Archive for the ‘garden’ Category

Why I Quit Buying Seeds for My Garden 3 Years Ago

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I save seeds for heirloom tomatoes, several herbs, beans and corn. It’s a very easy and convenient way to free yourself from having to spend a lot of money every spring when it’s time to plant the garden.

Almost three years ago, I also signed myself up for a membership for the Seeds of The Month Club. It was the only thing I bought on Black Friday that year. The idea was so fun, old-fashioned and low-tech! You get actual seed packets, mailed to your house, every month! Who doesn’t love getting things in the mail? I still get so excited when (read more on this blog’s new location…)

Rainbow on my counter

Red mild jalapenos, Roma and Ester Hess tomatoes, a random cucumber and green mild jalapenos

Red mild jalapenos, Roma and Ester Hess tomatoes, a random cucumber and green mild jalapenos

I realized today that with the yellow throw in there I had quite an assortment of colors on my counter.

I realized today that with the yellow throw in there I had quite an assortment of colors on my counter.

The Good and The Bad in July so far

The Good - Harvested 2013 Garlic

The Good – Harvested 2013 Garlic

Garlic as far as the eye can see.  I harvested all the garlic from both my own back yard and the farm location where I ran a trial garden over the last year.  This year it didn’t grow quite as large as last year, but I still think it was a success.  I need to get it a bit more separated for curing, but right now it’s so hot and dry out that it’s drying nicely even in a heap.  I’ll hang them from the rafters soon.  With a little bit of luck this garlic, replanted, will turn into a for-profit crop in 2014

The Bad - They took my corn!

The Bad – They took my corn!

Last night when I went to bed I had about 30 ears of sweet corn JUST about ready to pick in my 10’x10′ three sisters garden.  This morning there were about 7 or 8 little ones left.  Something–probably Raccoons–harvested all the rest and removed them while I was sleeping 20 feet away.  They knocked down and broke the corn stalks, so now the pole beans have nothing to grow on either.  And obviously if they ate here once, they could be back for the cucumbers and melons that are starting to grow on all those vines.  This is what we get for no longer letting our cat(s) outside.

But enough bad–More good!  I have been eating tomatoes every night all week.  This year of trialling new varieties has exposed me to at least 2 more favorites that are doing quite well in my yard.  I will definitely add “Church” to my permanent list of tomatoes to grow, and I think “Pink Sweet” will be on there as well.  I will review them here within the next week or 3.

My 8 pepper plants seems to be doing better than average this year.  I usually don’t get to pick any peppers until August and this year they are already sizing up and producing lots of fruit.

How is your garden growing?

Visited Stark Bros. Nursery yesterday

We had a family outing yesterday.  I can’t believe it has been 3 years since we went to the Stark Bros. Nursery last.  We came home with a truck full of awesome plants.

My wife got the best ferns ever. They are in 12 inch hanging baskets, but are so big and bushy they are about 4 feet wide. It might be a pain to keep them watered. I wonder if we could get them a bigger hanging pot?

I came home with an apple tree that is going to be espaliered. I wanted a McIntosh, but they didn’t have that variety, so I settled for Honey Crisp, which is also delicious.  I have room for 2 espaliered apple trees, so I’ll add the McIntosh later.  I got the bottom two rows of training wires set up against my back yard fence on the inside, but we still need to plant the tree.  That will probably happen tomorrow evening. I really hope this works out, but I think it will. I’ve done a lot of reading and have a good grasp on the concept and process.

I also bought some six packs of tomato seedlings, because I killed most of mine in the seed starting room this year by overwatering them.  I have backup seeds started, but they haven’t even germinated yet.

It was an excellent weekend outing and was just what we needed to make a cool overcast day better.

Working outside in the garden

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After weeks of work, this is what I have to show for it.  A garden that is just beginning to look ok for the year, with a new 100 square foot area being used for 1 year as a three sisters garden.

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I am slowly but surely changing the layout in a barely noticeable way. :D  One by one, the beds made with pine boards back in 2008 and 2009 are rotting away.  I am replacing them with cedar frames, but I will also be resizing them from their current 6 foot width to a more manageable 8×4 feet.  Basically it’s just going to be a whole bunch of digging and moving dirt.  It’s actually a great workout.

Do yourself a favor if you’re reading this in time.  Make your garden beds 4 feet wide or less.  6 foot width is NO GOOD for raised beds in most cases.

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I planted some herbs out and I am hardening off everything else when the weather cooperates.  I hope to plant some tomatoes this weekend, probably.

The garlic is growing well, both in this yard and at my off-site garden where I planted 4 rows as a test last fall.

And if I can get my hands on some reasonably priced apple trees, I will be attempting to create a two-dimensional fruit tree.

Planning Three Sisters

This weekend I put in another 12 or 14 hours getting things squared away in the back yard.  I cut down and hauled away three truckloads of arborvitae.  The place looks bare, but at least there isn’t any more dead brown showing.

There was a big dead spot in the yard where the tree house used to sit, so my wife and I decided to install a 10 x 10 three sisters garden there this year.  I tilled up the whole area, and then put a brick border around it.  I made 15 hills in there; 7 for sweet corn and pole beans, 8 for various vining squashes.

The lack of arborvitae bushes to conceal my large (ugly) compost piles (from my 5 backyard neighbors) meant that the piles need to be rethunk.  I removed one completely and took down the sides and fence from the other one, leaving a minimal amount of nearly-finished compost that I won’t add to this year.  I’ll use up the pile as I can in the garden and then perhaps build an attractive enclosure at some point in the future when I feel like spending money.

It is already time to mow in some spots, especially after today’s rain. The forecast doesn’t look dry until next Friday or Saturday.

A few weeks ago I potted up my bareroot Gooseberry bush delivery, and several of them have now put on new leaves.  I have been in love with Gooseberries since they were growing at my Grandfather’s house in the early 80s.

The plants in the basement need to come outside to begin hardening off, but the patio is a huge mess.  I’ll have a place for everything after I get that new little shed built.

The weekends are not long enough

I am trying to get some changes made and get the yard ready for another year of gardening.

This Saturday I tore down and hauled away the kids’ tree house.  It was built from pine and had several rotten spots that made me scared to continue letting kids play in there.  We’ll most likely put another fruit tree or 3 in that spot.  Or maybe 2 more garden beds.

I also cut down and hauled away one truckload of dead arborvitae bushes.  There will be 2 or 3 more loads of those, at least.

I have plans printed up so I can figure out how much lumber and supplies to buy to build a little shed.  I have a neat piece of glass that I’m thinking of using as the window.  It used to be a coffee table.  The shed will [most likely] go where my least productive, most shaded garden bed had been sitting, way down in the corner.  I hope to run water and power out there.

I am trying soaker hoses at the base of my tomato plants this year, which I’ll cover with a thick layer of straw. I have quite a few new varieties of tomatoes going in for testing.

Things are greening up, so I’ll be getting the camera out soon, soon…..

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