Ayla

I'm not a fan of the pre-mixed scary-blue fertilizers. I test my soil in a couple of locations in the spring (dead easy, get a cheap kit, they are not crazy-accurate but they are good enough), then I get whatever I might need to correct a lack of certain of the 3 really important nutrients:

Nitrogen: blood meal. Do not apply when windy, water in when done. Smells sort of bad when applied. Phosphorus: bone meal. Water in when done. Potassium: actually don't know as I've never had a low potassium reading.

I also correct pH for whatever I want to grow. Lime is the usual way to raise it (make it more alkaline) and you can use sphagnum peat to lower it (make it more acidic).

Your best bet is to compost and to get some good sterilized manure mix. Adding these to your garden yearly will be a bigger plus than trying to be a chemist about it -- they will have a yoinkload of the NPK as well as micronutrients that NPK testing and "scary blue" fertilizers tend to ignore.

The problem with putting non-sterilized manure on crops is that you might introduce funky bacteria to the soil. This is usually fine because bacteria that like intestinal tracts don't tend to like being in the ground, but it's a good idea to keep your crops off it; e.g. don't rest your tomatoes on it. I know, this is common sense stuff, oh well.

To be fair, you can totally get away without the testing kit and just adding "stuff" to your garden every year, but I'm a geek and prefer to know numbers and stuff.

There are no health issues from using Miracle-Gro.

There are probably environmental issues due to runoff getting into the water table -- the worst thing that happens here is that fertilizer gets into streams/ponds and causes algae blooms.

Ayla

I have been planning on a big garden, one that covers about an acre, a good portion is to be perennial fruiting trees just not sure what the portion to fruit to veggies I want to have.

It doesn't take long to kill the grass and weeds by covering it with a tarp, so I'd suggest you might consider that despite the large size. You could do it in patches. I don't recall how long it takes but I have done this with several new gardens.

And I already sell 98% of what I grow and my family is still drowning in vegetables. Really consider your local market. If you're half acre is productive its way more then you can consume and give away.

I farm about a quarter acre for my local farmers market. I do a majority of the work myself with occasional help from my husband. It's a lot of garden by myself.

So how to get started with your own big project?

The labor involved in digging the planting holes is no joke either.

Buying transplants is good, but be aware that it has the potential to get very expensive for a large garden.

Have you canned before?

Will you be water-bath canning or pressure-canning? Anything that is not acidic will need to be pressure-canned. Do you have mason jars? They can get expensive when buying large quantities too. It also takes a lot of time to process in general (picking, washing, peeling, chopping, straining, cooking, packing, processing, cooling, labeling). I've been canning my harvests for decades.

Understand that it is a lot of work and usually time-sensitive because your ripe produce should be processed right away. Also, only use tested recipes, otherwise you are risking your health.

Are you breaking new ground or has this area been farmed before? I broke ground on a new 30x30 plot last year and it took two days with a heavy-duty rented tiller to be workable. Your experience will depend type of soil you have (clay vs loam, rocky, etc). Do you have an idea of what kind of soil is there?

I am not trying to be discouraging, I just want you to be prepared as best you can if you want to take on such a large project. Planning ahead will save you a lot of frustration later. Also, it wouldn't hurt to work in stages. Set up your orchard this year, maybe do a small garden. Next year expand the garden. The next year start your flowers.

And so on.

Doing it all at once is a lot. Best of luck!

Ayla

It seems counterintuitive, but tilling increases weeds. Weed and grass seeds can last a long time in soil, and germinate later on when conditions are better. Some kinds of seeds can sit for up to 10 years and still germinate.

The best solution is the most expensive, build raised beds.

A good option is to kill the surface plants, then spread 6-8 inches of mulch.

Ways to kill surface plants:

  • water an area then place a clear plastic sheet on the ground on a warm sunny day. It cooks the grass.
  • place a black tarp on a warm sunny day
  • Use a flame torch and burn it

The last solution is the worst, till again. If you do till one more time make sure to spread a heavy mulch after your finished our else you'll get right back into the weed-till-soil destruction-more weeds cycle.

Reality is, you're going to have a lot of grass and weeds popping up for the first few years while you reduce the number of seeds in the soil.

So you need to plow it properly, it should flip almost completely upside down. And then you're going to need to disc the crap out of it to break up all that sod to kill the grass. At that point you can probably plant into it, but it's going to be weedy as heck for the first year (and probably a few years after that).

This is why people tend to just spray with chemical. It's much easier and faster.

Regarding chemicals there is a chance for residuals.

If there's any amount of the chemical in the plant, it kills the plant.

Most commonly used is glyphosate (aka roundup). It will linger in the soil in detectable levels for 40 days or so after spraying (I can't remember the exact time), but this is actually a pretty short lifespan. I'm not an advocate for this method, but it does have a use.

If you want to plant it quickly, plow, disc, disc, and just hope the weeds stay manageable. You will need to weed and cultivate this to keep weeds down. If you can wait a year, I'd suggest spraying it as soon as it's grown up but before anything goes to seed, then plow it, disc it, and repeat the spray after it starts to grow again from seeds dormant in the soil. Then plow that fall, disc again in spring and you should have fairly weed/grass free ground.

Personally, though, I just suffer through the weeds because I really dislike spraying unless I absolutely have no choice.

Ayla

Yes, practice, but also start low and work your way up.

Here is something I have previously posted in reply to similar questions:

Wearing heels uses different muscles to flats. If you don't normally wear heels and jump straight to 3 or 4" you won't have the developed the necessary muscle strength, flexibility and balance skills, and your body will compensate with poor posture, leading to back aches, extra pressure on your joints, discomfort & pain.

Therefore start by getting proficient in low heels. Wear them around the house, doing chores, then running short errands. (Pushing a cart at the store also give useful support!)

If they start to hurt, take them off and try again the next day. Each time you will be able to wear them for longer before any pain, and slowly you will develop the necessary muscle strength & flexibility needed to wear heels in comfort.

Once you are fully confident and comfortable in your low heels all day, then you can do the same in some slightly higher heels. Repeat with a slightly higher heels and slowly work your way up in height over months. Eventually you will be comfortable in 4" stilettos all day.

Also wearing low heels regularly (such as a low/medium heel ankle boot to work) will tone those muscles and make wearing higher heels for events & nights out much easier than if you only wear flats every day.

It is also important that you maintain good posture (imagine a string in the middle of your head pulling you upwards) and walk heel to toe, placing each got in front of the other walking along a straight line. (A little hip sway will help as well.)

Walk Heel-Toe:

Something that's actually helped me a lot is to put your weight on your heels when you're standing/walking. If you're anything like me, you'll naturally want to lean forward and put your weight on your toes. Try tip-toeing and notice what your upper body posture is like--it's probably hunched forward, your abdominals tight, shoulders tense. It might feel "unsafe" at first to shift your weight backwards rather than forward, making sure your head is up, shoulders relaxed, back is straight, but it hurts your feet less and I actually feel more stable after getting balanced correctly.

From The Hips:

Loosen up your hips. If you put in a bit of natural sway it helps you stay balanced and more fluid. I've been told my mom and I are basically clones and we walk the same way in heels. Maybe growing up seeing her model walk (she did runway for a time) subconsciously taught me how to do it?

Basically, imagine there is a thin (one foot width) straight line in front of you. You want to walk on that line. Your legs should cross a bit, as your feet land on that same line.

Good Posture:

If you have good posture while walking in flats, you'll have good posture walking in heels as soon as you got used to them.

If you have bad posture in flats, your posture in heels will also be bad, but unfortunately also more pronounced and attention grabbing. So when you're inside the house, practice walking in heels. when you're outside the house, practice walking in flats. check your walking posture when you walk past windows. your gravity point should be centered, not leaned forward or backward. many women tend to have a light arched shape in their posture: shoulders front, hips back, knees front, which will lead to a very weird high-heels walk with bent knees.

Choosing Shoes:

Heels need to fit well and support your feet well to avoid discomfort and issues.

Every style and brand has a slightly different fit, and everyone's feet are slightly different shapes, so it is important to buy heels that best fit YOUR foot shape. The best way to do this is by trying on as many pairs as possible in stores until you find the ones that fit just right. It may take a lot of effort trying on so many shoes, but it's worth the effort once you find the ones that fit just right. - Don't settle or just buy a pair on-line because you like how they look.

Lack of support under your arches (common in cheap shoes) will cause more weight on the balls of your feet, making them ache, so heels need to fit closely under and support your arches well. Arch supports may help, but it is better to find shoes that support your arches out of the box. They should also be a close, snug fit to your feet (which may mean sizing down) but not so tight that they kill your toes.

Comfort in heels seems to come from the sway.

Leather shoes are best as they mould to your feet giving better support and less pressure points. Synthetic shoes won't mould to your feet, so try to get real leather.

The Season:

I find it easiest to walk in heels that are thick and have a platform, even if they're higher. I think the platform kinda means your foot isn't at such a forced angle so walking feels more natural. I also find it easier to walk on a carpet than say, linoleum or pavement so maybe try that first. Other than that I think it's just practice!

I swear they're easier drunk as well.

You could also try something like this? I have these sandals, and the sole is rubber (or some similar material) and feels so much easier than normal heels - they have a lot more grip as well. Plus, because they're so strappy I can secure my feet firmly in them so there's no danger of my feet sliding around and making me roll my ankle, so something like this could be a great starting point for heels! Also, my day-to-day shoes look like this, you could maybe give something like that a go? Especially as Autumn is approaching and strappy white sandals may not be the most sensible choice.

Recap

My best advice is buy shoes in person, not online, and buy the ones that fit your feet best, not that look the prettiest. And if you have wide feet, don't even bother with normal shoes because they're just going to cut you to ribbons.

  • Walk heel to toe, don't stomp or put too much pressure on the front of the toe first.
  • Don't lean back or forward, you want a neutral posture. Head up, no slouching shoulders back.
  • Go for platform heels or wedges to start with, it's totally ok to start with a high platform, just make sure you stretch your muscles afterwards.
  • Look at how the heels are made, you want a good solid spike on the back and a solid arch. these are the ones I use for pole fitness.

The biggest thing is practice, stretching so you avoid injuries with heels over time and the right heel.

Ayla

I can't be bothered with horse manure - it seems like too much work. I'm fertilising my garden with fish/blood/bone in the short term and peas, comfrey, yarrow and various other plants in the longer term. I'm also using a lot of raked-up fallen leaves from anywhere I can get them, as a mulch and to make 'quick' compost. I might rake my neighbours' lawns in the autumn as a 'favour' to them.

I like to use a hybrid approach.

I amend the soil with less processed fertilizers; bone meal around the roots, soak things with blood meal, a bit of lime here and there; but will use chemical fertilizers as needed. It's not a sin to use modern things occasionally... e.g. when heavy with fruit my peppers sometimes need an extra dose of immediately available phosphorous to avoid developing end rot ... no reason to lose the fruit because I screwed up the nutrient mix a little a few weeks before.

Using chemical fertilizers exclusively is at the very least more work than using natural soil amendments -- it's quick and effective, but it's also quick and effective so you have to apply it a lot more often, for the soil microbes gradually breaking down organic matter into nutrients for us.

A chemical analysis of your earth, as used by farmers, will tell you all you need to know.

Apparently most gardens have way too much in fertilizers except for N (nitrogen), which is washed out over time. Other nutrients are recycled in sufficient amounts via compost, which you should immediately start if you don't have one.

Check the nutritional needs of everything you want to grow, and group them by nutritional requirements. Some want a lot of fertilizer (peppers, squash, tomatoes depending), some a little (carrots, herbs), and others none (beans and peas). Create beds with crops with similar nutritional needs, and rotate them.

Did I mention to check soil pH?

A good mixed compost (with compost from multiple sources including composted manure, mushrooms, leaves, and plant materials) will give you all the nutrients you need, keep that material out of the waste stream, and not put stuff you may not like into your food, and therefore your body.

Any independent garden center will have both knowledgeable staff and good compost.