It's all about the dirt...some elephant garlic and blackberries for a twist

This time of year I am mowing and bagging leaves. I add them to my garden rows or I use them to pile onto already planted things for mulch/ moisture retention. Moisture retention has become a passion here at our farm. Its paying off ten fold too!

Leaves are like free gold as far as a garden goes.
Below are two beds. To the beds I have added a good layer of leaves I mowed up, a good amount of compost and then a layer of dirt I actually got off mole hills on our property. Darn moles are not good for one thing,  but they do dig up nice loose piles of dirt that are easily scooped up! I go around with my wheel barrow and a shovel or I take the four wheeler and drive the property with the little red trailer attached and scoop up dirt. 

The below beds will be my onions rows. I ordered from Dixondale farms (  my onions starts for this year. I ordered 6 bundles, each bundle has 50 to 70 starts in it. Sounds like a lot I know.  But we use a lot of onions and since I didn't plant many last year. We are out of fresh, out of frozen and down to a piece of one big jar of dried.... we have been buying organic fresh to get us through...Yep this year I need to grow a bunch. Dixondale Farms is a Texas company/farm, I have ordered from them before and was very happy with my starts. Also I need my onions starts the first of January and I can get them from them then! Being Texas based they know we plant our onions then!

Ok back to the dirt, I add the leaves and the compost and the dirt and mix it into what is in the bed. Because we use raised beds with wire bottoms ( moles you know)  I can tell easily when I need to add dirt an such. LOL I sometimes wonder where does it go? It can be full to the brim and in two years time its down by half. 
The photo below the front part of this bed is done. where the little pile is you see is where I will continue on adding compost to the leaves and then some dirt from the farm. Mixing good as I go. Yep lots of work. 
These beds below, I have dumped leaves in the front end of this one row. I have a long way to go on these beds. These are the beds I am digging up the raspberries from... to rehome elsewhere... whew.. I have some volunteer garlic coming up in them :O).  Oh I would just like to throw in my new 50% shade cover cloth was great this last year. My vegetables all seemed to love it a lot! I don't know what I would do without my shade covers for my veggy gardens!

the bed below I have added leaves but no compost or dirt yet. This year is a big job for filling the front garden beds with compost, leaves, dirt......

Speaking of garlic, this is some elephant garlic I planted in my back garden (which I do not have to fill the beds this year) woowhoo, the leaves in this bed just fell right into the bed and will stay since they fell there. Cool that was easy right! I planted a lot of elephant garlic this fall. I had some I had saved for seed  that I grew last year. Then I decided I wanted to plant a elephant garlic permanent bed. I read that you could leave it in the ground year around, pull it as you wanted to. The trick apparently is to not water it past July. (we will find out) The thing is when I ordered more elephant garlic to plant, I guess I misunderstood how much I would get for a pound. You order by the pound. Ummmm lets just say I had A LOT of seed garlic to plant ROFL :O)
Mom are you sure we need to do all this work? I might need to rest my eyes a bit, ok? You wake me up if you need me okay. The big white dog will be right here just resting his eyes. 

I raise Kiowa Blackberries and Arapaho and Quachita and a few other .... The Kiowa are by far my best berries! They can take our blasting heat... they can take our west sun! (not much can take our west sun) They are so drought tolerant they lived through 2011 with no babying, if you don't live in Texas 2011 may not mean much to you...  2011 changed the landscape of Texas forever, sadly! Horrrrrrribbbbbble drought and heat. So when you hear someone say here that they have something that lived through 2011 without added help... your ears perk up big time!!

Kiowa is the largest blackberry we grow here in the U.S. and it is huge! They can well, they freeze well. They are not quite as sweet as some of the other varieties but their flavor is very good, very blackberry. When you live somewhere as hot as we are and get no more rain than we do. A little less sweet, no biggy just add another 1/8 cup organic sugar... they are very tasty berries...

The only other thing I should mention... she says with a devilish grin....the large razor sharp thorns they have!!! Oh ya let me tell ya they are wicked mean with those thorns... but again, where I live these babies are great!!! They thrive... My other thorn-less blackberries require a lot more water and can struggle in our extreme heat! Plus the squirrels rob a good portion of those berries grrrr easy pickings no thorns...

They do not even go into the Kiowa berries at all! uh huh ... aforementioned razor sharp thorns!!! Silver lining you see! I have 100 pots pegged off my mother plants! They root super, super easy and they make babies rather quickly on their own :o).. Another plus in my book :O) ... So I will have 100 new plants to put in the ground this next year!
You can see some but not all below in the photo.
see the bright green leaf that is on a new stem that shot up out of the pot that I pegged the original stem in. You just bury part of, in this case I stuck the end of the stem into the pot buried it with compost and wa la a new plant is rooted...Don't cut the original stem loose from the mother plant. Its still attached to the live plant.  My best bud taught me how to peg plants!! I think spring would be best for pegging most things, but these Kiowa seem to be happy to root anytime and they root fast.
Newly rooted plants. I will leave them till this spring, then cut the original stem of the mother plant loose.. leaving the new plant ready to put where I want. 
Pots and pots I pegged off my existing plants. 
the row below by the fence is a new row I started last year from volunteer babies... now I have many pots rotting off those. Kiowas grow fast and produce berries in my experiences the first year. 
I see blackberry wine in my future! :O) 


Sandy said...


Thank you for providing this website, I'm going to try their onions. Every time I've planted onions, I only have a few that really do well.

There's nothing better than pure gold when it comes to leaves and straw :-)

Give Keeper a scratch behind his ears for me.

Kev Alviti said...

Thats a good way to top up your beds. I'm planning on a big bed for some asparagus but I dug up loads of good top soil the other day so I just need to add grit and compost to make it a good growing place (It's really wet so need to be raised). I've also planted some elephant garlic this year and had never heard of just leaving it in the ground - let me knwo how you get on with that one!
How big is your plot there as you plant in quite large numbers!