|If I had my choice I would have found a
homestead property with good soil, but I had to
take what was available, and what was available
was very poor soil. The soil on my property is
called Lake Charles clay, but growing up my
father called it Black Gumbo. Some research on
the qualities of Lake Charles clay revealed that
the soil is in fact full of nutrients and minerals, but
they are locked up in the clay and hard to get out.
The major attributes of Lake Charles clay are that
it is either rock hard, or when wet it holds the
moisture and is a soggy sticky mess. It is
recommended that to unlock the soil nutrients
you must add lots and lots of organic material.
That being said, when I first arrived on this
property I picked an area for a garden and I began
layering it with lots of old hay and goat manure.
After truck load after truck load of hay and
manure, I still could not see any difference in the
soil make up. It was like I had never done
anything at all.
|My supply of free hay and manure had run
out, and my soil was still too poor to plant
anything, so I had to come up with a solution.
My first thought was to build raised beds, but
that would require lots of compost which I
could not afford to purchase. Then one day I
was checking on Craigslist for items I might
be able to acquire for cheap or free, and there
in the free section was a person giving away
plastic pots like the ones used in Plant
Nurseries. I made contact with the person
and I ended up being able to pick up two
truck loads of plastic pots of all different sizes.
|The containers gave me an idea. At work there was
a contractor who had lots of wooden pallets
stacked up, and it didn't appear that they had any
use for them, so I asked if I could have a few, and I
was able to pick up two truck loads of them. At the
house I had a roll of black plastic sheeting, so I
rolled out the plastic and covered an area to be
used as a garden. I placed the pallets on the
plastic, and then arranged some of the plastic pots
on the pallets. Now all I needed was some dirt to
put into the pots. I checked with Walmart, and
several big box stores to see what bags of Organic
garden soil would cost, and it was much more than
I could afford. Next I contacted several businesses
in the area that sold mulch, rock, and soil in bulk,
and I found what I was looking for. One of the
companies sold an organic mixture that was made
up of compost from an Organic mushroom farm,
blended with poultry manure from an organic
chicken operation. A truck load of the organic mix
which measured about a cubic yard was $45.00.
I bought a truck load of the mix, filled my pots, and
direct seeded my vegetables.
|As you can see from the photos, I used a
variety of mostly larger sized pots, and I
planted each pot with a variety of different
herbs or vegetables, and I tried to plant each
pot with companion plants for the most part.
|On the left you can see I
used "T" posts and some
field fence to create a trellis
for some of the planters.