Jen Fulkerson

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since Jul 09, 2019
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My name is Jennifer, I'm married to a wonderful man for 28 years and counting. We have four grown children. Two girls and two boys. Being a mom is my most important and favorite job. I love to garden, paint, crochet, read, go to the movies, upcycle/refinish furniture, and do just about any art or craft project. We have 3 dogs, 5 indoor cats, ? cats that live on our property, and 21 chickens. All but the chickens are strays that just showed up and demanded we love them, so we do.
N. California
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Recent posts by Jen Fulkerson

I'm extending my veggie garden.  Making it a little bigger, and putting in 2 new hugel beets.  I was dreading starting because between getting my wood chips about 6 months late (didn't get them when I had everything weeded.  By the time I got them the weeds had taken over and it was too hot to bother with, so the wood chips are still in piles waiting for me to use them.) because of Covid, and laziness my garden is weed central.  As a lazy gardener I have been throwing the weeds I pull out of my veggie garden these last several years over the back garden fence.  This has saved me so much work.  It looked like it wasn't suppressing the weeds, because there were lots of them, and I was dreading dealing with them.  The dead weeds had made a matted layer on the ground, and the weeds came up in clumps like what sod looks like.  I was able to grab huge chunks and chuck it to the side with nice soil underneath.  I was able to clear a good size area in a short amount of time with great results.  I didn't want to put these weeds in my compost pile because it was primarily Johnson grass and Bermuda grass, and I didn't want to chance it growing in my compost.  Also it isn't a spot you see when you are in the yard and was easy to just toss it over.  I am so glad I did.  My lazy compost saved me tons of work.
5 hours ago
I don't know anything about the flowers you have posted about.  I wanted to add a couple to consider.  I grow lots of flowers in my veggie garden, and everywhere else for that matter.  Everything that is planted in my veggie garden must be eatable.  Ever since my kids were little they were allowed to eat anything they want out of my veggie garden.  Even today as adults it isn't unusual to see one of my kids grazing on what ever is ripe in the garden.  So I make sure even the flowers are eatable.  It makes for a lovely garden, and helps by adding diversity, and attracting lots of pollinators.  Nasturtium aren't perennials, but once they are established they easily reseed themselves. I have a bunch going on 3 years now.  They add color and a nice taste to a salad.  Calendula or pot marigold is a super flower to grow.  It is considered to be a perennial in some climates, but an annual in others.  It is both eatable and used as an herb.  Marigolds are annuals, but super easy to grow,  they also help control pests in your garden.  Zinnia's are another annual that is super easy to grow and eatable.  Cornflower/Bachelor buttons are actually good for rabbits digestion.  They are also eatable by people, but don't taste that good.  Lets not leave out lavender.  This is an easy perennial, that is eatable, and has a lot of other great uses.  I double checked and all the flowers I mentioned are safe for you rabbit to eat. Good luck and happy gardening.
5 hours ago
I'm just getting started on perennial veggies, so I enjoyed this post very much.  I wanted to add Nasturtiums.  It doesn't fit your list because it isn't a perennial or a root crop, and this may not be the case everywhere, but I planted nasturtiums 3 years ago in my veggie garden, and they reseed them selves every year.  They have a nice peppery taste and make a great addition to a salad.   I just love to grow things that have more then one use.  Flowers look pretty, bring in the pollinators, and if you can eat them too, what could be better.  Thanks for the awesome post.
I had a space I didn't use for anything.  A couple of years ago I covered it with wood chips.  Wow what a difference it made.  Instead of a weedy ugly fire hazard it looked pretty good.  Last spring I went a little over board when starting seeds, I ended up with more then would fit in my garden, and even after I shared with friends and family I still had stuff left.  I decided why not throw it in my empty space.  I pulled the wood back where I wanted to plant loosened the soil that looked like every gardeners dream, filled the hole I had created by moving the wood chips with compost and planted away.  Hands down the best garden I have ever had.  I never had luck with watermelon, but last year we had huge super sweet watermelon.  
Though I have my reasons I will spare you my excuses and say I did no end of summer fall clean up.  I keep avoiding that space because now it is a blanked of weeds.  I figured days and days of back braking work, sad face.  The wood chips come through again.  Probably 75% of the weeds are gone with less than an hour of raking.  A lot of the weeds took root and crawled along the top of the wood.  I figure an hour or two and I should be able to get most of the weeds.  Even the ones I have to pull seem to come right up.  I have a few piles if wood chips and I will add a layer of newish chips to get even more weed control.  I have never been sorry I have used wood chips.  Even though you have to add to it every year or so it is still worth it.  I have discovered at least in my area I have to have at least 12" of wood chips for weed control.  Better yet cardboard and 12" of wood chips on that.  I read 6" to 8" will do it, but for my area and the weeds we have that just doesn't do the trick.  
I love wood chips, they look great, improve your soil and its free.  I can't think of one down side.  I just make sure if I'm putting them around something woody like a tree or rose I don't touch the tree with the wood chips, and I don't put them up next to any building.  My husband was worried about termites.  I read it isn't a problem, but it's better to be safe then sorry.  As far as other bugs I don't see more of anything in the wood then anywhere else.  I'm a total wood chip fan!  Happy gardening People.
1 week ago

Eric, I think it's mostly a matter of what you like.  I'm kind of a use what I got kind of person, so I have many different materials for my raised beds.  To be honest the double concrete is my favorite.  I dug down a couple of feet and placed concrete block around the hole I dug, two high.  I filled it hugel beet style.  I love it, it is so much easier to work on.  Honestly I didn't level it except enough to keep it from having any large gaps.  I started out using weed cloth to keep the weeds out and the soil in.  I didn't use it this last time, and didn't notice any soil escaping.  I did lots of research, and considering my blocks are super heavy I think they are made with concrete, and not cinderblocks.  I guess there can be a problem with lime leaching into the soil, but if this is the case, I haven't noticed it. What I like about using concrete blocks is they are cheap and last a very long time.  They don't have to be ugly.  You can paint them, or plant something around them.  I didn't bother, because my eye is always drawn to what is in the bed, and I don't think I have ever thought that is ugly.  You also have options as to how you put them together.  I have made a star shape, flower shape by putting the blocks together corner to corner instead of edge to edge.  I don't have one like that at the moment, but I like the way it looked, and never had any problem with them coming apart.
An other bed is also a hugel beet and dug deeper because I didn't have enough blocks to do a double wall, so it is only one block high.  It works just as well, just lower to the ground.  I don't know about others, but I tried to grow things in the holes as bonus space, and never could keep anything alive.  Maybe because the California sun makes it too hot and or dry?  The one block system shows even more garden and less block if you find them unsightly.
I built a raised bed for my flowers 3 years ago out of cedar fence posts I got on clearance at Home Depot because they had some cracks and some weren't straight.  The hole project cost me less then 10.00.  I spray painted the outside to help it last longer, and because I had it, so it didn't add to the cost.  I also lined it with weed cloth so I didn't need to worry about soil escaping through the knot holes and gaps.  I love it and it seems to be holding up well. (I took a picture, but am embarrassed to share it.  With my husbands health problems, the holidays, and just general laziness, I'm so very behind on all my fall and winter projects.)
I also have two 4'X4' raised beds that I got on clearance several years ago.  I didn't like them because they were only about 6" deep and that just wasn't deep enough, so I bought the cedar fence boards and added them to the top of the raised bed, and it worked so much better, and has lasted several years.  
Last my niece was taking a wooden twin bed frame to the dump.  I asked her if I could have it and unpainted and untreated it lasted about 5 years.  It finally fell apart this year.  I will replace it with concrete blocks mostly because that is what my son got me for Christmas, but I'm not sorry I used it.  It was a perfect size, free and kept it out of the land fill.  Basically you can make anything work.  The cement blocks will out last all options.  Good luck to you, what ever you decide will be great, because lets be honest its really about what is inside that matters the most.  Happy Gardening.
I keep a garden journal, to help me remember what worked, and what didn't.  I agree with making a list anyway that is easiest for you and then make it reasonable.  What you like, cost, space, what will grow in your zone, and time (if you plant so much it takes up every spare minute you have, well then it can loose it's joy) are all factors.  Once you have a reasonable list, I would suggest doing a little research on anything you are unsure of.  Nothing more frustrating then picking out the perfect watermelon to grow, buying, planting, and failing because you don't have a long enough growing season, or it doesn't get warm enough.  As far as enough space goes it is amazing how many veggies and flowers you can grow in containers.  You tend to get less weeds and its easier to harvest, though they do require more water.  I help this situation by putting wood into the bottom of larger container, and layering it with good compost. A big pot or barrel of veggies and flowers can be pretty and go in a spot you might not look to as "veggie" garden space. For most problems there is a solution is you are creative enough.  If you just can't think of one there is always Permies.  Any way I'm all for growing as much of your own food as you can,  with lots of variety.  Gardening is nothing if not an experiment.  No matter how experienced you are, or how much you know there is always something to learn.  Mother Nature also makes sure to keep us humble.  I live in sunny California, and never have trouble with tomatoes.  Last year I didn't get tomatoes until late summer.  No one I knew did either, but it just goes to show it pays to plant variety, because you never know when even the easy, I got this hands down veggies fail to grow.  So long story short I say do what makes you happy.  Who cares if you order emotionally, as long as you don't cause destruction to your finances, why not go for it.  If nothing else you will learn some valuable information.  Have fun and happy gardening.
Hi Steven I live in N. Ca. zone 9b.  I think a warming mat and a grow light would work well.  With the mild Ca. weather you could probably use a cold box without the heat wire.  I tried to start seeds in a small plastic green house this year and it was actually getting to hot in the green house and fried several of my seedlings.  Seedlings just need warmth and moisture to germinate (with some exceptions of seed that need light to germinate, so read your seed packets), my favorite way to start a lot of seeds is to put a damp paper towel on a plate, and cover them with another damp paper towel (not super small seeds, they are too hard)  Once the seed have germinated, you want to plant them in a light plant mix.  A seed starting mix if you want, or just about any type of potting soil.  I like to use a good compost.  Once the seedling produces the two seed leaves (Cotyledons) that is when you have to worry about getting enough light, and this is when you need to give them a little fertilizer, unless you planted in compost, then it's already there.  Long answer short either method will probably work, it's just a matter of what is easier for you.  Good luck to you and what ever you decide don't get discouraged.  Some seeds are super easy and some are very hard to start.  I little research may make your first try more successful.  Happy growing Jen
I would not say hot composting is a permies no no.  Compost is an amazing way to improve your soil, an grow healthy food.  How you get that compost is a personal decision.  There are many ways to compost, and I would say each has advantages, and disadvantages.  Hot composting isn't as environmentally friendly as some of the other methods, but if you need compost soon hot composting is the way to go.  
I personally don't hot compost because I'm  terrible at it, and too lazy.  Cold composting, and Verma compost are what works for me.   Cold compost takes forever, but it is so much less work and less complicated. My worm bin is actually pretty quick, a bit more work to sift the worm castings from the worms, and you get a small amount, but it is super amazing.  
Unfortunately if you ask 20 people about composting you will probably get 30 answers.  You just learn what you can, and do what works for you.  Ultimately you will probably learn the most through trial and error.  Have fun.
1 month ago
Rhyme a rhyme, words are such fun,
what signals the end, when is it done?
1 month ago
Hi Jenny I am probably the last person who should respond to your question because when it comes to hot composting I am an epic fail.  That being said I love your compost bins you did an assume job!  Have you read Dr. RedHawk's Things everyone should know about compost but probably don't ?   I think it will help you a great deal.  I personally would just toss the food waist and anything else in as I get it, knowing it wont start to hot compost until it gets enough volume, it seems like a better solution then having a bucket of rotting food sitting around.  Just remember I'm not a good hot composter.  On a side note even if it doesn't hot compost organic matter will still brake down and eventually become compost.  Cool compost takes a great deal longer, but it's better for the environment.  cool composting is so much easier.  I just throw what I want to compost in and forget it.  No turning, no worrying about brown to green ratios. The only real downfall to this method for me so far is it takes so much longer, and I don't put any weeds with seed into it because it doesn't get hot and won't kill the weed seed.  This is what I have started doing, so I can still compost and not feel like a failure. Good luck to you.  Jen
1 month ago