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The 3 Most Important Tips for a
Successful Vegetable Garden

You may have heard these tips before, but it never hurts to repeat them…especially when we are just getting started into Gardening Season! Here are the three things that I emphasize every year in our Gardening 101 Class, because you will be able to grow lots of vegetables when you follow these rules:

  1. Proper soil content is a must.
    If you are gardening directly in the soil, then you must do a soil test. Soil tests are easy and will help you amend it with nutrients if it’s lacking. Also, if the soil is too alkaline or too acidic, it will definitely affect your veggie production. Here is the link with instructions on how to do a soil test in TN and where to carry your sample for evaluation. https://extension.tennessee.edu/publications/Documents/PB1061.pdf

    If you are gardening in a new raised bed, it is important to start out with an balanced mixture of soil that will drain well. We use a mixture of 50% composted cow manure and 50% topsoil in our beds. We are careful not to overwater, since there is not a lot of drainage materials in it like sand or vermiculite. Another great mixture is Mel’s mix from the Square Foot Garden Book. The average mixture is approximately 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite and 1/3 compost (different types of compost should be used). Mel’s soil mixture claims that you can’t overwater it (which is the number one issue with beginning gardeners). Of course there are numerous other soil mixtures that you can use and easily research over the internet, but the most important point is nutrient content with a PH around 6.1 – 6.3. Proper PH will allow the nutrients to feed the vegetable plants and thrive.

  2. Planting seed and transplanting plants in your garden must occur at the correct time and temperature.
    The easiest way to find out when to plant certain vegetables is to follow the USDA hardiness map: http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/

    A good rule of thumb is to plant your vegetable garden after the last frost date for your area, which is April 15th for Middle Tennessee. Of course each state and area will have different frost dates…so be sure to look. Some vegetables, like corn and okra, need a warmer soil temperature to germinate, if they are being planted by seed directly into the soil. Seed packets will tell you the proper soil temperature required. Almost any thermometer can be put in the soil to check out the temperature.

  3. Successful gardens must have 8 hours or more of sunlight per day and one inch of water a week.
    Sunlight is important for most vegetable to grow well. Some gardeners have gotten away with only 6 hours of sunlight, but it’s always hit or miss….depending on the particular variety. One inch of rainwater per week is a must for the plants, which roughly equates to a quart mason jar of water in the week. That does not mean to water each plant only once per week with a quart of water…it means that over a week’s period of time, it should receive about a quart. The easiest way to determine how much water it is getting, is to keep a rain gauge and monitor how much rain you are getting and then supplement whenever needed. The most common mistake of beginning gardeners is overwatering their plants!

I hope these tips have been helpful and feel free to contact us with any questions or comments at stoneycreekfarmtennessee@gmail.com

Want to learn about gardening, but don’t know where to start? Our Gardening 101 Class will give you all the tools and resources to begin a garden and be successful. Plus you have the option to buy a 4’x4′ raised bed for only $20 by attending the class.

You will learn about the following topics:
• Planting from seed
• Transplanting plants to your garden
• Overview of raised bed gardening
• Compost and soil mixtures for healthy plants
• Watering methods and rainwater capture
• Temporary Greenhouse production
and companion planting, best web resources and more….

Gardening 101 Class
April 7th, Saturday, 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Cost $35, plus the option of purchasing a 4’x4′ raised bed for only $20

This class is free to anyone renting a garden plot at Stoney Creek Farm for 2018.
To register:


Happy Dirt Rich New Year!

2018 is a fresh start for many people to concentrate on their New Year’s Resolutions and these an involve healthy eating, losing weight, exercise and improving finances. All of these are important personal resolutions that help us get off to a great start in the New Year. Here are two additional resolutions that can help us all…Recycle and Re-Purpose….just a thought to start your year….

Recycle – Reducing the amount of waste that goes in our Landfills is a great goal. Landfills have trash that takes a very long time to decompose. For example, here are items with their estimated shelf life in a landfill:
Plastic Water Bottles – 450 years
Disposable Diapers – 550 years
Plastic 6-Pack Collar – 450 years
Extruded Polystyrene Foam – over 5,000 years
Foam Coffee Cup – 50 years
Aluminum Cans – 200 to 500 years

Here is a great article to read on items you can recycle to help you get started: http://www.wm.com/thinkgreen/what-can-i-recycle.jsp

I found this great poster below that easy to print off and show your kids to encourage their recycling from this site https://justforkidsdental.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/recycle.png


Re-purpose – Help the future generations by re-using or modifying items that commonly go in landfills. Examples can be found all over Pinterest. Get started here: https://www.pinterest.com/leighfunderburk/products-i-love/

Items that are commonly used in re-purpose projects:

(all types of furniture, art projects, outdoor projects)
2 Liter Plastic Bottles
(vertical planters for fences, greenhouses)
Shipping Containers
(sustainable housing or workshop)
Food Safe Barrels
(potato grow beds, rainwater capture)
Old Windows
(art work, bulletin boards, picture frames)
Gallon Milk Jugs
(planters, water storage, watering plants/trees)
Plastic Grocery Bags and Bread Bags
(non-food storage, small trash can liners)

Check out our video on food safe barrels being used for growing potatoes.

Great article on how to build a vertical garden out of soda bottles: http://www.dietoflife.com/do-not-throw-your-soda-bottles-make-a-vertical-garden-with-them/

I hope your New Year is great and that you are able to add Recycling and Re-Purposing to your New Year’s Resolutions!

Check out our Book for more sustainable ideas in the New Year:  Dirt Rich

Sustainable Christmas

More Meaning and Joy – Less Stress and “Stuff”

While growing up in Humboldt, TN on a small farm we rented from Aunt Joyce and Uncle Brance, Christmas had so much joy and meaning. We didn’t have a lot of money, but we always had food on the table and tons of love. My Mom was the oldest of 11 children, so there were always lots of cousins to enjoy at Holiday gatherings. On Christmas day we visited my grandparents home place with all the aunts, uncles and cousins and received thoughtful gifts…some of them, I still have. Aunt Elaine made me a cross stitched pin cushion, because she knew I liked to sew and I still use that same pin cushion today.

After I graduated from college in 1982, holidays were much more materialistic. I wanted so much “stuff” and the more I bought, the more I “needed”. Then family wants came into play and the cycle continued for years. One day in my forties a lightbulb when on in my head and the realization hit – all that “stuff” was temporary and didn’t have a lot of meaning. The latest gadgets were discarded after 6 months and some gifts didn’t even get used.

The real meaning of the holidays is found in being with family and friends and enjoying our time together. So make your holiday memories count this year and here are some ideas to keep the season significant and worthwhile.

  One Gen Away food distribution

Serve or Give to Others in Need
Giving to people in need is really what Christmas is all about and it gives your children a wonderful example of what generosity is all about. I know of families who have given their Christmas budget to other families who are not as fortunate. We give to OneGenAway, the Nashville Rescue Mission, GraceWorks, Angel Tree, Samaritan’s Purse and as many as our budget will allow. We have sent Christmas boxes to the Military oversees who are keeping our nation safe. We have friends who serve every Holiday at soup kitchens to help our homeless, but receive more blessings than they give. What can you do this Holiday to make it special for those in need?

Angel Tree Donations

Useful Gifts that are Homemade
My friends and family have told me that some of the best presents they receive during the holiday are the basket of homemade goodies from us. I make jams, jellies, canned green beans and tomatoes, and sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls for them to eat over the holiday season. Sometimes, if I’m real industrious, I crochet or knit cotton dishcloths and scrubbies and include those too. The gifts are a piece of our sustainable life and very useful to the recipient. One of my favorite gifts every year is a bag of haystack cookies that our friend Linda gives us…it’s my favorite treat and I even freeze some of them to savor past the holiday.

Make and Decorate Christmas Cookies (or any special recipe) together
When my daughter Allison was little, her older cousin Carey would invite her over to bake and decorate Christmas sugar cookies with her every year in December. She would come home from that afternoon with all these tasty adorable decorated cookies that she could share with others. What a special memory that made for both of them and I’m sure Allison will continue that with her kids someday.

Play Games Together
Get off the video games and turn off the TV! A board or card game is fun and makes memories. Here is a site that has plenty of unique Christmas games to enjoy: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/christmas-party-games/?lp=true
Another fun game is to list the alphabet on a sheet of paper with lines next to each letter and guess holiday words that begin with each letter. Give each person or team 5 minutes to complete it. The winner is the person or team who has the MOST AND BEST answers. You will be surprised by the hilarious answers!

White Elephant Gifts
A white elephant gift exchange[1] or Yankee swap[2] is a party game where white elephant gifts are exchanged during festivities. The goal of a white elephant party is usually to entertain rather than to gain. Each participant supplies one wrapped gift. The gifts are placed in a central location, and participants determine in which order they will take turns selecting them. The first person opens a wrapped gift, and the turn ends. On subsequent turns, each person has the choice to either unwrap a new present or to “steal” another’s. When a person’s gift is stolen, that person can either choose another wrapped gift to open or can steal from another player. To avoid never ending circles, each gift can only be stolen once per turn. The game is over when everyone has a present. Generally, it is recommended to have at least six participants for the gift exchange party. With a larger group, game play may be more protracted. (source Wikipedia)

The white elephant gift should be something that you did not buy or something very inexpensive. An appropriate gift is something that you already have that you don’t want…the crazier, the better. One year I wrapped up a James Dean plastic mug set that I won at another White Elephant Exchange and I received an Ear Wax Candle Kit. The more laughs, the more fun you have!

Drawing Names for Gifts
Why give a gift to everyone in your entire extended family? Drawing names and concentrating on that one person to get them a special, meaningful gift can be a great way to celebrate the holiday. There is a more room in the budget when you only have to buy for one cousin…and not 10 of them.

Christmas Letter instead of a Card
I started sending a Christmas Letter each year instead of cards, so we could share information and updates about the family to extended members and friends who we don’t see on a weekly or monthly basis. A one page letter is sufficient, since most people won’t read more than that. I either use Christmas bordered paper or I create a letter and print it myself. It gives a personal touch and you can include photos of the kids and fur babies.

Christmas/Holiday Movies
Every year we watch several of our favorite Christmas movies together like ‘Its a Wonderful Life’, ‘Miracle on 34th Street’, ‘Christmas Vacation” …to name a few. Of course the Hallmark Channel has wonderful (sappy) movies that get you in the Christmas Spirit too. Watching as a family or in a group of friends, making popcorn and enjoying more home made goodies makes our holidays very memorable.

We hope you have a wonderful Christmas, Happy New Year, and enjoy a Sustainable Holiday that emphasizes memories and joy…the real Spirit of Christmas!
Leigh and Olin





    What I’ve learned from Bees

    Michigan State University has an interesting article that states, “It has often been said that bees are responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat.”  Bees are the main insect pollinators for vegetables and crops.  European honey bees are the largest managed pollinators, but their are hundreds of other species of solitary bees that are extremely important to pollinating our world.

    As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, we use a Solitary Leaf Cutter Bee to help pollinate our U-pick Summer Garden and Rental Plots, but this year with the help of Cathi Clarke (who did ALL the work), we added two honey bee hives to the farm.

    Cathi Clarke, Stoney Creek Farm Beekeeper

     Our two honey bee hives have taught us invaluable Life Lessons that we didn’t expect to Learn!  Here are some of those lessons:

    1. Ego is not important
      Everybody in the hive knows their job and they do it to the best of their ability for the good of the hive.  Yes, there is a ‘Queen Bee’, but she has a purpose, just like the rest of the hive.  So don’t let jealously about position or title in an organization make you discontent or unhappy…do your job to the best of your ability by making a difference in the world around you.
    2. Working together is essential
      A dissatisfied or weak bee colony will swarm (mutiny) from the hive or collapse (die).  So it is important for all the bees to support the hive, keep out the predators, and set up the colony for future success.
    3. Plan for the Future (to be sustainable)
      Since this is the first year of our two bee hives, Cathi is leaving the honey flow in the hives to support the bees for the coming winter.  Bees need to survive the winter, so food is essential.  She may have to supplement their food supply, if that amount of honey is not enough.  By leaving the honey flow, we will have stronger and more vigorous hives next year…THEN we can take a good bit of honey after the hive can sustain itself!
    4. Defend your family against outside forces
      Predators are notorious for killing honey bee hives.  Mites, beetles and wax moths are only a few of the evil forces that can kill the hive.  Bees are great at defending the hive against predators, but sometimes bee keepers have to help keep the hive safe as the number of predators grow.  Just like bees, sometimes we have to enlist help of others to keep our family safe and protected…so don’t hesitate to get the help you need.
    5. ‘Bee’ the best you can, for the time you are on Earth
      Depending on the role of the bee, some have lifecycles of only 3-4 weeks.  During that time, the worker bees are literally working as hard as they can to gather as much pollen for the hive as possible.  Their time on earth is limited and very important for the health of the hive and producing new replacement workers.  Wouldn’t it be great if we all looked at our lives with that kind of urgent purpose?

      So in conclusion, if we all lived our lives with the simplicity of purpose that bees use in their family (hive), we could improve our world …one day at a time.

    To read more of the fascinating Michigan State article (cited above), simply click this link    http://www.canr.msu.edu/nativeplants/pollination/

    Olin and Leigh, Stoney Creek Farm

    Dirt Rich Compost
    from Worm Castings

    Worms are wonderful creatures that process our organic waste into castings (worm poo or manure) that enrich our gardens with nature’s fertilizer.  Any compost, when ready, is very black which is commonly referred to as “black gold” due to it’s nutrient rich density.

    Composting, in my opinion, is one of the most sustainable ways to manage organic waste and everyone can do it regardless of their living situation. 

    Why is worm composting beneficial?
    1.  Minimizes food waste when the worms digest the organic matter and turns it into liquid fertilizer and worm castings
    2.  Reduces landfill
    3.  Reduces methane production = Less Greenhouse Gas
    4.  Easy, fun and a great learning experience for individuals and families


    Worm compost has a specific name, ‘Vermicompost’.  Wikipedia’s definition is:  “Vermicompost (or vermi-compost) is the product of the composting process using various species of worms, usually red wigglerswhite worms, and other earthworms, to create a heterogeneous mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and vermicast.”

    Generally vermicast is a nutrient rich, organic fertilizer that contains reduced levels of contaminants than before it goes through the decomposition cycle.  So worm castings are  perfect for organic gardening, small scale sustainable farming and even treatment of some types of sewage sludge.

    There are multiple worm farm kits that are available online or in stores.  Here is a link to ‘Morning Chores’ and their Top 5 Worm Farm Kits:  https://morningchores.com/best-worm-farm-kit/.

    But you might want to make your own DIY worm farm for a lot less $$….all you need are:

    Two dark plastic storage bins
    A drill
    Shredded Paper
    A pound of worms
    Four wooden blocks (same size)

    Here are my favorite two sites that give simple instructions for DIY worm farms:




    Happy Vermicomposting!



    Canning Tomatoes $1.50 lb

    Even though our U-Pick Garden is closed for the Summer Season, we are still selling canning tomatoes by appointment this week only.  Simply call/text 615-591-0015 or e-mail stoneycreekfarmtennessee@gmail.com to let us know when you would like to stop by for 20 lbs or more of canning tomatoes for $1.50 lb.

    We have San Marzano Roma, Amelia, Mountain Merit and Sweetheart Grape varieties.  Our last day for selling tomatoes will be Saturday, July 29th.


    Due to heavy rain this Summer, our U-Pick Garden will be closing earlier than usual.
    The plants have not been able to thrive longer because of the moist soil and unusual weather.  

    The Last Day for the Summer Season will be this Saturday, July 22nd from 7 am to 5 pm. 

    We will have the following available for sale this Saturday:

    3 varieties of tomatoes – blackberries – purple hull peas – bell peppers – banana peppers – jalapeno peppers – mulit color zinnias – sunflowers – yellow squash – cucumbers (limited) – cabbage (limited) – 14 varieties of herbs – local honey – sourdough bread – Dirt Rich books – Dirt Rich Kids Coloring Books – Toy Box and Playground for Kids – Sodas and Water

    We are offering discounts on tomatoes for canners…only $1.50 lb for 20 lbs or more.
    A bushel of tomatoes is approximately 53 lbs and it takes approx. 23 lbs to make 7 quarts of tomatoes.
    It’s really easy to can your own tomatoes and nothing tastes better! 
    If you want to learn ‘how to can’  we have two classes scheduled for July 22 and 26…check out the events tab.

    Natural Healing Can Be Found in Your Back Yard and Garden…

    There are a plethora of natural remedies for headaches, tummy troubles, inflammation and skin problems that can be treated with herbs you can grow or may be growing in your yard already (you thought they were weeds!).  Why treat your family and yourself with chemicals that may have long term side effects when you have simple, organic and healthy alternatives at your disposal?

    Did you know that Basil promotes a healthy heart and is a common ingredient in the Mediterranean diet?  Basil also relieves flatulence, helps with skin breakouts as well as treats warts…who knew?  Cilantro assists in removing heavy metals from the body.  Chamomile not only helps as an anti-inflammatory agent but also assists in relieving arthritis.

    Do you have migraines or severe headaches?  Find out what herb helps to treat that painful malady this Saturday, July 8th, with Cindy Shapton’s “Grow Your Own Medicine Chest” on July 8th from 10-11:30 am at the farm.

    Cindy will not only talk about the herbal remedies, but will show you how:
    1.  to make tinctures
    2.  to infuse oil
    3.  to make medicinal tea from the herbs once you grow and harvest them.

    Join us for a jam packed, fun filled class with our own local Herb Expert, Cindy Shapton this Saturday, July 8th 10-11:30am!

    To register click on the following link: http://stoneycreekfarmtennessee.com/events/grow-medicine-chest-cindy-shapton-cracked-pot-gardener/

    Feel free to call/text for more info at 615.591.0015 or e-mail stoneycreekfarmtennessee@gmail.com

    Local Partner:
    Taylor Family Farm

    Non-GMO, Pasture Raised Meat, Dairy and Eggs

    Because of feedback from our Stoney Creek Farm customers, we are partnering with Taylor Family Farm to provide a local pick-up location for excellent quality local products that you will be able to view and order from their online store.


    Taylor Family Farm is located in Ethridge, Tennessee by John and Terri Taylor.  They have been providing high quality products from their local farm store as well as small Middle Tennessee grocery stores and specialty restaurants.


    Their delivery schedule to Stoney Creek Farm will be set for every other Thursday, starting June 1st.  Depending on the volume, this delivery schedule could increase to every week…TBD.  Below is the order schedule for this first time:

    ORDER:  anytime before 6:00 pm, Tuesday, May 30 
    PICKUP:  anytime Friday, June 2, call/text 615.591.0015 with time

    To place your order, go to their website:  http://taylorfamilyfarmtn.com/store.html
    and use the “Stoney Creek Farm Drop” or you can call them.  Their contact information is below too.

    Taylor Farm card

    Stoney Creek Farm
    4700 Coe Lane
    Franklin, TN  37064

    dirt rich