The difficult thing about starting my garden on our land is the I never know what will actually grow. When we moved into this house 15 months ago, the house was newly built, and the land it sits on had previously been forest. The land the house sits on, and the land immediately around it were cleared specifically to build the house. We live in the South, and this newly exposed land is composed entirely of clay. It’s hard, and doesn’t absorb water well. To give an example, a few months ago I dug a 1 foot deep hole in the ground near the garden and filled it with water. I wanted to see how long it would take for the water to drain from the hole and into the surrounding water. The hole was still full after a week.
How do you garden with drainage that poor? I suppose I could create a really large raised bed, and buy several trucks worth of potting soil and compost to put in my garden area, but I can think of better things to spend that money on.
I’m currently taking a class in permaculture to learn how to manage our land and our gardening space better, but right now I have to work with what I have and what I know.
What’s worked for us is to lay out a pile of compost from our compost pile in rows where I intend to plant. Then, I cover the compost with a layer of potting soil. I do this because usually the compost isn’t “done” composting when I use it. There are 5 of us, and we generate a good amount of compost. Our compost bin regularly fills before we have “finished” compost. I’m not a compost purist, I use it in whatever stage of completion it’s in when I use it. Which means that often it’s a mixture of finished compost and unfinished. So, I put a layer of cheap potting soil over it help it continue breaking down.
Then, I plant my seeds, or seedlings in the row I’ve created. It seems to work fairly well for most things, my turnips did well, lettuce, onions, cabbage and jalapeño peppers are all thriving in this mixture. However, there was one section of the garden where what I planted, very obviously did not grow. I planted Brussels sprouts, bird house gourds, and cucumbers. What I got was some sort of squash. I let the mystery squash grow and do its thing, because even though it’s not what I planted if it came from the compost, then it’s something we can eat.
It’s a good thing my kids like pumpkins. So far, we’ve made pumpkin soup, and dehydrated pumpkin seeds in preparation to make pumpkin flour.
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc, magnesium, copper, and potassium (1/2 cup had 294.1 mg of potassium). Pumpkin seeds are great for getting rid of parasites, relieving any kind of intestinal or stomach discomfort, reducing systemic inflammation, and reducing an enlarged prostate. The meat of the pumpkin is also very good for you. It’s high in potassium, Vitamin A, and a respectable source for Vitamin C, and riboflavin.
We use pumpkin seeds and the flesh of the squash as a flour replacement for pies and coatings. I dehydrate the pumpkin and then use the food grinder to create a fine flour. It stores well in the freezer, and my kids love it.