercial beekeeping outfits feed supplemental pollen in order to build up the populations in their hives prior to going to the almond groves.  Beekeepers who raise Nucs and Queens to sell to other beekeepers, may feed their colonies pollen patties to build up the population before they begin making nucleus colonies or breeding Queens.  The average hobbyist should not need to worry about their bees having sufficient pollen available for the spring build-up, since pollen is often available even when nectar is not.  Pollen from trees is some of the first food sources available to bees early in the spring, and bees can even be seen bringing pollen in well into October.

Bees need both pollen and honey in order to reproduce.  While adult bees eat honey, the bee larvae are dependent on a supply of nutritious, high-protein pollen.  Nurse-bees consume the pollen in bee-bread form, which then allows the nurses to secrete the Royal jelly that larvae need during their first three days of life.  Then, as the larvae mature, they are switched over to a diet of bee-bread and honey.

By offering the bees an enriched diet through supplemental feedings of pollen–the nurse bees are able to secrete lots of Royal jelly, so they prepare cells for eggs, and the Queen in turn deposits the eggs, and suddenly brood production is in full swing.  Having a larger population as we move into the spring is desirable not only if you intend to make the apiary increases that I do, but also to increase the rate of honey production,

When should you feed pollen patties?

If you’re going to supplement with pollen patties to encourage brood production in your hives, when you begin feeding them is of crucial importance–it’s hugely dependent on your location, region, and climate.  Since the bees will usually refuse the pollen supplements once the good stuff is available outside, you’ll want as many bees as possible to take advantage of that first major pollen flow, which will continue to spur brood production gearing up for the start of the up-coming nectar flow.

feeding bees in early spring
Trees offer the earliest forms of pollen and nectar for honeybees and native pollinators.

Knowing when that main honey flow will begin allows you to count back 8-9 weeks before it will begin, so that you will have 4 good flushes of brood before the first honey flow begins.  So get a calendar, and if you don’t know when the honey flows occur in your area, go ask the beekeepers at your local beekeepers’ association.

Here in my part of Maine our nectar flows begin with the dandelion bloom, which typically starts around Mother’s Day in May.  Counting back 9 weeks from Mother’s Day will find me beginning feeding my bees supplemental pollen in the second week of March.  I won’t pin it down to a specific day because opening the hives to place the patties on will be dependent on the weather and temperatures.  I’ll wait for a warmer, sunny day with little to no wind, and then I will make my rounds, popping open each hive just long enough to place a patty across the frames.

Waiting for spring

For now, there is still snow on the ground, and even as I write this it is snowing outside once again, but it won’t be long before the grass will be green again, the trees will be sporting their freshly unfurled leaves, flowers will be in bloom, and the bees will be buzzing about the fields once more.

Supplemental feedings of pollen and pollen substitutes may not be right for every beekeeper, but at Runamuk, as we continue to expand our apiary little by little, ensuring that our hives have plenty of strong bees available for making spring splits and Nucs–and even just for successful honey production–it is a key component of our management practices.

#WinterGrowingChallenge Update

radish sprouts

11 days after sowing my first seeds for shoots as part of my #WinterGrowingChallenge, I am still patiently waiting for those leafy-greens. I’m fairly lusting after a pea-shoot salad with my favorite homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing─maybe with a little crumbled feta. The idea makes my mouth water even now. There was one thing I overlooked however, amid my own enthusiasm for growing greens through the winter…

radish sprouts
Here are my radish shoots on day 11; getting closer to harvest!

I followed all of the instructions, just as I laid them out in my recent article: How to Grow Shoots for a Supply of Leafy Green Vegetables this Winter. I used Peter Burke’s “Year Round Indoor Salad Gardening” as a reference manual and followed his guidance through the whole process. I pre-moistened the soil, soaked my seeds, and on Tuesday, December 11th before I left for the Call Center at Johnny’s Selected Seeds I pressed my seeds into the soil and covered them with wet newspaper. I tucked the trays into a dresser drawer I’d freed up for the project, and then waited patiently.

There was one thing I neglected to take into consideration though. We’ve had a very mild autumn this year; the temperatures here in central Maine have been abnormally warm. Old Man Winter must have caught wind of my project though, and waited til I had sown those first seeds before moving into Maine with a vengeance. Earlier this week we received our first snow-storm and since Tuesday temps have been in the single digits; this is the coldest weather we’ve seen since March.

When I organized the Winter Growing Challenge I wasn’t thinking about how cold it can get in this old trailer during the winter. Even with the woodstove the temperature hovers between 60-65 most of the time. During an Arctic Blast however, it can be a challenge to get the room above 50. I had expected to have tender greens within a week, but tucked away in a drawer across the room from the woodstove my shoots have been slow to grow.

Nonetheless they are growing. I will have salad, and I will grow my own leafy-green veg this winter.

Check back soon! I’ll be sharing that balsamic vinaigrette recipe, as well as the opportunity to win a “Winter Growing Kit” during the week of the Winter Solstice! Subscribe to this blog by email so that you don’t miss anything!

How to Grow Shoots for a Supply of Leafy Green Vegetables This Winter

pea shoots

Supply your household with a source of fresh, leafy green vegetables this winter by learning how to grow your own shoots indoors. If you’ve never tried it, I’m offering you the perfect opportunity to try it now and see how easy it really is. Join me in my #WinterGrowingChallenge and grow shoots through the winter this season. I’ve assembled this how-to article to walk you through the process and I’m offering a Quick Start Guide available as a free download that you can print to have on hand. Keep reading to find out more.

Note: If this is your first time here, please follow the link to more about the #WinterGrowingChallenge!

pea shoots
Lush green pea shoots. Photo courtesy Magic Valley Greens N Things.

Step 1: Gather Supplies

Growing shoots is super simple and you probably already have most of the required supplies in your kitchen.

  • winter growing shoot seed
    Shoot and sprouting seed ordered from Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

    Seeds: You can find sprouting seeds at your local health-food store, but for better selection you may want to look online. Check out Johnny’s listings of shoots and sprouts, and feel free to call me on Mondays or Tuesdays when I’m in the Call Center for help in selecting varieties for your family; just ask if Sam is available!

  • Soil: a standard germination mix works fine. Typically available at your local garden center or hardware store. It’s a mix of peat moss, vermiculite, perlite, and lime.
  • Trays: aluminum foil half-loaf bread pans, 4×6-inch seedling tray, or even the bottom of a milk jug or a ceramic cereal bowl.
  • Organic fertilizer: fish emulsion or kelp meal. Both should be available at your local garden center, but if not you can find fish emulsion at Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
  • Warm, dark spot: a kitchen cupboard or closet shelf.
  • Newspapers: you should be able to get your hands on some newspaper, but if not try substituting with paper towels, newsprint packing paper, or paper napkins.
  • Measuring cups & spoons
  • Watering can
  • Small glasses or plastic cups
  • Small strainer or sieve
  • 1 gallon Ziploc bag
  • 1 gallon plastic juice container
  • Seeds for sprouts/shoots
  • Sunny windowsill
  • Scissors

Step 2: Soak the Seeds & Prep the Soil

sprouting seed soak
Soaking seed before sowing speeds germination.

Prepare to start your shoots by first prepping your soil. Fill the juice container to the brim with germination mix and add water. For a 2-Quart juice container add 2 cups of water. Put the cover on and set it aside, that part’s done.

For every tray I intend to sow I set out 1 cup.

Please note: this recipe is geared toward trays that are 3×6-inches; if your trays are larger you will need to use more seed to cover the soil.

For large seed like peas, sunflower and buckwheat use 1 tablespoon of seed per tray. For small seeds like broccoli and radish, use just 1 teaspoon of seed (it may not look like enough seed to do the job, but trust me, you don’t want to over-sow those little babies!).

Fill the cups halfway with water to completely cover the seeds and leave them for 6 hours or overnight.

Step 3: Prep Trays and Covers

The next morning take 1 sheet of newspaper for each tray you intend to sow and fold each one so that it’s just a little bigger than the tray. Soak these in water and set aside while you prep the trays.

In the bottom of each tray place 1/2 teaspoon of your chosen fertilizer, along with 1 teaspoon of compost. Add 1-1/4 cups of the pre-moistened soil mix (again, this is for a 3×6-inch bread loaf pan) and level it out.

Yay! Now you’re ready to sow the seeds!

sowing seeds to grow shoots
Pea seeds I’ve sown for shoots.

Step 4: Add Seeds and Cover 4 days

trays for growing shoots
Here are my first 3 trays being tucked away in a dresser drawer.

 

Drain the water out of the seeds using the small sieve and sow the trays one at a time, spreading the wet seeds over the soil so that they touch, but are not overlapping each other. Then take your wet newspaper cover and press it into the tray so that it is in direct contact with the seeds.

Now put your covered trays in a warm, dark location and leave them for 4 days. You can keep them in a dresser drawer like I am, or use a kitchen cupboard, closet shelf─anywhere you can create a small space for these to sit that is relatively warm and dark.

Step 5: Remove Covers – Put in Window

On day 5 remove the covers from your trays and place the shoots in a sunny spot. This can be directly in the window, on an end table in the living room that get plenty of sun, or you can even use a grow-light if you don’t have an accessible window.

Step 6: Water Daily for 3-4 days

Water the shoots once a day with 2-4 tablespoons of water. Watch your shoots grow and unfurl tender new leaves! Marvel at the wonder of nature inside your own home!

Step 7: Harvest!!

pea shoots
Pea shoots grown by Moon Valley Farm of Maryland! Check them out online at: https://www.moonvalleyfarm.net/

Now the best part! When your shoots are 4-6 inches tall use a pair of scissors to harvest the greens. Eat them raw to receive their full nutritional benefit. Enjoy a winter salad, put shoots on your sandwich, add them to a smoothie; get creative with it!

FREE DOWNLOAD!!!

Click here to download my Quick Start Guide to try it yourself!

Join me!

Join me this winter on my mission to grow my own shoots to provide my household with a source of fresh, leafy-greens. Try it for yourself at home and see how easy it is! Save money and eat better at the same time! Sounds like an oxymoron right? Well it’s not. Growing shoots at home saves you from buying the sad wilty lettuce at the grocery store, allows you to eat greens so fresh they’re only minutes old, and offers you the opportunity to eat more of those healthful greens. Join me in the #WinterGrowingChallenge this season and eat more veg!

Subscribe to the Runamuk blog by email to receive the latest posts and articles directly in your in-box! Be sure to use the #WinterGrowingChallenge hashtag when sharing your shoot posts and pictures!

how to grow your own shoots

13 Reasons to Grow Your Own Shoots This Winter

pea shoots

I am so pumped about this whole Winter Growing Challenge that I want every household to do this with me and I’m going to give you 13 reasons to grow your own shoots. By doing this together we can encourage the people around us to eat healthier too; we can inspire our friends and family to make a conscious choice to eat more fresh vegetables in the form of leafy greens.

grow your own shoots#1.  Fresh greens every day

By growing your own shoots you can effectively provide your household with fresh leafy greens every single day. No need to go to the grocery store to look over their sad selection of bruised and wilty leaves, or to resort to the pre-packaged iceberg salad mix. You can have a leafy green salad any day of the week─even in the depths of winter by growing your own shoots.

#2.  Super healthful and nutritious

We all know we should be eating more fresh vegetables in order to be healthy, and shoots are some of the most nutritious vegetables you could hope for. Typically, about a week after sprouting, the shoots will have the highest concentration of bioavailability of nutrients. These tiny seedlings are jam-packed with important organic compounds, vitamins and minerals that our bodies can utilize.

#3.  Quick

It seriously takes just 15 minutes to set up 5 trays for growing your own shoots to provide a week’s supply of greens. Daily watering takes less than 2 minutes, and you can harvest the shoots with scissors while you’re already in the process of making a meal. The benefits are well worth the time.

#4.  Easy

It’s so easy that you could teach your children to do it and delegate the task to them as a weekly responsibility. This teaches the the whole family about growing your own food, and the intrinsic value of feeding the people we care for.

#5.  Cheap

pea shoots
Pea shoots grown by Moon Valley Farm of Maryland! Check them out online at: https://www.moonvalleyfarm.net/

The primary expense in growing your own shoots is the seed itself, but in 7 days you can more than double the return on your investment simply by growing those seeds out into fresh greens.

In his book “Year Round Indoor Salad Gardening”, Peter Burke shares that a 3 and a half cup jar of peas is enough seed to plant 56 trays. If you sow 5 trays each week, that’s a little over two month’s supply of fresh greens. The cost of the seed is around $6 and 56 trays of shoots will yield approximately 10 and 3/4 pounds of fresh leafy greens. Peter figures the cost of the trays, soil and fertilizer at .17¢ per tray, which comes to $9.52 for all 56 trays. That’s $15.52 for 10 and 3/4 pounds of fresh veg that you would end up paying $269 for if you were to purchase it at the grocery store.

IF you can find them locally.

#6.  Not a lot of equipment

Aside from the seed and some soil, you really don’t need anything special to get started growing your own shoots. You could even cut the bottoms off milk jugs and avoid the cost of trays, and the other supplies you likely already have in your kitchen: measuring cups and spoons, a small sieve for straining seed, and a small watering can─but even a soda bottle could be improvised in a pinch.

#7.  Organic

You are in control when it comes to growing your shoots. You can use a soil mix that is free from synthetic chemical fertilizers, use natural and organic fertilizers, and produce your own organic greens at a fraction of the price that you would pay at the farmers’ market.

#8.  Small space

It requires very little space to grow shoots to supplement your family’s diet. For 5 trays, depending on their size, it might take 2 feet of space. And for the first four days they should be in the dark, so it’s totally cool to stash them in a kitchen cupboard, a dresser drawer or a closet shelf. After that the trays need a sunny window-spot, but if your windowsills are not deep enough to accommodate the trays it’s super easy to fix a shelf in a window, or simply set the trays on an end table near the window.

#9.  Variety

variety of shoots
A mix of shoots grown by Edible Flower Power of New Zealand. Follow them on Facebook or Instagram!

There are so many different kinds of shoots and sprouts to choose from, and so much you can do with them that it’s unlikely that you’ll ever get caught eating “the same old thing” ever again.

Grow a myriad of brassicas, grow mustards, legumes like peas, leafy things like buckwheat. Eat salads til they’re coming out your ears, put shoots on a sandwich, use them to make soup stock, add them to ramen or a stir-fry. Get creative with shoots!

Check out the selection of shoots and sprouts available at Johnny’s Selected Seeds!

#10.  Nurturing

Growing your own shoots and sprouts is an act of love and caring. You’re caring for something living, green and growing at a time of the year when cold and snow prohibit plant growth. Largely though, it’s caring for ourselves and the people we share our lives with. By feeding ourselves better food we’re nurturing our bodies and our spirits, and that’s every bit as important as saving money on the grocery bill─maybe even more so.

#11.  Supports a plant-based diet

Health experts agree that a diet consisting primarily of plants can significantly reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. While I’m not here to convert you to vegetarianism, I am an advocate for a diet consisting of less meat, and especially less process foods. I believe that eating more vegetables and fruits is better for my body and my long-term health, as well as for the health of my children and those I care about.

#12.  Better for the environment

Not only is a plant-based diet better for our bodies, it’s better for the planet too! Agricultural production of meat is the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions, as well as contributing to water and soil pollution. Monocultures are depleting soil nutrients and require the use of pesticides that are in turn killing insects and other wildlife. Growing shoots ourselves offers next to no impact on the planet, while providing our families with superior food.

#13.  Reduces dependence on the industrialized food system

Locally caught bass on a bed of shoots with sourdough bread.

Growing our own food offers us independence from industrialized agriculture. It’s an incredibly powerful way of making a statement. The government is slow to make changes, and many in positions of power have been swayed by the influence of money to believing that this chemically intensive food system is OK. Yet the system is a broken one, causing harm to the planet, the animals─even to ourselves. Industrialized farming is not only destroying the soil required to grow food, it’s polluting our water and air. The resulting production of processed food products are spreading chronic illness throughout the population.

Note: To learn more about the industrialized agricultural system currently in place, how it came to be and how you can help bring about change, read: Vote With Your Fork to Save our Broken Food System.

This is one situation however, where we have the power in our very own hands to change things.

3 times a day we can vote for the kind of food system we want. Simply by making conscious choices when it comes to food─opting to purchase organic food, or local food, and by learning once again to do it ourselves. When we stop spending our hard earned money on those processed products or factory-farmed meats we’re reducing the demand for those products. Imagine if we all just said “No” and no one was buying those things anymore. There would no longer be money to be made that way and the suits profiting from industrial ag would finally be forced to change. Afterall money talks, right?

Be Part of the Winter Growing Challenge!!!

Geez, I guess I got up on my soap-box for a bit there with number 13 huh? I’m not going to apologize though. Food is such an elemental part of our lives─like water, air, a roof and clothing─food is essential to life. And yet, at the same time, food is so much more.

Through food we have cultivated humanity: community, family and tradition all center around food. Food is also our connection to the Earth and the creatures living in coexistence on this planet with us. We don’t need to wait for the government to make the changes we want to see in the food system. We have the power to make those changes in our own lives and to inspire others to follow suit. We can be the change we want to see in our lives. Be the change; grow shoots with me this winter and be a part of the Winter Growing Challenge. Together we can do more.

There are lots of great reasons why you should take up the Winter Growing Challenge with me. I’ve given you 13, if you see another leave a comment below to share with others!

13 reasons to grow your own shoots

Winter Growing Challenge!

pea shoot salad_winter growing cahllenge

Announcing Runamuk’s Winter Growing Challenge 2017!

winter growing challenge
Eat your greens all winter long by growing your own shoots and sprouts! Photo credit to: Backyardfarm.co

The further I travel along this road toward an increasingly sustainable lifestyle, the more I learn about food and good health. I want to provide my family with healthy fare so they can reach their full potential─that was the reason I started gardening in the first place. I’ve learned to feed my children from the garden during the summer, to store and preserve the harvest for the winter, and we’ve learned to eat less meat, and less processed foods. But nothing beats the health benefits of eating fresh greens, so I’ve been working to increase our family’s access to those nutrient-dense greens all year.

winter growing at runamuk
Crops growing under row-cover.

Those who have been following along with Runamuk’s story know that I’ve extended my growing season by using row-cover and greenhouse film on a couple of my garden beds. The plan is to be able to harvest from that all winter this year, and so we’ve sown a variety of cold-hardy greens including kale, tatsoi, radishes, spinach, mizuna and a lettuce mix for good measure.

In addition to that I’ve decided to take up the Winter Growing Challenge and I’m planning on growing shoots and sprouts this winter to further supplement our family’s available greens. I’m inviting you to follow along with our progress as we make space in our kitchen this winter for trays of green veg and jars of tender sprouts. Learn how easy it can be to grow your own food; then gather your courage to try it too. We can do this together.

Note: To learn more about our food system and the immediate impact each and every one of us can have on it, read this article I wrote: Vote With Your Fork to Save our Broken Food System.

What is the Winter Growing Challenge?

I, Sam(antha) Burns─farmer, beekeeper, gardener, blogger, and Mom to 2 rowdy young men-to-be─challenge myself to grow more food this winter. I am challenging myself to  grow shoots and sprouts in order to provide the most healthful and nutrient-dense diet I can, on my limited budget, and in tight quarters.

Join me in taking up the Winter Growing Challenge, grow more food this winter to feed your family fresh veg for a healthier and more sustainable, self-sufficient life.

Who Can Play?

winter growing challenge_pea shoots
Pea shoots grown by Magic Valley Greens n Things.

Anyone!!! From the homesteader or the home gardener, to the individual who has never grown anything before─I’m inviting you to follow along with my Winter Growing Challenge, learn from my adventures (and misadventures) and give it a go. Grow your own shoots and sprouts this winter, share pictures of your tender green shoots to Instagram to share your excitement. Post to Facebook your recipes for creative new ways to use your fresh greens; share your experiences and encourage others around you to take up the Winter Growing Challenge too!

When & Where?

For 3 months, beginning the first week of December and running through February, I will be posting that story once a week for you to follow here on the Runamuk blog. There will be new how-to articles that I hope will inspire you to give growing shoots a try, as well as recipes, and links to resources to help you grow your own fresh greens this winter. I’d recommend you subscribe to receive new posts from Runamuk directly in your in-box so that you don’t miss a thing!

Up-coming giveaway???

I see another giveaway in our future! To help other home gardeners get started with growing your own greens this winter, I want to give a few of you the gift of a pound of pea seed for shoots from Johnny’s Selected Seeds! Check back soon for the details on that!

Let’s Do This!

pea shoot salad_winter growing cahllenge
Delicious pea shoot salad grown and prepared by BackyardFarm.co

Nearly 80% of Americans say that sustainability is a priority to them. People are waking up to the pervasive financialization of the food system and the dangers of a diet made up of processed foods. We are increasingly opting to purchase organic or locally grown or grass-fed. More and more households are choosing to cultivate gardens in their backyards, and urban farming is on the rise. Growing our own shoots and sprouts during the winter is just one more way we can improve our own self-sufficiency. It’s one more way we can take a stand against the corporate consumer-based system, and one more way we can eat healthier for a long and happy life.

Join me! Follow along with my Winter Growing Challenge 2017! Leave a comment below if you want to play along!

winter growing challenge

Holiday Gift Baskets from Runamuk

runamuk raw honey

Brighten someone’s day with a gift basket from Runamuk Acres! With raw honey, beeswax soaps and wildcrafted herbal salves, our baskets are unique and useful even beyond the holiday season. Healthful and practical, all natural and bee-friendly, just about anyone would be happy to be blessed with such a gift. It’s a great way to show someone you care.

I fully admit this is a shameless plug for Runamuk’s fine products lol. Afterall, I’ve worked hard to learn these skills, to develop my own methods and recipes. As a farmer and beekeeper I’m damned proud of Runamuk’s products. If you’re going to be buying gifts for family and friends anyway, definitely consider raw honey and beeswax products from Runamuk Acres, a bee-friendly farm and apiary in central Maine.

gift baskets availableIf you haven’t visited the Runamuk Farm-Store definitely stop by to see the listing of products currently available from our farm and apiary. We’ve recently updated the shopping cart so that it functions more efficiently, and the shipping charges are priced so as to make it more affordable for out-of-state customers.

Orders can be placed online for local pick-up too: pick up orders at the Madison Farmers’ Market, OR coordinate with us for delivery to another mutually-convenient time/location.

Runamuk’s Apiary Products

runamuk raw honey
The lighter honey on the left is the spring crop, and the darker honey on the right was harvested in the fall.

Raw Honey: We have raw honey available in pint-sized (1.4lbs) mason jars, with a choice between the spring and the fall honey. The spring honey is light-colored with a sweeter flavor, while the fall honey is darker in color due to the types of flowers the bees feed on at that time of the year. The fall honey also has a more robust flavor and it’s higher in antioxidants─a boon going into the winter cold and flu season.

Beeswax Soaps: Runamuk’s soaps are all made with a base recipe that includes plant-based oils and fats, as well as beeswax and honey. These are long-lasting bars that lather well even in hard water. We have a variety of mainstay soaps, along with seasonal-fragrances available while supplies last.

Wildcrafted Herbal Salves: These are lotions, skin creams, balms, or liniments made with beeswax from our own hives. The medicinal plants are either foraged from the surrounding landscape, or harvested from Runamuk’s gardens, then dried and infused for 8 weeks in olive oil before being combined with the beeswax and packaged into recyclable aluminum tins.

Beeswax Wood Polish: By combining raw linseed oil with our own beeswax we’ve created a product that is completely natural. Beeswax is a superb protectant for wood furniture, kitchen utensils, or even leather. Runamuk offers the wood polish either unscented or lemongrass-scented in 4oz tins; larger sizes available by request.

Gift Baskets

Small Basket: $25 

  • 1 pint (1.4lbs) raw honey: your choice of the spring or fall varieties
  • 3 bars of beeswax soap: mix-and-match
  • 1 tin (1oz) herbal salve: your choice of any herbal salve (includes lipbalm) OR 1 tin wood polish: unscented or lemongrass-scented

Large Basket: $50

  • 1 pint (1.4lbs) Raw Honey each of the spring and fall varieties
  • 6 bars of Beeswax Soap: mix-and-match
  • 1 tin (1oz) Herbal Salve: your choice of any herbal salve (includes lipbalm)
  • 1 tin (4oz) Herbal Salve: your choice of any herbal salve
  • 1 tin (4oz) Wood Polish : unscented or lemongrass-scented

How to Place an Order with Runamuk

Central Maine residents can find Runamuk’s beeswax soaps and herbal salves at North Star Orchards in Madison, and in Skowhegan at Ginny’s Natural Foods right on the rotary downtown.

To purchase directly from the farm we are available at the Madison Farmers’ Market right up until just before Christmas. We can take pre-orders in person, by email, phone, text, or even social media.

Or place your order online through our farm-store and we can ship it to the desired destination. We’re currently offering a $4 flat rate shipping charge on any order over $25, and FREE shipping on orders over $50.

Be present

I’d also like to take this opportunity to remind us all that the holidays are not about the gifts and the tinsel. It’s about taking the time to show the people in our lives that we care, and if you can do no more this year for those you hold dear than to show up and be present, then I encourage you to do so wholeheartedly. Be present. Be light and love for those around you and they will remember and thank you for it.

Happy Holidays to you and yours from all of us at Runamuk!

What to Do When Your Tree Is Dying: 6 Things You Need To Know

dying tree

The trees and plants in the surroundings are living things that need to be taken care of. The trees and plants provide a lot of benefits not only to mother earth but also to us, human beings. Trees add life as well as color to the environment.

For some, trees can be a great addition to enhance your garden and home facade. Thus, in this article, I am going to share with you six efficient tips on how to save a dying tree in your backyard.

Note: This is a guest-post by Lucy Clark of GardenAmbition.com. Please join me in welcoming her to the Runamuk blog!

Ready? Here are the six things you need to know about how to save a dying tree:

what to do when your tree is dying

what to do when your tree is dying1. IDENTIFY THE SIGNS OF A DYING TREE

Not all people can classify a dying tree from an already dead tree. They are completely two different things. The confusion starts because both look lifeless, dried up, and without any trace of green leaves. So, before you go ahead and save a dying tree, know first if it is dying or already dead. Nourishing a dead tree back to life would be pointless and time-consuming.

dying tree
A dying tree usually has a bent structure, cracks, decay and dried-up.

A dying tree may have the following signs:

  • Bent structure – The tree is not upright because the root is losing its strength.
  • Cracks – There is a continuous crack on the trunk of the tree.
  • Decay – There are fungi or mushrooms on the surface of the tree.
  • Dried Up Wood – Extreme dryness is a sign of a dying tree. The branches look lifeless and can easily crack when you put pressure in it.
  • Light to No Leaves – Dying trees often have fewer leaves than healthy trees. Leaves can be found in a few branches.

2. IDENTIFYING THE PROBLEM

cutting dying tree
An arborist has the necessary training and knowledge to analyze and treat any tree problem.

Since you already know the signs of a dying tree, the next thing you need to do is to determine the cause of why it is dying. Determining the exact cause is quite tricky; hence, you might need to consult an arborist for proper guidance. This will increase the chance of saving your tree.

3. CORRECT WATERING ISSUES

watering
Watering can be detrimental to the health of some trees.

Moisture issues are commonly the reasons why a tree is prone to dying. Mature trees can be adversely affected by too much or too little water. Dehydration can kill all living beings – humans, animals, and trees. To ensure your trees grow healthy and sturdy, make sure that they are properly nourished. You have to check and make sure that the area where the tree is located has a good drainage system. Using your garden hose, set it on high stream and water the tree from 0.5 to 2 minutes. Control the nozzle and avoid drowning the soil with too much water. If you do not have enough time to water the tree, setup an automated sprinklers instead.

4. PROPER MULCHING TECHNIQUE

How does using a mulch save a tree? Mulching is one way to nourish the soil surrounding your tree. However, when not done correctly, it can be harmful to the trees. Be sure not to put too much mulch around the base. Just place enough mulch to allow the roots to breathe. Dig the ground so that the mulch has direct contact with the roots. Make it at least 5 inches deep. Using your rake, spread the mulch, only apply 1.5 inches of mulch. In doing so, it helps prevent a host of other tree problems like bacteria and fungi infections.

mulching
Organic Mulch can save dying trees. It contains compost, tree bark chips, wheat straw and others.

5. USE FERTILIZERS ACCORDINGLY

organic fertilizers
Soils with organic fertilizers remain loose and airy which can help a dying tree.

Fertilizers are another item that can help your dilemma on how to save a dying tree. When using fertilizers, avoid sprinkling or spraying it too much to the trees. Before jumping to the conclusion that a sick or dying tree needs fertilizer, test the soil first to make sure you are saving the tree and correcting the problem. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to get the full benefits of the fertilizers. When you are unsure, consult it first with an arborist. Perhaps, it is not the soil nourishment that causes your tree to die. There could be other factors involved like pests or dehydration.

6. PROPER PRUNING TECHNIQUE

If you want to learn about how to save a dying tree, it is helpful if you research on appropriate pruning techniques. Know the kind of tree and the disease because there is a proper pruning for each, and it should be adjusted accordingly. If there are unhealthy areas noticeable on a tree, correctly removing the diseased sections could save a tree’s life. Be sure to get rid of the unhealthy branches to prevent the problem from spreading. Use sanitized shears, knives, or saw to remove unwanted branches.

pruning
Pruning can help your tree retain its nourishment.

GO SAVE SOME TREES!

There are so many ways on how to save a dying tree, but these six steps are the forerunner. In some cases, the reason why a tree is dying could be more than just about nourishment and diseases. Weather conditions and expected lifespan could also play a role. Trees have saved us so many times, and it is now our turn to save them. So, go ahead and look around your garden for some trees to save!

Thank you for reading and don’t hesitate to share your tree-story below! Happy gardening!