DIY

Them That’s Doin’: Labor of Love

Check out these ideas from readers and our editors about raised garden beds with hoop houses, volunteer pumpkin patch, and more.

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by Laura Thomas Boles

Welcome to Them That’s Doin’, a department featuring editors and readers discussing what they’ve been up to. We want to know what’s caught your eye, and how you’ve been spending your time. Have you tested a new composting method, or watched with delight as volunteer plants thrived? Tried a new weeding technique, or extended your growing season? Tell us at Letters@MotherEarthNews.com.


Laura’s Labor of Love

“A labor of love” is how we refer to my garden. And while I’m not new to gardening, it’s been 20 years since I last had one. I’ve experienced gardening on a whole new level, as I’m already harvesting produce. My husband built me garden boxes with greenhouse hoops over them so we could have a longer growing season, since ours in northwestern Montana is so short. The results were stunning; I have a late-season garden in July. And we’re already harvesting produce from the garden. We’re not only enjoying the bounty, such as squash and lettuce, but I’m also learning new methods of preserving food for our long winters, such as dehydrating and freezing. I’ve found this garden experience to be a truly satisfying labor of love in providing food for our table. –Laura Thomas, reader


Volunteer Pumpkin Patch

Our family planned to have a large pumpkin patch this year. I had harvested the seeds from several jack-o’-lanterns at last year’s Halloween party and was planning to start them in our plot where the early lettuce and spinach plants left an opening in June. Turns out, throwing our rotting pumpkin parts into the compost was much more effective. Volunteer pumpkin vines began popping up from our compost pile, and we left them, curious to see the result. We still throw compostable items in one side, but, because we use the deep-litter method in our coop, we won’t need to add the “hot” chicken manure until well after fall’s pumpkin harvest. Until then, we’re letting the vines take over. With almost no effort, we have a robust and beautiful “compost patch” filled with pumpkin blossoms, due just in time to decorate our porch for fall. –Christine Stoner, editor


A Weeding Tool That Can Keep Up

I’ve spent a lot of time this spring and summer clearing out overgrown garden beds. My husband and I bought our house last year, and, although we love the outdoor space that came with it, it needs some TLC. My extra time at home this year has given me the opportunity to really dig in and get my hands dirty. As I’ve been weeding, clearing, and planting, one tool I’ve found to be invaluable is the Homestead Iron Weeding Fork. I carry it with me anytime I’m outside working. It’s great for digging out all manner of weeds and invasive plants, and it’s really handy for getting into smaller spots that are too constricted for a shovel. The quality of the fork means I’ll be using it for years to come. The work never ends (as any gardener knows), so I’m happy to have a tool that can keep up. –Allison Sarkesian, editor