With all of the inflation in prices throughout the world, many people have decided to grow a garden to save on the cost of food. If you are into growing your own vegetables, but new to gardening the Amish may have a few tricks of the trade to help you out!!! It could be you are a seasoned pro with a green thumb, but want to expand on your growing season by installing a small greenhouse? What ever the case maybe on your gardening needs the Amish have years of experience when it comes to growing different varieties of vegetables and fruits, that can benefit everyone. The Crockett Cooner is here again at The Amish Of Ethridge. I've checked into gardening ideas from the Amish and I've learned a few points to share with you to make sure, your taters don't taste funny this season...
Simple Planting Ideas From The Amish Farmers
If you are new to growing a garden or have minimal experience with growing your own garden the Amish have many different pointers to help you out. One thing that is always a big problem for most gardeners, old and new alike is the problem of weeds and grass control in the garden. Now I've mentioned in many of my post before that the Amish use a planters plastic sheeting to control problem grass and weeds around their vegetables. This is a really great idea in my opinion when it comes to planting a garden especially a garden that is located in a suburban back yard that was previously sowed in grass. No matter how hard you try remove grass and grass seed from a new designated garden spot it is very difficult to remove it all. The usual polyethylene plastic is what most Amish farmers chose to cover their rows in the garden with to control grass. Polyethylene plastic can be found at a verity of box stores and usually comes in different lengths, widths, and thicknesses. Normal prices on polyethylene roll plastic depends on the quantity and store you purchase your plastic from. The prices range from around $9.00 to the $100.00 mark depending on the pricing factors I've already mentioned. The great thing about using polyethylene plastic is that under normal conditions of exposure to elements, polyethylene plastic can last and retain its durability for 3 to 5 years. Depending on your growing zone and the amount of rain fall and sun you have each year basically, temperatures play a huge role in polyethylene plastic. The use of plastic can also help with water issues that many gardeners now face due to changing rainfall levels. Most people know that plants especially most vegetable love water. But!!! it is possible to over water many vegetable gardens, and with the use of plastic the amount of water sent to the plants can be controlled.
This water control is where I disagree with a practice the Amish farmers use in their gardening practices. I know your are all now thinking, disagree with watering your garden? No, let me explain a little bit more on where I differ personally on my planting operations as compared to the Amish farmers. Now I plant a small garden in size compared to the larger gardens most Amish families plant. When tilling my soil each year I use a small garden tiller and prepare my soil before covering it with plastic, but I leave my soil flat without raised rows. The normal Amish farmers have much larger families than I do and generally sale much of their produce to make a profit. The practice the Amish farmers use to cultivate their gardens is usually done with a horse drown plow or disk due to the Amish religious beliefs and size of their gardens. Now I mentioned "horse drown" ground preparation. The Amish also have a horse drawn attachment that tucks their plastic around the raised rows of the garden. The general idea of putting a garden in raised rows is to help with the water shedding , meaning to shed off the water from the plants base or stalks. I personally do NOT raise the rows in my garden for a few reasons. One such reason is I don't have a horse drown attachment to tuck my plastic in the ground while building raised rows. Another reason is I personally believe that with raised rows in the garden are a bad idea is, the plants can suffer from disease because of the valley created between the different rows holding water. If the garden holds to much water in the valley the plants can become over hydrated and suffer more at the root from root rot and pest problems.
Other Points To Remember About Planting With Plastics And Planting Techniques
- You have to stretch the plastic by hand if you don't have a attachment or implement to help you cover your garden. (Polyethylene Plastic In Large rolls Can Be Very Heavy)
- The use of plastic in a garden can have negative effects on plants. (Heat In Hot Summer Conditions Can Be Reflected From Plastic, It Can Burn Plants)
- In dry drought conditions ( You Might Have To Water Your Garden By Hand, Plastic Around Plants Can Make Watering More Difficult)
- In wet windy stormy conditions (Plastic On A Garden With Young Small Sized Plants Can Rise Up Due To Wind And Damage Plants/ Especially Young Seedlings)
- Another name for raised rows in a garden is Furrow or Furrow Planting. (Some People See Benefits For Planting In This Method, Depending On Their Yearly Rain Fall Amounts And On Their Location In Planting Zones)
The Amish On Gardening And Greenhouses
Now the Amish have great greenhouses if you notice as in the picture above the Amish greenhouse is heated with a woodstove. This is not only to keep young seedlings warm, but also to enable the grower to start their growing season earlier, or continue the garden into later parts of Fall and Early Winter. This method of heating a greenhouse is a really a great gardening practice especially when it comes to amending soil. Now for the die hard gardener we have all heard the idea of using wood ash as a soil amendment. The Amish are no different, they use the wood ash for its ability to supply the soil with more calcium and potassium, basically fertilizer. The levels of the pH in most soil range from acidic at 7.0 and above to alkalinity which should be no lower than 6.5 level, but can be possibly be lower. Now the Amish use a soil tester that you can buy at any of your local farming stores to determine what the soil needs. Here is a quick link to a soil tester from Burpee I have seen some Amish farmers use before to test their soil, soil tester.
"A tip from the Cooner here, I myself purchased the soil tester from Burpee that I saw a Amish farmer using. After I ask the Amish fellow about what he was doing, he quickly explained how the tester worked and where to get one. I have to say that after I got my soil tester and had a reading of 6.0 level pH. I adjusted my soil with some fertilizer I got at a local store and the outcome was outstanding, my rose bushes have been beautiful ever since." Crockett Cooner
But, when I think of Amish greenhouses or any greenhouse for that matter, the first thing I think of is watering plants. Most of the time you will see some of the Amish children caring for the new plants watering them when needed, its usually on their list of daily chores. But, after a few trips to my local Amish community I've seen quiet a few different ways to water your plants in a greenhouse. One great way was a system of pipes and barrels that were used to collect water from rain fall. Let me explain! if you notice the greenhouse above the roof is pitched to shed water from rainfall. One Amish greenhouse I saw with its own watering system used guttering like a normal home, that was on the edge of a barn roof beside the greenhouse. The guttering channeled the water from the barn roof into a large barrel. Then from the barrel there was piping overhead in the greenhouse that ran the entire length of the green house on both sides. Along the overhead pipes there was small holes drilled that allowed the water to dip onto the plants below.
Another idea I saw the Amish farmers use in my community was limestone crushed rock or gravel on the floor of their greenhouses. Much like larger industrial greenhouses we all see in pictures the purpose of the limestone rock was also for heating and weed control. When the rocks on the floor became heated by the sunlight or the woodstove found inside the greenhouse the temperatures would stay warmer in the cool early spring nights. Now you maybe thinking to yourself what if the temperatures in the greenhouse gets to HOT!!! The Amish farmers simply installed hinges on the side panels and constructed the frame of the greenhouse where it will open to allow airflow, much like opening a window in your home.
Other Neat Gardening Ideas From The Amish Farmers
When it comes to Amish ingenuity there really is no bounds. Now the cold frame seed starter in the above pic happens to be the ol' Cooner's, but I have to say I borrowed the ideas from an Amish fellow and made my own cold frame. I noticed over my many trips to the Amish community here locally, that some of the Amish homes had no greenhouses. I was curious why I always saw these small structures made from wood, plastic, and straw around the Amish gardens. I found that the cold frame be it made from glass and wood such as mine or clear plastic sheeting covering a wooden frame is a unique way to start seedlings and cool weather plants. The cold frame uses the heat from the earth to keep the new plants warm while getting the benefits of the sunlight and prolonged growing season for the young plants. Much like the much larger greenhouse with their limestone floors its no problem to keep the cold frame warm. I simply used old bricks inside of mine to raise the temperatures just enough to keep the new seedling warm in the cold snaps in weather we have here in my growing zone.
Another great way the Amish save a little money is by seed collection in their gardening practices. Now many people choose to buy new seeds or established plants each spring to start new plants for their garden. But, the Amish many times will remove the seeds from the vegetables they have grown in years before, and reuse the seeds to continue their plant production. Its a very simple process and will greatly reduce the prices you spend each year on starting a garden. Also, if there is a particular vegetable or fruit you enjoy, why not keep that strain of plant going to ensure you get the flavors and size vegetables you want year after year.
The Order To Follow This Gardening Season To Get Your Vegetable Plants From Amish Greenhouse
- Locate an Amish community that specializes in vegetables sales to the public. Usually word of mouth from other gardeners can help you with this.
- Next plan your trip for a Saturday to the Amish Greenhouse. A good rule of thumb is to go around lunch.
- Get gas and use the restroom before you go to Amish country. Many times if one Amish greenhouse does not have the variety of vegetable you want, you might need to drive a distance to the next Amish farm, and usually the Amish do NOT have public bathrooms,
- Take cash money the Amish do not except debit or credit cards, and ATM's are hard to locate in rural areas.
- Also be prepared if you purchase vegetable plants for your garden. Many times the Amish sale plants in bulk. So a good plan to give some to a neighbor or friend is useful for plants you don not need.
I hope that these gardening practices learned from the Amish farmers, will help you in your own gardening needs and help you find a Amish greenhouse in your area. If you enjoyed this post please feel free to look around our entire website and check out our other blogs. Also, when you have a second check out our other websites. Please feel free to leave us a review, we always love to hear from our readers on their own ideas. Make sure if your looking around the inner webs to look for The Amish Of Ethridge at Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. If you would like more information on up and coming blogs and what's going on here at The Amish of Ethridge, sign up for our newsletter. Thank you all again for reading our blog, we hope you have a wonderful today and an even better tomorrow.
No, The Amish also order shipments of plants from other growers, and buy, sale, and trade with other Amish farmers.
Not always, many times the Amish will use straw around their gardens or woodchips from one of their many sawmills for water, weed, and pest control.
Yes, many times the Amish do in fact make their own compost. With the amount of droppings from their livestock and other compostable materials such as leaves, grass clippings, and uneaten vegetables the Amish do make compost piles.
Yes, if you are in need of natural fertilizers such as animal droppings or straw many times the Amish have and will sale these items. The best idea if your looking for such materials I suggest you take a look around a local Amish community and ask different Amish farmers what products they have available.